Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Self Portraits

Today we painted some self portraits using acrylic paints. We looked at a Picasso portrait for inspiration.

Self portrait by L age 3

Self portrait by R age 5

Introduction To Life Sciences

This year we are using the free life sciences curriculum from Mr Q. There are other curriculums too that can be purchased - watch for the January sale!

The curriculum features a text book, worksheets, and parents guide (including activities and experiments to do). There is enough to keep you going for a whole year.

This week we have been learning about biotic and abiotic objects, resources and populations. After we had read the chapter in the text book and completed the worksheets the children did a sorting exercise with a range of objects. I presented them with a feely bag and they had to choose and describe an object inside by touch alone. Once it was identified it had to be sorted in the right category - biotic or abiotic. I put in a few tricky items, like a building block made of wood and a fossil, which were once alive so had to be classified as biotic. Here are the results of the sort:

We also visited the Australian Museum and discussed biotic and abiotic objects on display. Today we used magazines (National geographics have lots of good pictures, 5 back issues for $1 at our local Lifeline shop), and the children searched for pictures they liked and cut them out. They then had to decide if the picture showed biotic or abiotic objects. Here are the results:

By R
By L

In addition to the Mr Q curriculum we are also doing nature study once a week along with gardening and cooking.

 Nature study of shells and seed pods by R

Nature study of shell by L

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


We are using the "Story Of The World" series as our history spine. This week we have been defining history and investigating archaeology. A few days ago we visited The Big Dig archaeology site beneath Sydney Rocks YHA. The children got to view a real excavation and see some of the artefacts that had been discovered.

The Big Dig Sydney

We have been reading about archaeology in our library books and found this book to be very interesting. Its really in-depth and explains how sites are chosen, how they are excavated and how we can learn from what we find. It also covers radio-carbon dating, surveying, geophysics and much more.

We decided to make our own archaeological dig in the garden. Rather than just dump any old thing in, the children selected items to bury which would answer questions such as; "What did these people eat?", " How did these people travel?", "What was their clothing like?", " How did they spend their leisure time?".

Items we buried

The children buried the items in the sand tray and we sprayed the whole thing with water and then left it for a few days.

Burying items

Today we dug them up again. Just like a real dig we had a grid system and we excavated one section at a time. The children recorded the position of their finds before they removed them from the sand. We used small spades, spatulas and paint brushes to uncover our finds.

The dig site ready for action

Excavating our first finds

Recording the position of finds

Carefully uncovering another find

Diagram showing position of finds by L

Diagram showing position of finds by R

Any finds were put into the finds tray and later they were washed carefully and placed into a bag labelled with their location.

Washing their artefacts

We kept all the sand we had removed and, once it has dried out a bit, we will use a sieve to collect any small items we may have missed.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Egyptian Faces

Tutankhamen by L age 3 

Tutankhamen by R age 5

This week in art we experimented with oil pastels. I showed the children how to blend 2 or more colours together to get a new colour. The children experimented with colour mixing in their sketch books and then we did a directed drawing based on Tutankhamen's mask.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Picasso - Artist Study - Autoportrait

Today we began our term long study of the artist Picasso. We have already been to see the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (see previous post). Today we read a short biography, written for children,  available from Making Art Fun. Afterwards we tried our first narration. I wrote key words down whilst the children told me what they could remember about Picasso's life. R then completed this note book page available from Practical Pages, (that's supposed to be Cubism at the bottom!)

The children then completed a colouring page, of a Picasso self portrait available from Super Colouring, which they then used to decorate their artist notebook.

We then spent time looking at the picture Autoportrait, painted in 1906. We have seen the real thing in the art gallery. I gave the children time to look and then I removed the painting. They told me all they noticed about it and I recorded this for their notebook.

Later R had assigned reading time. I wasn't sure how this would go but he soon got stuck into a Picasso book.

We will be studying a different picture each week and for some we will make our own versions. Come back soon for a look.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Home-School Camp

View from our tent

We returned yesterday from our first home-school camp. We had a great time and the weather held out dispite a terrible forecast.

We joined two other families at Ocean Beach Holiday Park, Umina. We had plenty to keep us occupied as the site is right on the beach and has its own pool, games room, jumping pillows and playground. The children also spent a considerable amount of time scootering around the park.

On the first evening those who were able to stay awake got the rare opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse.

Luna eclipse

We were also lucky to find that the school holiday entertainment program had started even though the state schools were still in session. Some of the events included tractor rides, disco, colouring competitions, fire dance display, gardening workshop, badge making, live music and Aboriginal dance show.

L works on her entry for the colouring competition

R plants some seeds

L with her green thumb badge

Aboriginal dance group

The kids strutting their stuff at the disco

Fire dance display

On our only rainy day we all took a trip into town to see the film Puss In Boots, and then onto ten pin bowling.

We were also lucky enough to visit real life artist (and Grandmother of one of our party), Jocelyn Maughan at her Bakehouse Gallery in Patonga. The children got to visit the gallery, art studio and painting storage area. We found out lots about how artists make, sell and store their work. L and I also had our portraits done (R was too busy reading a book as usual!).

L by Jocelyn Maughan

Mum by Jocelyn Maughan

We took a day trip to Tree Tops Adventure Park to try the forest assult courses, both adults and children were able to participate. R found this challenging (as did I), especially as he's on the short side (like me!). It was a great opportunity for the children to work as a team to help R across the most tricky parts.

R kitted up ready to go

Safety breifing

R looking pretty terrified on the high wire

Across the balancing poles

Making the scary trip between the trees

Whilst at camp we had plenty of opportunity for wildlife spotting and specimen collecting. All the children enjoyed searching the rock pools and possum spotting at night. Some of the creatures we saw included crabs, fish, eels, jelly fish, starfish, sea slugs, kookaburras, lorikeets, possums, ducks, and lizards.



L collecting plants, cones and feathers

On our last day the children spent several hours working together as a team to build a huge sand castle. Everyone worked together, digging, and filling to make the castle. Other families on the beach came to look at the huge structure and we invited them to join in.

The castle and tide barrier - it got MUCH bigger than this

For me, the best aspect of the holiday was the bonding between the children. Everyone (adults included) got to know each other a lot better and L especially came out of her shell. I think you'll agree these pictures clearly show that, contrary to popular belief,  home educated children DO have friends!

R and his best friend

The younger children play a game together

The children walking through the forest

L and her friend

Friends despite the age gap

On our way back home we stopped at Brisbane Waters National Park. Here we trekked as a family through the forest to various waterfalls and lookouts.

Somersby falls

Today we were all very tired from our trip but the children spent some time washing all their shell specimens.

Cleaning our shell collection

Our nature collection

We hope to make some sketches of these objects in our nature journals and also to paint on some tree bark we collected. Come back soon to see the results.