Tuesday, 30 April 2013


Yesterday we went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, principally to look at the Archibald Prize for portraits. Of course we couldn't take photos but here are some images from the gallery's website. You can see all the pictures on display here.

After we had seen the portraits in the Archibald prize we took in the Wynne (landscapes) and Sulman (subject, genre, murals) prizes. We then looked at a few of the permanent galleries. The children liked these "machine" sculptures.

Afterwards there was time for a walk through the nearby Botanic Gardens.

Today the children did a pencil sketch of a face. We talked about the position of the features on the face, in particular the eyes. The children were not too convinced when I told them the eyes come about half way down the face, so we measured each others faces to see if it was true. I showed the children how to make guide lines on the face in order to get the features positioned correctly. The children also took some convincing that hair covers the head and doesn't sprout from a halo around it. Here are their finished sketches.

By R

By L

Friday, 26 April 2013

Introduction to the 1800s

We are just about done with prehistoric man, and this term we are leaping forwards in history to the 1800s. May sees the bicentennial anniversary of the first European crossing of the Blue Mountains. We have lots of fantastic events coming up based around the mountains crossing. Today I introduced the children to the 1800s. First we used our counting by tens skills to make the timeline above. We counted back to just before the first fleet arrived in Australia in 1788. We worked out that this was 225 years ago. I explained we were going to be studying the 1800s. We put on some labels so we could get an idea of how long ago this was. We marked our years of birth and the world wars. We established that the 1800s means 1800 to 1899. We talked about what a century is and worked out that the 1800s are the 19th century despite all beginning with 18. There was lots of maths going on, and lots of measuring, to put things onto the time line in the correct place. Our scale is 1cm = 1 year. If you want to make a time line I would suggest using a cheap roll of lining paper which should be available in DIY stores near the wallpapers.

We have this book on 1800s clothing out from the library. We read the book and did some hands-on investigating along the way.

First we established that wool, linen, leather, silk and velvet were the types of fabrics used at the time. I had some scraps from my collection for the children to examine. We talked about where the fabrics came from and how they might have been made. We discussed which would be cheap and readily available and which would only be affordable to the rich. I copied some pictures from the book for the children to discuss and sequence. Previous knowledge gained at the farm and at Camden Show was useful.

In the section on baby clothes the book describes swaddling. We had a go at swaddling our dolls.

We discussed the different types of clothes people would have in the 19th century, including everyday clothes and Sunday best. The children identified features of the clothing from the 1800s such as high waistlines, bonnets, top hats and breeches. They then designed their own outfits. We hope to find or make something similar that we can actually wear to our upcoming events.

By R

By L

We talked about how few clothes most people would own in the 1800s and how they would repair them rather than throw them away. The children had a go at repairing some torn fabric by putting on a patch and by darning. If you don't know how to darn check out this video.

I was amazed at how much better the children's sewing skills are compared to the last time we tried.

By L

We have some very exciting excursions coming up, and we will be learning lots more about the 1800s and the crossing of the Blue Mountains. Check back soon.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

ANZAC Day 2013

Today is ANZAC day, Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, the day for remembering everyone who has fought and died for their country.

L was not feeling too good so we didn't make the memorial service this year. Instead we stayed at home and read up on ANZAC day and of course made ANZAC biscuits.

"Caesar the ANZAC Dog" is a true story of a dog who accompanied New Zealand soldiers to the trenches in WWI. He worked as a read cross dog locating injured soldiers. Beware it's a real tear jerker.

"ANZAC Day" tells about Australia's military involvement in different conflicts since WWI, and explains the meaning of ANZAC day.

After our reading we made ANZAC biscuits similar to those sent by relatives to soldiers serving overseas. We used this recipe from Taste.Com.


This week I took a camera to the children's gymnastics lesson. I managed to capture a few special moments - R's first somersault off the beam and L's first time walking the high beam on her own.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Living The Prehistoric Life

This week we have been living the life of prehistoric man. First the children cooked a very early type of bread. This was made from flour mixed with water to make a dough. We baked ours in the oven but prehistoric man would have cooked his on the open fire.

Today we built a simple shelter. Unfortunately we didn't have any mammoth skins to hand so our shelter is a bit more colourful than the original would have been. Once it was built the children played inside and also hunted for mammoths and sabre tooth cats. Guess who had to play the part of the mammoth!

This weekend we are going camping for real (in a slightly better shelter) and we will have the chance to cook meat over the open fire just like prehistoric man did.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Astronomy Night

Tonight R and I went along to the University of Western Sydney for a family astronomy night. The night started with a fun lecture and slide show all about our own solar system, sun and planets. Then we saw a 3D movie about missions to Mars and a film from the Space Station. Outside we used some huge telescopes to view the stars, spiral galaxies, Moon craters and the and rings of Saturn. We got another looks at the stars through the observatory's dome telescope. Inside R did a chemistry experiment to identify 3 white powders using solubility and chemical reactions. A fun night but no pictures for you.

Cave Paintings

Cave men hunting a tiger by L

Today the children used water soluble crayons and water soluble graphite to make these cave art inspired pictures.

Giraffe by R

Buffalo by L

Hunting party by R

Suzanne Archer Exhibition And Workshop

Today we went along to Campbelltown Arts Centre for a tile making workshop inspired by their current exhibition "Conversations With The Devil Woman" by Suzanne Archer. First we had a look at the exhibition which features lots of faces, mostly made from clay and plaster with lots of textures.

The children then took a clay tile making workshop inspired by the pieces. They used lots of different items to imprint the clay and make texture. I don't have pictures of their finished pieces yet as they are drying at the centre before being fired. Check back in around 3 weeks.

L using the clay pressing machine to roll out a slab of clay