Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Mapping Our Community

Today we worked on creating a simple map of our community with important (to us) places marked on it.

First we got a base map free from our local council offices, you could also use a tourist map or one printed from Google Maps. We traced out the main features such as the river, main roads, town centre and the location of our house. To make it easy we stuck the original map and the tracing paper down to the table to stop it moving. We actually used baking paper rather than tracing paper as its bigger and cheaper!

Tracing the main map features
Once the tracing was complete we TURNED IT OVER and then scribbled over all the lines on the back with a soft (2B) graphite pencil.

Using the side of a soft pencil to colour over the back of our map features
We then turned the paper right side up again and taped it over some cartridge paper. Pressing firmly with an ordinary pencil we drew over all our lines again. We then removed the tracing and the graphite had transferred to the paper giving us a copy of our map. We then went over the lines where needed to give clarity.

Then the children added colours, symbols, a key, scale, compass directions and a title to their maps.

By R

By L

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Exploring Space

This week we have been finishing off our space unit study. We talked about the constellations and researched some stories behind them. We had a go at making our own constellations by splattering paint and then looking for images in our "sky" just like ancient peoples did in the heavens above.

We also made a scale model of the solar system that was around 800m long! For that we had to use a large stretch of our road and lots of different sized balls spread out along it to represent the Sun and the planets. Find out how to do it here. Our Sun was a football whilst the planets ranged from a bouncy ball for Jupiter to a pin head for the dwarf planet Pluto. Earth was represented by a peppercorn. The children loved pacing out the distances between the planets and this activity really shows the relative sizes of the planets (and Sun) and the empty space between them. The neighbours probably wondered what the crazy family was up to this time!

The planets

Sunday, 24 November 2013


Today we went along to the Powerhouse Museum. We caught the "Sydney Mini Maker Faire" - which showcases lots of strange inventions by students and enthusiasts from around Sydney. We saw robots, 3D printing, textiles, and lots of electrical things we couldn't identify!

We also saw the new "Playing With Light" exhibition which has lots of hands-on experiments.

We caught a show all about liquid nitrogen and visited some of our favourite galleries and the playground.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A Walk In The Gardens

On Saturday we decided to walk off a rather large lunch by visiting Mount Annan Botanic Gardens. We found some amazing coloured beetles feeding on the plants.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Family Tree

The children have spent a few weeks investigating their family tree. They collected information about relatives and put it into a database. This information was then put into the My Heritage family tree program which you can download free from their website.

The program can build all sorts of styles of family tree for you like the ones above and below.

The children also used old photos of family members to scrapbook a family tree double page spread.

They used Google Maps to locate their ancestors birthplaces on a map of the UK.

We added the family members onto a time line.

We also had fun looking at old photographs and discussing family stories.

Vegetable Gardens

New raised bed

We have increased the size of our veggie patch and installed a drip irrigation system. The children have their own patch too. We've planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, onions, garlic, basil, peas, peppers, strawberries, spinach, celery, and a few flowers. Now we are experimenting with the watering system to get the right amount of water onto our crops.

Kids veggie patch

Our existing square foot garden

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Strange Art

We have spent a few weeks making our final pieces from our sketches and designs (see previous posts). R made this crazy cushion (pictured above). Its made from fabric scraps which he mostly machine sewed. Here's the original design from which it came:

I think it's amazing that this piece was developed from a sketch of a spaghetti spoon!

L choose to make a painted relief sculpture which was inspired by a dolls face. I love the colours she has chosen.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Joey Scout Camp 2013

This weekend R and Dad attended the Joey Scout camp. The theme was the wild west. Here are some photos of their trip.

Sweet Delights

This weekend L and I had a boy free house so she decide we needed to make cup-cakes and biscuits!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

2700km - So What?

If you've been reading lately you'll have seen that we have been travelling across New South Wales and Victoria on a camping trip. So we've been having a holiday, not doing any school work or anything educational right?

Well yes.....

....and no!

All though the trip was primarily a holiday break there was plenty of learning going on too. Most home-educators consider that children are learning all the time not just when we are actively engaging them in a "lesson" or other activity. Many home-educators trust this "natural learning" completely and do no formal instruction at all (otherwise known as autonomous education).

We have covered so many subjects and learnt so much during the holiday and it has not felt like work at all. The children have learnt loads about nature, science, geology and physical geography just by exploring the landscape of the national parks. We've covered history by visiting historic sites, monuments, museums and buildings and travelling around Melbourne on the tram. We learnt about science and astronomy at the Scienceworks museum and natural history and Aboriginal culture at the Melbourne museum.

Just walking together through the bush has given us time for lots of amazing discussions including the role of government, palaeontology, the world wars, ecology, weathering, Aboriginal culture, and lots of other things that I have already forgotten.

During the long drives on the motorway the children read loads and loads of library books; some works of fiction, others historical novels or factual books.

So yes, we did have a holiday, but the children (and adults!) were still learning all the time.

Have a look at the essential reading tab above for more about how children learn autonomously.

Blue Waterholes

Today we did a little off road driving to the Blue Waterholes area of the park. Here we hoped to try the Clarke Gorge walking track but the water level in the stream was just to high to allow us to cross safely. Dad waded across just to make sure!

So instead we decided to try the longer (but drier) Nichols George track. This was a great hike which included exploring 2 caves. There were no lights and guided tours here; just us alone with our torches. The limestone forming the caves here is full of fossils. We found many Brachiopods and Crinoids in the 400+ million year old rocks.

On our return we stopped for a wander around the old Coolamine Homestead. Here several buildings still survive from the 1800's gold rush era.

Cheese storage barn

Once again it was back to camp by the river and a quick fire to warm ourselves before the sub zero night!