Exploring Melbourne

DSC_0490Weeks are flying by and already we are greeted with a coolness in the air, and easter eggs have been in the front rows of our supermarkets. I don’t mind too much. I like a change. One thing I’ve decided to do more of this year is excursions. I want to break up our weeks and months with bursts of randomness, having fun exploring for new and interesting things. We have been on holidays in recent years, here and there, but forget what gems are in our own part of the world.

This Wednesday we had one of those days. Our homeschool co-op had booked in an excursion to Scienceworks, seeing as we are all studying Chemistry and Physics together. Perfect! Until we get the message that one of the staff there had booked in the wrong day. I wasn’t about to let that keep me home, so we decided that we would jump on the train and explore our beautiful city Melbourne.

My parents joined us and we had the most amazing time visiting various places. My dad is a tour guide and so what better person to point us in the right direction but him!!??!!

We made no official plans of places to visit, and I decided that I would take it as it comes, and also how the kids coped walking around all day. They were amazing and I was in pain having chosen fashion over comfort. Eek. Lesson learnt!!

Best part? We spent nothing except on our train tickets, and a few doughnuts, which we probably could’ve done without (thou they were yummy!)

Some of the places we visited were

Treasury building – truly an amazing place, where people used to keep their gold that they found, back in the gold rush, safe. Only problem was that if their cart got robbed before making it to the building, all was lost. No insurance back in those days!! Lots of areas for the kids to look in, and they got to explore the holding cells where all the gold used to be kept.

Cost: FREE

Federation Square – Up above the playground at Fed Square, there is the rooftop gardens. They just showed them on My Kitchen Rules this week, so the kids were excited that they had been there. You can see how to make a small garden work in your own home, and then once you have finished looking around, take the stairs down to the ground level and voila – Fed Square playground. So fun and kids of all ages can have fun here.

Cost: FREE

Sofitel Hotel – My dad insisted we take the kids up to level 35 and go to the toilet. Seriously. As we opened the door to the women’s toilets, we were greeted with the most beautiful view of the city, looking over at the MCG and Richmond. My girls were so fascinated with the toilet view! Apparently the men’s toilets have a better view – I took my dad’s word for it.

Cost: FREE

National Art Gallery of Melbourne – Lastly, we had a quick look at a few exhibits in the gallery. It was their first visit there. The girls loved looking up at the stained glass roof in one of the rooms. There was multiple pictures taken as they lay on the floor. We decided to take a look at another exhibit, dating back to the 1800’s. After passing many naked statues, Peachy declares “mum, these statues are kinda weird” which brought us into an interesting discussion on why they were naked. All in the name of art!?!

Cost: FREE

All in all it was a fabulous day, with lots of laughs and chatter, and plans for our next adventure to wherever our train would take us. What places have you explored in your home town?

Love Love xx

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Hello 2015, I love you already!!

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Can you believe 2015 is already here, and we are on the 5th day of it!!??!! I’m excited for what this year holds and what we as a family hope to achieve, personally as well as in our schooling.

I would have to say that I am one of those people that get drawn into the whole New Years resolution scheme. Ok, I love it. I love the idea of change, and what could be, if only I put my mind to it. Though, this year I feel I have to acknowledge that there was so much I loved about 2014, some I didn’t, and lots of things I’ve learnt that I’ll take into 2015 with me.

I really feel like our homeschool changed a few directions in 2014. Personally, I released a lot of expectations and ideas of what homeschooling should look like. Its safe to say that every families homeschool is quite different, and thats fine by me! I love to hear how others school and do life with their family and community. For me, I became aware that how I homeschool my girls is unique to my family, and that is perfect for us.

We also let go of a few unnecessary outside activities and mixed up our schedule a bit. I like that. I like changing it around and so do the girls. I want to always be working towards what we are called to do, rather than just ticking a box and being what we or others think we should be.

I also simplified our curriculum, so as we could maximise on learning rather than trying to get everything done. Traditional schools don’t even do that – try and complete every subject in a day, so what made me think I could, or rather my kids could do this?? I know, I am hilarious at times!!

In 2015, I want to shake it up completely. I am already thinking, praying, planning, reading, researching for the coming school year. I am really excited for school this year, and can’t wait to share with you the direction we are taking. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on our school plan for 2015!!

LEM Review and Why I love it!!

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(Lulu using the whiteboard for a multiple phonogram activity)

Since I began homeschooling Peachy 4 years ago (then aged 6), I have used LEM Phonics by Light Education Ministries with each of my girls to teach English. Peachy’s school used LEM and I remember being quite impressed with the methods used in teaching her to read. I decided that I would continue to use LEM in our homeschooling, and have never looked back.

I love using LEM. There – I said it!! I think its great in teaching how to read, and has a really easy way of helping children to write. It continues through the years with really practical activities to do each week, as well as incorporating workbooks and there are lots of tools for them to succeed.

Peachy was taught the first year at school, and so was a confident reader by the time I took her out of school.  Lulu and Jewel had no time in school so I had to teach them from the beginning. I was extremely SCARED to say the least with the thought of their reading being my complete responsibility. LEM really took the pressure of the how to and amazingly each child has learnt to read successfully. Each of my girls are very different personalities, as well as having VERY different learning styles. It was a good fit for all three.

So here is some pros and cons I have found using LEM.

Pros

It gives a solid foundation for learning to read and write

They take the reading and writing as a whole and teach the student to learn how to do both. It is important to get them to write as well as learning each sound (especially if your child is a visual learner)

Has teachers notes together with the students activities

There are lots of extra tools to help (hearing each sound on cd, interactive PDFs so they can click on the sound and then hear it)

The little reading books work on each multiple phonogram so they can read a book with success

Main idea is never move forward until they have grasped each concept (time is your friend!!)

Workbooks are simply laid out and don’t require the student to do lengthy activities Christian based curriculum (general edition is also available)

Thorough with how to explain each rule Kids learn rules quite easily and have many opportunities to review over the years

Offers daily tasks to cement rules and all the learning tools you need for life long reading and writing

Can easily and quickly pick up when they have not learnt a rule or concept and address it there and then IT WORKS!!

Cons

Workbooks are not colourful (which can be boring for some kids, though mine never really cared)

Can seem scary at first seeing all those numbers and lines around each word when teaching the word lists

The HOW DO I START is a bit overwhelming. It would help if there was a really simple booklet for homeschoolers to explain the methods and the “how to’s” really simply to show just how simple this program really is.

I completely understand this program is not for everyone. I get it. A few of my friends have found it overwhelming and either cut back on what was required or stopped using it all together. You always need to consider what is a good fit for your kids and yourself (as you will be teaching and directing this curriculum). The first 6 months of teaching this, I was pretty much on autopilot. I just read what I was meant to do and tried to teach and learn the best I could. I wish I had someone I could have talked to about it so as I could have learnt the ins and outs of it real quick. Someone to tell me its not as complicated as it looked.

Light Education Ministries are a great place to call and ask questions. A few years back I was actually able to talk to Evelyn Garret (who created this curriculum) and get a bit of advice from her. It was comforting to know that I was able to call and that I wasn’t completely alone!

Light Educational Ministries

Please note: I received nothing for reviewing this curriculum, nor was I asked by LEM to review it. The opinions in this post are my own and are provided to be of some assistance with how this curriculum works.

New Waters

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I keep getting that feeling that I can’t shake.

You know, the one where you know you’re meant to do something, but just ignore it?

It’ll go away, right? WRONG!!

Well, for a while now, I know I have had to start up this blog. I’ve always thought of it, but the reality of it has been just plain too hard. I’m a busy mum (arn’t we all). I’ve got 3 kids (many have more). My schedule is crazy (oh big suprise here). I homeschool, and that takes up a big chunk of my day (ok, ok, enough of the excuses).

I know, I know – why do we need ANOTHER homeschooling blog?? I’d like to think that it’ll be more than that. I’m praying that this will be a place of encouragement, of fresh ideas, a place where you feel a sense of belonging, of where we share, and explore, create.

Yes, we are a crazy homeschooling family, and I love it. We are a bit here and there – but, hey, who’s not!!! So, as I start this journey I invite you to come along for the ride. Enjoy, be blessed, and lets do this!