Friday, April 29, 2011

Things I Know

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to the Things I Know linkup! If you want to play along add your link at the bottom and don't forget to link back to me :)

This week I Know...

-when one of your children get sick enough to want to take her to the doctor it will be on Good Friday at 7pm

-if you think your 2 year old is being unusually quiet in the other room INVESTIGATE. Unless you enjoy cleaning up wet toilet paper from all over the floor.

-keep pens away from your laptop or, like me, you may now be blogging with a big pen scrawl on the screen from the same 2 year old.

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-when you have been breastfeeding for 6 years the nipples on the orangutan at the zoo will bring out intense feelings of empathy. As will this picture at My Three Ring Circus

-a particularly bad dose of PMS the week after easter is dangerous for the kids chocolate stash

-it doesn't matter how big a container of strawberries I buy (1kg!!), they last less than 6 hours in our place. Yum.

-if you have a 3 year old who insists on wearing the same Jesse pajamas every night it might be worth buying a second pair.

-if you are 6 getting pocket money can open up a whole new world of possible purchases!

What do you know this week?


Thursday, April 28, 2011

KLA Thursday- ENGLISH

I've had a couple of requests to put a linkup on this one so if you want to let me know how you have covered one of the Key learning Areas this week please join in!

This week I'm focusing on english in the form of literacy-

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-having instructions read out on a DSi game

-recognizing your name written on your easter egg basket

-perusing magazines and catalogs

-making up nonsense words with magnetic fridge letters and having them read to you

-writing nonsense words with the letters you can write on a magna doodle

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-looking at signs at the zoo

-typing out "emails" on a blank word document

-reading "Where Is The Green Sheep" from memory while turning the pages in the right places

-many hours being read to by your Mama

If you'd like to join in here is the link up!



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We Play! Inspired by Tutankahmen

We Play


We were fortunate enough to go to see the Tutankhamen exhibition at the Melbourne Museum recently. We got some books out from the library beforehand to give the Tannah and Willow an idea of what we were going to look at.

Tannah LOVED this exhibition. Yes, it was packed and no, I shouldn't have taken the younger two but it has really sparked in interest in all things Egypt and mummies and Pharaohs with Tannah.

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There have been games where soft toys have been made into mummies and there has been drawing on her face with black texta to make eye liner. There have been many questions about all things from hieroglyphics to how you would pull a brain out your nose with a hook. Tannah was especially excited when we saw these shapes at the art and craft shop we love.

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I'm already planning a trip back to the exhibit with just Tannah and I-I love seeing her interest piqued :)

We're playing along with Childhood 101's WE PLAY! Check it out for more great play ideas.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A space for our girls

We live in a small 3 bedroom house and are always trying to come up with creative ways to use that space. I was came across this blog post over at Let The Children Play and was inspired by the flow of their preschool. Their were well defined dramatic, construction and creative spaces without separation.

We looked at the layout of our house. Because we were using the house the way the designer had in mind (pretty much, we were using the master bedroom as a toy room)the girls had 3 very separate spaces. A room to sleep (for the big 2, Harper sleeps in with us) a room for toys & play and the art space was in the dining room so it was on the tiles. These spaces were all over the place.

After much chatting and consultation with my bestie, we decided to use the master bedroom and the lounge room as our "pods" as they are adjoining and it is a decent amount of space. We made the dining room the lounge room-which makes it off the kitchen which is really working for us-and the room that Tannah and Willow were sleeping in became the dining room.

Would you like to see photos? I thought you might.

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View from the front door. This is the art space and construction corner. I decided to put my computer table in this room so we could all "work" together and the girls would be able to use the computer as well (until I get my iPad-one day!). The extra table in the middle has so many uses from setting up play scenes to eating lunch!

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This is our building/construction corner.

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On the left is the farmhouse with the Schleich animals and dinosaurs underneath. Also some wooden fencing and a tray of natural materials such as shells and leaves. The big box is wooden blocks.

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To the right is cars, trains and track and duplo with a few random bits and pieces.

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This is the art table. I took a LOT of inspiration from this post at Childhood101. It might look a bit bare now but those corkboards are usually full to the brim! The containers on the rack from Ikea have been a massive hit with my girls. They love having some supplies where they can be easily accessed without help.
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The art cupboard has all out supplies in there as well as puzzles and games, marble runs and a shelf just for my stuff!

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This is on the left hand wall and houses all of the toys my girls love like their Polly Pockets, My little Ponies, Barbies and Playmobil-as well as a selection of well loved Waldorf type toys.

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A view of the bedroom from the door. They have a small walk in robe and even smaller ensuite off to the left-it might seem excessive but this will be a bedroom for three teenage girls eventually! This room has all the dramatic play gear in it as well as a reading nook. I think having a bed in here works really well as it can be a baby's bed, a hospital bed or a boat! It can transform to fit the imaginations of the children.

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Kitchen corner. All the bits and pieces are easy to see on the shelves. Tannah and Willow have a cork board each to pin interesting things up on. I'm keeping my eye out for a little kids sized "dining table".

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Dolls table, dress up station and soft toys.

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Dress ups are hung on cup hooks on the side of the storage unit (from the tip shop!) so the clothes are easy to see and the smaller bits are in buckets. Playcloths are in a basket on top.

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The reading nook-my favorite! The L-shape of the bunks makes a cozy cubby underneath. We put an LED touch light in there and made a display for the books simply by nailing in two pieces of wood at the bottom of the shelf. Children find it much easier to choose from a smaller selection of books which I can rotate regularly. Add a beanbag and reading heaven.
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So there you have it! I wanted to add that ALL the shelves,the wooden stove, computer table, wooden kids table and many of the toys were bought second hand. Either at garage sales, the tip shop or eBay. We cleaned up and modified them ourselves-well my husband did. The most expensive thing we bought was one Ikea desk ($70) and most of the storage tubs were bought brand new but not all at once. making your space more user friendly doesn't have to mean masses of room or lots of money spent-and it doesn't have to be all done at once. I have been preparing for well over a month and used a list to help me buy what I needed a little bit at a time. And to hit some garage sales!

Now to get playing and creating!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Things I Know-the sleepover edition

Welcome to the Things I Know linkup! Tell me what you know this week using the linky below and don't forget to link back to me :)

Right now I have 4 extra kids in my house for a sleepover. They are kids who are near and dear to me that I have known since Tannah was just 6 months old. Their Mamas are my favorite and you probably read their blogs- Picklebums, Kate says Stuff and Bogue Living.

Here is what I know about sleepovers so far

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-don't tell your child that TODAY is sleepover day until the guests are walking up your driveway. Unless you enjoy being asked "Is it time NOW?" a million times and appreciate the dulcet tones of *huge sigh* "It's taking FOREVER"

-having a craft activity that requires no preparation is worth every cent

-dobbing is always appreciated when babies are drawing on things they shouldn't be

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-getting 7 girls to be still for a photo is not easy, if not impossible

-it's kinda nice to think your friends trust you enough to take care of their kids

-Play School is STUPID and for BABIES

-Having a born leader in the group takes the pressure off me nicely! Thanks Aussie for keeping everyone in line!

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-Enormous beds on the floor and late night screenings of Bindi the Jungle Girl are irresistible to even the bounciest of kids at 10pm

-I'm doing this post tonight because I know I won't have a hope in the morning!




New- KLA Thursday. SCIENCE

I love getting insight and inspiration from other bloggers on home education (amongst other things)so I thought I'd start this weekly post to share how we have covered one of the KLA'a over the week without using curriculum.

The 8 Key Learning Areas are English, maths, science, technology, health and physical education, the arts, studies of society and the environment (SOSE) and language other than English (LOTE).



This week we have covered SCIENCE with-

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-revisiting potion making often. It is an activity all 3 of the girls really enjoy and ask for regularly. Free discovery like in this Teacher Tom post I have mentioned before is everyone's preferred way to do it. And then I do a load of washing and fill the dishwasher.

-we have watched some You Tube of the planets. Tannah is very interested in the seasons and the sun. We have been talking about the north and south poles and length of day and night.

-we made jelly today and it turned into Tannah hypothesizing how long it would take to set using the oven timer.

-the movie Bambi prompted more reproduction questions. Lots of talk about animal behavior around fighting for a mate. We watched some more "Life of Mammals". Mr Attenborough is far more eloquent than I.

-Tannah is getting much faster on her scooter and part of that is learning how to judge how long she will take to stop in relation to how fast she is going.

I'm planning on revisiting this theme every Thursday, if there is a KLA you'd like me to cover in particular let me know!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Backed into a corner

So wise Mamas-how do you deal with that feeling of being backed into a corner and feeling like the only way out is with force? How do you keep being respectful to your children when they are being downright rude and difficult?

We had an incident at the park the other day where Tannah was being cross. She was cross with me, she was cross with her sisters and she seemed hell bent on making everyone cross with her. It culminated in her lying down and screaming at me when I told her I was not going for a second round of pushing on the swings (for a few valid reasons I'm not going into). I decided to pull the pin on the park because no one was having fun so I herded everyone to the car and started to get ready to go.

Tannah says "NO! I will NOT get in the car!" and proceeds to sit on the ground and make her cranky face at me. I am still keeping my cool at this stage and I ask her again. "NOOOOO! No no no! I'm staying here"

By this point I was tired and I'll admit it, I was pissed off. I felt like her behavior had backed me into a corner. The way she was treating everyone was not OK, tired and a few days after her birthday or not. If an adult had been speaking to me the way she had been then I'd of told them to piss off and gone home long ago.

I asked her to get in the car again. This time it was not a question. She stands defiantly. "NO! You are being the meanest mother EVER!" Well that was it for me. All that anger I had been controlling came welling up and I thought "Fuck you! I'll give you mean!" and then, it bubbled over.

"Get in the fucking car Tannah-NOW" Loudly, in front of all the people at the park who were already staring at the 6 year old being, for want of a better word, an asshole.

She says nothing but does not move.

"NOW!" I scream it. So loudly and I am seeing RED.I'm so MAD at her and my internal dialogue (thank god we are at the park so i just say things in my head and not out loud)is running and it's feels like a string of expletives.

She is startled by my yell. She looks at me like she can't believe I have spoken to her that way (I don't speak to her that way)her anger moves to upset and she gets in her seat. I've won. I scared her into getting in the car and she is crying. I've made a six year old cry by yelling at her. But the adrenalin is still pumping from all of the fight or flight hormones from the "backed into a corner" feeling. And before I can stop myself-

"No sleepover on Thursday. Tough luck"

The sleepover has been planned for weeks and she has been so excited about having 4 friends come to stay. The thing is I said this because I wanted to upset her. It is the emptiest threat in the history of empty threats-and we don't use punishments, rewards or threats at our place so it's completely left field. And it hits the mark.

"Mummy noooooo, I'm sorry. Pleeeaaseee" Sobbing now.

All of a sudden I feel like a piece of dirt. Regret. Knowledge that I handled it badly and bullied an overtired child into the car. Tannah's behavior was not OK but the way I handled it by screaming at her and making empty threats to scare her into submission was worse. I drove home without saying a word.

Later we talked, I apologized. She did too. We discussed behavior, hers and mine. There was cuddles and confirmation that the sleepover was going ahead.



How do you stop the volcano erupting?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life learning happens in real life!

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I'm writing this post as a reminder to myself. I have been working on a couple of guest blogs recently (big exciting ones wooooooo!)and have been saying things like "learning happens everywhere, even at the supermarket" blah blah blah *cough*.

It turns out it won't if I always leave the kids at home with their Dad while I go to the shops.

One of the advantages of having a shift working husband is that he is often at home during the day, making it really easy for me to duck out and do errands. Errands the kids ASK to come on and I tell them no. I'll admit it, it's MUCH easier for me to go to the shops without them. That and I can often sneak in a half strength latte while I'm out to enjoy without monitoring bubbacino to table ratios.

But I think there is a lot they could be getting out of these trips.

Without making myself a martyr who must take the children with her to learn things I think I can change my focus and make these jaunts to the shops more for everyone.

And if I take the kids when Luke is at work then there will be time for me to go for a walk on my own while he is home. Hmmmmm, this just gets better!

I'm joining in with Owlet for Unschool Monday

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Facepaint and sausage sangers

This morning we were all a little antsy and bored. We had plans later in the day but had a couple of hours to kill. I was just about to put a DVD on for the kiddos and do some housework (I know, really) when I remembered that a local farmers market was on.

The sun was shining and I remembered Childhood 101's Get Outdoors challenge. I also remembered the awesome Yum Cha stall at said farmers market. We hastily got dressed and we were out the door.

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There is so much to see and do at a farmers market. We had conversations with stall holders about a variety of topics including alpacas and the difference between a pony and a foal. There was face painting.
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Sausage sangers and YUM CHA. Truly, Yum Cha at the market. So awesome.
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There were ponies and chooks, ducks and dogs and loads of other kids running about the place. And home made lollies and rocky road. Ahem.
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We had such a lovely time in the fresh air eating food, making new friends, running around and investigating and discovering new and exciting fruits and veggies.

And I scored a free 6 pack of sausages to take home. Which I might have cooked if my belly was not full of chicken spring roll.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Things I Know

Happy Friday everyone! Welcome to the Things I Know linkup-I'd love to see what you know this week so link up below and don't for get to link back to me.

This week I know-

-nothing evokes such terror as being on home ed camp and watching kids your child has played with come down with gastro (we still haven't had it yet *crosses fingers and toes*)

-if you want to have great photos of said camp to share either chage your camera's batteries or pack the charger.

-portable DVD players for the car are worth their weight in gold.

-birthday girls like to cut their own slice of birthday cake.
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-Now that Tannah has a hand held gaming system I keep finding Luke stashed away in corners playing "Littlest Pet Shop"

-4 days and 3 nights away on camp with 3 children and no husband can leave a Mama feeling completely exhausted, and kind of scared of how much washing there is to do.





-

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My biggest girl is SIX!

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I can't help but be emo at my biggest girl getting bigger-I mean what happened to this baby huh?
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I have shed my tears this week over her birth and it's effects, like every year. and I have appreciated all of the virtual hugs I've received from those who know how it was for me in the early days. But this year I look at my beautiful girl and my heart swells up so much with love and pride and I'm so grateful to her for all she has taught me.

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Sometimes I look at her or hear her speak and I almost can't believe that I am the Mama of a child of her age! I'm constantly moved by her kindness and sensitivity, I'm proud of her determination and spunk and I'm so excited about watching her grow up and make sense of the world around her.

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Tannah has really blossomed over the last year and come into her own. I'm still so glad she is our Tans and I'm honored to be her Mama.

Happy birthday babe. Not enough words for how much I love you.
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Things I Know

Welcome to the Things I Know linkup! Link up below and tell me what you know this week.

The Things I Know this week-

-if the soundtrack to a kids movie is incredibly catchy you might want to avoid downloading it unless you want to be singing this to yourself all day


-I still find it disturbing that my husband doesn't like gravy with a roast.

-make sure you have all the ingredients available before agreeing to cook biscuits with your daughter

-make sure the stroller is in the car before attempting a stack of jobs down the main street

-one of your children having a sleepover can upset the applecart of the other two, especially the one who likes things to roll a certain way.

-blogs can be very inspiring! Thanks Teacher Tom for the idea for this weeks "science class"
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-if you like op shopping be sure and check out your local tip shop!

-if you start a link up you should do it first thing in the morning unless you want to get hassled on Twitter ;)



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We Play! Frog ponds.

We Play



Tannah announced out of the blue that our backyard needed a frog pond and she knew just how to make it.

She chose a nice shady spot, away from where birds would see the frogs, and began to dig. She found willing help from her sisters.
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The pond absolutely needed water and this was everyone's favorite part of the construction
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Then it was decided that the frogs would need plants to sit on and "beautiful flowers". and voila!
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I did no suggesting or interfering in the busy work and brainstorming that went on between my oldest 2, though I did fetch requested tools and stop them from leaving their youngest sister with no jobs to do at all. It was so interesting to me (and delightful!) to watch them discuss and delegate. The next morning the water was all gone of course and there has been much discussion about how to fix that problem and how the frog pond can be made better. We've had a look HERE for some great information and inspiration.

I wonder what the next phase will be...

I'm playing along with Childhood 101's WE PLAY! for great and inspiring play ideas.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Winner of the Dayna Martin book giveaway

Tannah drew a name out of a hat and it was SHU.

Congratulations and I'll contact you to arrange postage :)

The myth of Unschooling

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Fruit salad by Willow


I think one of the great myths surrounding radical unschooling is that it is somehow so hands off that the kids will learn by osmosis. I absolutely believe that this is not the case.

Sure, it's about trust, freedom and following the interests of your child but that does not mean that as a parent you are not part of the equation.

I'll use television as an example. In our place our girls have unrestricted access to screen time. But as Sandra Dodd has pointed out-the TV should not be the best thing to do, it's one thing to do in a lot of great choices. I will have art (and I'm calling it "art-not craft" now thanks Christie!) supplies out and available, I might set up the train set or a play scene and I might invite them to do something or go somewhere. I strew
and rotate things around to keep them interesting. If I pop the TV on and then park myself in front of the computer for the next hour with no interaction or alternative things to do you can guarantee that the kids will pick the TV-because it is the most interesting thing to do. There are great shows that we all love to watch and there are times when TV is preferred over other choices, but there are lots of ways I can be helpful and part of the process rather than just waking up and leaving them to it.

I am able to bring lots of interesting ideas and stimulus into the lives of my children and see where they go with it. I don't have to wait for someone to say "I wonder what happened to the dinosaurs" before putting a dinosaur book in the mix or bringing home a fossil kit. I can show my child how to write her name without it being a lesson with an expected outcome. I can put workbooks in with the colouring in books and see what happens. I can find something on You Tube that I think might be interesting or take everyone to an exhibition. I make plans to spend time with new families to see if we get along.

I answer questions and seek out things that are directly related to topics my girls are currently interested in. I make time for us to catch up with their friends and I take them to their chosen activities. I make notes and inquiries when I come across exhibitions etc that would interest us. I keep the house chaos free and make sure their toys and art supplies are easy to access.

I am very active in the unschooling of my children, the difference is that I have no expectation (or I remind myself to have no expectation!) of where the adding of ideas or books etc will take them. I don't "teach" my girls, but they do learn and I am a facilitator to that rather than a passive personal assistant.


I'm joining in with Owlet for Unschool Monday

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A trip to the childrens garden

WE took a trip to the children's garden at the botanical gardens on Friday. We had a great day and I urge anyone who is in Melbourne to go and enjoy it there. There is a little trickling stream and a fountain that encourage water play so do take a change of clothes!

I took some lovely photos while we were there and thought I'd join in with Frogpondsrock for her Sunday Selections photo linky. She takes beautiful photos and there are lots of other lovely ones to look at in the link up. Makes my DSLR lust ramp up a little.

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This is my favorite for the day
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Tired girls on the train trip home
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bambo Training pants review

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It's no secret that I have had a long love affair with cloth nappies. It's only recently that I have been using disposable nappies with any sort of regularity and I do try and make better choices when it comes to where I spend my money there.

I was thrilled to be given a packet of the Bambo training pants from Modern Little Munchkins . Bambo are made free from harmful chemicals and are 75% biodegradable. They are one of only 3 nappies to be given the "green buy" recommendation by Choice magazine.

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Both of my small girls sleep in a disposable and Willow (3 and a half) will only wear "undies nappies" so it's pull up style nappies or bust. We found the Bambo pants were easy to put on and off and they were really absorbent and kept the girls dry. There is also a picture on the nappy which was a big hit here. I'm really glad to have found a chlorine and perfume free nappy in a training pant style and will be using them in the future.

Disclosure-I was given a pack as a sample but was not paid for this post, the opinions are my own.
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