Monday, March 31

farming + maths

Farmerama is a free MMORPG - although a young child can play on their own unaware of other online players. The idea is simple - you are a farmer. The execution though, as any farmer knows, is a lot of; planning, critical thinking, organising, calculating, managing funds, and decision making.

You have crops and livestock, which you have to care for and harvest. Eventually you sell your produce at a city market. This is real life selling (game money) that other players are buying from you. What is amazing to me, is that the market behaves dynamically - that is, prices fluctuate and are determined by supply and demand, just like a real market.

Profits are essential to maintain your farm. So you have to carefully manage your money, sow the most profitable crops, and sell often. The older the child, the more involved they can become with all these aspects.

For now, tending her farm, including choosing which crops to sow and feeding her animals, is her focus. I guide her along at the market.

A really powerful life skills and maths game that because it isn't created as an educational game doesn't feel like one!

beasts + bones

I haven't written in over a week. Partly because she has been unwell (just a cold but a lingering worse-during-the-night cough, on a few days there I was in my Barely Functioning Mode - if child is fed, watered and hugged, that will have to do).

Also partly because she has been doing a lot of that learning that comes from doing and exploring lots of little things. The type that I try to document but often just live it alongside of her - which is the best way of course. Lastly, because I discovered a book series that she adores and so has been reading, reading, and then reading some more.

So last week was all about Beast Quest. A well-written, exciting fantasy series. It was aimed at encouraging 7-yr-old boys to read, but it's entertaining for both boys and girls. Especially as there is a girl who teams up with the male protagonist and she is brave, clever, and helpful.

Honestly, I thought it was a bit advanced in topic. She had been reading Never Girls - and I wish publishing houses would offer girls more than fairies and girly friendship situations.

Beast Quest is all about scary beasts under an evil wizard's spell, that the heroes have to find, fight and rescue. However, they are beasts who want to be good, and the fighting is not graphically violent. If I had found a series of chapter books without all these elements it would still have been my preference. But hey, she isn't troubled by the scary bits (quite frankly amazing to me for a girl who has numerous fears like spiders and scary noises, etc).

Even the images on the covers are a bit much. Yet she seems focused on the exciting action and has called them AMAZING. I opened a goodreads account for her. I would have loved to see what books I read as a child.

She read 5 of these on day one and about 8 on the second day. I bought her a pre-loved set of 52 books. She has slowed down now, her brain needs a break I suppose.

We also watched a 5-part series, The Secret of Bones. What fabulous timing for a girl who loves bones. A BBC production, we caught it just in time due to a heads-up from a fellow Home Ed parent.

I did discover though, that despite how much she loves bones she is quite clear she doesn't want to make it her work when she grows up. Interesting how well they know their own minds when you leave them to it.


Her idea to make an air tank out of large paper and string and a straw... and use old tissue boxes as flippers.... and a diver is made.

Me: "Where are you headed?"
Miss5: "To sea lion rockeries, because sharks like to hunt seals and sea lions."
Dad: " What are you hoping to see?"
Miss5: "A Great White".

Thursday, March 20

Sharks unit

She's been stuck into her sharks this week. Lots of printables, worksheets, mazes, online puzzles, videos. I like to pick and choose the printables from whole lapbooks, as well as mix them up to balance out handwriting, maths, games, facts - keeping it fresh, age/interest appropriate, and fun.

Some of the resources we used:

National Geo Great White Sharks
KidsZone Shark Activities
Kids Discovery Game
Shark Lapbook - homeschoolshare
Maths and Sharks

More resources in my Animals Sea board.

Friday, March 14

sharks & books

She's been doing so much creative play this week that I have been hesitant to interrupt with any ideas or outings. Even going to the library (we did have some books on reserve so had to go) took convincing.

One morning she woke and decided she had a shark project to do. It was a collage and from start to finish the idea and execution are all hers, including the tricky cutting out. She did ask that I draw the shark but I insisted this was her project. Plus she had already drawn a wonderful shark on her board. She gave it a shot and was proud of herself.

It's a Great White and it says "Save the Shark". This is a huge coincidence because I have bought her a Great White conservation pack for her birthday!

She has explored, and continues to enjoy



"This is a crystal ball, you can see your friend if they have one as well.
It's a bit like Skype for the olden days."


Daisy Dawson and the Secret Pond, Steve Voake
Daisy Dawson and the Big Freeze, Steve Voake

Oliver Moon & the Dragon Disaster, Sue Mongredien
Princess Power: The Perfectly Proper Prince, Susan DeVore Williams

3-D Human Body DK
A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World DK

Wednesday, March 12

Cusinaire Rods

Today I introduced her to Cuisenaire Rods, which we have decided to call Maths Rods. She has been playing around and self-exploring further Maths so I asked if she wanted to do some Maths with mama. An enthusiastic yes got me taking these out which have been waiting for a month.

I started with the Orange Book of the Miquon series. I actually adapted the first sheets to my own ideas based on what she has already explored. I got the idea to teach her tallying. And we looked at groupings to create sums.

Then I brought in the rods.

I let her explore them herself through play. She soon lined them up according to length, so then I started asking questions - which is the largest, are all the greens the same length, by how much are they different?

She played with them like a toy, just having fun, being creative. Then we played a 'guess my pattern' game. I make a pattern behind a box and then must give her directions so that she re-creates my pattern. I remove the 'screen' and we see how close they match up. She was keen to take turns and it was good fun and hard brain work.

Really great game for pattern recognition, giving directions, being clear with language, directions, relationship (under, next to), logical thinking and reasoning....

Back to creative play.... the rods became the teeth of her imaginary creature (boyballs). She was a scientist, I suggested a zoologist, and she invited me to assist her in classifying them. Each colour of teeth told a story about that species of boyball. Red were fire-breathing boyballs, milk were domestic, purple were herbivores who ate lots of berries, and so on.

I think that the inspiration for that came partly from a book she read a few days back.

Archaeologists Dig for Clues, Kate Duke


I bought the Lab Sheet Annotations book as well, which is supposed to provide instructions, but I don't find it at all clear or detailed enough. Fortunately, I have some experience in teaching Maths as a tutor, but more importantly, we don't have a classical approach and it's fine for me as a guideline. I think this is aimed at teachers and therefore make most sense to them, or to parents who have teaching or maths experience. Otherwise I can't really recommend them to most parents as a user-friendly resource.

Friday, March 7

Habitats and Mozart

Last week she started a drama group. It's for young'uns 4-7, and it's mostly role-playing and movement.

That Friday she created algebra on her blackboard.
tick + tick = 2tick

She was ill with a fever so we had a quiet week.


Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas

This week has been slow (busy having daddy time) but we have done quite a bit on habitats. More on basic mapping, reinforcing the types of habitats, where they are found around the world, and understanding what it is to have a healthy and supportive environment. Also more games.

Mozart the Wonder Boy, Opal Wheeler

The Magic Flute, Anne Gatti

We've continued our Mozart appreciation with two books. She has seen 2 parts from The Magic Flute but now I've introduced her properly to the story. She's keen to watch the opera with me.


Tom's Dragon Trouble, Tony Bradman
Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go, Annie Barrows

Never Girls #1 in a Blink, Kiki Thorpe
Never Girls #2 the Space Between, Kiki Thorpe

Monday, March 3

reproduction education

We have spoken in general terms about how babies are made but it was in school (a Steiner Kindergarten mind you) that she picked up the term sperm. It reminded me of something I have always believed - if we don't tell them, someone else will, and it could be incorrect, scary, misleading, inappropriate, or simply a missed opportunity between you and your child.

I came across It's NOT the stork and thought it would be a good framework to work our way through the subject. I was really impressed. It's very, very, well put together. The cartoon images are clear, leave nothing out, and yet manage to remain age-appropriate. The text is similarly clear and leaves nothing out. It includes a section on okay and not okay touch, as well as different types of families.

It's definitely a book you would need to read through before deciding if it's right for your child.

I hate to admit that I almost skipped the, act of making a baby page. I know, ME?! It's just that I know how curious and observant my girl is - I couldn't help wondering what she would do with the information. At school she wore a sock as a 'willy' and played toilet games.

But like most subjects, I figure early rather than too late is best. Make it a normal topic now and it reduces or completely eliminates any awkwardness later.

Like a typical 5 yr-old, she took all in her stride. Helped by having some idea already of functions, full idea of body parts and the differences between girls and boys.

When watching a wildlife documentary the next day, she commented on two cheetahs mating,

"I guess he's trying to put sperm into her".

Yup, it's all body functions.

(I'm refraining from using the S word due to spamming/web searches, so forth.)