It's been a bit of an 'off' week for us this week.  DH worked Monday & Tuesday, but ended up with the rest of the week off (not happy about it!  No workies = no pay!) and Frodo has a horrible time focusing when it isn't just the two of us.  

Monday we had his group classes, which went fabulously!  The home school group organizes these classes three out of four terms of the year, and Frodo is in Art, Science with Dr.Joe, and Intro French with the lovely grandmother of one of the group members.  She's a native speaker so it's a really nice opportunity for him to learn from her.  I took a couple of years of French over 20yrs ago in high school, and I find myself remembering a lot of it so that I can practice with him! 

Aside from classes, our big excitement for the week is our photo journaling class at Playful Learning!  It's an e-course that we're enjoying a lot so far.  This weeks' activity is names in photographs... so I won't be able to share Frodo's as he is using his real first name for his project.  I will share MY finished project though, as I don't care since you yahoo's already know my real name lol!   I'll share some of his later projects though!

We had to go out taking photos of the letters of our name to use in our project... conveniently, one of Frodo's letters was found in the Puckles family bake house lol.  So we shared an eclair, with REAL cream (none of this mock cream business tyvm!) Good thing we shared it, as it would have made either of us sick if we'd have tried to eat the whole thing on our own!

We jumped ahead in History Odyssey so that we could study the Ancient Greeks along with the Olympics (GO Aussies!) We managed to get a few lessons worth of it done this week, along with some extra reading.  He & hubby spent the better part of a morning watching Horrible Histories on dvd... omg there was MUCH laughter!  And I was stoked with how much Frodo remembered from some of the Horrible Histories books he has read.

I also got my reporting packet from the Home Education Unit this week... EEK!!!!  It's not due until November, but still @@.    So, a-sample gathering I will go!

*totally not a typical week for us!

I'm going to start with a brief back story for people who haven't been reading my little blog for a while.  Last year my son Frodo went to public school for the first time ever.  He was 9 and in grade 4.  He tried and tried, and was miserable and bullied for the better part of the year.  The school was no help, and in fact made things worse.  You see, Frodo has ADHD, and I strongly suspect hovers on the Aspergers' end of the spectrum.  School was a major struggle for him and they gave lip service to being supportive. In November (our school year runs from the end of January to mid December) I finally said enough and withdrew him.  He was thrilled to return to home schooling but his brothers both love school and really wanted to stay, so that's our family dynamic.

We live a mere 200m from the school, so every morning I take the younger two up to school and Frodo has stayed home and worked on skwirk or read a book.  On those occasions where we were heading straight out to an activity or to run errands after the drop off, he would insist on rolling the windows down and waiting in the car for the few minutes it took to walk the others o class.  No way, no how, was he going onto that school campus where he was so ostracized and traumatized.  And honestly?  I couldn't blame him.

A few weeks ago Sam (who is in grade 2) mentioned that a boy who was in Frodo's class asks how he's doing fairly often and how he likes home schooling.  I didn't think much of it at the time,  but a few days later as the other two put their school shoes on and got ready to head out the door, Frodo said I think I'll go with you.  Colour me surprised, but of course he was welcome to come.  I figured he would want to sit in the car, play my iphone, and then try to sweet talk me into going to the coffee shop for an iced chocolate ;)  But when we pulled into the carpark... he actually started to get OUT of the car!  I tried to hide my surprise, and he said he was hoping to see Chad (not his real name :) to say hi to him.  Well, ok!  So we all walked onto campus and he came with me to drop Merry at his class... and he seemed bummed because we didn't see Chad.  However on the way back to the car, he started waving and saying hi Chad! and stopped & had a chat briefly :)  

I was SO proud of him... and when we got to the car I gave him a hug and told him just that, that I was SO impressed that he walked onto that campus with his head held high despite how much trouble the place had been for him.   And yeah, even though I hadn't planned to go out.. there was definitely an iced chocolate and gingerbread cookie to be had... Courage deserves to be rewarded!

A few days later, he came with us again... and this time he wandered off with Sam towards his class, instead of staying with me.  I called out to him to meet me at Merrys' class when the bell sounded and was a little nervous that he might not find the experience any better than last year, but I had to let him try.  He apparently ran into another boy he knew, and walked to class with him and came running back at the sound of the bell with a big smile :)  Time really does heal wounds I guess.

 As we walked from Merrys' class we saw one of the staff who said hello to him.  I didn't know her, but he did.  She said it was lovely to see him and asked where he's been... he told her and she said she knew a LOT of people that homeschooled and asked how he likes it?  He told her it's great and that we were off to French in the park after drop off.  Part of me hopes that makes it back to the Principal (whom we did not have good experiences with AT all) so she knows what an exceptional little boy she lost at her school.  We haven't actually seen her, but as Frodo has taken to going with me much more often, I'm sure we will.  So I'm working with him on how to respond to her politely  when she approaches him.. because I know she will.  I remind him that people think home schoolers never go out, so to share whatever exciting thing we have going on that week with the home school group ;)

I'm sure when the day comes that he is ready to face her, I'll be able to step back and encourage him to have confidence ... but also let him know I am *always* there to have his back.  Just like I had his back when I stepped up to the principal and said enough.  However, if he isn't ready to deal with that..that's ok.  I will not let her diminish the confidence & courage that he is rediscovering.

So, I've been doing fairly bitsy peicey science with Frodo this year... we had Dr. Joe's awesome classes in term 1 (and will have them again starting next week, for 5 weeks!) and we did a bit of a mini astronomy unit leading up to the Transit of Venus and the eclipse just before it.  But I was still on the fence about an actual *program* for us to use between all that other 'real life' science. I had found one I liked, only to find out through research that the authors' intent was to plant seeds about Intelligent Design in the minds of the youngsters using it.  I was not impressed.  It's not my business what other home schooling parents teach their kids (although being perfectly honest, I don't think teaching ID or creationism sets them up particularly well for future studies or careers that are influenced by science) but I think selling something that is glossed over to make it *look* like actual secular science, when it is in fact not, is just dirty pool.   So... I scrapped that idea and commenced to testing other programs!

We tried Mr. Q's chemistry by downloading the free chapter, and it's good, and we like it. Frodo loves the silly cartoon captions :)  But it feels a little 'worksheet' heavy to me.  It's something we may end up going back to next year though, as it IS thorough, and the company I'm going to use doesn't have a middle school program up yet!   

Pandia Press is winning out for the rest of the year.  We're using the trial (substantial free trial that it is!), until I have the money in the budget to order the full ebook, of their level 1 Life science.  I really like the brief, fun, notebook pages for the kids to print out, and like that it's pretty hands on.  Ok,  I DON'T like the extra work that makes for me lol, but I'll get over it!    The program is *technically* written for grades 1-4.. but I'm beefing it up for Frodo by choosing extra reading from the library that's a bit more advanced so he gets a little more depth.  

Last week (when I was *clearly* too busy to post... that's my story & I'm stickin' to it!) we did the 'what's alive' activities and learned about the characteristics of all living things.  Pretty basic stuff :)    This week we've learned about cells!  

Cells had two experiment/lab activities... so off we went to the lab... err, kitchen :)   One of the activities was making cell models out of jelly & fruit.  We like a lab where we get dessert as well as learning lol!  Here's Frodo showing off his 'cells', while impatiently asking if we can EAT THEM YET!!?!?! hehehe (sadly no, I made him wait till his brothers were home so they could check them out and have some with us)

 Both cells have a nice strawberry for the nucleus :)   The rectangular one is a plant cell, with it's cell wall keeping it nice and blocky...and it's many chloroplasts (aka melon balls of honeydew lol) which are what make the plant green.  The animal cell, which is all blobby & round, only gets a nucleus (although we did discuss a bit about some of the other parts as well)  and is yummy mango jelly :)  (which is jello for American readers!)
Here's an up close.  
 The other experiment involved looking up close at a cell we're all pretty familiar with, especially at breakfast time,  the good old chicken egg!   We cracked one into a bowl and used a hand magnifying glass to check out the blastodisc (basically the nucleus of a chicken egg) and than discussed which parts are actually cell parts, and which parts are there to protect the cell itself.

I'm also finding the activity based nature of it really working much better for him with his ADHD issues as well... almost no time in his seat listening to me prattle on, just getting straight to it!  We do MOST of it at the kitchen bench, so he can stand, lean, perch on one foot or whatever he needs to do.

Completing lab sheets!

A sample of the really good lab sheets that come with the program.
Frodo announced that it looked more like an avocado than an egg after he coloured it... methinks lunch was looming in his mind?? lol
After this, it's on to the human body systems... awesome.. I get to pull out my many excellent x-rays for this heh heh.

In other news, we've been booking it to get through the first 'unit' of history odyssey so that next week we can skip ahead and do the (rather huge) unit on the ancient Greeks... to coincide with the Olympics!   And Frodo has learned how to find the area of a triangle in math :P  Funny thing, the boy really enjoys math that involves formulae as opposed to computations!    We also did a spot of gardening and planted up some strawberries, capsicum and some herbs to revitalize the potted veggie 'patch' a bit :)
Grow my little pretties, grow!  (we won't discuss the horrid state of the 'garden' on the other side of that fence.. it's at a 50degree angle and impossible to maintain *sigh*  not that the real estate agents care!)

You know,  having these amazing days with all three of my boys home is really making me remember why I love homeschooling.  It will be a little sad to pack Merry & Sam off to school again next week, despite the fact that they both love it.    Some days I wish they didn't love it so much, so we could be having more time like this.  But, I remind myself that it's all about doing what is right for the child in question... and for those two, at least right now... school seems to make them very happy.

We have actually had two weeks of fun... Art gallery visits (see previous post!),  a train trip into the city with Nana to see Ice Age 4 and wander South Bank.

Oh hello there city!

Mum and the boys under the bouganvillea covered promenade.

This was an AMAZING tree!   We had to google to find out what it was when we got home... it's a Banyan tree.. it throws out extra trunks from it's branches to support them apparently.  The boys thought that was just bizarre & very cool.

We also made it down to Sea World one last time before our annual passes expired.  The weather had been just abysmal and rainy, so we had to postpone the trip two different days... but the day before the passes expired the sun came out and it was spectacular :)    The kids REALLY wanted to check out the new dinosaur island exhibits, and they were not disappointed!

From L to R:  Frodo, Sam, and Merry.  Merry is being sneaked up upon by a very crafty velociraptor lol (ok, so it's not actually going anywhere... but the pic of him nearly getting eaten Ala Jurassic Park was just too funny to resist.  I'm a bad bad mummy lol)

There were about a dozen dino's on the island.. they were anima-tronic and some oven had control panels where the kids could actually give commands to the creatures to make them move, grab, or make noise.   The boys had to have a go at lol.  

We also saw the Imagine Dolphin show, which was terrific. The last couple of times we've been to Sea World, we got there too late for the morning show, and the boys were exhausted by the afternoon show lol.  So they were stoked to finally get to see it.  I don't think it's possible not to be amazed by the dolphins... they are just so gorgeous and graceful, and seem to have a real rapport with their handlers.   Merry OOOH'd and AAAH'd at their antics and the other two were just mesmerized by them.

Here are a couple of dolphins with their trainer, waving goodbye :)

We also explored a cool park I spotted a while back.. it has a wicked flying fox that the boys could NOT get enough of!  The younger two spend 20minutes flying back & forth.

May have to organize a homeschool park meet up here, it has something for everyone! 

Frodo found himself a perch way up high.

And we also made a trip to the library where Merry, who is mastering the basics of reading, applied for his very own library card :)  Ok,  I actually did the applying, he did the selecting of a pile of books hehehe.  I think we brought home about 40books between the 3 of us!  Frodo & I are going back next week to pick up some more books relating to his schoolwork, but this stash has kept them all going for bedtime reading :)  Should cause some interesting dreams... Sam picked out books on the solar system  and Star Wars.. I forsee spacey dreams.)

And, would you believe all of THAT has been done in the past 7 days!?!?!  Plus there was some baking of treats (peanut butter slice, Frodo made the list, did the shopping & bought the ingredients, all the kids did  the measuring and mixing and most importantly, eating!!!) and crafting with boxes (still finding cardboard bits everywhere lol) playing with kitties, and making bunk bed forts.  

Disclaimer:  This is what our lives would be like if ALL of my boys were homeschooling.. while we do a bit of 'bookwork' I love natural learning and getting out in the world so they can be part OF it!