Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our week of learning - 29th August - Worms


Current Readaloud: "The Three Investigators - The Secret of Terror Castle" (finally finished!)

Audio books:

Independent Reading: -  "101 things to do before you're old and boring"

Other: He completed all of the books required for the Premier's Reading Challenge.

Maths: He spent time on Mathletics and played several games of Monopoly Jnr.

Science & Technology: He started putting together a solar powered car kit he got for his birthday.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We followed up a couple of questions he had at the worm farm about how do worms see / move etc.  We read some interesting facts here and some more here including watching a video of the worm's 5 hearts beating.

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Martial arts and archery.   10 pin bowling for his birthday 'party'.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): Lots of cooking for his birthday - making & icing cupcakes, making a cheesecake & decorating a cake.  He also helped prepare dinner one night by cutting potatoes.

Other fun stuff: 2 birthday celebrations with family.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Still beavering away slowly.  (Can you beaver away slowly or does beavering involve haste?!)  Word count is down partly because I lost my writing mojo earlier in the week and partly because I'm going back tightening up what I've got as well as writing more.  I know I was just going to write and get it all down, but I want to enter it in the RWA's STALI contest (Single Title and Loving It).  You need to enter the first 10,000 words of a manuscript - I'm entering it for the feedback, not with any expectation of winning!

So currently up to 6,340 words.  I'm in the middle of a scene and need to leave it to simmer while I work out where its going.  I have one scene from the beginning of the book that is just completely wrong - the character has changed from when I wrote it - so I need to think about how to rewrite it.  The rest is ok, just needs a lot of cutting & polishing, and a bit of research on setting.  Oh and 1,000+ of those words belong to a scene that actually comes a lot later in the book but I needed to write it when it came to me.  So really I have about another 5000 words to write and then edit the heck out of it all in the next 3 or 4 weeks.  It closes sometime in September.

Having said all that, I am still aiming for my 50,000 words by Oct 24th.  I'll just have to work a bit harder some weeks!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Write Now Writing Challenge

Billy got Runner Up in the Stage 1 (K-2) section!

Prizes & certificates were awarded tonight - he received a $25 gift voucher to a local bookshop.  He's understandably pretty stoked about it :)

His certificate & prize were presented by the mayor.  One of the judges was local crime writer Barry Maitland which I thought was very cool!

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm a fraction behind my targeted goal words - I was going to write on Saturday night but kept getting distracted watching the election. 

On Saturday I met with the Newcastle Maitland RWA group - what a fun few hours!  I didn't get any writing done, but we had a lot of fun!  We chatted about the conference and the Clayton's conference, discussed the upcoming competitions, talked about writing craft, chatted some more.  They seem a lovely group of ladies!

Oh and I got a huge bag of prizes from the Clayton's conference!  Yay!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Teralba Worm Farm

On Friday we took an excursion with other homeschoolers to the Teralba Worm Farm run by Lake Macquarie council.

They showed us their worm farm and allowed us to dig in the worms.  We were also shown how to build a worm farm.  I bought a bucket of worms to start our worm farm up again.

They also showed us how they made their compost, and we were encouraged to wander around their gardens.

We finished off an interesting morning with time at the park with the group.  It was a fun day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Am I mad?

Yes, quite probably :)

I'm stepping up the campaign to write a book before my 40th b'day - I have 10 weeks (counting this week), and am aiming for the NaNoWriMo target of 50,000 words.  That's only 5,000 a week which is quite doable if I can carve out about an hour / day, 5 days / week.  It certainly won't be world class, but I want to a) get into the habit of writing each day and b) finish something!!  I'm going to just sit and write in the hope that I can silence both my inner editor and inner critic while I'm doing it.  Both of them are very inhibiting when I write..

Monday, August 16, 2010

RWA Clayton's Conference 2010

I had the best weekend.  I took part in the RWA Clayton's conference - for those that couldn't make it to the actual conference at Coogee.  For 3 solid days, we chatted, had guest speakers (real live published authors!) in the chat room, did writing challenges, threw virtual parties.  It was so much fun that it was hard to come back down to earth today.

I learnt so much about writing, had some lightbulb moments, learnt about different genres - from Sweet category to paranormal, from historical to erotica, and I'm sure there were more as well, different publishing styles and so on.

It was really exhausting but so much fun!!  We even had our own Awards night last night and I even won a few prizes!  I feel my writing has improved even just in the few days of challenges - and at the very least my confidence certainly has. 

I made some great friends; its been a wonderful introduction to the RWA.  And the really fun thing is, I "met" 3 ladies who are in our local writing group, so I no longer feel shy about going along to it.  Can't wait til Saturday now!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Our week of learning - 15th August - Rock week pt 1


Current Readaloud: "The Three Investigators - The Secret of Terror Castle"

Audio books: Max Flash: Supersonic by Johnny Zucker

Independent Reading: -  "Hannah Plus One" by Libby Gleeson

Other He had an interview for the Write Now challenge - the interviewers asked him questions about how he came up with the ideas, where he got the information and the pictures he used.

Maths: He spent time on Live Mathletics.

Science & Technology: He watched Mythbusters plus, Rock week Part 1:

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): With the Federal election looming, we've been having lots of discussions about the election, what the candidates are standing for, who we're voting for etc. 
Creative & Practical Arts: Drama & the first rehearsal of Wind in the Willows.  He went to see The Winter's Tale at our local rep theatre, put on by the Youth theatre.  Very good!

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Martial arts, final match of Auskick and archery. 

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): Tidying up.

Other fun stuff:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New direction

I'm putting aside my kid's book for a while.  I'm not sure what's wrong but it's not "talking to me" :)

In the meantime I have this other family in my head that keeps pestering me to come out.  It's a fascinating process coming up with their backstory - almost interviewing the characters.  "So tell me, why don't you get along with your sister?" lol

Will run with it and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Natural learning & unit studies?

It seems like a bit of a contradiction, but sometimes it works for us.   

Most of the time, Billy just seems to naturally flow from one aspect of learning to another.  Sometimes though he seems to get 'stuck' and even though he's bored, he needs some help to move on.  I've been seeing that lately - he'll complain about the computer game he's playing being "boring" but keep going back to it.  I get the same - especially with the computer.  I know when I start aimlessly surfing the net looking for new blogs to read, new yahoogroups to join, or when I check my mail or Facebook constantly, that its time for a kickstart.  I'm not always able to do that though - I recognise the problem, but often it takes some external event (like being super busy) to drag me away and get me back to doing other things.

So I see my role as providing that external event for Billy.  It's my job as facilitator to engage him in something new.  I offer the opportunity, and he can decide how far he wants to take it. 

On our hike last week, Billy had found and collected some bits of coal (which are now lying all over the loungeroom!), plus we noticed the layers in the rock cuttings we walked through.  So I've gathered together some resources on rocks - I used Lesson Pathways for a starting point for some activities.  Yesterday we read together "The Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth" - even though I have a list of other rock-related activities, I was quite prepared to leave it at that if he wanted. Instead he asked me eagerly "What else are we doing for Rock Week?"  He's decided he likes having special weeks where we learn about a topic, and has looked through the book we have of History hands-on activities, and declared the next week to be Viking Week!

Disclaimer: If you think I'm breaking some "rule" of natural learning, then that's fine - I'll just fall back on my "eclectic" label :)  We do what works for us.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Our week of learning - 8th August - bits & pieces


Current Readaloud: "Wind in the Willows", "The Three Investigators - The Secret of Terror Castle"

Audio books: Teacher's Pet by Morris Gleitzmann

Independent Reading: -  "The Mighty Matilda Mudpuddle" by Gordon Winch

Other: He spent time on Spellodrome and earnt a certificate.

Maths: He spent an hour on Mathletics and earnt a certificate.

Science & Technology: He's been making another game with Gamemaker - I found a tutorial for what he wanted to achieve and he worked his way through it.  That's a big step forward for him (rather than just wanting to jump to the end point of a project)!

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): At Cubs they discussed the State and Australian fauna and flora symbols and flags.

The hike we went on with the cubs covered local history, identification of both native plants & introduced weeds (plenty of lantana around), and awareness of people ill-treating the environment by dumping rubbish.
Creative & Practical Arts: Drama & making up lots of stories with his lego creations.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Martial arts, auskick and archery.  Plus the 3hr hike with the cubs - the cubs were made to pack their own backpacks so they were aware of the need for things such as a first aid kit, hat, sunscreen and water, and a plastic bag for their rubbish.

He watched Totally Wild - Extreme which covered the importance of sun safety.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He made pancakes for breakfast one morning.

Other fun stuff: He had a great day at the park with some other homeschoolers and made a new friend.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Exploring our local area: Stockrington Hike

Today Billy & I went on a hike with his Cub Scout group.  It was a nice small group - 7 kids and assorted parents & leaders. 

Just near the little town of Seahampton, there is a road that veers off down the mountain to the site of an old mining area called Stockrington.  Off that road is an old railway cutting - it was apparently home to Australia's last working steam railway.  There are no longer any steel tracks, but its a fairly easy walk (if somewhat muddy today!), and you get to go through one of the old railway tunnels.

The echoes were awesome - you can imagine how much fun the kids had :)  We made our way to where one of the other tunnels are but it was flooded, so we couldn't go in. 

Also along the track is a cave known as Jewboy's Cave.  Edward "Jewboy" Davis was a bushranger (outlaw) in our local area in the 1840s.  There's no evidence that he and his gang actually used the cave, but its a nice story :)

This was the first time we had to leave the track - the first time we felt like we'd really been on a hike!  We had to do some rather serious rockhopping to get down to the river where the cave was - thank goodness for some strong dads that lent a hand to get us back up again :)

The cave was more an overhang than a deep cave, but was quite picturesque - with a lovely small waterfall nearby.  My camera batteries were dead by this stage, so no photos of it unfortunately.  We stopped for a rest and afternoon tea before heading back off down the track to the cars. 

I have to admit to being quite pleased when the cars came into view!  It was that pleasant tiredness though of fresh air, exercise and a great day.

Billy being 'king of the mountain' earlier in the day.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Billy's exciting week

What a week!

On Monday Billy received a letter back from one of his favourite authors (Andy Griffiths) - he sent the letter a few months ago and has been anxiously waiting for a reply (as in every day he'd check the mail and say "I wonder if Andy's written back yet!").  It was worth it - handwritten and not a stock letter - Andy had answered all of the questions Billy had asked (meaningful ones like 'who is your favourite AFL player? and Why did you call Danny 'Danny'?)

On Tuesday night we got a phone call to say that he's shortlisted in the Write Now writing competition that he entered back in June, run by our local library.  He has to appear before the judging panel next week to talk to them about his writing (I guess to make sure he actually wrote it and not Pete or I).

And then tonight I got an email to say he's been offered a part in his drama company's play in November - he shares the role of Weasel #2 with another boy.  He's dancing around the house in excitement now - I'll never get him to bed!!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why are you following me?

Just curious..  I have 46 Google Followers, and feedburner tells me I have 37 subscribers through that - 23 of you by email.  Wow!  Most of you lurk (which is fine - I'm a lurker on many blogs!), but I'd love to know why you're here.  So if you could spare a few minutes to fill out the short poll on the side of my blog, I'll be eternally grateful :)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Billy's been begging me to try archery since he started - our homeschool archery class is perfectly fine with adults joining in.  There are a few mums who do it regularly.  I kept putting him off telling him I'd try it when there weren't many people there.  So today was the day - the wet, cold weather kept most people away, and someone reminded me of my promise...

I tried it and really enjoyed it.  It kills the fingers where you pull the string back and I'll quite possibly find a few arm and shoulder muscles that I didn't know I had, but I really enjoyed it - and went far better at it than I expected.  Now to find some money in the budget so I can do it every week :)

Monday, August 02, 2010

I've been editing my 'Fractured Fairy Tale' for a fun competition I'm entering.  My first draft had plot holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through!

The competition is part of a Clayton's Conference weekend through the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia).  They're having their real conference in a couple of weeks time and for those that can't make it to that, they also hold a 'clayton's' online conference.  It sounds like a lot of fun!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Our week of learning - 1st August - Wind in the Willows

It's been a Wind in the Willows week here.


Current Readaloud: "Wind in the Willows"

Audio books: Prince Caspian.

Independent Reading: -  "My Gran the Gorilla" by Jackie French

Other: We watched a DVD of "Wind in the Willows" - it was a very cute stop-motion adaptation of it, not an acted version.  

Maths: A trip to the bank to take some money out, and to work out how much more he needs (and how many weeks) before he can buy the DS game he wants.

Science & Technology: We did a series of experiments to do with light inspired by watching the Richard Hammond episode last week.

We refracted sunlight to make a rainbow. 


We tried an experiment to see why the sky is blue.  Ours didn't work but you can see what it's supposed to do here..

We also did the 'straw in the glass of water' experiment to see how light bends.

And for a really cool trick - we used my mobile phone camera to see infrared light.  Check out how at The Happy Scientist.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): He's been watching some animal shows on ABC3 this week - Deadly 60 (about the 60 deadliest creatures) and Barney's Barrier Reef.
Creative & Practical Arts: He had his first audition for a production his drama theatre are putting on - of, you guessed it, "Wind in the Willows".  He had to perform part of the script in front of the panel and also sing a song.  It was part of a 2hr workshop and they started to learn a song from the play as well.  He'll find out next week if he gets a role.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Martial arts and archery.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He made pancakes for breakfast one morning.

Other fun stuff: We watched 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'.