A trip to Parliament House, Canberra

Friday, October 9, 2015

We love going to Canberra (the capital city of Australia) and so we take any opportunity to visit.  Our favourite part is the many free attractions open to the public - and of course, being a homeschooling Mum, I appreciate the educational value of them as well!  
When the twins were asked to visit Canberra as part of an ongoing dental study we decided to take the whole family.  We made it a two day visit & had so much fun! We enjoyed getting up & visiting the Farmer's markets, although we do produce a lot of the things there ourselves ( or have great suppliers around here). One thing lacking here, though, is good fruit & veges, so I was able to stock up!  We also enjoyed visiting the Lifeline Book Fest (which just happened to be on the weekend we were there....). That particular weekend, Parliament house was also open to the public.  As we haven't been there since the twins were very small, we thought it would be educational for the children to go & see this important place in Australian History!  

Zai decided to host a press conference - I wonder if his future will include any of these?  His serious face conveys a matter of great importance is going to be addressed.....

Do you see that flag flying above Parliament House in the first picture?  This flag on the wall is the same size.  I was amazed at the proportions of it!  Ellie (who is my size) is only as big as the star. 

Of course, I had to take some photos of the spring blossoms in the well maintained gardens.... you know me....

Proof that our country was built on the Christian faith....if only our politicians would hold to those same values now.

They even opened the roof up to the public, for a time, while we were there.  Parliament house is certainly positioned to show the most beautiful views of Canberra & it's surrounds!

 (The white building is the Old Parliament House & the building at the very end of the road is the War Memorial).
People were encouraged to run or even roll down the grassy slopes which led from the roof to the car park.  I chose a gentle stroll (while taking pictures - of course), but some wild children raced up & down (& a couple of them may have rolled, which in hindsight may have contributed to their overall dirty look when we arrived for their dental appointments later that afternoon...hmmm....)!

Have a lovely day friends

Reading Kingdom (Review)

Teaching my children to read is one of the most important things I can do for them.  The ability to read and comprehend a text is indeed a gift.  There are many methods of teaching a child to read & it is one area that intrigues me.  A couple of years ago we reviewed an online reading program called Reading Kingdom.  We were once again given the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom Online by Reading Kingdom this year.  While my twins are near the higher age limit for this program, I felt that review work would be beneficial, particularly for one of them, so I signed up!
Reading Kingdom Review

Reading Kingdom is an online program that teachers reading & writing to 4 to 10 year old children. It uses a 6 Skill Integrated Method which was developed over the last 40 years by Literacy Expert, Dr. Marian Blank.  The skills include Motor Skills, Sounds, Meaning, Grammar, Comprehension & Sequencing. While a traditional phonics program teaches the child to read through sounds, integrating the other components allows the student to more easily decode the tricky English language, where many of the words do not obey the rules.  Using a blend of these skills allows the student to become proficient in both reading & writing. Reading Kingdom can be used as an independent reading program, or as a supplement to other reading programs.  

Reading Kingdom Review
When a child is initially signed up to Reading Kingdom Online, they will complete a skill survey.  This allows the program to place the child at a particular level that is suitable for them.    The program then customises for each child to ensure they get exactly the learning they need to allow them to progress in this new skill.  The child will then move at their own pace through the reading/writing levels (1-5). The daily lessons are quite short to keep the child interested.  They include cute graphics & lots of positive reinforcement to encourage the student to try their very best. The student is very quickly able to complete their Reading Kingdom Online lessons entirely independently.  

Reading Kingdom Online also includes a keyboard component.  To properly use this program, the students must have the ability to navigate around a computer keyboard.  While they can choose between a physical keyboard, or an on-screen keyboard, they still need to be able to quickly recognise where the correct letters are. If the skill survey finds that a child needs to learn this, letter land is the component of this program that will provide this training.  Parents can also request training for their children if they feel the child will benefit from some additional focus in this area.

We received a 12 months subscription for two students to Reading Kingdom Online. Both Eli & Jud have been using it over the past few weeks. We found the program easy to navigate & the contact person was very helpful when I needed some assistance. While one of my twins is a proficient reader & reads Narnia novels & the like, the other does struggle in this area (at least compared to his brother).  Since using Reading Kingdom,  I have been pleasantly surprised at the progress in reading of that particular boy. He seems to have had an overall jump in his ability in the past month! 

After the twins completed their skills surveys,  I was surprised to see both boys were placed at approximately the same point in the program.  I know that in both reading & writing they are at very different levels.  Mr. Proficient was placed far lower in the program than I expected.  He has consequently found it very boring as he is well below his reading & writing level.  All I can put the placement down to is that he is hindered by his keyboarding skills.  While he can work his way around the keyboard, he is rather slow and unfortunately for him, this inability limited his progress through the program.   The other twin had the same issues with the keyboard, but I feel that the review work at the lower level will only benefit him in the long run. 

Overall though, I am so happy to have had the chance to reuse Reading Kingdom.  It's unique way of teaching reading & writing gives an additional component to the boys learning programs that will ultimately help them become stronger in this important area of their education.

Reading Kingdom can be found at:

Reading Kingdom Review
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Momenting again....

Friday, October 2, 2015

 In the tradition of SouleMama...
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...
After a stroll around the dam with my 'matching set', countless photos & many birds being spied, we head home again for tea...

Another moment

Friday, September 25, 2015

 In the tradition of SouleMama...
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

What a silly bunch...

Fascinating Chemistry (Review)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It wasn't far into my schooling that I realised that Science was a subject area that fascinated me. When contemplating careers my only prerequisites was that it had to be something medical with a science base (which most medical careers are).  Consequently I chose a degree in the school of Physics.  Zai is much like I was at that age, and so when we were offered to review a course from Fascinating Education he eagerly agreed.  We were able to choose if he wished to study Physics, Biology or Chemistry.  We chose Fascinating Chemistry because it is recommended as the best one to provide a basis for further Science studies.

Fascinating Education Review
Fascinating Chemistry is an online Chemistry course for students in grades 10-12, although younger children will certainly benefit from them.  The Fascinating Chemistry course consists of 18 different lessons.  Each lesson is approximately 20 minutes long. Fascinating Chemistry is taught by Dr. Margulies, who is a retired neurologist.  He is a well qualified teacher, as he has taught thousands of medical students in his career.  The course assumes the student has no previous knowledge & therefore presents the content from a beginners perspective.
The lesson topics included in Fascinating Chemistry are:
Lesson One - Intramolecular Bonding
Lesson Two - The Ionic Bond
Lesson Three - The Covalent Bond
Lesson Four - The Polar Covalent Bond
Lesson Five - The Metallic Bond, Part 1
Lesson Six - The Metallic Bond, Part 2
Lesson Seven - Heat
Lesson Eight - Air Pressure
Lesson Nine - Properties of Water
Lesson Ten - The Mole
Lesson Eleven - Gases
Lesson Twelve - Solutions
Lesson Thirteen - Chemical Reactions
Lesson Fourteen - Orbitals
Lesson Fifteen - Molecular Geometry
Lesson Sixteen - Electrochemistry
Lesson Seventeen - Polymers
Lesson Eighteen - The Nucleus
Within each lesson are approximately eight subtopics.  These are ordered to make the concept understandable as the lesson builds on the previous topics studied.  
Fascinating Education Review
When the Fascinating Chemistry main page is opened, the student may choose lesson.  Each lesson has the option of the script being downloaded and printed for the student.  This allows the student to follow along while the lesson is being taught.  It also provides study material for the student.  The lesson is presented completely via podcast on the website.  Each lesson includes many colourful slides which aid the student in their understanding of the topic.  Subtopics of the lesson content are included down the side of the lesson.  This allows the student & teacher to monitor the progress of the lesson.  Some students may find they like to break each lesson into smaller sections, and these allow this to easily be done. There is also a glossary to aid the student in fully understanding new terms.  The technology used is very up to date & it allows modelling of the concepts to occur within the slides.  This makes each lesson very engaging for the student. There is also a lab section which includes simple laboratory exercises for the student to complete at home.  Each lesson also includes a test which may be completed online or printed off for the student.  The online version can be completed multiple times if necessary.
Fascinating Education Review
Dave and I originally watched the sample lesson of Fascinating Chemistry to see if we thought it would be suitable for Zai.  We were both quickly engaged into the lesson and watched the whole lesson.  We felt that as long as Zai took it slowly, he would be able to complete this course.  
While Zai is much younger than the recommended age (he is 13), he has been able to understand most of the concepts being taught. This is because the teaching is very cleverly conveyed, appealing to both visual & auditory learners.  Dr. Margulies sequentially builds upon the topic giving the student ample opportunity to understand it.
Zai has been able to complete the course very independently, with simple supervision required. While I know that Zai has understood the topics (he gives an oral review of his lesson to us), he has struggled a little with the tests. Occasionally he had to have multiple attempts before passing.  I know this course is stretching him, but I believe that if he wants to pursue his intended career, then he needs these kind of challenges.
Fascinating Chemistry costs $79 (US), which allows a full years access. Bundle options with other subject areas are also available.  
For more reviews please visit:
Fascinating Education Review
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This moment

Friday, September 18, 2015

In the tradition of SouleMama...
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...
Because the grass is green & so tall the chickens are getting lost among it!

Super Teacher Worksheets (Review)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I always love the opportunity to include some variety in our school work.  My children  thrive when it's not all the same old thing over and over again.  I often scour the Internet looking for new material to include in our school day.  I had previously stumbled across Super Teacher Worksheets on one such search.  I happily tried some of their free worksheets, but didn't know if it would be worth the money to get a membership.  When I was offered an Individual Membership in exchange for a review through the TOS Review Crew, I jumped at the chance. With over 10000 printable worksheets, activities & games, Super Teacher Worksheets is now used daily in our homeschool & is a valuable educational resource for our family!  
Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Super Teacher Worksheets is a website that contains the PDF of thousands of educational worksheets for children in the preschool and primary school years (although they are slowly adding resources for grades 7 & 8). They cover a huge variety of subjects including Phonics & Early Literacy, Maths, Reading & Writing, Handwriting, Grammar, Spelling, Science & Social Studies.  Each subject area contains numerous worksheets specific to different topics studied.  Membership gives you unlimited access to all of these worksheets.  Included within these many downloadable pages are subject specific educational games.  These  make learning fun while solidifying a concept.  One of my favourite parts of Super Teacher Worksheets is the Work Sheet Generator.  This section allows you to customise worksheets specifically for your student. 
Another feature of the Super Teacher Worksheets site is the filing cabinet.  As a member you have your own 'filing cabinet' which allows you to save worksheets for later use. Next to each worksheet's description is the option to save it to your filing cabinet.  It is simply done with the click of the button & makes it so easy to retrieve later. 

Super Teacher Worksheets Review
As I mentioned, we now use Super Teacher Worksheets daily in our homeschool.  The twins are in third grade & so they were able to utilise a large proportion of the sheets on the site.  Of course we really have only just brushed the surface with so many available.  Every time I look around the website, I find more to use with the boys.  I particularly chose to use the reading comprehension sheets for the twins.  I feel this is an area that their current English curriculum is lacking.   It was also grade levelled which made it easy for me to choose what to use.  Each reading comprehension PDF contained a story or a poem for the student to read. These also include a fun illustration to make it more appealing to the children.  There was then a variety of activity sheets for them to then complete. These sheets all pertained to the passage studied.  Some of these were direct questions from the story testing the student's comprehension. Others were matching word meanings or filling in the blanks to spell words.  There was often a section for them to write a paragraph or even a story pertaining to something previously studied. My favourite sheet of all was where the twins had to rewrite the Goldilocks story, but set it in the Arctic. We discussed what the Arctic is like & how living there would be different from living in the woods.  After the boys had completed their story, I took them through the whole review & proofreading process.  I then asked them to type out their particular story & illustrate it as a picture book.  They loved doing that & are very proud of their completed book! 

Super Teacher Worksheets Review

We also used multiplication colour by numbers to practice multiplication.  I used this with the three youngest & they all enjoyed it.   We used some geography sheets about Australia.  This is sorely lacking in our current curriculum, yet it is included in the BOS learning outcomes that we must achieve.  Thanks to Super Teacher Worksheets, it is now done! 

Using the Worksheet generator, I was able to make a worksheet using their spelling words each week.   This was a fun way for them to practice their words!   I also printed out all the Dolch Sight Words flashcards to practice with one of my kiddo who (I thought) needed a little additional work on his sight words.  As he got most of them correct without any prethought, I possibly didn't have to do this.  It was a great review activity though, and it helped my peace of mind! As I tend to make Fridays a little lighter on the school work, I was able to utilise some of the worksheets & games on this day.  We also used them when we had to travel somewhere.  It was so easy to choose a few worksheets, print them & clip them to each child's clipboard.  They travelled easily & the children were able to do their work while on the go.  It was so much less cumbersome than hauling around text books!

Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Super Teacher Worksheets has been such an asset to our homeschool and we will continue to use it. At just $19.95 per annum, membership is very affordable and I have found it is well worth it!  

Super Teacher Worksheets can be found at:

For more reviews please visit:
Super Teacher Worksheets Review

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