Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Have you discovered yet?

I'm a huge fan of this website, it encourages kids to try new things and develop their skills. There is an incredibly wide range of skills available, from Forager, Papercrafter, Writer, Chef, to Minecrafter, Animator, Backend Dev, or Game Designer!

Here are a few of the things we've been up to -

Homemade rocket pictures with pastel & watercolours (from Artventure which we've just signed up for!)

and pastel planet pictures, Earth & Venus respectively - 
both for the Painter skill

They harvested some potatoes - 

which qualifies for the Backyard Farmer and Gardener skills.

Lexi made a pizza -

 and a character cake -
for the Baker skill, which earned her the patch for that one! 

She made a bracelet for the Fashion Designer skill -
thus completing another patch

She made a homemade sprinkler from a bottle - 

 for a Summerologist challenge

 and some tiny treasure chests, out of matchsticks, cardboard, and quinoa -
for Toymaker, and the photo of them for a Photographer challenge!

And Eli learnt to use a mitre box for the Woodworker skill -

It's great fun, and very flexible, I just wish there was one for adults!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Enjoying summer..

while it lasts.

A couple of weeks ago we caught up with a bunch of other homeschoolers for a morning at Cornwallis Beach. It's a great place, bordering the Manukau Harbour, but close enough to the harbour entrance to have lovely clear water and not be so tidal that the water just about disappears entirely, like happens at some of the beaches closer to home! 

One fascinating aspect to this beach is the combination of normal, beige coloured sand from the harbour, and the black, iron-rich sands of our west coast beaches -

It was just after low-tide when we went, so not so good for swimming, but fantastic for exploring -

and there is grass and shady trees right next to the sand, so it's perfect for relaxing or playing games

Nothing seems to make this boy quite as happy as a good tree.

then once the kids had got tired of the beach, we went for a geocache hunt, one of which took us up to the memorial at the top of the hill -
which looks back over Cornwallis Beach -
and the entrance to the harbour -
and the bays around Huia - 

On our way down the hill, I spotted some white daisies, which means only one thing to us educatory types - 
the green hardly worked at all, mostly just added a slight tinge to the edge of the centre, I wonder why that was?!
This is the perfect experiment for illustrating the need for a control, especially when one doesn't appear to have changed much!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lego Club

I don't know how I stumbled upon this, but sometime last year I signed Lexi up for this Lego Club for Homeschoolers (well, it could be for anyone really, but I think the session times are 10am or 3pm our time), and with our usual efficiency, we finally got round to joining in the February session.

It's a free, online, guided club, each month Roni - the tutor/host/presenter - puts together a theme, a supply list, and a presentation, then at the appointed class time (the sessions repeat several times a month, though you only 'attend' once) everyone 'meets' in a digital space where Roni does a live webcast about the topic.

This month's theme was fairy tales, so there was a short presentation about what a fairy tale is, common motifs, and famous fairy tale authors. Then Roni lead the kids step-by-step through building a little fairy tale cottage - 

 (check out the cute little fireplace & hearth! It does actually open into the wee chimney outside)

We rummaged up some suitable accessories to furnish the cottage too (thank you to Lego Harry Potter, Lego Friends, Lego Pirates arrrh, and our Lego Minifigure Leprechaun for the teeny tiny cauldron!)

Lexi really enjoyed it, and is looking forward to the March instalment, which is making a set of constellation viewers (like binoculars, but with constellation cards to drop in & compare) coinciding nicely with our space theme, mwahahaha...

If you decide to join in, I highly recommend hunting out all the pieces WELL in advance, *not* the night before and then during the class when you realise that you missed one page of the PDF supply list! For those with less time but more money, or just less Lego, you can actually buy each month's pieces in advance via the class, or you can fudge it and make do with whatever you've got. Lego is good like that, and it's encouraged in the class too :)

I really love that this sort of fun opportunity is available to our kids!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crater caching

Have you ever heard of Geocaching? I had come across the term years ago, but never really thought about it. Then a friend mentioned a couple of time that she had taken her boys out geocaching... and then eventually (a bit slow off the mark) I decided to find out what it's all about!

I won't go into all the details, there is a much better explanation than I could ever give on the link above, but basically geocachers have hidden little containers ALL over the world, and you have to hunt them out, using GPS co-ordinates, some stealth, some puzzling, and sometimes a bit of scrambling too.

 This is a screenshot of the Geocaching map of One Tree Hill Domain / Cornwall Park - 
 Each little symbol is the rough location of a cache. As you can see, there are 16 of them, just in that one little patch of Auckland! The smiley faces are ones we've already found :-)

We were visiting Greenlane Hospital again, so took the opportunity to pop next door to the park, and hunt out some caches!

We found a tree that you could climb right through the roots of - 

We climbed up the side of the western crater

(that's our 7 seater car down there!)

Paused to rest our (ok, my) legs at the top of the ridge,

then descended into the central crater, where evidently it's a 'thing' to create pictures and words out of the volcanic rocks that litter the grassy crater floor -

You can see the long U-shaped western crater and kidney-bean shaped central crater really nicely in Google Maps - 

Then we trekked back to the car...

Before a quick run up to the top-

Then into Stardome!

So it was a pretty fun morning out, and one of the reasons I think geocaching is great for kids is that it really gets you exploring in-depth in places that you might never otherwise get round to visiting, or possibly not even be aware of! Despite using a GPS (or in our case a GPS capable phone + the c:geo app, and apparently there are some brave souls who are GPS-free cachers!) it's a good introduction to distance, cardinal points, and co-ordinates, and you often have to solve a puzzle to get the real co-ordinates, or follow a clue to find the actual cache. In fact, I've just solved one of the One Tree Hill puzzle caches by using the Arecibo numbers! Now we just have to go see if I got it right....