Thursday, June 29, 2006


How do we study geography in our family?

We use a variety of things to help us study the World we live in. Maps are the first things that spring to mind. We have a smallish map of the world on a notice board in our schooling area. 

  Surrounding this are postcards that have been sent to us from all over the world. There are several home school postcard lists you can join that are helpful for this. One is:


Dotted amongst the postcards are pictures of the “Flats” that have come to visit us for a month or so. This idea for learning geography comes from the book “Flat Stanley who was “flattened” one day and able to post himself around the world. We take these flats with us when we are out and about and also take photos of them with us doing things we do in our day at home. Then we post them home together with a CD of photos taken during their visit and bits and pieces of souvenirs. This  project has helped us to be good ambassadors/spokespeople for our own part of the world.  Then in return we send our own flats to different families and learn about such far away places  as Chile, Switzerland Ireland and more close to home in New Zealand!

 Another thing we do is have a very large world map 


under plastic on our dining table. The amount of times this gets used and for varied reasons is numerous! The older ones use it in their political debates; the middles have used it in history and the littles just to find out exactly where E……    lives in Canada!

We love to read geographical living books too! Here are smatterings we have “owned” as a family:

“The Day Jean Pierre went round the World” Paul Gallico (follow the adventures of this cute little guinea pig as he is handed from person to person before finally returning home)

“Letters from Felix” when I read this with L. he insisted on making his own suitcase from a file-folder and packing it with cardboard “souvenirs” of the places Felix visited.


“Water Buffalo Days” and “The Land I Lost” Huynh Quang Nhuong (Vietnam)(what my children appreciated here was the “fantastical adventures” that the author wrote about that were real life to him)

“Daughter of the Mountains” Louise Rankin (Tibet)

“Fu-Dog” Rumer Godden (China)

Tales for Telling Leila Berg(folk tales from 5 countries)

Su-Mei’s Golden Year Marguerite Hamon Bro (China)

The children of Noisy Village, Lotta, etc! Astrid Lindgren(Sweden; wonderful family stories too!)

Homesick: My Own Story Jean Fritz(moving story about a family having to leave china)

The Big Wave Pearl Buck(Japan)

Mei Fu Memories of China Edith Schaeffer (sweet experiences of the author’s early childhood)

The Spettercake Holiday Edith Unnerstad (Sweden)

Sailing to Freedom Voldemar Veedam (Estonian refugees traveling by boat from Sweden to the U.S post WWII; this was a can’t put it down readaloud for all our family, a book to be appreciated by all and one of our family memories)

“It’s A Jungle Out There” Ron Smell (South America)

Two Under the Indian Sun Jon and Rumer Godden (India)

The Journey of Ching Lai Eleanor Frances Lattimore

The Brendan Voyage Tim Severin (a leather boat tracks the discovery of America by Saint Brendan) Another book that became a favourite family readaloud; if we got to something that we felt was too technical/adult etc we as parents simply narrated that part in our own words. Sometimes necessary to do with books whose audience is primarily adult but as with all resources the book is only a tool in your hands; you choose how to use it. And what a pity to miss out on the whole book just because of a few passages we as parents might need to re-write!

How the Heather Looks Joan Bodger(a geographical literary tour of England by a family in 1958)Another wonderful read combining two of our favourite subjects; literature and geography!)


General Geography reference books we enjoy:

Rivers of the World Series Oxford University Press

Round the Wonderful World G.E Mitton (historical geography fascinating!)

Van Loon’s Geography

A Child’s History of geography  Hillayer

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Geography


Montessori Geography cards: With the youngest three I have made cards to cover a variety of topics: Continents of the world, Oceans of the World, Physical land Features, Rivers, Caves etc. These are self correcting. On one will be the illustration, on the second the illustration plus title or a brief definition/description of the feature. I have also found when we study a country making picture cards of that culture/locality for the children to look at while we read our living geography book really helps to cement the place in their minds. Such cards are often shared on the following groups:                             


We have used a variety of methods to display our knowledge. Sometimes we have

                          our information or made lapbooks.


Another idea we have used successfully with the younger children is to place a hand drawn map of the country on the wall and attach to it things we make pertaining to that study. So surrounding our map of China we put fans, opera masks, several paper stuffed dogs, other animals of China, p’copy colored in covers of books we read, the menu of our Chinese meal, kites etc!

How to put dad going away so much this year for work in a positive framework? Put a map of Australia on the wall, label all the places he has been, passed through, received job offers from etc. Surround it with postcards dad sends home, internet photos of others and voila you have Australian geography and dad feels so much closer to us.


We have just started reading for the second time, with the younger children, The Bantry Bay series by Hilda van Stockum. I am thinking of keeping our records of this fairly low-key. Perhaps a shared family notebook. The illustrations are beautiful enough they beg to be copied and coloured. We can add pictures of Bantry Bay, a map of Ireland, Irish recipes, some Irish folk songs, Irish saints etc and here is our geography for the term! Or however it takes to complete. I am wondering if there are any crafts that are especially Irish that the children could do while I read aloud (H is in a knitting mood at present). Perhaps we could look at Irish painters. A bit of nature study. Learn a little gaelic…!! Ah well maybe I’m getting a little carried away; now if only the wee folks were here to help get it organized!   


Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Everyone has been making shrines at our place! Here are two that Masters 4+9 made for the Sacred Heart. And here is our altar with their shrines on it and our family picture for the Sacred Heart. Feeling a little bleary eyed as got up at 6am to attend Mass with oldest son.(having not gone to bed before 12.30am talking to him the previous night). Then dh arrives home at 10.30pm tonight,yippe! It’s been over 5 weeks with him away, it will be so so nice to have him home for a week, before he’s off again for 6 weeks or more at Alice springs. Master4 said to him on the phone a few nights ago”I do miss you so dad!”
But how about this, he’s returning on the feast that celebrates the greatness of God’s heart! Perfect timing..God’s timing!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More notebook pages

these are some samples from ds4 + ds9's notebooks. I haven't posted them in any particular order and I am still learning how to upload pictures to a blog, so there is probably a way to make them look neater which I haven't figured out yet! I couldn't resist adding the mis-spelled tiwst, it just seemed to fit the way I think St Aloysius Gonza would have wanted it to! The page the boys enjoyed doing the most was the mosaic for the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Our Faith Notebooks

It started with making Easter Vigil Notebooks during Lent. Next for May we made a notebook focusing on Our Lady, now in June we have a red folder which encloses our notebooking pages. Even Master 4 is keenly involved as evidenced after their violin concert on Sunday."Mum do you have a favourite shape?" Mr. Mature(9ys)"That's silly, how can you have a favourite shape?!" Master 4" Well I do and its a triangle, because it has 3 sides and there are three persons in God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and that's why the triangle will always be my favouritist shape SO THERE!" (said with a particularly unpious facial expression !) Still all this aside we all seem to be benefiting from this start to the day.we've even "tagged" something else on to it, and now before we begin and straight after chores we pray the Angelus.(ds just turned 17 included!)

More scenes in our autumn garden

I love autumn! The bare branches of deciduous trees are like part of a living sculpture, the autumn leaves that crunch beneath your feet, the frost that stiffens the grass like hairspray and the little "surprises" of colour that greet you when you stroll amongst the gardens. I always feel more prayerful in the autumn; its a season that lends itself more to reflection, taking time out. it hints at the promises of the more"sensational(!) seasons to come. By in large it is a very gentle season. It makes me realise that no matter what I do/don't do God's love for me is constant, unchanging; it will always be.
Today as I weeded and planted and watered and then strolled I found at the very end of my walk some tiny iris blooming amongst the fallen leaves. What a beautiful reminder of the work God will accomplish in us as we turn ourselves more and more over to Him. A gentle encouragement from our Everlasting Father!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Love is holding my silky bantam

Master 5 assures me that we will defunitly(written for ease of pronunciation!) be keeping HIS silky bantam hen"you know the one that's the brown little rooster"!Now if I could only find someone to take the other 6 we'd be happy!! And what a pitty it is that bantams have blue skins...and before you ask I am definitely not skinning the said number! Which leaves it to oldest son to find homes for them or when dh returns from Timbercreek.....!!

Master 5 performed his beginner bow at the Elder hall concert with aplomb. He loves learning the violin and tells me ahead of time that I needn't bother listening as he's already done a good practice!"Mum you realise this means I am a gardener-artist-violin player"Earlier in the day"mum do you think Aunty Anna is the bestest mum?"Me(with a gulp)"Yes I suppose so"L"Well, you're the bestest of the bestest mums" didn't I say that boy was gifted!!

My brother

I love you well, my little brother,
And you are fond of me;
Let us be kind to one another,
as brothers ought to be.
You shall learn to play with me,
And learn to use my toys;
And then I think that we shall be
Two happy little boys!

A Boy and his Bike

A boy and his bike should never be parted!! that's got to be a line in a song somewhere! Master 9 has taken to a bike without trainer wheels so easily, its been such fun to watch! For a boy with some major coordination issues this one has been a piece of cake! He would happily bike anywhere/anytime; not so easy to do with a timid 5yo with trainer wheels in tow but we get there. we are rediscovering the linear park and the bonus is mum is getting fitter too! T. has also taken to writing poetry(the love of a bike does that?!!). Here is his most recent:
Walk , walk, walk upon your merry way,
Walk, walk, walk all day.
To the cats you see upon your way,
Don't say move, or go away,
Just politely say"Oh shoo!"
even if they do go"Boo hoo!"!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa
Without prayer I could not work for even half an hour. I get my strength from God through prayer.

Meditations by Padre Pio -
Let us become saints so that after having been together on earth we will be together forever in heaven.