Monday, 18 January 2016

Reading Rewards

Over the Holidays I had some shopping rewards points that weren't being used.  I could just let them sit there and accrue to one day be able to redeem for an appliance of some sort that I'd hardly use and take up room in a cupboard - or I could redeem them now for some extra reading material for my son. 

I was able to redeem for some beautiful travel books and an atlas as well as a magazine subscription to a kids gaming magazine.

The travel books he liked and received a month ago and we will use them in our studies, but the most rewarding (pardon the pun LOL) has been the magazine subscription.  Today the mailman delivered this months issue and my son has sat for the last two hours reading it from cover to cover.  While the contents is not exactly educational, the fact he is reading is a great thing.  

I have a child who was never a good reader and that had a big domino effect in the area of spelling and writing.  He hated them because it was all too hard.  In the last year, he has gained a love of reading and become really good at it.  It has in turn meant he is able to spell more words (and attempt to spell words!) and has less anxiety over writing. The more I get him to read, the better his overall English skills become.  So I try to fit reading into as many aspects of our day to day routine, often by stealth.  I find the key is to find things that are essential to the days activities OR to peak interest, or both if you can manage it! 

So my 10 year old, who loves gaming, cartoons, comics, lego, superheros and all things geek, is very excited about getting his K-Zone magazine today :)  When I told him he will get one each month this year he was very impressed.  I think there was even a happy dance or two LOL. 

One added bonus to this monthly reading reward, is that there is a jokes page.  My son loves jokes and puns.  He has Aspergers so can often find them tricky and sometimes misses the meaning, so practicing with jokes is good.  Luckily for me, the jokes in this magazine are easy to understand and actually very funny for a set of kids jokes.  

So from now on, when I collect my 'rewards points' from buying our weekly groceries, I am going to save them up and redeem them for more reading materials. Given that we are on a very tight, very limited budget and dealing with a child who has aversions to library materials (his ASD/OCD issues mean he hates the germ factor he associated with library books), this is a good way to add to our library without spending more money. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Building Excitement with a Yearly Education Box

At the start of each new school year 
(well for the last few years for us),
I have given my son a gift.

He gets an Education Box.

Basically I fill a box with all the new books (and often resources)
 we will be using for the year and let him 
discover them, 
get excited by them 
and want to learn with them.

It helps in a number of ways, more than just getting my son excited and wanting to learn. My son has Aspergers and various other learning disorders so there are a number of things we need to do to make a year go smoothly.  The box helps with that.
  1. By letting my son see the years worth of books and resources for the year, it eases his anxiety and helps him know what is planned, what will be used, what it all looks like, what is expected (volume of work) and gives him time to get his head around it all.
  2. By giving it to him all at once, I am able to see what he is interested in the most. It means I can start off with that area and use the time to build excitement and interest in the other areas of study and know if I need to approach areas differently (and have the time to make those adjustments).
  3. By having it all in front of him, my son gets to feel in control and gets to pick what he wants to read and study first. Children with ASD especially love having control (mainly because so much of their lives and even their bodies and actions can be out of their control).  Control often equals calm and co-operation, well it does in my house. A calm and cooperative child is then open to learning and engaging.
  4. When he sees it all at the start of the year, if he asks for something to go with it (either extending on an idea or subject area or thinking of a resource that I haven't considered) then I have time to find it/buy it/make it/research it to fit it into our study plan.

So again this year, in preparation for 'Back to School', I packed his new books into a box ready for him to discover.

What have I got packed in this year's box? 
Reading Books
Resource Books (a LOT of resource books LOL) 
Workbook Units

Other years I have filled it with Science Kits and Models, Stationary, Art Supplies, DVD's, flash cards and games as well. 

He loves it.  He always does.  He has been sitting with the box for the last hour sorting through it and looking forward to the year.  I have already heard (numerous times) "Can I read this one now?"

Check out for my post about our curriculum choices for 2016 (Grade 6) to read more about the contents of our box.

Here is a photo collage of the contents in case you want to Google some resources to add to your collection: 

And due to the size of the collection I have for the next subject theme, I only put a few books in, enough to prompt my boy into searching out the rest of the books.  However these are the most of the collection: 

Let me know if you use an Education Box type system at your Homeschool.  
I'd love to hear what you put in yours and how it works for you. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Our 2016 Homeschool Plan and Resource List

2016 for us brings Grade 6.
The final year of Primary School! 
That went fast.

Our plan for the year is very eclectic.  We are hoping to have more independent work completed and have some scope for more interest led work.  I have to modify and adjust work to cater for my son's learning disorders and fatigue from his physical health issues means things take longer to complete. So we need a variety of delivery methods and I need to limit the amount of book work. 

So far in 2016 we have theatre trips planned, a homeschool camp, weekly tuition sessions and looking forward to some homeschool excursions in the cooler months when we aren't as restricted by health issues.

Our subject list for Grade 6:


We are using Maths Plus 6 from Oxford Uni Press.  We love this brand.  The layout is good, it's colourful, it has explanations, it has answers at the back, it has definitions, it has 4 diagnostic tests throughout the book plus extension work.  Sample pages can be found here


Rather than using workbooks and specific curriculum for Grammar, Text Types, Reading Comprehension etc, we will be learning these as part of our Literature Unit Studies.   
  • Harry Potter/Magic Theme Unit Study: Incorporating "Hogwarts" subjects like 'The Study of Magical Creatures' (books covering Magical Beasts, Monsters, Goblins, Mythical Creatures, Myths and Legends etc), Herbology (study of Plants) and Potions.We will be using parts of unit studies/lapbooks from Build You Library as well as many reference books to create our own interest led work. We will obviously also be reading the Harry Potter books.  
  • As well as reading the books for the Literature Units, we have set reading time each morning for at least an hour where my son has freedom to choose what he likes.
  • 'My Spelling Workbook' by RIC Publications.  
  • McGraw Hill Macmillan English Grade 6

History & Geography: 

We are taking a themed approach to the year studying American History and Geography. Both will be studied alongside each other using the following:
  • Adventure Tales of America (Illustrated Text books, Student Workbooks and Teacher Guides) 
  • Liberty's Kids DVD Series and Online Content.
  • A large library of resource books I have collected (too many to list but have photographed below LOL).
  • Road Trip USA Geography Curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler which is a weekly state by state geography study of the USA. 
  • DVD's including America's Civil War documentary series, American National Treasures (Geography series), Trail of Tears, The Wild West (BBC series), Thomas Jefferson. 


  • Private Science sessions with a Science teacher each week focusing on Robotics (including working with Edison Robots), Coding, Programming and Grade 6 Australian Curriculum Science topics (as listed above)
  • 'How to Code' series of 4 books (and Teacher Guide) by Max Wainewright.
  • Coding for Beginners Using Scratch by Usborne Books. 



Sport / Physical Education / Health: 
  • Sport - Horse Riding, Hydrotherapy & Occupational Therapy.
  • Health - We are using the Australian Organic Schools website for their units on Organic gardening. 
  • Physical Education Theory - Personal development and Puberty. 

Special Interests:   
  • Pagan & Cultural Studies including creating an information book/catalog from researching the history of the culture, of traditional/modern holidays, of nature and the elements of the earth.  Reading about lost civilisations and discovering the meaning of ancient symbols. 
  • Journal writing / Diary writing. 

So that's the "plan" for 2016 - for our last year of Primary School.  I have to get used to saying that!  I would love to hear your plans and if you have any questions about resources etc, feel free to post in the comments.  

Wishing everyone a wonderful school year!