Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Solar energy and A day in the Life....

A couple of weeks ago, I ( Leonie) was the leader for group learning. We go every second Friday. This term the theme is Inventions and I had the topic Energy/Electricity.

One of the activities I did with the seniors was for each of us to make our own pizza box solar ovens.

And on the weekend we finally got to use it! It was a bright, sunny day ( well, nearly all our days have been bright and sunny this drought-filled winter). We cooked s'mores - it was cool to see how the ovens worked using the energy from the sun and cool to have a snack ready for us after our walk.

We've made solar ovens before and I know the older boys remember baking scones and cookies in the solar oven ( placed high, out of reach of the cat and the toddlers).

I guess we have had a "science" week - we also ended up looking at the internet for the physics of skateboarding. A friend asked about this in an email and that sent us off on a search. So, there we were on Monday, watching Anny balance before doing a roll off, and talking about the moment of inertia and momentum.

Talking of Monday - someone asked about our days. What do we do?

Maybe I *can talk about Monday.

We had a slow morning - getting up, exercise for me, tidying up, breakfast. Finally, T asked about our day's plans. A phone call from a friend for J and A to come over in the afternoon and practice music helped to get us going.

We decided to go to K-Mart for T and A before our usual Monday visit to a local skateboard park ( while everyone else is in the school opposite). But first, I had some email stuff to do and J wanted to work on his art and t-shirt designs. A did a lesson in a Saxon Maths book, as he likes Maths and is an orderly textbook sort of person.

This made T feel a bit like he should be doing Maths, so he grabbed the Maths In Our World book by Addison Wesley and did a page on problem solving. "I've forgotten how to set this out" he said of one problem. I showed him and he was fine. But we also segued into a discussion on salaries ( the problem was based on salary rates).

Since the topic for group learning is Inventions, I had found, at the start of August, a book of blackline masters on Australian Inventions. These I had photocopied and placed in a file in the computer area. Strewing! Anny found the file and got sidetracked into reading the sheets about Australian inventors and inventions. We did a quick net search on a periscope rifle and an owen gun and he filled out a worksheet on these.

It is amusing and enlightening to see children choose to do a worksheet sometimes - because Anny rarely does these, they are fun and like a puzzle for him.

Here is the info he found -

I looked at the clock - time to go! We raced out the door, making sure we had skateboard stuff and the amp and guitars.

In the car we listened to Neil Young ( A's choice) and discussed music, music history, Johnny Rotten.

After our shopping ( T and Anny bought a GameCube game of Spiderman, with their money from newspaper delivery), we counted our change and decided how to split the remaining money for lunch each at the food hall. We each had a limit to spend and wandered around, trying to make a tasty but healthy ( well, I wanted healthy) lunch.

A local skate park was our next stop. T overcame his fear and just did a roll off - one of many. I am still working on my fears and I am a terrible skater!

When we dropped J and T and their music at a friend's house, the friend's mum asked us in for a play and a cup of tea. We mums got chatting - I didn't know that this new friend had been a zookeeper. How interesting. T and Anny played with the girls - hand ball.

Back home, I explained to T and Anny that I needed to work on my book project. I am writing a teaching guide called Teaching With Movies for Ready Ed publishers. G and I have written Maths activity books for these publishers before and although you don't make a lot of money, the little bits that roll in as royalties are always helpful.

Knowing I would be busy, we set up some ideas for T and Anny - playing the new game on the GameCube, jumping on the trampoline, drawing with the new cartooning book, baking. They eventually undertook all these activities - T made two cakes. One for dessert and one for skateboarding for the next day.

I set myself a deadline of 5.00 pm - which rolled around all too soon, as I spent some of my working time on email and some on watching T do a great Spiderman leap and on helping with the baking. Five o'clock was my chore time - I mopped, hung out laundry, tidied the kitchen, started dinner. T and Anny read and then got ready to tape Dr Who.

G, J and A eventually arrived home and we prayed and had dinner. The low fat fried rice was not popular with T and Anny so they made themselves sandwiches.

I left the dinner mess to G, T and Anny and went to Tai Class with J and A. J and A are really good at Tai Chi - A is into all martial arts - and I am finally learning to relax and go with the slow pace.

When we arrived home, G was on the computer - G and the boys are having a competition to get the highest score in the game Mafia. I am sure there must be something educational there! I made tea, we said the Rosary and I was going to read the next chapter from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. But - instead we watched the movie Stargate and discussed Ancient Civilizations and the genre of science fiction.

Reading for all of us before eventual bed.

So, there is a day in our life. Lots of learning and living together.

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