Monday, December 1, 2008

The Winning Frog Essay

Why Frogs are Endangered

Frogs are a rapidly declining species. There are many reasons why frogs numbers are waning everywhere. Frogs are a crucial part of the eco-system. They eat vermin such as cockroaches, mosquitoes, rats, flies, and arachnids. They are also a good source for many other animals. If a frog is in poor health it is usually caused by pollution in its’ habitat. This warns scientists about the degree of pollution. The many reasons frogs are endangered include pollution, rainforest decline, the introduction of feral animals into their environment, and the human consumption of frogs legs.
Pollution affects all frogs, stopping frogs from breeding, causing birth defects (missing eyes and limbs and more). Environmental contamination takes a heavy toll on all frogs. Pollutants kill frogs, when frogs die it alters the food chain, this means other animals face death as well. Frogs are a great food source for a variety of creatures.

Four out of five of the world’s population of frogs are found in rainforests all around the world. Frogs thrive in rainforests. Rainforests are the fastest disappearing natural habitat where frogs are found. In The Amazon Rainforest big companies like McDonalds clear over two football fields of forest each day, for grazing cattle. Rainforests are cut for farming, and industrial reasons, this is devastating frog numbers. Because of habitat loss many frogs take refuge in residential areas and find homes in garden ponds. However there are many dangers for frogs in populated places, like cats, dogs, roads, and pollution.

Introducing foreign animals such as the cane toad and gambusia, feral dogs, and cats, has brought disaster to many frogs. Cane toads were brought into Australia from South America to eat the sugar cane beetles and silver back beetles that were eating farming crops. After they had wiped out the cane beetles and silver backs, they turned on the native animals and started killing wildlife such as frogs. Gambusia are a foreign species of fish that only eat tadpoles and some small fish. The Golden Bell Frog is a great example of the effect of the Gambusia fish, one of the main reason Golden Bell Frogs are critically endangered is because gambusia eat their tadpoles. Feral cats and dogs, as well as domesticated ones, like to catch frogs and torture them. Cats eat frogs, but dogs very rarely eat them.

Another threat to these particular amphibian creatures is human hunting. Frogs legs are considered a delicacy in France, Korea and Vietnam, in parts of China, the Mid West and Southern parts of the United States, Portugal, North West Greece, and the Caribbean. Kerala is a city in Korea where frog legs are commonly found in liquor shops. They are usually fried. This dish is actually banned so it is only available illegally, but it is still threatening frogs. People hunt frogs by canoeing out onto a river, pond, or lake, shining a torch along the shore to try and catch sight of the light reflecting in the eyes of frogs. Once they have spotted the frog they will paddle closer and spear the frog in its’ back. This is otherwise known as “gigging”. Then they put the frogs in a basket to drain the water and blood away. Frog legs are sold fresh or preserved in air tight packages.

These are just a few of the major problems facing frog species today. Whilst public awareness of these problems is growing, and some people are actively working to save frogs and their environment from extinction, not enough is being done. Many people aren’t aware of the crucial part that frogs play in the eco-system. If frogs become entirely extinct it could ruin the entire food chain, creating a massive natural disaster. It is vital that all countries work together to save frogs and their natural habitats so that we can continue to study them, and enjoy them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stylish wrote the most amazing frog essay! I gave her the basics of essay writing and off she went - she is a very fluent writer! I will get her to write another essay next week, both because she did it well, and because she can learn more from the exercise.
She is away at her father's house at the moment. I have suggested she bring home some more tadpoles or froglets. So far she has two, and she has given one away to her friend (and a child of a dear friend of mine) Imroz. They have a lovely setup for the froglet, a huge tank and pebbles, and when I last saw the froglet it was hiding happily in it's new habitat.
There have been lots of upsets in my relationship with Stylish lately. Her grandmother (in the photos from my first blog entries) was paying for a counsellor to talk to Stylish, however that responsibility fell to her son upon her death, and he has not been paying. Thus she has not seen the counsellor in the last few weeks. Our relationship has been really difficult lately, and I don't know whether it's because I have short patience with the whinging and rudeness or whether it's her rudeness that is causing the friction. I suspect it is a combination of the two. I am about to further my research into NON VIOLENT COMMUNICATION, as I believe that holds the key to our problem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So things are going along nicely! We're getting into the swing of it and she has learnt SOOOOOOO much about frogs in the last little bit that it'd take me a week to type it all up! I've learnt stuff about frogs too, and we have some tadpoles and a frog to aid our learning! They're loving life next to the stick insects.
She's had a few difficulties getting motivated so this weeks list had a billion frog things on it.
  • writing a frog essay
  • creating frog art
  • a pattern of frogs and tadpoles
  • a graph showing the length of time it takes various tadpoles to morph into frogs

and other stuff too. I have decided it's time to begin recording the work we do at the end of each week so it's not a huge overwhelming project in the week (or night) before re-registration comes up. OH ! The registration certificate arrived at last! Hardly exciting, but validating nonetheless!

Next week she is going to endeavour to register as a frog keeper so she can buy a green tree frog. I said I'll sign anything I need to sign (although at 10 you can register apparetly) aslong as she saves up for the license ($60) and pays for the frog out of her own pocket money.

Monday, October 27, 2008

some photos

These are the car biscuits she made the other night.

car bix - and scary teeth!

something she made

art   technology

week something or another

We haven't heard back from the HSLO, I don't expect to either. We still haven't received Stylish's belongings from the school either. I should send them a letter demanding they be forwarded immediately.

We've had a few busy weeks because Spikee has been very ill and in hospital with asthma. One morning we called 000 because his asthma attack was so severe that the constant coughing was making him vomit, and when he'd gasp for air he was choking on the vomit. The ambulance came - sirens blaring - and carted us off to hospital. They gave him steroids, codeine (it suppresses coughing apparently) and adrenalin, and then sent us home as per usual. He's doing much better now and so we got back into some learning and fun stuff!

Stylish has been a bit off since a visit to her father's place. She wanted to come home early and hasn't been quite normal since then. So this week I wrote her a list of activities because I thought she might need some structure to her week. She's been obsessing over frogs and filling a book with frog facts. She says she is going to get a tadpole from her father's place and bring it home so she's constantly trying to organise a tank and frog accessories.

This weeks list includes

  • graph making on the computer
  • making an ad for a new pet shop
  • doing a jigsaw
  • cooking lunch and guesstimating the cost
  • an experiment with vinegar, bi-carb, and purple water from boiled purple cabbage
  • reading a book we have about cities and answering some questions on slums, slanties, and the first city ever

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We received a letter from the HSLO which referred to my SON and HIS attendance at school. And how I need to return HIM to school or be prosecuted. Apparently the HSLO and the school principal have created an attendance plan that we need to comply with or else!!! OOOGA BOOOGA!

Perhaps it skipped their notice (despite me telling them) WE ARE REGISTERED!!!!!!!!!!

I am very tempted to send a rude letter demanding out belongings be returned immediately or legal action will commence.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Well speak of the devil! The HSLO contacted me today, within an hour of me having updated that I hadn't heard from them! He nearly collapsed when I said that we were registered already, he couldn't believe me. He has to contact OBoS to confirm what I told him (perhaps he would have been better off doing that first?).
I then asked him about getting the stuff from the school, and he said [quote!!!] "That's not my job". So he liaises between the school and me - but it's not his job to liaise - right! Got it!
The school term has begun. I haven't heard from the HSLO (home / school liaison officer) and I'm wondering if I will! I suspect they might contact the OBoS before they contact me. Which will be disappointing! I ws looking forward to that conversation with them! I was quite excited about telling them that I want Stylish's belongings back and that I'd like her BASIC SKILLS test results too. Infact I think it's probably iiegal to withhold them!
She is coming home from her fathers place today (it's Tuesday - she was meant to be home on Friday - I have no idea what's going on) and we have a nice list of things to do this week. I thought we might go to the art gallery and see the Monet exibition too. Oh the things you can do with your kids when you're not stuck in the school hours 9-3 or the alternate w/e timetable! I'm still adjusting to it I must admit. Come the middle of the day I'm so used to getting worked up about having to get back on time to collect her, that it's really taking some time to unwind!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

the waiting game

I have decided to wait for the home / school liaison officer to contact me with regards to Stylish's enrollment. I was considering photocopying the interim certificate of registration and sending it to the principal, with a rude letter demanding that our school books and belongings be returned, but then I decided to wait. I'm curious about how the HS liaisons operate! And I'm also rather keen on discussing the harassing behaviour of the principal with them and enquiring about our belongings. After all it is their job to LIAISE between us than them isn't it!?

the curriculum

I want to say that I didn't post that last post, that was my daughter!

I wanted to publish the curriculum that I presented to the OBoS for registration in the hopes of it helping some other poor soul who is attempting to register. It is undoubtedly the most boring thing you will ever read, but if it saves you from WRITING the most boring thing you ever wrote then you can thank me!

Programme for Stylish

Our aim of home schooling is to provide a wide and extensive list of interesting subjects and allow Stylish to navigate her way through them as they interest her. We are finding that she is far more interested in things now that we are teaching them to her ourselves, for example maths, and history, and reading fiction.
At the beginning of each week Stylish is given a list of activities from the subjects in the curriculum we have designed, they need to be completed by Sunday afternoon at 3pm. She works in a very self motivated fashion and is more than capable of completing all the tasks on the list.
Each morning Stylish writes a timetable for her day and works at her own pace to complete the activities, asking for help when required. After lunch each day we sit down in the lounge room as a family and read (with Spikee watching a DVD or sleeping). Stylish usually chooses to work on humanities in the morning and maths in the late afternoon to early evening.
We are seeking tuition outside the home with some trained (family and otherwise) professionals in some subjects.
Mathematics every second Tuesday morning
Music Monday morning and Friday afternoon
Counseling Tuesday afternoons
German lessons Friday morning
Hopefully next term Ailis will commence Little Athletics classes on Saturday morning and later on in the year swimming lessons at Enmore Park pool.
There is no particular area of our house which we use for education. We just use the most practical area. Some mathematics is completed on the computer, some at her study desk, and some on the kitchen table where there is plenty room to spread out books and papers. Reading is usually undertaken in the lounge room, however on a beautiful day we sometimes sit on the front veranda and do some reading or go to the park and eat lunch and read. Science is a very fluid subject, sometimes we study science in the garden (gardening, bug catching etc), sometimes we go to the museum, sometimes Ailis simply reads to herself from her science books or uses the computer for research, or watches a DVD.
Each week Stylish is provided with a list of activities that further her interest and knowledge in these areas. She is learning far more complicated fractions than she was at school and enjoying them now. At school she felt they were boring and too difficult, but at home she is finishing the work set for her and seeking further work.

We are concentrating on the areas that she has traditionally had problems with, like fractions, spatial recognition, and logic. We are planning to work on symmetry, percentages, decimals, making and interpreting graphs, and mental arithmetic exercises, and will continue to cover a wide range of mathematic subjects.
The sources we are using are mathematics text books, online resources, and Stylish is also spending time with a maths tutor once a fortnight.
The books we are working from are
Excel Basic Skills Mathematics and English
Magnetic Maths
Zoodiac Year of the Maze
Junior Sudoku
Other sources we are using include
Using measurements for cooking, interpreting graphs on food labels, bus and train timetables, and the television guide. And Microsoft Excel to create graphs, as well as hand drawn and measured graphs. Meal budgeting and shopping, our family sudoku board and sudoku cd-rom,
I studied reading recovery with St. Johns Ambulance in 2003. I have access to my Mothers’ English books at any time. She is an ESL English teacher at primary school level.
Stylish is a very competent reader and an even more competent writer (it runs in the family). She has always won awards for English, and has competed in the Public School Speaking contest at the regional level since she has been old enough to compete. Largely she is interested in reading non-fiction and can often be found with her head buried in a David Attenborough book, or a book about bugs, insects, reptiles, or other natural subjects. She can quite competently read books on this subject matter that are for adult audiences, and she comprehends and retains the information.
I am currently encouraging her to read from fiction books as well as the usual non-fiction. Since home learning began she has completed two fiction story books and is keen to begin reading from the Narnia series.
Each week Stylish writes down any words she is unfamiliar with in her work book, then she writes a sentence using that word. We are using homemade work sheets to help with spelling. These are based on common spelling and grammar problems she encounters, for example THEIR THERE and THEY’RE and YOU’RE and YOUR. I intend to focus on punctuation next term and will be using a text book when I find one that is suitable for her age and capability. The Excel Basic Skills range often have textbooks readily available in news agencies.
I would like to use the grammar and spelling text book that we purchased for school use but the principal has not given them back to us despite our request for them. I intend to request them again in the new term, and hope that once home school registration is granted she will be more forthcoming.
Each day Stylish sits in the lounge room and reads with me for half an hour. At this point I am making her read fiction. She also reads in bed at night but I do not keep track of the length of time spent reading, nor what she is reading, however it is usually a fact book (currently Life in Cold Blood, by David Attenborough).
She is also doing word search puzzles and crosswords that we find on the internet, these are useful in furthering her already extensive vocabulary. Each week we travel to the library and she borrows books (usually fact books) and reads those too. She is learning to use the computer at the library to locate books that interest her.
Some of the activities we will be doing next term are:
Deconstruction of texts such as news paper and magazine articles and commercials, discussing their purpose, intended audience, and the language within.
Creating an advertisement using appropriate language and decoration.
Reading books. Fiction and non fiction for half an hour each day.
Writing both factual work and creative writing in different styles.
Reading the Harry Potter series out loud, taking it in turns to read chapters. Discussing the books as compared to the movies.
Science is a subject that Stylish is really interested in. For science we are studying plants and animals at the moment. Stylish has three stick insects and has owned them for eight months now. In that time she has researched their lifecycles, measured them and kept a diary of their growth and how much they eat (photographing the leaves they eat). She is also fascinated by frogs and their lifecycles, she can identify a wide range of frogs and (believe it or not) their tadpoles. She knows exactly how tadpoles change into frogs and varying lifecycle lengths form individual frogs from Sydney to the Southern Highlands, as well as throughout Australia and other countries.
We have been spending lots of time at The Australian Museum exploring their Search and Discover room, with their extensive collection of animals, books, and computer programmes, as well as helpful museum staff.
Next term we are going to be studying plant life, photosynthesis, seeds and growth, how plants sustain wildlife, and how scientists study plants and trees, and how plants and animals work together, and how they are different. We have several practical experiments planned as well as theory exercises.
Our sources for science are:
Science and History Project Book
Life In Cold Blood
Life in a Rotten Log
Bugs and Lizards
Killer plants and how to grow them (carnivorous plants)
Eco Activities for Kids - David Suzuki
And television shows including
Creature Features
And anything by David Attenborough
I believe that English is a subject that furthers all avenues of learning, and as such, even when it is not the direct topic of learning, it is still a skill that is being learnt and utilised.
History and Geography:
Stylish has never displayed any particular interest in these subjects unless they relate to natural history and its’ geography. Whilst I totally endorse her interests and wish to encourage her natural learning of them I have been making some suggestions in our weekly list of activities to encourage further interest and more knowledge seeking on her part.
Since beginning home schooling we have suggested she research historical subjects such as The Witch Hunts, The Tower Of London, a brief discussion of an Egyptian God or Goddess, Volcano eruptions (a part of scientific learning also) and The Holocaust. We intend to offer a new suggestion for historical research each week until she finds one she is really curious about, and then we will pursue that. The Witch Hunts seemed to interest her a great deal, and she put a lot of effort into researching and recording what she learnt.
Next term history studies:
A project about The Witch Hunts
A visit to the Australian Museum to explore the Indigenous Australia exhibit
A visit to The Convict Museum
Reading about Ancient Egypt and creating a papyrus scroll
Reading about The Vikings
Stylish has developed an interest in South America. Since beginning home learning she has researched things about South America like their traditional dress, food, animals of South America, and their food - which included Stylish cooking a South American style family meal from a recipe she found (based on a budget - for maths).
Next term Geography includes
Making a graph of South American countries and capitals, learning them.
Learning the 7 continents
Learning the states and capitals of Australia
Making the globe 3D Jigsaw
Learning the oceans and seas of the world
A test on continents, oceans and seas.

Horrible Histories - on DVD and in books
Science and History Project Book
Mummy’s Tomb
Ramses - Son of The Light (fact/fiction series)
A Children’s Atlas
World Maps for children
Tell Me about Stuff
Music lessons are conducted by my father (a high school music teacher) at his home once a week for an hour. They involve playing various instruments (recorder, piano, and clarinet), exploring percussion and applying it to different styles of music, reading and writing music, and music appreciation and history. music was not a subject taught at the school so she is only beginning to understand the production and appreciation of music within a structured context.
We will also be attending a music and drama group for children of all ages on Friday afternoon.
Visual arts:
Stylish will be creating a range of art work using varying media. These will include painting, collaging, working with clay, photography, drawing with pencils, charcoal, crayon and textas, learning to knit, macramé, and origami.

Stylish will use our family camera to take pictures at The Botanic Gardens, then use the computer to digitally enhance and print them to make a collage and a photo montage online at ONETRUEMEDIA .
She will create a figure from white clay and decorate it using paints and any other materials she chooses.
A visit to the Art Gallery, and The Contemporary Art Gallery.
Online resources include:
Macramé for Beginners and Experts
Health, Physical Education, and Personal Development:
Stylish is a keen athlete and has always done exceptionally well in sports carnivals. We will be enrolling her in Little Athletics classes on Saturday mornings beginning in term 4, and swimming lessons will begin in early January and continue for two weeks. She will also learn Scottish dancing, I am a qualified teacher.
For personal development she will attend counseling weekly with her counselor. They are working on building a healthy self esteem and working through the grief Stylish is experiencing as a result of the death of her grandmother, and her baby brother this year.
She will also be learning to cook and budget for healthy family meals based on the food pyramid (which she will be creating for herself using the internet) and cooking from different countries (which is also a part of geography lessons and maths). We will be discussing drugs, both legal and illegal, and researching and discussing their affects on the body.
Stylish has recently created a blog, and will be updating it weekly or more often if she chooses.
She has been learning about technology in our home and discussing simple tools (like a hairbrush for example) that don’t use any electricity or power.
We will visit the Power House Museum.
Stylish will be using the internet as a research and learning tool on a regular basis.
We will be learning about technology from prehistory and discussing it’s current significance in our society. For example spears were an early technology but they are not used by our family today.

Stylish has showed a particular interest in learning German. Each Friday morning she will attend private German lessons in Belmore. This will begin in Term 4, although some basic German language has already been studied. We will be purchasing a German dictionary so that Stylish can complete some German exercises at home..

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I love how my daughter is so interested in bugs not BRATZ! Her fascination with animals she wants to be a entomologist! NOT A MODEL!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

officially registered! - vomit

The principal sent us the most unbelievably rude letter demanding that we take Stylish back to school - hello - it's the holidays!? She said that she's been implementing strategies to get us to improve attendance and that we haven't complied. Her strategies include rude phonecalls and rude letters ... not much STRATEGY involved me thinks. It stated that we have 7 days of absence to inform them of the reason (a SUITABLE APPROVED reason that is) for the absence. The trouble is that we DID tell her our reason, she just didn't approve of it. However according to the Office of the Board of Studies homeschooling is a perfectly legitimate option for educating children.
The letter said that the home - school liaison officers ( basically a mediator between us and them - nothing to do with home school) have been informed of our non-compliance and they will be contacting us shortly (BRING IT ON) to arrange an ATTENDANCE PLAN ( someone stop me from laughing) whereby they force our child to attend the institution and monitor her attendance for a four week period. Then, given that we were good little citizens, and we sent our child to prison 5/7, 9 - 3, they'll give us a PASS mark, BUT keep us on their records anyway (laughing again). BUT... should we fail to meet their demands they will begin legal action against us.
Anyways. None of it matters now! coz I registered today. Registration is a load of bollocks! They make it near impossible to follow natural learning philosophies, they insist on following the NSW curriculum ... despite that being one of the reasons we remove our children from school!
So I am in two minds about what to. Registration can be granted for 3 time frames. 3 months, 1 year and 2 years. I have one year because of the age of my daughter. She is due to enter highschool the year after next and they like to reassess then. The womyn I saw couldn't grant 1 year AND 3 months (the time it is until highschool should typically begin) because that's not in the guidelines ... no really!? So come July next year we're up for an assessment of the work we have completed, and then in October next year we're up for RE-registration before we can continue into highschool.
I am thinking about telling them that we are going overseas or interstate, but I need more info on their policy before I make any moves. At this stage we are legally covered so nothing needs to be done immediately. I'll be working it out bit by bit as we go along. Frankly I don't like the idea of school - not at school. Why take them out???

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beginning week 3 - already!

Well today marks the beginning of week 3! She didn't complete everything on the lists last week which I think is a positive thing - although it stressed her until I said "forget it, it's not important" - and this week I am yet again reducing the number of things on the TO DO list.
This weeks list includes some of the unfinished things from last week because she feels a bit weird about not having done it and there being no pressure to get it done. She didn't want me to include them on this weeks list, she wanted to finish them off on last weeks list but I said they were going to move over to this week and she dealt with it.
  • A visit to the Jewish War Museum
  • watching plant growth and making a graph of it (the plant hasn't started growing yet)
  • learning about child labour
  • thinking of ways to reduce our household pollution
  • a crossword and find a word puzzle
  • sudoku (still popular)
  • writing a story
  • and a project about endangered animals (to be done over 2 weeks)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

no princesses here!

no princesses here!

This is a pic of her dressing up from a month or so ago. She has never, in her entire life, dressed up as a fairy or a princess. Witches, animals, puss in boots only recently (wish I had pics of that!) and just silly outfits that turn her into a character of some variety, like this one!
Thought I might post the burrito recipe that she used last week coz they were very yummy!
3 chook boobies
1 packet of wraps
sr cream
red onion
fresh coriander
It's pretty simple really. Cook boobies with salt and olive oil. Chop everything up and put it in bowls on the table. Place sauce on table (mashed avocado, salsa and sr cream). Heat wraps according to label. Slice chook. Put everything on the table so everyone can make their own burritos!
I have no idea how authentic that is .... infact I suspect it's very comfortable anglo food, but kids love it, and we did too! And it was an easy thing for her to cook on one of her very first attempts at cooking, and certainly her first ever menu planning!
This evening has been fairly relaxed, no dramas. Last night she announced that she wanted to go back to school so she didnt have to put up with me all day long so I was a bit concerned. But I think it's all just normal processing stuff now I've had some time to talk to other people and think about it myself. She is currently watching a show on TV about toilets in Japan - how NORMAL!
The last few days have been a bit shaky because she's starting to fret a little bit over not being at school. I suggested not doing anything, no list, no nothing she isn't keen on doing (except necessary things - I had to stress that!) but she really wants to keep going with the lists for the time being. This weeks list had things like running around the block and playing handball though, so I'm beginning to deschool her even though she doesn't know. I was on JL earlier and I asked other mothers what their experiences of taking kids out of school were like. One womyn said that her son had been the same but that after a term of no school she couldn't have DRAGGED him back there, so that's promising!

I found a homeschool group which looks like a good one and I'm hoping to take her there on Monday, but it depends on when she comes home from her fathers place because she's with him this week end. Stylish is very keen to go to the group and meet other homeschooled kids, and there are apparently other girls her age at this one so that's perfect.

Today we went to the park, and we went and had yummy rolls from the bakery I mentioned the other day, so that was a nice easy stress free day. Now Spikee and Stylish are playing nests in the hallway and I'm trying not to think about the clean bed linen that's being dragged about the house on the carpet we can't vacuum (our vacuum cleaner is pooped).

Monday, September 15, 2008

I rang the board of studies and they're gong to send me the rego forms. The guy I spoke to sounded friendly enough, it usually takes between 2 and 4 weeks to register according to him.
Meanwhile Stylish has continued faffing her way through various activities with enthusiasm. I thought the enthusiasm for it would be waning by now and the unlearning could begin but clearly it's going to take a bit longer. Well that's ok, I figure you can't rush these things if you want to succeed.
She's just gone to play footy at the park with her brother and step father. She's waearing BLACK LEGGINGS. I plan on banning the BLACK LEGGING next week and having happy pants week coz I'm sick of the black! She owns plenty of colourful pants and yet insists on wearing the black ones nearly every day!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tonight Stylish cooked burritos for dinner. They were really yummy, and I think she was pleased with herself too. She came in about $2 over budget and was all worried about it so I told her that it was ok because next week she'd know a little bit more about what things cost and that will help her select her menu item more easily.
I've made up the list for next week. it includes a jigsaw of dinosaurs, a visit to the Jewish War museum, 2 work sheets (1 with maths, one with grammer) which she's currently enjoying, reading her new BUGS magazine cover to cover, writing a story, bloggng more, and lots of other stuff.
Will be following closely and reporting!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

chocolate and strawberry dessert made in w1 unlearning! (damn fine if I do say so myself!)

unlearnt dessert!

the bugsperiment

bug experiment

silly smiling and our pet bugs! The two big ones are about 9months old, the little green one was hatched at home and is about 3 or 4 months old

bugs and silliness

eggs laid at home by the big spiny leaf insect

stick insect eggs /  5c

Friday, September 12, 2008

Noodles and Possums - all in a days unlearning!

Tonight we went into the city and had dinner at Chinatown, the went possum feeding in the park. We took Stylish's friend with us, and naturally Spikee. We went to chinatown and it was a fantactic atmosphere, I'm assuming it was a Spring welcoming sort of thing but there was nothing to explain it to me aside from the beautiful Springey weather. The streets were packed with food stalls and amazing smells, and musical performers, and street hawkers, but we fought our way through them all to the food court because the food is cheap and the variety is AMAZING! I ordered a blwo of fried vegetable noodles for the girls, it cost $5.50 and was MORE than enough to feed us all, I don't think I've ever seen so many noodles come to think of it! I also got some steamed dumplings, and some salt and chili squid. Spikee ploughed through some squid, which MORE than surprised me, given his usual food aversion antics! He couldn't get enough soy sauce, and I had to stop him from trying the chili because it was SUPER hot - and I like hot - but this was HOT HOT HOT. After that we went to the Emperor Puff shop, stood in the queue and bought 16 of them for $4. Incase you're wondering, an Emperor puff is a pasty filled with custard, and they make them while you watch - quite an extravaganza for us all!

So after that, we went to the park with some brown bananas and waited for the possums to start appearing. The girls ran about feeding them stingy bits of banana (and even trying to give them peel) while Spikee generously offloaded his on the happy wildlife. By the time he'd fed them his, they weren't hungry anymore so we had to go and find more for the girls to feed. It certainly made me smile.

Then we bussed it home!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"unlearnt" diary of a witch

A Witches Week
On the first day of the week a witch must wake up very early. Because she must make horrible potions for all the little girls and boys in the world. She goes to a special library only for witches and their pets. At the library there are books that eat children and have horrible potions to turn children into little stink bugs and mice. All the witches plot evil plans and put all their thoughts into one big witches hat and jumble them together. Then they put their wands on the borrowing table so they can’t do a spell and pick what ghastly plot they’re given. They line up and each pluck out a plot and look for books about the plot. When they find some gruesome books about their scheme they hop on their broom sticks and all fly home.
One of the witches is Cabbagegoil the meanest witch of them all! The leader of the witches actually. She has a big cat who’s name is Spider because she can change into a big black hairy spider. Cabbagegoil had plucked out a plot saying “ Do LOTS of pranks on little kids in this area. She had found a old book with dust on it at the back of the library called “ 200 gruesome pranks to play on little puny kids of any age up to 10”.
What you are about to read is a true and horrible excerpt from Cabbagegoils’diary from the year 1972
Monday Morning :
In the morning I was woken up from my neighbours rooster so I got up and turned him into a mouse and her cat started chasing it. I chose three dastardly pranks from “ 200 gruesome pranks to play on little puny kids of any age up to 10”.

Itchy powder
2 llamas toenails,
300 powdered nits,
250 ground up fleas,
2ml of pure organic mosquito blood
And 3 emu feathers

Horrible taste paste
50 chili flakes
20 pepper corns
3ml fire belly toad saliva
2 sun dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon wasabi

Bear Bond Love Drink
3 pots raw honey
2 bag termite aroma
Tenderized salmon fillets
5 polar bear hairs
And half a turkey egg

Tuesday : So I must make a trip to Hairy Harry’s potion supplier today

Wednesday : The day for potions to Rise
Taken from “ 200 gruesome pranks to play on little puny kids of any age up to 10”.
The purpose of Itchy Powder is to make children unbearably itchy.
Add to cauldron : llama toenails, powdered nits, ground up fleas and heat over a new fire. Use scissors to cut up the emu feathers into chunks. Stir into mixture. Then after half an hour use a dropper to add the mosquito blood. WARNING : stand well back from cauldron, mosquito blood acts like acid in the potion! Boil until a skin forms on top, then freeze it. Use a mortar and pestle to smash it up into little bits, let it dry in the sun. Gather up the powder and store it in a jar with a thin cloth.
Open the window of the child and sprinkle it under the doona. After the child gets into bed it will take 10 minutes and 36 seconds to start itching.

Horrible Taste Paste :
The purpose of the Horrible Taste Paste is to make everything children eat taste revolting!
Add the chili flakes and peppercorns to a mortar and pestle and grind them up but not to finely. Slice the dried tomatoes into little segments and put them in the cauldron with 1 litre of boiling water and some oil. Wait til it’s sizzling then add wasabi and stir with a wooden spoon. Then add the ground up mixture of chili and peppercorns and very slowly add the toad saliva. The saliva will cause it to set and give it a taste like toothpaste.
Add the paste to tubes of children’s toothpaste.

Bear bond Love Drink :
The purpose of this drink is to make children smell delicious to bears.
Mix the polar bear hair and turkey egg together (including the shell). Cover the salmon with the honey and dice it up into tenths. Stir it all well in the cauldron for two hours, then add the termite aroma VERY FAST, stir again, then add 1 litre of water.
Pour 5mls into of the drink into children’s drink bottles.

Thursday : Woke up at 1am, grabbed Spider and the potions and set off to the village with the evil potions. First I went into the home of some very skinny sisters, two annoying brothers, and one tall boy with red hair, and replaced their toothpaste with Horrible Taste Paste.

Friday : Woke up at 2am and grabbed Spider and three bottles of Bear Bond Love Drink. Then headed off on my broomstick to the west part of the village where there is a big forest full of big grizzlies. There are 4 houses around the forest. I opened the window in the kitchens and poured 5mls of the drink into the children’s drink bottles.
For the rest of the day I made a potion to turn frogs into 2 pairs of binoculars for Spider and I to watch the kids get eaten by the bears when they went out to collect berries for dinner.

Friday evening :Just before the kids bed time I set off on my broomstick for the last time this week. I have the itchy powder under my hat. I stop right near a big tree in someone’s garden. Spider jumps onto the tree with the itchy powder in her hand, she climbs down the tree and on to the kids window seals. With my wand I open the windows so Spider can climb in. Spider jumps in each bed room lifts the blankets up and sprinkles itchy powder on all the kids beds. Then she jumps out of the last window and I hover down pick her up and go home.

Saturday: I go to the library with the big dusty book, put it on the borrowing table and sit at the enormous round table with the other witches and talk about what the week was like and how satisfying it was.
P.S. now you have read this story you will probably know why witches don’t have husbands!

1 week in!

I sent the letter to the principle. Today she phoned me to ask me to attend a mediation with her and the teacher in question, I refused. The teacher tried to deny saying the things in the letter to my daughter .... then I said that they were said IN MY PRESENCE. So clearly if my daughter said that her teacher was saying unreasonable, cruel, damaging things it's up for debate, but since I was the witness it makes debating hard. What a bunch of nastiness!!!
She stated that she thought the bullying had been dealt with. I stated that I didn't feel the same way. She questioned my opinion of the punishment dealt to the girls when they left the school (they left the school one lunch time and went to one of their houses. The mother of the child whose house it was wat there! She gave them fried chicken from a well known multinational company, black fizzy poison, from another similr company, sent them to play in a neighbours back yard [through a hole in the fence of their flats] and then told them to go back to school. They were caught re-entering the school) and I stated that whilst schools feel they have no alternative but to punish, I don't feel that my child deserved punishment because it doesn't get to the rot of the problem and PREVENT further happenings, it merely shames them and humiliates them (they were sent to yr 3 classes for a day - they're in yr 5 - shame shame shame)
The principle claims that she intends to put me in to the Office of the Board Of Studies if I'm not registered for homeschooling shortly. But according to articles here .............
they OBoS is unable to persue it to her satisfaction. I have yet to make a decision about registering. I am leaning towards NON registration as I find their beurocratic shit over controlling and unneccessary. I am persuing a learning enabling lifestyle in our home, so what business is it of theirs????? My child is likely to learn more at home than most of the kids at the school, and that's based on ONE WEEKS WORTH OF HOMELEARNING!
She has soaked up so much about monkeys from a David Attenborough doco, tried an experiment with bugs in the garden, attempted and succeeded at Sudoku of varying levels, started a blog, learnt about South American life (from clothing and animals to food - which she has yet to cook), discussed the purpose of technology in our home, learnt new words AND WAS INTERESTED IN THEM, and the list goes ON AND ON AND ON, and she hasn't even finished the list!
I intend to include more of her interests and desires in the next weeks programme to incorporate more unlearning and schooling in the transition. But I also want to add a few things that might catch her interest unlke the school has managed to. History, art, and reading wise.
Anyways. On to lighter and more upbeat happenings! Stylish is doing well at home! She is following the list of ideas I made up for her to the letter, but she hasn't read the bit about choosing 3 out of 5 activities so she's trying to complete them all. I'm going to wait until the end of the week and then tell her about that because I think that reading instructions is a rather crucial life lesson!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

She arrived home and I showed her the list of activity suggestions I made. She INSTANTLY wanted to start!!! I was surprised by what she chose to start on because she has always been anti-sudoku, but she asnk her teeth into it and did 6 sudoku puzzles! They were 4 square, and 6 square, and she wants to try the 9 square ones too. She's feeling very chuffed with herself. It was lovely to sit with her and help her do them, we had fun. And at one point when I helped her with one box she leant over and gave me a kiss on the cheek, I don't remember the last time she did it out of the blue like that.

She says she likes homeschooling.

Here is a link to the puzzle page :

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The ideas I suggested at Joyous Learning (pls see link in sidebar) are simply IDEAS to make the transition from institutionalised learning, to Unlearning, easier (for me too!). I have volunteered to host a possum feeding, native animal talk in the city in Hyde Park. Participants would simply need to bring some fruit or bread along to interest the possums. Possums especially like peanut butter, but it isn't good for their teeth. However
they are EXTREMELY fond on bananas!


You need to choose 3 out of 5 ideas in each section and complete them before Sunday at 3pm. I will be here to help you with anything you feel is complicated! Do as much as you can each day to make sure it’s all done, OR work out how many activities you need to do each day to complete them all by Sunday.

I also want you to do some free time work on something new and interesting to you!


1. A sudoku puzzle with atleast 6 squares. Most sudoku puzzles have 9 squares. I’m happy to (and I enjoy) help you find one with 6 squares.
2. Some algebra or fractions sums - or a mix of both. I can help you with them! If you’d like a work sheet I can make one, or if you’d prefer to do the sums on a website I can help find one with you. You don’t need to do lots of sums, just enough to make you feel like you know how to do that type of sum.
3. Reading the bus or train timetable wherever we go. And phoning 131 500 prior to any journey we make, so you can ask them when our bus or train will leave and help plan a timetable for the journey.
4. Choose something yummy from a Super Food Ideas Magazine and make it for the family. Your budget is $15
5. Write a list of colours and make a graph counting the cars of that colour as they drive past. The best time to do this is at peak hour in the morning or in the evening. Tell us what you work out from your graph! (I’d be very interested to know!)


1. Go animal/insect/bird watching at the park. Describe the animals you discover, and make a graph to represent how many you find (I will help you) OR use google to find out what sort of animal/ insect/bird it is and some interesting facts about them.

2. Bug watching: You will need a jar and a funnel and a bright light. Place the funnel in the jar and direct a bright light on it. Place some leaf mulch in the funnel and leave it alone for an hour or more. What will you find in the jar? Why do you think you find that? What sort of bugs do you find?

3. Watch a nature documentary on TV. Write down 5 interesting things you learn about animals and make sure to include what country they are from. You can use Google to find that.

4. Discover why volcanoes erupt and explain. Find two interesting volcano eruptions that have happened in history (a REALLY easy thing to do!) and write down when they happened and in what country.

5. Find an experiment that you can do in a book or on the internet and write about it. What did you discover? What did you have to do for the experiment?

Reading and writing :

1. Write a creative writing piece on escaping from a volcano eruption, some pirates, or what a witch would do (in diary form) for one week.

2. Write 6 facts you found interesting in a factual book. Make sure to include where they happened and why you found them interesting (we can make a sheet on the computer to help with this task)

3. Follow your brother around and watch what he does. Write it down for 10 mins. Then read him some stories.

4. Find an interesting article in a newspaper and write 6 sentences about it. Also write why you find it interesting, and what you would do if you were the journalist to find out more about the subject. (I can help you with some ideas!)

5. Find 3 words in the dictionary (under different letters) that you have never heard. Write out their meaning. Think of a sentence that they might be used in OR a job where those words might be useful.

Technology :

1. List the technology in the house. What is the purpose of the technology (for eg. The TV is for entertainment) (there are no wrong or right answers, only ideas!)

2. What are 3 reasons people use computers for? Think about what people did without computers 100yrs ago, were they worse off or better off because they didn’t have computers? (there are no wrong or right answers, only ideas!)

3. Find 10 pieces of technology in the house that don’t use ANY electricity. Explain why not using or NOT using electricity is a good thing.

4. Explain what technology you use every day (any tool is technology, even a hair brush!) and whether you think it is a modern or ancient invention.

5. Think of an invention that you think would help you and your family. What materials would you use to make it? (eg, wood, metal, string, paper, glue, blue tack) Draw a picture of it and make sure to label it carefully!

People and places :
(you must do all of these - but they’re easy)

1. Select a country.

2. Print out a map of it.

3. What are some types of food eaten in this country? Find a recipe for one and lets cook it!!!

4. What do they wear?

5. Find two interesting things that have happened in this country?

(I’ll be as interested in this as you because I know very little about other countries!)

early homecoming lizard queen!

Stylish just phoned me from her dad's place. She's coming home earlier than I thought! It is snowing at her father's house and I suggested a longer stay to allow some natural learning in the snow, and some basic UNschooling in her father's presence. She just phoned me to say she would be home tomorrow (Sunday) instead of Tuesday. I'm excited about seeing her, but I hope she feels the same way. I suspect she is coming home early to fit in with younger her half-brother and step mothers convenience.
I have decided that what I want to do is make a list of 5 ideas and activities for each subject and let her choose 2 or 3 of them to complete before next Sunday. I'd best get onto the list now!
I am well aware that the object of unlearning is to follow natural interests and learn accordingly, but my daughter has been fighting her way through institutionalised boredom .... I mean learning, for nearly 6 years now, so that is a foreign concept to her. I could throw her in at the deep end of natural learning but that would make her feel that she wasn't learning anything (by virtue of the school system creating the "boredom as learning" strategy) .
I have also been so used to the "boredom as learning" strategy that it's a tough thing for me to UNlearn, and trusting the natural learning desires of my bigger baby to cayy her on through life is proving to be worrying in some ways - despite my trust in the process! - maybe it's just such a new concept I need to give it more time anmd become accustomed to it. Infact Idaresay that's exactly the problem.

Friday, September 5, 2008

day three unlearning

Today Stylish seemed a bit concerned that she isn't learning anything. I told her that next week we can do some maths, science, and reading and writing. Plus I intend to create a blog for her so she can document her projects - which I figure is technology and computers. OH, and people and places (or geography as we old schoolers call it) seems to interest her too, and I figure it's worth encouraging.

I don't like the idea of sitting down and giving her sums to do - although if that's what she wants I can do that. I thought I'd take this brief w/e (while she is at her father's house) to write up a few ideas for stuff to do next week so she feels like she's LEARNING. They are as follows :

Maths : (she's very worried about maths because she's never really enjoyed it or been very confident at it as a result). If she wants I can write her some sums, she seems to be interested in algebra, and fractions. I won't press thos issues, I will however offer her some cook books, and tell her that she needs to create dinner for the family using a certain budget of maybe $15 - $20. There are also some maths websites that have been recommended, and if she's interested I'll let her have a look at them. One of the things I was thinking she might like is sudoku, but we can't have too many activities as "must do's", I only want to have some ready so she can sink her teeth into them and feel like she's learning.

Science : she was interested in volcanoes last week, so maybe something volcano related. I must find some websites that have volcano information. I assume she will persue her usual frog, stick insect, and rabbit googling, and happily continue filling up the book she wanted for homeschooling. She is interested in growing some plants, so some seeds might be a useful thing to have on hand - we may already have some come to think of it!

Reading and writing : I think the writing element will be covered neatly (and she'll be happy with it) simply in her frog and rabbit research. But she wanted to do some creative writing aswell. I might ask her if she wants to write a story about escaping from a volcano erruption. Writing is one of her strongest subjects, she has an amazing vocabulary and seems able to soak it up easily, so for that reason I want to encourage it while she is still learning to unlearn.

People and places : She has expressed an interest in Thai food so I might encourage her to try cooking something from Thailand. I might ask her to write 5 interesting facts about Thailand in her book, and find it on a map, print it and glue in in her book. We could also go to a thai restaurant to have dinner one evening. I don't know much about this topic myself, so I might even accidentally leanr something on the way!

and last but not least the blog! Stay tuned for a link to it .......

I'd like to add that the book was her idea not mine. I think it's keeping her firmly grounded in "learning" as taught by institutions. I'm glad she has ideas about what direction she wants her unlearning to go, and using a book to work in is a happy medium I figure.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

a more indepth look at US!

As I type I am breastfeeding my small baby (he's 2 and 2 months) to sleep.
This year has been the year from HELL for us. We began the year with a wonderful camping trip with some dear friends, but 3 weeks after our return home, on January 28th, our son was stillborn. This was literally the day before she was meant to begin yr 5 at school. the school year did not get off to a god beginning.
To add to that my daughter was put in the class of her most hated teacher. I totally concur with her opinion having seen this womyn in action. She is rude, abrupt, and anything BUT what a teacher should be like. She has NO idea what constitutes supportive and nurturing behaviour( as stated in my letter to the principle). Stylish was always a happy child at school until this year, and sadly I have to place the blame squarely at the teacher's doorstep.
Then on the 26th of June, days after our daughter turned 10, we lost her Grandmother to cancer. Anthea (her Grandmother) was the mother of my ex boyfriend, and daughter's father. After separation 9 years ago we remained close friends, very close friends. In July 07 she was diagnosed with the most extensive case of cancer I have EVER heard of. Rather than cite the types of cancer, I will tell you that she had "whole body cancer". It couldn't have happened to a less deserving womyn - although my own mother could also be considered for the title, she died in 03.
her Grandma, in the hospice on Mothers day 08. A beautiful day was had by all! We took a picnic lunch and took her out into the garden to enjoy some sunshine and REAL food. The hospice was a good place interms of recognising the needs of the dying, and we were able to take animals and wild children in to see Anthea without any complications. She loved animals and grandchildren so much!
The reason we've chosen to unlearn is to promote healthy self esteem in our daughter, a sense of self that is able to critique the patriarchy we live in. A young womyn that is able to reject things that do not serve her, and things that seek to hurt her, because she is strong enough to recognise them when they confront her.
So far in her short life, she has rejected the basic social conditioning of dolls and pink SHIT (despite my uneducated beginnings as a parent - phew). she is totally uninterested in fashion and the nasty sexualised popculture we live and breathe. Her interests are in nature. She loves (and owns three) stick insects! We also have pet rabbits, and a cat. At her fathers house she has a dog and two bluetongue lizards. She seems to absorb knowledge about nature so easily that it is a shame we embraced the normalised institution of school for so long. I really hope there is no long term, undoable damage from her time in the institution.