Friday, April 12, 2013

Free Writing for Kids

"I’m walking to the bathroom. 
Because I just drank a full to the brim coffee.   
We’re in Palazzo Versace and the toilets seem as beautiful as my girlfriend Lucy.
O-boy, She’s good lookin!"
- 5 minute free write by L. Age 7. 

Each Thursday morning this term T has taken the boys for a writing class.
It's a win-win situation. They get to spend time with their dad, learning great skills that extend past my expertise and I get some time to myself.

One of the cool things they do at the start of their sessions is a free write.

Wikipedia says:
Free writing is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism.
Just sit down. Set timer. And.... WRITE.
It doesn't matter what it's about or what it looks like or how it's spelt. Just write.

Pretty simple, huh?

But, this is where the raw stuff comes from. Where the unique only-in-your-own-particular-head stuff comes from. This is where great ideas are born. T uses it in his own daily writing practice. But it's the perfect activity for kids too. It's creativity in the making.

I disagree with the idea that it's often unusable. Now, at the end of the term the boys have each re-worked a few of their favourite free writes. Hug (9) has expanded one of his into a full-length story while Lovely (7) has chosen to illustrate his personal favourites (see above).

For the record, L doesn't drink coffee. Being 7 and all. Nor does he have a girlfriend called Lucy ;)

Although this approach is quite a contrast to the Charlotte Mason ideas I base a lot of our Language Arts learning around I think it's ingenious.

So, are you ready? Sit down. Set the timer... & get free writing! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Raindrops. A Nature Study.

I was a bit obsessed with these beautiful lingering raindrops this morning.
If they're still there tomorrow I think they will be perfect nature study material.

And don't you love the subtle variations of green of the different leaves? 

Sketchbooks at the ready!
We haven't been doing nearly enough nature study (aka. sketching-in-nature) lately.

Where does your family find it's inspiration in nature? x

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mama Ain't Raising No Fools

We're not homeschooling in America but I do like me some infographics :)

Homeschool Domination
Created by:


It can be tricky to find somewhere to eat a proper, healthy meal when you're away from home as a gluten-free (and partially dairy-free) family.

So I thought I might give a shout out to one of the rare places that we can all eat at and all like. Grill'd.

Something else particularly cool about Grill'd (menu options aside) is their charitable spirit. When you buy a meal you get given a token which you deposit into one of 3 glass jars. Each jar represents a charity. At the end of each month the charity with the most 'votes' receives a $300 donation with the other two charities getting $100 each.

When we ate at their Brisbane restaurant last week our vote went to the Cherish Women's Cancer Foundation.

My heart sang to watch my boys give our token but it was a particularly bittersweet song and unfortunately two days later we received the sad news that a member of our extended family had lost her battle with a form of gynecological cancer. I know our donated token is only a drop in the deep blue ocean but I still think it's important and I applaud Grill'd for making giving an important part of their business model.

And for making kick-ass burgers.

T is obsessed with the Field of Dreams mega mushroom burger.

I was Mustard and Pickled!

The kids got cute activity books which bought us an extra few minutes silence. Phew ;)

 How are your kids learning about giving? I'd love to hear. x

Sunday, April 7, 2013

City Explorers

We were city explorers last weekend.
That's code for we're country livin' folk right. Usually ;)

But with 6 months of mostly-city-life ahead of us we needed some urban exposure.

So we wandered.
Wide eyed. On a quiet night.
And it was beautiful.

My #top2 cities used to be NYC and Barcelona, okay make it 3 and add Paris into that mix, but it's been a while between urban jaunts. I wonder what I'll think this time next year?! #exciting :)

What is your favourite city? 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kids, Art and Technology.

Last night after dinner, when he should have been getting ready for bed, Lovely asked:

"Dad, can I show you a painting by Caravaggio on your phone?"

That's kind of hard to say no to isn't it.

We had been learning about Caravaggio earlier in the day. In a not-very-Charlotte-Mason manner we are currently reading about a different artist each week in advance of our trip to Europe. The Usborne book of Famous Artists is our fun and not-too-weighty tome and the Art Authority app ($9) is our digital gallery.

He was looking for a particular painting called The Cardsharps. I think he likes the idea of the art of treachery more than anything ;) and that's cool... We all need to find our own connections to art.

While L looked through Caravaggio artworks in Google Images the conversation shifted to one of Hug's current school books, The Illustrated Age of Fable. We had a suspicion it might feature a few Caravaggios!

We quickly found Medusa.

It's always exciting when things converge!

Anyways, enough about us and our current art fetishes. 

I thought I might share some links:
Where Art and Technology meet. You just never know who you might find there...

Smart History from Khan Academy
+  Art Authority app
Exploring Art with Art Authority in iBooks
Art Alert
Google Art Project
+  and a link to more art related resources.

BTW, there is an educational version of Art Authority but we have the full version. Personally, I think it's perfectly acceptable for children to view (non-explicit) nudity through the lens of the great artists. Especially as they will be seeing a lot of these artworks for reals in the near future.

Do you have any great art resources to share? Add them in the comments! x

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A mostly-gluten-and-dairy-free Easter!


Our lovely Lovely has been gluten-free and dairy-free since the start of last year.
Hence, we just survived* our second mostly-gluten-and-dairy-free Easter!

And this year - we are all gluten-free.

* I say survived because I L-O-V-E chocolate (and, full admission: I am the one who didn't do too well with the dairy-free part ;)

I was thrilled that Coles supermarkets were stocking gluten-free / dairy-free HOT CROSS BUNS this year !! It's often a challenge to find things that are both. We actually took some to the hotel we stayed at for Easter and toasted them in their toaster :) 

Lovely was very happy. #understatement

He has actually started doing dairy challenges (reintroducing small amounts of dairy) and has had success with butter (ie. no apparent reaction). So, he got to have butter on his hotties. Look at that smile.

The Easter bunny needs to get a bit creative for dairy-free kids. 

Last year our boys got toffee apples. 
This year, these beautiful ceramic mugs.  

Luckily, the Easter B. also found D/F + G/F Sweet William Easter Bunnies and the *super yummy* D/F + G/F Rocky Road from Rowie's Cakes

Mostly dairy-free. Yes, you can you see my wrappers. Whoops. Thanks breakfast buffet.

 What dietary modifications do you make in your household?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Exploring Brisbane...

We went to Brisbane for Easter :)
City exploring + chocolate = love!

I'll blog photos when I download them but, in the meantime, here are some I instagramed on the fly.

Oh, and I took the opportunity to do a serious *family size* trial pack!
2 x suitcases and 1 carry-on bag each. Wow. Tight but completely do-able. *happy dance*

How did you spend Easter?

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