Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Our Unschooled Week in Welly

We had been pushing hard at home for a good 4 weeks.
We finished up our BraveWriter Arrow book, Sarah, Plain, and Tall.
We completed our IXL online math lessons.

Not to mention, New Zealand holidays (for schools) were about to happen.  And when the Kiwis go on holiday, homeschoolers get the itch to go too!

And with things naturally coming to an end, we decided to travel with Daddy to Wellington for the week.  But this week, I decided to claim as our "unschooling" week.

According to Wikipedia
"Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including playhousehold responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child."

And THIS is how we spent our UNSCHOOLED week:

Mini Golf at Carlucci Land

Mini golf has always been my go-to activity for teaching Math.  Count your strokes, write them on the scorecard and add them up after 18 holes of mini golf.  The simple addition to invitation to use a calculator!  Just having fun and mimicking the good ole game of golf. 

But after finding THIS unique course that's tucked away in Wellington, NZ, I looked at ALL the possible learning that happened on this course.  

My boys began to study how the golf balls moved through the steel structures.  They came up with strategies based on their basic knowledge of mini golf engineering and science.  We all stepped back to appreciate the artwork that went into creating each of these unique golf holes. 

STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math...these were ALL covered in this one, sweet homeschooling experience!  

Bet this made you rethink your next mini golf experience! 

Celebrating the Fourth of July...with fellow American Homeschoolers

Planning and preparing a celebration always ends up being fun!   But when you connect with another family that JUST moved over and they join you for the celebration...that just adds to the fun, right?  And that's just what Wild + Free Mamas do.  We find a way to connect even if it's for the first time in a new country! 

We grilled hamburgers.  Drank raspberry lemonade.  Popped the most basic fireworks we could find.  The kids suited up in their swimsuits to soak in the hot tub!
BC swimsuits in July seem to make sense to all of us!  (even in the middle of a NZ winter)
And even made strawberry & blueberry cheesecake parfaits for dessert.  

The Wellington Zoo

The weather was unbelievable and so was this zoo.
I could go on and on.  So to help with all the details...just check out our favorite pics.

Jax hanging out with the Emu!  Free ranged and so friendly
Sweet Life!

This place had a grassy area where the Wallabies just freely hang out.  They were so friendly and chill.  At to top off the experience, they had a giant trampoline for the kids to jump on. #pretendplay 

Nix having a standoff with a Kea.  These are very smart NZ birds.  Google it!

Homeschoolers at their finest!  Being Wild and Free!

People Watching while Whale Watching 

Thursday, while we were at the zoo.  Someone spotted a Northern Right Whale in the Wellington harbor. So Friday, we made our way downtown to go whale watching.  Our favorite park (Frank Kitt Park) happens to be right there!

Later, we walked to our favorite downtown bookstore.  
We found some good reads, then grab a treat at the cafe.   

 We had fun!  We learned but in a non-traditionally learned.  And we learned so many great things!

From learning about being honest and leaving cash in the box at the mini golf place, to using an EFFPOS (NZ debit card) machine to buy parking tickets. 

All great weeks must come to an end. 

We were all ready to leave the city and head back home.

Desert Highway - Mt. Ruapehu 

Happy Learning with your loved ones!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Happy Arbor Day

We woke up this morning to drizzly, rain and cloudy skies.  But there is one thing that I have learned about Kiwis...the weather doesn't stop them.  

So we finished up some Math, loaded up our spades, gardening gloves and put on our gum boots (aka rain boats).  

We drove to Spa Thermal Park to help plant native trees for Arbor Day 2018.

Today will go down as a great homeschool memory! 

After walking down a beautiful trail, we came up to this hill where we'd be planting...and the sun was shining!  The perfect way to spend our Arbor day!

Kids Greening Taupo invited our homeschool group to join other local schools and citizens to help plant trees. 

Small shovels were provided!  Aren't they so cute and green?! 

So many great questions about plants and our environment were asked.  I love moments like these! 

 Once all of our hard work was finished, we enjoyed "Milo" (New Zealand hot chocolate) and some grilled "bangers" (sausages)!

Happy Arbor Day!  We hope that you got out and about to enjoy this beautiful world we live in.  Every day should be Arbor Day - said the 7-year-old!
I agree, kiddo!

Monday, May 21, 2018

"We made it Home"- Part 2 - The Hoorays!

Every life experience has its "Blahs" and its "Hoorays!".

And when we decided to move our family over to New Zealand, we knew we would experience both.  Now that time has past and we are settled into our lovely home, I've had time to reflect on the first 4 months of our time in this new country.

It didn't go exactly how we had planned it to go...but that's what made this chapter in our book of life pretty epic!

If you missed my "blahs", be sure and read it here...

The Blahs

Now for the FUN part of the experience... the memorable moments...

The "Hoorays!"  

1) We truly embraced the unschooling lifestyle.  I never really understood the unschooling approach to homeschooling until I was forced to do it!

And I liked it!!! And so did the kids!

When ALL of your homeschooling supplies are locked up for over 100+ days, you just teach with what you've got!  You let your children learn through experience and play.  We read brochures and magazines instead of having a "reading curriculum".  We gather nature specimens from our hikes and then looked them up on the internet to understand them better.  We cooked and baked ALOT more than normal.  We embraced living in others homes and used their board games for a #gameschooling- type learning.

We were given the chance to explore this new country!  And so we did just that.

2) R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sing it!).  This was another "hooray" that we took away from this LONG, homeless vaca. We used this opportunity to teach our children to respect other's property during our many stays at many, different homes.

When you book-a-bach/Airbnb, you are a guest in that person's home.  We made sure that our children understood that.  These weren't our things and our home, but we need to treat them as if they were...with lots of respect!

And to maintain that respectful attitude, we STILL had daily chores.  UGH!  We made our beds (most mornings), we picked up our toys before vacuum time, and we even cleaned the toilets on Tuesdays!  I wanted the boys to understand that guests that show respect are always invited back.

3) No matter what house we were "living" in...we always "made it home".  Yep...the saying "Home is where your heart is" is so true!  Home, at this moment in our lives, was all about where WE were together.  We made LOTS memories.  We watch our favorite movies and had dance parties.  We baked our favorite cookies and even celebrated 2 birthdays during this time.  We still had epic hide-and-go-seek games with NEW places to hide!  We became a family that depended on each other and the love that we share!

We made each house, our home!

And on February 20th...we finally "made it home".
My first cup of coffee on our front deck

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Peek Inside our Homeschool Week

I love looking back at our week.  Just when I start to think..."we didn't get ANYTHING done this week", I look back at the pictures that I took.  I smile, pat myself on the back, give my kids a high-five and think again...

Our Monday

A family tradition, we had back in Texas, was to go out and eat Vietnamese food every Saturday.  Well....New Zealand doesn't have the best Vietnamese food, so we ventured out and introduced the boys to Indian.  Guess what...THEY LOVE IT!

So we decided to check out this book to read and learn more about this fabulous country and its culture.

In honor of Easter, we gathered up some materials to make our "Empty Tomb".  Our hope is that our grass seed will sprout and look beautiful on our Easter table on Sunday! 
I am so thankful for the ladies over at The Homegrown Preschooler for providing such a great curriculum for us to use!

This week, we also began our "Morning Meeting".  After listening to a The Homeschool Sister's Podcast, with guest speaker Pam Barnhill, I decided that I wanted to incorporate this fabulous idea.  Snacks, candles and special music is how I draw the boys into the kitchen for our Easter Bible Study.  

Tech Tuesday

It was time to hack into our old electronics and see what was inside.  The boys LOVE doing this!  

I think next week, we might head over to the "Op Shop" aka Thrift Store and grab up some different electronics to take apart and learn with.

Wizard? Wednesday 

We are REALLY into Harry Pottery these days!  So I pulled a printable from Big Life Journal so that the 9-year-old could read all about his favorite author and her failures that made her famous.  

The boys were using an old video camera to film their version of Harry Potter starting the cutest Harry Potter that I have EVER seen! 


We LOVE making cookies for ourselves but we REALLY love making them for our neighbors!  The 7-year-old made a "copy work card" while the other 2 whipped up some cookies for our new neighbors.  This picture makes me about you?

A Rainy Friday

Wanna know the coolest way to calm down your kiddos on a rainy day?

Open up a coffee shop for Poetry Tea Time!  

Here's what you need:
*CoffeeHouse music playing
*Candles lite
*Newspapers, books and magazines on the table - picture Starbucks!
*cash register
*tip jar
*tea or hot chocolate

Optional but adds so much FUN!
*Canned Whip Cream

What do you do?  
The Mom pretends to be a barista at Starbucks.  (remain "in character" it's SO FUN!) The kids come to the bar, place their order, pay with play money, leave a tip, then take a seat and start reading.

The Mom serves the kiddos their drinks.  They all sit down, read poetry and enjoy the sweet ambiance of this homeschool!  I think Julie Bogart would approve this one!

What do you think you might try in your homeschool after taking a Peek Inside our Homeschool Week?

Happy Learning with your Little (and big) ONES!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"We made it home" - Part 1 - The Blahs

The sweet 3 story townhouse with Pizza Hut & Dominos right next door!
The House on the Hill...wild berries in the back, 4 years old's bowling alley in the front

And...the million dollar mansion in Khandalah, New Zealand.
Tomatoes, strawberries, and LOTS of room to roam!

4 hotels, 5 houses, and 1 basement later...
Whoa!  The last 5 months have been one, crazy ride.  But we made it though...

Did I ever think that we'd move over to a new country and be homeless for the first 100+ days?

Would I have changed the situation?
MAYBE?  IT HAD IT'S blahs AND hoorays!

Not gonna lie, I am soooo glad we are happily settled into our New Zealand house.  It's been 3 weeks.

And now that I have time to reflect, smile and giggle about it all.  I  came up with "3 Blahs to being a nomadic homeschooling family for 100+days."  Just in case you were curious...

The Blahs

1) It felt like a LONG vacation.  And you ALL know that Mom's never truly get a vacation.  With each different house along the way, came new procedures.

"Please remember to pick up your dirty undies and put them in the laundry basket!"  ~me, in my loving mommy voice
"But where is the laundry basket at in THIS house?" ~said everyone but me
No dryer, no problem!  And there's the laundry basket!

Some kids are still at the stage where they need me.  For example, #2 and #3 still need me to help them with their shoes, but it's hard enough to find any shoe in our house.

You all know how it is in hotel rooms or at your in-law's house.  So frustrating!!

Just think of the chaos in a week vacation without the structure and procedures your life at home...and add a few months to that.

2)  We stayed, as guests, in many different houses in NZ.  They call them Baches and you book them. Very similar to Home Away and Airbnb.
And when you are a guest with 3 rowdy boys, you say "DON'T TOUCH THAT!!!" or "GO FIT THAT!" a lot!!!  Boys break things and dig holes in yards, just because!  They literally climb walls!
Looks like Stranger Things 2, right?
Now, they did have a great, life lesson on respecting others things (which would go on my hooray list).
But constantly being on guard for the owner's things...It just wore me down.

3)  Never getting comfortable.  Don't you love the feel of home?  Your home.
I love the way our coach feels when I am reading to the boys.  I love the smell of our home.  I love the comfort of my bed and my pillows.  It just never got comfortable at these homes.  But the kitchens were fun! (hooray!)

But now, I'm gonna get mushy on ya...

I have time to look back on it all.  I can't help but think this...
God sent us through a family boot camp starting in 2016 with our first Road School trip.  Everywhere we'd go, whether it be the beaches of Florida or the mountains of Colorado, God was just preparing us for this exact moment!  He kept reminding me that "we made it home" then, so we can do it now!  Train them up!


Every night, I'd walk up the stairs at the Million Dollar Mansion and before tucking in the boys, I had to close a curtain in their room.  And this is what I would see.  #godwink and a sweet reminder that someday soon...
"We made it home!"  (celebratory voice)

Our Unschooled Week in Welly

We had been pushing hard at home for a good 4 weeks. We finished up our BraveWriter Arrow book, Sarah, Plain, and Tall . We completed ou...