Australia Day!

YEY! Did you know that January 26th is Australia Day! Get ready to party!
(Yes, I know today’s date. I’m giving you a heads up so you can prepare!)

Here are some fun activities to help you celebrate. Alternately, you may want to incorporate some of these into your lesson plans for a unit study on Australia if you do one at home or in a co-op class.

  • First of all, did you know that although Aussies speak English, you may not actually understand them? For instance, if I told you, “Hey Bloke, I’m feeling peckish. Let’s go to Macca’s and get some tucka”, would you know what I was saying?

Start out Australia day with this fun Aussie slang/American term match-up:
Aussie Slang Match-Up
AussieMatch-Up Answer Key

  • Another Australian phrase is “Fred Nerk”. Basically Fred Nerk is like “John Doe” or “Mr. Nobody”. Whatever happens on Australia Day, you can use this to get off the hook–
    “FRED NERK DID IT!”

-Two players throw a ball back and forth.
-When 1 of the players drops the ball, both, say down, down, down.
-After that, the player who dropped the ball gets down on 1 knee, elbow,or chin, etc.
-The game continues on like this until one of the players cannot go “down” anymore.

  • Next it’s time for a little art—check out this great Aboriginal Australian dot art, and try some of your own. For EVEN MORE fun- grab some face paint and use each other as canvases! 🙂
  • Now for the sounds of Australia:

The Kookaburra is a funny Australian bird who “laughs”. Listen to him here:

The Didgeridoo is a fun instrument to listen to (you already got a small taste when watching the art vid). Check out this music!

  • Check out some books from your library. Try these:

Are We There YetAre we there yet? : a journey around Australia is a great book that follows a family on vacation & describes all of the different and diverse places you can find in the land down under!

Aboriginal Australians

Aboriginal Australians is an informative book about the indigenous people of Australia, and I like it mainly for the pictures.

  • If all this fun is making you hungry, try this recipe for ANZAC Biscuits. (If you took the quiz above, you know that biscuit does NOT mean biscuit.) ANZAC is the name of Australia and New Zealand’s Army Corp, and rumor has it that these were invented so that folks back home could send the troops a treat that wouldn’t easily go stale. I wouldn’t know. When we made them, there wasn’t an opportunity to see if they’d go stale…I don’t even like coconut and frankly the batter hardly made it to the cookie sheet…YUMMY!
  • While you are in the mood for taste-testing, you may want to make a run to a place like World Market or other international food store to pick up some VEGEMITE! (You can also order it online.) This is another Australian favorite, but unlike the ANZACs…it is…less than tasty. Much less. However, it’s fun to try. Use caution and spread only a THIN layer on a piece of toast.
    Vegemite @ Three Cornered Hug

Unfortunately, you can only complete this last step if you visit or live in the state of Kentucky…

  • Visit Kentucky Down under where you can actually PET A KANGAROO (I know, how cool is that?!), watch some border collies and their sheep-herding action, laugh out loud with a Kookaburra, and see and hear a didgeridoo up close. It’s a little expensive, but sometimes they run great specials on sites like Groupon. They also have a good discount during some months if you simply show them proof that you homeschool. With the discount, KDU is WELL WORTH IT!Check out their website: http://www.kdu.com/

This should get you started. If you come up with some other activities, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

G’day Mate!

Recommended Resources: Khan Academy REVISITED– “The Hour of Code”

BinCodeKhan Academy is now teaching basic coding skills. Your child (or even you!) can go to The Hour of Code section and learn step-by-step how to make designs with Javascript- it’s not anywhere near as hard as you think!

My son and I tried it together and had a blast making silly faces, and even a Christmas card to send out to friends!

Click here to try it out!

Yes, you do need a web filter.

Keyboard

It amazes me how many homeschool moms (actually parents period) don’t realize that they need a web filter on their computers.

However much that we want to believe the best about our kids, and we should, we also need to realize that it’s too easy to stumble upon the wrong thing unintentionally.

Example: one child I know was trying to look up some information about our government for a school project. Like many of us, he thought he could just type in whatever.com and like magic the info he needed would pop up. So, he typed in whitehouse.com (instead of the true address– .gov) and unfortunately the domain had been purchased by an unscrupulous character. My young friend was educated indeed, but not in the right subject. (Note: to my knowledge, this has now been righted)

It’s also important to take into account that the friends your child invites can also easily introduce things into your home that you would never allow. I’ve heard of this happening more times than I’d like to count now–and from homeschooling parents. The reason I point that out is that so many people mistakenly think that homeschooling will successfully shield your kids from everything. Not so. Please wake up and realize that your computers need filters.

My husband happens to be a computer geek for a living, which means we have to field a lot of questions about the best software for this or that. (How did I get involved with this?) By far, the software we recommend the most for filtering is K9 web protection. One reason is that it’s FREE. Another is that it’s come a long way since it was first developed, and it has features we like even more than some of the paid parental control software.

Now, it’s important to know that a filter is NOT full proof. There ARE sometimes ways around them for kids that are advanced in computers. However, this will definitely put a roadblock in the way of most of our kids since I’m assuming a majority of our 8-year-olds are not evil geniuses. It will also help to keep your kids from accidentally stumbling upon things- especially if you set it to block unrated sites.

You can find the K9 filter here.

Remember, if your kids have ipods or other devices, those can many times be restricted as well.

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Recommended Resources: Khan Academy

MathKhan Academy is the single-most helpful resource I’ve come across. Although I’ve not utilized the site’s other areas such as science or humanities, the math videos provided have been my saving grace more than once. The concepts covered range from fairly simple arithmetic to trigonometry and precalculus.

Sal Khan (the site founder) explains things in a real and understandable way, and you can review the video as many times as needed. His videos stand out from others in that instead of watching a teacher standing in front of a math problem, what you see is simply a black screen with neon writing while the problem is being explained. To me, this is less distracting.

We’ve been using this site for awhile, and have watched it grow to include practice problems and more. You are not required to make an account (FREE!) to view videos, but if you do it will keep track of your child’s progress and they can earn “badges” etc.

With the addition of these new features, it seems to me that the site is a little harder for newbies to understand. The easiest way to get around is just to type a simple phrase into the search bar such as “integers”, “negative numbers”, or whatever topic you are currently working on. A list of videos should come up then, and it would be a good idea for you to pre-watch it to make sure it’s applicable to what you’re doing.

As much as my son does not favor math, he loves Sal and sometimes asks to watch the videos again just because! No one I’ve ever talked to has been disappointed with this site. Start here.

Sal, if you happen to stumble across this, I just want to say–THANKS! 🙂

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Recommended Resource: Sheppard Software- FREE!

Sheppard Software is something I recommend to pretty much everybody. There’s no actual software to download, you simply visit their site. There aren’t too many websites that equal what they have to offer for free, and the topics are good for a wide age range.

Specifically, I appreciate the geography section–my son has used it for years and he took 3rd place in the National Geographic State Bee this year! I can’t say that it was solely due to this site (not at all) but Sheppard really gave him a great start. It starts out easy and introduces the different countries or states, and gets progressively harder until you have to recall the names from memory.

Sheppard Software also has sections about animals, chemistry and others including special sections just for preschoolers. The only negative that’s been brought to my attention is the ads, which I’ve never noticed because we have adblock on our browser.

If you’d like to check out their website, head over here.