Saturday, March 10, 2012

Boat building, webcams and Tara Dennis...

I thought I would share what our week in the Malden schoolroom was like. Let me start by saying I don't think there is such a thing as an 'average' week, or day, in the schoolroom! This week for example we had to go to Emerald on Monday (about two and half hour drive) for the kids to go to the dentists and parents to go to the accountants. I packed up their schoolwork though and we went to a friends house to attempt to finish our lessons. Then on Friday Little Miss Netball Star had to go to Barcaldine to play so we had a very quick lesson in the morning before waving mum and netball star goodbye walking across the creek. Yep flooded in still. Tom and I held the fort whilst his Dad and Matt worked in the yards Saturday. 

We did, however, learn all about area this week in maths. We learnt that it is measuring the space inside a shape and that you multiply the sides to find out how many metres/centimetres squared take up the space. Ways we learnt this were by measuring the deck, the pool, the get the idea. We had some super tricky problems to solve, like working out if we wanted to paint two walls of the schoolroom, how much paint would we need if 1 litre does 15 square metres and we need to do two coats. Poor Miss Emma's limited maths brain was hurting!

Measuring the pool
Measuring how long the backyard is

Whilst we were busy doing maths lessons, the chopper came this week to help Matt and Alex muster. I managed to get this very dodgy photo of the chopper 'parked' at the Malden house for lunch. 

This week in the schoolroom I tried to get the kids (and myself) to keep it tidy - everything in it's place and all that. One idea I brought home from home tutor workshop was to use a daily schoolwork folder. Rather than the kids sifting through their whole unit of work to find what we are doing today and it totally overwhelming them, they can now come into the schoolroom and be handed one folded that has just what we are doing today in it. Little Miss I Love Rules loves it because it brings structure, Little Mr I Hate School loves it because if it's not in the folder Miss Emma can't make him do it!

New daily schoolwork folders

The schoolroom is in the house, just off the kitchen/dining/lounge. It's both an advantage and disadvantage having a schoolroom in the house, the store room and cold room are off the schoolroom which makes it tempting for the kids to get something to eat instead of do their work, or Mum/Dad can be in and out of the schoolroom getting things.

The twins desks are in the centre of the room, divided by a wall so they can't annoy one another...too much. The computers are on one side of the room and my whiteboard and the storage cupboards on the other. A lot of things are now done on computer for distance ed (and I'm sure mainstream schools) so we alternate between the kids desks and the computers, depending if they are typing work, playing a spelling or maths game or listening to an audio piece. 

Maddy's desk
Tom's desk
The kids on air
Where Miss Emma 'teaches' (aka harps on about things the kids generally don't care about...)

Part of the 'structure' I was wanting to bring to the schoolroom was a set routine for the day. I went through The Plan with the kids and they told me what they would like to do first, second, third etc. I printed it out and put it on the wall so they can know what's coming next. This week I introduced reading a book just for fun after lunch to coax them back into the schoolroom - so far so good! We're reading Enid Blyton's The Wishing Chair, reliving my own childhood, I don't know if me or the kids are enjoying it more :)

New school routine and Miss Emma's rules...both are works in progress!
The kids have on air lessons Monday-Thursday at midday for about an hour. It's a blessing and a curse - a blessing because they get to have a 'real' lesson with a real teacher and interact with their classmates, and a curse because it's at the end of the main part of my teaching for the day so they're a bit drained and also Tom hates on air, mainly because he has to sit and listen. Booooooring. He can generally be found slouched in his chair, spinning around on his chair, throwing his headset at the screen, lying under the know, the usual. This week was particularly tough as their class teacher has been wanting them to turn their webcams on. Great! I thought, they get to interact and be more like a 'real' classroom, but Tom hated the idea. It meant his teacher could see everything he did (or didn't do). Sigh!

The kids class teacher, Mr Grubb

After we finish school for the day (usually at about 2.30pm) we get to do fun activities - painting, drawing, swimming, sports, games. I try to do an activity each day with each child so one doesn't feel left out, I think Tom is wondering why there are no male governesses?! Maddy wanted to make 'something like on Better Homes & Gardens, you knooooow!' Luckily Matt and I watched it last week and I knew what she wanted to do - a painting using masking tape to make lines across it. Move over Tara Dennis.

Next day and it was Tom's turn - this time boat building, inspired by our current work we're doing on the first fleet arriving in Botany Bay. We would set sail in the pool with our trusty vessels! I was super impressed with Tom's ingenuity when building his boat, a true engineer. He used two empty yogurt tubs and a prima box for super buoyancy. I made a viking ship (obviously, can't you tell?!) out of a paper plate, some pencils with paper sails and paddle-pop stick 'oars'. Maddy's was a paddle-pop raft which took on water quickly! Perhaps not a true engineer.

My Viking ship 
Tom's creation

Maddy's creation

Tom's finished boat. Arrrrr!!! Trying out his best pirate impersonation, can't you tell?!

Another great week in the schoolroom as well as in the paddock here at Malden. Matt has been doing lots of mustering this week, then drafting weaners, branding, marking, preg-testing in the yards. Some big days with a very sleepy husband by the end but we all know he wouldn't have it any other way. Hoping for an uninterrupted (and therefore productive!) week in the schoolroom next week...


  1. Looks great Emma, and I am picking up some tips for our school room routine :)

  2. Love this post about the school room!! Looks like you are doing an awesome job!! xo