Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Road Less Travelled

Once upon a time to have an intolerance to food was almost unheard of, now however everyone you speak to is avoiding something for some reason or another.  I'm not trying to make a joke of this, i know it's serious, i just find it interesting the way the 'food world' is changing.  The road less travelled is now the well beaten track soon to be the superhighway i'm sure.

For me personally i have avoided pork in any form other than ham or bacon for years.  It upsets my tummy and i spend the night on the loo.  For some reason the curing process in making ham or bacon changes the proteins enough for me and i can deal with it.  I also now avoid fresh pineapple after having several tingly mouth, itchy tongue episodes within minutes of eating fresh pineapple.  I'm terrified of anaphylaxis!  That's such a shame because fresh pineapple is YUM!  Again i can eat tinned pineapple because there is something in the canning process that changes the proteins enough to be tolerable.

BUT, i digress.  The real reason for my post is Possum.  After much trial and error with his foods and meds it would appear that the poor poppet is very sensitive to wheat and dairy.  Eating either of these causes constipation, restless nights, frequent night waking and nursing for comfort, tummy pain and screaming episodes lasting up to 3 hours mostly at bedtime or in the middle of the night.  So we have decided that until further notice we will be going wheat and dairy free for Possum.

We are meeting with Possum's paediatrician in January and i am hoping that he will finally take me seriously and send us off the the gastroenterologist, allergist and dietician.  Last time he brushed it off and to be honest i wasn't sure exactly what we were dealing with.  I was hoping it was just an adjustment phase to eating real foods.  Looks like i was wrong.  I'm still holding out hope that his gut is just immature and that he will eventually be able to eat wheat and dairy, but in the meantime i'm looking up and cooking lots of new recipes!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Downloading You Tube movies in Safari

If your on a Mac and your using Safari then there is an easy way to download your favorite You Tube movies to watch time and time again without the hassle of downloading each time.  Better yet, if you've got an iPad then you can pop them onto your iPad and use a viewer like Good Player to view wherever you are, whenever you like!

So first up open the You Tube page with the movie and let it begin playing.  Next press command-option-A which will bring up an activity window.  Find the You Tube heading and click on the arrow to show details of what is being loaded.  Somewhere in that list there will be a large file, typically over 5MB.  Double click on it and Safari will begin downloading it.  Once the download is completed you can find the file in the download folder via Finder, it will be a .flv file and have a generic name which I suggest you change so that it's easier to recognize.

If your using Good Reader you can transfer the file to your iPad via iTunes.  If you'd like to view on your Mac then you will need another media player like VLC.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Goodies

Look what made it's way into my house this Christmas.  A Nespresso Latissima+ for my lovely hubby Rusty.

VERY nice coffee with excellent milk froth.  Kids have been having baby choc cino's daily!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Plan 26 Dec

I'm keen to try out a few new things whilst hubby is home this week.

Sunday (Boxing Day)
No cooking for me, still visiting family.

Breakfast - TMX crumpets, a new recipe for us
Lunch - TMX Ham & Cheese scrolls
Dinner - Sausage sizzle
Pantry/fridge/freezer - TMX Vanilla custard (EDC)

Breakfast - TMX rice porridge
Dinner prep - TMX pie filling
Lunch - 'Pick n Mix' crackers, dip, fruit, left overs TMX Hummas (EDC)
Dinner - TMX Chicken & vegetable pie, kids loved this one!  This time going to make them as pot pies and skim some of the liquid as it was a bit too wet last time.
Pantry/fridge/freezer - TMX Vanilla ice-cream (EDC), TMX white bread

Breakfast - TMX pancakes
Dinner prep - TMX rice and sweet & sour sauce, going to try this recipe (sauce only) and use the TMX
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Chinese style fried rice with spring rolls and sweet & sour sauce
Pantry/fridge/freezer - TMX fruit loaf

Breakfast - TMX Smoothies & fruit toast
Lunch - 'Pick n Mix' crackers, dip, fruit, left overs TMX Hummas (EDC)
Dinner - Home made pizzas (TMX pizza base EDC)
Pantry/fridge/freezer - This indulgent granola, new recipe

Friday (New Years Eve)
Breakfast - Granola
Dinner prep - TMX apple crumble
Lunch - Left over pizza
Dinner - BBQ Rissoles with TMX mashed potatoes & steamed veggies and for desert apple crumble and ice-cream
Pantry/fridge/freezer - TMX white bread

Saturday (New Years Day)
Breakfast - BBQ Bacon & eggs with toast
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Tacos

Breakfast - Fruit scones (TMX butter & flour)
Lunch - 'Pick n Mix' crackers, dip, fruit, left overs TMX Hummas (EDC)
Dinner - TMX Baf's chicken & veg, new recipe

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas in NICU

Last year Possum spent his very first Christmas in NICU.  It was VERY hard for our family.  Owing to NICU policies Flossy, Bugsy and Chicky were yet to meet their new little brother.  On Christmas Eve we were notified that the children would be able to meet their brother on Christmas Day for the very first time.  Possum was almost 3 months old!  There were VERY strict conditions attached but we were so grateful!

Recently a friend posted this poem on FB.  She had found it somewhere on the net, I would love to be able to pass on the proper credit but i've been unable to locate the source.  It's very touching and sums things up perfectly.

Twas the night before Christmas, and in each isolette 
Little creatures were squirming and getting all set; 
Machinery sat by their bedsides with care, 
In hopes that good breathing skills soon would be there.

... Day shifters were home all snug in their beds,
As visions of overtime danced in their heads;
While preemies on ventilators, and some on CPAP,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap...

When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
The residents woke up to see what was the matter.
Away from the sink I flew like a jet
To make sure all was well at my baby's isolette.

Some bilirubin lights with their powerful glow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to babies below,
When, there before my wondering eyes, it would seem,
Was an oversized stroller and a medical team.
With a handful of needles with which they could stick you,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nicu.

More rapid than eagles his specialists came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Nurses! Now, Residents! Now, Neonatologists!
On, Social Workers! On, Respiratory and Occupational Therapists!
From the front of the unit! To the end of the hall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

Up to each baby's cribside they flew,
With the stroller full of toys, and St. Nicu too.
And then, in a twinkling, they stopped at each bed
And tucked in the babies and got them all fed.

As I looked at my baby, and was turning around,
Down our aisle St. Nicu came with a bound.
He was dressed in red scrubs, and I could instantly tell
That his clothes had an obvious hospital smell;
A bag of stuffed animals was flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
A little red pen he held tight in his teeth,
And a stethoscope encircled his neck like a wreath.

He was chubby and plump, with a few extra pounds,
And I laughed when I saw him there doing his rounds.
A turn of his clipboard and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke few words, but came straight to my side,
And running down his face was a tear he had cried.

And laying his hand on the back of my head,
He gave me a nod, and slowly he said:
"Each night you come here you're aware of the danger,
But your baby is loved by the One in the manger."

Then the medical team gave a thumbs-up and smiled
And St. Nicu placed an animal next to my child.
But I heard him exclaim, as they rolled out of sight,
"Merry Christmas, tiny baby, and have a wonderful night!"

Possum was very lucky and Santa did visit him in NICU leaving him a lovely reindeer bear, a treasured possession.  We are truly enjoying the magic of Christmas this year.  Please take a moment to think of the little ones fighting hard, hoping to spend their next Christmas at home with their loving families.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

TMX white bread, yummy!

This makes a very yummy, light, versatile loaf.  I use this as a base recipe for all the lunch scrolls i make.  It is so good my children like to eat it as just bread and butter, they don't want to spoil the flavour by adding a spread!

1 egg
20g olive oil
Approx 220g luke warm water
3 tsp instant dried yeast
500g white bread flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Zero scales.  Put olive oil and egg into TMX bowl then add enough lukewarm water to make the liquid up to 300g.  It will be around 220g depending on the size of your egg.

Add yeast.  Mix on 3 for 30 seconds.

Add flour, sugar and salt.  Slowly turn dial from closed lid position to 7 and mix just long enough for dough to begin to form.

Mix 2 mins on interval.  Rest for 1 minute.  Mix a further 2 mins on interval.

Shape into a ball, put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with gladwrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour.  I normally sit my bowl in the oven unless i'm cooking something else at the time.

Turn out onto a floured surface and shape your loaf.  I normally make two balls and pop them into my loaf dish.

Allow to rise a further 30 mins then place into a cold oven.  Set the oven to 220C and cook until golden and when tapped the base sounds hollow.  Approx 40 mins.

If your children are anything like mine this loaf will be gone in the blink of an eye, yum!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Look What I Can Do!

Possum has started pulling himself up to standing.  Look out world!  He is still VERY wobbly so can't really be left, and he hasn't worked out how to get back down yet.  Cleaver boy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Read Aloud

We visited the library a few days ago and I picked up The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories.  What a beautiful book!  We are loving reading the stories each night before bed.  It is such a shame that it appears to be OOP because it is a book worth owning!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Menu Plan 18 Dec

Inspired by Jo at Quirky Cooking I'm sharing my menu plans too.  Not nearly as creative or inspirational, but helps me keep my week on track and shop for what we need so it limits wastage!

Breakfast - Fruit scones with jam (TMX butter & flour for mix)
Lunch - Crumbed fish & fruit platter
Dinner - Sausage sizzle

Breakfast - Cereal quick easy, another trip to the city
Lunch & Dinner - will pick up something in the city

Breakfast - TMX porridge & make TMX fruit loaf (EDC Hot Cross Bun recipe) to take on a playdate for afternoon tea
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Rissoles & TMX steamed veggies

Breakfast - TMX smoothies & toast
Lunch - Corn chips, salsa & fruit platter
Dinner - TMX spaghetti & meatballs AIO meal (new recipe for us)

Breakfast - Cereal
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Tacos

Breakfast - Cereal, quick & easy, heading to my parents place for Christmas!  Won't be cooking until we get home.

Christmas Day!

Boxing Day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last Swimming Lesson for 2011

Today Flossy & Bugsy had their last swimming lesson for 2011.  Chicky would normally participate too but she had broken out in hives from an unknown cause (possibly nuts) so she stayed out of the pool.

The children have all come such a long way this year.  Their confidence has grown and they are loving their lessons.  Their teacher has been unreal, knowing when to push their comfort zones and when to back  off too.

Flossy passed level 4 and will enrol in level 5 for next year.  Bugsy remains in level 3 which is fine.  Level 3 is a hard one and he only moved up this term.  Chicky has progressed from Kindy beginners into Kindy intermediate which has taken a long time but she is finally there and happy to get in the pool, a big change from the beginning of the year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cactus Flower

Yesterday afternoon the children announced that a small cactus in our garden was about to flower.  On closer inspection it sure was!  I hadn't even notice that it had a bud on it before they mentioned it, oops!



Flossy stayed up as late as she could manage to try to see the bud open but it wasn't quite open at her bedtime.  She was afraid it was a one night only flower as Nana & Poppy have a cactus that flowers for one night only and you wouldn't want to miss it, stunning!  She was up early and headed straight outside to see if the flower was still alive.  To her delight it was still alive and looking even better than it did last night!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

iPad - How it's changing our homeschool

We love our iPad, it goes almost everywhere with us and comes in very handy when waiting at swimming lessons or medical appointments.  Most of all i love the way we integrate our iPad into our homeschool.  I can see that we will do more and more on the iPad in the coming years as developers release more apps to suits the homeschool community.

So, how do we use it for school?

For handwriting we use Whiteboard Pro.  We have a stylus that we can use to write on the iPad like a pen and paper.  Whiteboard Pro enables us to select different colours and nib size so that we can focus on formation.  Flossy is learning cursive this way and Bugsy is learning to print.  They still use a regular program, Flossy is using New American Cursive and Bugsy Handwriting Without Tears but the iPad enables them to practice, practice, practice without wasting a mountain of paper.  We can hone in on letters they are struggling with and really nail them on the iPad and because we don't have the obvious output of a covered sheet of paper in front of us we are more likely to keep going and not complain :)  Just this afternoon Flossy sat for half an hour focusing on the joining of a, b & c in cursive.  She didn't want to stop until is was just right.  If you need to it is easy enough to add a few guidelines or even use a larger nib and then have the child trace over with a smaller nib in a different colour.  I also love this app when you want to demo a math problem or just jot something down to demonstrate a concept.  When you'd normally reach for your big whiteboard or a piece of scrap paper Whiteboard Pro fills the spot.  Love this app!

In the last couple of days i have downloaded SoundLiteracy.  This app is VERY pricey but i am hoping that it will mesh well with All About Spelling and negate some of the time we spend at the whiteboard moving around the tiles, which seem to go missing regularly.  I can't tell you how many i have had to fish out of the vacuum cleaner!  From what i have heard the developer is open to feedback and is already looking at several suggestions to improve the program.  So far we have done two lessons (AAS level 1 & 4) using the app and it has been a great success.  So glad i found this!

There are a bunch of maths apps that i love.  It is wonderful to be able to offer SO MUCH variety to make drilling those math facts fun.  Ooops, don't let my kids read that, they think they are playing games!  Here are our top maths pics in no particular order, Rocket Math, S-Kruis Tafels, Splash Math grade 3 (other grades are available) and Math Ninja.  I also find these maths apps handy for teaching 100 Board, Counting Bear and AL Abacus but they are not games.

Recently i have come across Notability and i am LOVING it and can see that this is part of the future of my homeschool.  Notability allows you to import PDF files using Dropbox or syncing, although Dropbox is easier when you are always on the go, and then annotate right onto the PDF.  So you can import a maths or language arts worksheet or complete workbook and have your child complete it right onto the iPad and save the work for you to check.  This makes the whole printing, binding storing of paperwork obsolete!  LOVE it!  Prior to finding Notability i had tried a number of annotation apps for this purpose but found they were cumbersome and clunky.  Notability is much better.  The developer is very pro feedback and continuing to work on and improve his app.  Yay!  Love proactive developers!  I can see that i will be purchasing more curricula in PDF format.  I had previously avoided this, so it's a big change.

For narration i am playing around with Dragon Dictation.  In theory i'd love to be able to have the kids independently narrate straight into the iPad and have it all typed out as they speak, but i'm not too sure if this is going to be a seamless as i hope.  I really need to spend more time on this app to make sure it will do exactly what i want but thought because it has lots of potential i would let you all know about it :)

I asked the kids to share their current favourite apps and they said -

Flossy's - Splash Math Grade 3
Bugsy's - Rocket Math
Chicky's - Whiteboard Pro (she loves to draw with this app)

Care to share your families favourite apps?  We'd love to read them in the comments.

Menu Plan 10 Dec

We've got a VERY busy week ahead of us with several trips to the city scheduled along with several other appointments in town.

Breakfast - TMX pancakes
Lunch - Cold meat & salad sandwiches
Dinner - Kebabs with TMX rice & steamed vegies
Pantry/Fridge/Freezer - TMX Beef and vegetable puree for Possum

Breakfast - TMX rice porridge
Lunch - Sandwiches (heading to the city)
Dinner - BBQ with the inlaws at their retirement village kids Christmas party in the city

Breakfast - Fruit salad & yogurt
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Tacos
Pantry/Fridge/Freezer - TMX choc custard

Breakfast - Cereal (quick & easy, heading to the city)
Lunch & Dinner out in the city

Breakfast - Cereal (quick & easy, heading to swimming), dinner prep cook rice (TMX) and refrigerate
Lunch - Fruit plate & crumbed fish
Dinner - Chinese style fried rice with spring rolls and sweet & sour sauce

Breakfast - Fruit smoothies (TMX) with toast, dinner prep cook potatoes (TMX) and refrigerate
Lunch - Sandwiches
Dinner - Tuna patties & steamed veggies

Breakfast - Cereal (quick & easy, heading to the city)
Lunch & Dinner out in the city

Breakfast - TMX Pancakes
Lunch - crackers, dip (TMX hummus), fruit
Dinner - TMX Chicken & vegetable pie (new recipe)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home Grown Geography

Our focus for geography for this coming year and into the future (until we work through all the goodies i just purchased) is physical and political.  We will not be addressing cultures formally, apart from a tid bit from Material World, but i do have some other books on hand for the children to explore on their own if they choose.  We have the World Book series People & Places and they are a bit heavy when our aim is a world geography overview, not a country by country in depth study.

Here are the wonderful books we will be using.

DK Complete Flags of the World
Usborne Flags of the World Sticker Book (1 each)
Geography from A - Z
Maps & Globes
DK Geography of the World
A Child's Introduction to the World
Material World
Around the World in 80 Tales

We will begin the year learning a bit about maps.  We will read through Maps & Globes and also look at the first half of A Child's Introduction to the World.  Once we have completed the foundation material we will move on.

From there I plan to use Around the World in 80 Tales as our spine.  We will read a story at the beginning of each Geography session.  It's a beautiful book with stories from all over the globe.  They are segregated by continent.  Here you can see the cover and a sample story.

Once we have read the story we will locate the country on our world map which hangs on the wall.  Then we will colour a map of the country which i will find here.  We will take time to look at the countries topography and see if there is anything special or interesting we can look up in Geography A-Z.  Then we will again locate the country in DK Geography of the World and read what they have to offer.  We will pay particular attention to where the country is located, which countries it boarders and features it shares with it's neighbours such as rivers and mountain ranges.

Next we will look in DK Complete Flags of the World to find out about the countries flag and what it means.  Here is what it looks like.

This book offers excellent information on the meaning behind each part of the flag and other historical and/or political information about how the flag came to be.  Where relevant there are also state, territory, provence etc flags illustrated.  Then we will find the flag in our Usborne Flags of the World Sticker Books and stick it in the right place.  To conclude our session we will have a look at Material World and chat about what we have found out.  We will be narrating and note taking along the way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

TMX Pancakes/Pikelets

We like to call them pancakes, but really they are pikelets :D  Here is my TMX recipe adapted from the Golden Wattle Cook Book.

420g plain flour
5 teaspoons of baking powder (TMX home made)
55g sugar
4 eggs
430g milk

Put everything in the TMX bowl.
Mix on 5 for 10 seconds, scrape down sides, repeat, repeat again.
Cook in a greased pan on the stove top.
More than enough for a family of 6, yum!

Rusty, chief Saturday morning pancake cook, 2 pans on the go so we all get to eat sooner :D

Pancakes cut and served with real maple syrup for dipping.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gingerbread for the Gingerbread House

Recipe adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Kids Cooking Book.  We love the AWW Cookbooks, lots of tried and true, yummy recipes :)

This recipe will make MORE than enough for the Gingerbread House we made, if you use the same template we did.  I put the link in the Gingerbread House post.  If you just wanted to make cookies or gingerbread men you could halve the recipe.

250g butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup golden syrup
6 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground clove
4 teaspoons bicarb soda
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Before you do anything make sure you have enough spices on hand.  Don't assume you do because you have a bottle in the cupboard.  I JUST had enough when i made mine and they are now on the shopping list!

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Make sure you have enough baking trays and that they are big enough to fit on your house pieces so they are flat.  You don't want a wall with a kink in it :)

Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in the microwave and 'nuke' them in small increments stirring in between until the butter is melted and everything is combined.  You don't want it bubbling madly, you just want it melted and combined.  SMALL increments!

Put it aside for a few minutes to cool.  You don't want to add the egg to it straight away or you will cook it.

Once slightly cooled add all the other ingredients putting the egg in last.  Stir with a spoon to combine.  If it's very crumbly here you can add a little more beaten egg.  You want it to feel like playdough.

Turn it out onto a floured bench or cheat like it do and put it on some baking paper.  Knead the dough lightly until it has all come together into a large blob.  Now separate it into 6 portions.

Roll each portion out until it is even and around 5mm thick.  Then use your template and cut the piece out making sure you cut the doors or windows where appropriate.  I do all of this on baking paper so i don't have to move the piece, i just slide the baking paper off the bench onto the baking tray and pop it into the oven.  Sound like a pro don't I, i've only done it once :P

You'll have plenty of dough, so once the house pieces are all done grab the cookie cutters as set to work.

Cook each piece until golden brown then cool on a cake rack.

Now your ready to make your royal icing and put it all together.  Have fun!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gingerbread House

I've never made a Gingerbread House before.  I've seen the kits you can get at the shop and thought about it, but never given it a go.  There is something about prepackaged that i don't love LOL.  This year Masterchef had an episode where they made the most magic Gingerbread Houses and i saw what they did from start to finish, and i thought, hey, that wasn't too bad.  I think i can do that!  Well, not quite so grande, but i could do a small one.  So i decided that we would give it a go this Christmas.

I already have a gingerbread recipe that i love so i didn't have to hunt one down which made life a little easier.  I just had to find a template.  Google to the rescue :)  This is the site i found, we used the first pattern, the house template.

I doubled my regular recipe and it was MORE than enough.  We made some biscuits with the balance.

I left it all to cool and waited for peace and quiet before attempting to put it together.  I made up the royal icing by hand.  Oh, my!  Never going to make it by hand again, my arm almost dropped off from so much whipping!  I don't know how chefs manage it.  Ofcourse it would have helped if i actually had a whisk and wasn't using a fork!  In the end i was using 2 forks and yes, it was more effective than 1.  You think i would have learnt when i doubled the gingerbread recipe that i didn't need to also double the royal icing recipe, slow learner here.  I doubled that recipe too and had MORE than enough!  At the suggestion of a friend i made the icing VERY stiff.  It set very quickly which was just what i needed.  I loaded it in a snap lock bag, snipped off a corner and set to work.

With the assistance of some tinned beans and fruit the house went together quite smoothly.

Once all the walls were up i let them set before putting on the roof panels, door and window shutters.

I put the icing in the fridge overnight so that it was ready to go for decorating in the morning.  The kids had a wonderful time discussing and deciding on decorations.  Next year i know we need a few different supplies to what we had this year, but i guess that is all part of the learning process.

We were all VERY HAPPY with the final result.  We wont be waiting until Christmas to eat it.  I'm sure it will be all gone by the end of the week!

I think we just started a new Christmas Tradition :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Does your family have any specific Christmas Traditions?  Rusty inadvertently created a beautiful Christmas Tradition for our family and i'd like to share :)

In the lead up to our very first Christmas together Rusty and I discussed gift giving and decided that we would not give each other anything that year.  We were saving for a deposit on a house, our wedding and a trip to Europe.  We were both quite happy to be putting our money towards these things than buying a gift at Christmas just for the sake of it.  However, unbeknown to me Rusty did buy me something for Christmas.  He purchased our very first Christmas ornament, a Swarovski Christmas Star.  I had never seen anything like it, it was just beautiful!

We discussed and made a decision that from that moment on every Christmas we would purchase a Swarovski Christmas Star and if they stopped making them we would find something of equal weight.  We also decided that on our travels we would collect Christmas ornaments to remind us of all of the places we had visited.  It is our hope that our ornaments will be passed on to our children and their children and so on, creating a treasured set of family heirlooms.

This year we are hanging our 10th Swarovski Christmas Star on our tree :)

Here are some of our precious ornaments.

2010 Swarovski Christmas Star

Hand blown Mickey Mouse from Disneyland, Paris. 

2008 Swarovski Christmas Star

Teddy Bear with snow globe Eiffel Tower from Paris.

Hand blown glass orchid from Singapore.

Queens Carriage from The Tower of London, England.

 Cow bell from Geneva, Switzerland.

2009 Swarovski Christmas Star

Hand blown glass crayfish from Busselton, Australia.

2004 Swarovski Christmas Star

The children also each have their own birth bauble which has their name and date of birth.

Here is a pic of our tree.

We'd love to hear what your Christmas Traditions are :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I See Sam Readers

Last year a friend of mine encouraged me to take a look at the I See Sam Readers as a solid reading program for Bugsy.  He has completed Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but he is still a struggling reader, maybe it's just a boy thing.  I really didn't want to start another 'learn to read program' because he has the basics down.  My gut feel is that he needs more practice reading real material, enter I See Sam Readers.

After e-mail discussion with Andy at Academic Success for all Learners I decided to go ahead and purchase all 8 sets of little books.

They are backwards on this shelf.  The order is red, orange, 
yellow, pale green, dark green, aqua, blue, purple.

So far they have been a hit!  Bugsy has really enjoyed getting to know the characters which appear in all of the little books.  He loves that they are colour coded so he can see when he has moved up a level.  So far he has completed all of the red books and is three shy of completing the orange books.  The books build so incrementally he really feels comfortable with each new book.  This is giving him the confidence he was lacking.  I can see his attitude towards reading changing as the process is becoming easier.  Once the book has been read fluently he gets a sticker of his choice to pop on the back so that we know that one has been completed successfully.  There are also charts and certificates to mark off and present along the way.

A page from an orange book.

Showing off his new sticker.

Here are sample pages from each of the levels except orange, it's above :).



 pale green

 dark green




Each book contains phonics review and comprehension questions.  As they progress the font size decreases and the number of words per page increases.  Longer stories and even chapters are introduced.  I believe after completing all of the books Bugsy will be in a position to read anything he picks up with confidence.  My aim is to complete all of the books in a 6 month period although Bugsy isn't aware of that :).

Just as a side note Bugsy is still working on phonics daily.  Aside from reading he is working on Explode the Code and also All About Spelling.

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