Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas in Hong Kong

Our very comfortable hotel - East Hotel.
Instead of staying home for Christmas we decided to fly for three days to Hong Kong. It was my and kids first time on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. The city didn't really impress us much ... but we still had a great time.

Views from the airport bus to the hotel - far from pretty.

We not only walked around the city, but also took all possible means of public transportation - bus, tram, taxi, small bus, boat, underground and train (all of us agree that the taxi was the worst). It was very convenient with the Octopus card.

Doubledecker tram, Tim on a ferry and plan of MTR.
We tried some local food and drinks.

What is "Milk water egg"? Condensed milk diluted with water with
a raw egg inside - quite nice. The drinks very really good
and the jelly eggs were fun to eat too.
Jas loves LEGO so we couldn't miss a visit to the Times Square where big Lego figures and houses were set out.

What surprised us most: the lack of scooters, many Taiwanese restaurants and very few bookstores.
We also met a wonderful homeschooling family who a few years ago has sailed on a catamaran across the Pacific with their two young daughters. They invited us to their boat, where kids played a game of "Risk" and we had time to chat.
Tim wouldn't be himself if he hasn't arranged to meet with Hongkongese families interested in homeschooling. It's not easy to homeschool legally in Hong Kong as there is no set application procedure. Still there are quite a few families that choose to educate their kids at home.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getting the house ready for Christmas

Last year we were away from home for the whole Christmas season, so there was no reason to decorate the house or to put the Christmas tree up. This year, we are spending most of December at home, so we wanted to have the house all ready for the Holidays.

We invited our homeschooling neighbours for an afternoon
of making dough ornaments.
This is how they turned out.

Kids also made origami and Hama Beads ornaments.
We've also put out the old and new decorations,
mangers and ornaments.
And of course a very colorful Christmas tree!
Zosia made some cute sweets from marzipan
and Jas made and decorated cookies.

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Young Voice Super Festival

Zosia sharing her experience at the camp.
During summer Zosia participated in a few summer camps organized by Fubong Culture and Education Foundation 富邦文教基金會.

For one of the camps she went to Orchid Island 蘭嶼 off the south eastern coast of Taiwan to learn about the aboriginal way of life. At the end of the camp kids had to make a short film presentation about what they have learned.

Another camp was in Tainan, where she explored the newly opened National Museum of Taiwan History 國立台灣歷史博物館. During this camp she not only learned history of Taiwan, but also made a short feature film about one event from the history using the photos taken inside the museum.

Images from "The Kite" animation
For the last camp Zosia gathered a group of eight homeschoolers interested in film making and together they signed up for the film making camp. After a few days of learning about acting, working as a group and preparing a script for their movie only half of the groups was asked to stay for two additional days of filming. Zosia's group was not chosen to stay, but ... was offered an even better deal - they would be given time and an animantion teacher's help to finish their work back in Taipei. This way the Homeclub Image, as they call themselves, met for a few days in September to finish their work.

But that's not all ... The same group of eight homeschoolers was given an opportunity to learn more about photography during a special three  day photo session. The subject of their work was - graduation photo. The kids came up with some wonderful and very interesting photos which tell us a lot about how they see themselves.


The first weekend of December was the time for all the kids, who participated in Fubong's camps, to present their work - the films, the animations, the photos and the writings. Youngsters from all over Taiwan came to Taipei to see the premieres of their films and talk about their summer camps experiences.
The homeschooler's graduation photos had a special exhibit with their work printed in huge sizes. Everything looked really professional.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A visit from St Nicholas

December 6th was St. Nicholas Day. It is a tradition that on that day kids in Poland receive small gifts, usually sweets and chocolates, put under their beds at night by the Good Old St Nick. This year St Nick was a bit busy and didn't get here on time, he was late by two days. He also thought that instead of stuffing the kids's tummies with more sweets it would be better to "stuff" their brains with some literature. 

Kids also wrote letters to Święty Mikołaj, as we call Santa in Polish. 

Jas even left a snack for tired Santa and carrots for Rudolph.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Planet Earth and map projections mindmap

Zosia has just finished reading (and studying) The Usborne Encyclopedia of Planet Earth. Everything that a teenager should know about our Earth - climate, plants and animals, land shapes, rivers and oceans, the planet itself, earthquakes and volcanoes - can be found in this book. In addition to that Usborne Quicklinks's website has many links to different interesting and fun websites explaining even more in depth these issues.

As a last exercise from this book, Zosia has created a mindmap about different map projections. Here it is: