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Sensory Box

We made our first sensory box for Acorn.  Froggy and I put it together while Acorn was sleeping so that we could surprise her with it.  Froggy very much enjoyed helping me make it.

We used one of the bigger sized bins we keep available for projects.  The theory is that this will be our dedicated sensory box and the contents will just rotate.  I gathered our supplies. We used red kidney beans, a variety pack of colored noodles that I purchased and a bag of leftover pompoms from different art projects. I gave all the supplies to Froggy along with a big scoop and she assembled the box. She had a fun time scooping them in.  When we were done we decided that the noodles overwhelmed the other elements so Froggy removed some one by one naming them and creating a story as she went.

Then it came time to present the finished product to Acorn.  She was not as thrilled with it as we had hoped.  She played in it some but was much more interested in eating the noodles than exploring the textures.  …

What We Are Reading

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We are on vacation still this week which is why the usual elements have been absent here.  But we have read some very good books and I wanted to share them with you.

My pick of the week is ChrysanthemumIn the story, a young mouse named Chrysanthemum loves her name until she enters Kindergarten and must face the teasing of the other children who all have ordinary names.  Then she hates school and her name.  Kevin Henkes does a wonderful job of presenting the cruelties of children in an endearing yet realistic manner.  My favorite line is "Chrysanthemum has thirteen letters.  That is exactly half alphabet."  Froggy learned several new words with this book.  For instance, every time Chrysanthemum was teased, she wilted.  Froggy asked what that meant.  I explained and the next couple of days we all took turns wilting when we got sad.  Froggy also explored what an epilogue is and created her own epilogues for several of the other stories she read.
The next big winner of the wee…

Menu Planning Monday

This week is a short week since we leave on Thursday for the grandparents.  It is also a very full week so it is important to be super organized.  Also with leaving town, I do not want many leftovers, especially since our normal leftover night will be on the road.

Sunday -.Burgers, sweet potato fries, green beans
Monday - Lasagna (using leftover sauce), salad and garlic bread
Tuesday -  Fish ala Jenn, rice and peas
Wednesday- leftovers.

There is also lots of baking/ candy making for presents

Here is our list -
Chocolate covered peanut butter candiesmolded decorated chocolate covered pretzels - this was a disaster the colored decorator chocolate did not stick to the dark chocolate or come out of the mold. Cut Out decorated sugar cookiesToffeeChocolate mint browniesCandy Cane Fudge

Science Sunday - More Friction

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This week we continued our study of Friction.  We used two different cans, one with rubberbands  and one without to see which would roll fastest down the ramp we created.


That was the presentation I gave Froggy.  She tested both cans several times to see which was fastest.
Then she hypothesized why.  First idea was that the fast can was empty so it went faster. She checked out the can.  Nope it was full just like the other.
And that was where she lost interest.  It took all my creativity to keep her with me through the explanation.  I pulled out our car from last week and reminded her about how getting the wheels on it made it go so much farther.   As soon as I got her focus she understood about the friction but she was not interested at all.  I cannot wait to do our coop where hopefully the children will inspire one another.

For more fun with science, check out this week'sScience Sunday link-up, at Adventures in Mommydom.

What We Are Reading

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We did it. We finally finished Little House on The Prairie. We started reading it (for our second attempt) way back in September. It was a hard book to get through and the final chapters were read with some judicious editing to be just a bit less racist.  Froggy did enjoy the book and concepts creep into her play in places but it was not the huge win I had hoped it would be when we started it.

Our new chapter books is The Boxcar Children.  The book comes highly recommended but I was dubious because it is about orphans.  With this new book we are trying something else new as well, Narration.  The chapters are very short  with a distinct sequence of events. We tried it with the first chapter.  Froggy was reluctant and shaky but I walked her through the process and she did it.  Not ideally, not great but she did it which for me is huge for a first time.  We did a second chapter later in the week and I wrote down exactly what she said (what little there was of it) And then I narrated the s…

Outdoors Even In Winter

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Acorn's absolute favorite thing to do is be outside.  This was easy and fun for everyone in Autumn.  However when the weather turns cold my willingness to go outside plummets.  Keeping the children locked inside is not fair.  So to help me stay motivated I decided to join The Outdoor Challenge.  A new winter series starts up in January but I wanted to prepare both myself and the children.  As she recommends, we went back to the beginning and completed Challenge 1. These challenges are based onThe Handbook Of Nature Study.  We have had this book on our shelves for a long time without delving into it.  It is huge and overwhelming but the challenges give short relevant reading assignments so it is easy to absorb. 

I made the Challenge multipurpose.  We have a creek behind our house that is part of the public easement.  The creek runs all the way to the park where we have our weekly homeschool gathering.  Eventually I would love it if we could walk to the park along the cre…

Curried Turkey and Couscous Pie

Last week's Curried Turkey Couscous pie was a success with at least three of the four.  Acorn would not even try it so who knows if she would have liked it.  It was much easier to make than I had expected.  I tend to shy away from anything involving phyllo dough but it was not hard.  I will make it again and for sure when the grandparents come to visit.  It had a very nice presentation factor.  To that end I am including the recipe here so I can return the library book,

1 pound cooked chicken or turkey
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2tsp curry powder
16 oz chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup uncooked couscous
6 sheets phyllo dough

Place all ingredients except phyllo dough in medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  remove from heat.  let stand until oil is absorbed.  stir fluffing couscous. 

Place one phyllo sheet on work surface spray lightly with cooking spray or brush with oil.  Repeat with two more sheets.  Lay all 3 layers into 9" round pan allowing ends to hang over.  Layer 3 …

Lots and Lots of Coal

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Since Froggy is going to visit the grandparents for Christmas I figured she ought to hear some of the traditions. And thanks to Almost Unschoolers I found the perfect way to introduce her coal in your stocking.   I took her ideas full scale and implemented them lock, stock, and barrel. So if you follow her blog please pardon the repetitions.  Here is our version.

We read Lemony Snicket's The Lump of Coal  The story is written from the perspective of the lump of coal.  It is not at all what expected given that I all knew going into the reading was that  "It's the story of finding Christmas "miracles" in strange places, like home and hearth, or in a dumped over bag of barbecue briquette in the backyard."  The story is told with the typical dark twist of the other Lemony Snicket books but it has a marvelously happy ending which inspired Froggy.

So after reading the story we gathered our supplies to make lump of coal crayons. We raided our various collection…

Math Monday - Place Value

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This week our different math adventures all came together to focus on place value.  Froggy's main math curriculum is still Singapore Math.  We reached the point where the student is asked to add numbers which total between 10 and 20.  Froggy has been doing this for awhile now in Dreambox math but she has been doing it in a sort of gestalt manner without getting the concept of place value.  Singpore, and through it I, have been emphasizing it.  The process is very simple.  Rather than just counting up from whatever first number is presented, she makes a group of ten and then adds the ones to that group of ten.  It does not sound like a big change but for Froggy it was.
Dreambox has several games that Froggy has been playing that work with place value even though I am not sure she sees the connections to what she is doing in Singapore.  For some reason when playing Dreambox the ideas seem to come much more readily to Froggy.  The current batch of games are focusing on making groups o…

Menu Planning Monday

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Something about the really cold weather makes me crave not just soup but specifically beef based soup.  Any other time of the year and a beef soup is the last thing I want.   Our big score for the past week is Cheese and black bean quesadillas.  Froggy is now a super fan.  All I have to do is mashup some cooked black beans and put that on the tortilla before the cheese and cook as usual.  I cook is extra slow that her vegan cheese melts before the tortilla burns.  With this addition I think I may actually have enough different food stuffs that she reliably eats to make a rotating lunch schedule for her so that I can stop thinking about it every day.

Sunday - Homemade pasta sauce, gnocci, salad and garlic bread (missed last week)
Monday - baked marinated chicken served over quinoa and broccoli
Tuesday - Curried Turkey Couscous Pie (recipe from One Dish Dinners) with mango chutney
Wednesday-dinner at the pool - sandwiches, cutup fruit and cookies
Thursday - pizza (using leftover sauce)…

Science Sunday - Friction

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We started our new science unit this week.  It is called Fun With Forces.  Hopefully in January some friends will join us for the second part of the unit which I expect will make it more fun for Froggy but which more importantly will improve the inquiry process.  It is much easier to see the experimental process when there are multiple people performing the experiment. 

I am using Teaching Physics With Toys as the basis for our unit.  This book lays out the activities as experiments and truly promotes inquiry the way I feel science should be approached.  I picked up the book based on a recommendation from Traveling Jews.  So many of the activities and curriculum we use come from recommendations out of my blogroll.  However for this particular activity I used Science Fun with Toy Cars and Trucks.  This book is written to be read by children and Froggy picked it up and asked to do some of the activities.  It is not inquiry based but I have modified tthis activity for an inquiry approac…

What We Are Reading - Tangled

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Froggy received a Rapunzel doll as her present on the last night of Hanukkah.  In addition she received a certificate for a special date with Daddy to see Tangled.  It was then that we realized she did not know the story of Rapunzel.  I did not want her first encounter to be the Disney version so off to the library we went.  We got this version which is as true to the Grimms original as any I have heard.   On the drive home, Froggy commented that the story starts just like her birth story.  How do you mean I asked not remembering the details of the story.  "There once was a man and his wife who had longed for a baby for many years," she read.  Yes it does almost exactly. And she was hooked.  This book became an instant favorite.

We also brought home a book, Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda from the recommended section unopened because it was by Margaret Atwood.  I have enjoyed several of her adult books and was interested in what she would do for children.  Lucky for me this…

Parsha Study

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Thanks to Adventures in MamaLand and the latest edition of Jewish Homeschooling Blog, I think I may have cobbled together a plan for parsha work for the rest of the school year.  Adventures in MamaLand reminded me not to reinvent the wheel and to go back to one of my favorite sources, Chinuch.  We have used Chinuch before for Pesach study work

We read Parsha Pearls which provides a parsha summary as well as a Misdrashic story.  And then we did a sequencing activity both provided by Chinuch.  I suspect that the sheets are designed to have the pictures remain in place and the summaries matched to them.  However I cut out the pictures and glued them landscape style onto a separate paper so that we could match up both the summary and the passuk. I prefer using the passuk but I am not sure Froggy would understand the story with just the passuk so we use both. 



And all week we work on copywork using the sheet from Adventures In Mamaland.  Froggy is still just learning to write her lette…

George Washington Carver

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Apparently we are on a biography kick at the Landing.  Froggy keeps picking biographies at the library and really enjoys exploring a new person or two each week. 

This week we got to meet George Washington Carver.  Froggy and I both learned a great deal. We gotIn The Garden With Dr. Carver. The book tells a bit about Dr. Carver's life and mission from the perspective of a young girl whose life and town he changed.  He taught the town how to improve the soil and how to use the crops they can grow into the foods they need to eat. 

The book made for some interesting conversations.  Froggy asked about "greedy" plants because the book refers to cotton as a greedy plant using up the nutrients. I explained that Dr. Carver taught the tenement farmers to use compost and hummus in their gardens just like we have a compost pile to help our garden grow.  We examined the items that we put in our compost pile and compared them to what Dr. Carver taught the farmers to put in their co…

Math Monday - Pattern Matching

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Froggy received a beautiful wooden pattern play set for her birthday from a good friend when she turned 3.  She did not play with it then or at any of the times I have brought it out since until now.  Finally she is ready. 
The pattern cards are numbered and start out fairly easy but get progressively harder.  We did the first two cards.  It was a challenge for Froggy's spacial perception skills. Getting the pieces in the center to fit together took more thought than I would have imagined even after being shown once. After two cards she was too frustrated to continue.  Still I think this game will come out on a rotating basis and eventually her skill will improve.  I feel it is a necessary skill set and it is fun for Froggy in short bursts.

For other neat math ideas come visit the blog hop at Joyful Learning

Menu Planning Monday

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Sunday - Cast Party - Potluck dinner - bring cookies (probably either a variation of these or these)
Monday - Chili, corn bread, salad
Tuesday - -Tofu Stirfry, rice keem greenbeans (we never had it last week)
Wednesday - Turkey noodle soup, rolls,veggies and dip
Thursday -  Homemade pasta sauce, gnocci, salad and garlic bread
Friday - Challah, Pot Roast, baby potatoes, green beans, chocolate rasberry torte

Hebrew School

I am going through a serious conundrum right now.  I am extremely dissatisfied with the way Froggy's Hebrew school class is being run.  I have been since the beginning of the year.  I have made my concerns know to both the Religious School Director and the Education Committee Chairs.  Their responses through out the process have been less than desired but at least within acceptable limits.  Well that was until the latest round of discussion. 

I complained that here we are 2 months into the school year and according to the teacher they have yet to play any games at all.  The teacher was talked to and thus scheduled a game.  The first game they played was the week before Thanksgiving and it was a Hanukkah version of Bingo which still means sitting still. Not what we are looking for. The response was the director was to tell the teacher she is doing a marvelous job and keep up the good work.  Her response to me was " Be Positive" (ie stop complaining everything is great)

Ye…

Hanukkah

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Hanukkah started on Wednesday and all week we have been either preparing or celebrating.  Hanukkah is not a major holiday.  I try very hard not to make it a "Jewish Christmas".  With Hanukkah being earlier it is easier. Still when people ask about Hanukkah it is easier to answer "our winter holiday" than go into a full explanation.

Froggy loves all the holidays and joyously bounds into whatever is presented to her. With the cold nasty weather we have had this week, lots more crafts were in order so the holiday made a great focus.  We made a tissue paper menorah, sparkly window clings (my personal favorite) thanks to Almost Unschoolers, and some cookie cutouts to take to the Hebrew School party. 



In amongst the crafting, we read some fantastic books.  Froggy's favorite is her PJ Library book, The Chanukkah Guest. She opened it in the car and instantly fell in love.  She picked it as the story time book for the Tot Shabbat I lead at our shul.  Somehow though it …

A Historic Ride

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This week, in honor of the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks historic bus ride, we took some time to study about the Civil Rights Movement and talk about being fair and treating all people with respect.  We started our investigation by reading a wonderful new book by Jo Kittinger, Rosa's Bus.  It is a picture book that tells the story of the Civil Rights movement while tracing the life of the bus.  I think it does a great job of giving children the background they need to understand what makes Rosa's refusal important in a language and manner that they can understand and enjoy.  The reading level listed for the book is ages 4-8  which I think is spot on but some parents may find the book too much for a young 4.

After reading the book, we talked about standing up for what is right even when it is hard.  Given that Hanukkah is this week Froggy said that Rosa was like the Macabees who fought to be allowed to worship the way they wanted.  I felt a need to point out that Rosa Parks f…

Menu Planning Monday

Sunday - dinner out
Monday - Sloppy Joes, sweet potato fries and peas
Tuesday - Fish ala Jenn, rice and green beans.
Wednesday  - turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, latkes, donuts, brocolli
Thursday - leftover buffet
Shabbat - Hanukkah dinner at shul

Tiny Talk Tuesday

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Conversation had on the way to the restroom during dinner out one evening recently

Froggy - I want Daddy
Me - I am sorry kiddo but 5yr old little girls do not get to go potty with their daddies.
Froggy - but 5yr old boys can
Me - yes because little boys have the same parts as daddies and little girls have the same parts as mommies
Froggy -(after a pause)  I wish I was a boy
Me - Why on earth do you want that?
Froggy - because then I could go potty with Daddy.

I am very sure that the entire lobby waiting to be seated got a good laugh at our conversation.  Similar conversations are played over and over again at the Landing because Froggy wants nothing more than to be with her Daddy all the time no matter what.

I am linking this to Tiny Talk Tuesday hosted by Not Before 7.

Menu Monday - Thanksgiving Week

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The fondue was a great hit last weekend. Thanks to my sister, we seem to be on a roll of yummy easy chocolate desserts.  I made the fondue right before Shabbat and put it in an already warm crockpot which I kept on until candle lighting then unplugged so that I could bring it to the table at dessert time.  The fondue was not burning hot but plenty warm and perfect given that little people were doing the dipping.  Sunday - Sloppy Joes (made from leftover potroast), sweet potato fries and salad.
Monday -GirlScouts then dinner out.
Tuesday -Pasta with homemade sauce, garlic bread and salad.
Wednesday - No School - Fish ala Jenn, rice and peas
Thanksgiving - Dinner at a friends.  I am bringing Maple Pumpkin Cannoli I will not be making my only cannoli shells but I will make my own ricotta so that it is parve.
 Friday - Challah, Maple Sugar Salmon, rice, keem, asparagus, brownies and pumpkin cookies for dessert.

Circle Time

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Froggy and I have been studying Hebrew together for awhile now and I have found that it works best when presented repeatedly in multiple formats but also if it is relevant to her everyday life.  We do "vocabulary words" that go with her letter of the week but these do not stay with her past the week for the most part.

What does work is when we use those words regularly.  She knows her colors and most body parts and family because we use those words.  So now we have started with the days of week, the months of the year and a few weather terms.  The way we do this is very "preschool" style with circle time and lots of singing and a big wall calendar and weather station.  And Froggy is having a blast.  And we are both learning.