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Showing posts from July, 2010

What We Are Reading

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Froggy has continue her obsession with Magic Treehouse. She has declared that she wants to have a Magic Treehouse birthday. We play Jack and Annie regularly. I totally rescind my initial reservation with the series. It may not be the most proper language but if it captivates my daughter and encourages her to investigate history then who am I to argue. At least there is no misinformation in the text that would need to be countered later. Right now, Froggy's favorite is Ghost Town at Sundown. She reads and rereads it over and over.

Our favorite picture of the week is The Real True Dulcie Campbell. I love it. It took many many readings by Froggy before I was allowed to read it with her. Dulcie lives on farm with her family. She decides she is a princess and her real name is Dulcinea. Her family wishes her well as she goes off to search for her "real true" family. In the castle (her own barn) she discovers that, compared to the stories in her book (one princess …

Geography - The United States

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Having finished our North America map study, we started the United States. This is now our second week. The first week, Froggy could not label any states (which was expected). We chose states to label based on the names that Froggy knew. She would tell me a state name, I showed it to her on the Almanac and then she found it on her unlabeled Map.

This week, we again started with the blank map. However this time Froggy was able to name six states without looking at the Almanac. She labeled her state and Zoe's (her "big girl" friend) state as well as Jack and Annie's (Magic Treehouse) state. Then she added in West Virginia because "it used to be part of Virignia" Then she added Alaska and Hawaii. Every state she labels needs to a descriptor that she recites as she labels them.Once she could no longer add states on her own I helped her. We labeled our destination for our upcoming trip and all the states we would travel through. Then we labeled Laura I…

Carnival of Homeschooling

The latest Carnival of Homeschooling is up. Each week the carnival pulls together some great articles from around the blogosphere on all sorts of homeschooling topics. Check it out and tell me which is your favorite article or tip.

I loved the article on music education and needed the reminders in the math article

Goodbye Italy

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This week marks our third and final visit to Italy for the summer. First we visited Venice, then Florence and now we conclude with a trip to Rome and the Pantheon.

This week we focused on the architecture. The whole trip was a bit of a let down and disappointing given that it is the final week for us (we are out of town for the 4th and final offering). The docent was different this time than the last two times. She was very animated and the children loved her. I felt that she was much more condescending and talked down to them. She explained how architecture is a kind of art, just like painting and sculpting. She explained how even little people can be architects with blocks and clay and other substances.

And then finally came the fun part. We readIggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty. It was an endearing story of one boy's struggles to express his passion in face of a dictatorial teacher. Unfortunately the fun verse format was lost in the inserted commentary of the docen…

What We Are Reading

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So I am a little late this week. I have an excuse. We have had the grandparents in for a whirlwind visit. It has been tons of fun sorting clothes and cooking and swapping stories. But it does mean that I have done much less reading to Froggy as well as listening to Froggy read as Grandma fills the role instead.

Froggy is fascinated with Magic Treehouse right now. We currently have 7 different ones checked out from the library because the 3 I checked out last week did not last. She takes them to bed with her, in the car, everywhere. She rereads them and then still chooses them for us to read to her at bedtime. The best part of having an independent reader is snuggling and still getting to do my own reading.

We also did lots of other reading this week. Both our science and art studies involvedsome fantastic books that we came back to again and again after "study time" was over. I am cherishing this reading together time as it dwindles away. Froggy much prefers to read …

Sunday Science - Blood Isn't Blue

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One of the main reasons I chose to homeschool is to be able to answer my child's questions when they happen rather than relying on someone else. Froggy was looking at my inner forearm at lunch and asked about the blue lines. Daddy piped in with what he believed the reason was "It is because the blood in your veins is blue"

Excuse me? Are you kidding me? How the heck did you get all through school still believing this misconception. I tried to correct him on the spot but he was confident that he was correct.

Mommy quickly takes it upon herself to educate both her people. I looked and looked to try to find an experiment that would show her but nothing visual displaced Daddy's myth since his explanation came with an reason why the blood turned red when you cut yourself. "Because it is exposed to oxygen"

Instead we focused on how art is different from science. We made tracks around the house using the gumball track design from No Time For Flashcards. Did th…

Gold in Florence

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I have to say I love where I live. Being so close to the Nation's Capitol and all these free wonderful museums makes homeschooling on a budget super easy.

Froggy fell in love with Art recently after hating from birth. Isn't this auspicious timing? So I am having a vacation from planning, preparing and doing while both Froggy and I are having a great time learning Art History, Art Technique, Geography and History.

This week was week two of our tour of Italy. I cannot say enough good things about this program. Every little detail is thought of in advance to make the experience as meaningful and fun as possible. We had the same docent for our visit as last week. This week we visited Florence although we learned/saw very about the city. The focus was on the artist and the techniques he used. We read A Boy Named Giotto and learned not only of his amazing life stories but the interesting techniques he used to create his masterpieces. The story was much longer than one woul…

Menu Planning Monday - Grandparents

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The highlight from last week was the chicken Parmesan. It was an amazing success and remarkably simple. The grandparents arrive this week which means we will be having some fun with the menu. Having Grandma here means I have help in the kitchen. It also means desserts every night.

Sunday - Chicken nuggets, tator tots and carrot wheels
Monday - Pasta with homemade sauce using tomatoes fresh from our garden, garlic bread and salad
Tuesday - Mommy meeting -Tuna Burgers, kernel corn, salad
Wednesday - Mommy meeting - Pulkogi, rice, keem, sauteed asparagus, chocolate cake
Thursday - Vietnamese Rolls and peach crisp with homemade peach icecream
Friday - Shabbat Under The Stars - The Shul is having a family picnic dinner and I am singing with the folk group. Challah Cold Barbecue(homemade sauce-recipe below) chicken, potato salad, fruit salad and cookies


Barbecue Sauce

1 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed 1 onion, peeled and chopped, about…

Science Sunday- Sinkers

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We took a break from our nature study to do a fun experiment. I collected a variety of items from around the house to see which ones would sink or float.

First I had Froggy go through the items and sort them based on her guess as to which would sink and float.
Then we tested each item one by one and placed it in the appropriate location. We got a few surprises. Two of her figurines floated. We even went back and got more figures to see if we could determine a difference between the floaters and the sinkers. We could not. There was no distinguishable difference. Ones for the exact same collection were in both categories. It was not quite the experiment I had hoped for.
Still we persevered. We looked at why the balled bread sunk while the slice floated. We talked about density.
After the experiment we continued the study with some fun reading. We pulled back out one of our favorite series Magic School Bus, Ups and Downs: A Book about Floating and Sinking. and a Rookie Reader What…

What We Are Reading

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It's official Froggy loves the Magic Treehouse series. As a general rule, we do not reread chapter books. Yet more than once now Froggy has requested that we reread a Magic Treehouse book to her. She would probably accept new ones instead but we go through them so quickly and with it being summer the supply at the library is critically low so we end up rereading. For now, I do much of the rereading because Froggy claims she cannot/is not reading them. Yet she sits with them slowly going through them page by page with her eyes following every single word. Apparently in the world of Froggy, it is not really reading unless you use your voice.

We discovered a wonderful new chapter book, The Birchbark House that somehow I missed reading while I was young. Froggy's aunt brought it when she came to visit. We have been reading it together and both enjoying it immensely. It is set on an island in Lake Superior during the Westward Expansion. Unlike many other childrens' book…

Geography - North America Wrap Up

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We finally finished our North America map study this week. We worked on adding the Caribbean countries. It was great timing since we had just read Pirates Past Noon which is set in the Caribbean. We talked about being an island nation vs having borders with other countries.

This is the last week of North America. Does that mean that Froggy could completely label all the countries by herself or tell you everything there is to know about them? Not even vaguely. But that was not my objective. We will spend a few of years circling the globe with our map study and then return to the beginning. It will just be another part of our spiraling curriculum like history and science. She know significantly more about maps, the differences between a country and a state. And she can tell you many of the countries of North America and locate them on the map. For a rising kindergartner, that meets all my objectives and then some.

A Trip to Venice

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We took a trip today as Froggy would say "in our imaginations" to Venice. We participated in the Stories in Art program at the National Gallery of Art. It was an incredible experience.

The journey started in one gallery where the docent read Gaspard on Vacation to an entranced audience of approximately 20 children. In the story Gaspard goes on vacation to VeniceThey visit museum, after museum, after museum. Bored, Gaspard spots a red kayak in the canal and takes off in it heading down the waterways. But Gaspard is far from being an experienced kayaker and crashes into a gondola, which causes its occupants to land headfirst in the canal. Frightened, he runs and hides in a church. But the police arrive, reunite Gaspard with his family and they all head off to a restaurant to have "the best spaghetti in the world."

After the story, the children began their "vacation in Venice." The docent led them to a different gallery where they viewed The Entrance to …

Menu Planning Monday - Do Over

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I am not sure we had a single thing off the menu this past week. We ate out way too much. Part of it was having company in. Part of it was the terrible heat wave we have been having. Part of it was Hubby's stress at work.

So this week we are going to try again. Please excuse the repeats. Froggy and I have a very full schedule during the day so it is critical that we be home for dinner to give her some down time before swim practice (and thus avoid meltdowns)

Sunday - Sloppy Joes, tatortots and peas- bake cookies for Swim team
Monday - Jenn's White Fish (recipe below), green beans, rice and keem
Tuesday - Chicken parmesan, noodles and Salad
Wednesday - Leftover Buffet
Thursday -Burgers Corn and green beans
Friday - Challah Pot Roast mashed potatoes, broccoli, chocolate cake
Saturday - Dinner at Birthday party (yes really same as last week only this time it is a different party)

Birthday Traditions

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Birthdays are special here. They always have been and always will be. And yet I still like to change things up.

So with my birthday this year, I added a new tradition for our family. I was inspired by a little tagline our rabbi says to the children on the bima when they come up to get their birthday buttons, "May you do one more mitzvot in the coming year that you were not able to do the year before."

I talked to my husband about my thoughts for awhile before my birthday because I needed him to accept the idea and want it or it would not work for the family. Froggy is still little and learning and doing new mitzvot all the time. But for the grownups it means something more and different.

At my birthday dinner, I reminded Froggy of the rabbi's comment and explained the new tradition to her. and I announced the new mitzvot I wanted to keep this year. I want to seperate Challah according to Halachic law. Since Froggy was born, we have been keeping Shabbat and making Cha…

What We Are Reading - Even Mommy

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According to the experts, one of the best ways to foster a love for reading is to let your child see you enjoy reading and reading frequently. That has been lacking in our house. Both my husband and I read quite a bit but we do so on our blackberries with e-books. This does not look like reading to Froggy.

When I was taking classes, she would see me reading my schoolwork but did not see any enjoyment.

Now that I am not taking any classes that require reading, I have begun to feel my brain stagnant from all the fluffy fiction which is all I have on my blackberry. So I picked up a paper book from my to read pile and I am enjoying it quite a bit. What makes it most enjoyable is the thought provoking nature of this kind of book.

I am reading The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. It is a Jewish parenting guide. Unlike the other Jewish books by female authors in my house, this one is not so observant that it fails to be relevant to my life. The author came from a non-observant background and…

Back to the Book

We use Singapore Math as our Math text. However, we have been on hiatus from the book for a while to do some review with basic addition and subtraction. We were rushing through the book and not practicing enough so out came the white board and some basic drill.

It was not fun for Froggy but it was a necessary and successful break.

Now it is time to move forward again. We have returned to the book with renewed interest and enthusiasm. We are working on adding three numbers at a time.

Returning to the book though does not mean that the whiteboard has retired. We are still drilling on prior concepts. Since we (theoretically) do Math six days a week, our week plan looks like the following.

Sunday - new lesson in the textbook
Monday - Wednesday Workbook pages corresponding to lesson
Thursday and Friday - Whiteboard.

I may end up alternating workbook pages with whiteboard review to keep the interest alive. Also the multiple days of workbook and whiteboard leave me space to miss a day w…

Geography - Central America again

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We missed a couple weeks of Geography study while on vacation and having company. We finally were able to return. Froggy was able to identify the big countries of North America to the point of correctly labeling their borders which are not clear on her map. Unfortunately she could not add any of the Central American countries that we did the last time.

So as per the Charlotte Mason technique, we just labeled them again as if they were new. During this pass, Froggy actually found the country on the large map and told me the name to write on her map and where. It is an amazing transformation. We talked about neighbors and who touches who and how many neighbors different countries have. Again I colored the Central America countries but Froggy colored the larger countries in North America.

Markers Make You Lazy

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I heard this from a friend of mine at the playground this week. When said like that to a 5 yr old, it does not make much sense. But she is right in the underlying concepts that prompted her statement. Markers are much easier to draw/color with and do not use anywhere near as much muscle energy or strength as crayons.

Froggy's OT tried to have Froggy color with crayons to build her strength but the process was so hard and overwhelming that she switched to markers. The plan was to build strength and confidence and then move to crayons.

It is working. Froggy has turned a corner. It started when we went to the beach for vacation. To help her get through long car drives, she always gets a present at the beginning of the drive (sometimes with other little surprises during the drive as well). Well for this trip I pulled an untouched dot to dot book that she had been gifted ages ago and a unopened box of crayons to present her. She loved it and it kept her occupied for most of the…

Swim Team Mid Season Review

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Froggy loves swimming and is very proud of being a part of the Fearsome Frogs. Froggy is hanging in there at swim team despite some very mixed feedback. Many time she tells me that she does not want to go or that she is going to just play. I have explained to her many many times that she can quit whenever she wants but that if she stays she must do her best. It is not fair to her teammates to go and not do her best. Every time I offer to let her quit she redoubles her efforts and demands to go back.

We went to the swimming pool as a family on Shabbat afternoon. When we got there Froggy would not even get in the pool at first. She warmed up to the adventure and had a blast. While we were there Froggy said "I know this is not swim team but can we please pretend that it is and practice?" To me that is a real sign that she loves it and is dedicated to the team.

I guess it is time to seriously consider a year round team.

Menu Planning Monday

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Menu Planning is really important because it helps us not eat out anywhere near as much. We already eat out way too much as it is. Yet I hate it. My family is fairly amenable and eats what I put in front of them without complaint and still I hate it. I hate trying to come up with new ideas. I hate serving the same thing all the time. I hate thinking about food as much as I do.

Do you get the impression I am not enjoying this process? It has been very hard lately because of swimming and because of the heat. I am working on making a master menu so that I can do monthly planning but for now I only have fifteen items so we are still working on it.

Sunday - Picnic at the 4th Celebration - Cold Fried Chicken (make chicken noodle soup for Hiranu for lunches)
Monday - Jenn's White Fish (recipe below), green beans, rice and keem
Tuesday - Pizza and Salad
Wednesday - Dinner Out - Froggy and Mommy only
Thursday - Sloppy Joes, tatortots and peas- bake cookies for Swim team
Friday - Challah …

Parsha Pinchas

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One of the wonderful blogs I read (I wish I could remember which one) recommended Challah Crumbs which has activities and crafts to go with each parsha. Since getting Froggy to do any craft is a serious but necessary challenge and I wanted something to spice up our weekly parsha study which has not yet made the transition out of the preschool style this was the perfect answer.

This week, we studied Parsha Pinchas which offers one of the far too few opportunities to celebrate the women of the our history. In Pinchas, we meet the five daughters of Tzelafchad: Machlah, No'ah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah whose names I would not even know without Challah Crumbs as neither of our study books mention them. When Tzelafchad dies, these daughters petition Moses to grant them their father’s inheritance since he had no sons. Their request is ultimately rewarded and they become models of initiative and wisdom.

To honor them and remind Froggy that there are lots of women in our history a…