Thursday, September 30

Flooding the Nile River

This week we did our second Story of the World segment which was about early Egypt.  We talked about the two kingdoms of Egypt and how they were eventually joined together under one king known as the Pharoh. We read the myth of Osiris and Isis.  Given the conversations that followed I would have been happier skipping the myth.  We may do so with future chapters.  The most significant part of the reading was devoted to explaining what made Egypt an ideal location for an early civilization, the annual floods of the Nile.

To bring home the learning, each child made a replica of the Nile that they were able to flood themselves.
We prefilled containers with dirt.  Then each child was asked to create a riverbed for the Nile.  We looked at the map focusing on the delta near the Mediterranean.

Once the riverbed was created, we lined it with foil to actually contain the water.
Then the farmers aka children planted their crops 
Then the floods came. 
 and receded leaving nicely tended fields.

 The patient farmers tended their crops as the waters receeded. One poor farmer had her fields totally flooded out. We told her the farm was too close to the riverbank and helped her rebuild father away (ie we pulled seeds out of the river and replanted.

As an end to our session we read A Journey Down the Nile  by one of my favorite authors, Laurie Krebs.  We love all her books and this one is no exception.  The map at the back is the one we used to draw our rivers. 

Come and share your adventures in time and space at History/Geography Exchange at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Monday, September 27

Menu Planning Monday

Sunday Cookout in the Sukkah
Monday -meat loaf, salad, sweet potato fries.
Tuesday - Dinner Out -SockHop JCC
Wednesday - cold cuts veggie stick and fruit cupcakes for Half Birthday
Thursday -  Tofu StirFry rice Keem
Friday - Challah, Garlic Chicken, Mashed Sweetpotatoes, Broccolli, apple crisp.
Saturday - Luncheon at Shul.  Motzi Shabbat is quiche, salad, and muffins

Sunday, September 26

Welcome Autumn

This week's science focus on the change of season's as we welcomed the arrival of Autumn.  I personally loved that Sukkot (our Autumn Harvest Festival) began with the arrival of Autumn.

Froggy has for awhile now known the cycle of the seasons but without understanding why.  This year we focused on why.  A couple of months ago we stumbled across Dear Rebecca Winter is Coming at the library.  Now we went back and checked it out again.  It is a sweet story that talks about how the days get shorter just a tiny bit each day as winter approaches.  The language is lovely and poetic.

To try to make it a bit clearer we did the classic experiment with a globe and a flashlight showing how the sun hits the earth differently as it travels on its path.  We had to get Dad involved in this one to get all the pieces in the right place and moving but once we did it took about three "years" and I saw the light bulb go off inside Froggy's head.  I  love those moments.

And finally Froggy stayed up late to watch the harvest moon rise on the first night of Sukkot and officially welcome Autumn.

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

Thursday, September 23

What We Are Reading

In addition to our Sukkot books, we have been working our way through a couple of chapter books.  The first, Little House on the Praire, lives in my bag and we read when we have lunch out just the two of us or when we unexpectedly find ourselves with extra down time.  Today for instance, we were blessed with some unexpected quiet time because the friends we were to meet were running late.   So we read "Praire Day" under a tree at the park.  This is not the first time Froggy and I have started this book.  The last time though we were using a beautiful hardbound library edition with the most lovely illustration.  The only problem was the book weighed a ton and I was reluctant to cart it around.  So our opportunities to read it were few and far between.  There is a great deal that happens in each chapter and having too long between chapters made it hard for Froggy to keep the continuity. This time I think she is enjoying it much more.  We are still reading it slowly and talking about it a great deal.  Today we had a lesson in how to kilt up your skirt to do the washing complete with a demonstration of the value of kilting up one's skirt.  We also made our own corn cakes.  Froggy insisted at first that Laura could have them but she could not because Laura was Christian.  It took some prying and discussion to understand what prompted that belief.  It turns out that Froggy felt corncakes were not kosher because Ma cooked them in bacon fat.  I explained to her as I cooked that while Ma might use bacon fat or lard, we would use margarine and the Jewish settlers on the praire would have used shmaltz instead of lard.  Froggy did relent in her opinion and try one although she was still uncomfortable with the idea.  She had a similar issue with hot dogs the first time she was allowed one since the reason she was always given was they are not kosher since in most places you cannot be sure.

The second chapter book we are reading is Meet Samantha.  Froggy is fascinated with history right now and would rather meet each American Girl and learn about their time period than stick with one character and follow all her adventures.  So that is what we are doing.  Samantha's uncle has an automobile that Granmary despises. It turns out Froggy had no idea what an automobile was. A car that she knows but automobile was new.  And she could not conceive of anyone disliking them.  We watched a video of someone starting an old Model T.  It was fun to see her reaction.  Aunt Laura worked in the car manufacturing industry for a long time and brought Froggy a model of an old (although not Model T level old) car when she was younger.  I pulled it out to show Froggy some of the changes cars have gone through.  She was fascinated but somewhat overwhelmed.

Come join the reading blog hop over at ReadAloud Thursday ,Feed Me Books Friday and Mouse Grows Mouse Learns,

Wednesday, September 22

Geography - Louisiana

We are still having lots of fun with our map study. This week I counted and we only have 16 states that have not yet been labeled. I guess it is time to decide where we are going to go next.

Froggy chose Louisiana as her state to focus on. Aunt Petal grew up in Louisiana although she lives here now. Hurricane Katrina hit her family hard. Having grown up in Florida with my sister barely surviving Hurricane Andrew I wanted to take this time to explain to about Hurricanes. I did not want to scare her but share with her the awesomeness of G-d's power.

We also looked at and talked about happier things. We ate red beans and rice. We watched The Princess and the Frog and took a virtual tour of the French Quarter.

Tuesday, September 21


Sukkot starts tomorrow evening so ofcourse many of our books this week revolved around the holiday.

One of our favorites from since Froggy was old enough to listen to stories is Tamar's Sukkah. This story is such a favorite of ours that I chose it to dramatize for the "storytime" during TotShabbat this Saturday. It is fun story about how Tamar prepares her sukkah for the holiday. It has a repetitive building style that makes it great for young children. That all the characters are children sharing and helping each other makes it even better.

One of our new favorites this year is The Big Sukkah. It takes place ages ago in a small village in "the old country." The main couple has a tiny one room cottage too small to entertain. But they build a big sukkah and get to invite all the family for Sukkot.

Well of course we did lots of different art projects related to Sukkot since we had to decorate our family sukkah. We painted lanterns to hang and had tons of fun. Unfortunately the lantern part did not work so well so they never made it into the sukkah.
But Froggy's favorite of the week was when she got to make her very own small sukkah.
We took a shoe box and covered it with construction paper
Then Froggy decorated it.
Then we gave it a roof frame made of coffee stirrers. The directions said use straws but we had stirrers in abundance and did not have any straws.
Then we added the leaves and branches to form roof itself. It was fun trying to peer from the inside out to make sure "we could see the sun peeking at us through the roof"

Once it was done, Froggy took it and her figurines and played Sukkah inside our sukkah. All the princesses came for the holiday and took turns shaking the lulav. It was so cute to watch. I was laughing so hard I forgot all about taking pictures.

The Missing Link

This week our project in math was to take the number pairs we worked with last week and start edging towards addition.

Instead of finding all the pairs that make a certain number, things got mixed up a bit and the game was to figure out the missing number. Well Froggy was missing it at first. When I initially presented the material to her (using the wording in the program - Who is __'s partner to make __) she was lost as to what to do.

When I presented it more as an addition problem (you have __ how many more do you need to make __) she got all the problems instantly. It was simply a matter of changing the wording to make it click.

This is why I love homeschooling. I dread to think what would have happened if she had been in a classroom and just given the instructions as prescribed.

We also spent quite a bit of time playing our memory math game because I want her to make the connection that these number pairs and addition are linked.

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

Monday, September 20

Menu Planning Monday

We made a huge turkey for Erev Yom Kippur and this week is spent trying to use up the leftovers.

Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Turkey noodle soup/ fresh bread/ carrot sticks / fruit
Tuesday - I am spending the morning baking at Shul so dinner needs to be simple Turkey Stirfry Rice Keem
Wednesday - Welcome Sukkot - Challah, Pumpkin soup, Stuffed peppers, maple salmon, green beans, apple crisp
Thursday - Pasta with homemade sauce, green salad, garlic bread
Friday - Challah, Maple Chicken with sweet potatoes, broccoli, something chocolate for dessert
Saturday - Shabbat Luncheon at shul. Motzi Shabbat at home - gefilte fish, cucumber salad, deli sandwiches

Sunday, September 19

Sunday Science - Reptiles

This week we studied reptiles. It was lots of fun. We learned that all reptiles have scales even the turtles who are reptiles. Naturalist Brian who leads the nature study told the kids this is a great way to check if something is a reptile or an amphibian.

My biggest disappointment with the class was that I forgot to bring my camera. While we were inside we got to see and touch a couple of really neat snakes. Anyone who wanted to was allowed to hold and wear a young snake who was approximately 4 feet long. I was surprised how many children wanted to hold it. We also got to see and touch skins that had been shed. NBrian had a really neat skin he showed us from a ball python that was completely intact.

We also got to see some baby turtles, both box turtles and snapping turtles. They were tiny. One was approximately the size of a silver dollar and already 4 years old. Then he brought out a grown up who was 30 years old. It was fun for the children to see how slowly they grow.

The highlight of the day was when we fishing for snapping turtle. There is a pond behind the nature center that is home to an old snapping turtle. Each child got a piece of hotdog to toss into the pond to "call" her over. NBrian likes hotdogs because they are very smelly and bring her from anywhere in the pond . NBrian set up his pole as stick with string and tied on the piece of hotdog (no hooks involved). Then he went fishing. It took a couple of tries but he caught her. He scooped her out with a net. Once everyone had had a chance to see her he let and she scampered back into the pond.

It was a truly amazing morning. The facts at the class go by very fast in a flurry of comments from Brian and the children. So we usually try to have a few books at home that go with the topic and fill in the questions we still have once we come home. This week we read Snakes and other Reptiles, Why do snakes hiss? : and other questions about snakes, lizards, and turtles as well as Who lives in an Alligator Hole

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

Friday, September 17

What We Are Reading - Yom Kippur

With Yom Kippur starting this evening, that has been our focus this week. Jonah and the Whale is the traditional Bible story to read on Yom Kippur.

We found a new favorite telling this year. It is Jonah and the Whale and the Worm. It is a hysterically funny retelling that manages to teach more effectively for the humor. The octopus commentary (which could be skipped but then you would miss all the humor and much of the teaching) is apart from the story in a style similar to the Statler and in the Muppet Show.

We also read another new to us Yom Kippur book, My Very Own Yom Kippur. It is almost a Siddur but not quite. It is written for a child yet is not condescending. It explains Yom Kippur in a much more effective and meaningful manner than I had yet to manage on my own. It explains why we fast, Kol Nidre, and Neila. In between explainations are short stories that relate to the explanations but make them more personal. Froggy will bring this book to shul for Kol Nidre and it will be her Machzor for the holiday.

We also read some secular books this week. We returned to Rebecca with Changes for Rebecca. Froggy very much wants to read the American Girl book herself but they are still above her ability. So what ends up happening is she catches snippets of the story as she goes through it and latches on to those pieces until such point as we read the story together. It may be as simple as a chant, like the underpants rhyme in Meet Molly, or a much more disturbing bit as the Garment District Fires in Changes for Rebecca. I was not aware Froggy had started reading this book until she showed me a picture of the fire at the back of the book. I read the story to her as soon as we stopped that afternoon but the book prompted some heavy conversations about death, fairness, poverty and G'Mulet Chasadim.

Come join the reading blog hop over at ReadAloud Thursday ,Feed Me Books Friday and Mouse Grows Mouse Learns,

Wednesday, September 15

Homeschool Diary

Adventures in Mamaland is starting a new meme and since it was an area I was working on as well I decided to join.

This week is our first official week of school since we do not start until after Rosh Hashana.

  • Morning Prayers
  • Story of The World -Cave Painting
  • Math - Number Bonds
  • Handwriting - Numbers 1-5
  • Read Jonah and The Whale and The Worm
  • Ulpan - We are using a fun program by Behrman House - family cartoon
  • Calendar - We are practicing our days of the week in Hebrew with our new Hebrew wall calendar
  • Hebrew - Introduce Gimel - גדןל
  • Morning Prayers
  • Calendar
  • Annual Family Apple Picking Trip
  • Morning Prayers
  • Nature Class
  • Math - Number bonds 6-7
  • Calendar
  • Handwriting - Copywork - Giving
  • Read Jonah book and do Jonah craft
  • Begin Sukkot decorations
  • Morning Prayers
  • Gymnastics
  • Math - Number bonds 8-9
  • Calendar
  • Handwriting
  • Hebrew - Gimel activities - eat icecream - גלד
  • Ulpan - Family sentence building
  • Ulpan - family game
  • Hebrew - practice writing Gimel - review vocabulary
  • Math - Number bonds - 10
  • Calendar
  • Park Day with Homeschool group

Cave People

Since we do some much Bible study, I thought it might be nice to give Froggy a look at a secular view of ancient history. We are starting Story of the World. For now at least we are doing this as part of a coop with 3 other families.

The theory is we will read one chapter a week and do some supporting activities. Each chapter is broken into two segments. The first is a nonfiction presentation of the history while the second part is a story or myth of the time period.

This week we met some cave people. In the story segment, the little gir, Taka age 7, goes out hunting/gathering and catches a lizard for her family's supper. She is very happy and looks forward to the stew her mother will make. It was neat to talk with the children about the differences in how and what the nomads ate versus what we eat. The story segment helped them really connect and feel the nomad life.

We also made cave paintings. The paper was hung on the walls and the children were turned loose. The only intro was the cave people painted their walls to tell stories. Would you like to make a cave painting too? What story would you tell?

Only one child did a painting with a story behind it but she is three years older than the next oldest so that is expected. There was some truly amazing discussion during the painting time. The children were fully immersed in the time period. They asked about how the cave people actually painted, how their tools and paints were different. We talked more about the gathering aspect of hunter/gatherer society explaining that the only tools they had were ones they could find locally.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera so I have no pictures to share.

Tuesday, September 14

Letter of the Week - Bet

Froggy is clearly struggling with her Alef Bet. And I had been struggling with how to help her until I was inspired by The Petersons. Now we are doing a very preschool- esque letter of the week system even though Froggy is no longer a preschooler.

This week we started with Bet even though it is not the first letter. Since our focus is sounds I did not want to start with silent Alef.
I made a big Bet and Froggy colored it in. Froggy practiced tracing Bets every single day all week. She got pretty good at it as well. We built bayit out of legos. We drew storms and danced with the thunder and baruk.

The best part is tying in the values. Our value is נרוכ or blessed. We talked about how we are blessed and how important it is to thank Hashem for all our blessings through the brachot each day. Froggy's copy work for Handwriting was BLESSED. I love being able to tie everything together.

Monday, September 13

Menu Planning Monday - Yom Kippur

Monday - pampered chef night, Spiced Pumpkin Tartlets, Cranberry Chicken Braid, warm white bean dip w/ homemade pita chips, brownie bites
Tuesday - Tofu Stir Fry, Rice, keem
Wednesday - Daddy's late night - Mac & Cheese, green beans
Thursday - Company - Chicken-basil-spinach quesedillas, black beans, mexican rice
Friday - Kol Nidre - Round Challah, Sweet Ginger Gefilte Fish (Froggy will cut into fun shapes), Apple Pear Cucumber Salad, Roast Turkey, Harvest Rice with Pomegranate seeds, Cranberry dressing, and the same apple cake we had for Rosh Hashana

Math - Review

So yesterday was the official first day of school for us. I debated for a long time about what we were going to do with Math for this year. The decision was our basis would be Singapore Math 1. But that was not enough of an answer. We did some Singapore 1 last year so where to start was still a question. The answer for me was at the beginning. I decided that a review might be in order and might help Froggy think Math is more fun if it is easy.

Our books came and we started in. Froggy is not thrilled with the idea of review but I still think it is a good idea. We will see. Our lessons are super short (All subjects + breakfast+ morning prayers+ getting dressed can be done in less than 2 hrs when people want) so even if she is not thrilled with them she is not spending large amounts of time doing them.

Our lesson for this week was Number Bonds. For each number (7) we colored each number bond that makes that number a different color (3,4 are green;1,6 are red;2,5 are blue;7,0 are brown) Froggy loved coloring and forgot she was doing math. Yet I think coloring helped her see the pairing and that there are lots of different ways to make the same number.

Sunday, September 12

First Day of School

As I have mentioned before one of the benefits of homeschooling is marking time "Jewishly". Our first official day of school is always right after Rosh Hashana.

Today was our first day of school. It looked as anti-thetical to homeschooling as possible since this was also the first day of Religious School. She got scooped asleep into the car and had to eat breakfast on the drive. She did get a new outfit to mark the day.
The backpack fairy came last night and filled Froggy's backpack with her new school supplies and some surprises. Froggy was very excited to open her backpack. I wish had pictures of the process but since she woke up in the car on the way to shul and opened it while I was driving that did not work so well.
She was thrilled with all the supplies but fell in love with the card the backpack fairy wrote her.

Dear ____
Welcome to Kindergarten! Congratulations on your very first first day of school. Study hard. Learn lots. Have fun. And you will go far.
Love ,
The Backpack Fairy

"Oh Momma the backpack fairy gave ME a card." This is Froggy's first experience with someone she does not know sending her anything. It was so cute to see her hugging the card. The fairy also included a Jolly Rancher so learning should be sweet (and she could not put a drop of honey on her tongue)

Without the visit from the backpack fairy, it would be hard to mark since we basically school year round and take breaks as we desire. Many of her extracurricular started before our first day. This week we will start our calendar/weather work though

Preschool Parsha

This week's Torah portion is very special because Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat.

On Yom Kippur,we read the Book of Jonah. The lesson from the story is that God readily accepts the repentance of anyone who sincerely desires to do Teshuva, to return to the Almighty and to the path of the Torah - just as He did with the people of Ninveh.

We spend the time from Tashlich through Neila contemplating our sins, repenting, and doing teshuva. Yom Kippur can only atone for sins between man and Hashem, not for sins against another person. Before we can ask Hashem for forgiveness, we must first get right with our friends. Then on Yom Kippur, we are ready to show true repentance and ask Hashem for forgiveness.

Full real Teshuva is not easy. There are four parts to full teshuva although many people never do step four.
  1. Admit you did something wrong
  2. Say you are sorry
  3. Promise not to do it again
  4. When faced with the same situation choose better
We are working hard to do real teshuva with Froggy while still explaining to her that we are not perfect. It is a fine line to walk.

Sunday Science - Beneficial Bugs

Our focus for science this semester is as part of a nature study. We are taking a class at a local nature center. The class runs approximately an hour and a half which seems like a long time for little people but the kids love it. Why because the kids are out doing and being for most of the time.
This week we discussed beneficial bugs. We started inside with a very "class" like approach where we got to meet a huge spider. The facilitator did a brief slide show and explained what makes a bug beneficial and showed some of the bugs we would try to find outside.
We started outside looking at decomposers in wood logs. The children touched the log and examined the changes that had occurred in it. The log was soft and crumbly. The children took turns pulling away pieces of the log

They got to see the holes made by some of the beneficial bugs. The instructor told the children the kind of bug but I was not close enough to hear.
Then they rolled the log over and saw all the bugs hiding underneath. They caught some of the bugs and identified them. The pictures did not turn out well because the bugs were too small but we got to see and identify several different insects crawling out of the log.
But the log was not the only place we saw bugs. We went over to a deer carcass and found carrion bettles. Froggy's only comment was "Pweee"
She liked it much better when we went to the flower garden and saw Monarch caterpillars. The children had nets and a butterfly habitats to release them into.
Someone found this amazing dragonfly. He was the hit of the day. I have never seen a dragonfly with a set of double wings like that.