Friday, December 30

Not Your Mother's Flashcards

I recently purchased flashcards for both our Ivrit curriculum and our Chumash program.  I had been trying to work without them because I hated flashcards as a child and wanted to spare Froggy that. 

With her Ivrit Flashcards, we play a version of charades.  These cards disappointed me when they showed up.  They include only the word, no pictures as exist in the text. They are plain and boring.  I expected Froggy to hate them.  I have pulled out all the verbs for the first half of the book.  I place the cards Ivrit side up. We take turns reading the Ivrit and then acting out the verb for the other person to guess.  The actor can look at the English but tries not to.  The actor also has to use the verb in a complete Ivrit sentence.  Froggy  loves this game so much that she practically begs for it.  She wants to do it more than once a day.  It is also getting us using our limited Ivrit even outside of the game.  I call this a win/win. 

The Chumash Flashcards are helping as well.  They are newer and have not been time tested as thoroughly.  They are much fewer and likely to be used as heavily.  They are one tool among many in our basket.  Still it worked.  Froggy struggles mightily with Chumash.  It is clearly her least favorite of all our school tasks.  Yet when I pulled out the flashcards she became less reluctant.  I have not even cut them apart yet and they are already helping.

This boggles my mind.  It amazes me how times change and how much each child is an individual.

Tuesday, December 27

Hanukkah Moon

Chag Sameach!  Today is Rosh Chodesh Tevet otherwise known as the Hanukkah Moon.  Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday that straddles two months. Rosh Chodesh, the celebration of the new month, is classically a women's festival.
In North African countries, the seventh night of Chanukah, Judith's night of triumph, was set aside as Chag haBanot, the Festival of the Daughters. Chag haBanot falls on the new moon of the Hebrew month of Tevet, which is the sixth or seventh night of Chanukah. More details on how some people celebrate it can be found here.Some legends say that the women did the work of rededicating the Temple with unusual zeal. Other stories say that women have a connection to Chanukah because of Judith, the heroine of the Book of Judith.
We do not celebrate a full Chag HaBanot but do make the seventh day special.  I think it is one of the few Rosh Chodesh that Froggy remembers after they are gone (Rosh Hashana being another)

Monday, December 26

Menu Planning Monday

This week is full of company at  our house.  We have few plans other than having people visit but there is plenty of that to make for a full happy week.

Monday - Arrive home - dinner is pancakes and eggs
Tuesday - Hanukkah Party at our house
  • beef barley soup
  • latkes and applesauce
  • Veggie and hummus
  • fruit wedges
  • sufganyiot 
  • cut out sugar cookies
Wednesday - leftover buffet
Thursday- (Evan and Aunt Petal as guests) Tofu Stirfry and rice
Shabbat - (Mrs Fletcher as guest) Challah, gefilte fish, apricot chicken, noodle kugel, broccoli, swiss cake roll

Sunday, December 25

Shir La La

Right before break, our shul brought in Shir La La to do a fun musical holiday program with all the religious school students.  The older children did a drumming workshop and the  younger set had a blast singing and dancing with Shira. 
It was an amazingly interactive performance which truly engaged the young people in the Hanukkah story.

 Froggy danced with Rabbi Paskind
What do we say? We say Nay! (in response to Antiochus demanding the Jews worship idols)
Show me your muscles?  Are you as strong as a Macabee?  

The music was not the sickly sweet of so much children's music.  We have been listening to the Hanukkah disc all through the holiday and still enjoying it.

Friday, December 23

One Semester Down!

We finished our first semester of Ambleside last week,  I kind of feel like I am "cheating" with this curriculum.  It does not feel like school to me.  It is just "reading".  Froggy enjoys all the stories.  I use our time working on our Ambleside books as rewards for doing other assignments.  Froggy has progressed considerably in her narration skill during the semester.  I don't know if she is retaining any of the stuff we learn.  Ambleside offers guidance on exams but I am not willing to do that.  Either it is sinking in or it isn't.  This is only first grade.  If she does not retain everything that is ok.  The foundation is being lain and creating footholds for future learning.

What We Are Reading

We have been reading tons of holiday books.  But it is not all holiday books.  We just finished a new chapter book, The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives.  It is the first in a series of at least nine books.  The premise of the series is that the Brother Grimm Fairy Tales are actually history rather than story.  Two sisters, Daphne and Sabrina are sent to live with Grandma after their parents disappear and learn they are descendents of this famous writing pair.  They also learn that the fairy tale creatures are real and living in their town except that none of them are how they appear in the fairy tales.  
Each book revolves around  a mystery the girls must solve with this characters.  In the first book, we meet Jack The Giant Killer.  He is the bad guy of the book (shh don't tell anyone who is going to read it). 
I liked the book as much as Froggy.  We got different things out of the book.  My favorite part was seeing her recognize the characters she knows in their Fairyport form.  It also showed me which of the classic tales she is not familiar with. 
We will certainly be reading more of this series.
After a long break from the Ingalls, we returned and have started On The Banks of Plum Creek.  The break did us a world of good and Froggy returned with renewed interest.  She has a different perspective.  We are only about 20% through the book but have already had some interesting discussions about responsibility and how times change.  Laura and Mary are left home alone while Ma and Pa go to town for the whole day.  Froggy said she would be too scared to do that.  But Laura was not scared. We talked about how in Indian Country she would have been though. 
I wanted to show her that while these books are fiction they are also historical.  We found this site which has been fun to look through and given Froggy a different take on the books

Wednesday, December 21

Whatcha Making Wednesdays - Stained Glass Cookies

Hanukkah is off to a great start at the Landing.  Yesterday was full of the final preparations, including making stained glass cookies to take to the Hanukkah party at the nursing home this morning.  It was a full family event. We used a recipe from Kosher by Designs Entertains.  It is more a butter cookie rather than a sugar cookie.  I am still looking for the perfect cut out cookie recipe.  I use coconut oil as the fat so the cookies are parve.  The dough is crumbly when you first start working with it but warms nicely as it is worked and needs no additional flour for rolling.
Froggy rolled out the dough and cut out the main cookies.  I cut out the windows after transferring to the parchment lined cookie sheets.

  We used lifesavers for the hard candies.  I much prefer Jolly Ranchers but could not find them this time. Froggy is getting so independent and wanted to unwrap the candies.  She tried and tried with coaching from both parents. Finally Abba ended up unwrapping them for her.  She did however smash them all up all by herself. 
Then she helped me fill the windows on the cookies.
They burn very easily.  The second batch was much better.  We took them out before they started to brown at all.

Tuesday, December 20

Mount Vernon

We visited Mount Vernon this week.  We visit probably a couple of times a year.  They decorate for the holidays and show how the Washingtons celebrate the holidays.
 One of favorite things is the statue of "Nelly" Washington, George Washington's stepdaughter that sits with the First Couple in the lobby of the Visitors Center. 
 The kids received an adventure map to accompany the journey. 
 Part of the holiday decorating is a collection of themed Christmas Trees each representing something or someone on the original plantation.
 As you can see, this is Lady Washington's tree.  Even for those who do not celebrate Christmas, it is fun to look at the trees and try to determine why they chose the pieces they did.
      In 1787, George Washington paid 18 shillings to bring a camel to Mount Vernon for his guests’ enjoyment. Now every year the Estate brings back Aladdin to the delight of all.  He is very very friendly.

 Froggy "cooked up" some great stew in the large kettle and then we went looking for something sweet.
 And found my personal favorite part.   A full demonstration of the chocolate making process
.   It smells so good in the tent.  This gentleman showed us pictures of the cocoa plantation and the giant pods that chocolate starts as.  He was roasting the beans and the kids even got a chance to help shell them.
 Then the beans were smashed and the cocoa liquer mixed with the cocoa butter.  Froggy loved this step. 
 Then we met a team of four year old oxen.  The field hands stopped and chatted with us.  We learned about the team's average day.  They are exercising the team and training this young team for their summer work since winter is the slow season. 
Next stop, the blacksmiths.  Above is the coal in its various forms.  The blacksmith explained how the coal changes as it burns.  The lowest piece is coal ready for the fire.  The top piece is the waste impurities that are left behind and won't burn.  These rocks need to be regularly cleaned out of the fire pit. 
On our way back to the visitor center, we encountered "Nelly Calvert" who told us about her life on the plantation after she married George Washington's grandson. She was kind enough to show me the details of her clothing.  Her dress is an apron style closed not with buttons but with straight pins.  Froggy was boggled that she walked around all day with straight pins.
Our last stop was the gingerbread display.  a detailed replica of the Mansion created by former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, 
And Chocolate trees
And then we saw the replicas from the chefs in training, 4th graders who created their versions of the buildings of the Estate. 
 The kidlets were then given the opportunity to match the replicas with the building they represented it.  It was fun listening to their reasoning.  There is no answer key but I think we got them all right.

Monday, December 19

Menu Planning Monday - 23 Kislev 5772

We head out of town bright and early Thursday morning so our menu this week is short. It still involves tons of cooking/baking since I need to make gifts plus food to bring to two different parties. 

Monday - Pasta, meatballs, salad and garlic bread.  - Make cutout cookies
Tuesday - First Candle  so ofcourse we must have latkes.  Pulled Chicken, latkes and frozen peas - decorate cutout cookies
Wednesday - Second Candle - Blintzes (Trader Joes has parve latkes), sufganyiot and fruit.  I promised Froggy we would finally make our own sufganyiot.  I may try these from Adventures in Mamaland.  Or I may wimp out and just use my challah recipe. 
And then that it is.  Off we go to Grandma's where I will still do plenty of cooking but just no planning.

Firecracker Fizzle

Our studies this week took us to Ancient China and the invention of gunpowder and firecrackers.  We discussed saltpeter and sulfer and mining techniques which were all very interesting.  But the kids wanted to see an explosion. 
So we made alka seltzer rockets.  This is part 2 of our chemical reaction series.  First we put a piece of alka seltzer in a flat dish and added a tiny bit of water so that they could see what happened.  Then we tried to make an explosion using film canisters.  As typical for me, we only got a fizzle rather than a rocket.  I have about 50% success rate with this experiment. The kids didn't seem to mind.
We came back to the table and talked about the reaction we had witnessed.  We talked about how the atoms recombine to make new molecules.  And then the kids made their own chemical reactions by building molecules and recombining them. 

 Our oldest student really took to the molecule part and she and I discussed why certain atoms bond with others and valency.
Other students put a creative spin on the molecules and created some neat structures.

Thursday, December 15

Whatcha Making - Mini Chocolate Tiramsu Cakes

These turned out so great when I made them for our afternoon of gaming that I thought it would be fun to try them again with Froggy helping.  I was right.  This recipe is perfect to do with little people because there are so many fun easy steps for them to do all by themselves.  And the treats are just their size. 

The bottom layer is cake which Froggy loved "smashing" with the tart maker (wooden thing)
Then the filling is piped in.  We used sweetened cream cheese.  Percision in not critical and Froggy was able to do this just fine.  

The last layer is whipped cream.  We shaved chocolate on top for decoration.  Froggy was able to do this easily using my microplane.  
All in all the project was a huge success with little mess and a decadent result.  Things got hectic at the end and I forgot to take a picture of the finished product so I borrowed this one to give you the idea.  And here is the recipe