Monday, February 28

Menu Planning Monday 24 Adar 1 5771

Last week's chicken florentine lasagna was awful.  I am not sure what made it yucky since the bechamel sauce was good.  However the beef barley soup was fantastic.  I discovered a wonderful mushroom stock which makes all the difference in the world.  My family will not eat anything with visible mushrooms.  This stock gives that flavor which I love without actually having to have pieces of mushrooms in it.

Sunday  - Chicken Fried Rice and green beans
Monday - Fish Ala Jenn, rice and broccoli
Tuesday - Pizza and salad
Wednesday -Meat Loaf, sweet potato fries and peas
Thursday - pasta, sauce garlic bread and salad
Friday - Who knows.  Can't think that far.

Sunday, February 27

Science Sunday - Balancing Stick

Challenge - can you balance a popsicle stick standing up on your finger?  This is the challenge I gave the kids this week. 

When they failed with a plain popsicle stick I showed them my prepared one with wire "arms" They added weights and had to move the arms around to find just the right balance point.  The cheers of success when they got it were invigorating. 
Once everyone got it balanced upright, I challenged them to balance it "diving board" style.  They tried to do it without moving the arms and were surprised that it did not work.  I let them stew for a while and together they actually figured to move the arms out without only minimal prompting and no demonstration.  This idea share is exactly why science works better in a group setting.
The final fun challenge was to build a balanced sculpture.  While they were working I read Bearymore to them.  It is a fun story about a circus bear who struggles to come up with a new act.  He finally finds his answer on the high wire balancing like their Popsicle sticks

Thursday, February 24

Ice Skating

Nature study is not a typical path into Art and Music Appreciation but thanks to Barbara, we have found the connection and motivation we needed to incorporate these into our studies.  Each month she provides guidelines and resources for our Charlotte Mason style music and art appreciation that connects into the nature study for that month.

For our February art study, we did Gilbert Stuart and The Skater.  We are blessed in where we live that we were actually able to go see the original painting as part of our study.  We tried having Froggy narrate what she saw in the painting.  We looked at some of Mr. Stuart's other paintings as well noting that he did mostly portraits.

For music, we did Emile Waldteufel and The Skater's Waltz. We listened to it online here.  We also got an itune version for the ipod so we could listen to it in the car.   I was not able to find a biography or even a chapter in a larger composer book at our library so we read his biography here.  Froggy would not narrate it back to me but I did get her to list five things the music made her think of

The Nutcracker
A Waltz
Swan Lake
Ice Skating

The highlight was listening to it as warmed up after ice skating at the National Sculpture Garden.  She gained confidence as we went around the rink and enjoyed herself even if she never managed to let go of the railing.

Wednesday, February 23

Sarah and David

Thanks to a recommendation from Adventures in MamaLand, I got the beginning series of Sarah and David for Froggy.  When I got the materials in the mail, I was extremely disappointed. The Alef-Bet storybook was cute but there were no activities to do with it.  The cd is the book being read verbatim.  The reading primers follow the same basic formula as all the other primers I have seen with repetitive nonsense syllables.

And Froggy loves it all. 

We listen to the cd in the car.  She loves the funny descriptions of the letters.  I do not know if they are helping her remember the differences but it is making studying the letters fun for her.  With all the battles we had with sounding things out in English, I thought the primers would be a battle but Froggy cannot wait to get to them.  She is sounding out syllables and loving it.  
This is never going to make her fluent in Hebrew but maybe if she is a confident reading with vowels early enough she will be able to find a way to become fluent when she is older.

Tin Forests

This week we attended our second Stories In Art.  This time we investigated "found objects" and Jim Dine.  Unlike every other time we have attended the program, this time Froggy was in the group that visited the sculpture before reading the story.  I don't know if that is what made the difference or it was Acorn's presence keeping me from sitting up front with Froggy, or just a bad day but she was not interested in participating in the discussion about the sculpture. The Gate, Goodbye Vermont.  Personally I thought it was pretty neat and could see the gates closing behind Mr. Dine as he left Vermont and moved to Connecticut.
Froggy became entranced with the program when we moved into story time.  The docent was a sweet kind young lady who seemed unable to read more than two sentences without making significant commentary.  And yet the fascination of the story captured Froggy and many others.  She did lose some of the children with her interruptions and a few even left the program.  
The story is about an old man who lives in a garbage heap and all alone except for his books and his dreams. He spends his daytime hours trying to clean up all of the garbage and his nighttime hours dreaming about tropical forests. One day, he gets the idea to create a forest from the junk with which he is surrounded. He builds trees and flowers, birds and frogs, even a striped mechanical kitty to keep him company. Then something magical happens--a real forest begins to grow. The illustrations make the story come to life.  In the beginning, only the man, his books and his fire are in color.  Gradually the forest unfolds in amazing color and detail.  We missed a great deal of the detail during the reading at the program.  Luckily our library had a copy and Froggy likes to hear stories many times.  We enjoyed going back and pointing out details, like the mechanical cat winking. 

 The last part of the program was to make a forest of your own.  Froggy was thrilled with the idea but had trouble with the implementation.  Her imagination took hold and I think she saw a forest ready to grow on the ground provided, a piece of floral foam.  However her little hands had real trouble giving branches and leaves and flowers to her forest with the pipe cleaners provided.  


Tuesday, February 22


Apparently what I needed in order to overcome the challenges, I was facing was put them into words.  Since I did that I have managed to "make good choices".  The change has been dramatic.  I feel better about me and each time I make the right choice I am reducing the likelihood of situations happening that tempt me to make bad choices. 

Menu Planning Monday 17 Adar I 5771

After two weeks of working fulltime and not cooking I am back in the kitchen this week.  

Monday - Beef Barley Soup and Biscuits
Tuesday - Pizza and Salad
Wednesday - Chicken Florentine Lasagna with a dairy free beschamel sauce ( a new recipe for us - we will see what the family thinks- look for a review next week)
Thursday - Crockpot Sloppy Joes (using leftover pot roast) and peas
Shabbat - Roast Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, Mocha Cake (recipe to follow)

Tuesday, February 15


Life comes with challenges.  I don;t know why we are faced with the challenges we are just that we are.  I am not wise enough to know Hashem's plan for me or why I must face the specific challenges that I do.

Ten years ago, I was looking at some big changes in my life.  I endured that challenge. Both working to accept whatever Hashem chose for me while at the same time doing everything within my power to make my life, my heart, my world the kind of place it needed to be for Hashem to grant my request. 

Now we struggle again and I am faced with similar challenges.   I feel as though Hashem has put these tempory tests before me so that I can prove I can withstand the permanent situation if my prayers are to be granted.  And yes I say granted rather than answered.  Hashem has already answered the request.  The answer was "not yet". 

It is "not yet because I have not passed the test yet.  For some unknown reason, this time it is so much harder for me to be the person I know I need to be than I ever thought it would be. I know the right path and I try to walk it and I stumble and fall.  I keep picking myself back up and start walking again but I keep stumbling.  I really wish I could just stop stumbling though.

Sunday, February 13

Science Sunday - Car Races

What happens when you give four 5/6 yr olds cars to race in the name of science? Fun ensues.  That is what.  I love it when learning and fun mix. I tied this into the series by talking about friction and gravity but the real focus was on the necessity for repetition in testing our theories.

Each of the students brought their own matchbox car and I brought a track.  I told the kids they were going to race their cars but the key was they could only let go of their cars not push them. Before we started, I showed them the setup and took predictions.  As expected, they all predicted that the cars would go faster when the track was high and that the cars would also go faster when the track was high.

To explain multiple trials, I asked the kids if they were running a race with their friends and they lost would they believe that meant they would always lose? No right they would want to try again.  So that is what we are doing with the cars.

Then the races began.  We had to disqualify a couple of cars some times as they got pushed.  (We just reran the trial) We measured each trial with adding machine tape and a book between each set of trials to change the height of the ramp.

I think by the end the kids truly understood that the only pulling the cars was gravity and the more gravity could pull on the car (because it was higher) the farther the car could go. 
The neatest part came as we moved into the kitchen area which is not carpeted and tested it again with just one book.  The cars fairly flew across the room.  This time I got to explain how friction pulled against the car slowing it down.

Friday, February 11

What We Are Reading - Chapter Books

I disdain twaddle as much if not more than Charlotte Mason.  It drives me positively bonkers to be asked to read it.  I cannot avoid the twaddle so I balance it with chapter books that are quality and enjoyable for all parties.

We just finished up Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.  We got a beautiful hardback edition from the library with amazing illustrations.  I wanted Froggy to know there was more than the dumbed down Disney versions.  The language was challenging to read aloud at first but as we worked our way through the book we noticed the old fashion speech less.  Froggy was interested initially because it was a bout Mowgli who she already knew and loved.  I am not sure she would have been able to sustain attention past the unfamiliar language if she had not already been interested in the characters.

Daddy does not provide much input on the reading selection but he has been waiting to read the Chronicles of Narnia to Froggy with much anticipation.  Seeing Prince Caspian in the theater introduced Froggy to Lucy and Edmund and the land of Narnia.  Daddy offered Froggy the opportunity to go back and join them on their initial adventure.  She took him up on the suggestion and they began reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at bedtime.   Froggy was quite eager to start but after a couple of chapters, she requested it be set aside in favor of picture books.  Just recently at her request they have picked it back up.  With Daddy being the primary parent for the next few weeks I suspect it will get much more reading.

Wednesday, February 9

Winter Wednesday - Pine Trees

In the winter it is only natural to focus on the evergreens.  We took this opportunity to learn some more about them.  First not all evergreens are pine trees. We prepared for our time out of doors reading the pine tree section in The Handbook of Nature Study. From it we learned that the central stem of all pine trees is called the "leader" because it leads the trees growth.  We also learned that not all trees that make cones are pine trees.  

Armed with this information, we went looking for a local pine tree.  We had several trees in mind that we thought might be pine trees and wanted to check out.  They each had a central stem, produced cones and had what we thought were needles.  We were positive that our favorite climbing tree was a pine because we love to gather pine cones under it.  When we visited it during our study we realized it was not.  We gathered some needles and cones from under it to bring home and sketch. We still have not identified what it actually is but we sketched the leaf structure and took notes on it for our journal.  Hopefully we will identify it eventually.

Tuesday, February 8

Narration - Boxcar Children

We finished Boxcar Children.  Froggy got the hang of narration through the course of the book.  I did not make her narrate every chapter since we read several chapters in a given week.  As we went through the book she got better at the process and even at times seemed to enjoy although most of the time it was like pulling teeth to get her to do it.

I did not write down all the narrations but I wrote down as many as I could

Here is an early one that I helped her with showing her the goal and process of narration.  First she told me what happened in her words and then I narrated back to her putting the events in order and giving more detail.

Froggy - In this chapter there was a rainstorm and they found a drinking fountain before the rainstorm.
Me - In this chapter the children sleep in a haystack.  They get up at nighttime and leave the farm.  They walk on the road.  They hide from the baker and his wife.  The baker is going to look for the children in Greenfield so the children go to Silver City.  They find a drinking fountain and decide to sleep near it.  A storm comes while they are sleeping.

Narrating the chapter myself probably helped Froggy more than any explanation I could give.

And a later one where she did a fantastic job all by herself

In this chapter, Violet gets sick.  Henry comes and sees that Violet is sick.  He goes to get the doctor.  The doctor comes in his car. Everybody gets in the car and drives back to the doctor's house.

Monday, February 7

Sir Cumfrence

Almost Unschoolers had so much fun with their Geometry studies I just had to give it a try.  We started with Sir Cumfrence and The First Round Table.  I was very concerned that the book would be too grown up for Froggy.  It was not.  Froggy loved it so much we read it several times. On the first read through, she did not quite get the terminology.  So we made a drawing.
Each part is a different color ( I am not sure how well it shows in the picture.) By the final reading of the book Froggy had the terms set in her mind.  She had a great time telling Daddy all about Radius and how little he is 
I cannot wait to do the rest of the books with Froggy. They are a wonderfully fun way to do Math.  

For other fun math ideas check out Math Monday link-up, being hosted by Joyful Learner.

Sunday, February 6

Menu Planning Monday 2 Adar I 5771

Sunday - Chicken potpie made with a parve beshamel sauce
Monday - Homemade Pasta Sauce, penne, garlic bread and salad
Tuesday - Asian Chicken Lettuce wraps using chicken leftover from Shabbat
Wednesday -Fish ala Jenn couscous and green breans
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Shabbat - Sweet Salmon, Rice Keem steamed broccoli molten lava cake

Unschooling Meets Charlotte Mason

The principle behind Unschooling is child-led learning.  So last night Froggy took the lead and decided she needed to copy one of her favorite books.  She declared that she wants to copy all the pages and even make a cover for it out of cardboard.

We do copywork as part of our Charlotte Mason style Language Arts studies so that may be where the idea came from but no one set this task to her other than her.  She was very excited and wanted me to watch her do it. She even liked it when I pointed out the errors (namely punctuation and capitalization something we have not really addressed yet) so she could make it more perfect as she went on.

A Very Special Rosh Chodesh

Yesterday was Rosh Chodesh Adar I.  Why Adar I?  Because this is Shanah Me'uberet (literally a pregnant year).  In English we call it a leap year. 

Froggy was very eager when she saw that we were entering Adar that Purim was just around the corner.  She was more than a little disappointed to learn that even though this is Adar I, Purim is still over a month away.  This is Froggy's first Shanah Me'uberet so it took some explaining as to how Adar I came to being and how it is different from Adar II

In the fourth century, Hillel II established a fixed calendar with a 19 year cycle.  The cycle is very complicated to remember until you look at it musically. The pattern of leap years follows the major scale: for each whole step there are two regular years and a leap year; for each half-step there is one regular year and a leap year.

I explained the process particularly with the scale because I find that the most fascinating.  What boggled her and I was unable to explain is why is Adar II is the "real" Adar, the one in which Purim is celebrated, the one in which yahrzeits for Adar are observed, the one in which a 13-year-old born in Adar becomes a Bar Mitzvah. Why is Adar I is the "extra" Adar? From her perspective if it is first it should be the real one.  I know that the extra month is added in front but not why.  I looked and looked and could not find an answer.

Saturday, February 5

What We Are Reading

One of the books that Froggy has refused to put down this week is David and Goliath. She knows the story inside and out.  She tells it to everyone who will listen.  And yet she reads it over and over.  This is not the best version of the story but it is not the worst either.  The best part is she can and will read it herself.  She loves it so much that she decided she needed to copy it. 

Together we have enjoyed Crocodaddy which is an adorable book celebrating imagination. The little boy is "captain of the Crocodaddy hunt."  He and his father spend a perfect summer afternoon together as "captain" hunts and tames the crocodile even managing to take a ride on his back.  At the end of the afternoon. the crocodile transforms back into Daddy.  The illustrations are colorful and lively.

The other wonderful book we shared this week is an old favorite returned, Turtle Turtle Watch Out.  Froggy picked it out at the library and insisted that it come home even after I pointed out that we had read it before.  I love this book and despite my usual reluctance to read books over and over, I do not get tired of this one and enjoy it every time.

Wednesday, February 2

Groundhog Day

In celebration of Punxsutawney Phil predicting an early spring, Froggy and I celebrated Groundhog Day today.  First we read Groundhog Weather School and Groundhog Day by Lynn Peppas which gives a nice history and explanation of the holiday.  Carol Leon Boyd has a cute song that compares Groundhog Day and Tu B'Shevat which we sang.

Froggy discovered a cute animated story about Groundhog Day on Starfall that she introduced to me.

The shining cap of the day (at least in my opinion) was making a Groundhog puppet that popped out its hole to make his prediction.

Froggy painted a cup to be Punx's hole.
Then she cut out a body and head
Attached her new groundhog onto a Popsicle stick and voila

Sophie's Masterpiece

Over the summer, we took a virtual tour of Italy through Stories in Art.  The summer programs are always paintings while the winter programs are always sculptures or three dimensional pieces of art.
The theme for this session of Stories in Art is being investigators.  The children are "sent on a mission" in which they gather clues and learn about the sculptures.  I apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures.  They were taken with the camera phone since the real camera was not cooperating.

Today we read Sophie's Masterpiece and visited Alexander Calder's Spider among some of his other sculptures. The story was the perfect introduction to unit on three-dimensional art.  This lovely spider works hard at creating masterpieces even though most of them are not appreciated.  I like the message of the book
Then they went to another room and actually looked at Mr. Calder's sculptures.  He is most famous for his stabiles and mobile.  See even the grown ups learn things at these programs.  A stabile is a kinetic sculpture that is standing rather than hanging like a mobile. 

Then the children got to make their own sculptures using wires as Mr. Calder did.  They could create either a stabile or a mobile.  Froggy chose a mobile.  She had some difficulty actually getting the wires attached to the base but that is the only place in which I helped.  All the rest of it she did herself