Sunday, July 31

Getting Ready for School

It is August and for me that means setting up our schedule for the new school year.  Froggy is in first grade this year and we are loosely following the Ambleside Year 1 curriculum with some serious modifications. On Ambleside I found a nice planner which I am using to organize and plan our weeks.  It is basically a checklist for the week so I can mark off what I have done and so I can look ahead and see what I need to print or gather.

Here is what our year looks like following the suggested Ambleside schedule with personal modifications:

DAILY (that we do school - goal is four days a week)
  • Penmanship / Copywork: Handwriting Without Tears, homemade parsha copywork
  • Math:  Singapore Math Level 2
  • Foreign Language:  Hebrew, using Migdalor L'Gan  and Berhman House Ulpan
  • Bible (=Chumash)
    • Bright Beginnings materials
    • Worksheets from
    • homemade worksheets from both me and Adventures in Mamaland
    • may also add L'shon HaTorah in later in the year. (edit - I just ordered this.  Paid as much in shipping as the cost of the book so I really hope it is good)
  • P.E. - I have added this to our daily schedule this year to make sure we do it more.  Some days it will be easy since it will be a formal class (gymnastics/swimming/dance).  Other days it will entail going for a bike ride or a hike or playing catch.  Froggy is still significantly delayed in her gross motor skills so we are making a more conscious effort to work on them this year. Bike riding is our focus for the Fall.
WEEKLY (but we do some more than once a week)
  • Art:  13 Artists Children Should Know & Draw Write Now
  • History:  Story of the World, century book, maps, additional activities / readings
  • Handicrafts: basic needlework with plastic canvas and linen
  • Nature Study - not sure how  quite yet but we will do something.
  • Music Appreciation - Mozart, Mendelssohn and piano lessons
In terms of specific books, here’s what we’re using, grouped by the same headings Ambleside uses for its Year 1 booklist:

History: early history, focusing on people rather than events
  • Paddle-to-the-Sea by C. Holling- Great Lakes / Canada Geography.  I have a great guide that goes with it.  It guides one through the story on three different levels: economic, societal, and ecosystem.
  • The Seven Little Sisters - This offers an overview of the continents and world geography.  There a few different guides/maps I can use and not sure which I will use.
Natural History/Science
  • A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Now We Are Six/When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne
  • A Child's Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa,
  • The Aesop for Children by Milo Winter
  • Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit
  • The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (as well as selected stories from other books in the series)
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (done)

Friday, July 29

Welcoming Shabbat

I am so looking forward to Shabbat this week.  Last week, Shabbat was a struggle both to prepare for and to keep properly.  The house was in chaos and boxes begging to be packed.  We had already packed the Shabbat dishes although I made sure to leave out my mother's candle sticks and kiddush cup. 

By contast, the peace of Shabbat is already starting to fill me as I compare our plans.  I do not get make challah yet but I am also not making other preparations.  We are traveling and spending Shabbat with dear friends.  We will be attending a special outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat service this evening.  Growing up, I attended more Kabbalat services than I did Shabbat morning.  Froggy has attended very few and I think she will very much enjoy this service with all its singing. 

We have not done well this summer with making it to Shul.  A friend commented to me recently that "Torah life is a community life".  It is possible but hard and unpleasant to be a Jew in isolation. We draw so much just from davening with others.  It helps renew us and support us.

Knowing that I will be spending all of Shabbat with other Jews has put wings on feet this morning.

Shabbat Shalom

Monday, July 25

Still Alive

Just wanted to drop a quick note to let everyone know that we have not fallen off the planet. We are still here but the moving truck comes tomorrow and life is too chaotic to allow me time on the computer.  I will start updating again very soon.

Wednesday, July 13

Visiting the Netherlands

Today Froggy got her passport for her Summer Art Adventure in the Netherlands, a country Froggy knew nothing about prior to today. The flight over (aka trip to the museum) took only 45 minutes and was amazingly easy. 

We arrived at the travel bureau (aka Information Desk), received our passports and began exploring.  The passport was chock full of information about the country as a whole and our tour in specific.  Unlike last year we are not visiting specific destinations but touring the country looking at general features.   Today we looked at windmills and the general landscape.  
 Before the tour guide arrived, Froggy and I got acquainted with our destination on our own.  We visited several sites (paintings) from our tour book (passport).  Our first stop was Lady and Gentleman on Horseback by Aelbert Cuyp.  It was not a destination on our tour but caught Froggy's eye and interest.  We came back to several times as I explained why it was not on our tour and the characteristics of a landscape.
 Our next stop was A View on the High Road by Hobbema "one of the premiere Dutch landscape painters, known for his wooded landscapes with winding roads, craggy trees, and billowing clouds."  It was neat watching Froggy interact with the paintings. The changes since last year are amazing.
 Our next stop was River Landscape with Ferry by van Ruysdael.  Both the painting and artist created a great opportunity to explain that landscapes do not only include land. We also got to talk about how much water and canals there are in the Netherlands and the general geography of the area.
 Finally we got around to visiting the Aelbert Cuyp painting, Horsemen and Herdsmen with Cattle which had been our original destination.  We compared it to Lady and Gentleman on Horseback  looking specifically at the people and their placement/size in the painting.

 And then we visited several seascapes.  Froggy loved the stormy ones the best.  We did not dwell on them since I know that is a later destination.  Froggy was positively fascinated with them though looking at the shape of the waves and the dark colors.
 And then we actually began our tour. Our official stop was Rembrandt's The Mill.  The tour guide (docent) explained how windmills work as well as how important they are to the Netherlands.  
 The children were captivated and very eager to participate.

 After we studied the painting came story time.  She read  A Hole in the Dike. While I was familiar with the tale (it is a classic Dutch folktale), I had not seen the book before. It was perfect.  The drawings in the book were wonderful landscapes.  There was one page where they introduce the dike that shows clearly what a dike is and how it works.
 And then came art time.  The children got to make their own landscapes. 

The focus clearly was supposed to be the windmill.  I liked that the windmill was already created for the children.  The vanes on the mill even turn.  
Froggy was the last one to leave working very diligently the entire time.  She did not finish at the museum but came home and actually went back and worked on it more.

Chumash - Passuk 2

We are on our second passuk in Lech Lecha.  I keep telling myself eventually we will get to a passuk a week. I can already see her making progress in decoding and comprehension.  I have finally gotten the worksheet making to take less time than we spend using the worksheet so I count that as a plus.  I wish I could find a way to put the vowels in when making the sheets though rather than having to add them afterwards.

This is the basic worksheet which we use for reading practice and "pulling it all together".  It has the entire passuk.  I usually print it in color but our color printer was on the fritz.

Froggy loves coloring and matching with the worksheets from Bright Beginnings.  And this week, I add something new, cut and paste. 

  It was a huge hit.  I made a chart with the shoresh, the word as it appears in the passuk (prefixes and all) and the English.  Then I let Froggy cut it up.  I mixed them all up and she had to paste them back in order. I think this finally helped her actually see the shoresh within the word.

Tuesday, July 12

Wild Ponies

 Visiting the Wild Ponies of Assetegue is one of our favorite traditions.  This year was the first that Froggy was old enough to really understand the difference between wild and tame. 
 This picture looks strange because it is taken through the screen of our pavillion.  That is how close they came to us.  Froggy was nervous because we had emphasized that they were wild. 

 Apparently horses like playing ball as well.

 We saw this mom and baby while playing on the playground as part of the larger herd.  The baby is approximately one month old according to the rangers.  We got to watch mom teaching the foal and keep him with her as he started wandering off.

Monday, July 11

List of Attainments

 If I can be said to be teaching Froggy according to any style, it would be Charlotte Mason.  Charlotte Mason included in her Original Homeschool Series books some lists of attainments, goals or objectives to be met by certain ages. She has one for 6-year-olds and one for 12-year-olds. Since Froggy will turn six in October, I figured I would check in and see where she stands according to this list.  Foreign Language is a big push but we chose Hebrew rather than French.  The big problem is I don't understand how to determine where she stands on several of them.  I have marked those in purple.  I have marked the ones that we are totally good on in green.   I am not sure if we will work on all the rest or not, specifically the recitation ones but it is interesting to look at.

1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
2. to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm
3. to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
4. to read--what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child
5. to copy in print-hand from a book
6. to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
7. to describe the boundaries of their own home
8. to describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach
9. to tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early English, and 3 from early Roman history (my note here, we may want to substitute early American for early English!)
10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views
11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them.
12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees
13. to know 6 birds by song, colour and shape
14. to send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed
15. to tell three stories about their own "pets"--rabbit, dog or cat.
16. to name 20 common objects in Hebrew, and say a dozen little sentences (we are good on the words but still struggling on sentences)
17. to sing one hymn, one Hebrew song, and one English song
18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.

Menu What Menu?

I still want to cook but have no idea what to make. My sister and niece are staying with us for awhile.  We love having them but food is a real problem.  My niece is a vegetarian who is also extremely allergic to all dairy.  The dairy is simple since we are dairy-free for Froggy.  The vegetarian is much harder but not impossible.  The single piece that makes me want to throw up my hands and tell everyone to starve is that my sister and niece have absolutely nothing in common that they will eat.  I can grill and cook separate "burgers" for everyone.  Then at least it looks like we are all eating the same food.  Otherwise I need to make two separate meals or we end up eating out which is my sister's preference.

Any advice from the peanut gallery?

Thursday, July 7

What We Are Reading

A trip to Grandma's means delving into a whole different collection of  books.  Froggy has her favorites that she and Grandma share.  Grandma loves the "If You Give" series and is constantly adding new ones to her collection.  The latest addition is If You Give A Cat A Cupcake.  Auntie Laura, the cat lady, read it to both cousins and the Froggy read it many times.  It is cute in overdone, predictable way of the series. They also read ever other book in the series laughing hysterically as they read. 

At the beach, we started a new chapter book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, that Daddy is reading to the whole family at bedtime. 
It is a wonderful change to the rituals of our family.  Bedtime reading had become frustrating for everyone because a tired Froggy was having trouble choosing acceptable books and no one was happy. Also I was not getting any time being read to because of the drawn out, frustrating nature of Froggy's bedtime.  This change solved all those problems.
The Penderwicks are a fun group of sisters ranging in age from four to twelve.  Froggy seems to really be enjoying the story as is evidenced by the amount it peppers her daytime conversation.  I can tell which books Froggy is interested in by the "friends" who share her games during the day and what names I am given.   
Another good thing about the new reading pattern is that Froggy is encouraged to tell me about the book without being quizzed.  I am the one who gets quizzed by Daddy (because I am the one who falls asleep first)> only when I have answered the questions to Daddy's satisfaction (and let him find where to restart) does she get to tell me all the answers I was supposed to give thus showing she was listening and understanding. 
With The Penderwicks we have also moved to a new medium.  Daddy is reading from ebook and Froggy cannot read over his shoulder as we go.  It is a great to be able to move to this medium since we can have lots more books available without all the weight.

Tuesday, July 5

In the Ocean

Every year we go to the beach.  It has been a fun time seeing the change in how Froggy approaches the ocean from year to year.  At first she would not touch the water, then she played at the shore and ran when the water touched her toes.  Last year she was brave enough to play games with the surf but still not comfortable coming out past the breakers with the grownups.

This year she was just a bundle of adventure.  Each day brought more adventure and new experiences.  She rode a boogie board.  She jumped the waves with the grownups even asking Daddy for "phtat waves" (ie ones that make you go "phtat" afterwards because the wave washed over you).  We played "Foam Fighters" where she attacked the foam left behind from the breakers.

She even made friends with an older boy and tried holding her own against the waves as they crashed into her.  She got knocked down several times and came up sputtering but smiling.  Every time he talked her into going out further, my heart cringed as I feared for her.  But I let her go and watched (from a sprinters crouch poised to rescue).  She was so brave and daring and as a result had tons and tons of fun.