Thursday, March 31

Europe

We have finally restarted our map work.  We love map time and it feels really good to get back to it. For our study this time, we chose Europe.  We are doing it in proper Charolette Mason style this time rather than the repetitive manner we did the last time.

Once a week, when I pull out the atlas and her map, Froggy gets to pick somewhere between 1-3 countries to color and explore. 

First she finds the country she wants to learn about on her blank map.  Then she locates it again in the atlas.  We read the name and maybe some information about it.  Then she colors it on her map.  Through trial and error, we learned it is important to write the name in pen before coloring in the country. 
 By coloring in the country, she learns the actual shape and all it includes. For instance, this week she chose the small islands between Spain and Italy.  When she went to the atlas, she learned that they are actually part of Spain.  I showed her how the color of the country indicates the country boundaries just like on her map.  Since the islands were the same color as the mainland of Spain that means the part of it.  So she colored her map being sure to color the islands as well. It was great timing since we learned about Spain and how to say Buen Viaje (have a good trip) at Daisies this week.

Wednesday, March 30

Tree Study - Maples

We began our year-long tree study this week.  Last year, we study the Cherry tree out front, watching it change through all the seasons.  This year, we chose the Red Maple in the backyard.  This tree is so important to Froggy and such a critical part of her nature landscape that it seemed the obvious choice.  This tree is the majestic king of the yard, gracefully surveying all who enter. Froggy's baby swing hangs from it and if we were staying in this house long term it would eventually be replaced by her tire swing.  In summer we set our hammock in its shade. 

Since we are using a maple for our year-long focus, I combined two challenges into one and did the Maple Sugaring study as well.  I am refering constantly to The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock for our studies at this point.  The Handbook of Nature Study Spring Challenges give a short overview and can be done without really refering to the book and that is what I had been doing.  But I get so much more out of the studies if I do the indoor prepatory work of reading the specific pages in the book beforehand. I take notes and make a one page "cheat sheet" which I then take outside with Froggy and our Nature Journals. 
First we studied our maple outside.  I showed Froggy the different parts of the tree giving her the proper name for each part. We look at the sprays.  It was fun to see how different the bud development was in different sprays.  One whole section of the tree still looks like the dead of winter while the other side has blossoms developing
 
 We sketched the tree in our journals and I labeled my parts.

Then we came indoors to learn about Sugar Maples and sugaring.  It was the perfect time since we had a sugar snow this week. I pulled out our copy of Little House in the Big Woods and we reread the chapter on Sugar Snow.

Tuesday, March 29

Homemade Marshmallows

We are going to try these for Shabbat this week since I will be able to restock my Kosher gelatin supply on Thursday.

3 packets unflavored gelatin
1/2 c cold water
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup - if these work the plan is to try again with honey so they are KLP
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c water
2 TBS vanilla

  • Combine water and gelatin.  Let stand for 20 minutes
  • Combine sugar, syrup, salt and 1/3 c water in medium sauce pan.  Stir over low heat until sugar dissolved. Increase heat and heat until mixture comes to a brisk boil. Keep heating until mixture reaches 240F. 
  • Remove from heat. Pour carefully over gelatin.  Add vanilla. Beat with mixer on high for at least ten minutes. When mixture is very thick, white and doubled in size it is done.
  • Scoop mixture into 9x13 pan that has been generously dusted with confectioners sugar. Smooth with spatula.  Let set overnight. 
  • Cut with pizza cutter or cookie cutters, dusting cut marshmallows so they don't stick.

Froggy's Haggadah

Two years ago, I made this haggadah for Froggy.  She loved it and it was great giving her something to use and help follow along.  But even just last year it was really to young for her already.  We still brought it out and she flipped through it.

One of my email lists shared how they have personal haggadahs for each child that the child builds and adds to each year.  Inspiration

So this year we are going to add to Froggy's Haggadah.  I will move her old haggadah into a 3-ring binder so the each new page can be added in the appropriate section. We are starting with the Maggid and the Four Questions.  We will do both question and answer as pretty and fun as we can.  If we finish that and have time, we will add whichever other parts Froggy picks.

I will post pictures as we go.

Monday, March 28

Menu Planning Monday - 15 Adar II

First the review -  I am so loving my new cookbook, Kosher By Design: Teen and 20-Something.  All the recipes we have tried have been tremendous hits with at least two of the household even if not all.  The chicken dippers were such a hit they are making a repeat appearance this week.  The recommended amount of chicken was not sufficient and I will double it this time.  I do not need to make dipping sauce again though.  The potatoes and pears are going on my Shabbat side dish list and I am decreasing the syrup to 3/4c.
We ended up with merguines sandwich cookies with ganache filling for Shabbat dessert.  It was fantastic and will be making a reappearance during Pesach

We also made dairy-free blintzes that were an absolutely tremendous success.  It felt so good to finally be able to eat blintzes again.

Then the menu
Sunday - Tofu stirfry,  and rice
Monday - pasta with sauce, salad and garlic bread
Tuesday - breakfast for dinner - pancakes and eggs
Wednesday- chicken dippers, carrot sticks (uncooked this time) and apple slices
Thursday - out
Friday-I am calling this Shabbat ala 20-Something since most of the recipes come from this book.

Week Plan

I have not done this in a while but with Pesach just around the corner, I figure I better or we will miss stuff.

Reading/Writing - I am putting aside our regular copy work to combine Hebrew and English by using the Four Questions for our copywork.  We will do one question a week so that Froggy can focus on the Hebrew reading and pronunciation.

Math - More skip counting - review 3's and introduce 4's

Science/Nature - the last science class and Maple trees for our nature study

History - We have officially restarted our map study - Europe and will continue it this week

Art/Music - We are beginning our April Study - Schubert and Morisot. The materials are pulled together.  I am not sure when I will present them but I am ready at least.  The study is supposed to last all month so there is time to figure it out.

Judaics - Passover preparations kick into high gear.  We are making our annual shopping trip to KosherMart on Thursday so we can get all the KLP items that we cannot get locally. In addition to starting memorization of the Four Questions, Froggy will begin work on her Pesach Lapbook from Adventures in Mamaland.

Hopscotch with a twist

Today was so beautiful the outdoors just called to me.  At the same time, I have been struggling with what to do to make skip counting fun for Froggy.  Bingo!! Inspiration struck.

After a breakfast/school time in the treehouse, I got to hurry through the clean up with a promise of a fun game when we were finished.  All cleaned up she wanted to know where to meet for the game.  When I told her "out front" her little eyes lit up and she could not move fast enough.
Waiting for her on the sidewalk in front of the house was a "hopscotch board", which mind you is what she called it when she saw it.
I explained the game to her and went first.  It is really a lot like regular hopscotch minus the tossing.  I showed her how to hop/jump landing with one foot on the blue number and with both feet on the orange numbers.  I also told her she needs to say the blue numbers out loud as she lands on them.
Viola skip counting practice and no mention whatsoever of Math.
She loved the game and ran through it quite a few times.  She even decided Rapunzel needed to do it.  Her biggest problem was actually balancing enough on one foot to jump onto both feet. She loved it when I would do it with her providing balance for her jumps.
See the Joy one can have doing math.  I love it. For other neat ways to make math fun hop over to Joyful Learner.

Sunday, March 27

Blintzes From Minsk

Here is the modified recipe we used to make our field of Sunflowers.  It is modified from How Mama Brought the Spring Our version is dairy-free

Ingredients - Wrappers
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 1 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • butter for frying
Ingredients for Filling
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 TBS applesauce
  • 1 pkg silken tofu - drained well
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • hefty pinch of cinnamon
Preparing the Wrapper - Pour, Swirl, Sizzle, Flip
  • Combine eggs and milk, stir in flour and sugar.  beat until smooth
  • Melt butter in non-stick frying pan
  • Pour in about 3 TBS of batter (I use medium scoop - the same as I use to fill my muffin tins)
  • Swirl to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook until small air bubbles form on the top of the wrapper and the bottom is golden.  Do not turn over. Sizzle
  • Flip the wrapper brown side up onto a tablecloth or paper towels. 
  • Repeat until all the batter is used up
Preparing the filling and blintzes
  • Combine all filling ingredients and mix well
  • With the wrappers brown side up, place a scoop of filling in the center of each one
  • Fold the wrapper toward the middle from opposite sides covering the filling roll the blintz from the bottom
  • Fry the blintzes seam-side down turning them once to brown both sides
  • serve with jam. 
The original recipe says it makes ten but we made closer to twenty. 

Crash Test

We took science to the sidewalk this week with our study of inertia.

We started with a toy car and a review.  Does the car go if you just put it on the sidewalk?  Heck no.  Push car with hand What made the car go now?  A push, a force.
Then came the neat part.  So why did it stop? This took some serious investigation.  At first the suggestion was because I took my hand off it but I showed them how far it went even after I took my hand.  Slowly we worked our way around to friction and the ground pulling on the car.
 Once we established what friction does, we added a new term, inertia.  I explained that everything keeps moving until something stops it.  Just like nothing moves until something makes it.  That is called inertia.  We put a ball in the skate and watched what happened.  The ball started at the center of the skate then moved to the back.  I explained this was because I pushed the skate but the ball did not move until the skate pushed it. 

Next we replaced the ball with Curious George.  We showed what happened to George when the skate crashed into something and he was not buckled in.
And then we buckled him and tried the test again.
We had tons of fun making George safe.
We also read “The Broken Window” in Einstein Anderson, Science Detective. I like this series because it provides a mystery that is solved using real science. In this case inertia.

Friday, March 25

Books All Shapes and Sizes

I cannot stop cheering.  A magical event has taken place.  Froggy happily listened to  More All of A Kind Family in the car. This is a huge achievement.  I have been trying to get her to listen to audio books in the car for ages.  It not only allows us to share more books than we would otherwise but also creates more peace in the car during the drive.  More All of A Kind Family is a lovely book in which we see all our familiar friends mostly grown up.  Apparently I had misremembered the order of the stories from my youth causing us to skip several but that is ok.  We can fill them in once I locate them.

We also finished The Secret Garden.  We have enjoyed reading this book together but it did not seem to captivate Froggy the way More All of a Kind Family did.  Froggy enjoyed it in the moment but did not talk about it or bring it into her play the way she did with Mama's girls or the fairies.
 We enjoyed several fantastic picture books as well this week.  The top pick of the week is How Mama Brought The Spring.  We got it from the "librarian pick" section of the library.  In it Rosie's mom helps her cope with the harsh Chicago winter by sharing a story and a family tradition.  She tells of her mama in Minsk.  It is the first book we have read that is not a PJ recommendation that mentions Minsk. They also share a recipe and make blintzes together.  In the back of the book is Mama's family recipe for blintzes.  Froggy and I investigated what "farmers Cheese" is and how we could make or substitute it so that she and I could make blintzes together. 
 I mixed up the batter and filling while Froggy slept.  I also cooked up several wrappers to be sure that they would work.  It was just like the book said.  They did look like a field of sunflowers laid out on the table cloth.  When Froggy woke up we "pour,swirl, sizzle,flip" together. Pour the batter in the pan, swirl it around, let it sizzle and the flip it out on the table cloth.
Once all the wrappers were cooked, we started filling and rolling them into blintzes.

In second place is When the Root Children Wake Up.  Audrey Wood and Ned Bittender recreate the classic German tale.  Some reviews are not kind to the book but we loved it.  The oil paintings have a Thomas Kinkade style which help convey the fantastical nature of the story.  I like that the words are in sidebar keeping the paintings intake.  The prose is lyrical and calls to the listener as much as the root children.

Wednesday, March 23

Early Spring Flowers

We were a bit late with this study due to the frantic Purim preparations but I did not want to miss out on it.  Froggy had been asking about tulip and iris seeds so I figured it needed to be done.  The Handbook of Nature Study gives a great concise description of several bulb plants.  We picked Daffodils as they are currently up in our yard and very easy to study.  The tulips have not yet bloomed.

I read through the relevant pages and highlighted what I needed to remember for our time outdoors looking at the flowers.  Then grabbing journal and pencils we went outside for some "art time"

There are daffodils all around our neighborhood so seeing them is easy.  We looked at them in our backyard where some were in full bloom while tanother was still working on opening up

We looked at the different parts of the flower and learned the names of the parts.  We played turning the daffodil upside down so that the petals became a skirt and the corona became a petticoat for the fairy who lives inside the flower. 
We looked carefully at the stamen and anther.  Froggy touched the anther getting the pollen on her fingers.  She guessed it was the nectar from the flower which created a lovely segue way into where the nectar actually is, who gets that nectar and how.  She danced the butterfly flitting from flower to flower.  And I showed her fingers and then asked her to picture the butterfly drinking from the flower.  Where does she stand?  Where does the pollen go?  What happens as she flits like you were dancing? And thus we have learned pollination.
 Froggy has progressed miles from the child who would not even hold a crayon. Yet she still has get reluctance to try to sketch.  We are working at looking at the shapes inside of things.  In doing so I have found that it helps tons if I sketch with her first in my own journal and then work hand over hand with her in her journal.
As we sketched, we talked.  We labeled the different parts of the flower as we drew them. I answered her questions about why certain flowers like tulips,daffodils and irises do not have "seeds" as she is used to seeing them.  We drew how the bulbs look under the ground, propagating as they do.
Then we cut open the ovary to see that even though it does not spread by seeds most of the time, daffodils still have seeds just like all plants.
It looks like a huge study written up here but it was really very short and lots of fun. It was one of our most informative nature studies to date.

Monday, March 21

Menu Planning Monday - 15 Adar II

First a quick review - the salmon chowder was amazing.  The flavor was perfect.  For the future though I would make a roux to thicken it up.  We had homemade bread with using our pizza dough recipe but turning it into a loaf instead and the whole loaf was gone in one sitting.

The hamentaschen came out great.  The most popular filling was a new jam from Wegmans, apricot, peach and passion fruit.  I really liked the spiced nuts but need to remember to double the recipe when making next time.  The truffles are always the favorite for the recipients and my least favorite.  I returned to using a hot water bath for melting the coating chocolate.

Sunday -Salmon Chowder and Challah (leftovers)
Monday -Cranberry Chicken Dippers and spicy carrot sticks both from (Kosher By Design 20 Something)
Tuesday -  Pasta with homemade sauce, salad and garlic bread
Wednesday - Picnic -Asian chicken wraps, pretzels and apple slices
Thursday -Tacos, refried beans and rice
 Shabbat -Challah, Soup, Pot Roast, Maple Roasted Peasrs and Sweet Potatoes(Kosher By Design 20 Something), steamed broccoli, and desserts as yet to be decided.

Sunday, March 20

More on the scientific method

We are wrapping up our unit on forces.  We only have two more sessions. This week we theoretically were working of what makes different balls bounce differently.  It turned more in two a lesson on graphing and the scientific method.
The students were presented with a big piece of paper, a meter stick, some markers and a collection of balls. They passed the balls around squeezing and comparing them.  Then we gave each ball a color and a name.   We labeled the paper with the names in the designated color to show where to drop each ball. 

Before dropping the balls we predicted how high they would bounce. The predictions started out outrageous with the kids claiming the ball would bounce all the way up to the ceiling.  I tried to guide them reminding them we were only dropping the ball rather than throwing it down.  When they were unconvinced, they recorded their predictions as stated.Then we dropped the ball and recorded the actual results.

The balls came no where near their predictions obviously.  As we went through the series of balls, the predictions became slightly more realistic, at least from certain students.  One little guy was determined to keep his wild predictions.

After a round of prediction and results, we changed locations to a very different type of flooring to see what changes occurred.  We made new predictions and ran new tests and compared the results.  Everyone, grownups included, were very surprised with the results.  The change made remarkably little difference in the results. 
Finally we created a  bar graph to show the results and allowing for easier comparison.  The kids liked seeing the data in this form.

Friday, March 18

Half of an Elephant





We took a break from our Purim preparations for the final installment of winter Stories in Art.  During this "investigation", the children were on the look out for clues about David Smith. 
First we listened to  Half of an Elephant.  It is a cute story about a time when the Earth splits apart.  All the animals get cut in half.  The elephant gets lonely without his other half and goes searching.  What makes the story perfect for this Stories in Art  are the illustrations.  Each illustration is a photograph of the animals built out of found objects. 
After the story, we visited his sculpture, Voltri VII.  Mr. Smith was not much into unique names for his pieces, many of which are numbered.  He liked working in series.  This piece was apparently inspired by the wagon wheels which he saw in Voltri. 

Next the kids all got to create their own sculptures using wood and metal.  Many of the children built wagons/car/buses using Voltri VII. as an inspiration.  Not Froggy.  She is an individual in all aspects.  She had a plan for her sculpture from the get go though I was not aware of it.  It was only once it was all finished I heard the story.

She was completely absorbed in the creative process and did it all herself.  The only help I provided was squeezing the glue when it was too hard for her and a bit of physics advice when her pieces would not do what she wanted.

Since this was the final installment, all the children who turn in a completed passport stamped from each session receive a prize. 
 The prize this time was a hardback copy of Sandy's Circus. It is a story about Alexander Calder, who we learn is nicknamed Sandy, and the circus he creates through his sculptures.  It is an amazing book with amazing illustrations.  Personally I do not know why it was not the story chosen to go with the study of Mr. Calder's sculptures.  We certainly enjoyed reading it.

Daylight Savings Time - The Upside

While I truly despise daylight savings time and the havoc it causes to our sleep schedules, there are some pluses.  Last night, we got to eat dinner outside and I was even able to work in the vegetable garden a bit.  I got the early lettuce, spinach and peas planted.  It was absolutely lovely to be outside in the evening.  I still miss my morning walks but this is nice too.

Wednesday, March 16

Persia

Since our house is totally immersed in Purim preparations, this week geography/history lesson consisted of a virtual trip to the Persian Empire. It was inspired by the Purim mapwork handout from Adventures in Mamaland.  She is the source of much of our Limudei Kodesh but it is surprising when we find secular work there as well. 

Froggy was fascinated with the map.  There was so much to look at and talk about.  We reviewed continents which we had learned in our initial map study but not touched on lately. Froggy had apparently forgotten much of it.  She was amazed that one country - even an empire - could touch more than one continent. 

We also learned some about who the Persians were beyond the brief moment we see of them in the Megillah.

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!

We did our outdoor time this week at the Zoo.  We have been making lots of trips to the zoo lately because the new additions, 7 lion cubs from 2 litters, are on display now.  We want to see as much of them as we can while they are still cute and playful.
We go often because Froggy's tolerance for standing and watching the same animal is limited even if they are active and fun as the lion cubs.  Personally I could watch them from the time they come on exhibit for the day until they go back inside. Today however they were much more somnolent than other times we have seen them so we did not stay as long.
 
The young male elephant made up for it though. He was out by himself and extremely playful.  He has a tire swing that he would push around. We also watched him throw his lighter toys back and forth. 


Daddy's favorite is the red panda which is right near the elephant so we stopped there as well.  The first time by we could not find them but lucky for us, we made another attempt.  They were out and we got some great views.
Froggy's favorite thing however was reading all the signs