Friday, July 30

What We Are Reading

Froggy has continue her obsession with Magic Treehouse. She has declared that she wants to have a Magic Treehouse birthday. We play Jack and Annie regularly. I totally rescind my initial reservation with the series. It may not be the most proper language but if it captivates my daughter and encourages her to investigate history then who am I to argue. At least there is no misinformation in the text that would need to be countered later. Right now, Froggy's favorite is Ghost Town at Sundown. She reads and rereads it over and over.

Our favorite picture of the week is The Real True Dulcie Campbell. I love it. It took many many readings by Froggy before I was allowed to read it with her. Dulcie lives on farm with her family. She decides she is a princess and her real name is Dulcinea. Her family wishes her well as she goes off to search for her "real true" family. In the castle (her own barn) she discovers that, compared to the stories in her book (one princess is made to wear rags and sleep in the ashes, another is locked in a tower by a witch), her life might not be so bad after all. She returns home to a wonderfully realistic welcome from her family complete with caustic marks from her brother.
This week we welcomed a new American Girl, Felicity into our lives. Rebecca is an old time friend at the Landing. It was a joy to welcome Felicity and a new time period into our lives. We have visited Mount Vernon and read Revolutionary War on Wednesday. Yet Froggy was not understanding the time period. We have talked about the colonies as part of our map study. Meeting Felicity is helping pull the concepts together as well as adding a new friend to our lives.

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

Thursday, July 29

Geography - The United States

Having finished our North America map study, we started the United States. This is now our second week. The first week, Froggy could not label any states (which was expected). We chose states to label based on the names that Froggy knew. She would tell me a state name, I showed it to her on the Almanac and then she found it on her unlabeled Map.

This week, we again started with the blank map. However this time Froggy was able to name six states without looking at the Almanac. She labeled her state and Zoe's (her "big girl" friend) state as well as Jack and Annie's (Magic Treehouse) state. Then she added in West Virginia because "it used to be part of Virignia" Then she added Alaska and Hawaii. Every state she labels needs to a descriptor that she recites as she labels them.Once she could no longer add states on her own I helped her. We labeled our destination for our upcoming trip and all the states we would travel through. Then we labeled Laura Ingalls states (Wisconsin -for Little House in the Big Woods and Kansas for Little House on the Praire) We also drew their path between the two. We labeled the new states in a different color to show that they are new.

Tuesday, July 27

Carnival of Homeschooling

The latest Carnival of Homeschooling is up. Each week the carnival pulls together some great articles from around the blogosphere on all sorts of homeschooling topics. Check it out and tell me which is your favorite article or tip.

I loved the article on music education and needed the reminders in the math article

Goodbye Italy

This week marks our third and final visit to Italy for the summer. First we visited Venice, then Florence and now we conclude with a trip to Rome and the Pantheon.

This week we focused on the architecture. The whole trip was a bit of a let down and disappointing given that it is the final week for us (we are out of town for the 4th and final offering). The docent was different this time than the last two times. She was very animated and the children loved her. I felt that she was much more condescending and talked down to them. She explained how architecture is a kind of art, just like painting and sculpting. She explained how even little people can be architects with blocks and clay and other substances.

And then finally came the fun part. We read Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty. It was an endearing story of one boy's struggles to express his passion in face of a dictatorial teacher. Unfortunately the fun verse format was lost in the inserted commentary of the docent. Luckily the artistic renderings of David Roberts are truly fantastic and invite you to explore further.

After the story instead of being given clay or any building material, the children were asked to color the Pantheon like the painting of the Pantheon they had seen. It was a disappointment. Froggy loved coloring and had a blast but we came home and became our own architects with Legos.

Sunday, July 25

What We Are Reading

So I am a little late this week. I have an excuse. We have had the grandparents in for a whirlwind visit. It has been tons of fun sorting clothes and cooking and swapping stories. But it does mean that I have done much less reading to Froggy as well as listening to Froggy read as Grandma fills the role instead.

Froggy is fascinated with Magic Treehouse right now. We currently have 7 different ones checked out from the library because the 3 I checked out last week did not last. She takes them to bed with her, in the car, everywhere. She rereads them and then still chooses them for us to read to her at bedtime. The best part of having an independent reader is snuggling and still getting to do my own reading.

We also did lots of other reading this week. Both our science and art studies involvedsome fantastic books that we came back to again and again after "study time" was over. I am cherishing this reading together time as it dwindles away. Froggy much prefers to read to herself now and loves to come and share what happened in the stories after she reads them.

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

Sunday Science - Blood Isn't Blue

One of the main reasons I chose to homeschool is to be able to answer my child's questions when they happen rather than relying on someone else. Froggy was looking at my inner forearm at lunch and asked about the blue lines. Daddy piped in with what he believed the reason was "It is because the blood in your veins is blue"

Excuse me? Are you kidding me? How the heck did you get all through school still believing this misconception. I tried to correct him on the spot but he was confident that he was correct.

Mommy quickly takes it upon herself to educate both her people. I looked and looked to try to find an experiment that would show her but nothing visual displaced Daddy's myth since his explanation came with an reason why the blood turned red when you cut yourself. "Because it is exposed to oxygen"

Instead we focused on how art is different from science. We made tracks around the house using the gumball track design from No Time For Flashcards. Did the ball change on the track? Does your blood change in your veins?

We read lots of science books hoping the idea would sink in. The favorite was definitely Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body. We also read a couple of really good books that focused more on the circulatory. Blood by Anna Sandeman was an amazing book with lots of information but with its "purply-red" description of the blood in veins only helped perpetuate the misconception. Blood does not change colors as it goes through the system. The Circulatory System by Conrad J. Storad was much more useful. The pictures were real pictures rather than drawings for the most part. When there were drawings they were accurate and simple. The text was informative yet simple, lots of learning opportunities without being overwhelming.

In the end I think two more people now understand that blood is never really blue no matter how it is drawn in pictures.

Tuesday, July 20

Gold in Florence

I have to say I love where I live. Being so close to the Nation's Capitol and all these free wonderful museums makes homeschooling on a budget super easy.

Froggy fell in love with Art recently after hating from birth. Isn't this auspicious timing? So I am having a vacation from planning, preparing and doing while both Froggy and I are having a great time learning Art History, Art Technique, Geography and History.

This week was week two of our tour of Italy. I cannot say enough good things about this program. Every little detail is thought of in advance to make the experience as meaningful and fun as possible. We had the same docent for our visit as last week. This week we visited Florence although we learned/saw very about the city. The focus was on the artist and the techniques he used. We read A Boy Named Giotto and learned not only of his amazing life stories but the interesting techniques he used to create his masterpieces. The story was much longer than one would typically find being read to a group of 4-7yr olds. Yet the docent did a great job with it and there was little wiggling or disruption. There was so much neat stuff to learn about his life. After the story came the neat stuff. We got to see all the steps that go into creating such a unique work of art, from prepping the wood (not canvas as we expected) to drawing the outline, to painting and laying the special base for the foil. We also got to see the pigment powders he used and learn how he mixed his own paints.
After seeing the steps he took, Froggy made her own art work. No unfortunately the children did not get to work with real gold foil for obvious reasons. They did a scratch art which simulated the technique and at least let them use a stylus.The docent explained the technique prior to moving to the "art table" emphasizing how important pressure is. You have to push hard enough to leave a mark but too hard and you go through. Different amounts of pressure leave different types of marks. The key to a varied and interesting piece is control, a perfect learning experience but something very difficult for Froggy. I was a bit concerned but as you an see she really got into it.We were late to meet friends for lunch because she did not want to stop working. We continued the exploration at home with a couple of new books from the library. Froggy is all about maps these days and wanted to know more about Italy so we picked up Italy in Pictures. It is dense with lots of information but will be a great reference for the rest of our journey. We also got Discovering Great Artists because it has a neat project where we got to make pigments the way Giotto did.

Monday, July 19

Menu Planning Monday - Grandparents

The highlight from last week was the chicken Parmesan. It was an amazing success and remarkably simple. The grandparents arrive this week which means we will be having some fun with the menu. Having Grandma here means I have help in the kitchen. It also means desserts every night.

Sunday - Chicken nuggets, tator tots and carrot wheels
Monday - Pasta with homemade sauce using tomatoes fresh from our garden, garlic bread and salad
Tuesday - Mommy meeting -Tuna Burgers, kernel corn, salad
Wednesday - Mommy meeting - Pulkogi, rice, keem, sauteed asparagus, chocolate cake
Thursday - Vietnamese Rolls and peach crisp with homemade peach icecream
Friday - Shabbat Under The Stars - The Shul is having a family picnic dinner and I am singing with the folk group. Challah Cold Barbecue(homemade sauce-recipe below) chicken, potato salad, fruit salad and cookies

Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 2 tablespoons hot dry mustard, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cumin, ground
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • Directions

    Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

    Cool, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

    This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in a covered container.

    Sunday, July 18

    Science Sunday- Sinkers

    We took a break from our nature study to do a fun experiment. I collected a variety of items from around the house to see which ones would sink or float.

    First I had Froggy go through the items and sort them based on her guess as to which would sink and float.
    Then we tested each item one by one and placed it in the appropriate location. We got a few surprises. Two of her figurines floated. We even went back and got more figures to see if we could determine a difference between the floaters and the sinkers. We could not. There was no distinguishable difference. Ones for the exact same collection were in both categories. It was not quite the experiment I had hoped for.
    Still we persevered. We looked at why the balled bread sunk while the slice floated. We talked about density.
    After the experiment we continued the study with some fun reading. We pulled back out one of our favorite series Magic School Bus, Ups and Downs: A Book about Floating and Sinking. and a Rookie Reader What is Density?

    I'm linking this post in with the Science Sunday link-up, at Adventures in Mommydom, where you can find more fun with science.

    Friday, July 16

    What We Are Reading

    It's official Froggy loves the Magic Treehouse series. As a general rule, we do not reread chapter books. Yet more than once now Froggy has requested that we reread a Magic Treehouse book to her. She would probably accept new ones instead but we go through them so quickly and with it being summer the supply at the library is critically low so we end up rereading. For now, I do much of the rereading because Froggy claims she cannot/is not reading them. Yet she sits with them slowly going through them page by page with her eyes following every single word. Apparently in the world of Froggy, it is not really reading unless you use your voice.

    We discovered a wonderful new chapter book, The Birchbark House that somehow I missed reading while I was young. Froggy's aunt brought it when she came to visit. We have been reading it together and both enjoying it immensely. It is set on an island in Lake Superior during the Westward Expansion. Unlike many other childrens' books set in this time, this one is told from the Native American perspective. It is well-researched and shows many of the customs and rituals of the culture. It is a great read-aloud book as long as you don't mind struggling with pronunciation. Omakayas, the main character is seven years old but as with children of that time seems much older than the seven year olds of today. We have enjoyed comparing how she spends her day and the responsibilities and privileges she has with those of Froggy and her friends. It is a good comparison for when Froggy is in a complaining mood.

    On a lighter note, we have also been reading Boy Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs. We picked it up based on a recommendation from Monkey See Monkey Do. It took Froggy a while to warm up to the book when we first brought it home but once she gave it a chance she was captivated. The whole family has learned some amazing things about how our perceptions of dinosaurs have changed over time.

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

    Wednesday, July 14

    Geography - North America Wrap Up

    We finally finished our North America map study this week. We worked on adding the Caribbean countries. It was great timing since we had just read Pirates Past Noon which is set in the Caribbean. We talked about being an island nation vs having borders with other countries.

    This is the last week of North America. Does that mean that Froggy could completely label all the countries by herself or tell you everything there is to know about them? Not even vaguely. But that was not my objective. We will spend a few of years circling the globe with our map study and then return to the beginning. It will just be another part of our spiraling curriculum like history and science. She know significantly more about maps, the differences between a country and a state. And she can tell you many of the countries of North America and locate them on the map. For a rising kindergartner, that meets all my objectives and then some.

    Monday, July 12

    A Trip to Venice

    We took a trip today as Froggy would say "in our imaginations" to Venice. We participated in the Stories in Art program at the National Gallery of Art. It was an incredible experience.

    The journey started in one gallery where the docent read Gaspard on Vacation to an entranced audience of approximately 20 children. In the story Gaspard goes on vacation to VeniceThey visit museum, after museum, after museum. Bored, Gaspard spots a red kayak in the canal and takes off in it heading down the waterways. But Gaspard is far from being an experienced kayaker and crashes into a gondola, which causes its occupants to land headfirst in the canal. Frightened, he runs and hides in a church. But the police arrive, reunite Gaspard with his family and they all head off to a restaurant to have "the best spaghetti in the world."

    After the story, the children began their "vacation in Venice." The docent led them to a different gallery where they viewed The Entrance to the Grand Canal from the Molo, Venice by Giovanni Antonio Canal better known as Canaletto. The docent guided the children as the "jumped into the painting and traveled to Venice" While there, the children visited the market, the passport office and took a gondola ride. Since Canaletto painted many of his works specifically to be souvenirs for visitors to Venice, it made the perfect platform for this venture.

    After the "trip", the children went to the atrium which had been set up specifically for their use. They were given matted black line drawings of a close up of one section of Canaletto's painting and oil pastels and free license to create their own masterpieces. The only guidance they were given was in the unique qualities of oil pastels, how they can be blended and smeared and the different types of effects they can make. Some of the children created full masterpieces. Froggy did not but I was thrilled no the less. This is the very first time we have ever been in a group art / craft setting where she did not want to stop long before every one else. She was focused and intent on her creation for the entire time. She mixed and blended colors. She smudged and smeared the pastels to see the effects. Unfortunately she decided it needed to be stormy and covered much of this experimentation with black so it does not show in the final piece.

    Menu Planning Monday - Do Over

    I am not sure we had a single thing off the menu this past week. We ate out way too much. Part of it was having company in. Part of it was the terrible heat wave we have been having. Part of it was Hubby's stress at work.

    So this week we are going to try again. Please excuse the repeats. Froggy and I have a very full schedule during the day so it is critical that we be home for dinner to give her some down time before swim practice (and thus avoid meltdowns)

    Sunday - Sloppy Joes, tatortots and peas- bake cookies for Swim team
    Monday - Jenn's White Fish (recipe below), green beans, rice and keem
    Tuesday - Chicken parmesan, noodles and Salad
    Wednesday - Leftover Buffet
    Thursday -Burgers Corn and green beans
    Friday - Challah Pot Roast mashed potatoes, broccoli, chocolate cake
    Saturday - Dinner at Birthday party (yes really same as last week only this time it is a different party)

    Friday, July 9

    Birthday Traditions

    Birthdays are special here. They always have been and always will be. And yet I still like to change things up.

    So with my birthday this year, I added a new tradition for our family. I was inspired by a little tagline our rabbi says to the children on the bima when they come up to get their birthday buttons, "May you do one more mitzvot in the coming year that you were not able to do the year before."

    I talked to my husband about my thoughts for awhile before my birthday because I needed him to accept the idea and want it or it would not work for the family. Froggy is still little and learning and doing new mitzvot all the time. But for the grownups it means something more and different.

    At my birthday dinner, I reminded Froggy of the rabbi's comment and explained the new tradition to her. and I announced the new mitzvot I wanted to keep this year. I want to seperate Challah according to Halachic law. Since Froggy was born, we have been keeping Shabbat and making Challah from scratch when home. But still this mitzvah seemed to big and foreign and scary to me. Yet now I want to embrace it.

    So today properly armed with the blessing taped inside my cabinet above the mixer, I go off to make and separate Challah for the very first time.

    Shabbat Shalom - May your Sabbath rest bring peace to you and yours.

    What We Are Reading - Even Mommy

    According to the experts, one of the best ways to foster a love for reading is to let your child see you enjoy reading and reading frequently. That has been lacking in our house. Both my husband and I read quite a bit but we do so on our blackberries with e-books. This does not look like reading to Froggy.

    When I was taking classes, she would see me reading my schoolwork but did not see any enjoyment.

    Now that I am not taking any classes that require reading, I have begun to feel my brain stagnant from all the fluffy fiction which is all I have on my blackberry. So I picked up a paper book from my to read pile and I am enjoying it quite a bit. What makes it most enjoyable is the thought provoking nature of this kind of book.

    I am reading The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. It is a Jewish parenting guide. Unlike the other Jewish books by female authors in my house, this one is not so observant that it fails to be relevant to my life. The author came from a non-observant background and has conquered many of the questions I now struggle with. She offers insights for some of the big problems I am facing and because she is Jewish words them in language I can use. She offers reasons both secular and theological for choices I had made on instinct without real justification. I will share more thoughts on the book in specific as they develop. What are you reading? Does your child get to see you enjoying reading?

    Usually Froggy's favorites are books from the library but this week she pulled out an old classic, Debbie in Dreamland from her bookshelf and has requested it over and over. It is a collection of stories about Debbie and her pet parrot Tuki. Froggy loves Debbie's unique take on all of the holidays. Written in 1960, the illustrations are very much representative of that time-frame. The stories are classic though and the language is wonderful.

    We also met Cam Jansen this week. Our library has some in the Early Reader section that Froggy can read independently. We chose The Young Cam Jansen and the Dinosaur Game as our introductory book. This series is perfect for Froggy on a vocabulary level but pushes her and challenges her on overall length which to me is a plus.

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

    Thursday, July 8

    Back to the Book

    We use Singapore Math as our Math text. However, we have been on hiatus from the book for a while to do some review with basic addition and subtraction. We were rushing through the book and not practicing enough so out came the white board and some basic drill.

    It was not fun for Froggy but it was a necessary and successful break.

    Now it is time to move forward again. We have returned to the book with renewed interest and enthusiasm. We are working on adding three numbers at a time.

    Returning to the book though does not mean that the whiteboard has retired. We are still drilling on prior concepts. Since we (theoretically) do Math six days a week, our week plan looks like the following.

    Sunday - new lesson in the textbook
    Monday - Wednesday Workbook pages corresponding to lesson
    Thursday and Friday - Whiteboard.

    I may end up alternating workbook pages with whiteboard review to keep the interest alive. Also the multiple days of workbook and whiteboard leave me space to miss a day when school does not happen.

    Wednesday, July 7

    Geography - Central America again

    We missed a couple weeks of Geography study while on vacation and having company. We finally were able to return. Froggy was able to identify the big countries of North America to the point of correctly labeling their borders which are not clear on her map. Unfortunately she could not add any of the Central American countries that we did the last time.

    So as per the Charlotte Mason technique, we just labeled them again as if they were new. During this pass, Froggy actually found the country on the large map and told me the name to write on her map and where. It is an amazing transformation. We talked about neighbors and who touches who and how many neighbors different countries have. Again I colored the Central America countries but Froggy colored the larger countries in North America.

    Tuesday, July 6

    Markers Make You Lazy

    I heard this from a friend of mine at the playground this week. When said like that to a 5 yr old, it does not make much sense. But she is right in the underlying concepts that prompted her statement. Markers are much easier to draw/color with and do not use anywhere near as much muscle energy or strength as crayons.

    Froggy's OT tried to have Froggy color with crayons to build her strength but the process was so hard and overwhelming that she switched to markers. The plan was to build strength and confidence and then move to crayons.

    It is working. Froggy has turned a corner. It started when we went to the beach for vacation. To help her get through long car drives, she always gets a present at the beginning of the drive (sometimes with other little surprises during the drive as well). Well for this trip I pulled an untouched dot to dot book that she had been gifted ages ago and a unopened box of crayons to present her. She loved it and it kept her occupied for most of the 4 hour drive. The crayons unfortunately melted in the car and were replaced by markers.

    Just getting her to put a crayon in her hand and to paper by herself had been a challenge and now she coloring every time she gets in the car. At first she would only outline or follow the numbers but now she is actually coloring an area. She loves to color now. For our trip to the beach in late September, she will get another coloring book and box of crayons and the markers will be retired. But for now I am loving the markers even if they are the "lazy" version of coloring.

    Monday, July 5

    Swim Team Mid Season Review

    Froggy loves swimming and is very proud of being a part of the Fearsome Frogs. Froggy is hanging in there at swim team despite some very mixed feedback. Many time she tells me that she does not want to go or that she is going to just play. I have explained to her many many times that she can quit whenever she wants but that if she stays she must do her best. It is not fair to her teammates to go and not do her best. Every time I offer to let her quit she redoubles her efforts and demands to go back.

    We went to the swimming pool as a family on Shabbat afternoon. When we got there Froggy would not even get in the pool at first. She warmed up to the adventure and had a blast. While we were there Froggy said "I know this is not swim team but can we please pretend that it is and practice?" To me that is a real sign that she loves it and is dedicated to the team.

    I guess it is time to seriously consider a year round team.

    Menu Planning Monday

    Menu Planning is really important because it helps us not eat out anywhere near as much. We already eat out way too much as it is. Yet I hate it. My family is fairly amenable and eats what I put in front of them without complaint and still I hate it. I hate trying to come up with new ideas. I hate serving the same thing all the time. I hate thinking about food as much as I do.

    Do you get the impression I am not enjoying this process? It has been very hard lately because of swimming and because of the heat. I am working on making a master menu so that I can do monthly planning but for now I only have fifteen items so we are still working on it.

    Sunday - Picnic at the 4th Celebration - Cold Fried Chicken (make chicken noodle soup for Hiranu for lunches)
    Monday - Jenn's White Fish (recipe below), green beans, rice and keem
    Tuesday - Pizza and Salad
    Wednesday - Dinner Out - Froggy and Mommy only
    Thursday - Sloppy Joes, tatortots and peas- bake cookies for Swim team
    Friday - Challah Pot Roast mashed potatoes, broccoli, chocolate cake
    Saturday - Dinner at Birthday party

    Jenn's White Fish Recipe
    Mix some mayo with lemon pepper and spread over frozen fish(we use tilapia). Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan (bout 1/4 c each) and sprinkle over fish. toss in oven and bake at 425 for roughly 25 min. Enjoy.

    Friday, July 2

    Parsha Pinchas

    One of the wonderful blogs I read (I wish I could remember which one) recommended Challah Crumbs which has activities and crafts to go with each parsha. Since getting Froggy to do any craft is a serious but necessary challenge and I wanted something to spice up our weekly parsha study which has not yet made the transition out of the preschool style this was the perfect answer.

    This week, we studied Parsha Pinchas which offers one of the far too few opportunities to celebrate the women of the our history. In Pinchas, we meet the five daughters of Tzelafchad: Machlah, No'ah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah whose names I would not even know without Challah Crumbs as neither of our study books mention them. When Tzelafchad dies, these daughters petition Moses to grant them their father’s inheritance since he had no sons. Their request is ultimately rewarded and they become models of initiative and wisdom.

    To honor them and remind Froggy that there are lots of women in our history as well as the men she constantly hears about, we made a Sister Chain. The project was a tremendous hit. It took almost an hour for Froggy to decorate the dolls yet she stuck with it and stayed interested the whole time. Those who follow our art troubles will really how amazing that truly is.

    I prepared the dolls in advance. Five is a hard number for paper dolls and I had to cut though out from two sheets and add the last sister with tape.
    Froggy cut out dresses for them and put hair on them. She really thought about what clothes to give to which sister. It was so cute. I gave them their faces under her direction.

    And every sister was dressed in her own clothes and ready to sing and dance.
    She was so proud of her work that she had to take it with her on her adventures all day. She will remember Machlah, No'ah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah now and we can honor their initiative.