Monday, February 1, 2016

Creation to the Greeks: Week 4

Monday morning came and none of us wanted to get up. It was cold outside. And the blankets were so warm and cozy.  So we started off our day with some reading in bed!


Once we finally moseyed on downstairs, Miss M built a couple pyramids -- a triangular-base pyramid and this square-base pyramid.


Not to be left out, Mister E also built a pyramid, only his was done in Minecraft.  The thing I love best about this is that even though we talked about the Great Pyramids of Egypt being built on a square base, Mister E didn't really get that until he tried building one of his own. He figured out through trial and error that you can't build a "perfect pyramid" with a rectangular base. It must be square.


We read about Menes uniting Upper and Lower Egypt into one kingdom and the kids put on a little reenactment.  I made the red and white crowns, but the rest of their ensembles were entirely their own doing!


First grade math always looks like fun and games!  I gave Mister E a pile of Unifix cubes in different lengths and he put them in order from smallest to largest. Then his pencil had to "climb the steps."


In art, Miss M put to use her line and ellipse practice and drew a sweet little worm named Wally. She also copied Paul Cezanne's quote: "Pleasure must be found in study."


While Miss M was working on her own, Mister E and I skedaddled off to the kitchen to whip up something tasty.  It was Dozen Day and we needed a dozen sweet treats!


After digging around in the cupboard, we settled on something really quick and easy -- chocolate covered pretzels!  Mister E was able to do this almost entirely by himself.


Once the pretzels had cooled, he counted out twelve of them and arranged them on a plate. Then he posed for me and shouted, "ONE DOZEN!" (If you look at the word "dozen" too long it starts to look really strange. Do. Zen. Doz. En. Doze. N. Ahhhh!)


Meet Ibon, Miss M's parakeet. We have had Ibon since before Mister E was born.  Ibon is a grouch. For many years we called him a "he," but it turns out "he" is a "she."  She is a crotchety old thing that doesn't really like people.  But Miss M adores her.  Ever since we moved and Miss M got her own room, Ibon has had her cage in Miss M's room.  Miss M even lets Ibon fly around from time to time. Her constant prattle and love for the bird has finally had an impact and Ibon is now much friendlier than ever before.  This week Ibon came and visited our "classroom."  Miss M was just delighted to have her perching on her finger!


Phonics lessons are not Mister E's favorite, but most days he executes them with a good attitude anyway. 


Writing class!  Once a week or so we get together with another family for Writing Strands lessons.  These two girls are peas in a pod and they are always coming up with the most zany, harebrained notions for their assignments. It is never dull!  (I believe in the latest story, Miss M was described as sounding "like a kangaroo in distress.")


When you are supposed to built a reed boat and it's the middle of winter, there is no tall grass or reeds to be had, what do you do?  You buy a cheap corn broom, that's what!  Disassembling a broom can be quite a mess, but it does turn out a nice replica of an Egyptian reed boat.



While Miss M was busy building a boat, Mister E was busy exploring the "Egyptian sand."  He built a sand pyramid, buried a poor Lego man and marked him with X, and unearthed a giant scarab beetle.  When he found out this was part of school, he laughed and said, "But it's fun!"


Friday was a rare gorgeous day in the middle of winter. We made the most of it by going outside for some of our lessons, even some of our book work.  Here's Miss M perched atop the picnic table finishing up her math lesson.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Creation to the Greeks: Week 3

We had another wonderful week learning about what happened to Noah and his family after the Flood, and about Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent.


On Monday we learned how to make a quick sketch of the Bible Lands using the silly sentence, "E.T. purrs in the red nile med."  The kids thought this was hilarious and really enjoyed their newfound map drawing abilities.  I even found tiny Bible Lands drawn on some math pages this week.


We worked together to craft a summary of Noah for their notebooks. I wrote it for Mister E's and Miss M typed hers on the computer, printed it out, and pasted it on. I think I own every reproducible Bible times coloring book out there. The kids love picking out a picture to color while I read to them.


Mister E said Noah got really dirty while building the ark, that's why he colored so much dirt on him. And his skin was brown because he worked outside in the sun so much that he got "toasted.



We added another Greek root word to our line: "photos" which means "light."  We had lots of fun talking about derivative words and making up a few of our own!  We are all having so much fun with this! Even Mister E who is not officially joining us for the roots is having fun remembering what they all mean.


My Father's World typically starts out the school year with a handwriting review of a couple letters per day for the first couple weeks.  We got a late start because the book I ordered from Rainbow Resource didn't get shipped out till the day we started. (They were doing warehouse inventory and I missed the ordering deadline by mere hours!)  Instead of doing a couple letters a day, she's been doing just one letter, lowercase and capital, per day, so it is going to take her longer than prescribed for her to complete the review. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the book is Cursive Connections. I love that they give you permission to make photocopies for use within your own family or classroom!


Miss M is almost done with her current unit in her math book, and the next unit is going to be calculations with fractions.  In anticipation of that, I have been really drilling her on her basic multiplication facts.  On Thursday we played a simple card game. It requires a deck of cards with all face cards and 10s removed. Each player draws four cards, arranges them as two digit numbers and multiples them together. Whoever has the highest number gets a point. The player with the most points when the deck is done is the winner. Miss M kept drawing low end cards, so I ended up winning, but the point was to get her practicing her math facts and in that sense she was definitely a winner!


Although we are using Singapore Math, I exchanged a series of emails with Maria Miller of Math Mammoth this week in the course of which she shared with me an amazing resource!  The Game That Is Worth 1,000 Worksheets is aptly titled and very simple to implement. It seems it would work *best* if you have kids who can play amongst themselves, but can also be done with one parent and one student.  I think I will pick up a couple extra decks of playing cards the next time I'm at the dollar store and make up a set of "math cards."


I can't remember how it happened, but somehow we didn't get in one of our art lessons this week, so we'll have to play catch-up next week.  We did, however, draw "An Independent Study of Ellipses" by going around the house and sketching anything we could find that was comprised of ellipses. It was fun, and I was seriously impressed with Miss M's work! I have never seen her draw like that before!


Mister E is still somewhat resistant to drawing, so he didn't join in the ellipse activity, but he did the next lesson with us which was copying various images.  He did very well!

I have never in my life bought refrigerated sugar cookie dough. I have a tried and true recipe that I have used for years, since long before I ever got married or had kids.  But...in the midst of homeschooling, mixing up a batch of sugar cookie dough just seemed like a pain, so I opted for convenience and bought a tube of Pillsbury which was the only brand that didn't say "processed in a facility that also processes peanuts and other tree nuts."  I'm telling you, that simple choice made this project so fun and painless!


After learning about cuneiform writing, the ancient script of the Sumerians (though not the oldest writing system as they once thought -- something I learned this week!), we all headed upstairs to inscribe some "clay tablets" with important messages.  Using sugar cookie dough and the tips of spoons, the kids wrote their initials.  I made sure to take pictures before they went into the oven, because by the time they came out, the markings were much too faint to read any longer. This was a fun and tasty exercise and one that the kids will remember for a long time!


In science we continued learning about light.  We learned more about how light is reflected, about why we can see ourselves when we look into a mirror (and not at a white piece of paper). We even pulled out the microscope quickly to take a closer look at a piece of paper.  But our favorite activity of the week was making a CFL lightbulb glow (in a dark room) just by waving a balloon over the top of it.  Really, if you are ever bored, you've got to give it a try!  It was a demonstration of the Law of Energy Conservation: Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be converted from one form to another.


We ended our week with an out-of-season celebration of Rosh Hashanah.  I followed the menu and recipes from the curriculum pretty much exactly. (I did use raw carrot sticks instead of the honey glazed carrots because I personally cannot stand cooked carrots, but I love raw ones).


Miss M found some Rosh Hashanah crafts in a book from the library, so she set herself the task of making some decorations for our table -- a paper plate "apple" and a plastic cup "flower" complete with pipe cleaner bumblebee!


She worked together with her brother to create a crown for our globe to remind us on this special day that God is the King of the Universe.


The honey cake turned out wonderfully!  I used the second one as Hubby's birthday cake.  Happy 40th birthday, dear!  I'm also pretty sure everyone ate cake for breakfast on Sunday morning.  Shhh, don't tell! Leftovers are being stored in a large cookie tin. I just love the old-fashionedness of storing baked goods in tins!


You can't properly celebrate Rosh Hashanah without a gorgeous loaf of challah!  Miss M did a wonderful job braiding hers herself, didn't she? 


I used my bread machine to mix the dough, as usual.  And the recipe in the book is so similar to my Country Buttermilk Bread recipe, that this time I just used it , subbing plain water for the buttermilk.  I only made the switch because I know my recipe fits my machine -- the other recipe was a wee bit too large.  We sprinkled both loaves with sesame and poppy seeds.  Delicious!

This week we will continue blowing the shofar at the start of each day.  Our celebration of Yom Kippur is going to arrive a little early though -- just one week later instead of 10 days.  I guess that's what happens when you're just learning and celebrating out of season, right?

We are looking forward to Week 4 where the kids will be introduced to the Ancient Egyptians for the first time.  I sure hope they like it, because we are going to be camped out in Ancient Egypt for quite a few weeks!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Creation to the Greeks: Week 2

Looking back on our second week of school this year, I see that we have become a little more comfortable with the process. Our days are proceeding more smoothly; we are transitioning from one subject to the next with less fumbling; and we are able to tighten up our schedule somewhat.  That's a good thing because even though we had fun last week, each day seemed to take forever!


Mister E is pretty resistant to the increased workload of first grade versus kindergarten.  He's not very gung-ho about writing or worksheets or reading books. (He already knows how to read quite well, just doesn't choose to spend his time doing so).



Since he's only six, I am trying to keep things pretty light. My main goal for him this year is to improve his handwriting, so I try to give him lots of fine motor activities.  Thankfully he loves Legos and spends quite a bit of time with those during his free time, so I know the fine motor skills will come up to par in time.


I borrowed an M&M pattern book from the library and bought a "shareable size" bag of M&Ms. That was, as you can imagine, quite a big hit with both kids.


While Mister E had was doing his M&M math, Miss M was busy with math of her own. Each day Monday through Thursday she drills basic math facts from one of the four operations.  Monday is addition; Tuesday is subtraction; Wednesday is multiplication; and Thursday is division. On Monday and Tuesday she used Wrap-ups on Wednesday and Thursday this week she used Fruit Ninja Academy: Math Master.  


Long division is not new to Miss M, but because of the holidays and the fact that her math lessons have been focused on other types of math lately, it's been a while since she actually did any long division. I wrote this silly mnemonic device on the marker board to help her remember the steps.  It was a hit, not only with her, but also with her little brother who walked in, read it, and dissolved into giggles.


When Miss M was practicing division by 10s and 100s, I explained that the answer is just like the original number, but with a zero or two knocked off. When I looked up, I discovered that she had drawn a cartoon with a stick figure picketing zeroes and the numerals 1 and 5 laughing at them!  Oh dear!

We continued learning about Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. Mister E thought it was really sad that Cain killed his brother and offered several things he could have done instead even though he was jealous of his brother.  (Even mamas like to color sometimes).


We also continued learning about the properties of light. This week we found out that light is radiant energy and that when it is absorbed by dark colors it does not vanish, but is transformed into thermal energy.  Here you can see our black and white trash bags laid over a small plant stand in the tiny bit of direct sunshine we had all week. The green bottle is just acting as a paperweight to hold everything in place. After five minutes the black plastic was noticeably warmer than the white.


We seemed to get in a lot of art and music this week!  We drew more lines, this time using them for shading and to sketch pencils and paint brushes.


We learned a little about Vivaldi and dug out Hubby's 25-year-old electric keyboard for the kids to practice on. Mister E figured out how to pick out the Godzilla Theme Song and practiced it daily!



Sometimes in the middle of lessons you just need a wiggle break. It's been much to cold to go out and play for long (not to mention the hassle of getting all bundled up!), so I put on some get-the-body-moving games using the Xbox.  We all three joined in a rousing round of Track & Field with Kinect Sports.  That'll get the heart pumping!


On Friday my mom came to visit, so we quickly pushed through our few lessons (we had bumped a few things from our Friday schedule to Thursday to be sure we had plenty of time to spend with Nana), and spent the rest of the day shopping for new colored pencils (which are apparently sold out all over Kansas City!) and making a shirt for the little girl Miss M and Nana sponsor through World Vision.  She's just the same age as Miss M and lives in the Philippines, so we created a pretty little tshirt with Proverbs 17:22 in Tagalog.  "A cheerful heart is good medicine." Mister E did not care to join us (he was busy with his music), but the other three of us each participated in making the artwork for the shirt using fabric crayons.



It was a great second week and we are looking forward to week three and our (out of season) celebration of Rosh Hashanah!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Creation to the Greeks: Week 1

While many families were back to school this week, for us it was also the start of an entirely new school year.  I always get excited to start afresh in new books with new material to cover, brand new pencils to sharpen, unspoiled new notebooks to write in.  But at the same time I always enter this phase of panic where I look at all the new stuff, the new schedule, and wonder how on earth I am going to manage to pull it off.  Of course, once I get started it's really not that bad. After all, you really only need to manage doing one thing at a time, and that's not nearly so difficult!
I think the hardest thing this week was getting used to waking up "early."  I tried to get everybody on a practice schedule our last week of vacation, but since Daddy was still home from work, nobody wanted to go to bed on time. They all stayed up late snuggling in blankets and watching movies or playing video games. I made sure to get myself in bed at a decent hour though, because if Mama can't get up in the morning it doesn't matter how early the kids get up!  Mister E is probably the lest ready to go early in the morning. He was Mr. Grumpy most of the week, but toward the end of the week (as he got used to the new schedule) he did a lot better. He said it himself: "Mom, I wasn't so grumpy today! I think I'm getting used to waking up."


A good portion of our lessons this week centered around the account of Creation in Genesis chapter 1. We read a little each day and talked about the different things God created. Hubby wants to be more involved in our lessons, so we have been reading the scheduled Bible passages the night before and then continuing that lesson first thing in the morning. This allows for some good family discussion time!


We also spent a little time every day preparing for our Sabbath Feast this weekend.  Miss M and I found a pair of solid brass candlesticks at the thrift store for 99-cents apiece. They were heavily encrusted with wax and badly tarnished, but some hot water and a little elbow grease soon solved that!


A piece of muslin cloth was transformed into our challah cover with some fabric crayons. Everybody helped! Mister E drew the goblet. Miss M drew the star and candles, and I drew the bread and wrote Sabbath (backwards, of course, because when you iron the image onto the cloth, it comes out in reverse).



We created a beautiful nature themed centerpiece with a glass mixing bowl, some river stones and pebbles, a few twigs from the backyard, water, vegetable oil, and some floating wicks. I got them at Hobby Lobby for just a couple dollars.  There were three -- one to represent us parents, and one each for the two children. All three burned oil from the same source representing the Lord.




We started Singapore Math 4A before ending our school year back in November, so we picked up where we left off which was at the start of learning about factors and multiples.



I added in some activities from the Singapore Home Instructors Guide that helped Miss M understand what factors and multiples are all about.  She learned some rules of divisibility and had a grand time solving some math riddles.  When math makes sense, it is a lot of fun!


Mister E's math is starting out gently with some simple exploration of pattern blocks and Unifix cubes, marking the date on the calendar, and working with numbers 1-4. It was an excellent way to ease into First Grade.


Our science text this year is Jay Wile's Science in the Beginning. This week's lessons were all about light. We "bounced" light with a mirror, learned how light allows us to see, and learned that white light is made up of the colors of the rainbow.



We had our first couple of art lessons, beginning with "A Lesson in Frustration" where we all tried to copy the butterfly by holding our pencils in our mouths!  Then we drew lines, plenty of lines.




Our Greek studies have been a hit too! All week long someone or other has been going around singing the Greek Alphabet. "Ah-ah-alpha. Buh-buh-beta.... Oo, oo, upsilon." It's great!


And last of all we spent our Friday and Saturday learning about Jewish history and culture by celebrating the Sabbath.    I followed the menu and recipes from our book and everything got rave reviews from the entire family.


We worked together to clean the whole house, prepare the meal, and set a "formal" table. As you can see, my table is so tiny that formal place settings pretty much take the entire table and leave no room for food! I quickly served everybody from the kitchen when we reached that point in the proceedings.  Only the bread was actually placed on the table.




Mister E was very pleased with his candlestick salad! He will take any excuse to eat a Maraschino cherry! And pineapple! 






Dessert was Brown Sugar Pie found here. I baked it a total of 90 minutes instead of what's listed and it turned out perfectly!


We all had an excellent week and we are looking forward to the coming week. (I have no idea what next week holds since I have not even peeked at the teacher's manual yet. Oops!)