Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Week of Learning

We had another really good week (I don't think there is such a thing as a bad week!). Here's a synopsis of what we did:

TEFILLAH (prayer)
We are now up to doing modeh ani, negel vasser, reishit chochmah, tzitzit, torah tziva, mah tovu, adon olam, torah berachos, shema, een kelokeinu. The last two weeks, we did a special focus on clearly enunciating the words of mah tovu.

IVRIT (Hebrew)
We're cranking away on Rosetta Stone. We're in the last chapter of Shalom Ivrit. Eli is doing a set of books called Otiyot Step by Step and loves doing it. Amirah helps him out and we do it together. We also read at least one short story each day in Hebrew. This past week we also had our first Amirah-initiated conversation in Hebrew that was outside our usual Hebrew time. She looked outside and said (in Hebrew), "It's cold outside. It's raining." Mama: "Do you want your hat?" Amirah: "Yes, mama I want my hat." She was thrilled to use it this way. I'm looking forward to more and more of this.

MITZVA (commandment) OF THE WEEK: brit milah (Abraham circumcised himself and the members of his household in this week's parsha). That one was an interesting discussion!

MELACHA (work prohibited on shabbat) OF THE WEEK: choresh (plowing). A melacha is something we can't do on shabbat. Everything connected to building the mishkan are the things we can't do on shabbat. Plowing is the first step towards making bread, so plowing is issur (prohibited). Fun to talk about plowing, in light of all the plowing we've been reading about in the Little House books! We were already quite familiar with the idea. :)

MIDDAH (character trait) OF THE WEEK: bitachon. There is faith in Hashem (emunah) and there is bitachon. Bitachon goes much deeper than just believing God exists and that he is omnipotent. A person with bitachon has absolute certainty that God is actively protecting us from harm and seeking out what is in our best interest. This trust itself is what generates God's protection. In other words, "Think good, and it will become good." Abraham is one of our best examples of bitachon, especially when he challenged the norms of his day and did not question God when God told him to leave that place and go to a not-yet-disclosed location, with all of his family in tow.

We start with reading My First Parsha Reader to get an overview (and for the sake of the littles!). Then we read directly from the torah in a mixture of Hebrew and English one aliyah per day (one-seventh of the parsha for the week), along with the appropriate commentary from The Little Midrash Says. I started to become concerned that Amirah would not realize which stories were from the chumash (five books of torah) and what stories were midrash (oral rabbinic tradition passed on by Moshe, but equally binding). Dean suggested doing them in different locations. So I think we'll read the chumash at the learning table, and then read the midrash stories on the couch. I think that was a great suggestion.

We're on lesson 63 of 100! We should finish the book around Channukah.

We got the first grade book for Handwriting Without Tears. She wasn't into writing too much last week, so we only did a couple of pages. Good enough! :) We are doing a lot of oral spelling and she likes that a lot. I'm also giving her a word or two per day based on what sound combinations we've learned in our reading lesson. That has worked pretty well too.

She loves math. We're doing addition and subtraction with all numbers between 0 and 10. I just love the way Singapore Math teaches concepts. I hope we continue to enjoy it this much. Eli is really liking his math book too. The one challenge is having them do math at the same time. Since they're so young, they both need a lot of help. Sometimes I feel like a corner of each mouth belongs to each child and sometimes I have to talk out of two corners at once. Not sure how to do it differently. I don't want to stretch out our day at all.

We read about how the earth is our home, and our house is our home, and how not everyone actually has a house (or something) for a home. Then we talked about our house, our street, our city, our state, our country, our continent, our planet, our solar system, and our galaxy. That was fun! We spent quite a bit of time poring over maps. Then Amirah asked me to show her where Poor Knights Island was. I had no idea, but we found it off the coast of New Zealand. She said they have special warm currents there that bring in all kinds of food from the ocean and many, many different species live there. I learn something new every day! Then she wanted to know if her aunt and uncle and cousins had gone there when they lived in New Zealand. (So did you, SE?) :)

Didn't do too much other stuff. We were distracted in the afternoons by doctor appointments (Avi, 1-year-appt; then later all of us for flu shots). Eli had an awful experience with shots to numb his thumb a couple of months ago. He was so anxious about his flu shot that he threw up all over the floor. :( He's supposed to get two shots, but I'm not going to do that to him again. At least he'll get partial immunity. I'll take Avi and Raizel back for their second shot, though.

The rest of the afternoons were taken by thinking (freaking) about the house and decluttering. We got a LOT done on Friday and Monday. Still a lot to do, but we've made a substantial dent. Hoping to have that all done in a couple more weeks so we can move on to fixing up the house. I don't have a spare moment so we're going to pay someone to help us sell stuff. The kids have been great during this fury of decluttering, so I want to make tomorrow afternoon all play.

Oh, and don't worry, JY, the bookshelves still have plenty of books. We just got rid of the riff-raff. :)

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