Monday, August 29, 2011

Great Math Flashcard Website!

In the ongoing quest to find independent activities for Amirah and Eli to do, I stumbled on this website thanks to a recommendation from someone on the Well-Trained Mind forum. XtraMath starts with a diagnostic test on the addition math facts, then proceeds to create daily tests (fairly short!) tailored to the student's needs. I can log in as a parent and check their progress. I love it! And B"H so do they! At least it's been a hit for the past week.

I do wish there was an exercise that included getting acquainted with number geography on the computer keyboard. This greatly reduces their speed in answering the problems (which affects their score), but I'm sure they'll figure it out soon enough. It has no bells and whistles, just nice flashcards, with honest feedback (as in NOT over-the-top woohoo you're amazing!!). I'm very pleased and hoping it will really help Amirah who just cannot get those math facts in her head. It has really slowed us down this past year in math. But B"H we're learning al pi darko, so she can take the time to develop and learn at her pace instead of being rushed right ahead because she's in a new grade now. I am so grateful that each of their abilities can develop as they will without being held back or pushed forward artificially. This is absolutely the number one reason I homeschool.

Oh, and that Mennonite curriculum I tried for spelling and penmanship - BLEAH! The samples were much better than the real thing. I'll blog later b"n about what we're using in real life...

Good night!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Menu

Hooray! Shabbos! B"H! Woohoo!

For dinner:

super duper extra-fancy (really!) shabbos burgers
French fries
asparagus (to make it feel shabbosdik)
kiwi strawberry coconut sorbet

(Yes, that's it, there is no more, that's ALL!)

For lunch:

tilapia cakes with tofu sauce
antipasto plate (homemade olives, pepperoncini, roasted peppers, roasted zucchini and squash, roasted carrots, garden tomatoes, marinated mushrooms)
beef barley stew w/homemade kishke
turkey deli meat
taco salad

And for the afternoon:


Phew! What a week. Overall, had a great first week back at full-time learning. Everyone was very cooperative, no review time has been necessary for anything, and we're zooming along. Very satisfying and I think we all really like being back on our regular schedule.

Good shabbos, all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quote of the Week

Eli: I wish I could get married right away.

Mama: Why???

Eli: Because I have a lot of money right now, almost ten dollars, and I could marry a really poor person and we could go out and get a lot of groceries with all that money.

:) :) :)

Fancy Word Game

We had a lot of fun playing a new game. I have a place on our bulletin board called "Fancy Word of the Week" (though it's more like "Fancy Word of the Half-Week"). This week's word is "velocity." Yesterday and today we used it whenever possible. The kids were giggly-happy whenever they found a way to work it casually into the conversation. Tonight at dinner we played a game where they each had to use the word whenever possible, and at the end of dinner papa had to guess what the word was. Eli said he didn't want to play and I said that was fine. He got more into than any of them, though! They asked several innocent questions about hurricanes, bullets, and airplanes, and didn't even crack a smile. At the end of the meal, papa honestly couldn't figure out the secret word until we told him to really think about the topics of conversation that night. Then he got it! :) They all thought it was really funny. A nice way to add a little spice to our routine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Lake Trip

Here are pictures from our lake trip. What a great time we had!

Lake Ben Hall (with lots of boat houses along the shore)

At sunset. The pedal boat was a bit difficult to pedal...

Avi was always busy doing either this...

or this.

And sometimes this.

Raizel has a million different expressions.

She loves those big splashes!

Eli was at LEAST this happy the entire time.

Sometimes this happy (lying down on a deck chair)

Water play is his favorite thing.

Amirah learned the joy of kayaking and had a superb time.
We enjoyed paddling across the lake intending to buy popsicles,
only to discover that the little store had only about 5% of its shelves stocked.

What a pleasure to paddle with my daughter!

Jumping off the dock into the duckweed.

All smiles, all the time.

Amirah caught a crayfish.

We also enjoyed the wildlife at Magnolia Springs State Park.

B"H what fun we had!

The Garden

Things are petering out in the garden. The champions have been the Japanese eggplants, the cucumbers, the basil, the tomatoes, and the peppers. Eggplants and basil are still going strong, the peppers are several but small, the cukes are totally done, and the tomatoes are nearly done (while those in Oregon have barely started!!). We have yet to see what all is happening to the sweet potatoes underground. We'll be yanking a bunch of stuff out in the next couple of weeks and seeding the ground with a cover crop - probably red clover. We're hoping to add a couple of beds of fall plantings - onions, garlic, peas, beans, greens, etc. if this weather EVER cools down!!

Here's Eli doing his favorite job - harvesting! He is blissful in the garden, checking out every detail and he is so excited that when we finish astronomy we'll be studying botany. He's so curious about everything out there!

Here's a bowl of things from the garden - YUM! We've really enjoyed our weekly basil-garlic-onion-anchovy-eggplant-zucchini-tomato pizza with lots of hot red peppers.

And last of all, isn't the eggplant pretty? :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back At It!

We're back to learning tomorrow! They each have a daily ticket hanging on their clipboard, which lists their learning tasks, chores, and other activities for them to check off. We'll be doing about 80% of what we would normally be doing. I'm waiting on a couple of books, and am going to do some review before we move forward in chumash. They're looking forward to it, and already started doing some work this afternoon on their own.

It was a nice Sunday. The only thing I can't figure out is how I can have four simple things on my list and I can only get two of them done. The list was do laundry, make bread, clean up kitchen, and clean out the veggie storage bins. The last two got done, at least! And we did stop at 5:30 for dinner and 6:30 to watch John Huston's Moby Dick (this version remains fairly faithful to the original source). Amirah has read the Step Into Classics version twice, and begged to watch a movie version. All of the children liked it (!!!???!). It's so hard to find good-quality, torah-compatible family movies that we usually end up watching various science or history documentaries (definitely easier then good fiction-based movies, but not a LOT easier!). I just wish Sundays would stretch a little longer.

Dean did get halfway done with a project to add a worktable into the kitchen. He would have finished it, but he took the time to have the kids help him and they had such a sweet time working together. It was so fun to watch. We managed to eke out a space for a $10 seven-foot door that will be used as a work table (thanks, Restore!). Great for staging shabbos food, and as an extra workspace for the kids to do their learning! We'll have a pegboard hidden behind a curtain for all the tools to hang on, plus we'll add shelves to the walls above the work table and take advantage of the cupboard that is already hanging there. It's going to be nice not to have the tools all scrunched in the laundry room. I'll be able to move all my glass mason jars out there and make a little more space in the pantry. Then a few more things can move out of the kitchen and into the pantry. I love re-arranging things, and making them more efficient.

To bed now, up on time tomorrow and we'll GET GOING! Eek. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Menu

A few days away, and suddenly shabbos is upon us again. I have no idea HOW I'll be ready, but somehow we're always ready when it comes.

Highlights of the week:

Kayaking every day (Amirah learned to go solo!)
one-hour coffee breaks on the screened porch overlooking the lake
exploring random red-dirt roads
great food
great conversation
a late-night champagne w/a toasty brie/raspberry jam/filo concoction
farm-admiring, and
a pitstop at Magnolia Springs State Park - GORGEOUS!

Pics to come as soon as I can locate the cable...

So... for dinner:

wonton soup
teriyaki beef and chicken skewers (w/zucchini, onion, and tomato)
roasted potatoes
roasted asparagus
eggplant with miso sauce
green salad w/miso dressing
coconut lemon sorbet

And for lunch:

Sushi extravaganza
green salad w/miso dressing
miso soup
Amirah's chocolate chip cookies

And a G-R-E-A-T B-I-G N-A-P!

Good shabbos, all!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Menu

What a *great* relaxing week, and only three more days until 5/6ths of us go on our not-back-to-school vacation! :) More on that later. :) And now for a wonderful shabbos with lots of guests for dinner and lunch.


For dinner:

caesar salad
red pepper spread
roast chicken with balsamic onion gravy
mashed potatoes
roasted carrots
spicy cabbage and mushrooms
stewed eggplant, tomato, and green pepper
corn kugel
strawberry cake

And for lunch:

caesar salad
tilapia cakes with special sauce
eggplant spread
beef stew with kishke
turkey salami
chicken taco salad
mango cucumber salad
peach challah pudding

HOLY SHABBOS NACHAMU! May we be ever closer to the geulah!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our 2011–12 Learning Plan

Phew! Well, I think I've worked out most of what we're doing, at least for August through January. It's been a lot of planning during the last month!

For the last couple of weeks we've been polishing our Hebrew reading skills using the nicely plain workbooks from AlephChamp. I purchased the reading books, the medallions (for fun - turned out to be a BIG hit!), and the color word flashcards (not completely necessary, but I got them anyway). I bought a sample workbook, and did not care for those at all. Since we're basically using it for review, they weren't necessary for us anyway. They're reading 1-4 pages per day (1 for Avi, 2 for Raizel, 3 for Eli, and 4 for Amirah). It only takes 10-15 minutes per kid per day and the review has really upped our speed. Hooray!

We've also gotten a head start on history. I tend to do a lot of history in the "between" times so we don't have to do so much when we have our full learning schedule happening. So history has been an interesting study of Mary Queen of Scots, the Protestant/Catholic squabbles (and worse) in Europe, King James, Jamestown, and Pocahontas.

We read Blood on the River as our historical fiction book to go with the times. Made us all glad not to be among the first colonists! The book was historically accurate and incorporated many primary resources. All four of them enjoyed it and couldn't wait to read another chapter.

Next we're on to Henry Hudson and the search for the Northwest Passage!

Next week 5/6ths of us will be joining friends for a not-back-to-school vacation for four days. We're looking forward to that very much. After that, we're back at it, and this is what we'll be doing...

• davening
• parsha stories (The Little Midrash Says, Simcha's Kinderlach, and Tales of Tzaddikim (new for us this year)
• Hebrew vocabulary of the week (4 words to memorize/use in addition to what they learn
• gadol of the week (every two weeks we'll learn about a different gadol; his picture is posted on the wall, and we'll learn biographical information and stories about him; first one is Rashi!)
• middah of the week (often connected with the parsha)
• family lessons from Chofetz Chaim: Lessons in Truth based on his books, Sefer Sefas Tamim and Sefer Shem Olam (we recently finished the wonderful book Chofetz Chaim: The Family Lesson a Day on the laws of speech)

Story of the World 3: Early Modern Times (From Elizabeth I to the Forty-Niners)
• completing Apologia Astronomy (up to Saturn now!), and hoping to cover Botany and Human Physiology in the coming year
• fancy word of the week (I just used to come up with both useful and amusing words to learn for fun that we'll try to use here and there throughout the week. (Our first word is "velocity.")

• reading from the chumash and siddur! (using lots of flashcards I created)
Aleph Champ (for speed-reading practice; should be done by mid-fall)
• Rashi script (with the P'tach workbook available here; the same one I used!)
Lashon Hatorah Bet/Gimmel for biblical grammar

Math Mammoth 2 (last little bit) + Math Mammoth 3 (so far so good!)
Rod and Staff Spelling 3 (a Mennonite curriculum that we're going to try out; seems like it could be a good fit; Zaner-Bloser is a bit b-o-r-i-n-g...)
Rod and Staff Penmanship 3 (ditto, but it's Spelling Workout that is boring and full of more busywork than Amirah needs... I thought about just making my own penmanship book, but this was cheap and my time is limited!)
• Piano lessons! (Faber Piano books - still my favorite after all these many years of teaching)
First Language Lessons 3 (we continue to be very happy with this great grammar program)
Writing With Ease 3 (ditto here; teaches writing skills very pithily!)
McGuffey Reader 3 (read aloud 2x/week to work on oral expression and fluid reading)
• assigned reading (about 30 minutes per day) related primarily to our history studies
• choir!
• recorder class!
• free reading (she does plenty without any encouragement!)

Aleph Champ
• beginning chumash and siddur reading
• learning Hebrew script (using Migdalor workbook)
Lashon Hatorah Alef

Math Mammoth 1 (half-way done) + Math Mammoth 2
Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading
Explode the Code 3 + however far we get! (I have decided to forego a formal spelling program for first grade; I honestly don't think there's any need; also, Eli loves Explode the Code and that provides plenty of writing/spelling opportunities!)
Rod and Staff Penmanship 1
First Language Lessons 1 (grammar)
Writing With Ease (composition)
• Piano lessons!
• Orff-Schulwerk music class!

Aleph Champ

Handwriting Without Tears 1
First Language Lessons 1 (with Eli; she already memorized it all anyway!)
• piano lessons!
Ordinary Parents Guide for Teaching Reading
Explode the Code 1 + however much we do!

And Little Avi will be learning his alphabet and his alefbeis, and rolling around gathering in things by osmosis, and just generally being really cute and funny and sweet!

As for how it's all going to work out... I'm basically organizing our day into blocks. They'll all be working on the same subject areas at roughly the same time and I'll be bouncing back and forth. B"H Amirah is at an age where there are many things she can do independently, checking in with me before and/or after she does the work. I'll give each kid a daily ticket and they check things off as they go. Their daily ticket will include several chores that need to be done at different parts of the day. The ticket will go on their clipboard that is hanging in the learning room.

The learning room is nicely fixed up and organized! Some pretty things are on the walls, all the drawers are organized, and we're pretty much ready to go.

If you made it this far - MAZAL TOV! :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Menu

Another week of just menu posting. I've been so distracted by all the organization we've been doing and with helping as I can to get ima settled in (a little tricky with three puppies and four kids!) that blogging time has been set aside this past month. There have been lots of fun things to share, so hopefully my memory will hold on to a few of them! :)

So, for dinner:

Italian bean dip
taco salad
broccoli/sundried tomato pasta salad
chicken skewers
mushroom rice
roasted potatoes
roasted veggies
chocolate covered orange biscotti

And for lunch (lots of guests!):

salads from dinner, plus
apple honey coleslaw
shuba (beets/carrots/onion/potatoes/lox/mayo - a layered salad)
asparagus/egg/tarragon/arugula salad
macque choux (corn/pepper/tomato)
beef barley stew
frozen lime pie

Good shabbos, all!!!