Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Done With School for This Week

Well, I think Jay is done with school for the week. He poked himself in the eye today, giving him a corneal abrasion. I figure an eye injury (fairly serious one at that) is reason to skip school the rest of the week. He has a gouge on his cornea, above the pupil. The dr. wants to see him again tomorrow, to make sure it's healing properly. He 's worried about scar tissue. Also, Jay was having problems reading the eye chart, but that could have been from the stress of the situation, the tears, the pain, etc.

So, I'm giving him the week off, mostly. We've decided that we'll still do Math, but I'll read the problems to him & do the writing, he just has to tell me what needs to be done. We've got a dvd on Vikings that we borrowed from the library, which we'll watch. He can still do ASL & Music practice. Other than that, it depends on how he's feeling. I told him I want him to try reading tomorrow. Hopefully, it won't be too bad, but today trying to read made his eye hurt. He has to have something to do during the day, though, and it won't be sitting around watching tv. Maybe I'll read him his Science & History books so he can do his narrations.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Edward Lear

January's poet was Edward Lear. Aside from reading his works, we also spent some time learning about him. Edward Lear is largely considered the creator of the modern Limerick. I, personally, have loved limericks since I was first introduced to them, as a young girl. They are silly, irreverent, sometimes dirty, and always fun.

Edward Lear was born May 12, 1812 and died in 1888, at age 76. He was the twentieth of twenty-one children, and was raised mostly by his sister. He suffered from epilepsy, having his first seizure at age 5. As a young man, he spent 10 years traveling Europe and Asia, devoting his time to landscape painting. These are just a few of the interesting facts we learned about him this month.

To learn more about Edward Lear and his life, check out these links:

Edward Lear Homepage
Edward Lear: Victorian Trickster
Poetry Foundation

These are the books of poetry we read from in January:

A Book of Limericks Edward Lear (a Rare Reprint by Kessinger Publishing, originally published 1888)
There Was an Old Man... A Gallery of Nonsense Rhymes Edward Lear
nonsense Edward Lear
Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums (nothing to do with Edward Lear, just some fun poems)
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night (again, nothing to do with Lear, just fun poems)
The Owl and the Pussycat Edward Lear
The New Vestments Edward Lear
The Pelican Chorus and Other Nonsense Edward Lear
How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear: Edward Lea's Selected Works Edward Lear
The Duck & the Kangaroo Edward Lear

To learn more about limericks try here:
Giggle Poetry

January Read-Alouds

Apparently, many people put a lot of effort into choosing books for read-alouds. They compile lists of books they want to read aloud to their kids, revisit the same book again for younger children, research lists of good read-aloud books, etc. Some are very choosy about the level of read-aloud books. Some will only read books a few years above the child's reading level. Some choose only books right around their child's reading level. Some choose YA or adult level books only. Some are very choosy about genre. Some read only classics, often saying it's to balance the 'fluff' their child reads. Some choose only books they feel will expose the child to certain concepts or ideas. I was truly astonished at the level of effort people put into choosing books for a read-aloud. Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. It is quite different from the way I do it, though.
I put pretty much no effort into choosing read-aloud books. I don't have a list of books to read aloud. I don't do searches to find out what other people do as read-alouds for certain grades. I don't worry about what level the read-aloud book is. I don't stick to a certain genre. I don't stick to books of a certain length. Honestly, much of the time we choose books at random. We will wander around the library & I will suddenly stop and point to a shelf. We will then grab a book from that shelf & it's our next read-aloud. If we finish the read-aloud before our next library trip, I'll grab something from our shelves at home. The only criteria I have are that the book is appropriate for Jay & that he has not read it. The most effort I put into choosing a read-aloud is if there is a book that I am convinced he'll like, but he refuses to read (because he doesn't believe he'll enjoy). I put in a little more effort when finding a read-aloud for school, but not much.

Since I don't plan our read-alouds ahead of time, I can't post a list of what we will read-aloud. So, here's a list of what we did read-aloud. These are our read-alouds for January (not for school):

The Carnival of Lost Souls
A Wrinkle in Time
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Killer Pizza: The Slice - we didn't realize that this one was a sequel until after we picked it up; we went ahead & read it anyway. We'll be finishing it tomorrow (January 31st).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Exploring Genres: Week 4

A Journey into Adaptation with Max Axiom Super Scientist


The Best of Ray Bradbury

These were the last of the Graphic Novels that we had borrowed from the library. On our last library visit, we picked up some books for next month's genre: Action/Adventure.

I definitely have a higher opinion of graphic novels than I did at the beginning of this month. Some of them were quite good and rather entertaining. I still wouldn't want them to make up a majority of what either of my kids reads, but I wouldn't be adverse to them picking one up sometimes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

weekend plans

I will try to get on sometime this weekend to post about our week, but I'm not sure when I'll have the time. We'll be doing grocery shopping shortly, then taking the kids to their grandparents' house. They will be spending the night with their grandparents, so hubby & I can have an evening alone. You see, our wedding anniversary is this weekend. We can't afford anything big, to celebrate. So, we're going to spend a quiet evening at home. We'll have steaks for dinner (hubby will be pulling out the grill, despite the snow). Not sure what else we're having. I was thinking of maybe picking up some scallops & doing bacon wrapped scallops or maybe I'll make some baked Brie. Of course, baked potatoes and a veggie would be fine, too. My husband is pretty easy to please and will be fine with anything I make, especially if it's simple (he has simpler tastes than I do). I'll figure out what to make with the steak while we're at the store. I'm not exactly sure of tonight's entertainment, either. We may put on some music & dance in the living room, or we might curl up together to watch a movie, or maybe play a game. Like I said, nothing big, just a quiet evening at home. Monday, hubby is taking the day off work, we're taking the day off school, and we're spending the day at two museums. So, somewhere between the errands, a quiet evening at home, a field trip, and getting some work done for my classes, I'll try to get on here an do a quick update.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week in Review Jan 16-20

Ok, I'm a little late doing this post, I should have done it yesterday or Friday. I really just didn't have time, though. Friday, after we finished school, we went to the library. Unfortunately, the library was closed. It was snowing & the city hadn't plowed, yet. It took over an hour to get there & back. by the time we got home it was dinner time. Then we had some family time, and then I read until I fell asleep. Yesterday, we went to the library, did grocery shopping, then spent the afternoon at my step-mom's. The kids (and some of the adults) went sledding & we talked and ate delicious chicken tortilla soup. After we got home, my hubby & I watched a little tv, I did the nightly read-aloud with Jay, Dea spent the night at a friend's house, and after Jay went to bed we worked in some quality couple time. So, I'm just now getting to this post.

Dea hasn't shown me her work yet, but I know she didn't get as much done as I would like. She was trying out a new schedule, but I think it was a bit too ambitious. She had scheduled herself longer periods of time than she can really spend on one subject. So, I helped her revise her plans a little, starting with getting an accurate list of exactly how many lessons/chapters/ assignments she has remaining for each course & how long she thinks each of those lessons/chapters/assignments will take her. So, hopefully, we'll start seeing some progress this coming week.

Jay's week also seems a bit short to me. It's probably because we didn't really get in any Science or History.

Language Arts:
Speling: AAS2 - Step 7 & 8
Writing: took notes for his book and practiced drawing Giganotosaurus (he wants to illustrate his book himself)
Grammar: EG2 day 119 - 123
Vocab: Acumen, Notable, Distrust, Archenemy
Literature: focused on 'Setting' this week, went over what it is & discussed the setting for our read-alouds & the books he's been reading

DD: page 39 - 43; fun Math games, Khan Academy

Latin: LFC A: chap 9

Computer Programming: Logo Adventures lesson 9

ASL: ST vol 4 Family, Feeling, & Fun (we do the same dvd for a few weeks, to make sure we have the signs down, before we move on to the next)

Art: CLD3 activity 14-17

Music: practiced Recorder & Native American Flute each two days

Spanish: TMM Spanish 2 days 30 minutes each day

Science: he tried reading a book & doing narration, but was too distracted because his dad was already home form work. So, we're switching things around a little. After lunch, he gets a break. After his break he would normally do his required hour of reading, and start wither History or Science after that. We're going to switch those, though, doing Science or History after the break and then reading. That way, we're done with all or most of Science or History by the time my husband gets home.

History: Jay told me he wants to move on from our study of Native Americans. We didn't finish everything I had planned, but we've spent a lot of time on this topic. I'm not thrilled that we're not finishing, but I don't want to push it on him. So, we finished his teepee and we are done, for now. We'll be starting Vikings this coming week.

Other: On Monday, we watched Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech & Robert Kennedy's "Death of Martin Luther King Jr" speech, and discussed racism & civil rights.

Note on Abbreviations:
CLD3 - Creating Line Designs book 3
TMM - Tell Me More
ST - Signing Time
LFC A - Latin for Children primer A
DD- Defeating Division
AAS2 - All About Spelling level 2
EG2 - Easy Grammar grade 2

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Native Americans (2nd Grade)

Tonight, Jay told me he wants to be done studying Native Americans, at least for this year. So, we will finish making the teepee, skip the other activities we had planned, and start Vikings next week. It kind of sucks that we haven't (and won't) finished all of what I had planned, but I'm not going to force him to continue with it. We'll revisit the topic in future years. Since, we're done with our study of Native Americans, here's a list of many of the resources used. We also used many websites, especially since our library doesn't have the best selection of books on this topic.

Cracking the Maya Code
The Americas: The Story of Civilization
Native American Medicine
Betrayal at Little Big Horn
National Geographic: Thunderbeast
Ghosts of Machu Picchu: NOVA
Lost King of the Maya: NOVA
National Geographic: Dawn of the Maya
Breaking the Maya Code
National Geographic: The Great Inca Rebellion
American Experience: We Shall Remain
Battlefield Detectives: Native American Wars: The Apache
Legacy: Native American Photogravures & Music



The Sign of the Beaver

Red Earth, White Lies

The First Americans - this one was just to check out the series & decide if we wanted to use it when we cover U.S. History in 4th & 5th

Thanksgiving dinner

Decorate Drum

Stain & decorate Native American flute

Rain stick


Puppy is so spoiled

We got our puppy last year, I think it was October. Our neighbor asked us if we could take the puppy. Our neighbor's daughter had found puppy in her neighborhood. Apparently, puppy's original owners moved and left her. She has a useless front leg, due to an untreated broken elbow in the first month or two of her life. She had worms. Both of her back legs are bad, due to knee problems (both knees are twisted, one rather severely), and we've been told not to let her get above 10 lbs. We originally thought she had ear mites. It turned out to be a yeast infection in her ears from her diet. You see, puppy is allergic to grains.

Puppy is a Terrier mix. She's small, only 9 in at the shoulders & about 8 - 9 lbs, and won't be getting any bigger. She was abused, neglected, abandoned, malnourished, and miserable. Now, she is happy, healthy, and looks much better.

Since she is allergic to grains, I looked into the commercial grain-free dog foods. She didn't like them. So, we now feed her a homemade diet, which she loves. We use baby food for the veggies and much of the fruits. I check the labels to make sure she can eat them, don't want any surprises. We cut up some meat for her (beef stew meat, chicken, basically whatever meat we buy for us) to add to her food. Sometimes, we give her fresh fruits or veggies. She loves pineapple, mango, apples, green beans, carrots, pumpkin, & squash. She also likes eggs. She likes bacon & so does our female cat, though the male cats don't seem to like it.

The biggest problem is trying to make sure she doesn't get any grains. She likes popcorn. If some popcorn falls on the floor, she will run in, grab it, and run to another room to eat it (because she knows she shouldn't have it). We had to get rid of our popcorn popper because of that. Un-popped kernels would land in the bowl, then pop in the bowl, sending pieces of popcorn flying all over the kitchen. The whole time, puppy would be running around grabbing pieces and taking them onto the office. So, now we have a bowl that air pops popcorn in the microwave. No more flying popcorn. She also routinely tries to eat the cat food. She will hang out at your feet while you cook, hoping to catch any morsels that escape the pan.

She is so happy though. She is our silly little puppy and I am very glad she found us.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Christmas Presents

These are some of our Christmas presents:

To Dea, from us:

To Jay, from us:

To my hubby, from me:

To me, from my hubby:

The symbolic adoptions through WWF:

Tub of Cubs:

Pail of Primates:

River Otter:

Mexican Gray Wolf:

Each of the kids got $50 worth of gift cards. This is what Jay got with his:

This is what Dea got with hers:

We got Christmas money from my grandma. We used it to buy some family games:

We also got some Christmas money from my grandpa. We haven't spent that, yet, but are planning to use it on a fun day out - two local museums and eat out. We also got a Family Pass to another museum, from my aunt. She lives in the city the museum is in, so we figure we'll go this spring or summer and stop by to visit her while we're there.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week in Review Jan 14, 2012

We had errands to run yesterday, then spent the evening at my sister's house. So, Dea has not yet had the chance to bring me her work from this week. I'll have to post about her work later.

I can post about Jay's week, though.

Language Arts:
Grammar: EG2 day 114 - 118; finished GT book & worksheet on proofreading (he's now completely done with GT)
Writing: he chose the chapter topics for the book he's writing on Giganotosaurus; each topic was written on an index card (each topic got a different color), and all notes for the book are being put on index cards and stored in an index card box; he took notes from 2 books this week
Vocab: his vocab words this week (we try to do one word each day, instead of lists of disconnected words) were Addict, Anomaly, and Acute (we missed 2 days)
Spelling: AAS2 step 5 & 6; I noticed something interesting this week, too........

Here's a pic of his Grammar from earlier this school year (his is the blue writing):

and here's a few of his dictation sentences from Spelling this week:

That is fantastic progress!

Art: CLD3 activities 12 & 13

Computer Programming: practice Logo Adventures lessons 1 - 8

Math: 30 minutes online Math games, 30 minutes Khan Academy, Timez Attack, Division Attack, DD 36, 37, 38

Music: Native American flute practice 2 days, recorder practice 1 day

ASL: ST vol 4 Family, Feeling, & Fun

Latin: LFC A chap 8

Spanish: TMM Spanish 2 days, 30 minutes each day

History: caught up on his History journal, started building a teepee, visit 6 sites on the Apache, Navajo, and Hopi, Geronimo read-aloud

Science: magnetic poles & magnetic fields, tested household objects for magnetism, watch Bill Nye: Magnetism, used iron filings to demonstrate magnetic fields of magnets of various shapes & sizes:

made 'magnetic picture' using magnets, iron filings, and nature print paper:

read Benjamin Franklin Electrified the World with New Ideas and did narration.

Note about abbreviations:
EG2 - Easy Grammar grade 2; GT - Grammar Tales; AAS2 - All About Spelling level 2; CLD3 - Creating Line Designs book 3; ST - Signing Time; LFC A - Latin for Children primer A; TMM - Tell Me More

Extra Steps

Since one of my fitness goals this month is 10,000 steps a day, I'm coming up with a list ways to get extra steps. So, here's what I've thought of so far:

1) Take the dog for more of her walks. Dea promised to take full responsibility when we agreed to keep the puppy. So, she does most of the walks. I generally just walk her in the middle of the night or early in morning, when Dea is sleeping. I can do a few more of her walks, though.

2) While walking the dog, walk in place or step side to side while the dog is doing her business & I have nothing else to do.

3) Take the long way to the bathroom. We only have one bathroom. So, wherever you are in the house, there's a short way & a longer way to the bathroom.

4) When possible, stand while doing school with the kids. While standing, walk in place or step side to side.

5) When standing in kitchen doing dishes or cooking, walk in place or step side to side.

6) When reading for long periods, get up after every chapter & walk around house.

7) When studying/doing schoolwork, working, or doing long projects, get up after each section, or at every logical breaking point, walk around house & stretch for few minutes.

So far, that's all I have. The brainstorming is ongoing, though. So, hopefully I'll think of some more.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pet Peeve

I'll admit it, I've got a few pet peeves. Today I'm focused on the "Sneak it in" mentality.

In case you aren't sure of what I'm talking about, the "Sneak it in" mentality is the "It's good for them, but they don't like it. So, I'll sneak it in, so they still get what they need, but don't know it" mentality.

It usually deals with food. You know the deal. Little Johnny doesn't like carrots. Mom wants him to eat carrots, because they're healthy. She gets advice that ranges from "Don't give him an option. He eats it or he doesn't eat at all." to "Sneak carrots in, using pureed or shredded carrots in foods that don't normally have carrots." Mom doesn't want to deal with a fight every time she serves carrots, so she opts for sneaking them in. She adds pureed carrots to chili & spaghetti sauce, adds carrot juice to Johnny's fruit juice, puts shredded carrots in the meatloaf, etc. Now, Johnny eats carrots without a fight.
So, you might be asking why I have a problem with this. After all, he's eating carrots & not fighting, that's good right? No. Not if he doesn't know he's eating them. My problem is that it's a short-term fix. Unless mom plans to make Johnny's meals for the rest of his life, this isn't a long-term solution. Now, I don't have a problem with adding the pureed carrots to chili & spaghetti sauce. My issue is the not telling them part. See, if you tell them that the carrots are there, they'll learn that carrots can be included in meals without making them taste bad. When you hide the fact that there are carrots in the food, you're reinforcing their belief that carrots always taste bad. Instead of hiding the foods they don't like in other recipes, add the food & let them know it's there. It's more important to teach them to eat healthy & that healthy foods can taste good then to avoid an occasional disagreement.
My daughter does not like tofu. My son does not like tofu or Greek yogurt. However, if  I put some frozen fruit in the food processor, add some tofu & honey flavored Greek yogurt, and freeze it as popsicles, they both love them. I don't hide that the yogurt or the tofu are there. In fact, the kids have helped me make these popsicles. They've learned that these ingredients, which they don't particularly like, can taste quite good in the right recipe. My daughter doesn't like asparagus, unless it's broiled with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and some fresh ground black pepper & sea salt. My husband will only eat spinach if it's in my chicken & spinach lasagna. My husband hated meatloaf, until he had mine. My point here is that I'm no stranger to dealing with picky eaters. I'm not one of those people who has never dealt with a picky eater & is spouting untested ideas. I know what I'm talking about. I pretty much specialize in getting people to eat things they normally wouldn't eat. Sometimes, that means cooking it in a different way - broiled or sauteed instead of boiled or steamed. Sometimes, it means including it as an ingredient not readily noticeable - sour cream in the chicken taco bake or tofu & Greek yogurt in the popsicles. However, I always tell them it's there. I might wait until after they've tried it, because I do have kids that will say they don't like it if they know it contains an ingredient they don't like before they try it. I never put something my husband or kids 'don't like' in a meal without telling them, though. Why? Because if they don't know it's there, they'll never learn that it can be part of a good tasting meal.

That mentality is not only applied to food, though. It's also regularly applied to education. Of course, I dislike the mentality when applied to education as much as when applied to food. Anytime a parent asks for advice because their child hates Math, someone will suggest that they 'sneak in Math' with things like helping cook, weighing produce at the store, figuring out how much change you'll get back, etc. The main marketing strategy for educational video games is that "children will have so much fun playing that they won't realize they're learning."

Again, my issue is not with the idea of learning being fun. I have no problem with having kids help in the kitchen or at the store. I have no problem with educational games, though we don't do video games in our house. In fact, I have often suggested playing games, having the kids help in the kitchen, having the kids help at the store, and other fun educational opportunities. However, I suggest it, not as a way to 'sneak in education without the child knowing,' but as a way to show the child that learning can be fun.

What I really just cannot understand is this - when you 'sneak it in,' what are you gaining? What is the logic behind 'sneaking it in', instead of being honest & showing the child that healthy food can be delicious or that learning can be fun? Wouldn't it make more sense (and be better in the long run) to teach them how to incorporate healthy food in tasty ways or that learning doesn't only take place with a textbook in a classroom?

Why are so many people afraid to be honest with their kids? Does it go back to the 'they should have a mystical, magical childhood' thoughts that I've heard referenced so many times as people explain why they lie about Santa? Or is it something different? Is it that people are afraid that once the child finds out that measuring ingredients for a recipe is Math they'll stop seeing it as fun or they won't like mom's spaghetti anymore if they find out she puts veggies in it? Do people really think that preventing an occasional mealtime or homework battle is more important than teaching lessons that will last a lifetime & benefit the child in the long-term? Or is it just that so many people don't think about the future?

My kids are two of the most stubborn children in existence. Yet, I still don't sneak things in. I would much prefer to be honest with my kids & teach them life lessons, then to avoid a few battles. Maybe it's just because of my parenting philosophy. I don't lie to my kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny, either. I don't see them as being blank slates or being unable to to figure out the truth. I teach my kids to question, not to just believe everything they hear. Yes, they are kids now, but they will be adults one day. I feel it is my job to prepare them for them for life as an adult, and I don't see how telling them lies throughout their childhood will accomplish that.