Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Tally

10 kids. That's it.

I had high hopes. We had a couple of families with kids move in nearby and I optimistically made up 25 treat bags. Big ones too.

Now I've got a ton of sugary, cheap candy to dispose of.

Next year I'm sticking to giving out chocolate and beer so I get to enjoy the leftovers.

Showing Your Work in Math

Drat These Greeks has an excellent post on showing your work in math. I have to admit, I was once one of those who thought showing work wasn't nessacary. As long as a person had the answer, why do they need to show how they got it?

Now that I'm trying to help my daughter with math, I see why. I don't know if she understands how to break down a word problems of she tells me the answer but has written nothing down. It's very easy in elementry math to figure out an answer while ignoring steps. Granted, that can be a virtue when you're using math in everyday life but if you want to keep the doors of higher math open, it can be a trap. I think it had a lot to do with why my own math skills seemed to crumble after elementry school.

The comments after Myrtle's post are good to. Stephanie from Texas sarcastically frames the issue in a way I hadn't even thought of before:

You silly. A persuasive argument requires an argument. A math problem is simply right, or wrong, and we move on. Didn't you know?

Math equations as persuasive arguments? Oh cool.

Carnival of Homeschooling

The COH is up at Spiritbee's and it's a HUGE one. Not only that, it's one the the neatest themes I've seen yet - a yearbook!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Maybe We're Better Off Without a Secular Science Curriculum

When I was at the thrift shop a couple of weeks ago I picked up some science texts from different grades to get an idea of what I could be doing with Catherine and Harry. There were 3, Grade 1, Grade 3 and a Grade 7 or 8. I flipped through them yesterday and I'm already sure I wasted my quarters. Every book contained the same information as the one before. Every book covered habitats, photosynthesis and ecosystems. Every book had the same insipid text and uninspiring pictures. It honestly looked like a calculated attempt over the spans of 8 years to drain any interest in the natural world out of children.

We'll stick with our National Geographic books. I've also got a college biology text which, again, covers all the same material as the other three but with better language so we'll use that when we need to.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

3 Down, 2 to go

I'm housecleaning to get ready for Christmas. This is major housecleaning I'm talking about, gutting rooms and chucking stuff and rearranging furniture and I'm doing it room by room.

I started early last week with the master bedroom. In a house that's just over 750 square feet it seems that the master bedroom often doubles as the storeroom. But I managed to work on it all one day and got it looking decent by supper time.

Next was the kids rooms. That was the real chore. On Friday I went in armed with a bag for garbage and a bag for donations and went ruthlessly through the kids stuff. They played. For little messes they're fine but for the utter disaster their room had become, a professional was needed.

The living room was yesterday and today. It was spread over two days because I was not only chucking and donating but also rearranging. It wasn't bad when I started but since I wanted to go through EVERYTHING it looked like a disaster area by yesterday evening. It's nice now though and all the books are on the proper shelves and all the tinker toys and Legos are in their respective boxes.

So only the kitchen and bathroom left. Those rooms will be easy however. They aren't the disaster zones the bedrooms were and they aren't the overstuffed, waiting-to-implode time bomb that the living room was. They just need the regular weekly scrubbing and surface cleaning. It will be a welcome relief to scrub the toilet rather thensort through yet another bucket of toys.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Best Birthday Gift EVER!

I don't have a lot of my toys from childhood. There's a Cabbage Patch doll and an almost threadbare Ernie from Sesame Street but that's about it. We tended to store our toys in garbage bags and that occasionally led to some being chucked with the garbage by accident. All my Barbies went out that way.

One toy though that I had a special connection with and have often wished I still had was a Rowlf puppet/stuffed animal.

We were huge muppet fans and each of the kids had one special stuffed doll of their favourite character. One brother had Kermit, another Scooter, my sister had Fozzie and I had Rowlf.

And I'd lost him along the way.

Until yesterday when I opened a bag my brother, living on the other side of the country, had sent to me. Inside was Rowlf.

I'd been told this present was going to be fabulous. It was. There he was looking just like he had when I was child. I slipped my hand in the back, turned him to face me and it was like meeting an old friend again.

Apparently my most awesome brother found him in a shop in BC. Obviously not my specific Rowlf but closer than I ever thought I'd come to him. The kids can play with him but he stays in my room when not in use and occupies a place of honour on the dresser letting me know that yes, it all works out in the end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Escaping From Curriculum Slavery

Today I think I finally took the needed step away from seeing curriculum as something that needs to be marched through and completed in it's entirety. I know I should know better. I've probably bogged about this before and I know I've given advice to others about not becoming a slave to curriculum and yet in practice I still felt it had to be finished.

However, in grammar today Easy Grammar simply wasn't even close to addressing some question Catherine needed answers to regardng suffixes so I put it aside and printed off these worksheets from ABC Teach and we worked on -er and -est. Much better. In math we used Singapore Math to conquer some division questions and then I realized I now had three math curriculums (Singapore, Key to..., and JUMP) and wasn't bound to any. Rather I could use them as Catherine and I saw fit.

There's a difference between knowing something, like that you shouldn't be a slave to curriculum, and truly feeling the truth of it so that you can finally make a change. Now hopefully this lesson will stick with me and I won't be writing a similar post in 6 months.

back to those ABC Teach worksheets though. One rule in adding er/est was, "For one-syllable words (fat), the ending consonant should be doubled before adding
er or est." Catherine and I both found that lacking. After all, "thick" is a one-syllable word but you don't double the K before adding -est. So we figuered a better rule was that when dealing with words with short vowel sounds hiding behind the thin wall of only one consonant and facing the dire fate of being turned into a long vowel sound by the advancing suffix then it was imperitive that the consonent wall be fortified by doubling it up. Ah ha! Convert a rule to the imagery of ancient siege and we get it, long and convoluted though it is.

What a couple of geeks.

As Catherine was finishing up her math I added to our collection of latin and greek root flash cards. She finished her math and joined me and we spent another 30-45 minutes reading the roots and their meanings on The Exploring Science Site. For the rest of the day she was making up words from the roots. She eventually got around to asking when her cousin would learn about this subject in school. My answer of, "he won't," completely shocked her.


The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at At Home With Kris.

The Carnival of Family Life is up at Raising a Healthy Family.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Geo-Whiz and Halloween Themes.

We started yesterday morning with spelling and then went on to copy work. A couple of weeks ago I went and raided a local thrift store for books and found some excellent resources. One of the books was "Creatures in Verse" (you would not believe how long it took to find a reference to this book, let alone a link where it could be bought) published by MacMillan Gateway English in 1967.

It was obviously some one's old school copy but it's been our source for copy work for a couple of weeks now and has some really nice poems that all have to do with animals, right up Catherine's alley. Today was The Bat by Thedore Roethke. Fantastic poem and now a favourite of Catherine's.

While she did her work I played a few audio stories. One was a Boris Karloff telling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Now, it should have been a hit right? Except for the goofy songs done in that early 60's Disney harmony fashion. Catherine rolled her eyes every time another song started. Next up was a fantastic reading of Poe's The Black Cat but she wasn't taken with it either.

We then went back to my thrift store finds and read several chapters of Geo-Whiz! This was published by National Geographic in the late 80's and, being a Nat. Geo. book has their typically stunning photographs. It's all about geography, something Catherine thought would be boring but the writing is engaging and it seemed that every time I flipped a page she was saying, "Wow!"

Even though I love curriculm catalogues and I fill them up with highlight marks and penned-in stars to note what I want to buy I have to admit that my best resources generally come from the thrift stores and yard sales.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Theme of the Week...Cat Butts

More cat butts but first a rundown of our homeschooling day.

AVKO spelling which is going fantasticly. Even though we started a whole new group of word families Catherine's caught on quickly as she's seeing the parts of a word rather than just the letters.

Easy Grammar...Well it was Easy Grammar. Boring as all get out but effective.

Math was JUMP Math. I'm pretty sure we'll be switching to Teaching Textbooks in the new year (grade 5 as they don't have a grade four and Catherine will probably be okay with it anyway) but I thought I'd try this one out to give Catherine a small break from Singapore Math. It's Canadian and written by mathematician and award winning playwright John Mighton. He is a very neat fellow and this curriculum has been getting glowing reviews, especially for kids who've been left behind in terms of math skills in public schools. A free fractions unit is available for download (once you register) and that's what we tried today. I don't know enough yet to give much of an opinion but I do like the crisp layout and the detailed teacher's guide.

On to Story of the World. We're back to ploughing through it. Catherine is finally tired of Egyptians and Greeks and is getting a little curious about the blasted Romans. I just finished a lecture series about them and I have to admit they were redeemed just a bit in my eyes...Up until senators started bludgeoning agitators anyway. Once I find my copy of the Aeneid I may just read it.

I finally got around to making up some Latin and Greek roots flash cards and we had a bit of fun with some drilling. It never fails to surprise me how much Catherine likes tests, quizes and drills. Here's a site I use with the biggest list of Latin and Greek roots I could find on the internet.

But now for the cat butt. Turns out, as I mentioned in my post title, it's turning into a theme. Story of the World took a little detour and we heard a bit about Africa and Anansi. Off I went in search of coloring pages. And I found this...

Yep. That's a jaguar farting. It's part of this little lesson plan on an Anansi story. Of course I had to print it out for Catherine so that she could listen to me read the story, colour the farting Jaguar and giggle the whole time. Someone took a lot of care to craft that cat butt.

Don't I provide the most awesome resources?

Illinoize Annoys

For the past couple of days a couple of bloggers from Illinoize have been posting irritating stuff about homeschooling. One says we're a bunch of fundies who shouldn't be homeschooling while the other says we're a bunch of fundies but we should be allowed to homeschool. Now granted, one has made a little progress by doing some research but the two of them still seem to be working under the assumption that we're all teaching our kids that earth is only a few thousand years old. In fact, one decided that:

Universally, the parents who decide to home school their kids tend to be the least connected with reality anyhow...

Have at if you wish but it doesn't seem to be promising ground for good discussion. Apparently me being a Canadian means I live in a tiny reality and don't understand the larger American homeschooling experience.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How Do You Multiply?

My husband and I were talking about multiplication the other day and I let slip that I don't have my upper times tables memorized. 5 is about as far as I go.

"So how would you multiply 7*9?"

I answered that I'd do 4*9 and then add it to 3*9. Or I might use the ascending/descending pattern of the 9 times table and count down - 9*9=81, 9*8=72, so 9*7=63 He looked at me like I was crazy.

I probably could memorize the upper tables but I never bothered and this method doesn't seem like much extra trouble to me.

I'm wondering who out there has the tables memorized and who uses tricks or alternate methods?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Teaching Science

Pharyngula has an interesting post on teaching science. Although it seems directed at a university classroom many of the things mentioned are things we can do with our homeschooled kids to ensure the university professors hands won't be quite so full.

A couple of the most obvious things:

We must teach critical thinking to all students. I've been in (and taught) too many introductory courses where the class is an exercise in rote learning, rather than thinking. I think it's more important for beginning biologists to master the art of comprehending what they are doing, rather than being able to rattle off lists.

Students' writing and communication skills must be improved. OK, this one makes me feel guilty. The one thing I had to cut from my new course was writing: I've got over 80 students, I'm writing all new lectures, and I have no TA help (not that you'd want to use TAs for grading writing), and I couldn't possibly handle student essay writing on top of it all. I console myself with the fact that our curriculum does have a strong writing component in subsequent courses.

Read the comments as some of the readers make further suggesions.

How to Teach Science offers up suggestions and plans along the same line and I'd highly reccomend it to anyone trying to navigate science without a curriculum (as so many secular homeschoolers have to do).

Another note, the post links to an excellent issue of the McGill Journal of Education which tackles the subject of teaching evolution. It really is an excellent read.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dover Samples

I think most homeschoolers are familiar with Dover books. They're the ones that publish the gorgeous colouring books on Ancient Egypt or Renaissance fashions. If you check out this page on their website you'll be able to sign up for a weekly email that will link you to a page where you can download samples of clipart, puzzles and colouring pages. They also have a large collection of Halloween themed printables here.

A few examples:

Zoombinis and the New Job

Although we have done some real work in the past couple of days the majority of Catherine's time has been taken up playing either the Logical Journey of the Zoombinis or Zoombini's Mountain Rescue. And when I say majority, I mean it. She's putting in 6 to 8 hours a day. And Harry has been spending the same amount of time glued to her side, watching.

I don't mind. Catherine and Harry, although they don't have any limits on such things, aren't usually video or PC game zombies. They'll go a week or two without touching the computer/Gamecube/XBox/Ninteno DS (with me and the husband however it's a different matter). And this is the Zoombinis, a series of games famous for it's fantastic and addicting approach to logic and critical thinking.

So I'm happy.

I'm happy anyway though. This was my husband's first week working for his new company and it's been wonderful to see him come home tired but happy. And the schedule! He works real 40 hour weeks and just weekdays. I can't even communicate how wonderful this is after 10 years of irregular shift work. I can plan things like grocery trips and they can happen at the same time and on the same day every week! The benefits are amazing and the pay great but the regular schedule is the thing that I keep smiling like an idiot over. That and the fact that my husband comes home smiling like an idiot because he's so happy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Of Course!

Spelling, grammar, Singapore word problems and a GeeART 16 lesson today. Then off to the Girl Guides for Catherine's weekly meeting.

While there a girl told her she had a question for Catherine about her homeschooling.

"Do you have a teacher that comes to your house or is your mom your teacher?"

"My mom, my computer and my TV are my teachers," was Catherine's response. It's nice that I rank with the electronic equipment!

Then it was Catherine's turn.

"Who's your favourite artist?"

"My art teacher," the girl replied, "Who's yours?"

"Leonardo Da Vinci, of course!"

Of course.

I Really Should NOT be Posting This...

...But I have to.

Do you know why you really need to bring at least one kid to the grocery store with you? And do you know why it's prefferable that the kid you bring is younger and doesn't have big issues with embarrassment or, um, honesty?

Because when you've just had a big bowl of bean soup for supper and you're experiencing some embarrassing out-gassing and people are coming up the aisle, people with working noses, you need someone to look down at and say, "Harry! Did you have to?"

You know, people I know in real life read this blog. My minister sometimes reads this blog. Please remember this and keep in mind how I've sacrificed my dignity, and possibly my soul, to give you this valuable advice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Thinking Mother.

My favourite:

Let's Get Creative Online! Visit the Fly Guy site. It's absolutely wonderful adn addicting.

My Cat's Butt Glitters in the Sun

...Because he sat on the glitter glue picture my son has been working on for the last two days.

Then the dog scared him and he tore off the table into the living room with the picture still firmly attached to his butt.

Scared of the paper he finally stopped to wrestle it off leaving a print from his butt and the paper on the carpet.

He then jumped into the linen closet where I grabbed him just before he could stamp the clean towels with his butt.

I grabbed some paper towel and scrubbed his butt as he hissed and yowled at me.

Then I tossed his butt out of the house.

As he skulked away, his butt glittered green in the sunlight.

I may never buy glitter glue again.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Thanks to GeeArt16 Catherine has been lead down some very neat roads. Her first GeeArt online lesson had quite a bit packed into it but what made the biggest impact was the little section on Leonardo Da Vinci. It wasn't simply the art or inventions that caught her fancy, it was how he was so willing to experiment and make mistakes. That's what she is so taken with.

Next spelling test when she's worried about spelling a word wrong I'll just remind her to, "Be like Da Vinci!"

To supplement we've been watching Sister Wendy's Story of Painting. I remember loving the series when I was younger and hoped Catherine would be similarly enchanted. She was. She hung on Sister Wendy's every word. She did however, spend the first couple of episodes waiting for the appearance of Leonardo. And when he did appear, she was in heaven.

When Leonardo appeared so did Raphael. When Raphael appeared, so did Michaelangelo (if only there had been a bit on Donatello - We would have had all the ninja turtles!). Catherine spent the whole episode with her mouth open. When I asked her if she liked the Renaissance her answer was, "YES!"

Sister Wendy was a pleasure for me to watch the first time but now, watching my daughter watch Sister Wendy...Infinitely better!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The New Baby

Our old printer was running out of ink. To buy high yield refills would have cost over $90. I had $50 in Staples gift cards and Staples had a sale on a monochrome multi-function printer.

Meet our new darling:

It's a Brother 7020 and it does everything but print in colour. The lack of colour is no huge deal as we mainly print coloring pages, text documents and worksheets.

We really couldn't afford to run an inkjet anymore. Even when we bought the cheaper cartridges (moderate yield they call them) we were still spending $50-$60. The laser printer not only cost less then the high yield refills but will cost at least 10 cents less per page printed.

And this baby is fast. Where our inkjet poked along at the speed of an anesthetized snail the laser had a 16 page coloring book printed in seconds.

I love it. I love it.

Speaking of Logic...

PrairieFrog Blog has a really cute post and puzzle about the logic Dell's daughter uses to determine what numbers are male and female (!). See if you can figure it out before reading the comments.

Hint: Check out the information on Dell and her kids in the sidebar.

Free Logic Game - Today Only!

I keep an eye on Game Giveaway of the Day because although I don't tend to download most of their offerings, every once in awhile they have a neat piece of software that I grab.

Today it's Tiny Worlds. It's a neat little logic game in the vein of Lemmings where you are given some cute animals (sheep, fish, chicks) and have to guide them home past obstacles and predators.

I'm going to keep ahold of this one and stick it in my bag of logic activities.

NOTE: As always with Giveaway of the Day stuff you can only download and install this today. It won't be availible tommorrow and if you download it but don't install it you won't be able to install it after today.

Friday, October 12, 2007

AVKO Spelling

My daughter has started a new spelling program. After a couple of false starts with a different curriculum we tried 8 sample lessons from Sequential Spelling 1 from AVKO and the results were good.

The AVKO approach doesn't use conventional tests. There are spelling lists, true, but when you read out a word and your child writes it you also read out the proper spelling so the child can see and correct their mistakes immediately. Not only that but the word lists make sense. The sample lessons are built around the sound 'in' and Catherine progressed from 'pin' to 'beginnings' in the space of 8 days. There's a real sense of building true skills rather than simply memorizing lists of words.

I received my pdf copy of Sequential Spelling today so we'll be trying the first list as soon as Catherine gets home from a friend's house. Based on the success with had with the sample however, this one looks like a winner.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Response to a Call

Over at Daily Provision a homeschooling mom is Calling aHomeschooling Moms. She's feeling a little swamped and needs some advice and support. I figured my response would be a little long so I choose to do it here rather than her comments section. I also thought that if anyone else wanted to offer her their wisdom they could either post in her comments or on their blog with a trackback to her blog as a sort of voluntary meme. Anyhow, here goes.

O.k., so I admit it. I need some help and encouragement!! I’m not ready to give up, but I am struggling! Am I making this too hard?!

Yes. You mentions piles of workbooks but your kids are 4 and 6. When they're that young there's simply no need to stress out over curriculum and school work. Relax. Make sure they have the usual cool toys (Lego, pattern blocks, gear sets, etc.) and while they're exploring and stretching their minds with those, go online and research some more relaxed methods, delayed schooling and unschooling. It's sounds a bit like your approach may be frustrating you right now so feel absolutely free to flip your approach on it's head and try something different. It's the freedom in homeschooling that's one of the great benefits so take advantage of it. Maybe even just take a vacation from homeschooling for a bit and just dive into playing with your kids.

Some resources:

Radical Unschooling


Nothing you read needs to be adopted wholesale but you'll more than likely find some really valuable nuggets that give you some breathing room in your homeschooling.

Anyway, I know I’ve done a lot of rambling, so here’s some specific questions for you:

(1) When teaching children on different grade/skill levels, what strategies do you use?

TV. Seriously. When I'm working with my 9 year old in the morning the TV goes on to a preschool station for a couple of hours or I stick in a movie. No, I don't feel guilty about this.

When I need to do something with my son I tend to incorporate my daughter (reading, games) or let her find her own thing to do.

(2) Do you have a general time-frame to complete tasks each day, a specific schedule, or no schedule at all?

I have a couple of hours in the morning for Language Arts and Math and some tim in the afternoon for history, science, art, etc. It's pretty fuzzy and framed more by a specific lesson we need to do rather than a time period. The only real requirement is that it be done before 2 pm when the school kids get home and frends knock on the door looking for Catherine.

(3) In what part of the house do you have school? How do you organize all your school materials and where do you store them?

I have two desks in our kitchen, one for Catherine and one for me and the computer. This is also where I keep our curriculum and supplies like pencils and paper. Craft and science supplies are on an old rolling microwave cart by Catherine's desk. Reference books and toys occupy about half of our living room.

(4) Are you involved with a local homeschool group? Do your children have outside activities, and if so, what kinds, and how often?

I am not involved in a group. My daughter goes to Girl Guides and Sunday School once a week and daycare once a week as an informal but paid helper. My son goes to preschool once or twice a week and Sunday School.

That's all I can handle at the moment but future plans include Beavers for my son and music lessons and possibly 4-H for my daughter.

(5) Have you ever felt totally frustrated, overwhelmed, smothered, and/or unmotivated? If so, how have you been able to cope with these feelings?

Yup. I bitch about them here or on a message board or email list or with a friend. I also change things up in our homeschooling. When our unschooling became stale and lifeless, we went to curriculum. When the curriculum began to become restrictive, I added some of our old unschooling ideals back in.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Preschool Predators

I was perusing homeschooling blogs today and ran across an entry at Coffee with Mrs. Dani. Apparently she had an, "Absolutely Terrifying experience at McDonald’s."

When we got home, my youngest, around 6 years old, looked odd. I asked her what was wrong. She told me the little boy, who was a little younger than her, pulled down her underwear and touched her backside. He told her if she told his mommy he would poke her eye in the middle and not be able to see again.

I was just expecting more I guess. I was thinking she almost had an accident in her car or came home to find her has had been burgled. No...A little boy touched her daughter's backside.

It's not that I don't think inappropriate touching isn't a big deal, I guess it's that the post and the comments are so loaded with an adult's reading of an incident between children. Take the lady who's already labeled the boy an experienced sexual predator:

Man, the scary part is, he already knows how to threaten and manipulate. You have to wonder what is going on in his home.

There's always that temptation to wonder I guess but barring real evidence, is it warranted? Sure the kid behaved inappropriately but to start reading dark family secrets into it seems...stretched.

There was a case of a little boy who was suspended from his pre-kindergarten class for hugging a teacher's aide and rubbing his face in her chest. It came from an adult assigning adult motivations and understandings to the act of a child. It also made a lot of homeschooling blogs and message boards as homeschooling moms were horrified that a young boy would be labeled and punished for something ultimately so trivial. It could only happen in the school system.

Uh huh.

Anyhow, nevermind the poor daughter who was likely a little upset and worried about the event. A calm talk and a hug and the incident would have been dealt with. Instead the mother ran back to the restaurant to inform the staff, hunt down the parents and ultimately try to get a license plate number as the family (now labeled holders of dark secrets) left. Now the daughter may be convinced that the incident, instead of a little confusing, was, "Absolutely Terrifying."

Look, I'm all for being wary. But be wary of looking at childrens actions with adult motivations. Be wary of labeling a young child, either as pervert or victim.

Feel free to disagree with me on this one but I've seen to many pantsings and threats of retribution amongst kids to summon up the suspicions that surround the McDonald's event.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

He Got the Job!

Some months ago I blogged about my husband getting a chance at a new job. In his current line of work he's gone about as far as he can go. The new job offered the chance to use his college degree, a much needed change in direction, excellent benefits and a salary that, starting out, beats his current one and will most definitely go up. And this job would have so much room for new and interesting challenges.

Well, we got the call today, finally. He's starting Monday and he's downright giddy about it. We all are. Harry especially since the job involves working with signals and railroad tracks. Trains. To the mind of a Thomas obsessed 5 year old, this makes his dad a Number One Hero (Thomas fans will get the reference).

I had other stuff I was going to blog about today but all that's going through my mind is that my husband is finally getting out of a job that he's been doing too long. He's already happy and motivated.

Okay. The money thing is nice too.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

This is likely it for posts for today and tommorrow. I've got a thanksgiving supper at my in-laws today and we're doing our own tomorrow so I'll be busy.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Want to know what I've been doing today?

Browsing the blogs of very christian wives and mothers for homemaking information. No, I'm not turning into a surrendered wife or anything, it's just that the only decent, knowledgable and intelligent homemaking advice seems to be on those blogs. If I might have little to talk to these christian cousins about in terms of politics or religion they certainly have a lot I can learn from them.

Menu planning, budgeting, gardening, cleaning, baking, scheduling, organization...It goes on and on. A rich treasure trove of deeply useful stuff that most of the rest of society has deemed either useless or abandoned to for-hire services.

Well, that's not quite true. We do have Martha. So either it's beneath us or so far above us that the best we can really hope for is to browse a glossy monthly. Either way, homemaking and it's arts aren't things we're actually supposed to do.

So the christian housewives come to my rescue. They won't tell me to have a maid in once a week or to decant liquid dish soap but they'll navigate the reasonable and practical middle and help me craft a cleaning schedule. I think I can manage that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Our New Art Curriculum - geeART 16

It's geeART 16!

I'd actually looked at this before when Sprittibee mentioned it some time ago. Well, less mentioned, more raved. I had chaecked it out and was impressed. The only problem was it was $70 US.

Today I went back after finding out (me and my googling habit) there was a summer sale and the cost had been reduced to $28! $28 for a year's worth of lessons. And since the Canadian dollar is so strong these days that's a real, honest-to-goodness $28 for me.

Whoo hoo!

So I sat my daughter down, started up the sample lesson and watched from a distance. She was hooked immediately. The lesson theme was paint and what it had been made of and stored in over the course of history. Catherine learned about what Ancient Egyptian brushes were made of, the sources of different pigments, what a binder is, how paint in tubes changed art...Just an amazing wealth of cool stuff. And this took her over an hour to get through. And she still had activities left to do.

As we turned it off so she could get ready for Girl Guides I also noticed that there were lesson plans availible for offline use.

Needless to say I suscribed to the site. It offers a lot of value and will make a welcome addition to our homeschooling.

Try out the sample lesson here and see for yourself what it has to offer.

Note: This isn't a paid endorsement or anything, just me being typically enthusiastic about a neat find.

Carnival of Education

The Carnival of Education is up at Evolution...Not Just a Theory Anymore.

My favs:

Novels a No-no - So ridiculous you just have to read it for yourself.

Homework Insanity- This Emperor has No Clothes

10 Online colleges offering credit for life experience

I know I'm going carnival crazy lately and no, it's not going to stop.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Number One

My five year old, Harry, who's only past attempts at drawing have been simple scribbles, drew me this today:

He then proceeded to draw a 2, 3 and an X, all beautifully done.

After he was done he passed me the drawing of the 1 and said, "You're Number One Mom."


Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Tami's Blog.

My faves:

Homeschool Review of The Drawing Breakthrough Book - I can draw and I have a daughter who loves to draw but do you think I can sit down and teach her what I know? Skills aside it takes a kind of organized thought I'm not sure I have. Looks like the book Gary has reviewed might be perfect for us.

First People of America Has a great site on Native Americans in North America.

Learning to Read Math - an excellent and useful post.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Krtek - Czechoslovakian for Mole

Harry wanted to look at some pictures of volcanoes exploding tonight so we went to YouTube. First we found this video produced by Ignite Learning.

It's a fun little video and Harry had a good time dancing to the song. Ignite Learning has a whole bunch of educational videos and I plan to show their video on Making Molecules with Atoms to Catherine tomorrow.

After that it was close to bedtime so instead of reading a story we turned to Mole, a little guy we'd found on YouTube a couple of months ago. Mole, or Krtek, seems to have been a much loved Czechoslovakian cartoon character many years ago and the cartoons are very sweet little shorts that Harry adores. A search for Mole or Krtek will turn up dozens of shorts on YouTube. Here's one:

Logic and Critical Thinking

I've been looking at curriculum for logic and critical thinking lately but it's just too much money. I have a few pieces of curriculum I need to buy and when our inkjet printer finally runs out of ink I'm shelling out money for a monochrome laser printer so our homeschool budget is shot for awhile. So I had an idea I thought I'd share.

I grabbed some scissors and cut some paper into a pile of slips. On each slip I wrote a different activity related to logic, reasoning and critical thinking and then the whole shebang went in a bag. At the end of school stuff a couple of times a week Catherine gets to stick her hand in and pull out a random piece of paper. Whatever is on the paper, she does.

What I put on the paper:

Zoombinis (3 slips because we have all 3 games)
Logic Puzzle (Enchanted Learning has some and a Google search usually reveals more)
Checkers (a game with me)
I Spy
Logic Zoo

...And more.

I plan to add some more games, kinds of puzzles, pages from some puzzle books, etc.

Any ideas for additions to the bag are welcome!

And the Angels Sang!

I pulled out our old Primary (Singapore) Math 3A book last night while searching for some reading and Canadian Social Studies resources. This was the math program my daughter hated with a passion and we dumped last spring. I looked through it and thought, well, she's made a lot of improvements, maybe we'll give it a try tommorrow.

I pulled it out this morning and dumped it on her desk. I got one huge dirty look.

I persisted. We opened it up to where we left off and plowed ahead. Plowing though turned to skipping joyfully. Catherine adored it.

Well shucks.

I'm thinking that all the work we've been doing with Math Mammoth and the Calculadder drills have shored up her skills enough that it's not the work it once was. Also, where we left off was just past a bar modeling lesson and I think the bar models just don't jive with Catherine's style. From what I remember they were a huge source of frustration. She loves to just work with numbers (in her head! Take the pencil and paper away and she has a ball!) and doesn't seem to get much out of manipulatives at all at this point.

So anyway, I'm thrilled. I can bring out Primary Math again. We're a full grade behind but I'm not going to worry about that. Our focus will be drilling basic skills, reinforcing that with Math Mammoth and moving on with Primary Math if Catherine continues to enjoy it. We'll see how bar modeling goes the next time it comes up but if her reaction is the same as last time I'll just move on or cover the topic with Math Mammoth.

Carnival of Family Life

The Carnival of Family Life is up at Real Life.

My favourites:

The Hunter - Brings back memories of my childhood but not for the, 'I Wuv Bambi,' crowd.

Proving Myself as a Dad, Again and Again - Being a SAHD at the park.

My Silly Little Purchase Paid Off - I want what she bought!