Friday, November 28, 2008

A Question...

Remamber last year when I did that secular advent calender (just search my blog for "advent" and you'll get them all) thingee? I've found some new stuff and I'd sort of like to do it again but I just wondered if itwas of interest to anyone.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What is Mastery?

I think Catherine's close to acheiving mastery with everything covered in Key to Fractions. She getting page after page right with only the occasional mistake when she inevitably adds rather then subtracts or multiplys instead of dividing (those are the moments the cat jumps up beside her or the ittle brother decides a good mooning is just what we all need to brighten the day). That's mastery, right? When she's getting 90% of her work correct?

We still have to get through the last book (mixed numbers) but I'm confident she'll do fine. My only worry has been that she'll lose some of what she learned over our extended Christmas break but she's agreed that some daily review from Singapore Math's Intensive Practice won't be to onerous. After Christmas we'll be jumping back into the fire with Singapore again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free Lord of the Rings Resource

We're about halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring now and I've been looking to see if their are any interesting free resources out there that Catherine and I could make use of. Turns out Houghton Mifflin, official publisher of Tolkien's works, has a fantastic series of lessons for older students here.

The lessons themselves are a bit too much for my ten year old but the teachers guide has some comprehension and essay questions that make for fantastic discussion material. Catherine loves a good discussion and the quality of the questions makes it easy to have one and come away with some new ideas and questions about the book. A few years down the road when she reads the books herself I'll probably go back to the actual lessons and see what we can take from those.

Anyhow, it was a most awesome find and I thought I'd let everyone know about it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On the Blog Awards

I have two matters to address on two different blog awards.

First: I have three votes in Alasandra'sHomeschool Blog Awards. Three. And one I mistakenly gave to myself. This is not good for my ego.

Second: Thank you for not nominating me for the other Homeschool Blog Awards. I mean, despite my showing in Alasandra's blog awards I know I would have swept the HSBAs and then I would have been stuck with such prizes as a gift certificate for Vision Forums (Can I get the latest Dawkins book there?), a page from the King James bible framed to make it seems as if it's magically floating and a copy of Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. The last one just sounds dirty and shame on them for offering that.

There are a few good non-envangelical, fundamentalist, protestant prizes but what on earth would I do with the bulk of the them? Blog giveaway? Lynn, wouldn't you love a 10 DVD set called How to Disciple Your Family: A Plan for Generational Victory? Doc, doesn't The Family (An uncompromising vision statement for the domestic bliss and cultural dominion of the Christian family.) just speak to your experience?

Good thing I wasn't nominated. Too much hassle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just for the Record...

I don't often watch The View but when I do I like Joy Behar. That hasn't hanged because she made a dumb comment about homeschoolng. Most people I like say dumb things on occasion, including myself.

You Know Those Resources You Never Thought You'd Use?

I never really saw the appeal in Reading A to Z. I'm not keen on leveled readers in the first place and leveled readers that you have to print and assemble yourself just seem like too much work for too little reward.

Catherine though, she loves them. I have quite a few from when Reading A to Z offers free access for a day in the early spring and because one had some relation to something we were studying I printed it off for her. She finished it, looked up and asked if there were more. So I've been printing them off once or twice a week and she's been reading them in the afternoon and then spending the next few days telling everyone within earshot what she learned about gems, the Inuit or slavery.

I'll be running out of the high level readers for her in another couple of months but A to Z should be having their free access day again in early spring (a person could sign up I guess but I'm too cheap) so I'll get some more. I'll make sure to mention it here in case anyone else in interested.

I keep shying away from some of the traditional schooly stuff but I guess when you have a kid who's not so used to it then the traditional schooly stuff looks fun and novel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Case of Doubt, Read This

Next time you're full of doubt over whether you've really made the right choice in homeschooling your kids, click over to this article.

It features examples of sentences written by people attending college. College.


“The children of lesbian couples receive as much neutering as those of other couples."

“Jogging on a woman’s ovaries can be dangerous to her health.”

“Benjamin Franklin discovered America while fling a kite.”

Remember, that's our benchmark. Since most of us have kids that could write better sentences at 8, we're doing fine.

I'm Almost Afraid to Post

I've never had a spell like this before and I'm not sure if it's the extended break I took awhile back or all the stuff that's going on right now in my life.

Nothing bad mind you. It's just that now that we're so close to buying a house (WE're only waiting for the hubby's job to be a local permanent postion) I seem to go through most days with small knot in my stomach. I think it's anticipation but I sure wish I'd just relax and let it disappear.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Having Fun with Fractions.

I think I mentioned that we've put aside the Singapore Math for just a bit. Catherine did well with it but we pushed through concept after concept and once we got to the end of several units on operations with fractions and mixed numbers she was a little confuddled on what to do with what.

Out came Key to Fractions and boy, has Catherine been enjoying it. Yes, she likes Singapore Math but she never breezed through it on her own in the way she does with Key to Fractions. All those worries I've had about independent math work just seem to disapear and Catherine zooms through a half dozen pages on her own with a big grin on her face.

I think this is because she's experiencing the joy of ease. That happy feeling you get after you've put a lot of hard work into practicing a skill, especially one that was tremendously frustrating to begin with, and then reach the point where you realize you've got it. I get this a lot in the choir I sing in. Our director has a wonderful confidence that we can always meet his expectations and that belief has often meant that I've been rewarded with finding something easy that was previously frustrating and hard enough to bring me to the point of tears. I've watched this with Catherine and her violin. And now I get to see it in her math work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Done With The Hobbit

We finally finished The Hobbit last night. It was an hour and a half of reading aloud for me and I sounded a bit like a smoker at the end of it but it was definitely worth it. Catherine gave a big sigh after I set the book down and asked, "Why do books like that have to have an ending?"

But of course it doesn't have an ending. Next up is The Fellowship of the Ring which we actually started a couple of months back but dropped in favour of rereading The Hobbit. It's going to take ages but I'll enjoy it. I love reading aloud anyway and the book I'm reading from happens to be a beautiful Folio edition with gorgeous illustrations, bright white pages and crisp black text. It was also part of a $200 set and one of the stupidest purchases a poor young couple could make way back when we bought it. But still, it's purdy. And a joy to read.

We're also readng a little biography of C.S. Lewis and as soon as we're finished with that we're on to Bill Bryson's A Short History of Everything. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait. I keep sneaking peeks at that one and it looks like one we'll all enjoy.

Now, since the best way to wrap up a post you don't have a good ending for is to ask a question, I'll ask a question. Do any of you have any read-alouds on the go right now?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Mother of All Toys

The stick was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame:

A magic wand, a knight's sword, a fishing rod?

The lowly stick, a universal plaything powered by a child's imagination, has landed in the National Toy Hall of Fame along with Baby Doll and the skateboard.

Apparently the cardboard box already made it in.

HT to Joanne Jacobs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The rest of the world thanks you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Never Buy This.

My keyboard died and we had one of those stuffed in a drawer so it's what got plugged in. I hate it. Maybe you can just rinse it under a tap if you spill your coffee on it but hell, it's not worth all the keys you mistakenly hit and all the others you didn't tap hard enough for the keyboard to register. Too much work.

Yes, roll up keyboards look cool and funky but yes, they are a frustrating piece of crap.

Inuit in the Afternoon

On a message board I post at someone wanted to know what we do for homeschooling in the afternoon. Thankfully, we've actually been doing some semi-impressive stuff for the last couple of afternoons so I don't have to embarrass myself by saying, "Um...XBox and TV." Here goes.

It all started Sunday night when I read a Mic Mac creation story. Every Thursday we drive by a giant statue of Gloosecap and one of our friends is Mic Mac so this was sort of came up naturally.

Catherine had some questions fter the story so the next day I read from The Kids Book of Canadian History.

The first chapter deals with the nations that were here before the Europeans arrived. It was a little general but that was probably a good thing because then we scrounged around for other books I have on Native Canadians to give some more detail. Almost all were about the Inuit.

I was born in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. My family left before I was even two so I have no memories of it but Mom and Dad had a pile of stuff they'd been given by Inuit friends or bought like a bone knife for building igloos, an Ookpik, soapstone carvings and story after story after story. Long story shortened, I've always had a bit of an interest for the North so I've picked up books on art and poetry when I've seen them. When we decided to look deeper into a native culture, that was what we had on hand.

Yesterday we read poems and looked at books of Inuit prints and sculpture. Today we read more about the Inuit and had some great discussions about hunting, insulation and what it would have been like to be an Inuit woman a hundred years ago. Tomorrow we'll continue with more reading and a visit from my parents who are bringing up some of the things they brought back from the Arctic 33 years ago.

None of this was intended but it's unraveled in a really pleasant way so I'm more then happy to go with the low.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Subjects the Drive You Crazy.

Classical Writing worked but got boring. Language Arts Lessons from The Hobbit has it's good points but the actual writing bit bogged Catherine down. I happen to have Writing Strands sitting around so that's up next.

Yes, yes, I know. Consistency is important. But I've got that with the other key subjects wright now so I think I've earned the right to pull my hair out and fret about this subject a little. I know other moms do this, I can't be the only one.

Is there a particular subject anyone else wavers and waffles on and hasn't found a good fit for yet?