Monday, April 30, 2012

What we did in school today (Crayons' Year 5)

We read the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and sang Morning Has Broken.

Crayons started a Math Mammoth worksheet about months and years.  Her homework is to calculate how many days old she is.

We read a little bit of Evangeline.  Evangeline is still waiting for it to be tomorrow so that she can go hunt down Gabriel.  But these are my favourite lines from this section:
Then from his station aloft, at the head of the table, the herdsman...spake to his guests, who listened, and smiled as they listened:--
"Welcome once more, my friends, who long have been friendless and homeless,
Welcome once more to a home, that is better perchance than the old one!
Here no hungry winter congeals our blood like the rivers;
Here no stony ground provokes the wrath of the farmer.
Smoothly the ploughshare runs through the soil, as a keel through the water.
All the year round the orange-groves are in blossom; and grass grows
More in a single night than a whole Canadian summer..."
Aw, c'mon, we do get summer here too, you know.
We read about Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in June, 1897, using this short guide to the Royalty and Empire exhibit created in 1982.  This led into a discussion about Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, and the Queen's family, and what happened to Princess Margaret Rose (Crayons remembered her from an American Girl movie), and the hats that the princesses wore to The Wedding (which was a year ago yesterday).

Crayons did some copywork, and we did a quick review of the writing lessons about paragraphs.

We also read about how Alexander treated the female relatives of Darius after the battle of Issus (kindly), and about the reluctant king Abdalonymus of Sidon. (It's a good story, even if it seems like kind of a historical urban myth.) Crayons recreated both stories with her dolls afterward.

Oh, and we started reading Orphan at My Door, by Jean Little, one of the Dear Canada diary series.  It begins in the spring of 1897, is set in our part of Ontario, and it mentions the Jubilee, which is particularly important to the main character because her name is Victoria.  And that seemed an appropriate way to end the school day.  If you don't count a swimming lesson tonight.

What's for supper? Garlicky pasta casserole

Tonight's menu:

Pasta casserole:  Shell pasta, jarred Alfredo sauce (because we bought two jars and the Apprentice didn't use hers), cottage cheese-spinach layer (like lasagna), and mozzarella cheese
Mixture of cooked carrots and frozen vegetables

Choice of leftover/thawed cookies

Teaching them to read...and more...for very little money

Good reading for this week:  Valerie's post Teach a Child to Read for $1 or Less, at Frugal Hacks.

I taught the Apprentice to read for very little money, too, when she was between three and four years old.  It wasn't so much that I pushed her to learn so young, but she had been picking out alphabet letters for months already and was now demanding the rest of the reading secret.  She partly taught herself; I just filled in the gaps.  We used a combination of Ruth Beechick's reading booklet, a couple of library books (The Chalkboard in the Kitchen), and a yard-saled copy of Sidney Ledson's Teach Your Child to Read in 60 Days.  (And we found lots of books to read together.)

With the other Squirrelings, we used more of Charlotte Mason's reading methods (computers and printers make cutting up sentences a snap); but we included Ledson's Cheerios-and-egg-carton reading game (like this one) as well, because by that time it had become a family rite of passage to play "the game."

In any case, Spalding or Cheerios, Professor Phonics or Crayons' method, we agree with Valerie:  learning to read (for most children) does not have to be complicated or expensive.

A new era in Treehouse life

As of today, Mr. Fixit is taking leave from a stressful office job to pursue self-employment.

It's not something we were unprepared for, but it still feels a bit like the first time we pushed off on a two-wheeler without training wheels.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Life is too short to be too grim (Rumpole of the Bailey books)

Recently I  read two mysteries with a revive-somebody-old theme.  One of them was a recent Sherlock Holmes novel (Grandpa Squirrel lent it to us), not bad reading but with really a nasty crime at the bottom of it.  The other was a novel set in 1934 and starring the real-life mystery writer Josephine Tey as one of the main characters.  I finished it dutifully, but I really disliked it, for several reasons.  I never did figure out that blackmail subplot. And Josephine Tey didn't even get all that much to do in solving the mystery.  Besides, as someone else pointed out, Josephine Tey was just one of her pen names anyway, so it's not very believable that her closest friends would have called her that.

It wasn't until I got partway through Rumpole and the Golden Thread this week that I realized what was missing in those other books.  Humour.

I know the Rumpole books aren't strictly mysteries, they're lawyer stories that sometimes have a bit of a mystery attached, so maybe it's not fair to compare them.  But honestly, I would rather have a few 1980's laughs courtesy of John Mortimer than read any more of those grim and gritty newer novels, at least for awhile.  Rumpole doesn't forget that we need to laugh sometimes, even when life is less than perfect.  It's kind of the same reason we still like watching The Rockford Files.

And besides the frequent quotes and misquotes from The Oxford Book of English Verse, they enrich my vocabulary immensely with words like plonk.

P.S.  Grandpa Squirrel says he likes them just for the cover art.

What did we do in school today? (Crayons' Year 5)

We did the same group of opening songs and Bible verses that we've been reading all week.  I personally was a bit O-Canada'd out by today, but Crayons' two teddies (that have been participating this week during school) requested it again so they could practice their French.

We played a round of Professor Noggin's History of Canada card game.  Crayons won by two cards.

We read about how Evangeline was reunited with the father of her sweetheart Gabriel, but that she had just missed Gabriel himself going the other way (through the alligator swamp?).  Gabriel's father promises that they will track him down. 

We worked on a page of fractions review.

Mama Squirrel had planned that we'd read some of The Tempest together, but Crayons requested another chapter of The Adventures of Robin Hood instead. 

Our weekly work in Write Source 2000 continued with still more details about Mr. Brown the Gym Teacher.   Mr. Brown is dissected in descriptive paragraphs, narrative paragraphs, expository paragraphs, and persuasive paragraphs.  After discussing the difference between these, we each got out a novel, picked out a couple of good paragraphs to read to each other, and tried to sort them into their various types.  (Some did fit, some didn't.)

We read all about the Battle of Issus in Stories of Alexander the Great.  King Darius jumped out of his royal chariot and ran.  Alexander, bleeding and dirty but victorious, commandeered the tent of Darius and enjoyed the monarchical bathtub. Seriously:
But Darius' tent, which was full of splendid furniture and quantities of gold and silver, they reserved for Alexander himself, who, after he had put off his arms, went to bathe himself saying, 'Let us now cleanse ourselves from the toils of war in the bath of Darius.'

'Not so,' replied one of his followers, 'but in Alexander's rather; for the property of the conquered is and should be called the conqueror's.'

Here, when he beheld the bathing vessels, the water-pots, the pans, and the ointment boxes, all of gold curiously wrought, and smelt the fragrant odors with which the whole place was exquisitely perfumed, and from thence passed into a pavilion of great size and height, where the couches and tables and preparations for an entertainment were perfectly magnificent, he turned to those about him and said, 'This, it seems, is royalty.' --Plutarch of Chaeronea
Alexander the Great, by Rembrandt

Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crochet Class #7: Final Project

We had our last in-real-life crochet class last Saturday, but I'm just getting around now to posting about it.

The girls had their choice of projects.  I suggested one of these two amigurumi pieces:

Cupcake, from Ana Paula's Amigurumi Patterns & Random Cuteness (photo: theirs) (I would suggest not working with such dark yarn for the base, though, especially if you're still new to crocheting.  Lighter colours make it easier to see the stitches.)
Birds of a Feather, from the BitterSweet blog (photo: theirs)

We had a few takers for the cupcake, and I think two for the bird.  Crayons decided to make a hamster instead (from a library book). (No photo yet--we'll take one when she's done.) 

All three patterns are very similar:  you start by making a flat single-crocheted circle (just like the mini hat), and then when it's big enough, you stop increasing and just work straight up for a certain number of rows.  The new technique that everyone had to learn was decreasing, because when you get near the top you have to get smaller again!  In the bird pattern, decreasing is written as "sc2 tog," meaning that you single crochet two stitches together.  The cupcake pattern calls it "dec 1," meaning that you decrease one stitch by working the two stitches together.  (Pattern reading is a skill in itself.)

Nobody got completely finished in the last class, but they all got off to a good start on the projects.  Each girl took home an "Each One Teach Two" certificate stating that she "is now qualified to be known officially as a crocheter; is granted all rights and privileges for the use of yarn and hooks in a fun and creative manner; and is authorized to share this new talent with at least two others."

And if you've followed us this far, you can go ahead and print one out too!  Congratulations!

Monday, April 23, 2012

What we're doing in school today (Crayons' Grade 5)

Besides waiting for some predicted snow...this morning we had lots of reading.

We sang O Canada in English and French. Crayons is just beginning to learn the French words, so she mostly listened to that part.

We sang through the books of the Old Testament. Then Mama Squirrel sang it with "empty spaces," which Crayons had to fill in.

We read Psalm 148:1-6 together. ("Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord from the heavens.")

Mama Squirrel read a passage from the Gospel of Matthew.

We read a hymn by George Herbert ("King of glory, King of peace / I will love thee") and some of Longfellow's Evangeline.

Crayons finished a page from Math Mammoth.

We read a chapter (M.S. read, Crayons listened) about Alexander the Great. King Darius (the third) counted up all his troops by ten thousands, and took an inventory of all his shiny war stuff, in preparation for a battle with the Macedonians. When he asked the opinion of an advisor, Charidemus, Charidemus told him that what he needed was not more equipment but some well-trained Macedonians. King Darius responded, of course, by having Charidemus executed.

We reviewed where Alexander and King Darius fit into our big timeline; also Daniel (who lived during the time of Darius the first), David, Solomon, and George Washington.

We read two chapters from our new natural history book, The Loghouse Nest, about chickadees and cardinals.

We don't have much left for this afternoon except for copywork and science. We might fit in some Brahms. Also some crocheting--Crayons is making a hamster. Really. And she has some homework: one page of math, plus reading from The Prince and the Pauper.

Image from Wikipedia.

Friday, April 20, 2012

From the book sale

The pickings were a bit slim in the children's room, but the prices in there were reasonable and I did bring home a few books for the Scholastic shelf.

TX 1159 Charlie the Lonesome Cougar
TX 801 The Mad Scientists' Club
TX 1111 The Shaggy Dog
TX 945 Hans Brinker--oops, this one is abridged
TX 3330 The Magic of Oz
TJ 2904 Pigeon of Paris, by Natalie Savage Carlson (TJ's are harder to find)

I also found a French workbook...sort of a workbook...called Pourquoi? Comment?  I'm still figuring out what that's about.

In the main room I found copies of J.B., by Archibald MacLeish; Howard's End is on the Landing, by Susan Hill; a nice copy of Longfellow's Evangeline; an extra copy of Babies Need Books, probably to give away; and an Abbey Classics copy of Lorna Doone.  The cover art made it look like it's abridged, but I don't think it is--I'll check it against an online version, but it looks pretty genuine from here. (It turned out to be somewhat abridged, which surprised me since it was still full of dialect and didn't appear to be dumbed-down. Also I can't find anywhere on the book itself that says "abridged" or "adapted." But the Project Gutenberg version is definitely longer.)

So--not a bad trip!

What's up today in the Treehouse?

1.  I'm trying to get used to Blogger's new interface.  I feel like someone redecorated my house when my back was turned.  (Is that what the DHM meant about feeling like someone reorganized her kitchen?)

2.  The Apprentice is almost done her first-year exams.  I think she has one left next week.

3.  It's a teacher-development day for the public schools, so Ponytails is out sewing with some homeschooled/previously homeschooled friends. 

4.  Tomorrow is our last crochet class.

5.  Tonight and tomorrow are the big annual used book sale.

6.  Mr. Fixit has been hunting old radios lately.  He bought one to fix up called a Tombstone.  (When he told me he wanted to get a Tombstone, I was a bit worried until he explained.)

Photo found here.

Two kinds of oat flour muffins

Last night I had a committee meeting here, and the snacks had to be wheat free and dairy free.  (Oats were okay.)  So I ran some rolled oats through the food processor and made a batch of mini-muffins from the Common Room's Banana Oatmeal Bread recipe.  I had enough oat flour left to make these Carrot Spice Cupcakes from Canadian Living.  They're not meant to be wheat-free, but the oat flour does work in them--I just added a bit more than the cupful of all-purpose originally called for.  I also left out the nuts, and blended the last little bit of oat flour with some oil and cinnamon sugar to make a streusel sprinkle for the tops.

It worked!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's for supper? Chicken thighs cacciatore

Tonight's dinner menu:

Boneless chicken thighs and mushrooms, baked in the toaster oven with Mama Squirrel's Diner-Style Sauce (clarification: the sauce ingredients, without the ground beef)
Butterfly (bow-tie) pasta
Cooked carrots

Vanilla pudding with blueberries

Monday, April 16, 2012

What we learned in school today

How Alexander the Great conquered the Persians.

That Red Admiral butterflies love dandelions.

That Alexander Graham Bell claimed the patent on the telephone about two hours before another inventor showed up to do the same thing.

How Lucinda gave her little friend Trinket her first-ever Christmas tree (Roller Skates).

How Johannes Brahms wrote his Academic Festival Overture as both a "musical thank-you" and a memorial to his favourite summer vacation.  (This 1983 performance conducted by Leonard Bernstein is very entertaining.)

Forgot:  we started reading The Tempest today too.

Red admirals and dandelions

On a windy, warm spring day, we're suddenly inundated with both dandelions and butterflies--mostly Red Admirals.  I don't ever remember seeing so many butterflies in our yard at one time.  You stand in the grass and feel like you're in a butterfly conservatory.

Photo found on Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Homeschool Store in the Cupboard: Planning for Grade Six (Ambleside Online)

Jeanne recently posted about how she goes about planning an Ambleside Online year. I've been doing some similar planning for next fall's AO Year 6, Crayons/Dollygirl's Grade 6 year. A lot of next year's material comes from our "homeschool store in the cupboard," either because we already had the recommended book from previous Squirrelings, or because, here and there, we are substituting for books we have a) already read or b) can't get hold of or can't afford, and because I want to add some Canadian content.

AO Year 6 daily lessons include Penmanship or Copywork, Math, Foreign language (French), Latin, and Musical Instrument Practice. We will not likely be doing Latin next year, and Crayons doesn't play an instrument, so those are crossed out.

The weekly lessons are Art Appreciation, Art, Grammar, work with timelines and maps, Handicrafts, Music Appreciation (including folksongs and hymns), Nature Study, One Life from Plutarch (per term), and a Shakespeare play (per term). The only major change I am making--just for this year--is that we will not be doing Plutarch in the second and third terms. That's not because Plutarch isn't important, but because those terms are already focused on Greek and Roman history and for us it seems like overkill. When I read Augustus Caesar's World last year with Ponytails, I found it was such a packed-full book that we could have used extra time on it. (It's not just a biography of Augustus Caesar: there are sections on Eastern religions, a survey of Old Testament history, a retelling of the Aeneid, lists of Roman gods and goddesses, a story by Horace, and more.  I even learned some things about King Herod that I never knew before.)

These are the booklists for the specific subject areas, with my notes:

Bible: Like Jeanne, I'd like Crayons to make Bible reading more of a personal habit rather than a school subject. But during school time this year, I'm hoping to study the first half of Francis Schaeffer's booklet Basic Bible Studies. Also, the AO year's work includes Ruth Beechick's Genesis: Finding Our Roots, the novel The Bronze Bow, and optional biographies of Nate Saint and Brother Andrew. All of those we can count under Bible and Christian Studies. I would also like to include a book by Isobel Kuhn (Crayons appreciates some female content, plus Mrs. Kuhn was a Canadian).

Year 6 History is a mixture: the first term covers the end of World War I to present day, and the other two terms are ancient history. The WWI period has always been a bit tricky to "Canadianize," whether you try to fit it in at the end of Year 5 or leave it until Year 6. I think there's just more Canadian material to cover, even for Year Sixes, than there is American; maybe because we were in the war longer, I'm not sure. Anyway, the other girls never got through WWI by the end of Year 5, but with Crayons we are going a bit faster and should be more on track with that.

For Term 1, AO suggests either the older books Story of Mankind or A Child's History of the World, plus Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World, Vol 4: The Modern Age. We'll do just the Bauer chapters, plus the 20th-century chapters from Janet Lunn and Christopher Moore's Story of Canada. We also have Scholastic's Everything You Need to Know About Canadian Social Studies Homework, and Don Gillmor's big illustrated Canada: A People's History Volume Two.

History for terms two and three includes Augustus Caesar's World by Genevieve Foster, Story of the Greeks by H. A. Guerber, and Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber. We do not own the Guerber books, but we do have Mary Macgregor's Story of Rome and Story of Greece. Or we can read the Guerber books online at The Baldwin Project.

Along with the regular history books, the AO booklist includes a section of History Tales and/or Biography. The Christian-history book Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula is used throughout the AO years, but we sold our copy to someone else, so won't be using it this year. If we're already including the Christian biographies and Genesis, Finding Our Roots with the Christian studies, the only biography left in this section is Never Give In (about Winston Churchill), to be read in the third term. Some of the other free reading books are biographies or personal experiences as well, like The Von Trapp Family Singers. So I don't think we're short on those.

We may include Douglas Bond's fourth Mr. Pipes book, The Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries, since we're not reading Trial and Triumph. Ponytails read it last year in Grade 8, and she found it fairly tough going.

Citizenship:  This section is not included in Ambleside until Year 7, but since we are not doing much Plutarch, I wanted to include something else such as Ourselves or an Uncle Eric book.  We just bought “Uncle Eric” Talks About Personal, Career & Financial Security, and I think some parts of it would work well for Crayons next year.  (Some parts are obviously aimed more at older students or adults.)  Also, it's meant to come before Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, which we read in Year 7.

Geography:  The suggested book is The Story of David Livingstone by Vautier Golding.  We read about Livingstone this year already and don't really want to study him again.  But I think the suggested science book The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson could also work for geography.  We have copies of both the Young Reader's Edition, which has lots of maps, and a "commemorative edition" with photographs.  Sometime between now and September, I might have time to put together a "treehouse study guide" for Crayons.

Natural History/Science:
We are not great at sticking with The Handbook of Nature Study, although we've used some of the outdoor challenges on the HNS blog.  Some of the things that make nature study more motivating for Crayons are working in a group, going out looking for specific things (such as different kinds of autumn leaves), and studying high-interest topics such as favourite animals.  Note to self: see if we can get into some kind of co-op this year that includes nature study.

Book list for nature and science:
School of the Woods by William J. Long --moving this to free reading
The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson  --moving this to geography
It Couldn't Just Happen by Lawrence Richards --already read with Ponytails.

Instead of the other suggested alternatives, we will plan to use Christian Kids Explore Physics, since we already have that book, and since Mr. Fixit used it successfully with Ponytails in her grade 7 year.

Science Biography: 
* Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity by Robert Cwiklik OR Ordinary Genius by Stephanie McPherson--we don't own either of these books, but we can borrow them.  We just bought the Albert Einstein Inventor's Special DVD.
** Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick--we just bought this as well.
*** Galileo and the Magic Numbers by Sidney Rosen--we read this already in Year 3, so we may find something else to read in the third term.

Penmanship/Copywork, Grammar, Composition  Along with oral and written narrations and studied dictation, I am planning to include some work on study skills and writing from the book Write Source 2000 (a slightly younger version of Writer's Inc.).  We do have the Tan level of Learning Language Arts Through Literature (bought for this year and not used much), but there's not much point in forcing what isn't working well.  I think the less workbooky approach of a handbook would be a better choice for next year.

Mathematics:  we'll most likely be using Math Mammoth Light Blue Grade 6. Or at least starting it...if it takes us into grade 7, that's fine too.  (Just looking at all those topics, I get the feeling that it might.)
This course covers
•the four operations and exponents
•simple equations and expressions
•ratios and problems involving ratios
•proportions, scaling of geometric figures, and scaling in maps
•all operations with decimals
•primes and prime factorization
•all operations with fractions
•geometry: angle problems and calculations, area of polygons, congruent transformations, similar figures, Pi & area and circumference of a circle, surface area and volume of common solids.
•integers: all four operations and the coordinate grid
•statistics and probability
Foreign Language:  I bought the next level of Mission Monde.  I'm not sure whether to consider it a good thing or not that we will be doing a second year about Burundi.  I'm also finding this program pretty packed--you do a lot of different things in a short time, and I'm not sure how much Crayons is getting down solid.  I think we have to pick out a few grammar points etc. that we really want to focus on over the year, work a lot on those, and let some of the rest go.  I do know as well that when you get to high school French, it Starts All Over Again.  Frustrating, but true.

Latin:  I'm pretty sure that French will be enough for this year.

* Robert Frost
** Carl Sandburg / we may substitute a Canadian poet
*** Alfred Noyes

Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch ch 29 (Ulysses) - end (Druids)
* ** The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
** Animal Farm by George Orwell
*** The Iliad  - perhaps Black Ships before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff --this one we've already read, so we'll probably choose something else for this term.

Art and Music Appreciation:  We'll probably follow the AO rotation for these, possibly incorporating some Canadian artists.

Additional Books for Free Reading
I'm not including the whole list here--you can go to the AO Year 6 booklist and see them if you want.  There are a few on the list that Crayons has already read, but quite a few that she hasn't.

And that's all the planning that I've done so far.  Hey, it's only April.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What's for supper? Crescent roll potpie

Tonight's dinner menu (really cleaning out the fridge):

Chicken potpie, made with leftover cooked chicken, frozen peas, cut up carrots and celery, chicken-flavoured white sauce (made with milk and bouillon powder), and cheese; heated till bubbly in a 9 x 13 inch pan and then topped with the contents of a can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls--that is, the whole flat sheet of dough--and baked until the biscuits were done.  (That sounds extravagant, but crescent rolls were on sale again last week.)

Salad made with lettuce, apples, and a bit of coleslaw mix (cabbage and grated carrot)

And things on the table for whoever wanted them:  almonds, applesauce, etc.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Friday school plans (Crayons' Grade 5)

Bible reading: Gospel of Matthew 25:14-46 The parable of the talents; the sheep and the goats.
Science: Soap Science. "Soap Smarts," part one of two. What happens when you mix oil and water? Why does that show how soap works? What's the difference between soap and detergent?

French: quick review of yesterday's work.

Biography: A Passion for the Impossible (Lillias Trotter), finishing chapter 10. "It fell to the three women to make sense of the endless holes and corners, to distinguish huge cupboards embedded in the walls from tiny, windowless rooms. With characteristic gusto they tackled the domestic challenge. First, they explored their new domicile, discovering twenty-five rooms (including stable, cellars, and mosque), of which only eight were inhabitable given the lack of air and light..."

English Composition, using Write Source 2000: Sections 75 to 77, Building Paragraphs. Write a descriptive paragraph of someone (human or animal), after examining the sample "Mr. Brown, the gym teacher."  (Also read Meg's description of her dog Robbie in Jean Little's Spring Begins in March.)

History and Geography games:  Usborne Map of the World Jigsaw.

Math: "Subtracting Big Numbers." What's six million minus four hundred thousand? What's one billion minus two hundred million? Not so easy to do mental math with these!

Artistic Pursuits: unit on Balance. Extra time today to make some art.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Smells like fall, in the spring: Apple Cake

What's for dessert tonight?  Chef Earl's Streusel Apple Raisin Muffins, baked in two 9 x 13 inch cake pans.  (I made a double batch and froze most of it in sandwich bags for school lunches and quick breakfasts.)

P.S.  I left out the extra white sugar--it's sweet enough without it.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Answers to the Easter Book Quiz

The Easter Book Quiz is here.

1. There were two late breakfasts at the Malone home that noon....

Meet the Malones, by Lenora Mattingly Weber

2. "Maybe I'll just give up acting and design hats..."

Spiderweb for Two, by Elizabeth Enright

3. Emma had given up Little Debbies...

These High, Green Hills, by Jan Karon

4. Business was good that Easter...

The Tin Drum, by Gunter Grass

5. I was standing on the bank of the River Goltva...

"Easter Eve," by Anton Chekhov

6. Ellie and Brenda were already fighting...

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson

Saturday, April 07, 2012

An Easter Book Quiz

Good, bad, sad, ugly, funny, reverent.  (Sorry I've only come up with six so far...I may add to this one later on.)  Name the book, the author, or both.  Happy Easter! Answers are here.

1.  There were two late breakfasts at the M home that noon.  One in the dining room with a color scheme of yellow jonquils and lavender candles; even the broiled grapefruit fitted into it.  That was Nonna's breakfast.  The other was out under the weeping willow in the back yard, with the warmest sun April could manage out in full force after the rain.  And the color scheme of this breakfast was as reckless as nature itself.  For, as fast as the children found their baskets of colored eggs, they ran to the table with them....Nonna's broiled chicken and dollar-sized biscuits monopolized the kitchen range.  The outdoor breakfast party ate yesterday's bran muffins with the bacon and drank cocoa.

2.  "Maybe I'll just give up acting and design hats when I grow up," said M, with pins in her mouth.  "Honestly, R, look at us; don't we look fashionable?"  "Uh-hunh, pretty sharp," said R with mild enthusiasm; he hardly seemed to see the hats at all.  But when, in all their finery, they went out to get into the Motor to go to church, the first thing they saw was Lorna Doone, the horse, greedily cropping crocuses on the front lawn, and on her head she, too, was wearing a new bonnet: a dashing creation made up of a feather duster, some paper roses, and family toothbrushes arranged in a cockade, all tastefully held in place with adhesive tape and the cord from somebody's pajamas.

3.  Emma had given up Little Debbies for Lent three years ago, a sacrifice he deeply appreciated. Being in the same room with a Little Debbie of any variety was more temptation than he could handle.

4.  Business was good that Easter, even though, at the insistence of Matzerath, who was Protestant, the shop had to be closed on Good Friday.  Mama, who generally had her way in most matters, gave in on Good Fridays and closed the shop, demanding in return the right on Catholic grounds to close the shop for Corpus Christi, to replace the boxes of Persil and display packages of Kaffee-Hag in the window with a small, colorful picture of Mary, illuminated with electric lights, and to take part in the procession in Oliva.

5.  I was standing on the bank of the River Goltva, waiting for the ferry-boat from the other side. At ordinary times the Goltva is a humble stream of moderate size, silent and pensive, gently glimmering from behind thick reeds; but now a regular lake lay stretched out before me. The waters of spring, running riot, had overflowed both banks and flooded both sides of the river for a long distance, submerging vegetable gardens, hayfields and marshes, so that it was no unusual thing to meet poplars and bushes sticking out above the surface of the water and looking in the darkness like grim solitary crags.

The weather seemed to me magnificent. It was dark, yet I could see the trees, the water and the people.... The world was lighted by the stars, which were scattered thickly all over the sky. I don't remember ever seeing so many stars. Literally one could not have put a finger in between them. There were some as big as a goose's egg, others tiny as hempseed.... They had come out for the festival procession, every one of them, little and big, washed, renewed and joyful, and everyone of them was softly twinkling its beams. The sky was reflected in the water; the stars were bathing in its dark depths and trembling with the quivering eddies. The air was warm and still.... Here and there, far away on the further bank in the impenetrable darkness, several bright red lights were gleaming....

6.  Ellie and Brenda were already fighting about what they were going to wear to church.  Since Momma got mad at the preacher three years back, Easter was the only time in the year that the Aarons went to church and it was a big deal....Ellie said she would go to chuirch if Momma would let her wear the see-through blouse, and Brenda would go if she at least got a new skirt.  In the end everyone got something new except Jess and his dad, neither of whom cared...

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Crayons' Grade Five: Thursday School Plans

Bible:  Matthew 24:15-31  (Signs of the end)

Readaloud:  finish the "William Shakespeare" chapter of Roller Skates

French:  Work on the preposition "à" (to).  Listen to the French story "Jonas wants a cat."

Poetry:  continue "Evangeline" from "Four times the sun had risen and set" to "Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth moved on that mournful procession."

History:  Learning about the beginnings of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Math:  Division review worksheet

Music:  More about Brahms

Literature or biography:  Robin Hood, chapter 2

Copywork:  passage from Robin Hood or "Evangeline"

Nature study:  look at the April nature calendar.  See what spring plants, critters, and birds are around.

Free reading:  The Prince and the Pauper.

What's for supper?

Tonight's dinner menu after our afternoon out:

Hungarian smoked sausage (that was spicy!), cooked in the slow cooker with sauerkraut and acorn squash
Reheated kasha
Lettuce, sliced cucumbers, leftover bean salad, cottage cheese, applesauce

Fancy dessert glasses with a big spoonful of blackberry crisp, a little spoonful of vanilla yogurt, and a few extra thawed blackberries on top

Can they do enough math to know they're being cheated?

I had planned to repost this 2007 post today (both the part about our own homeschool and the comparison with the third grade math class at the end of the post), and then someone sent me a link to a recent Macleans' Magazine article on the sorry situation in Canadian math teaching.  It reminded me even more of the educational Blerwm (see the old post) that continues to spew, particularly in the elementary schools.  If this situation doesn't make you furious for our children--that is, the children of this generation, even if we homeschoolers have taught our own offspring better--I don't know what would. And it's not just that they grow up cheated on math:  the same applies to standards in reading, writing, and other skills that, until recently, were considered within the normal scope of a child's education.

And what makes me even angrier for these children is that we non-experts, the home-teaching parents who may or may not have college-level math courses or education credentials (many homeschoolers do have advanced degrees), seem to be doing better than the current average at math education, almost without trying.  Some of it's the curriculum homeschoolers use--certain popular programs are known to be a level or two over traditional North American math goals, so kids using them would seem a bit ahead anyway. But even if we take math slow and simple, we have this crazy advantage over the current hands-tied school situation: most of us parents, especially those of us over a certain age, were taught with traditional math methods, and that's what we pass on to our kids.  Here's how you multiply fractions, here's how you divide them.  None of this messing with paper strips. 

It doesn't matter why we do it, though, so much as whether or not it works.  Can our kids add, subtract, multiply, divide?  Can they make change?  Can they figure out a percentage?  Do they just have a good sense of how numbers work?  Apparently the kids taught with the any-way-that-works-for-you method can't, and don't. When they get to high school, where math is still taught using more traditional methods, a lot of them flounder.

Are you laughing in disbelief at this point?  I'm more ready to spit.  Crayons has been suggesting that she might like to go to public school for grade six, just to try it out like Ponytails did.  Sorry: with this amount of un-teaching going on in Canadian schools, that would be my last choice for her for next year. 

Here's the relevant part from our 2007 post:

But on the other hand, there was an article today in the local paper about math teaching in public schools, that tipped things back towards thinking again that we must be doing all right.
"Recently [the grade 3 teacher] taught the children to count by fives, using Popsicle sticks. She had them sit in a circle and line up four Popsicle sticks in a row, with a coloured one laid diagonally across each pile.

"Then she asked how many Popsicle sticks there were. One student crawled into the middle of the circle and counted up the piles: "Five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 45 . . ." he said and paused at the final two sticks. "Forty-seven" he called.

"The class applauded him. 'Good job!' she praised, and then sent the children to sit down with worksheets where they again had to add the "bundles" of lines arranged five to a pile.

"Instead of having the children write down the correct totals, though, she had them choose the right answer from some numbers printed on the bottom of the sheet. They were to cut out the right number and glue it in the proper spot.

"The children were enjoying cutting and feeling the texture of the glue stick under their fingernails.

"'Children at this age are very visual and very kinesthetic,' she said. They learn by seeing and often need to move around while learning, even if it's just working with glue."
OK, I know it's still September, and maybe that was a review lesson--but cutting and pasting answers in grade 3? And Crayons (grade 1) has been doing that same kind of counting-by-fives-plus-whatever's-left. Without crawling on the floor, I might add. Or needing to get glue stick under her fingernails.

Related posts:
Multiplication without vexation (2008)
Cookie Connections

Linked from the Carnival of Homeschooling, April 2012

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Last night's supper menu: Something sustaining

Mr. Fixit's Favourite Meatloaf, from the Betty Crocker Cookbook
Sweet potatoes
Spinach tortellini
Bean salad (made with a can of romano beans and a can of green beans)

Choice of: no-bake brownies, blackberry crisp, oranges, yogurt