Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dollar-store stuff to make workbox charts

Something we did this morning: used some of the stuff I bought to make workbox "laminated" number cards and completed-work charts. I can't really take a picture (or maybe I could and blur part of it?) because the girls' first names are prominent. But here's what we did:

I went to the Workboxes Yahoo group where there are a lot of files uploaded with fancy number sets. Most of them are too fancy for us because we have only a black-and-white printer; so we settled for number-plus-happy-face, one set printed out on yellow (surplus store) cardstock for Crayons, and one set on blue for Ponytails. I cut those out and covered them in (dollar-store) clear sticky plastic (wow, you don't get much on a roll these days!--the tags took most of the roll).

I cut a 14-inch square of blue (dollar-store) posterboard and one of yellow, and arranged the numbers on each one. Then the girls used (dollar-store) scrapbooking alphabet stickers to put their names at the top, and used some of their own favourite stickers to jazz them up around the edges. Finally I put (dollar-store) Velcro (or hook-and-loop fastener if you prefer) dots on the back of the plastic-covered numbers, and on the places on the charts where the numbers go, and attached them together. If we had decided to plastic-cover the charts themselves, I would have done that first, but we decided that the poster-board charts were about as durable as we needed them to be. (Besides, most of the plastic was gone.)

I ran a strip of weird, gooey, double-sided foam scrapbooking tape (dollar store) along the back of each chart, and attached them inside the doors of the cupboard where their (dollar-store) magazine holder-workboxes will be. If you're ever doing something like this, just check to see that any raised areas (like pieces held on with Velcro) go BETWEEN the shelves, not against them. I got one chart hung too high and the door wouldn't close right, so I had to start again. (And that tape was kind of messy to get off the cupboard door.)

I had two 16-dot packs of Velcro dots, which gave us enough for the charts (12 apiece) plus eight of the prickly-side dots to put on the magazine holders. I need to buy another package of dots to get enough for the other ten holders. If the math on that doesn't add up, it's because there's room on each shelf for only nine magazine holders, so that's how many workboxes each girl will have. However, we went with numbers 1-12 on the charts, just in case and to accommodate things like an extra-reading basket.

If the purpose of all this isn't clear by now (and I'm not even sure if the girls totally get it yet), Mama Squirrel loads the boxes/magazine holders with work each night. (Some of our boxes won't change from day to day, some will.) The Velcro numbers go on the boxes in the morning. As the work in the boxes gets completed, the numbers get put back on the completed-work chart. When the chart's full, school's done. (I know learning happens all the time, but you know what I mean--the assigned, scheduled work is completed.)

That isn't exactly the way Sue Patrick's system works. But that's how we're going to try it for now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

You know you're a homeschooler when...

your back-to-school supplies consist of four plastic magazine holders, eight pieces of posterboard, a roll of clear sticky plastic, a set of foam dominoes, Beaver Ed's Brain Busters Nature Card Game, Beaver Ed's Kids' Quiz: Human Body, three sketch books, ten pencils, two hundred file cards, two packs of Velcro dots, one pack of reinforcements, two sets of Scrapbook Kit Alphabet and Word Stickers, and four vinyl erasers.

All from Dollarama.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thrift shop haul

All books, today. Mama Squirrel had an errand downtown and happened to be near the thrift shop, and they had lots to pick from. She sadly left behind a whole slew of Fabbri's Great Musicians book-and-record sets from the 1960's. (The link is to an enthusiastic 1969 review.) Too much to carry, but maybe they'll still be there next time.

This is what did make it home, for a total of $7.25:

For The Apprentice:

Ender's Game

For Ponytails:

The Green Gables Detectives, by Eric Wilson [Update: Oh, had a second look at this one--this has real bodies and serious nasties in it, not a typical kids' mystery at all. That was disappointing!]
Knight's Castle

For Crayons:

Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Magic Book
Ramona and her Mother
A Mouse Called Wolf
The Rocking Horse Secret, by Rumer Godden

For school and other reasons:

From the Forest, by Amy Carmichael, 1940's edition
Your Passport to Creativity (an older booklet of international craft ideas)
Grade 9 French textbook
Grade 8 math textbook
Math for All Seasons, by Greg Tang
At Home: a Language Discovery Sticker book, French learning book published by Raincoast Books
At The Market: same series
The Kids Can Press French & English Word Book (our second copy, not in great shape but I thought for 75 cents we could even cut it up for flash cards)
The Mennonite Hymnal (our fourth copy, so more people can sing at once)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Me not just dumb monster, me read Plutarch

In response to Wine Dark Sea's "Celebrating The Long Sentence", which was a response to this post on The Slow Language Movement

Our Apprentice has been reading Frankenstein, and she pointed out this passage from Chapter 15:
"One night, during my accustomed visit to the neighbouring wood, where I collected my own food, and brought home firing for my protectors, I found on the ground a leathern portmanteau, containing several articles of dress and some books. I eagerly seized the prize, and returned with it to my hovel. Fortunately the books were written in the language the elements of which I had acquired at the cottage; they consisted of Paradise Lost, a volume of Plutarch's Lives, and the Sorrows of Werter....

"I can hardly describe to you the effect of these books. They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings that sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more frequently sunk me into the lowest dejection... .

"The volume of Plutarch's Lives, which I possessed, contained the histories of the first founders of the ancient republics. This book had a far different effect upon me from the Sorrows of Werter. I learned from Werter's imaginations despondency and gloom: but Plutarch taught me high thoughts; he elevated me above the wretched sphere of my own reflections to admire and love the heroes of past ages. Many things I read surpassed my understanding and experience. I had a very confused knowledge of kingdoms, wide extents of country, mighty rivers, and boundless seas. But I was perfectly unacquainted with towns, and large assemblages of men. The cottage of my protectors had been the only school in which I had studied human nature; but this book developed new and mightier scenes of action. I read of men concerned in public affairs, governing or massacring their species. I felt the greatest ardour for virtue rise within me, and abhorrence for vice, as far as I understood the signification of those terms, relative as they were, as I applied them, to pleasure and pain alone. Induced by these feelings, I was of course led to admire peaceable lawgivers, Numa, Solon, and Lycurgus, in preference to Romulus and Theseus. The patriarchal lives of my protectors caused these impressions to take a firm hold on my mind; perhaps, if my first introduction to humanity had been made by a young soldier, burning for glory and slaughter, I should have been imbued with different sensations."
I pointed out that if the monster learned nothing else from Plutarch, he at least picked up the habit of writing in very LONG sentences!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Saturday yard sale finds

Crayons found one addition to her Beanie Boppers: a hockey-playing Hat Trick Hunter. Very cute.

Mama Squirrel bought a boxful of mixed books and ca. 1994 educational software, some still in its shrinkwrap, and some on 3 1/2 inch HD diskettes that caused a Squirreling reaction similar to that seen in the dinosaur room at the ROM. We'll have to talk to Mr. Fixit to see if there's any way of using this stuff (obviously they're not going to fit into a CD-Rom drive). One we found on CD-Rom is "What's the Secret, Volume 1," from 3M Learning Software, and that does look pretty interesting. According to the reviewer, "Volume One contains everything children and adults want and need to know about: • Bee anatomy• Bee behavior• Our heart and blood• Blood Pressure• Our hearing• Stomach aches• Fractions• Sound waves• Roller coasters." Can't go wrong with that.

The books are mostly 1960's Whitman Teen Novels and Donna Parker books (we are thinking E-bay for those), plus a couple of good spy novels, a vintage French reader and a French translation of Lucy Daniels' Sheepdog in the Snow (an Animal Ark book).