November 30, 2004

November Reading List

Elephants for Kids - Fredericks, Anthony
Winnie the Pooh's Valentine - Talkington, Bruce
Horton Hatches teh Egg - Dr Suess
Eulalie and the Hopping Head - Small, David
Friends are Sweet - Liberts, JenniferCold Little Duck, Duck, Duck - Peters, Lisa
What a Week: The Sound of Long E - Klingel, Cynthia
Olivia - Falconer, Ian
Dinosaur Eggs - Dussling, Jennifer
My "e" Sound Box - Moncure, Jane Belk
Good Enough to Eat - Rockwell, LIzzy

Easter - Gibons, Gail
Digging Up Dinosaurs - Aliki
Picture book of Thomas Alva Edison - Adler, David
Quilt Story, The - Johnston, Tony
Waiting for the Evening Star - Wells, Rosemary
When the Elephant Walks - Kasza, Keiko
Babar's ABC - De Brunhoff, Laurent
Big Daddy Frog Wrestler - Boelts, Maribeth
Frankline Plays Hockey - Jennings, Sharon
Marsh Music - Berkes, Marianne

Who Built the Pyramids - Hooper, Meredith
Ancient Egypt - Usbornes (used as resource)
Spectacular Egypt - El-Dakhakhny, Mohamed (all photos and captions)
My Thank You Bible - Henley, Karyn
Egypt - Landau, Elaine
Bible ABC - Metaxas, Eric
For Every Child - Unicef
Emmet's Pig - Stolz, Mary
Edward and the Pirates - McPhail, David
Angelina's Birthday - Holabird, Katherine

Costume Ball, The - Holabird, Katherine
Grandpa Toad's Secrets - Kasza, Keiko
If You Hopped Like a Frog - Schwartz, David
Dear Children of the Earth - Schimmel, Schim (edited as read)
Think of an Eel - Wallace, Karen
It Could Still Be Endangered - Fowler, Allan
Everywhere Babies - Meyers, Susan
Bright Eyes, Brown Skin - Hudson, Cheryl Willis
Rechenka's Eggs - Polacco, Patricia
Elm Tree and Three Sisters, An - Sommerdorf, Norma

Eva's Summer Vacation: A Story of the Czech Republic - Machalek, Jan
Frogs and Toads and Tadpoles too - Fowler, Allan
Tadpoles, The: Vietnamese Reader - Noc, Bay Nong
Magical Ballet Slippers, The - Edwards, Nick
Frog Where Are You - Mayer, Mercer
Frog on His Own - Mayer, Mercer
Crayon Bo that Talked, The - DeRolf Shane
Frog - Cooper, Susan
Great Frog Race and other poems - George, Kristine O'Connell
Hop Jump - Walsh, Ellen Stoll

It's a frog's Life: My Story of Life in a Pond - Parker, Steve
Frog Prince, A - Berenzy, Alix
Amelia Bedialia - Parish, Peggy
All About Frogs - Arnosky, Jim
Frogs - Driscoll, Laura
Frogs, Toads, Lizards and Salamanders - Parker, Nancy Wilson
Froggy Goes to Bed - Londond, Johnathen
Flashy Fantastic Rain Forest Frogs - Patent, Dorothy
Grandpa Toad's Secrets - Kasza, Keiko
Curious George Takes a Job - rey, H.a.

Snappy Little Dinosaurs - Steer, Dugald
Biggest Frog in Australia, The - Roth, Susan
Tuesday - Weisner, David
Frog, Toads and Turtle - Burns, Diane
Story about Ping,The - Flack,Marjorie
Frog House The - Maylor,Mark
Frog Princess, The(adaptation) -Lewis, J Patrick
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Yolen, Jane
Frog's Best Friend - Bauer, Marion
From Tadpole to Frog - Stewart, David

Fast Freddie Frog and other Tongue-Twister Rhymes - Rees, Ennis
Wood Frog's Life, A - Himmelmann, John
Bird, the Frog and the Light, The - Avi
Wish for Dinosaur, A - Moncure, Jane Belk
Frogs Sing Songs - Winer, Yvonne
Arthur's Family Vacation - Brown, Marc
Magic School Bus and the Electric Field, The - Cole, Joanna
My F Sound Box - Moncure, Jane Belk
Moon Frog - Edwards, Richard
Felix and the Frogs - Buller, Jon (not recommended)

Frog's Best Friend - Bauer, Marion
Amazing Frogs and Toads - Clarke, Barry
Tadpoles - Pascoe, Elaine
Frog's Body, A - Cole, Joanna
Frog Alphabet, The - Pallotta, Jerry
Frog's Sing Songs - Winer, Yvonne
Giraffe that Walked to Paris, The - Milton, Nancy
Giraffes - Nature Books
Stop Train Stop: A thomas the Tank engine Story - Awdry, REV W (based on)
Golden Egg Book, The - Brown, Margaret Wise

Girl and the Elephant, The - Cock, Nicole de
Grandma Elephant's in Charge - Jenkins, Martin
Love You Forever - Munch, Robert
One Gaping Wide-Mouthed Hopping Frog - Tryon, Leslie
Golden Flower, The: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico - Jaffe, Nina
Goldilocks and the Three Bears - Aylesworth, Jim (retold by)
Gingerbread Man, The - Galdone, Paul
Sun Girl and the Moon Boy, The: A Korean Folk Tale - Choi, Yangsook (retold by)
Golden Sandal, The: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story - Hickox, Rebecca
My Goose Betsy - Braun, Trudi

Three Billy Goats Gruff, The - Carpenter, Stephen (illustrated)
Cecily G. and the 9 monkeys - Rey, HA

Rhiannon's Reads

Todd's Box - Sullivan, Paula
Go Dog Go - Eastman, PD
Little Bear's Visit - Minarik, Else Homelund
Tiny the Snow Dog - Meister, Carl
One fish, two fish red fish blue fish - Dr Suess
Enormous Turnip, The - Tolstoy, Alexie
Put me in the Zoo - Dr Suess
Easter Words - Moncure, Jane Belk
Just a Mess - Mayer, Mercer
I am an Explorer - Moses, Amy

Show and Tell Frog, The - Oppenheim, Joanne
Days with Frog and Toad - Lobel, Arnold
Frog and Toad Together - Lobel, Arnold
When I Was Little: A Four Year Old's Memoir of Her Youth - Curtis, Jaie Lee
Green Eggs and Ham - Dr Suess
I am Not Going to Get Up Today - Dr Suess
Fox in Socks - Dr Suess
If You Give a Pig a Pancake - Numeroff, Laura
Today I Feel Silly and other Moods that make my day - Curtis, Jamie Lee
Ten Little Ladybugs - Gerth, Melanie

There's a Wocket in My Pocket - Dr Suess

Last updated November 30, 2004

November 29, 2004

G week

Getting back on track we started off G week today. We began the day by writing a capital and lowercase G on our chalk wall. Then I had the kids brainstorm G words while I wrote them all down. When they would get stuck I would give a clue and we would be off and running again. After the wall was full I used a pointer and read a word and then said the sound as I pointed to the word and then the letter alternating between upper and lower case. I also alternated between the sound and the letter name for Ciaran and would have Rhia try to read them or spell them or find the word herself on the wall.

When we were done with that Rhia sat down for copywork and she had to choose 8 words on the wall to write. While she worked on that Ciaran and I played a game (one of our G themes is games) I took out our magnetic board and our alphabet I put three letters on including a G (either upper or lowercase) and had him point to the G. Each time he got an answer right he got to choose an animal magnet if he got it wrong I could take a magnet back. Once he received 5 magnets the game would be over and he would win a sticker. He did pretty well and surprised me.

Next I set up a hopscotch course in the room and played another number game with him. He had to jump onto a number and say the number to practice counting to 10. He had to say the number and jump on the correct number. If he got it right without any mistakes he got a magnet and if he made mistakes he had to start again, two mistakes in a row and he lost a magnet. At 5 he won another sticker.

While he was working on that Rhiannon was sitting next to me playing her letter game. She had to spell G words that I gave her with the same 5 magnets for a sticker rules. She did well and seemed to enjoy it. When they were both done Ciaran got some free playtime while Rhiannon played her math game. I would give her a math problem alternating between addition and subtraction and she had to jump to the answer. Same rules for a sticker. She did very well and that game was over quickly.

We all sat down to play another game together, we played go fish. We had to play with the cards all face up for Ciaran so the game moved pretty quickly as everyone could see what everyone else had which takes much of the strategy and suspense out of the game but they still had fun. We ended our morning with flash cards of the presidents of the United States whose first or last name start with G. I would hold up the picture side to them and read the name and work through them several times and then have Rhiannon say them. We ended when she could get through all of them herself without any mistakes and then when she could pick them each out when I said their name.

While I made lunch Rhiannon did her read aloud time. We had lunch, a logn storytime of about an hour or more and then a group nap (YAY!). Rhiannon woke up early and made a book about her grandmother staying with the G theme and then did some more reading.

Sirah was just precious throughout the day. She really is a lot of fun to have around and is very independent yet wants to be involved in what we are doing. She was walking on the hopscotch course yammering away trying to imitate Ciaran's counting. She would sing like Rhia and bring books over and sit down on my lap. She jumps on the trampoline and plays with her music blocks. She is getting interested in writing with pencils and crayons and brings me her creations. She does not want to be left out of anything and really makes it enjoyable and the kids are learning how to work with her around and deal with frustration when she sometimes gets right in the middle of things.

Her language is improving and she started saying "Here you go" quite clearly and in context. She will hand you something and say "here you go" at first I was surprised but it is consistent. She is a bright and very happy child. She really brings joy to our family and makes me understand why parents need safety latches and locks. She climbs on everything and can get into things in a flash. She is into the take all my clothes off stage and climbing on the table. She is really into our puppy lately who thankfully is patient with her and I believe her favorite word is dog.


November 28, 2004

Weekend of Work

We spent the weekend finishing a variety of house projects we had underway. We finally put up both sets of bunk beds and for the first time in five and a half years we don't have a child sleeping in our bed! Of course now we just take turns sleeping in Sirah's bed but it is progress. Of course putting up the beds required painting the rooms which required finally switching the wallpaper and then moving everyone's stuff from one room to another. A dear friend had helped us remove the border and paint. Actually she pretty much painted everything for us while we watched the kids.

Rhiannon and Sirah now have a yellow and purple room, yellow on bottom, a white wood picture rail and lavender on top. Grandma in New York made them purple gingham curtains and a bedspread that is gingham on one side and purple on the other. They got the wood bunkbeds and our extra wood bookshelf. Their room is very pretty and they fit nicely together in it.

Can you guess how we decorated Ciaran's room? Frogs of course. We actually painted his wall green, like the color of frogs or grass green, the bottom half atleast then there is a middle strip which is royal blue and white mixed to look like water and then a sky blue around the top. All along the water we put up velcro pieces and velcroed painted wooden frogs (Serona and I bought frog wood cutouts at Michaels and then spent an entire night painting frogs and lily pads in different shades of green and adding googly eyes and velcro) to the wall. He can and does take them down and play with them and then velcro them back up to the wall before bed. He loves it and I must say it did turn out very cute.

We also managed to finally get window treatments up throughout the house. We have been here a year and there were still a few rooms that did not have window treatments. Now they do, hooray! We rearranged the family/school room so that it is more of two separate rooms than one big room and it feels much nicer this way. Serona was able to finish refinishing a nice entertainment center that we freecycled. It is a nice unit that has wood doors to cover the TV and drawers and cabinets to store our media equipment, DVD's and Serona's videogames.

All in all we had a very productive weekend and we were able to get a lot accomplished yet still have a good time as a family. We took time to make and have scones together while watching a family movie, we made a big brunch together and we took time just to play or read or be together. We involved the kids in all the activities we were doing (except painting) and had a good time. At the end of the weekend we really felt like we had accomplished a lot to make our home a nicer place for us to be in. Then we enjoyed spending time in it together as we enjoyed the long weekend together.


November 25, 2004


We had a wonderful thanksgiving at home. It was just our little family and we truly enjoyed the day. We made great vegetarian food and did a whole spread. Our meal included Seitan, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, spinach casserole, butternut squash, green bean casserole and crescent rolls. We were too stuffed that we actually skipped dessert altogether. Though we did have some crackers and cheese and pistachios while we were cooking.

Serona slept in until around 11am and the kids and I watched the Thanksgiving Day parade. We have a set of bunny ears that come out for a few very specific things (presidential addresses, the debates, election night, perhaps the Olympics and we decided this year to watch the parade) but as you know we are a generally TV free house, no cable, no network, no TV other than videos from time to time. I was amazed at the commercials and kept hitting the mute button and trying to switch away from them. The parade was fun though and then we all chipped in to clean up around the house and then we all cooked together which was a lot of fun.

We had a nice and slow meal and we took turns going around the table mentioning things we were thankful for. Each family member was mentioned as was Jesus, God, grandparents, extended family, our homeschool support group, our friends, our house, our dogs and of course frogs. I feel asleep and Serona watched a movie with the kids during which Ciaran fell asleep and then Rhiannon, Serona and I all played Jr Monopoly together and had a good time.

Some of my favorite memories from growing up was playing board games together as a family. I think I have always been a board game person and I truly enjoy them. I hope we are able to share that in common as a family and am enjoying starting that now.

Hope you had a great thanksgiving and have many things to be thankful for as we do.


November 24, 2004

Iraq History and Government Coop

Today we had our last coop meeting on Iraq. My partner and I led this class and it went over very well. We began the session with an overview of the history of the region and country. My partner did an excellent job making this real to the kids. She had painted a big Mesopotamia/Iraq map with the major bodies of water and land masses clearly marked. Then she made little picture printouts of a good majority of the major leaders and people over the years. She attached these pictures to little cardboard stands to make them stand up on the board. She also had stickers for each child that matched the stand up figure she made. She would mention the fact she was talking about, show them the picture and then have them match their sticker to their sheet. She even went one step further and had each child take a turn being one of the major leaders and overthrowing the leader before him by knocking their figure off the map and replacing it with their own. At several points she gave each child a soldier (Iraqi and then American) and let them all come and overthrow the sitting government on the board. Those moments were chaotic but very good I strongly believe the kids got a lot out of it and were able to probably understand overthrowing a government better than if we had just explained it.

We moved into a discussion of the government of Iraq - I decided to start with Saddam's reign and we talked about what a dictatorship was and what life might be like under a dictator. The kids were able to get some of the major factors themselves without help - must listen to the person in charge, can not easily change that leader, can't criticize or disobey without going to jail or being hurt or even killed. We talked about how that was different from a democracy and then decided they needed to experience it for themselves.

We let each child begin eating the snack they brought from home and I got out a puppet that I was going to use as Saddam and he laid down the rules they were to follow and if they could not follow them they would be removed by our police (a mom) and brought to prison where the prison guard (another mom) would deal with them. We laid down the rules that there was to be no talking, no complaining, no fidgeting, no smiling, and they needed to do whatever they were told without question even if they did not like it or if they thought it was wrong. Several kids were removed right away including the two three year olds and our 12 year old for their infractions. The other kids lasted longer. They were actually doing a very good job following the rules, though they were obviously not happy about it. So we had to change tactics.

We began to take away their snacks and replace them with whole wheat bread cut unevenly some got a whole slice others got less than a 1/4 of a slice and small cups of water some filled halfway others full. We let some keep their snacks and would take some away without any reason behind it. That was hard for some of them. At one point I told one child to eat the home brought snack of another and she was very upset. These kids were amazingly obeying all the rules though despite what we did. We started to make them hop on one foot or stand still facing a wall. Rhiannon actually never got sent to jail. While I was overseeing the puppet sending people to jail my partner was acting as the United States and helping the kids come to the conclusion that they needed to and could (with help) overthrow the mean government of the Saddam puppet. Then they all came running in and started chasing me around the room trying to get the puppet away from me. I let them chase me for awhile until they got smart and cornered me and then they grabbed the puppet and claimed victory. Some however were not content with the puppet and felt that I also needed to be punished so several grabbed me and made me face the wall and then brought me to a prison cell.

While the example was not a perfect example of life under a dictatorship or of overthrowing a government you could tell it REALLY brought the lesson home for the kids and they felt and understood what was going on. Even Ciaran and his other three year old friend understood that living in a dictatorship such as this one was not fun and that he wanted the mean leader to go away. We brought them all back to the table and gave them back their own snacks to finish while we talked about what we had done. We talked about their experience and what they thought if they had to live like that all the time. We discussed how the people of Iraq lived like that (in different ways) for many years until Saddam Hussein was overthrown. I had them tell me all the things they did not like or found hard and they did a good job with that. Then we moved into a discussion of how their is an interim government and they will be holding their first election in January of 2005.

I asked the kids to think about what it would be like if they needed to find a new leader for our coop and how they should make that decision. First we talked about the characteristics that they would want in a leader with answers such as kind, good, not mean, not locking people up in jail, someone who would lock me (Saddam) up in jail, someone who would be fair and honest and someone who wanted the best for his people, someone even said the person who could run the fastest (we used this to show how some criteria is better than others - what if Saddam was the fastest runner?). I was impressed with their answers. WE also talked about the difference in the structure of a democracy and I held up their diagram from the US democracy showing how power was shared by several leaders and how the people made the decisions.

We then moved into a discussion of how we should elect a leader. Once again the kids impressed me by talking intelligently about voting and researching the candidates before they made a decision. We talked about voting and I said so we should give this person one vote, this one five, this one none and our two three year olds (including Ciaran) would each get 100 votes. There were immediate objections and I made the kids explain why they felt it was unfair and how we should go about it. We talked about why it was important that each person got one vote so it was fair to everyone. I offered that the moms make the decision for them and there was objection and then they said "But you are the only ones who can vote". In the end they agreed that each person should have the opportunity to vote and the person who got the most votes should win and each person should get the same amount of votes.

We finished this political discussion with answering the question of how long should we have our leaders. Not in specifics of how many years but rather should they be elected forever or should their be an opportunity for the people to change the government more frequently and have a way to change leadership or laws if something happened they did not like. They were able to come to the conclusion themselves that they should be able to change leaders. This was helped after I said "What if you elected me until I died and the next day I made laws that said you all had to only wear white shirts, no more field trips, we would sit in this room and do worksheets and not talk, no more snacks? They were quickly able to personalize it to themselves and then apply it to government more broadly and discuss how we need to be able to have change and the benefits.

I must admit I was very impressed with the kids throughout the entirety of this lesson. They really handled themselves and a tough situation well. They showed that they understood many of the concepts and they were able to apply and bring up things we had done during our US and Israel sessions. It was a reminder to me that children can achieve far more than we think they can and they will step up to challenges often impressing us far more than we could have imagined. The children in our group range in age from 3-12 with a median of probably 6 years old. Today was a beautiful lesson.

We finished the lesson by giving each child a piece of clay to work with and a sheet with cuneiform letters. My partner had written each of their names using the cuneiform alphabet and then each child tried to write their name in the clay using a screwdriver. They really appeared to enjoy it. Overall it was a great lesson.


November 23, 2004

More on Frogs

We have been completely submerged in frogs for the past two weeks - I honestly did not realize that we had more we could learn. We certainly are getting to a point of repitition in some of the books but the kids are still enjoying themselves - especially Ciaran. We have read so many frog books and still have quite a few lying around. We have done frog puzzles online and our own wooden lifestages puzzle. We have been frogs, jumped on lilypads, cut out frogs and made a frog collage. We have spent endless amount of time online listening to frog calls, watching them mate, learning about all the different types and printing out images. We have done online coloring and printed out coloring pages. We've made crafts, food and games centered around frogs.

So far the biggest hit with both kids was when I printed out 20 different color frogs and laminated them (writing the name of each on the back) we then played several games with these homemade cards. First I laid all of them down on the table and said a frog name and they had to try to be the first to touch it - whoever got the most won. Then I held each card up one by one and whoever could name it first got the card. Then I had them go one by one and try to identify each frog. Both of them did very well getting 17 and 18 out of 20 correct and I had some tough ones in there. I also would state some facts about them and have them try to guess which one I was talking about. I was amazed at how well they could recollect the different frogs. As we have been reading the books they have been able to identify many of the frogs. I really wish it was spring so we could go frog hunting. I think we will just have to do this study again then.

Here is a sample of the frog books we have read so far over the past two weeks, though it is not an exhaustive list:

Grandpa Toad's Secrets - Kasza, Keiko
If You Hopped Like a Frog - Schwartz, David
Frogs and Toads and Tadpoles too - Fowler, Allan
Tadpoles, The: Vietnamese Reader - Noc, Bay Nong
Frog Where Are You - Mayer, Mercer
Frog on His Own - Mayer, Mercer
Frog - Cooper, Susan
Great Frog Race and other poems - George, Kristine O'Connell
Hop Jump - Walsh, Ellen Stoll
It's a frog's Life: My Story of Life in a Pond - Parker, Steve

Frog Prince, A - Berenzy, Alix
All About Frogs - Arnosky, Jim
Frogs - Driscoll, Laura
Frogs, Toads, Lizards and Salamanders - Parker, Nancy Wilson
Froggy Goes to Bed - Londond, Johnathen
Flashy Fantastic Rain Forest Frogs - Patent, Dorothy
Biggest Frog in Australia, The - Roth, Susan
Tuesday - Weisner, David
Frog, Toads and Turtle - Burns, Diane
Frog House The - Maylor,Mark

Frog Princess, The(adaptation) -Lewis, J Patrick
Show and Tell Frog, The - Oppenheim, Joanne
Days with Frog and Toad - Lobel, Arnold
Frog and Toad Together - Lobel, Arnold
Big Daddy Frog Wrestler - Boelts, Maribeth
Marsh Music - Berkes, Marianne
Eulalie and the Hopping Head - Small, David

November 18, 2004

Immediate Action Needed NOW to Preserve Parent and Child Rights

There is a need to take action right now. Congress is about to pass their omnibus spending bill and buried in it as language that would mandate mental-health screening for anyone under the age of 18. There is a campaign now to add language to the bill so it would read as follows:

""None of the funds made available
for State incentive grants for transformation should be used for any programs
of mandatory or universal mental-health screening that performs mental-health screening on anyone under 18 years of age without the express, written
permission of the parents or legal guardians of each individual involved."

This bill will likely be voted on tomorrow so we must take action now. Take a moment to call your senators and ask them to support the above stated language in the bill. Irregardless of how you feel about mental-health screening if this passes it will take away more parental rights and the homeschooling community is unlikely to be exempt from such policies.

You can find more information including the number for the Capital switchboard here. Please take a few minutes to protect our children and our rights as parents.


November 17, 2004

Frog Lesson Plan and Resources

Since Ciaran is so in love with frogs we decided we would focus solely on frogs for F week. Today has been a good day. We read many frog books and then spent over an hour online listening to frog sounds and watching Frog Video and Sound Clips. We found a Random Frog Generator and used online paint program where the kids took turns drawing and painting their own frogs then we used out computer paint program to print out one for each of them of their creations.

Ciaran played some games online including this fun Frog Color Game and several others we found at this great All About Frogs site. We also printed out Several coloring pages including Ciaran's favorite the Red Eyed Tree Frog.

Rhiannon really enjoyed watching the frogs mate and seeing the eyes come out. She also enjoyed listening to the attraction calls both can be found here. She also decided to write a story and illustrate it. She recited it and I typed it and then printed it out and divided it up by main points and glued each to a page, she made a cover and back page and then drew illustrations and we are binding the book together. Tonight for dinner we will have Frog Guacamole.

Together we made several Frog Toilet Paper Crafts and then cut out lilypads from construction paper and wrote numbers 1-10 on them. The froggies we created had races across the lilypads and we worked on number recognition and counting to ten by having both the frogs and then the kids jump to certain numbers. We made bookmarks and learned which frogs are native to Minnesota and many other facts. Much of this was actually review for my son but he did learn a few new things and certainly had fun.

Some other activities and resources we used are:

Captain Frog
Creature Feature.
Frog letter sheet
The Lilypad Online Story


Rhiannon's Narration on Frogs

Rhiannon asked me to write a story - as she started telling it I realized there was something very familiar about it. Soon I realized that she was retelling a story I read yesterday. We talked about how it was a retelling of someone else's story and she was telling it in her own words rather than a story she made up. Then we talked about narration and how the stories we read can affect us and our imagination. She based her story of Grandpa Toad's Secret. Here is her story/narration:

Story About a Frog

Once upon a time there were two little frogs, smiling and hopping along. One said hey I have lots of secrets. The first secret of mine is that you always have to be protected from danger. Then suddenly a great big bird swooped down, the bird tried to eat them. Little frog was scared. But big frog puffed himself up and he looked too big to eat. The bird bumbled, maybe next time I can get a better snack then frogs.
My second secret big frog said is that you always have to be brave when someone is trying to eat you. I will. Suddenly a great snake appeared before them. The little frog was scared so he ran away into the bushes but big frog was he scared? No.
He said hey big snake, there is a great big bird, maybe if you slither off over there you can catch him. My third secret is that you always have to be smart. But right then before he could say the last words a great huge monster appeared and caught Big frog. The little frog ran away and hid while the big frog was starting to try to get away. The monster was so busy trying to get his snack ready - he did not notice little frog throwing red berries around his feet. Then little frog said Stop your poisoning the monster. Then the monster looked down at his feet and cried help, then he ran away. Big frog was not afraid anymore. He said the last thing I was going to tell you when the monster grabbed me was you always need to be brave and smart and encouraging. Those are my three secrets and will always be reminding you.
This story was about a young frog and his grandpa, his grandpa told him three secrets, be strong, be brave and be encouraging. This story was by me. I based this story on my book "Grandpa Toad's Secrets" but I added a little detail. Me and my mom will always be best friends. The end.

Enjoyable Music

I have recently discovered Kasey Chambers and think her music is nice. She varies between country and rock. Similar to Emmylou Harris though she is more varied. I encourage you to try it and find it enjoyable.


Sickness, Household Projects and a Round-up

Blogging has been light lately as the kids have all been sick and we also undertook rearranging several rooms in our house and painting and so on. When it is done it will be worth it but it has taken up most of our "freetime".

I truly cherish the flexibility of homeschooling during times like these - when I can get a few brief lessons in each day and know that we have gotten "enough" done and we can just enjoy ourselves and focus on the tasks at hand as well.

Rhiannon and I have been readjusting things lately. As a consequence for some bad choices she recently made she has been forbidden from using any writing utensils for a brief period. Needless to say homeschooling has been interesting - did not realize how much she really was using worksheets before. In some ways it has been refreshing to try to find different ways to work on lessons. We decided to make an exception for chalk and so she has been doing everything on our chalkboard from math problems, to writing her poem she is memorizing to writing bible verses and her spelling. She has done very well and it has also led her to be more creative and she drew a Christmas tree and several other pictures.

She is really enjoying reading and chooses to read a book herself each day without any prodding or encouraging from me. She still resists phonics works a bit but she chooses to read several books instead of doing a phonics page so I am not arguing. She has taken to reading to Ciaran and Sirah and to me while I do household chores or other responsibilities. It is very sweet and helpful.

We have had a good week and are now moving into F week. We are approaching this week a bit different. Ciaran is highly obsessed with frogs so we are going to spend the whole week on frogs. I have over 50 books about frogs on reserve or in my possession already. I am going to do a mini spur of the moment unit study lesson plan based around frogs.

I am falling asleep so must be off to bed.

November 14, 2004

A Date With Daddy: Rhiannon's Perspective

We went to the mall. And we got cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. We got the cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate at the bakery. I decided I picked where to sit, near the fireplace on a booth. It felt very warm. I got a lucky penny. And then we, um, and (thinking) what else did we do...We walked around the mall looking for a picture machine. We got our pictures taken then we went to the, uh, "Spring Peeper Meadow". And (thinking) we...saw different plants and animals, mostly plants. The ingredients of the Spring Peeper Meadow was Soil, Water, and Dirt - (I ask, "Dirt?" she continues) Soil, Water, and Plants. And um, then we uh, wait, uh, (thinking hard now) looked around some more. Then we drove back home. I was telling my mom, about the story I am writing on my blog. We wresstled on Daddy. There's a lot of "we's" in there (this blog. I ask why she thinks this) Because we did lots of things together. I'm all done. Thanks Dad.

A Date With Daddy: Ciaran's Perspective

We went to a bog and we got to get a treat. The bog was "Spring Peeper Meadow". I saw water, I saw water, socks, I saw telephones. I heard a mouse. I saw some birds. We went to the mall and looked at stuff and Dad got some Candy, not for us, just for him. I did not eat anything at the mall. Then, we started to go to the bog. Then we started to go home. The first thing we did, I don't know the place, a bakery a bakery a bakery. I got hot chocolate, we got ciannamon rolls. It was so big like a giant. I left two pieces (hold up two fingers and says this many). I eat a lot of that hot chocolate. But when we were in the mall we got a drink of hot chocolate. Then we started to go to a mall, er a bog, then we started to go home. I had a good time. Now that is all that I have to say. There. About that, OK?

November 10, 2004

Ciaran Round-Up

Ciaran and I have had a great week. We have been having so much fun together I have not taken time to blog about it - thought I would catch up now.

On Monday we started E week with work on our E board:

Letter: E
Theme: Elephant
Number: 4
Color: Black
Shape: Rectangle
Bible: Queen Esther
Vocab: Earth

After we taped all the pictures up and talked about each concept three times we read our E sound box book and then just played around with the letter E for awhile. Then we moved on to play with trains and build a city for the cars and animals out of blocks. We played hopscotch and he rode on the horse and down the indoor slide we have.

On Tuesday he was sick and very sad that he could not go to coop. So I let him choose what we would do after we dropped Rhia off. He chose to go home and watch Star Wars Episode I together. So we cuddled up on the couch under a homemade blanket and watched it together. It was nice for him to have more freedom to talk to me without as much interruption or competition. Sirah was with us but content to play nearby and climb on and off my lap every once in awhile. Ciaran even let me crochet some with him on my lap.

After the movie we had a special lunch together and then we started to play Star Wars in our imaginary world. We really had a great time. I was Anakin and he was Obi-Wan. We shared a meal over Anakin's table and joked about Jar Jar. We decided that Sirah could be R2D2. We climbed under the kitchen table and closed ourselves into our spaceship but shutting all the doors (chairs) and it was cramped. Ciaran, Sirah, myself and one of our Aussies. But it was fun - we flew from place to place and planet to planet. Why do kids love to play under the table so much? Our table has been a bear cave, under a pond (where frogs hibernate), Peter Pan's hideout, the glass elevator from Charlie and the Chocolate factory, a spaceship, and a bunch of other things.

Some other things we did were fight Darth Maul, hide from people (who I am not sure but he liked to climb under the couch to hide - I did not fit so I was allowed to just lay next to it with my head all the way down), we went to the Jedi council, we participated in the pod race and blew up the trade federation ship. We played for a long time and he had a great time. It was so much fun to see him so happy and to be able to focus on what he wanted to do for so long - Sirah was very cooperative as well.

Today was the day of playdates for him. We started out the morning playing in the backyard with Rhiannon and the dogs for about an hour and then headed to a friend's house. There he had several friends to play with - three boys ages 4, 3, and 2. Rhia joined in with them as well but it was nice for Ciaran to have the playdate and her to try to find her place as it is all too often the other way around. The kids did relatively well together especially after they ate some lunch. They spent the rest of the time playing out in the backyard enjoying some of the last of our nice weather I fear.

We headed home and they were crazy in the car when we arrived at home I sent them to their rooms for quiet and naptime only to have a neighbor call and ask me if I could watch her son who is about 5 months older than Ciaran. I said yes and got the kids out of their rooms and ready for another playdate. The boys did very well together. This was the first time we had this little boy over and they had a great time and all three of them got along well. When they got to crazy I reigned them in by reading a few storybooks to them.

All in all I have had a lot of fun with Ciaran this week and feel like we have really reconnected in a strong way again.



The other night Rhiannon announced at bedtime that she needed to tell me something. She let me know that she has a "condition" that is a "problem". I asked what it was and this is what followed:

"I have agrativity"
Mom: What is agrativity?
Rhia: a problem when gravity goes to my brain and prevents me from falling asleep before midnight. The only thing that helps it is sleeping next to a real live person because they balance the gravity and I can fall asleep."

I am NOT making this up! Who could? I could not help but smile and laugh inwardly while trying to keep a straight face because she really felt it was serious. To me of course I am just thinking - what a creative explanation for why you are giving us so much difficulty falling asleep!

I suppose this is one of the effects of raising precocious kids! I just had to share!


November 9, 2004

Rhiannon on Elephants

We studied elephants for the past two days. We learned that one tusk is shorter than the other. I learned that they get lots of knowledge. They are vegetarians. We saw where they live on the globe. We watched a movie about them. We heard them on the computer, we saw them on the computer. We read books about them. We knew what they were like. When I grow up I'm going to study and help elephants. They may look cute but can be dangerous. I think they are the most wonderful thing in the world. Most of all I think they will be my best friends.

Rhiannon on Egypt

I learned today about Egypt. There were very famous stones. I learned about hoe Egypt was very different from our country. There was lots and lots of pyramids. One for the king and one for the queen. There wasn't one very special one, they were all equally special. They put them on top of dead people. They put the people in boxes and wrapped them in fabric that looks like tape. Mummies were my favorite.

I looked at lots of pictures and I learned a lot. I saw the country on the globe. Mom says we will watch a movie about Egypt and the Pyramids later.

Rhiannon on Iraq Coop

Today we learned about Iraq. When I came home I felt rather bored now I am writing about this in my blog. We got snack, lunch even to play. Sometimes I think school is really fun but sometimes it is boring. They speak different in Iraq. I learned they have different manners at their table. New guests have to try all the food set before them. I learned that Iraq is a very different country then ours. They epeak different, have different manners and eat different things. We got to make a project of art from the country (they glued cut out pieces of construction paper onto a geometric shape that was labelled Islamic Geometric Art). We listened to the whole Alladin story and put stickers on a paper.

Rhia retells the Alladin story from the stickers:
Alladin met his uncle who tiold him to go in and find the lamp and some berries. They gave him a ring he went down and it looks like he is praying and out of the ring popped a slave and then a woman invited the uncle to tea but he is just a figure person pretending to be his uncle. They gave him a genie he wished for food and they gave him food he asked the pharoah if he could marry his wife and he did. He sneaks up to the castle and asks for old lamps and offers a new one. These were actually old and this was the new one. This guy right here brought away the princess and the castle and asked the genie to take away the castle (that is the slave remember) he is carrying him (alladin) to the princess. The princess invioted him to dinner and put poinson in the wine. When he drank it he dies and he is bad. The castle and the daughter got back to their palce and alladin and the daughter married.

We also learned how to say things in their language (arabic). We learned how to say Goodbye, hello, thank you, one, two and three. (She could do these with help from the sheet they sent home). We learned some special words abaaya, thobe, and Koran.

I had fun at coop. We had cakes (baklava) for snack.

November 7, 2004

Northern Lights Lesson Plan Resources

We had an impromptu lesson tonight on the Northern Lights as we were able to see them in our backyard! It is times like this that I truly love Google and the amazing resources we have available to us!

We spent about a half hour outside looking at them not talking about anything just watching them, noticing the colors and calling everyone we knew and told them to look outside. After they faded we went inside and they came back and we watched from inside for awhile until it appeared they were done for the night.

We came inside and I had each child draw a picture on their own of what they saw - using red, green and purple markers on a blue sheet of paper. We labeled and dated them and then started to talk about what they were. I wanted to embrace the beauty and wonder of them first and then explain them.

We looked online for several resources and found a bunch of great ones. The best by far for younger children can be found at Auroras: Mysterious Lights in the Sky. This is a nice story with a good amount of information and some nice pictures and facts at the end. Definitely the site they most enjoyed.

Several others we used were: Aurora's: Paintings in the Sky Northern Lights and Spacetech Orrrery. We also wrote a blog entry and Rhia drew a diagram of the process including the sun, earth, solar wind, magnetic fields and northern lights. Then we finished up with a coloring sheet and rereading the online story I cited above.

It was a great, easy and memorable lesson that shows why I love homeschooling! The whole lesson from start to finish including this blog entry was about an hour and a half, including a nearly the first hour being just watching and drawing them. That included research, "lesson planning" and recording. Ah the beauty of the internet age and the "answer box".


The Northern Lights - Kids View

Rhiannon - This is about the northern lights. Daddy called about the Northern Lights, Mommy took us out on the deck and I saw the Northern Lights. They were beautiful red, green, purple, violet. They were so beautiful I couldn't believe my eyes. What I saw was what I see it was everything more than I ever saw, more beautiful than anything in the whole wide world. Whenever I see it I remember what happens that makes the light. The light comes from the sun and hits the Earth's magnetic thing. The sun has an invisible cord (solar wind - mommy inserts) that hits the earth magnetic core (mommy corrects with magnetic fields) it goes around the earth and you can see light in certain places in the north and the south. (While she explained this she drew pictures like a diagram of the sun, earth, solar wind and magnetic fields) depicting it for me based on ones we looked at online.

Ciaran on Northern Lights - I saw northern lights. They looked like round circles. They were green and purple and red. They moved. They were pretty because they were bright. I don't want to tell anymore.

Weekend Round-up

Finishing off Serona's week of vacation we enjoyed a visit to the zoo on Friday afternoon and a nice evening at home afterwards. On Saturday we had a wonderful family tea party complete with cinnamon rolls, finger sandwiches, homemade sugar cookies with sprinkles, mini-muffins and some other treats and of course three types of tea (blackberry, calm, and empress) with sugar and milk (soy of course). We laid out a beautiful spread and used nice matching teacups and had a grand time. Then Serona, Ciaran and Rhiannon took a family nap and Sirah and I ran an errand and then met up with a friend for coffee.

That evening we took two boys from our homeschool group so their parents could have a date. The night went very well. Their older son and Rhiannon played Jr. Monopoly, Sorry, and Mr Mouth for quite awhile. Their younger son and Ciaran were loud and boisterous but fun - they played games, built with blocks and put together a train setup with Serona. Sirah wondered from place to place trying to get involved and staying with us. Serona played some Gamecube and the kids were all enthralled to watch and I finished putting together a book of all our work for the election. Then we popped some popcorn, dished out some ice cream and sat together to watch "Return of the Jedi" on DVD. Everyone was quiet and well behaved, the younger boys even started to fall asleep and we laid out sleeping bags on the floor for them until our friends returned. A good time was had by all.

Sunday we went to church and then headed home for some lunch. Serona and the kids played together in our playroom until lunch. Then Sirah and I headed off for a nap and Serona took the older two outside to play in the yard and finish some yardwork. They played soccer, football and rode bikes. They finished winterizing the yard and managed to fit both cars into our garage! YAY!

After naps Serona headed to play practice and the kids and I started dinner. Serona called to let us know about the Northern Lights we could see and that was the rest of our night! We had a lot of fun watching them and learning about them.

The kids headed to bed and I made a run through the house cleaning up, filing, doing bills, and grocery shopping online. Off to bed now.


November 6, 2004

BBC Top 100 Novels

While I am sure this is not an authoritative list I thought it would be interesting to see how many of the top 100 novels as voted by people to the BBC I have read to date. I am currently 30 for anyone who does not know. I am counting things I recall reading in high school or better so that means I have read these books in the past 15 years. I have read a total of 36 so far.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck

53. The Stand, Stephen King
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac

November 5, 2004

Rhiannon Milestone

Last night was the first night Rhiannon took a book to bed to actually read it. She has turned the corner on reading and can truly read by herself now. She still struggles with a few words but can read some books by herself - like Dr Suess and Little Bear. We began reading "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" by CS Lewis again last night and Rhiannon asked to try to read and she could actually read many of the words! Then we talked it over and decided we could offer her a book to take to bed with her to truly read and give her a half hour in her bed. She was so excited and she read a chapter in Little Bear's Visit. She read me the first four pages out loud and then I left her to read the rest to herself. I was so very excited for her and very proud of her as well.


Morning Round-up

Ciaran - blocks and cars - we built a city together. He also played Reader Rabbit and Veggie Tales Computer Games this morning.

Sirah - we played with a variety of animals - nameing them and working on the sounds they make. She also worked on her climbing skills and I worked on chasing her around!

Rhiannon - worked on town and state, proper common nouns, for history we did SOTW chapter, narration, coloring page and painting cave paintings. She drew dolphins in her nature notebook and read some.

Rhiannon's Narration - SOTW Ch1 Pt 2

Narration: Nomads become farmers - SOTW Ch 1

They lived in the crescent moon. It was called a crescent because it was shaped like a crescent. They lived in brick houses made out of mud that was dried up in the sun and made houses out of reeds. They built walls out of stone around their houses so that robbers and the other people could not get or ruin their houses. They stayed in one place and tended their crops and tamed animals, some of them ate tamed animals. I think nomads are the best thing but I like both farmers and nomads. The story was about the fertile crescent.

Question and Answer on Chapter
Why was the fertile crescent a good place to live?
There was lots of food there and they did not have to run from one place to another. There was water and plants.

What was it shaped like?
A crescent

What did the first farmers grow?

Did famers move from place to place like nomads?
No, they stayed in one place.
Because there was enough food

What did farmers build their house out of?
Brick and hay (I corrected to reeds)

How did they protect their villages?
They built stone walls around their houses.

She also colored a picture of a shadruf - early farming machine and we will make cave paintings later

November 2, 2004

Rhiannon on Election Day Activities

Today we went door knocking in the day. I went to vote with mom and she voted for George W Bush. It was not what I expected not one little bit. I thought we would get to see the president and say "George W Bush, George W Bush". I thought it was boring. Today I am wearing my "Homeschoolers for Bush Cheney" t-shirt and an "I voted" sticker.
I got donuts at headquarters and now I am done.

Homeschoolers for Bush Update - Our Campaign History

Here are the current updates in our Homeschoolers for Bush Unit Study

Points - Activity - Amount of points per activity and length of activity

60 Points for Rules of Civility – - 10 pts each
300 George W Bush bio –
600 volunteer at RNC – 200 per hour (lawn signs, distribute, cutting, running)
200 Make Tshirts – 200 (each child - we made 4 altogether)
6000 Door knocking 200 pts - each hour (10 hours before pres visit 20 hours 72 hour force)
1200 Headquarters visit 200 each
500 Lit handouts – 3 pts per piece
100 Wear hs for bush tshirt 20 per day
90 Prayer for President Bush 10
900 Lawn Signs 50 per sign
300 Rally for President Bush
100 If I were President I would...
100 Letter to President
100 Vote with Mom
400 Volunteer in Precint on Election Day
100 Color and Label Electoral College Map

To see some more about our campaigning check out the following posts:
Door Knocking
Kids Thank You to President Bush
Kids Reflections on President
Kids and the Election
Presidential Prayer
If I Were President
Kid Reflections on the Presidential Debates
Homeschooling and the Debates
Interactive Electoral College
3 year old and 5 year old reflections on the president's visit
Presidential Visit
Headquarters and Door Knocking
Full Day of Campaigning
C is for Campaign

November 1, 2004


Still working away on our election and campaigning themes. We spent most of the weekend walking our precint, door knocking, putting up lawn signs and doing all we can to get out the vote. Tomorrow will be our last day and we will give it our all starting with casting our own ballots as soon as the polls open and continuing with activism throughout the day including poll watching and then concluding with an election party.

Get out and vote and get others to go vote with you.