March 31, 2005

Countries of the World Lesson Plan

We will be studying one country a month here. We will immerse ourself in that country and do a wide variety of things from learning about it to experiments to eating food, making flags, and reading stories from and about the country. We will continue with our work from our recent country co-op and keep a weekly schedule - but also go beyond that schedule to include things in our daily learning that stick with our country theme.

The basic format we will follow is a four week format - emphasizing the following things each week:

Week One - Welcome to the Country

Maps - starting with a blank map from Enchanted Learning we will fill in the waters, rivers, mountains, deserts, capital, etc

Language - saying hello and goodbye, i love you, count to ten

Currency - names and pictures, actual when available.

Flag - learn the symbolism behind it and make an actual replica out of felt and dowel rods

Passport - stamp in our passport from country

WEEK TWO - Background of the country

History - acting out or living history whenever possible

Invention or Science Experiment - hands on activity

Government - make diagram of type of government - brief overview - compare and contrast to US and other governments

Animals - learn about the different animals of the country - each child will focus on one and draw pictures or write a report.

Week Three - People and Events of the Country

Dress and/or Customs
Tasting Food from country
Religion and/or Art
Festivals or Holidays

WEEK FOUR - Experience the Country
Field Trip or Restuarant related to country

Some things that will occur the whole month - eating meals or snacks from country, reading folktales and stories from the country. Reading books related to what we are studying, playing games from that country, watching movies associated with country or things learned.

Feel free to use this format or another that works better for you. Pass it on to others, just please be sure to include a link back here. Happy travelling.


The End of Co-op

As many of you know for the past few months we have been participating in a country co-op with other families from our homeschool support group. It has been a positive experience. We have learned about the geography, flag, food, language, customs, festivals, dress, history, government, animals and inventions of each country. We have eaten at restaurants, visited museums and done a wide variety of activities. The kids each kept a passport and received a stamp for visiting Israel, Iraq, China, Thailand, and Japan. We also started with a month focusing on the United States as a baseline for the kids (and the teachers).

We have brought coop to an end however for a variety of reasons. I would recommend it to anyone and I will miss doing this in a group format. My kids and I have enjoyed this so much that we will be continuing the study of a country each month on our own. We will cover much of the same ground as we did in coop just in our own family and I will continue to record the studies here. There will be less group activities and that will change things but also more freedom for us to tailor it directly to the needs of our own family members.

As with any co-op you do lose some freedom and flexibility in order to receive the benefits of shared responsibility and group experiences. Now I will have more work to do but more flexibility as well. We will miss the group activities but be able to do more specific things.

If you have a group of families that want to work together I recommend the country format. It was easy to do, fun and educational. You can look through my archives for our past lessons or feel free to drop me an email if you are thinking about starting one and have questions.

If you don't have any other families but are intrigued by the idea I invite you to join us as we move through each country each month. I will be taking off the month of April I think to organize what countries we will be doing next and start back up in May, this is one I think we will do year round.


Japan Animals

As part of coop this week each student gave a presentation on an animal from Japan. It is always interesting to me how they each pick a different animal with no repeats. During the co-op class each child also draws a landscape picture of the country we are studying and then glue on small images of their friend's animals as well. This small images are obtained by google image thumbnails or other web pictures reduced to a small size.

The animals picked this month from Japan were:

Japanese Snow Monkey
Forest Green Tree Frog - Ciaran
Japanese Golden Eagle
Red Crowned Crane
Tokara Horse _ Rhiannon
Iriomote Wildcat
Goblin Shark
Flying Squirrel
Racoon Dog
Gray Whale

Some other animals can be found at Kid's Web Japan and the Japan Guide.

Animals of Japan

Changes Here

I am trying out some new features. I am adding Audio Blogging. Hopefully when it is up and running I can have the kids do their narrations and post them here.

I have also decided to join Google's Adsense program. I have been using gmail for awhile now and love it (if you want a free account leave a comment or email me). One of my favorite features believe it or not is the targeted advertising. I have found the ad links to be helpful to me as they are content based. The Adsense program uses the same technology - running ads based on the content of my site. So be sure to check them out - they may be helpful to you. They will be primarily education/homeschool/lesson based as that is what I most often write about. Of course if you click on them it does help me out too!

I also wanted to draw your attention to the very top of the page and the search box there. Did you know that is a google search for SCHOOL@HOME, type in what you are looking for and it will scan my pages for it.

Finally, I may be looking into a new template again as I feel my sidebar is so cumbersome, so don't be surprised if you stop by and I look completely different, it is still the same old me.


March 30, 2005

C y b e r :: E c o l o g y

Read Serona's education post $900 billion in education for what? over at his website Cyber::Ecology.


March 29, 2005

Japan Coop - History

Today in coop we learned about the History of Japan, kids version. History and government are my subjects to create the lesson plan and teach. Here is a copy of the lesson I taught today - in text. I also included atleast one picture for each era discussed. Most of the images I found by on google images. In several of the eras I had the kids act something out or do an activity - those are listed in all capitals with the word kids in front of them.

There were many distractions at today's coop so the execution was less than I would have hoped for but the lesson plan is a good one and easy to adapt for a wide variety of ages.


Prehistory Times

Discuss early forms of hunting and gathering
Discuss community formation


Early Influences

Discuss Rice Cultivation
Shinto religion - people should respect nature

The principal worship of kami (gods of the religion) is done at public shrines, Shrines are commonly fronted by a distinctive Japanese gate (torii) made of two uprights and two crossbars. These gates are there as a part of the barrier to separate our living world and the world the kami live in. There are often two guardian animals placed at each side of the gate and they serve to protect the entrance

Japanese believe one of the first emperors Jimmu Tenno was a descendent of the Shinto gods. - he began the Yamato dynasty


Yamato Rule 645-1100

Clan leader Kotoku became fisrt emperor in 645
Emperor - An emperor is a monarch and sovereign ruler of an empire or any other imperial realm. Emperors are generally recognised to be above kings in honour.
He appointed other clan leaders to be officials in his army

- took all farmland and divided it up among the poor
-to keep land they had to pay taxes to the government and serve in the government army
-created first capital city - Nara - still exists today in western Honshu - point to picture


Leader, protectors, farming, home responsibility - there would be more but for now let us use this

Samurai and Shogun and Ninja 794-1500's

794 - moved capital to Heian-kyo now known as Kyoto
clans started to increase their control of the land and government

Had armies of fierce soldiers called Samurai who protexted their land
Samurais rode horses and fought off attackers with swords and bows and arrows
Samurai began fighting the emperor's caln
Japan's emperor appointed a powerful samurai clan to the position of Shogunate - highest ranking military position - began military rule known as bakifi system

Conducted espionage or spying activity against enemy forces during the time of samurai
Worked primarily at night to gather information and attack enemies food and weapon supplies
Received special duties and training

Military became more powerful thatn court officials and took control of whole government
Effectively military rule as head shogunuate was most powerful
Passed from father to son - unless one became weak than a rebel leader would seize power and start a new ruling family
- Strict working class - warriors, farmers, artisans, merchants

This kind of life and government lasted for about 700 years with civil war for over 400 years

KIDS - Samurai fight - use outside of arm as posion sword
Ninja - try to sneak over to the other clan
Winning Samurai becomes Shogun

European Arrival 1500's-1853

Outsiders arrived and started influencing trade, religion and lifestyles
Came from Spain, Portugal, England and the Netherlands
Started to change the Japanese people the rulers feared they were losing control and sent them out of the country
Japan closed itself off for 260 years

KIDS - Moms start to teach and influence kids to change their behaviors - leaders kick the moms out

Japanese Empire Late 1800's - 1939

Reopened the country and signed treaties with governments to allow trade
Lead to more fighting between shoguns and samurai
15 year old emperor Meiji took control and started Japan modernization and building strong military
1889 - first constitution
Started to take over and rule other Asian countries (Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria)
Joined with European countries Germany and Italy

KIDS - Unify under Emperor Meiji - start to build strong Japan economy and military

WWII 1939-mid 1940's

Japan, Germany and Italy vs. Great Britain, France
US cut off supplies to Japan to show disapporval at its attacking other countries
December 7,1941 Japan planes and submarines attack US military bases in Hawaii
August 1945 US military plane dropped a bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and Nagaski - killing hundreds of thousands of people

Allied Occupation 1946 - 1952 (some say 70's as still controlled some)

Economy and government needed help repairing and rebuilding after the damage of war
Allied troops (Great Britain, France, US) were stationed in Japan under US General Douglas MacArthur
Japan lost much of the territory it gained in the war including all land on Asian mainland and the South Pacific was allowed to keep four main island and the small islands nearby
Occupation forces also developed a Japanese democratic constitution with Prime Minister (elected ruler) emperor (symbol)

Modern Day Japan

Constitutional Monarchy

Monarch - emperor - performs special duties and ceremonies - does not have power to rule

Consitution - gives rights to Japanese people such as freedome of religion, speech and the press and the right to vote

Divided into prefectures - political units similar to states with similar government breakdown (governors and mayors as well)

Three Branches of Government

Diet - Japenese Legislature - makes laws that govern the country - elected
House of Representatives - 500 members serve 4 year terms
House of Councillors - 252 members - 6 year terms

Prime Minister - Executive Leader
- elected by Diet - a member of the Diet
- currently Junichiro Koizumi

Supreme Court - Head Judicial Branch
Four Lower courts

Past Few Days

The past few days have been very enjoyable - we had a nice Easter at home. The kids got wired on candy - a rarity in our home and we spent the day together relaxing.

Ciaran's birthday was also this weekend, he turned 4. It was a frog day complete with a frog cake, several frog presents and two trips to the local ponds to try to find frogs (who must still be hibernating under all the ice). He was very excited for several of his presents. He has yet to take off this really cool frog tshirt he got with glow in the dark detachable frogs. He has also worn his new knight costume pretty much nonstop other than when we make him take it off to eat, sleep and play in the mud. The frog table Serona and I painted him seems to have been a hit as was the Razor scooter Serona picked up on his way home from work that night to be the big surprise. He was and is still thrilled.

The weather has been outstanding - mid 60's just perfect for being outside. Unfortunately there is so much standing water around that it is sheer mud, especially in our yard which the two dogs tear around in and tear up. But once you embrace the mud and the dirt it has been wonderful. We have spent a good portion of each day outside. We have been meeting new neighbors at our local playground and just along the street. We have had a grand time enjoying the outdoors and the very early stages of spring.


March 25, 2005

The Zoo Farm

Today we headed to the MN Zoo for the opening of their outdoor farm and to see the farm babies. The kids did enjoy seeing the babies but it was overwhelming. It seemed everyone else had the same idea and it was very crowded. We went with some friends and the kids enjoyed being together. Ciaran was a bit more challenging than usual at the zoo. He is usually very agreeable there but I think the crowds were a bit for him too and this time we had an agenda, we usually do not. I had to keep saying no or wait to him and I don't think it was as much fun for him. We watched the dolphin show, unusual for us as I usually am not patient enough to sit with the three kids by myself the amount of time you need to in order to get seats. It was the first thing we did today and with another mom there and kids to keep mine busy the wait passed uneventful and everyone enjoyed the show.

At that moment I was reminded of visiting the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago with my parents when I was in college and my younger brothers came to visit. I was horrified and totally against the aquarium feeling it was cruel to animals especially the dolphins. Now sitting on the other side of parenthood I understand it much more. I still prefer to see dolphins in the wild, but going to the zoo does make my kids care more about animals and make them want to protect them and helps me explain some of our decisions about vegetarianism and environmentalism. Without this up close interaction with a wide variety of animals I am not sure they would feel the same. So I give a "You were right" to my parents and await the day when Rhiannon gets all up in arms about the cruelty of zoos to me and I need to wait a decade or so before she gets it herself.

Back to the zoo. The farm animals were cute but the kids were disappointed they did not get to hold them. They did get to pet a piglet and a rabbit - but just look at the lamb, kids, chicks and calf. It was so crowded that I was overwhelmed and tired by the time we were done. The kids wanted to go see some of their favorites and I just wanted to leave. I bought Ciaran some plastic frogs and the both of them some ice cream to get out early. Bribery I know but it worked relatively smoothly and I did not have a meltdown or two on my hands and I was able to escape the ever growing crowds.

You would think being from New York that crowds and traffic would not bother me - they do terribly. I get so impatient and I feel the stress settle in my neck and shoulders and I know what is to come. I love that I think standing on line (or inline as Serona would correct me) behind two people is waiting too long and that if my speed drops to 40 I feel like I am crawling on the highway. I don't miss the crowds, lines and traffic of either New York, Chicago or Boston. Having lived in Georgia and smalltown Illinois I experienced the other extreme and have found quite a comfortable place here in the Twin Cities, not too much either way.

After leaving the zoo a little disappointed that we did not see the new Red Panda and with promises to return after the farm animals are done we headed home. The headache came on the car ride home and by the time we got home and I managed to make some lunch and round kids into bed it was in full force. By 4:00 it was blinding, literally I could not keep my eyes open. Sirah was not cooperating for a nap so Rhiannon stepped in, even at such a young age she is perceptive of when mom is really just not feeling well. She played with Sirah nearby as I laid in bed with a pillow over my eyes in one of those you can't really go to sleep because the kids are awake but you can't really stay awake because the pain is too much stupors. I laid there for about an hour before I could successfully keep my eyes open wide enough in the light to get up and normal functioning began again.

The rest of the evening went better, dinner, cleaning and reading the Easter story before bed along with daily opening of our Resurrection Eggs. Serona has several of the dads from our hs support group over tonight and they are watching the Passion of the Christ. I got all three kids to sleep before 10pm, no simple feat especially as Sirah's temper tantrum was so loud it sent Serona running upstairs from his movie to see if everyone was okay. Just brewed some tea, popped some popcorn, started a scarf (I am making brightly colored furry scarves as playthings for my kids now - so far we have purple, lime, bright orange and bright pink, I'm working on yellow now). Time to catch up on reading some blogs as I have my tea and then it is off to bed.

Probably will take a hiatus from blogging until Tuesday.


March 24, 2005

Jelly Bean Prayer

Red is for the blood He gave.
Green is for the grass He made

Yellow is for the sun so bright.
Orange is for the edge of night.

Black is for the sins we made.
White is for the grace He gave.

Purple is for His hour of sorrow.
Pink is for our new tomorrow.

A bag full of jelly beans colorful and sweet,
Is a prayer, is a promise, is a special treat.

May the joy of Christ's resurrection
Fill your heart and bless your life

© By Charlene Dickerson

March 23, 2005

Ciaran's Milestone

Ciaran has learned how to copy his name this week! He can do the first two letters by himself from memory but he can copy the whole name when written on the board. Looks like he is showing tendencies to be a lefty if you can tell at this early age.

He was so excited and he is determined to do the whole thing himself neatly and from memory. His reward when he can? His very own library card. To him it is a very big deal and something he can hardly wait for. He is determined to work hard so he can learn his name and so he can get his own library card.

During this time he has actually started saying the names of letters as well, something he has been hesitant to do. I think some things are coming together for him as he approaches his 4th birthday. Now if only he would have the same passion for cleaning his room.


Rhiannon Update

It seems that Rhiannon's studies are taking on a more serious note lately as it is all clicking together for her. It seems her understanding of numbers and math concepts, her handwriting, her interest in art and her ability to read fluently have just all come together recently.

In response I bought her a composition notebook for her to keep all her copywork in. Today she spent some time writing in a poem she had memorized called "Work" by Anonymous. She was disciplined and focused and her work showed that as it was very well done. Up until now she has just been writing on pieces of paper that I place in her binder. She was also insistent on using markers and working through things quickly but now she uses pencils and erases her mistakes and is showing some real pride in her work. She wants it to be nice.

Rhia has also begun drawing more and more detailed pictures and coloring them in with crayons and colored pencils. She enjoys making books and stories for people and can write more and more words herself now. I love these precious first drawings with stick figures and bumble bees and lots of flowers and suns. They are colorful, cheerful and lift your spirits. She is showing her caring and loving side in these pictures. She seems to enjoy making them as well. I bought another book to start a more seious "Nature Notebook" with her this spring. Until now we had a sketch book that she has been drawing in, but I noticed she gets upset when she makes mistakes - so now she can draw on blank sheets until it is what she likes and then glue it into her book when she is happy with it and add a few lines of description.

She is absolutely in love with her Picture Bible, which is an updated version of the same one Serona had as a young boy. She is avidly reading it each day and night. It is a full bible but told in a comic book style, she seems to really enjoy it. She has also been very into reading Amelia Bedelia books and easy readers about Abraham Lincoln. She wants to go back to South Dakota so she can see Mount Rushmore.

Lately she has been doing school work in either her Cinderella dress up costume or her Laura and Mary dress and apron. Not sure if it is a coincidence but I really believe she is much more disciplined and focused when wearing the LHP dress. Wonder if she thinks about how schooling was during that time, or if the Cinderella dress distracts her more. I am not one to care what she is wearing while she works as long as she gets her stuff done and if it is more fun for her - all the better.

Things are going very smoothly right now with Rhiannon. I am enjoying schooling her, playing with her and just being with her.


March 22, 2005

March Reading List

This is a far from complete list this month, blogging has been sparse and keeping track of reading has been lax, especially Rhiannon's reads. She has been reading several books a day.

Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now - Dr Suess
Go Dog Go - Eastman, PD
Oh Say Can You Say - Dr Suess
I'm Kaitlyn I have Important Jobs to Do - Bowman, Crystal
Valentine's Day - Nerlove, Miriam
House is a House for Me, A - Hoberman, Mary Ann
What If the Zebras Lost Their Stripes - Reitano, John
When I was LIttle: A Four Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth - Curtis, Jamie Lee
Bear Stays Up for Christmas - Wilson, Karma
Where Do Ballons Go? An Uplifting Mystery - Curtis, Jamie Lee

ABC - Dr Suess
Police Officers Protect People - Greene, Carol
Walkingsticks - Frost, Helem
Praying Mantises - Frost, Helen
Ambulances - Freeman, Marcia
Counting Kisses - Katz, Karen
Animal Noises, Copycats - Powell, Richard
My Mama Had a Dancing Heart - Gray, Libba Moore
Chair for My Mother, A - Williams, Vera
Magnets - Blevins, Wiley

Puffer - Pillinger, Ian
St Patrick's Day Alphabet - Vidrine, Beverly
Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea- Peck, Jan
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story - Medearis, Angela
Madeline and the Gypsies - Behlemens, Ludwig
Madeline's Christmas - Behlemens, Ludwig
Bear Stays Up - Wilson, Karma
Ready Readers Vol 2 - Fisher Price
Goodnight Moon - Brown, Margaret Wise
Zin! Zin! Zin! Violin - Moss, Lloyd

Best Place, The - Schlein, Miriam
Jack and the Beanstalk - Wells, Rosemary
Dr Suess ABC
Bear Wants More - Wilson, Karma
Hop Frog - Chrustowski, Rick
Johnny Appleseed - Benet, Rosemary and Stephen
Growing Frogs - French, Vivian
Winnie the Pooh: Be Patient Pooh
Nine in One Grr Grr - Xiong, Blia
Woolly Mammoth Journey, A - Miller, Debbie

Giddy-Up! Let's Ride! - McDonnell, Flora
Yoshi's Feast - Kajikawa, Kimiko
Olivia - Falconer, Ian
Japan - Marx, David
Are You My Mother - Eastman, PD
Japan - Schemenauer, Elma
Frogs - Gibbons, Gail
Bear Wants More - Wilson, Karma
St Patricks's Day Alphabet - Vidrine, Beverly Barras
Froggy Plays Soccer - London, Johnathen

Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip - Cole, Joanna
Magic School Bus and the Human Body - Cole, Joanna
Curious George and the Dinosaur - Rey, HA
St Patrick's Day - Gibbons, Gail
Paper Bag Princess, The - Munsch, Robert
New Coat for Anna, A - Ziefert, Harriet
Guess How Much I Love You - McBratney, Sam
Kissing Hand, The - Penn, Audrey
Mama Do You Love Me - Joosse, Barbara
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon - Lovell, Patty

Library, The - Stewert, Sarah
Magnets - Blevins, Wiley

Rhiannon's Reads
What's the Weather Today - Fowler, Allan
I Can Ice Skate - Eckart, Edana
Madeline's Rescue - Behlemens, Ludwig
Madeline and the Bad Hat - Behlemens, Ludwig
Are You My Mother - Dr Suess
Jack and the Beanstalk - Wells, Rosemary
Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eyeore
mammals of Long Ago - Fowler, Allan
It's a Good Thing There are Insects - Fowler, Allan

Princess and Froggie, The - Zemach, Margot
House That Jack Built, The - Mayo, Diana
I'm Kaitlyn I have Impotant Jobs to Do - Bowman, Crystal
Ready Readers Stage One - Fisher Price
Jump, the sound of J - Klingel, Cynthia
Prehistoric Animals - Gibbons, Gail
Mitten, The -Brett, Jan
When Mammoths Walked the Earth - Arnold, Caroline (partial read)
Going to Sleep on the Farm - Lewison, Wendy
Pickles to Pittsburgh - Barrett, Judi

Quick as a Cricket - Wood, Audrey
Pocketfull of Kisses, A - Penn, Audrey
Ballerina Bear - Siewert, Pauline
Play Ball Amelia Bedelia - Parish, Peggy
Seven Days of Creation, The - Dayspring
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon - Lovell, Patty
Amelia Bedia for Mayor - Parish, Peggy
Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia - Parish, Herman
Oh Say Can You Say - Dr Suess
Paper Bag Princess - Munsch, Robert

Videos We Supplemented With
Land of the Mammoth - Discovery Channel
Ice Age - Fox Films
Raising of the Mammoth - Discovery Channel
Little House on the Prairie Season One
Tigers of the Snow - national Geographic

Last updated: March 23, 2005

March 18, 2005

Web Calendar

I have long been looking for a solution to our scheduling as a family. Serona was determined that we have an electronic solution - the problem is we have so many different computers with different OS and software - not to mention that he uses a blackberry and I use a Palm, so believe it or not syncing all that information was difficult. We seem to have finally found a solution, a web based calendar. There are some available for free here. We are using one on a friends server that he created for us so that it would directly include any items added to my homeschool support groups online calendar. So as a family we have a calendar that includes anything our group posts but the group calendar does not include our personal schedule, unless we want it to - I can double post if I want. It seems to work well, especially with all the travel Serona has been doing. It is accessible by any computer with an internet connection.

Now we can easily be on the same page and keep up with one another's and our family schedule. Many of these calendars allow each individual to have their own personal calendar plus a common one that everyone shares, perfect for tech savvy and busy families. I have been slow to accept anything as a replacement for my big paper calendar in my kitchen, but this is just as good and as long as I keep a tab open with it all the time, just as quick. I can print out copies of it as well to have with me when I need. I recommend it.


March 17, 2005

Happy St Patrick's Day

Top of the morning to you. Can you tell we are Irish here? Three sick kids and a travelling husband have changed our plans for the day but we are still focusing on our heritage. We have been doing most of our school activities around this theme for the week and will enjoy the day today making shamrock cookies, watching parades (indoors this year), listening to Irish music and eating a traditional irish dinenr (no it can't be cornbeef and cabbage as we are vegetarian), coloring pictures and reading books. I will wind the day down with a good Guinness stout. Just for your information I do not drink green beer and I actually drink Guinness year round as my beer of choice.

When Serona married me he used to joke that he was marrying a good irish woman. I could drink him under the table and burn water. Well my cooking has gotten better and my tolerance much lower. But I am still Irish at heart and heritage. I hope to pass on the love of Ireland and all things Irish to my children and even share some of our Irish "traditions" that my family seem to create just to be together.

Hope you have a great day.


March 16, 2005

St. Patrick's Day Resources

This is a great place to start your St Patrick's day planning, many good links and ideas. The Teacher's Guide St. Patrick's Day Page.


March 15, 2005

St Patrick's Day activities

Here is a roundup of last year's St Patrick's Day activities with some good ideas in it.


March 14, 2005

MN Legal Alert

Attention MN residents, here is Part two of the EdWatch alerts about "cradle to grave" oversight legislation proposed in MN. Take time to read the info here, research the actual legislation, and take the appropriate action for your family.



If you or anyone you know and like currently uses AOL's Instant Messanger system, or like me you are a tech geek concerned about privacy, you need to read my post over at Cyber::Ecology.

I wrote a long and detailed post outlining the current changes to the Terms of Service from AOL that completly takes away all privacy rights of its' users. The terms actually directly state: "You waive any right to privacy." and many other very bad changes for individual and corporate rights. I am very serious about this.

You simply must read this and act on it. Please pass this link on to anyone you think needs to know.

While I am not a lawyer and can not answer a legal question I would be happy to answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability.


March 12, 2005

Blogging Lag

Have cut down computer time this past week, so blogging has suffered. I have begun a new exercise program and have walked 20 miles this past week! Needless to say the walking time has cut down on some other things I normally do such as computer work. I am feeling good and have lost 5 pounds in two weeks. I like the energy that exercise is giving me and exercising is also helping me eat better. I have not been dieting but after spending an hour working out that donut just does not seem as appealing. I have also been reading about volumetrics and working on eating more fruits and veggies and drinking even more water. It has helped me.

There have been several things I have wanted to blog about though. I think I will just be brief and let things speak for themselves more than comment on it this time though so I can catch up. Take a deep breath, sip of coffee and read on, I have just blogged 6 catch up posts!


MN Laws Alert

All of you who live in Minnesota will want to take some time to read this recent release from Ed Action, it highlights some legislation in the works with the goal of "cradle to grave" oversight of education and our children. Some of these laws are the type that seem innocous as first but when combined with each other paint a different picture, it was nice to see them all together in one place for evaluation.

I am not an alarmist so I am not neccesarily condoning the tone you may see here, but I am one for always being as informed as possible and reading this article will help you be just that informed. You can then research each piece of legislation and decide for yourself what your opinion is on it before you take action. Modern day resources are amazing as most bills you can see online with the old text and the revised text and you can make sense of it yourself or you can look to experts you trust to help you make sense of it. But atleast make yourself aware. But do take the time to read through them and decide and then ACT. It is your rights, the rights of your children, your friends children, your grandchildren that are on the line.


Mommy News

An interesting article out of the UK about women who are "Desperate to be housewives: young women yearn for 1950s role as stay-at-home mums".

Worth the read, I wonder if the same trends are happening here in the states? I know that I love my role as a Stay at Home mom and want nothing different. I was raised by a stay at home mom - which during her generation was rare and am proud to me one for my family. I could be lots of different things and some may contend I am wasting my Masters degree and talents but I see the wonderful ways it is being used every day and want for nothing different.

Thanks Serona for making it possible and thanks to all of you who support me in my choices and to all of you who have made similar choices for your own families.


Library Field Trip

When I told Serona that we were going on a field trip to the library his response was "Don't you do that every week, aren't you there enough?" This time I assured him it was different we had a scheduled tour with our homeschool support group.

It was different and interesting. We began in a classroom with a librarian who outlined how long you can borrow books and the difference between non-fiction and fiction and how the books were arranged, an introduction to the Dewey decimal system. They had a scavenger hunt list they kept track of while we walked around the library and learned where things were, we did know where many of the things in the children's section were, but learned some other new things.

Then the exciting part we got to go back into the sorting room and see what happens to the books after we drop them into the return box. At this particular library they have an automated system that they call "Big Mamma" The books move on a conveyor belt and are turned or flipped to face the right way and the barcode is scanned (which checks it in and tells the computer where it goes) and then the book is directed down different paths until it reaches the right genre and the machine actually even places it is on the carts that the librarians use. Several librarians are nearby if they are needed, but for the most part the system is automated. The kids thought this was very interesting and went and dropped a book through the system and watched what happened.

After the tour was over we headed back to the room for questions and answers and then the librarian read the kids a folktale from Loas as she knew we were studying countries of Asia and showed them some pictures from a non-fiction book of Hmong people from Loas (as many have immigrated to this area) and the kids enjoyed the book.

When the tour was over we all headed over to the children's section for awhile, the kids played games and looked at books, moms read stories, chatted, and picked up books for reading at home. A grand and interesting tour.


Woolly Mammoths

Rhiannon has been really into Woolly Mammoths this week and it has been the basis for much of our schoolwork. She picked up a video at the library at the last minute and then surprisingly both kids were glued to the television for a discovery channel documentary about the "Land of the Mammoth" - the main focus of the film was on the discovery of mammoth remains and how the scientists studied them. The kids found it very interesting I was surprised, even Ciaran sat through the whole thing and asked questions. We happened to have two books here on Woolly Mammoths and read them, then Rhiannon asked to go to the library to get more. At the library she used the computer and found them with little help from me, she was excited. They were nonfiction books again. I also rented the film Ice Age as I recalled that it had a Woolly Mammoth as a main charachter.

Rhiannon printed out a worksheet and labelled the body parts of the mammoth and colored a sheet and read me some facts. She flipped through other animal books we have looking for pictures of mammoths and went surfing with me online looking for more pictures of them. It was interesting to see her get so interested in something.


Eating Japanese

We have been eating a variety of Japanese food this past week as we study Japan. So far the kids favorites are soba noodles flavored with yams. They would eat these each day if I would let them. We have also had sushi (vegetarian of course), udon noodles, miso soup, udon soup, veggies in sauce and have eaten with chopsticks. I has some wasabi but did not give the kids any, though they did try ginger slices. We have drank green tea as well. We will keep trying a few more things at home and in two weeks we will go to a traditional Japanese retuarant.

Japan Culture Coop

This week we looked at some of the cultural aspects of Japan. The kids learned about kimonos, looking at pictures of how they have changed throughout history and then making their own spoon doll with a kimono.

They also learned a bit about fans and colored in a fan and practiced saying a few things in Japanese with hand motions.

March 10, 2005

Serona and I

This picture was taken years ago when we lived in Oregon, still one of my favorites!

Letters and Phone Calls Please

The history channel has decided not to accept entries from homeschoolers for a scholarship contest. Read all the details here at Ramblings, Rants & Remedies: History Channel Rejects Homeschooler's Contest Entry, and then be sure to call and write letters (info provided in article) and email here.


March 7, 2005

Do More?!?!?!?

Many of you know Dy and love her inspiration as much as I do. Recently she made a post about how women constantly find themselves having to do more and more yet again. The whole piece is worth a read, here is a highlight:

"This isn't about taking on more than you can handle or schedule. This isn't about trying to be everything to everyone. This is about reaching deeper inside yourself and finding the strength to do far more than you thought possible, when you are truly called upon to do just that. It's something that would benefit society greatly if more of us would do it on a regular basis."

I would add that often we find ourselves called to do more at the times we have less. Less Husband due to travel, less money, less time, less health, less sleep and the list goes on. Doing more with less is in nearly any mother's job description, especially a stay at home mom and homeschooling ones at that.

Personally, I find that God is the source of my strength and what allows me to do more and I need to remember o draw from him and not myself. Also drinking water. Surprised? I was but I am much more energetic and less grouchy when I drink enough. Exercise, good nutrition all help, as does remembering to take time to refresh yourself, even if it is just 10 minutes.

Also the motivation to take good care of my children, husband, house, body whatever can help me find what I need to dig down deeper than I ever knew I could. When we give to others we can find it much easier than when we give to ourselves.

What are your strategies?


Free Worksheets

Another treasure trove of free worksheets for PreK - 5th gradish.


March 6, 2005

Winter Thaw

Today it was 57, sunny and beautiful! We got outside to enjoy the afternoon. Took the kids on a walk and quickly realized how wet it was and headed home for boots, after their socks, showa and pants were already soaked. We sloashed and shuffed through the puddles and walked on the ice that was melting away to water for nearly an hour. The kids collected the first treasures since the snows first fell this winter. They collected seed pockets, helicopters, pinecones, leaves and a few other misc items. There were so excited at each find. They carried sticks and made patterns in the snow that they kept calling heron tracks.

After our adventure walk we spent plenty of time in a HUGE puddle of ice and melted water Then some time at our local pond "fishing the pollution out" as Rhiannon said as she pulled out trash with a long stick. Ciaran looked for frogs and was sad to admit they are likely still hibernating here in MN.

They were wet, muddy and able to kick and climb on ice, what more could little kids want? Well they wanted to stomp and jump, but as they are recovering from being sick and it is supposed to drop down to 10 degrees again tommorrow we decided against letting them get completely soaked yet, that will come sometime later this month or in April. Of course we are supposed to get snow tommorrow, _sigh_

Then on our walk home I stopped to talk with a neighbor and two girls ages 11 and 10 spent about 20 minutes teaching Ciaran and Rhiannon to play basketball. They were so good and patient with them, taking turns and helping them shoot and bounce the ball. The were kind, patient and genuinly friendly to the kids. None of them wanted to leave when we did, because Sirah was ready to climb out of her stroller after being so patient.

Home for hot chocolate and cake. Stories, dinner, and a wind down to a wonderful day. Take some time to enjoy your own winter thaw if it has not happened yet. I am guessing we will have a second thaw as we typically get a snowstorm sometimes during March or early April. Yet this year the weather has been so odd I would not be surprised if that was not true.


March 5, 2005

Welcome Mara

No we are NOT getting another one but this is my brothers. How cute.

Rhiannon's Progress

When I first started this blog I envisioned it being a complete record of our homeschool work. I have come to realize that is not realistic. It does contain the highlights and much of the more interesting aspects of our work and journey. It is an excellent place for those often unrecorded "teachable moments" that are so prevalent in our days. It is an excellent place for me to keep resources and lessons that I want to be sure both to remember and to use again with Sirah and Ciaran. It is nice that I can share our ideas with all of you, so you can use any of the ones that interest you.

Yet I realize that much of what we do is not recorded or even mentioned here. The sentence "Rhiannon did a worksheet" can and should only be uttered so many times, and daily would not be that interesting or that useful for my records. So I keep a binder with all her work, and another for Ciaran and each have their own binder dedicated just to coop studies. Here I keep both the broader picture and some of the details I want to remember. Still there is quite a bit to our program that I am not blogging about daily.

Rhiannon has been steadily working through Phonics Pathways, Miquon Math, and First Language Lessons. We have regular bible study and bible verse memorization, and poetry memorization and presentation. She does narrations and we work through some Story of the World as she is interested. She keeps a nature notebook and we listen to classical music daily. We examine works of art from time to time and she reads aloud to me and/or a sibling for atleast 30 minutes a day.

We have both a structured and unstructured part of our curriculum. We follow some classical method, some Charlotte Mason and some Unit Studies. It seems we float in and out of these styles throughout the day and even sometimes in the same lessons. So far it seems to be a good fit for us. Just wanted to record that here.


Sirah's Discovery

Sirah discovered that she could walk backwards today. She wanted only to walk backwards. When we were at the library she would not stop doing it and she had the biggest grin! Just sharing.


Music to Blog To

Late at night, just returned from a neighborhood get together. First one I have attended in the year we have lived here, first one I have been invited to I should say. Many of the families have lived here over 10 years. Women of varying ages and life stages and lifestyles attended. It was nice to meet many of my neighbors. Can't quite wind down to sleep though I am sure I will regret that decision in the morning as I will need to get up and everyone is asleep here.

Said to myself I just want to get in a few quick blog posts to catch up on the week. Then I decided I needed some music to blog to and spent the better part of the past half hour putting together a playlist. Started with a single song and then following like artists and plugging in many of my favorites from this time of my life.

Wonder what this will tell you about me. Here is my musicmatch playlist titled "college" - made up of much of the music that reminds me of my college days, especially the later ones, the positive ones after Serona joined my life. Some major gaps in the list that just do not fit my mood tonight are Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Phish, Fleetwood Mac, 4ad label (especially Slowdive, Cranes, Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil), and Billy Joel. Here is my current playlist that I listen to as I blog this and drink some Tazo calm tea:

Hey Jealousy Gin Blossoms

Strong Enough Sheryl Crow

WindMills Toad the Wet Sprocket

Pictures Of You The Cure

Close To Me (LP Version) The Cure

Hold On Sarah McLachlan

Round Here Counting Crows

Name Goo Goo Dolls

Hand In My Pocket Alanis Morissette

Meet Virginia Train

Crucify Tori Amos

Drive R.E.M.

Hanging By A Moment Lifehouse

Found Out About You Gin Blossoms

Freewill Rush

Where Have All The Cowboys Gone Paula Cole

The Killer Inside (LP Version) Better Than Ezra

China Tori Amos

Good Enough Sarah McLachlan

You Gotta Be Des'ree

Sullivan Street Counting Crows

Bent Matchbox Twenty

Ridiculous Thoughts The Cranberries

You Learn Alanis Morissette

The First Cut Is The Deepest Sheryl Crow

The Freshmen The Verve Pipe

Breakfast At Tiffany's Deep Blue Something

Linger The Cranberries

Back 2 Good Matchbox Twenty

Winter Tori Amos

Bethlehem Paula Cole

Black Balloon Goo Goo Dolls

Lovesong ( LP Version ) The Cure

A Letter To Elise The Cure

Two Princes Spin Doctors

Til I Hear It From You [Empire Records/Soundtrack Version] Gin Blossoms

I Am So Ordinary Paula Cole

Girl Tori Amos

Slide Goo Goo Dolls

Solsbury Hill Peter Gabriel

Dreams The Cranberries

Thank You Dido

This Time Of Year (LP Version) Better Than Ezra

Ironic Alanis Morissette

Strong Enough Des'ree

Friday I'm In Love The Cure

Stand R.E.M.

Tom Sawyer Rush

Jam Toad the Wet Sprocket

I Will Remember You Sarah McLachlan

Afterglow Live

March 4, 2005

Ciaran's Day

Ciaran had a great day. We got up before the rest of the family (well Serona was already at work, bless his heart) and had some time for just us which was nice. He was very motivated to do work. We have been keeping a sticker chart for all his work and chores and he has enjoyed getting each next sticker. This morning before anyone else got up he did three file folder games (opposites and color matching) and two puzzles, color matching and ABC's. He helped play with Sirah so I could finish my morning workout (a walk aerobics dvd) and then he matched ABC blocks with ABC flash cards and did his whole alphabet by himself, I was so proud of him!

This afternoon we played with magnets all day based on his interest. Yesterday while I was cooking he started playing with a refrigerator magnet and a paperclip and was fascinated at how they stuck together. He started asking more and more questions and we read a book on magnets that we had at the house. Then he asked to do more so we spent all afternoon playing with magnets. You can read more here.

We spent some time at the library and generally he was a helper around the house throughout the day. He built a tent with Rhiannon and Sirah and enjoyed playing with his bow and arrow and in their pretend world. He really had fun with the magnets and continued with the activities long after the lessons stopped. He kept sticking magnets near everything to see if they would stick or not, he especially loved seeing what magnets would still work through, trying his shirt, paper, tables, plastic, blankets and anything he could find.

At the end of the day he could explain quite a bit about magnets, but more importantly I think he really had a fun day based on his interests. And for once it was not FROGS. As much as I have grown to embrace and love frogs, it was a refreshing change of pace. I have a few more magnet things planned for the weekend. I love having these special connecting days and moments with him.


Magnets Lesson

I am too tired to blog in complete detail with web resources, maybe I will get to it tomorrow maybe I will not but I did want to do a quick recap. Based on Ciaran's recent interest in magnets we spent the afternoon studying them. A trip to a friend's house to pick up a variety of magnets and then a trip to the library, some google searches, and of course lots of hands on experiments made up our day on magnets.

Some of the experiments we did included hypothesizing what would stick to the magnet and then testing those theories. The kids ran around the house trying the magnets on everything (except computers of course) and had a blast doing it. They liked that different parts of items would respond different (ie the screws would stick to the magnet but the wood would not) and they were pretty much right in all their predictions.

Next we showed the different strengths of magnets and how much more some could pick up then others. We talked about how magnets make other metal objects magnetic and practiced picking up metal in chains and seeing who could make the longest, Ciaran did. We talked about polarity and tested it by trying to connect same poles of magnets and the kids really thought they might be able to at first and kept laughing when they could not. Then they connected opposite ends. We talked about how our play trains had magnets that connected and repelled as well.

The thing that seemed to most surprise them was that magnets still worked through other items. We guessed whether it would or not (in the beginning they always said no, then they learned) and then tested it. We tried plastic, glass, wood, paper, blankets, clothing, styrofoam, tables, and anything else we could find and try. Ciaran especially enjoyed this activity and got very excited whenever he discovered something new that it would work through.

We painted with magnets. Placing paper on a plastic sheet supported by two blocks we dipped various metal pieces on strings into tempera paint and then used a magnet underneath the plastic to move around the metal pieces (an experiment we did recently at a local science fair day) and make paint designs.

We basically played with magnets all afternoon and the kids and I had fun doing it. They can speak intelligently about them but also passionately and they definitely took ownership in the lesson of the day. We have a few more followup activites including building their own magnet, magnetism of the earth and making bendable magnet figures.


March 1, 2005

Japan Geography and Food Coop

Today was our welcome to Japan day. The class began by looking at the globe and seeing where Minnesota was ans how far away Japan was. The kids all took guesses as to how many islands made up Japan. Many guessed four and the highest guess was 6, the answer was more than 3,000! They listened to a cute book "The Way We Do It In Japan. Then they broke up into two groups and did two stations. In the first station they labelled maps of Japan with different types of geography and the older kids labelled the main islands and some major geographical points of interest. They talked a bit about volcanoes.

In the second station they had an opportunity to learn about different foods eaten in Japan. They learned why they eat so much fish and rice. They learned some of the similarities from other countries we have studied recently and then they were able to taste several types of noodles (udon, soba and curly) with a sweet soy sauce. They also tasted soynuts and clementines (instead of tangerines which we could not locate). They ate around a table on the floor to imitate Japenese eating.

Then they broke for snack and returned to build a volcano with potting soil and a coke bottle. They made their flags out of felt and a dowel rod and then we ended with the volcano experiment, a big hit, especially with Ciaran. They enjoyed the session and when we were going around receiving their passport stamp they mentioned their favorite part of the day and Ciaran's was the volcano and Rhiannon's was eating Soba noodles. Sirah's was probably being allowed to sit on the table and eat noodles.

On the way home from coop we stopped to get some groceries and they wanted to buy Japanese food. We bought a variety of noodles and sauces to make. When we were loading the groceries at the register the cashier noticed and Ciaran said "We are eating japan". She smiled and asked if the hot chocolate was from Japan too (the green tea was). She asked me if my kids would really eat this and I explained we were studying the country this month and would try it. She looked perplexed, I smiled and said "They liked Thai and Chinese, but they found some of the Middle Eastern too spicy when we studied them!" I'm sure she was surprised when she looked at Rhiannon (5), Ciaran (almost 4) and Sirah 18 months! But then again we are full of surprises.