Monday, February 25, 2008
Here are some of his findings:
This is all in preparation for the egg drop contest this Saturday at VASC.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Animated Tales of the World is a show on HBO Family. Fantastic, fantastic show. Today's episode was a combination of stop-motion animation and CGI, and told a beautiful German version of Beauty and the Beast, called "The Enchanted Lion," and also the story of Persephone and Hades, from the Roman myth. Amazing costumes, light and accessible dialogue, excellent production values -- I highly recommend.
This is a great toy. You can find it online as a "Buddha Board" or "Water Wizard" or repaintable canvas. It's like an aqua doodle, but portable, looks like a laptop, and firmer, easier to use. There's a refillable water pen with a felted tip that goes down in the little groove at the bottom of the board, and stays put, so you can fold this and put it in your diaper bag. The board feels cool to the touch, like a thin slab of stone covered with a thin film of paper. Swiping the water pen across it creates a bold, dark line which immediately starts fading. I took it to the car dealership on Wednesday and the kids played with it the whole time our oil was getting changed.
It slices, it dices, and it homeschools. We do math on it, spelling on it, letter practice on it. Doing math on it is actually fun -- if you put a two digit multiplication problem on the board, the boy has to hustle to work it on out before it starts fading off the board. This also causes a fair amount of giggling. Giggling is good, in math. It helps. I got our Buddha Board at The Nature's Child.
Joshilyn Jackson has a new book coming out. It's called The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. I think you'll quite like it, but don't take my word for it. Here's the Publisher's Weekly Review:
Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances. Laurel, a high-end quilt maker, sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom one night. When it leads her to the backyard and a dead girl in the swimming pool, the life Laurel had hoped to build in her gated Florida neighborhood with her video-game designer husband, David, and their tween daughter, Shelby, starts to fall apart. Though the police clear the drowning as accidental, it soon appears that Shelby and her friend Bet may have been involved. Bet, who lives in DeLop, Laurel's impoverished hometown, was staying over the night of the drowning and plays an increasingly important role as the truth behind the drowning comes to light. Meanwhile, Laurel's sister, Thalia, whose unconventional ways are anathema to Laurel's staid existence, comes to stay with the family and helps sort things out. Subplots abound: Laurel thinks David is having an affair, and Thalia reveals some ugly family secrets involving the death of their uncle. What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel's finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water.
If you're already a fan, Joshilyn's first novel, gods in Alabama, is shortlisted for being World Book Day's "Book to Talk About" in 2008. Her book is the *only* book from North America that made it to the top ten. If you have read this book and think it is a book worth talking about, please go vote for it.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
We were driving past the hospital where Benny was born. We don't normally go down that road, so I pointed it out.
Me: Look, guys -- there's the hospital where Benny was born.
Benny: WOW! If I was Jesus, we'd be in Bethlehem!
Sadie: Yeah! And if I was God, I wouldn't be afraid of the dark!
And in my neurotic homeschooling mind, my first response was that I need to teach them to correctly use subjunctive tense.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Here's the link: Gravity Game called Sketch from Xavier Enigma.
Here's a video of my daughter Sadie playing this game. She is four and she loves it. She also likes airplanes, tutus, and poodles.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Last week at our Norfolk Homeschool Park Day, the kids found a dead bird. Shira and Benny immediately took charge of burying it:
After I had been coerced into filming the burial process, I let Benny have the camera for further procedural records.
He and Jillian made this grave marker:
And had a funeral:
Please note the following:
1. No child's hands touched the bird -- they handled it with sticks.
2. In the second movie, the voice you hear is Jillian's, and she is five.
3. Both Jillian and Shira wept over the bird, but Benny was fine. In fact, he even got a valentine from Jillian out of the whole experience:
Homeschoolers with soul!
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Pictures and video:
The kids presenting to the judge:
Demonstrating to another parent:
Little sister making a Lego car:
Our team won the "Inquiring Minds" award because they are so awesome!
Here's the "High Five Ceremony" where they got their ribbons:
Another great day for the Legodiles. My favorite team. :)
Friday, February 15, 2008
The Destruction of Sennacherib
by George Gordon, Lord Byron
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass'd,
And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there roll'd not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpets unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
Here's the down low on Sennacherib, Lord Byron, and the Assyrians.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Did you know a compass has 32 points? Well, it does. We learned sixteen of them, and did this worksheet page to help us remember where the points fall in relation to each other.
Want more compass fun? Try playing a game like Simon Says, except call it Captain Says. In our round room, we're going to "Captain Says" to the points of the compass. As in... "Captain says tiptoe West!" "Captain says crawl East!" "Captain says march north!" Now see if you can resist blowing their minds by saying "Captain says fly South by Southwest!" Hehehe.
We had lots of fun in our pirate class based on Treasure Island. Want to visit all my other Treasure Island resources? How about the Little Blue School Idea Box which has lots of other lesson plans and fun homeschooling ideas? I'm so glad you found this site. I hope you stick around and poke some links. You are welcome here!
Bookmark this on Delicious
Monday, February 11, 2008
About 30 minutes later, after figuring out that there were no more parking spaces in any of the lots, we parked in front of a hair salon, and began to hike toward the back of the line. Past the front of the building, the line snaked around and doubled back on itself. Past the parking lot, it stretched on out to the end of a row of trees. We got in line. I could not comprehend what I was seeing. Ahno kept saying, "See? See? He's going to be president." I started thinking maybe she was right.
Here's a blurry, dark, windy video of the line:
People (and we too) stood in that line outside for two hours while it crept along, with people being let into the building after being checked by security. At one point, Obama went past in an SUV with darkened windows and a police escort. Everyone in the line went mad, as if it was a Beatles concert, with all of them resurrected from the dead and promising to end pocket lint or something. I saw a lot of people I know, and I met some new people. Everyone was nice. Nervous though. It was cold.
Finally at 7:30, they just gave up on the security, threw open all the doors, and the stampede began. We had to fight to stay connected to each other. Ahno got run over twice by people abandoning any sense of order or place in line and rushing for the entrance. The children were excited.
Inside, it was just as crazy but in a different, brighter way. A sea of people. We fought our way as close as we could do the front and stood there for another hour waiting. We listened to Tim Kaine, our blue governor. We listened to U2 songs. I hoisted children onto my shoulders, onto my head, while staring at the shoulder blades of a forest of tall people in front of me. People were eager, anxious, desperate. It was like a rock concert. They wanted to see him, touch him, catch a glimpse of him.
Finally Obama arrived and cranked up the oratory. It was a familiar speech. At about the halfway point, I had had enough of the crushing crowd, and my unforgiving spine was ready to crack. We went back to the back, where we could see more easily if from a greater distance. The ethos of the place was familiar from some churches I have visited. Call and response. Rhythmic murmuring. A collective excitement. A feeling of humble petition to the man on stage. Toward the end of his speech, we jetted out, to try and avoid the thousands pushing through the doors to leave.
The paper said there were 18000 people there. I can't believe we actually went and took both kids. Being part of a crowd that big is just something I would normally crawl over glass to avoid. I'm glad I did, though, because I think it was important for the children to see this piece of history. They enjoyed it -- I'm not sure what part of it was interesting for them but I'm sure the experience will be memorable.
As for me, I'm still a Hillary supporter. I'll vote for her tomorrow. Apparently, so is Benny:
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Friday, February 08, 2008
I made the hat that Sadie's wearing in the pictures:
Thursday, February 07, 2008
The Bee: Stand up, put your toes behind the line on the floor, answer your question, bang the drum, sit down.
The Verdict: Totally hilarious and fun!
We started out with the six children in our Lego League family (minus one sleeping little brother), and held our first bee right before Lego League yesterday.
After the bee, the kids had chocolate cake, courtesy of Ben and Shira. Nothing says "Don't Forget the Silent E" like a lovely piece of cake!
We also had a democratic meeting about whether to expand our bee, how often to have one, whether to include all different subjects, how to deal with the squirminess of the children who are waiting to stand and spell, how competitive to make the "non-elimination" aspect of it, etc. Of course, since it was a democratic meeting, the results were inconclusive. Hehehe. Next Monday, another bee.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Hello! On this page you'll be able to do access and download all the materials your children will be receiving in class, as well as additional stuff to look at and print. I will update this page as new materials become available. Here's a short list of the materials you can find here, and below is a more detailed list, by date.
Class Summary 1: jpg or pdf
Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum: jpg or pdf
Yo Ho Yo Ho a Pirate's Life for Me: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 2: jpg or pdf
Compass Exercise: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 3: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 4: jpg or pdf
A Pirate's Life is a Wonderful Life: jpg or pdf
Vocabulary Worksheet for Part One: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 5: jpg or pdf
Pirate Story Plan: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 6: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 7: jpg or pdf
Pirate Vessels: jpg or pdf
Vocabulary Worksheet for Part Four: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 8: jpg or pdf
Ship's Bells Worksheet: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 9: jpg or pdf
Signal Flags Worksheet: jpg or pdf
Lillibullero: jpg or pdf
Class Summary 10: jpg or pdf
Coin Worksheet: jpg or pdf
Class 11 and 12 available here.
Update May 6:
This week the children really impressed me with their grasp of the salient points from these chapters. As we near the end of the book, things will start to come together, plot-wise, but this part where Jim Hawkins is in the coracle, on and off the Hispaniola, and fighting with Israel Hands, is kind of difficult to follow even for an adult. I continue to be amazed with their comprehension skills and when we sit down to discuss the story they are almost always right with me as we go through the ideas and facts I want to get across. Kudos to you guys for reading with them, and kudos to them for tackling such a challenging text.
When Jim Hawkins returns to the stockade, he is clued in to the fact that the pirates have taken over residence when he hears the parrot saying "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!" We learned what this phrase means, and the answer was kind of interesting! Spanish dollars were worth 8 reals, and they were made of gold. To make change, instead of making coins with smaller denominations, they would just chop up the big gold coins into individual reals. Each "bit" was worth one real, making each quarter worth two reals, or two bits! Interesting -- I did not know that until doing research for this class.
After we discussed some of the symbolism of the images that appear on coins, how carefully the faces, buildings, animals, birds, or shapes are chosen, the students designed their own coins with interesting results. We also talked about fractions, and practiced dividing our coins into halves, quarters, eighths, but I found this was not challenging for them -- they seemed to already understand these math concepts.
Update April 29:
In this class we learned about signal flags and the way they were used to communicate between ships. We studied the signal flag alphabet and practiced writing our names and messages to each other in flags. Keep your eye open for flags in the harbor and also on buildings around town!
We learned a new song today. Lillibullero is an English folk song that has been used and re-used with many different lyrics at different times in history. We put Treasure Island lyrics to it -- a call and response song between the faithful and the pirates as they taunt each other over the wall of the stockade.
Lillibullero was the tune that the pirates were whistling while Dr. Livesey was making his trips with the jolly boat before the faithful took up residence in the stockade. I thought it would be neat to teach the children this song, and it *really* gets stuck in their heads. I may have assigned them to come home and drive you insane singing "Lero lero lillibullero!" Sorry about that.
Here are the documents:
Update April 8:
The men in the stockade had to make difficult choices about what they chose to take with them from the ship, since they didn't have a lot of room in the boat. Some luxuries and even some necessities were left behind, and now they're struggling to survive with only what they have. Today in class we're going to be creating "survival packs" in class. We will determine the bare minimum that we would need to survive in a jungle island environment and pack our boxes with symbols of these provisions and tools.
We will also be learning about telling time with ship's bells, and I have a worksheet for them to use in practicing this. It would be great if throughout this week you could reinforce the "ship's bells" method a bit when you find yourself checking the time or setting a bed time or a time for dinner. :)
Update April 1:
At the beginning of our reading for today, Dr. Livesey becomes the narrator and Jim Hawkins is temporarily out of the story. Today we focused on point of view as a literary device. The point of view from which a story is told determines a lot about the story! We discussed how different Treasure Island might be if it were told from the point of view of Long John Silver. We discussed how real life situations might be seen differently from different characters involved in the action. The boys were incredibly perceptive with this stuff! Well beyond my expectations! They continue to amaze me.
We are learning about different types of pirate vessels in these chapters and the ones to come. I assigned an art worksheet for them to do, with your help, after looking up pictures of gigs, coracles, schooners, and jolly-boats on the internet. I also gave them another vocabulary worksheet -- same as the first, with "pick three to use in sentences" and then "pick three to show in a picture." As usual, how much you do of these "assignments" is up to you, but it does enrich our class time if everyone can participate fully.
Update March 11:
Chapter 13 provides us with a lot of very evocative descriptions of Treasure Island itself. This is not your fun, happy, blue-skied, diamond-beached tropical paradise! It's marshy, grey, forbidding, and scary. Today we discussed literary settings, and the three elements that make up a setting:
1. The physical objects present, including landscape elements and "things" in view.
2. The time of day. Lonely beach during the day is quite different from a lonely beach at night!
3. The weather.
Without any of these three elements, a setting is incomplete. An author gives us at least an impression of all three, to create a full picture in our minds. We also talked about including other senses besides just vision. The marsh in Treasure Island smelled bad, the heat felt oppressive, there were bird calls, etc.
To reinforce these ideas, we did watercolor paintings of the setting we had read about. This is why your child's picture might have come home looking very dreary. We talked about including the major landmarks, like Spyglass Mountain, and giving an impression of the weather and time of day.
During spring break, I'd like the boys to read the next six chapters. Also, if you're interested in participating in the Reading Rainbow contest for young writers and illustrators, that deadline is March 28. I would love to have some pirate stories entered! They could even use their watercolor painting as a cover, or one of their illustrations.
I realized when I was unpacking my things that in the excitement over giving the boys their pirate mugs (thanks, Amy Moler!) I forgot to hand out the class summary sheet for Class Six: Land Ho! Here it is:
Update March 4:
What's up pirates and pirate parents? Today we spent some time working on their pirate vocabulary and looking at their homework. I was amazed and delighted to hear them already beginning to incorporate some of these words into their discussion of the books. These children are so smart! You might look over that sheet this week and ask your child which words he remembers, to reinforce his knowledge. If you didn't do this sheet, don't worry about it -- we'll be doing more of these as the book progresses. One of the most valuable side effects of reading real literature at a young age is exposure to interesting vocabulary, so we want to maximize that! We also spent some time talking about the geography of the ocean voyage, from Bristol to the Caribbean Sea. If you have a globe handy, you might point out these places on the globe.
Storytelling: Today we started a new project! We are all going to write pirate adventure stories! In their folders you will find a worksheet I made to help them start brainstorming ideas. If your child needs help writing down his ideas, you can absolutely be a scribe for him, or he can just draw pictures in the boxes to start thinking about the main points of his tale. In class, they already began telling me how they have different ideas, ones that don't fit in the boxes -- well, of course, that's just what I would expect!! Not at all necessary to fill in the boxes or stay within the limits I've defined -- whatever your boy imagines is fantastic. I'm just trying to spark some ideas with these questions.
Reading Rainbow, a show on PBS, has an annual contest for young writers and illustrators. The contest has some very specific rules, so you will definitely want to look at their web site if you're interested in pursuing that. Check out the local rules and regs at WHRO. I think this is a great contest, and I will be doing this with Benny. I encourage you to investigate it -- not a requirement by any means though! The deadline is at the end of this month. Next week in class we'll be talking more about structuring their stories, so over the break they'll have lots of time to finish working at home.
Songwriting: Two of our students wrote new verses to "A Pirate's Life is a Wonderful Life" which we sang in class. I encourage everyone to do this! There are lines on your song sheet for filling in your own verse(s) that relate to Treasure Island.
Treasure Collecting: I gave the children their treasure pouches today, in which they'll be collecting coins and jewels in class. They can either keep it clipped into their class notebooks or with the rest of their treasure trove at home. They've begun negotiating with me for trading up to better coins, better "diamonds" etc. -- this is awesome! Deal-making is very piratical. So now in their treasure troves they should have their beads, their maps, and their pouches.
Music: I have made MP3 versions of the three songs we are learning in class! I'm not going to host them on my site or the list, but if you would like to have me email them to you, please email me offlist and let me know.
That's it! Keep reading!
Update February 26:Ahoy pirates! I hope your reading is going well. Today in class we launched two new projects:
1. I invited the students to write their own verse, or verses, for the "A Pirate's Life is a Wonderful Life" song. I'm working on getting you guys a CD with all of these songs on it, but until then if you're not sure of the tune -- it's the song from Peter Pan. There's no pressure on this -- if they don't want to do it right away or at all, that's totally fine. Some seemed excited at the prospect, some less so, so let's just make sure it stays fun!
2. We will be making a pirate's sea chest later on in the class, but for now we are starting to collect our "treasure trove." The students should now have a treasure map (in an oilskin packet) and a necklace made with beads and shells from the West Indies. Note: The shells are not actually from the West Indies and the envelope is not actually made of skin. :) They will be collecting and making more items, so they'll just need to keep them in a central location at home until we make the chest later in the semester.
The reading for this week is the next three chapters. I welcome your feedback on the speed at which we are going through the book. If three chapters per week is too fast, please let me know. Also let me know if your children are done reading the book! :)
The vocabulary worksheet that the children brought home is a "friendly" homework assignment. We will be talking about it these words in class, and it would be helpful for the students to learn their meanings. If these homework assignments are too much, just ignore them. If you're enjoying them, that's great! They're meant to enhance their understanding of the book, not to be a chore. :) If you have any questions, feel free to email me at jackets at rpsd dot com.
Update February 19:
Hi pirates! I hope that by now you've uncrumpled your treasure maps and rubbed them with oil. Ours turned out really old and piratey-looking, but we had a terrible tragedy in our house -- THE DOG ATE IT! The dog ate Benny's homework literally! I guess we should have used goat oil or something, because the olive oil we used was just too delicious for Leroy the Boston Terrier to resist.
If you are in the same situation, or if you just need instructions on making your pirate map because you missed class, here are the steps:
1. On a plain piece of paper, draw a pirate map with permanent marker or crayons. Don't use washable marker! Your map should include the elements we agreed on in class: a compass, labels on landmarks, and an X to mark the treasure.
2. Paint the map with tea. We used pretty weak tea in class, but you could use stronger tea for a darker color. Paint both sides.
3. When the map is good and wet, crumple it up and leave it to dry overnight while crumpled.
4. The next day, uncrumple the map and rub oil into it for a greasy old pirate map.
Note: If a lot of the crayon rubs off during the oiling process, don't worry -- part of the point is that when maps get used and abused, they get harder to read.
Here is the class summary for this week:
Update February 12:
This update is late because almost immediately after our class on Tuesday, I went off on a trip! For those who are wondering, it went very well. For those who are wanting to download the class materials, here they are!
I handed out their folders and they each got a black pencil. It would be great if they could bring these to class each week. I will have extra pencils for those that forget, and I have someone's pencil in my bag from last week, but if they could just put their pencils in the center little pocket on their folders, then they'd always have one. It is not important that they bring the actual text of the story, since we will not be using that in class.
For next week, please read chapters 4 through 6. The children all had amazing recall of the facts in the chapters they had read. You are all doing a great job supporting them as they tackle this literature! They are such bright, enthusiastic, exciting students -- I really appreciate them.
Update February 5:
I realized that I assigned the boys to research one of the piratey terms in "Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum" but did not provide them with a lyric sheet. I had to wrestle my printer into submission to get it to print out the class summary, but it stuck out its lip last night and refused to print the lyrics!
Here is the class summary, which the boys received on paper today. You'll find their chosen pirate names in the blank on the sheet they got in class. You can download this either as a JPG (image) or as a PDF (Adobe Acrobat file).
Monday, February 04, 2008
Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest
Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me
Choose a Pirate Name! Mix and Match from the list:
Salty Jude Fourfingers
Crazy Jack LePlank
Scurvy Jim Pegleg
Blue John The Goat
Captain Bogg Swashbuckle
Swarthy Mack Cutthroat
Briny Tom Doubloon
Scabby Kracken Swordswaller
Red Flint Musketmouth
Rummy Hank Gumbo
Mad-eye Bill Fishlip
Make a Pirate Flag! Not all pirates flew the Jolly Roger. In fact, each designed his or her own flag. Cut your symbolic elements out of white and red paper, and glue them onto your black flag.
Typical pirate flag elements: Bones, skulls, hearts, swords, hour-glasses, skeletons, stars, letters, numbers.
Learn Some Pirate Lore! Parents: These terms are relevant to the reading selection for next week and will be discussed in class. There won't be a quiz or a test.
1. Bearings 7. Compass
2. Sea chest 8. Mate
3. Tarry pigtail 9. Skipper
4. Capstan bars 10. Keep your weather eye open
5. Walking the plank 11. Dry Tortugas
6. Spanish Main 12. Man who sails before the mast
Assignments for next time:
Reading Assignment: Chapters 1-3 of Treasure Island
Research: One “piratey term” from the song “Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum”
Optional: Piratey Destinations To Visit Online (with an adult):
Pirate Flags: http://pirateshold.buccaneersoft.com/pirate_flags.html
Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhXbhK9tL6U Yo ho, Yo ho, a Pirate’s Life For Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wT8ZNsKNZc