Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jungle Book Week 4


Today to warm up, we practiced our Johar greeting. We're getting fast, but I know we can be faster. I attribute our slowness to extreme giggling caused by people calling each other the wrong name. Which never fails to amuse.


1. Hindus believe in one god, which means they are polytheists.

2. The Greeks had a pantheon, the Romans had a pantheon, and the Hindus have a pantheon.

3. A trinity is a type of drink popular in Goa, a coastal city of Southern India.

4. Brahma is the creator, Ganesha is the preserver, and Zeus is the destroyer.

5. Even though there are many gods in the pantheon, many Hindus believe they are all different manifestations of the same idea of god.

6. An avatar is a divine incarnation, which means a part of god that appears on earth.

7. Devas are people who think they are very important to a religion, and act bossy and rude, mostly found in New York and Los Angeles.

8. Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of overcoming obstacles, is one of the most popular gods in the pantheon.

9. Mother goddesses are important to Hindus. Some major ones are Lakshmi, Parvati, and Kali.

10. There is only one version of Hindu. Anyone practicing a variation has to be reincarnated as a pickle.

If you want the answers, ask your child. I'll give you a hint: The pickle one is FALSE.

Songs: After the quiz, we sang our songs, "If," "Mandalay," and "Jungle Book TV Theme." The enrichment class boogied like it was their job.

The White Seal: We had three teaching points today.

1. Point of view. The White Seal is in the point of view of the animals again, like Rikki Tikki Tavi. I asked the children why Kipling chose to write from this perspective, and we talked about how the story illuminates this secret world of seals, which could never have been narrated from the perspective of humans. I introduced the idea that will become much more important later in the Mowgli stories, that Kipling adds layers of law and order over a "society" that is generally seen as lawless and therefore inferior. So where we see a bunch of unruly seals rolling around on the beach, Kipling sees these rich relationships full of culture and tradition. This will relate later to imperialist attitudes toward native populations.

I asked the kids whether the Aleuts who killed the seals were wrong to do it. They all said yes. Then I asked them to imagine the same scene told from the perspective of the humans. For the younger class, I started to tell a story about a boy living in the harsh environment of this Alaskan island, fighting for survival, trying to get clothes, blankets, and tents for his family, oil to burn in their lamps, food to eat, life from these seals. Would that boy be wrong to kill seals to save his family? So, it gets murky. One child asked, "Why can't they just kill and eat the fish?" I asked if they could imagine a story told from the point of view of fish, that would make a reader think that killing fish was wrong. They said no, but I pointed out Finding Nemo and reminded them of the scene at the end with the fishing boat and the "Swim down together!" They started to get my point!

2. The power of fiction. The lesson of The White Seal is not so much about seals and Aleuts and saving your people and arctic adventure and more about how fiction works to make us *feel* about an issue, rather than thinking about it. I asked the children to tell me how the seal killing made them feel: sad, bad, worried, afraid, etc. Creating feelings in a reader by telling the story of a character the reader cares about can be a much more direct route to a reader's opinion than a non-fiction essay that invites argument. We talked about different works of fiction that were written to make a point, and one child brought up Misty of Chincoteague, which is a great example of changing readers' minds with fiction on a massive scale that could never be accomplished (in my opinion) without a character and a narrative.

3. Is killing seals wrong? We talked around the question for a while, and different children talked about their different levels of vegetarianism or veganism. For me, as usual, it's less about the issue and more about the literary artifice, and teaching the children how changing the point of view can radically affect the story's message, and how authors make these decisions based on what they want to make the reader feel. Identifying and evaluating the point of view is one of the first steps in becoming a conscious reader. Have you guessed that our next story is about seal hunting from the point of view of an Aleutian boy?

New Song: We learned "Lukannon," which Kipling says is the seal national anthem. It's a sad, angry song... this will be the last poem we memorize this semester.

Assignment: The fast facts for this week are all over a map of the world. I made a map of ten of the places Kotick travelled in his search for the island without men. On the map your child brought home, you'll see ten locations labelled, which we went over in class. Next week's quiz will be a blank map, and they'll fill in the numbers for me. The reading assignment for next week is "Quiquern."


A map of the Aleutian Islands.

A cool volcano in the Aleutian Islands.

A picture of Aleut clothing.

Aleuts in a kayak hunting whale.

Dog sled pictures: 1. 2. 3.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jungle Book Week 3


Decorated Elephants Art Project. Because our project was so involved and I wanted the children to have the maximum amount of time possible to work on it, we started right away.

Each student started with a blank elephant outlined on a half sheet of black posterboard in gel marker:


Blank elephants on black posterboard
Gel markers
Colored rhinestones
Fabric flowers
Shimmery shapes
Wooden tiles
Cardboard tiles
Sequins of all shapes and sizes
Bottles of Tacky glue

The only instructions: Outline with markers. Color with chalk. Use glue in dots only. No big piles of glue, no glue lines, no puddles, no glops. Dots only. Demonstrate. Dots of glue is the secret of success with this project!

Here are some examples of our finished work:

Here is a link to tons more images of my adorable students and their work.

Songs. While we did our projects, we sang our songs, and many of the students have memorized the first verse of If and the first verse of Mandalay. This is exciting! We moved on to working on the second verses.

Quiz. Here it is -- see how you do! Which of these statements are true?

1. The white man in charge of the elephant capture operation is called a mahout.

2. An elephant works with many mahouts in the course of his life, because it’s dangerous for an animal to become attached to one person.

3. A mahout can communicate orders to an elephant with a word or a touch.

4. The difficult terrain in Northeast India makes it necessary to use elephants for work.

5. Elephants cannot be used to carry guns because they have a strong pacifist ethic and will not move forward carrying weapons.

6. If you were a king or a celebrity in India, you would probably ride an elephant in a parade.

7. Elephants in parades are decorated with black shawls, black yarn wigs, and coal dust, to remind everyone of night.

8. During a khedda capture, elephants are driven into large pools of warm milk, which makes them sleepy and easy to work with.

9. Tame elephants are used to calm down wild elephants that are being captured to tame.

10. Ganesha is a Hindu god with an elephant head.

If you want the answers, ask your child.

Toomai of the Elephants: We had three teaching points today.

1. Point of view. The story "Rikki Tikki Tavi" was in the point of view of the animals, and we could hear the animals talking and see the world from their perspective. "Toomai of the Elephants" is in the point of view of the humans, and we see the elephants from the outside. I asked the students why they thought this might be, and they came up with some interesting thoughts. For example, Sarah pointed out that if we heard from the elephants POV, we would know that the dance was real from the beginning. I asked them why they thought Kala Nag came back to the camp, after the dance was over. To me, this is one of the big mysteries of the story, and one of the most important elements. If we heard from Kala Nag, if we could hear him talk, we would know the answer definitively, but without that perspective, we have to guess. Several of the children thought Kala Nag might be coming back to return Little Toomai -- I thought that was interesting. Others suggested that he was afraid to be free in the forest after being a tame elephant all his life.

2. I asked the students if they could think of ways that Toomai and Kala Nag were similar. The answer I was looking for was the fact that they both drummed to express themselves and communicate with the world -- Toomai on his tom-tom and Kala Nag in the elephant dance. They did give me that answer, but Abigail also pointed out that Toomai and Kala Nag were both kind of caught in their circumstances, servants and enslaved -- the elephant in his ropes and pickets and Toomai by his station in life. I thought this was very insightful and it was exactly what I was getting to with my line of questioning.

3. I told the children that there were was a line in the story that bothered me: "Native children have no nerves to speak of." We discussed what that line might mean, and I told them I found it wrong and sad: All children have nerves. We talked about the fact that in colonizing another country, the dominant culture has to define the dominated culture as less important, less valuable than themselves, to allow themselves to use them and oppress them. We looked at this line as an example of the British "Sahib" making it possible to treat these children poorly. We can absolutely see this as wrong, but we have to ask where this sentiment is coming from. Is it the character's sentiment or is it the author's sentiment? I told them that I wasn't sure whether this was Kipling's idea or Sahib Petersen's idea, and that this was a question we would look into further as we went deeper into the book.

Assignment: The fast facts for this week cover the Hindu pantheon. The reading assignment for next week is "The White Seal."


A fur seal rookery.

A northern fur seal, showing its sharp teeth.

In case anyone is interested in some serious information about fur seals, here is some.

Fur seals on Enchanted Learning.

More fur seals with a big bull in the front and center.

Video of a female seal finding her pup in a group, just like Kotick and his mom.

Baby fur seal and his mom.

The White Seal animated movie (by Chuck Jones) Part I
The White Seal animated movie Part II
The White Seal animated movie Part III

Warning: Do NOT let your child search around on YouTube or Google for fur seal links without you. There are extremely disturbing images and videos of seal culls, and the fur trade. Not appropriate for children AT ALL. Like, nightmares for life type stuff.

Latin Club Week 3

This is a class report for week 2 of my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op. Our textbook is Latin for Children Level A.

In class:

Meet and greet. I collected homework and we took the quiz. Everyone was faster this week -- much faster! Great job.

Chants. We took turns leading the chants from chapter 1 and chapter 2.

Songs. We worked on "Ballad of the Latin Verbs," "She Will Be Latin," and "Dona Nobis Pacem." I passed out the sheet music for "Dona Nobis Pacem" and encouraged those who play instruments to try it out at home. We have some strong singers in the group! I think we are going to be able to do this one as a round.

Games: In our first game, the leader would say the first part of the noun chant (aqua, aquae) and the group would say the second part (water, water). The trick was to mix us up and take the words out of order so we had to translate instantly without knowing what was next. It was challenging for the group to come up with the right definition, and challenging for the leaders to keep the nouns coming in the right rhythm, without pausing to think.

Our second game involved verbs. I called out a verb, and the students had to stand up for singular, sit down for plural. We stayed with the five verbs in the first chapter, but listening to the different endings and figuring out the number was a challenge. Sometimes they knew right away, and all agreed. Sometimes they didn't agree. It was interesting! We talked about different ways that we memorize these endings -- some remember visually by imagining the chart and what it looks like. Some remember aurally, by reciting the chants silently in their brains. Figuring out the way you learn is a great way to use study time more efficiently, so they should be thinking about this question: How do I remember?

Stamps. We all successfully got our -o/-s/-t/-mus/-tis/-nt stamp, although some of us had left folders at home and got a stamp on the hand instead. Next week's stamp is the first declension noun chant, with the noun mensa. This one is a little harder than the last one and will take some practice.

Assignments. Great job on the assignments! I returned the quizzes and homework this week with some comments and stickers to encourage them to press on in the book. Please have your children ready to turn in a page from the chapter 3 material, either the Primer or the Activity Book. Any page, or a photocopy, is going to work.


Monday, September 21, 2009

The children are the future. Let them worry about it.

I am not worried about my children's future. There. I've said it. Sure, I worry about whether they'll find nice people to marry, or if they'll be fulfilled in their jobs, be happy in their choices. But I am not worried about the future of this world. I won't be one of those gloomy old whiners who says, "I've got a daughter! I've got a son! It's her money you're spending! It's his earth you're destroying!"

You know what? I have a son and a daughter, and if they find themselves 37 years old in a world without polar bears and social security, I expect them to figure it out. My adoptive mother used to say "You're big enough and old enough and ugly enough to handle this." Of course, she also used to say "You're free, white, and 21..." and attach the same optimistic sentiment. But we won't go there. She lived to be 92.

Both the right and the left invoke their children's futures to drive home a point, trotting out the next generation like some kind of diapered trump card guaranteed to end all disputes. "I don't want my children to live in a world without rain forests, a world of socialized medicine, a world where gays can marry, or NYC is underwater." It's a convenient argument. I may even have heard it coming out my own mouth. But guess what? It doesn't matter what kind of world you or I want them to live in. They're going to live in whatever world this one has become by the time they get around to living.

And there's nothing you can really do about it. Nor should you try. You can be responsible. You can do what's right. You can teach your children to understand your beliefs and work to make their lives great. But every generation has its own challenges and problems. Did your parents anticipate 9/11? The collapse of the mortgage industry? Internet stalkers? If they had blustered and fussed more, would those menaces have been avoided? No.

If you think you're going to fix the world for your children, forget it. The world refuses to be fixed. The good news is that we continue to deal with it, daughter after mother, son after father, since the beginning of time. We invent styrofoam, then we quit eating off it, we invent the internet, but we don't let our kids publish their phone numbers, we start wars, we pull back, we finish wars. We're big enough, old enough, and ugly enough to manage whatever the next thing is too.

Do you turn around and blame your parents for global warming? For nukes in Pakistan? For autism? Of course not -- how could they have prevented such things? The world is such a different place than it was 30 years ago, and in 30 years I'm betting it will be practically unrecognizable again. We'll be begging for our I-pods back while our children's contemporaries will be yelling that they don't want their children growing up in a world where the uploading port is wired to their brains and not their ear canals.

I think one of the reasons that the show "Mad Men" is so popular is that in watching that show we can see how far we've come. With an unflinching view of the 60s, and all the things about these people's lives that we find foreign (calling people "negros," not using car seats, slapping women's asses at work, drugging themselves through childbirth, etc) it's impossible not to wonder... what were these people worried about, for their children? What kind of a world did they not want their kids to grow up in? These were our parents. My biological mother was born in the 40s. What could she have wanted, hoped, or feared for me? What does it matter?

Protest. Work. Change. Do what you think is right, and fight for what you believe in right now. But don't drag out your children to make me feel guilty, as if they will be, 50 years from now, the helpless victims of my current whims. They'll do what they have to do, just like my kids will. They'll face problems we cannot imagine, until the debates of 2009 seem as antiquated as rules about driving a horse in Manhattan. Let the future take care of the future -- convince me that what you want me to believe is good for you today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Latin Club Week 2

This is a class report for week 2 of my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op. Our textbook is Latin for Children Level A.

In class:

Meet and greet. I collected homework and we took the quiz. We discovered that not only do we have two different versions of Latin for Children, we have *three* different versions. So, there were extra questions on the new edition's quiz, and that was a problem. What's going to work best for those who are using books purchased last year or before is to photocopy your own quizzes or leave them blank when possible. For today, the kids collaborated and we got through it. Turning in homework was also complicated due to the difference in pagination and the fact that the "Derivative Worksheet" seems to be a new feature.

Chants. We took turns leading the chants from chapter 1.

Songs. We worked on "Ballad of the Latin Verbs" and "She Will Be Latin" and also learned the first section of Dona Nobis Pacem. We discussed ecclesiastical pronunciation in the context of the word "pacem" and contemplated the nature of the soft C.

Stamps. We all successfully got our amo/amas/amat/amamis/amatis/amant chant right and received our very first stamps. We practiced the chant for next week: -o/-s/-t/-mus/-tis/-nt. We said it like mice, like bears, like princesses, like opera singers, like wind. We went around the room and each had a chance to say the new chant in a different strange voice. This was hilarious, especially Martina and Travis doing the voice of Stitch. We all roared and laughed and I, perhaps ill-advisedly, vowed to learn the Stitch voice. The kids could practice their chants in silly voices at home -- I'm hoping someone will do a good Donald Duck. Doing silly voices takes the focus off perfection and encourages them to make the memory work more automatic, less stressful.

Flash Cards. We showed some of the flash cards we have made and guessed the meanings. The students should make five more, verbs or nouns or whatever, and we worked on them in class a bit.

Assignments. Because of the confusion with the different editions, and because I don't want anyone to have to tear pages out of their books that might have important stuff on the back, I'm going to leave it up to you to decide what page you can turn in next week. You can turn in a page from the Primer or the Activity Book, whichever is easier. If you want to turn in a photocopy, that's fine too. I would like each child to turn in something each week -- exactly what you decide to turn in is up to you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jungle Book Week 2


Johar greeting. We tried to go faster than last week. Maybe by the end of the semester we will just be zooming around the room. With the enrichment track class we just did the girls today; we will do the boys next week. We had so much exciting stuff to get to, we didn't want to take up too much time.

Bindis. We are always going to wear bindis, until the bindis run out.

Quiz. Here it is -- see how you do! Which of these statements are true?

1. Rudyard Kipling was an Indian author, but he was born in London, England.

2. During Kipling’s life, India was colonized by England, and ruled by England.

3. Kipling was named after the Rudyard Potato, the most delicious potato his parents had ever eaten.

4. Kipling’s father was a professor of sculpture at the School of Art and Industry in Bombay.

5. As a little child in Bombay, Kipling spoke native Indian languages as well as English, and had a Hindu nanny and caretaker.

6. When he was six years old, Kipling went every day to an Indian school, where he learned about Indian culture and the Indian languages.

7. Kipling became a writer for the Civil and Military Gazette, a newspaper in Lahore, India, and then a bigger newspaper, The Pioneer, in Allahabad.

8. When he was 24, Kipling signed on to the crew of a boat to become a deep sea diver and search for the elusive Indian elephant whale.

9. Kipling became a writer most famous for novels, essays, and cookbooks.

10. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but refused to be knighted and refused to be the poet laureate of England.

If you want the answers, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Hindi phrase practice. Here are the phrases we learned today:

Hello - Namaste

Goodbye - Alvida

How are you? - Aap kaise hain?

I am fine. - Mai achchha hoon.

Rikki Tikki Tavi: We had two teaching points here. The first was about the setting. We discussed how these are English people, living in India on a military compound. Their lifestyle is definitely British and they bring a lot of their world with them from England. This will come back later when we talk about the Gond tribe in the Mowgli stories.

The second point touches on the way Kipling writes about animals. Rather than personifying his animal characters, making them behave as humans, Kipling's mongoose and cobra and other animals behave as animals -- they stay true to their natures. So even though they have language and we can understand their communications, they aren't making human choices and facing human conflicts. This is why Rikki Tikki Tavi goes right into the cobra hole without considering whether or not it's a good idea. We compared this type of animal story to something like Finding Nemo, where the animals (or fish in this case) are very human in their worldviews.

Songs and Poems. We sang Mandalay and If, and learned the Jungle Book TV Theme Song, from a 1970s animated series that was popular in India. The interesting thing about this song is that it was written, way back when, by the same songwriter whose song "Jai Ho" was recently featured in "Slumdog Millionaire." Here is a link to a video of the song. Warning: It will get stuck in your head.

Toomai of the Elephants preview: We read over the Working Elephant Fast Facts and discussed the role of elephants in Indian culture. In the enrichment class we talked about the following vocabulary words:


Bonus Links:

Here's a really cool video that shows decorated elephants working with their mahouts, getting all decked out for a temple ceremony. Cool detail: the elephant helps the mahout climb up by raising its back leg.

Something to listen to: A mantra to Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god. After you get through the images of the singer's other CDs, there are lots of cool still images of Ganesha depicted in art. Here's another mantra to Ganesh, with a beat you can dance to. Disclaimer: I don't know what any of the words mean.

An elephant outside a temple, giving a blessing to people.

Elephants being made to lie down and take a rest by their mahouts. You can see one guy gently using an ankus.

Here's an elephant lifting a log and piling it up... like "elephints a'pilin' teak" in the poem.

WARNING: The use of elephants for work, festivals, or domestic purposes is by no means uncomplicated and beautiful. If you click around and look, you'll find horror stories and terrible pictures. So don't. Several of the "elephants at work" videos are a little disturbing, at least in my opinion; the animals look stressed and you can see rope marks, etc. The ones above are okay.

Next week we're going to make decorated elephant heads, so it would be great if they could look at a lot of pictures of elephant headdresses.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Latin Club Week 1

This is a class report for my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op. Our textbook is Latin for Children Level A.

In class:

Meet and greet. We all Latin-ized our names, so Benny became Bennimus, Stephen became Stephanus, etc. Fortunately for me, I got to stay "Lydia." Already Latin enough.

We talked about the different reasons we want to learn Latin. The kids mentioned that learning Latin makes it easier to learn other languages (Shira), that Latin is like a secret language (Stephen), and that Latin is just fun to learn (Ben).

Down to business. We went over the syllabus and talked about the book, the quizzes, the stamps.

Grammar: We discussed verbs and how they have number and person. We played a game where I said a pronoun and they had to tell me the number or the person or both. Then we talked about the verb endings in chapter 1, and how in Latin instead of adding a pronoun to signify person and number, the actual verb itself changes.

Chants: We did the amo/amas/amat chant, the verb chant with principle parts, and the noun vocab chant, and the kids took turns leading the chants.

Songs: I introduced the songs "She Will Be Latin" and "Ballad of the Latin Verbs." In the next few days I'll be posting more about these songs. with some audio to listen to, and the lyrics.

Flashcards: I handed out five blank cards to each student, and with markers and other writing utensils, they got started on making their cards. I handed out their pouches to keep the cards in, and that was it!

Assignments: This week the children should complete pages 5 and 6 in the Primer to tear out and turn in. Of course, I recommend completing all the work in the Primer and Activity Book for chapter 1. We will be taking the quiz in chapter 1 in class. Not only can they preview the questions in advance, but they can use the book to help them as they take the quiz in class. Ideally, they won't need to!

Jungle Book Week 1


Discuss the meaning of the word "Namaste." Practice saying "Namaste" to each other.

Do a "johar" greeting. In every child exchanges name with every child. So, the child whose turn it is says each of the other children's names around the circle, and each child responds by saying the first child's name back. This is a tradition in the Gond tribe, the tribe of Mowgli, at the ghotul, or youth dormitory. It's a great way for the children to learn each other's names, and it's also fun and leads to some silliness.

Put on your bindi. Talk about the Hindu concept of the chakra and the third eye. We looked through "magic eye" viewers that showed rainbows around everyday objects -- thanks to Miss Ginny for providing these! You could use a kaleidoscope or maybe rose-colored glasses to illustrate the idea of seeing differently than with your regular two eyes. Rather than get deeply into the meanings and variations of the bindi, I decided to go the silly route, so we had lots of different stickers for the kids to use: peace signs, soccer balls, donuts, and sparkly Mickey Mouse heads, as well as jewels and glitz for the girls. Here's a picture of one particularly glamorous bindi, taken during lunch hour:

And two little girl bindis:

I bought lots of different sticky jewels, but the ones that worked the best were these:

and these:

I cut them apart into individual bindis. If you like, you can also order sticker bindis from online stores.

Talk about Kipling himself. In the academic class we went through the fast facts one by one and talked about them, and in the younger class we just chatted about him and his life.

Introduce the two poems we will be memorizing as songs. The academic class worked on each song in full, and the enrichment class worked on the first verses. If you're in the academic class, those poems, "Mandalay" and "If" came home in your child's binder. I will post more about the songs later, including some audio files for listening at home.

List some vocabulary words to notice in "Rikki Tikki Tavi": cantonment, bungalow, veranda, fledgling, sluice, bantam, and brood.

READING ASSIGNMENT (to be read by 9/15): Rikki Tikki Tavi

QUIZ MATERIAL (for Academic Track): Rudyard Kipling Fast Facts


Video of a mongoose fighting a cobra

Video of a mongoose fighting a cobra II

Video of a guy working with a 14 ft King Cobra out in the jungle

Rikki Tikki Tavi, the animated movie, was made in 1975. It’s a cartoon, but a lot of the words are quite true to the story:

Rikki Tikki Tavi Part I

Rikki Tikki Tavi Part II

Rikki Tikki Tavi Part III

A good picture of a cute Indian mongoose

A good picture of a cobra’s markings

Latin for Children Syllabus

This is a syllabus for my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op.


We will be tackling one chapter per week in the Latin for Children Primer, with accompanying exercises in the Activity Book. I will be assigning pages which I will collect and grade. We will mark the assigned pages in class so your child will always know which pages will be collected. Week 1's assignment will come from Chapter 1, and be collected in Week 2, and so on. Assignments will come back with positive comments.


Each week we will take the quiz in the Primer. If you do not have a blank quiz sheet, don't worry -- I will make copies of my blanks. The children can study the quiz sheet during the week, use their books to help them take the quiz, and even collaborate.


Your child will come home from Day 1 with a special purple folder and fifteen blank stickers. Each of these represents a stamp he or she will earn during the semester. Here is a list of the stamps to earn:

First conjugation verb (amo)
Present tense verb endings
Verb principle parts (any verb)
Sum chant
1st declension noun (mensa)
1st declension noun endings
2nd declension noun (ludo)
2nd declension noun endings
2nd declension neuter noun (donum)
2nd declension neuter noun endings
Adjective endings
1st and 2nd declension adjective
2nd conjugation verb
Imperfect verb endings
Sentence pattern chant

Everyone can work at their own pace, but this will take us through half the book in this first semester.

Flash Cards

We will be making our own flash cards with some of the vocabulary words that can be visually represented. The children can use whatever graphic reminds them of the word. We will be spending some time in class on this, but if they don't finish, they can finish at home. Any visual that reminds them of the word is fine. What's important is that we don't use the English translation on the card. I'd like them to go straight from the idea of the word to the Latin word without transitioning through English. The children will come home on the first day with a pouch to hold their cards.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Jungle Book Class Syllabus

Text: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, unabdridged edition.

Reading Assignments:

Week 1: Rikki Tikki Tavi
Week 2: Toomai of the Elephants
Week 3: The White Seal
Week 4: Quiquem
Week 5: The Undertakers
Week 6: The Miracle of Purun Bhagat
Week 7: Mowgli’s Brothers
Week 8: Kaa’s Hunting
Week 9: Tiger! Tiger!
Week 10: How Fear Came
Week 11: Letting in the Jungle
Week 12: The King’s Ankus
Week 13: Red Dog
Week 14: The Spring Running
Week 15: Last Class, No Assignment

Special Events:

We will be hosting guests from the community to teach us about Bhangra dancing and meditation. We will also be making samosas and saris. Stay tuned!

The following elements of the class apply only to the academic track. The enrichment track will be paperless. No need to carry a binder.


Every week you will receive ten Fast Facts, and every following week you will take a ten question true/false quiz on these facts. Quizzes are not graded and collaboration is allowed.

Memory Work:

“If” by Rudyard Kipling
“Mandalay” by Rudyard Kipling


Each student will prepare a five minute presentation for the class about any one of the animals in the Jungle Book. Here are some ideas for animals you might pick: wolf, bear, panther, crocodile, tiger, elephant, seal, wild dog, mongoose, monkey, etc. You can do anything you like in your presentation. You can prepare a handout, give a talk, ask questions, show pictures, play a game, or whatever you like! It’s your five minutes! Use it!

Presentations will take place in weeks 5-14. Sign up for your preferred date soon.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Obama's Address to School Children: Reality Check!

REALITY: From the Department of Education:

At 12:00 p.m., Eastern Time (ET), September 8, 2009, President Barack Obama will deliver a national address to the students of America. (Please note that this is a change from the originally scheduled time.) During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

MYTHOLOGY: From Jim Greer, Chair of Republican Committee in Florida:

As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power.

Greer goes on to project that children will be forced to agree with Obama's initiaties, or else be "ostracized by their teachers and classmates."

Unbelievable. If Obama rescued a kitten from a tree, Republicans would wail that he was defying the traditions of gravity, and that the kitten had pooped on the lawn of the Pentagon, thereby defiling the troops. When they screech at innocuous "initiatives" like giving kids a pep talk at the start of the school year, it really deflates the impact of their quibbles on more significant issues.