Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I Talked About in 2009

Here's my Tweet Cloud for 2009. It's a graphic generated from my most-repeated words in my Twitter feed. I kind of love this. I can see all the elements of my life here. You can get your own Tweet Cloud here. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Homeschool Science: One Photo at a Time

Have you met The Happy Scientist? Robert Krampf is a former museum geologist and instructor turned science showman. His special million-volt tesla coil is the star of his traveling show, and he has taken his show all over the country, including the Discovery Channel and David Letterman. You don't have to travel to see Krampf light up the stage, however. His site, The Happy Scientist, delivers online science lessons right to your computer. Divided by subject matter and also organized by state science standards, the videos and experiments on this site are kid-friendly and homeschooler-approved. Let your science-happy homeschooler off the leash in this site and be prepared to lose them for hours. Here are some links to just a few of his free videos. Members have access to all the content on the site, including many special members-only areas and features, and membership is only $20/year.
Free experiments:
What I like best about the site, though, is the Science Photo of the Day. This is not just a "Look at this interesting bug" or "Here's a neat nebula." Krampf engages his young readers daily with a question to think about, a problem to research, a mystery to dive into with every post. Everything from "Have you ever eaten one of these?" to "What strange thing happens when you put a sponge in a blender?" When I first came upon this site, I must admit I got very engrossed in clicking around for the the daily answers.

Checking the science photo of the day every day is a great way to integrate science into your homeschool schedule in a fun way that will expose your child to a ton of different topics and ideas without overwhelming them in reading. It's always something to think about, but sometimes will spark a train of thought or inquiry that will take your child deeper into a specific topic. Who knows where it might lead?

Jungle Book Week 11



The quiz this week is about henna, the ancient art of dying your skin with smushed up plant juice. Please tell me which of these statements are true?

1. Henna is a flowering plant .
2. Henna can be used on skin and leather, but must not be used on hair, or it will cause the hair to turn green and wrinkly.
3. The Pali District in Rajasthan has the most henna growers and sellers in India. There are over 100 henna processors in one city alone.
4. Henna has been used for thousands of years to decorate skin in intricate designs and motifs.
5. Henna dye is applied as a paste made from the leaves of the henna plant. There are two parts to this paste: 1. The crushed leaves ground into powder. 2. A slightly acidic liquid like lemon juice or tea.
6. Henna tattoos are applied by piercing the skin and placing the dye underneath the top layer of skin.
7. The longer you leave the henna paste on the skin, the more lawsone molecules will penetrate the skin and stain it.
8. The henna stain disappears as the skin cells die.
9. People apply henna decorations to cast spells on their enemies and bring rain to parades.
10. Henna artists use traditional motifs, flowers, lines and dots, spirals, and bands of color to create their designs. .

After the quiz got started immediately on our henna project. We wanted to give ourselves the maximum time possible to let the stuff dry, so Ms Ashleigh and Ms Deva came in to help us get the dye on as quickly as we could.

For more pictures, visit our Flickr set and scroll down to the bottom. We also had some fun with henna at the park a few weeks ago, test driving it on the moms. Ms Deva decorated Louis and Miranda for their Halloween appearance as an Indian prince and princess!

Story: In the enrichment class we talked about the story quite a bit, to make sure the kids are following the plot and ideas. For next week, I'd like them to read the poem at the end of "Tiger! Tiger!" Mowgli says these words as he stands on the council rock after bringing back the hide of Shere Khan, and I want to focus next week on the difference between the village and the jungle, the idea of fitting in, and with the older class some notions of Mowgli's character as an archetypal man, too beastly for the village, too civilized for the jungle. So we'll be focusing on that.

Song and Dance: Next week I told the enrichment class that I am bringing in my prize bag and everyone who can sing or say the first stanza of "If" from memory is going to get a prize. They will have another shot at it the week after, too. I'm going to extend the same offer to the older kids, but they have to say the whole thing! WHAT? THE WHOLE THING? Yes. The whole thing. If they know "Mandalay" too, they can have a prize for that as well, but I'd rather they focused on memorizing "If."

Assignment: The children should be reading the rest of the Mowgli stories to finish the book in the next few weeks. I would like them to be at least through with "Tiger! Tiger!" for sure on Tuesday. After that, the pace is up to you. The fast facts are about the Gond tribe. Next week we'll be doing part one of a project where we make Gond tribal paintings. I'd like them to look at some of these links and start thinking what they'd like their painting to look like. On Tuesday they'll make a sketch of their design which I will transfer as faithfully as possible into a dark outline on posterboard. The following week, they will do the painting part and fill in all the color.

Here is a video made in the Gond art style from a Gond creation myth story:

That's How I See Things is a book illustrated in the Gond style.

A gallery of Gond Tribal Paintings.

Here's just one example:

Latin Club Week 11

This is a class report for week 11 of my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op. Our textbook is Latin for Children Level A from Classical Academic Press.

Meet and greet. There was no quiz! Chapter ten was review, so we had a review day today. I gave everyone a stamp who attempted the monstrous crossword, and they all shared war stories about how awfully difficult it had been.

Songs. We sang our usual songs. We were missing some people, but managed Dona Nobis Pacem as a round anyway. Since we missed a week due to the storm and I am recovering from losing my voice this week, I don't think we're going to be able to swing another song. But there's always next semester!

Translation: We worked on Adeste Fideles and tried translating from the Latin to our own English interpretation. It is hard! We learned that a literal translation is almost incomprehensible in English. What I want the kids to take away from this whole exercise is an understanding of how different Latin really is. When they are studying Spanish or French or German, more closely related to English, they can expect to translate each word and then read it off. However, in Latin it doesn't work that way. It's going to be a long time before we learn enough about word order and the various tenses and moods and whatnot that we're able to really confidently translate it. The best we could do at this point was to get an idea of what the verses meant, and you know what? That's pretty good! The high point of this part of the lesson was when the kids realized that videbemus is a future form of video. That was some smart thinking.

Stamp: Today's stamp was the "surprise" sum chant and everybody got it! Very well done.

Games: We played Hot Seat today since the children were so well prepared, and we had a new champion in the hot seat: Stephen got his first Hot Seat Sticker today and he was very proud! Well done! Must be the flame retardant underpants.

Virgil: This week we worked on lines 3 and 4 in the Aeneid. This is very very hard work, and not to be taken lightly. Here is a link to a page where the lines are read properly, and also a translation is read -- it happens to be Dryden's translation, which is one of the ones we'll be looking at in Aeneid class next semester. By listening to the recording, the kids will be able to see what I was trying to get across in class -- that the line breaks do not necessarily coincide with the pauses. It would be great if they could listen to this a few times, so they can hear the rhythm of the words, independently of how they're arranged on the page.

Homework: Chapter 11 is aboute adjective endings. The good news is that adjective endings are the same as noun endings, so this is kind of like another review chapter. The big new concept is matching the adjective to the noun in gender, number, and case. A noun only has one possible gender, but adjectives have three. This is going to take lots of practice, and I suggest asking them to pair one adjective with multiple nouns of your choice. The homework is chapter 11 in both primer and activity book, and the chant will be the adjective endings chant, which is basically all three of the noun endings chants in one.

Monday, November 23, 2009

GUESS Homeschool Science Fair: How Can You Help?

Thank you for participating in the science fair this year! It was a great day, and you and your children helped to make that happen!

It’s time to look ahead to next year, and part of that is thanking our sponsors so that they’re happy to help us out again in the future. There are several ways you can help us do this and also spread the word about our fair.

1. Do you have a blog? Go to this post: You’ll find instructions on how to copy and repost that information, spreading links to our sponsors’ web sites and improving their Google ranking.

2. Do you have Twitter? Here is a list of our sponsors that have Twitter accounts. Please follow them, retweet them when you can, promote their feeds: (The Happy Scientist) (eScience Labs) (Brooks Systems) (Green Olive Tree) (Folkmanis Puppets)

3. Do you use Facebook? Here is a list of our sponsors that have Facebook accounts. Please join their groups, become fans, link to their pages on your wall: (The Happy Scientist) (eScience Labs) (Virginia Air and Space Center) (Green Olive Tree) (Folkmanis Puppets)

4. Did you receive a prize specifically from one of these donors? It would be great if you wrote a thank-you note to the donor. It would be even better if you blogged about the donor. It would be even better if you blogged with pictures! For example, if you received a bookstore certificate from Book Exchange, can you take a picture of your child with the books they choose? If you received a puppet, can you snap a photo of your child with his/her puppet? Maybe you took a picture at the fair with the puppet – Folkmanis would love to see it.

5. Visit all the science fair sponsors here: Click around on the links and investigate these homeschool-friendly businesses, and let them know that we are grateful for their support.

Thank you so much for helping us out as we wrap up the fair. We really appreciate YOUR support too!

Lydia and Shez

Steal This Post

The sponsors of our 2009 GUESS Homeschool Science Fair generously provided our young scientists with exciting prizes for the winners. Their donations also allowed us to underwrite the cost of all the kids' science fair day at the VASC, including an age-appropriate science class, an electricity demo, and an IMAX movie. Part of what we do to thank our sponsors is generating links for them on homeschool blogs and sites, pointing to their web presence from descriptive anchor text, to boost their Google ranking on those search terms. That's where this post comes in!

We need your help to spread these links across the internet, to say thank you to these businesses for supporting our young homeschooled scientists. If you have a blog, or site, and you can help us, please steal this post! For maximum impact on search engines, it's very important that the links go along with the post, attached to the appropriate text, so if you need the plain HTML to put into your blog, click here for a .txt file.

So, how can you help the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair?

1. Copy this post, or the .txt file with the HTML.
2. Post it to your blog.
3. Let us know when you've done it so we can link back to your blog!

Here's the part of the post we want you to "steal":

Thank you to the following homeschool-friendly businesses for supporting the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and the young scientists of Hampton Roads!

Green Olive Tree is an internet company based in Portsmouth, Virginia and owned and operated by a homeschooling family. They offer a broad range of internet services, from reliable web hosting to corporate infrastructure solutions and server administration.

SKS Science supplies homeschoolers and other educators with all the science supplies you need to turn your dining room table into a proper laboratory. Browse their site for test tubes, bottles, face masks and other lab supplies and books.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books. There's always an interesting curriculum find on these shelves!

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

The Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, hosts an online wonderland for budding scientists. With online science lessons, experiments to try at home, a science photo of the day, and new content added all the time, you'll love setting your kids loose on this site.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

Virginia Air and Space Center was host to the homeschool science fair this year, and delivered awesome science classes for homeschoolers from their education department. The VASC is the educator resource center for the NASA Langley Research Center.

GUESS Homeschool Science Fair 2009

When Shez and I first talked about organizing a science fair for homeschooled kids, we were actually sitting in a bowling alley. Our kids were in a homeschool league, which they loved, and we were suffering through waiting out the bowling, which we did not love. Being the supportive homeschooling moms that we are, we drove the kids to bowling on a weekly basis, and as we sat there, nodding and smiling and not really looking up when one of the kids would say "I got a spare!" we hatched this idea for the science fair.

On Monday, November 9th, my children, and Shez's children, and about sixty-five other children, were again engaged in something they really love. The cool thing is, it was something that I love too: thinking, questioning, reasoning, testing, finding out. In short, science! So instead of being the nice supportive mom and nodding mildly while the kid scores a point in sparring, or draws a comic, or climbs a pole, I can listen to my five-year-old talking about her control group, my nine-year-old defining his constants and variables, and let me tell you, *that* is something that gets me excited as a homeschooling mom!

Here's Sadie talking to the judges:

Here's Benny, very proud of his work:

A lot of people have thanked us for doing the work that went into turning out the science fair this year. It was a lot of work, but the excitement in our own kids' faces, and in all the other kids' faces, as they were rushing around from the classes to the judging to the movie, standing proudly beside their projects and explaining their work so articulately to the judges, chattering to each other about the details of their work... made it very worthwhile. Some people are inspired by athletes, artists, musicians. Of course, I'm inspired by those things too. However, I find myself getting really choked up, emotionally touched, at spelling bees, geography bees, and science fairs, than at anything else. The earnest, uncensored nerdiness; the fact that these kids are oblivious to the fact that their interest in science might be considered nerdy; the degree to which these really young children have immersed in their ideas... is very awesome to see!

That being true, I have to say, we absolutely loved every minute of the science fair! We were very lucky to have over a dozen excellent judges, both museum docents and community volunteers, the hospitality of Virginia Air and Space Center staff, who set up really engaging classes and a very cool movie, and generous sponsors who provided great rewards to the kids.

Here's a look at the third and fourth grade projects, as seen from above:

Here are some links where you can find out more:

Our updated web site, where you can find all the results, pictures, links, and info you can handle: GUESS Homeschool Science Fair.

Our Flickr photo pool, where you can see pictures from all angles, from five different moms. GUESS pictures on Flickr.

Our sponsors:

Green Olive Tree
Book Exchange Norfolk
Mad Science of Hampton Roads
eScience Labs
Norfolk Karate Academy
Moore Expressions
Folkmanis Puppets
Brooks Systems
The Happy Scientist
SKS Science
Mariner's Museum
Virginia Air and Space Center

There will be many ways that you can help us bring about GUESS 2010, so stay tuned on the web site and on our blogs for more information.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Folkmanis Puppets: The Best Educational Toys

We have always loved Folkmanis puppets. I'm convinced Folkmanis makes the best stage puppets, the best animal puppets, the best finger puppets, in the world. They use really interesting fabrics, very realistic designs, and somehow their puppets work as stuffed animals as well as puppets. All six of the puppets that live in our house are engaged regularly as denizens of the children's imaginary world. They are never relegated to puppet shows or ventriloquism.

You may remember that last year Folkmanis sent us a big box of puppets to give away at the G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair. This year they did the same. My children gleefully watched while I unpacked the box, delighted over all the new puppets -- the woolly mammoth, the eagle, the iguana. There was even a nest of little birds you could animate with your hand. I felt very conflicted about letting my own children win these puppets, though! I knew that it wouldn't be fair for my own kids to win the most coveted prizes at the fair that I helped to organize. So, I told the children they could go to the Folkmanis web site and pick out whichever puppet they wanted for themselves, then at the fair the puppets in the box would go to other kids and they had to agree not to be sad. Sad? They were DELIGHTED. So, here are the puppets they "won":

Sadie chose the Chihuahua puppet.

Benny chose the dragon shoulder puppet. It has a stick that goes down behind your back through your shirt, so you can operate it surreptitiously with one hand while it appears to work on its own. VERY COOL! He had no problem figuring out how to work it immediately.

The GUESS Homeschool Science Fair is so grateful to Folkmanis for their continued support of our event. The youngest scientists were very very happy to take home fluffy friends. And parents everywhere are grateful to Folkmanis for making such delightful toys. The best educational toys are open-ended, lending themselves to many uses, letting the child's imagination take over. Among the best in this category, I'd count Legos, paper and pencil, and puppets. And when it comes to animal puppets, Folkmanis truly is in a category all by itself.

Norfolk Karate Academy: Perseverance on Both Sides of the Mat

Benny got his brown belt on October 30. Can you believe it? It was a great day for Benny, an enormous day for me too. Benny has been doing karate since August of 2003. It has taken him at least a year to get through every belt, sometimes more than a year. For Benny, karate has been a terrific challenge. There were times when he spent whole class periods spinning and humming. Times when he was kicked out of class for being suddenly defiant over something incomprehensible. Times when we felt he would never be able to communicate with another child enough to be a good sparring partner, a good self-defense partner, even hold a punching bag for another student. He was distracted, disconnected, and disengaged, but he was always in love with karate, always wanted to go train. There were times when we wondered if it would ever "kick in" -- would he ever snap to it? Sync up? Get with the program?

In the last year, Benny has improved in leaps and bounds. Part of it is the input of new instructors at Norfolk Karate Academy. Part is his own maturity, at last starting to bloom. He got his blue belt in February, and now he has his brown belt. His test was absolutely awesome! Everyone who knew him "back then" was blown away by it, including his father and me. We could not get over how much he has changed.

The biggest responsibility for Benny's improvement falls to Master Bill Odom, owner and founder of Norfolk Karate Academy. Master Odom never gave up on Benny, he never made me or Benny feel like he was a hopeless cause. Yet he also never promoted Benny just to make him feel better, or just because his peers were being promoted. Because of this ruthless fairness, this absolute willingness to take each individual child exactly where he or she is and work with them as individuals, Benny's brown belt means a lot. Norfolk Karate Academy is in my opinion the premier training facility for karate in Hampton Roads. We've seen it grow from the very beginning, and I know why it grows firsthand.

After the test was over, Master Odom turned Benny around to the class that was all lined up waiting to be dismissed. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "This is what perseverance looks like. Benny took a year on every belt, but he never gave up, he never stopped trying. Someday he's going to be a black belt, because he persevered through all those years." And I thought, yes, this is what perseverance looks like: the kid and also the guy standing behind the kid, who also persevered where a lot of other teachers would have thrown in the towel. Thanks, Benny, for being so committed. Thanks, Mr. Odom, for being so patient.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jungle Book Week 10



The quiz this week required students to correctly identify ten map elements: The Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges River, Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Pakistan, China, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They did pretty well! Good job studying that at home. :)

After the quiz, we talked about the names Mumbai/Bombay and Kolkata/Calcutta. India became independent from England in 1947, but kept the Anglicized versions of their city names until 1996, when they changed them to more authentic transliterations. We discussed how we used to be colonies of England too, and how many of our place names are based on places in England or English monarchs, etc. Particularly here in Norfolk/Suffolk/Portsmouth/Hampton/Etc this is pretty relevant. I resisted the urge to teach the children the song "Istanbul was Constantinople." However, if you wanted to listen to it at home, here's the link. Yeah, it's a video from MTV's 120 Minutes. Remember that show? :)

Story: For this week, we read the story "Kaa's Hunting." We had a great discussion about how Kipling describes an animal world ruled by strict laws and long-established customs, contrasted with the "banderlog" -- the monkey people who have no laws and live by chaos. Baloo and Bagheera have nothing but contempt for the monkeys, and most of this contempt is based on their unstructured culture. We talked about what this means in the context of the British occupation of India. Often an invading civilization sees themselves as having better laws, organization, government. The British saw Indian life as inferior and messy, so they were "helping" the Indian people by taking over their country and making them follow the British way of doing things. Of course you can read this in different ways, depending on where you draw the lines of the analogy. I didn't really take it farther than just pointing out this theme in the story, and discussing the fact that Kipling was showing a culture that seemed lawless and chaotic (the jungle) as in fact very organized and lawful.

The children were *really* excellent listeners today. We had a great discussion and they had lots of interesting ideas and a lot of patience for delving into these abstractions. Kudos to the kids -- if you have a boy in my academic class (like I do) you should give that boy a pat on the back, because the attention span and respectfulness was really great. Not that it's normally bad, but today it was really good.

Henna: Today we learned about the henna plant, how henna dye is made, and how artists decorate people's hands and feet with intricate designs and motifs. We took a look at some pattern and design books and then each designed our own henna tattoos by tracing our hands onto paper and then decorating them. I face-painted this "practice" henna tattoo with washable face paint. The one they get next week will not be as big or complicated as the one they got this week.

Song and Dance: We sang our usual songs and danced our usual dances. The enrichment class kids are really coming along on their memorization. The academic class kids should be working on all of "If" and "Mandalay" and the enrichment class kids should work on the first two stanzas of each. "The Beaches of Lukannon" does not need to be memorized. It's not a famous poem or anything, just fun to sing and it comes from the story "The White Seal."

Assignment: The fast facts are about henna. The story for next week is "Tiger! Tiger!" We are going to be doing real actual henna in class next week. Please let me know if it is okay to henna your child. We will be doing a small tattoo on the back of one hand. It is a semi-permanent tattoo -- it will flake off with the stained skin cells, so how long it lasts depends on how much and how vigorously you wash your hands. So, if you have an event coming up for which they need untattooed hands, you can tell us to put it somewhere less noticeable. The henna paste will dry on the skin, and needs to stay on for as long as possible. It will feel like a dry scab and the kids will just brush it off when they don't want to wait any more.

I need your permission to use henna stain on your child -- if I don't hear from you that it's okay, we will do them with face paint again. I have two special guests coming to help me henna: Sarah's big sister Ashleigh and Miranda's mom Ms Deva. Should be fun!

Note: The children and I were disappointed that the Bhangra dancers did not make it to class to do their demo. I had an email when I got home from the troup leader's girlfriend saying he had gotten in a car accident that morning on the way to class, and was in the hospital. Please keep them in your thoughts and I will keep you updated as to how he is doing!

Latin Club Week 10

This is a class report for week 10 of my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op. Our textbook is Latin for Children Level A from Classical Academic Press.

Meet and greet. I collected homework and we took the quiz.

Songs. We sang our usual songs and all of Adeste Fideles. We are going to learn one more song, next week. We took a vote on whether we should learn another song in Latin like Dona Nobis Pacem or another song about Latin, like She Will Be Latin and Ballad of the Latin Verbs. Interestingly, all of the boys voted for learning another song about Latin and all of the verbs voted to learn another song in Latin. I found that fascinating! We may have to learn two new songs. :)

Translation: We have been working on translating Adeste Fideles, and while a few virtuous children had done the assignment, there were many who had not. We realized that every single person in the class had participated in the science fair the day before, so we forgave ourselves and took the same assignment for next week.

Here's the breakdown again:

Ben: En grege relicto, humiles ad cunas
Nicholas: Vocati pastores approperant:
Stephen: Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus.

Benny: Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum
Sarah: Velatum sub carne videbimus:
Shira: Deum infantem pannis involutum.

Stamp: Today's stamp was the second declension neuter noun endings, and in spite of the excitement over the science fair and everyone's heavy weekend of glue-sticking and graph-preparing, everybody got it perfectly again! These children are becoming excellent at performing under pressure!

Virgil: This week, those who could correctly perform the first two lines of the Aeneid with the proper posture and expression got their first memorization sticker. Surprise! It was everybody! We do not recite Virgil as if it is a grocery list or instructions on how to fold pants. We sit up straight, shoulders back, and define our right to rule the world. We were in Troy and we were AWESOME. Now we're in Lavinia and we're AWESOME. We're Romans and we have every right to be here, to rule you, and we take no crap. That's our posture and delivery on the Aeneid and I will accept nothing less than truly stentorian diction.

Homework: Chapter 10 is a review chapter so there will be no quiz. There *will* be a surprise chant. I told the children that I was determined to keep it an absolute surprise, but that it started with S and rhymed with "room." So, they came to their own conclusions and I'm sure I will shock the shoes off them next week with the "sum" chant. Be ready. The assignment I want to collect next week is the huge, enormous, monstrous, insane crossword in the activity book for chapter 10. If they can get on the outside of that, we will play Hot Seat all day long.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Jungle Book Week 9



Here is the quiz for this week. Which statements are true?

Himalaya Quiz
Circle the numbers that are true.

1. The word Himalaya means “Home of Snow.”
2. The Himalayan mountain range is contained entirely in the country of Nepal.
3. The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world, containing Mt. Rainier and Mt. Olympus.
4. The Himalayas are still growing higher.
5. The Himalayas are forbidden for Hindus because they are so cold, and all rivers go there to die.
6. Roman roads and now modern highways make it easy to travel the Himalayas and share culture and news across the mountains.
7. Renunciation means giving up all your material possessions, and your thoughts and desires in this world.
8. The goal of renunciation is enlightenment and liberation.
9. A sunnyasi spends half his time meditating, and half his time working the soil to grow food.
10. Char Dham is a group of holy sites where Indian people go to pray and receive salvation.

Story: For this week, we read the story "Mowgli's Brothers." In the enrichment class we spent some time talking about the plot points of the story so I could make sure the kids were understanding it and following along. They are doing great! Several mentioned they are supplementing with the pop-up book that I recommended. I was very impressed with how the little ones are picking up the details and subtler points of the story -- good job moms and dads reading at home!

Pen Pal:

As a class, we are going to be communicating with a pen pal in India. His name is Ved, he's seven years old, and his mother and I are friends via an internet list. I want the kids to get a sense of what things in India are similar to their own lives, but also appreciate the differences. Today we wrote letters and drew pictures for Ved. Some of the kids were at a loss for what to say -- I told them to ask questions, tell about themselves and about Virginia, etc. It was interesting what they came up with!

Song and Dance: This week we had more time to work on the songs and we were able to spend time on all of them. We will be learning one more India song next week, for a total of five. Some of the children have all of "Mandalay" and "If" memorized and that's awesome! I still like them to look at the words when we sing in class. I talked this week about how our brains work to memorize material -- hearing it, seeing it, and saying it at the same time is a powerful and effective combination. So, watching the words as we sing and hear each other sing, we're engaging our brains on many levels.

Assignment: The fast facts for next week involves identifying locations on a map of India. On your child's map you will find the following: New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges River, Pakistan, Nepal, China, and Bangladesh. The story for next week is "Kaa's Hunting."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Latin Club Week 9

This is a class report for week 9 of my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op. Our textbook is Latin for Children Level A from Classical Academic Press.

Meet and greet. I collected homework and we took the quiz.

Songs. We sang our usual songs.

Translation: This week we worked on the third verse of Adeste Fideles. We discussed some of the difficulties of translating poetry -- this explains why our English verses do not match up to our Latin verses. The kids divided up the lines and are going to work on translating specific sections of the song. I'm not sure if they know which lines are assigned to which children, and honestly I'm not sure I do either. Here's the breakdown as I recall it:

Ben: En grege relicto, humiles ad cunas
Nicholas: Vocati pastores approperant:
Stephen: Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus.

Benny: Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum
Sarah: Velatum sub carne videbimus:
Shira: Deum infantem pannis involutum.

I'd like them to figure out what the words are, and whether they're nouns, verbs, adjectives etc based on the endings, if possible.

Stamp: Today's stamp was the second declension neuter nouns, the donum chant. Everybody got it perfectly! Very exciting!

Hot Seat: We had a hot seat upset today! One of our hot seat champions was incinerated in a surprise burst of flame, and was caught by his sister in the race for who can acquire the most hot seat survival stickers. What will happen next week?!?

Virgil: We practiced the first two lines of Virgil with correct pronunciations. We also discussed and practice the extreme importance of reciting Virgil with the appropriate tone of voice. We do not recite the Aeneid while slouching and thinking about our birthdays. We recite the Aeneid as if we intent to found a civilization. The assignment is to memorize the first two lines for next week.

Homework: Please do chapter 9 in the primer and activity book and be ready for that second declension neuter noun endings chant!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Latin Club Week 8

This is a class report for week 8 of my Latin class at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op. Our textbook is Latin for Children Level A from Classical Academic Press.

Meet and greet. I collected homework and we took the quiz.

Songs. We sang our usual songs. We missed Travis this week with his solid baritone.

Translation: This week we worked on the second verse of Adeste Fideles. We ran into some trouble working out the correlation between Latin and English so Ben volunteered to look up some of the words for us! We'll tackle verse 3 next week.

Stamp: Today's stamp was the second declension noun endings: us, i, o, um, o, i, orum, is, os, is. Most of the kids nailed it. A few need to review it.

Hot Seat: Our favorite game did not disappoint.

Homework: Please do chapter 8 in the primer and activity book and be ready for that second declension neuter noun ending chant: donum! I predict next week we will get into the Virgil. That is my firm prediction.

Jungle Book: Week 8: Meditation for Kids


Meditation Exercises:

Today we were joined by local writer and yoga teacher Grace Tazewell for some practice in meditating. First we discussed the story, "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat," and I introduced the Himalaya and Sunnyasi fast facts. Then Grace took us through several different short meditations. The first was a listening meditation, where we made ourselves very quiet and then paid attention to all sounds, far and near. Mostly, we heard the sounds of the co-op, but we also heard cars outside, seagulls, an airplane, and a little bit of our own sounds -- heartbeat, tummy rumbling, etc. The second meditation was about sensations we were feeling -- we paid attention to our clothes, to the floor under us, to our hair, the air in the room, anything we could feel with our bodies. Then it was time to examine our thoughts, as we tried to focus on what we were feeling and thinking inside.

It was very interesting to listen as the children shared their experiences with this. The older children in the academic class spent a lot of time considering what they were supposed to be thinking, while the younger kids in the enrichment class were less self-aware. All of them came up with some really interesting thoughts though! The final meditation involved holding a grape in your mouth and then eating it very very very slowly, paying attention to each sensation, change in taste and feeling in your mouth. That was very cool! Grace spent some time answering the kids' questions about meditation too. In the end, we got a very small taste of what it was like for Purun Bhagat to spend so many years in quiet contemplation, doing nothing but thinking.

Song and Dance: We also sang our songs and managed to squeeze in a brief India Dance Party.

New Stuff: This week I'm going to tell the kids that any child who wants to choreograph a brief Bhangra dance either individually or with a group of friends can have time on the last day of class to perform it for the parents. We are also going to be taking on a collective "pen pal" in India, and this week we'll be writing an introductory letter to him.

Assignment: Study the fast facts and be ready for a quiz! Read "Mowgli's Brothers."