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Showing posts from February, 2011

Homeschool Diary: 24 Adar 1, 5771

Other “weekly challenges”: Six Word Saturday Homeschool Diary I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I do want to keep it up, so I figure I’d better get into the habit before Purim and Pesach run everything completely off the rails around here.  We’ve had a couple of “field trip” weeks, and it’s amazing how just one outing in the middle of the week can throw things totally off for the entire seven days.  They were good trips, though – one to the fire station, and last week, to the Museum.  Naomi was playing Museum today – by making her own “coprolites” (ie dinosaur poo) out of cardboard, coloured grey and brown. I love how people online sometimes name their homeschool.  There must be a philosophy that recommends it.  If I ever do, which I probably never will, I would call our homeschool “The Smile Factory.”  Mostly because we have so many tears and screaming around here.  Luckily, most of the tears and screaming have nothing to do with homeschooling. 

משנכנס אדר… Free Homeschool Printables for Purim!

In honour of Rosh Chodesh of the REAL Adar this week, I’ve put together a 4-page pre-Purim Printable Activity Pack for download. These activities are the sort of thing my kids are enjoying right now, and I hope others will as well.  These are mostly preschool-level, because Gavriel Zev has been clamouring for more “same/different” worksheets, but there’s also some copywork, phonics, and a patterns page for slightly older kids. Please visit my Limudei Kodesh downloads page and scroll down to Yom Tov Activities to find it! Hopefully, I’ll put a few more activities together before Purim is actually upon us…

Menu Planning Monday #33: 24 Adar 1, 5771

  Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!  Other “weekly challenges”: Six Word Saturday Homeschool Diary We’re a Jewish family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids) and all our meals are kosher.  Read my MPM intro here or just visit my big ol’ list of Everything We Eat .  We eat mostly vegetarian, with one vegan meal every single week – on Vegan Vursday , of course! Staying on the wagon… staying on the wagon… staying on the wagon.  Washing every single dish in the house 2, sometimes 3 times a day, it seems like.  I think I explained last week, but Ted usually does LOTS (all?) of the dishes.  But between now and Pesach, he’s on Pesach Patrol, while I’m pulling my weight on Dish Duty.  And schooling the kids.  And laundry.  And some freelance writing… and whatnot. Needless to say, what we eat is taking a very definite backseat for the next few weeks.  And don’t even ask what I’m doing for shalach manos (mishloach manot, baskets of food we send out on Purim) this

The Internet and Jewish Kids

The Jewish Mom blog has posted some scary statistics about religious kids and Internet use , and I thought I’d share my reply here, not just in her comments section, though probably more people read her comments in a day than read my blog in a week – heck, a year . At last, an area where I have some expertise! 1) Filters – a smart kid can get around them. 2) Supervision – remember that your computer is only ONE WAY your kids use the Internet. Do they have a phone? Do their friends have a phone? An iPod? Whatever it is, if it has a screen, it probably has Internet access… that you probably can’t supervise. Here’s a frum guy who came to my kids’ school last year. Watch his video: What he has to say is SCARY, but we all need to hear every second of it. Remember that your kid (and mine) can get WiFi (wireless) access from any public library, many recreation centres, shopping malls, maybe even at school. Maybe eve

Demonstration for Daniel

Yes, I’m turning my children into activists.  This is actually only the second demonstration I’ve ever attended with them (the first was an anti Kahane Chai rally I took the older children to a million years ago). This was a gathering to show support and try to bring home “Daniel,” a child on our block who was taken from his long-term, stable foster home by JF&CS almost a year ago.  He’s been in a group home ever since, with kids much older and more troubled than he is (or at least, than he was ). Considering the cold, considering people’s apathy, considering a whole bunch of other things, I’m very impressed with the 40-50 people his old babysitter was able to rally to show up on a Sunday afternoon and makes some peaceful noise on one boy’s behalf. The sign GZ is holding reads “we won’t get another boy,” a reference to “Daniel”’s plea to his parents to not just replace him now that he’s out of their home.  As if they could. Here’s me with MPP (provincial minister of parlia

New Album!

My sister’s been hard at work on a  new album, and here it is! Seriously, this is a very slick endeavour, all professionally produced and studio-recorded and, well, I don’t know much about these things, but it’s on a real CD and everything.  She’s planning on spending the better part of the summer touring. The album is coming out… well… erev Pesach.  Not quite, but just about.  So we’ll have five days to listen to it before Yom Tov starts – but that’s neither here nor there!  I will warn you now – there’s nothing particularly Jewish about this album, despite her wonderful recording of the Sevivon song .  I hope she doesn’t mind my saying so.  I hope I haven’t missed some discreet Jewy nuances. But don’t let that stop you!  Buy the album by clicking on either album-image link, or just listen to amazing sneak-preview full-length singles here !  I cannot believe somebody this talented is related to ME.  Not that Sara isn’t talented, but believe me, Abigail got my share of musi

Winter Posturing

Winter is posturing mightily this morning.  Here’s what greeted us when we walked outside at 8-ish to drive Ted to work: Is this its last gasp?  As when my children puff up their cheeks and mutter murderous threats, it’s all I can do not to giggle.  The porch thermometer reads +1.  The end is in sight now; for all its tough talk, winter can’t last.     Garden gnome:  “ach, the indignity…” Meanwhile, indoors, it’s cozy & warm: Elisheva took Naomi to the Sunday drop-in program, so it’s quality time with GZ. His reading skills are light-years ahead of his coordination, so we’ve kind of reached the limit of what we can do in his workbook.   He’s okay if it’s just circling same/different – in fact, he LOVES the same/different sheets.  I guess we need a book that’s ALL same/different, because this one has moved on from recognition to simple line drawing and basic strokes / character formation.  At first he could keep up, when it was basic mazes, but now it’s drawing X’s and

Six Word Saturday: 23 Adar 1, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! Other “weekly challenges” I participate in: Homeschool Diary Menu Plan Monday Preparing for nummies today, GZ suggested we be butterflies.  I said we couldn’t because butterflies come from eggs, and he shrieked – “They don’t – they come from baboons !”

Parsha Poem: Vayakhel / וַיַּקְהֵל

שְׁמוֹת / shemos / shemot / Exodus 35:1-38:20 Printable PDF version here . Parsha narrative overview here .  Copywork and parsha activities available here .   “Come one, come all,” our Moshe cried, “Who’s for Hashem?   Come to my side! Bring gold, bring jewels, fabrics more, About a gazillion and fourty-four!”   What’s with all that building stuff? And how could he hope to get enough? It was to build the Mishkan home To help the Jews wherever they’d roam.   The princes, arrogant as they were, Said, “we guess that he’d prefer If we brought our donation last of all, And bring in the rest upon his call.”   But all the people jumped right up Bringing their golden goblets and cups. Bringing their goat skins and their wool Until the collection bins were full!   “Oh, no!” the woeful princes cried. “We wanted to help – we really tried!” Hashem said, “What did you anticipate? Doing a mitzvah should never wait!”   Moshe explained what

Simcha? Invite the Amazing Bottle Dancers!

My mother passed this link along to me with the comment from a friend of hers that it was “ such a delight to watch! ”  (she says she didn’t find it delightful) What is happening to the Jewish world??  This group, the Amazing Bottle Dancers, are apparently the latest hot thing in simcha entertainment. This promotional video shows how they can fit their crazy Jewy dance routine into ANY bar or bat mitzvah theme.  Don’t even get me started on themes – there are a number of extremely wonderful goyishe ones in the video if you want a sample. Here's a "very unique" theme for a bar/bat mitzvah:  Judaism .  Never tried that one, have you? Their video says bar/bat mitzvah is supposed to be about having a great time.  And guess what?  They’re happy to work around “Themes that have nothing to do with anything Jewish!”  Isn’t that fantastic?  Invite some fake Jews in fake beards with fake accents to do a fake cossack dance - the real cossacks would be proud! The amazing

Fw: Buffalo etc.

What's the longest sentence in the English language that can be formed with a single word? My answer was "Absolutely." But apparently, there is one longer... My question to this is: " acceptable to WHOM, exactly?" ----- Original Message ----- From: the YBOY To: the MOMMY Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 9:44 PM Subject: Buffalo etc. Look: Buffalo=city buffalo=animal buffalo=verb: to push around, to confuse, etc. Rare, but acceptable. Now we get: Buffalo buffalo (buffalo from the city of Buffalo) Buffalo buffalo buffalo( who buffalo from the city of Buffalo bully) buffalo Buffalo buffalo. (bully other buffalo from the city of Buffalo) And so, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. See? -Y

Princess Heather

As a homeschooling parent, there is so much I CAN do and DO do on a regular basis that it’s discouraging when I come up against one of my failings. Yes, failings .  (family members, especially younger siblings:  this is not true; I am lying, I am omnipotent, I am making this up, and therefore stop reading right now) Here’s one:  I absolutely cannot, in any way, make up a story. I just can’t! In one of my signing classes, the teacher was trying to get us to sign more fluently by making us draw three random “story cards” and then using classifiers (descriptive hand movements that don’t correspond to exact word-signs) to tell a story based on the pictures we’d drawn. Well, I failed miserably, and would have failed in any language, even English.  One of my “stories” involved an elf who found a key and a baby and a bag and there was a lot of random arm-waving but it was basically a STUPID story that culminated in the elf OPENING A DOOR! Don’t get me wrong:  I can write a stor

Vayakhel / וַיַּקְהֵל Weekly Parsha Overview: Building Begins!

שְׁמוֹת / shemos / shemot / Exodus 35:1-38:20 Please click LIKE in the box at the left-hand side of my blog or at the Bring Daniel Home facebook page .  This is a family who live on our street, and they could use all the support we can offer as they struggle to get their 11-year-old son out of a group home.  Read the article to get the facts and “Share” it with anyone you think might care. This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a “Q&A” format adaptable for kids of any age. Answers in brackets are traditional responses, from parsha text and midrash. Be open to anything your child might have to say! Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use these narratives  in our homeschool.  There are also copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha… enjoy! Parshas Vayakhel / וַיַּקְהֵל   “Build me a Mishkan and I will live there.”   Hashem said it before; now, it was time to get building. The only problem was:   Moshe still di

Old Pesach Photo

Big boy and girl, kind of camouflaged against the stripes of the sofa.  Date reads “Pesach, 5757” (this yeaer is 5771, making this approximately 14 years ago).  Boy 2, girl 1.   This was back in the days when I could afford and cared enough to make sure that each kid had at least one brand-new-from-a-store matching outfit before Yom Tov.  Who did I think I was???  ;-) I found this photo in Ted’s folder as I was transferring some other Pesach-related stuff to the other computer.  He’s making up his grand six-week Pesach Plan.  Heaven help us all!

Good, good friends

We’re reading Magic Tree House #3:  Mummies in the Morning , and on the way home from supper last night (my mother surprised me with cabbage rolls), we were talking about Ancient Egypt, and how our Avos spent time there. Naomi Rivka:  “You know, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria… they’re all –” (pause) “- they’re like good friends .” Um, okay!  I just said, “because they’re so close together!” and she agreed. We left it at that:  I cannot bear to disillusion her.

First-ever: Composer Narration!

As previous described in this post , I wanted to wrap up our fairly low-key study of Vivaldi with a composer colouring page, Composers Fandex plus printable bio, along with this actual composer narration. Boy – she sure didn’t want to tell me ANYTHING!  I think she was pretty tired, as evidenced by her later conking out for a 2-hour nap.  In any event, the text may be lackluster, but the illustration – once again?  as usual? – completely blew me away. The stringed instrument on the left-hand side of her drawing is a violin, by the way; on the right, she’s drawn a cello.  You can tell the difference by the bottom pin on the cello.  I also love her sheet music, and the teeny-tiny montage of the four seasons at the top:

Fw: Letter to the Editor: Re Rosie deManno Sun Feb 20/11

NEW! Click here to show support and help bring "Daniel" home. If you don't see the LIKE button, try looking at the upper left side of my blog homepage. Re: ----- Original Message ----- Sent: Monday, February 21, 2011 4:56 PM Subject: Letter to the Editor: Re Rosie deManno Sun Feb 20/11 Re: " I am praying to God for me to come back.", Rosie deManno, Sunday February 20, 2011 We are neighbours of Daniel, Rebecca and David. We first met them when they moved to our neighbourhood two years ago, and my kids were thrilled to have another child living on the street. This family opened their home for holidays; we spent time with them in synagogue, in the park, on the street, potlucks... everywhere. Daniel came and read to our younger children every single Shabbat afternoon. What should I tell them when they ask when he will be back? We all miss him so


Naomi Rivka:  “Are we having kinderlach for Shabbos?” Me (puzzled):  “Well… you, and Gavriel Zev; Yerachmiel, Elisheva…” Naomi Rivka:  “No, I mean lokshen kugel!” Seems I have utterly failed to teach her any Yiddish.  Oy!

The New-kelele: A drama in 3 acts

ACT ONE:  The gift Naomi Rivka:  It’s my birthday!  What’s this?  A brand-new, yellow ukulele???  Why, it’s lovely!  I will hold it, cradle it like a baby, cuddle it with the head end up!       Plink, plink, plink. Gavriel Zev:  No!!!  I must have this ukelele all for myself! ACT TWO:  The inspiration     Gavriel Zev:  Hmm… so that’s how it’s done. ACT THREE:  The mad genius at work/play   Gavriel Zev:  See???  I’m a natural!  Strum, strum, strum!  “Did you ever see a bee, singing as well as me?”  down by the BAY!!!!  [if anybody reading this remembers what his verse ACTUALLY said, please let me know!!] Naomi Rivka:  Oh, well… I guess I’ll survive. This is the very last Naomi birthday related post for this year, I promise!!!

Menu Planning Monday #33: 17 Adar 1, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!  Other “weekly challenges”: Six Word Saturday Homeschool Diary We’re a Jewish family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids) and all our meals are kosher.  Read my MPM intro here or just visit my big ol’ list of Everything We Eat .  We eat mostly vegetarian, with one vegan meal every single week – on Vegan Vursday, of course! Yes, I’m back… after over a year with no break except Pesach last year, I took a break.  But now I’m back on the wagon.  Yay, me!  I have to tell you, it was scary, travelling through our suppers without a flight plan last week.  We made it, with mostly nice suppers every night, but I am happy to be planning ahead again. So:  I cannot tell you how much FUN it was to delete every single class and program on tomorrow’s schedule.  We don’t have President’s Day, but it’s FAMILY DAY now here in Ontario (as of two years ago?). That doesn’t mean it’s a no-school day.  In fact, everybody is doing their normal th

Gattegno & Cuisenaire Rods: Elementary Math Video

I’ve been slowly working my way through these three rather long math videos.  If you’re wondering whether Cuisenaire Rods could be helpful in your child’s introduction to math, these segments, taken from a 1964 National Film Board of Canada documentary, suggest that they can help ANY child visualize and concretize even complex arithmetical, fractional and algebraic relationships. The kids in this film certainly act like uniformed little zombies, but I suspect that’s typical of schoolchildren-on-video of the day, and not a result of Gattegno’s methods or the Cuisenaire rod materials.  It’s kind of cute and kind of brainless, all at once. The film is available in 3 parts.  More math musings after the video segments. Part 1: Part 2: Part 3: The entire film is hosted and/or scripted by Caleb Gattegno , a somewhat renowned Egyptian/European/Canadian (?)  teacher who wrote extensively on educational theory and developed a Cuisenaire-like system for teaching reading that

Birthday Party for a Girl Who Is 6

All the spoon doll princesses, lined up in a row… I forget the names the girls gave them.  Should have written them down!  Naomi’s is on the far right.  This was a harder craft than I anticipated, especially after my sister (who came at 10 o’clock!  amazing!) suggested that braids might look wonderful on the dollies.  All the girls wanted braids, none could do them herself; it took a while to get all that braiding done.  There were also a few other steps that the girls couldn’t do alone – attaching the skirt, tying the bows, even beading the little jingle-bell necklace.  Basically, all they could do was decorate the skirt and draw on the faces. Anyway, that took about an hour longer than I anticipated, but… then came our next craft:  a REAL princess isn’t afraid to get her hands a little dirty! Here are the 4 egg-carton planters I made this morning – they each have a see-through plastic wrap window taped on top – so tight you can’t see them! And here’s Naomi’s, filled, pl