Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FREE! Shavuos / Shavuot / שבעות Lapbook – and more!

UPDATE:  Pictures of the lapbook in progress!

Well, I’ve had a busy evening… creating the following lapbook components that you are free to use however you want.  If you use them, I’d love to hear about it and maybe even see pictures!! 

These printables are totally free.  If you use them with a group, co-op, or in a classroom setting, or if you’re just a super-nice person, please consider sending a teeny tiny donation to cover the lattes that keep me up late creating these marvellous resources.

The first one, Walking to Yerushalayim, is not specifically for lapbooking… I wanted to do something for the theme of “walking” tied in with the Hebrew word “regel.”  So kids can use these two maps to create footprints – real or miniature, using a fist – to help envision themselves “walking” to Yerushalayim.

Everything else here is decidedly more lapbooky, including:

  • NEW!  (and the absolute last item for this year) Copywork Aseres HaDibros Mitzvah Train mini-book
  • Shalosh Regalim “Feet” mini-book
  • Five Megillos mini-book
  • Four names of Shavuos
  • Two luchos / aseres hadibros mini-book
  • A Shavuos Midrash:  Nations of the World
  • Where in the World:  Map Activity / Mini-book
  • Have a piece of cheesecake! circle book
  • Seasons of Celebration – 4 season Yom Tov flip-up mini-book
  • Story of Ruth – Mini-Notebook, Story and Narration Tips

Where can you get these?

  • To download these and other Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) printables, including weekly parsha copywork, click here (scroll down to Yom Tov / Holiday resources).
  • For General Studies printables, including Science, English and Math, with a classical / Charlotte Mason bent, click here.

(Some of these shapes may look a bit familiar if you purchased the Pesach lapbook… ;-) )


Other links that may be useful in creating a lapbook, organized by theme to help you search.  These are Christian sites, so be careful; check all materials carefully for crosses, references to the “Old” testament and to JC himself).

Ten Commandments / Aseres HaDibros (Protestants use a different numbering system, and the Ten Commandments are slightly different)


King David / David & Golyas (David HaMelech was born and died on Shavuos, and was the great-grandson of Rus, whose story we read on Shavuos):

  • Very cute “Life of King David” minibook from Teacher Created Resources
  • Another Christian minibook about David & Goliath
  • My favourite so far of the goyish David & Goliath stories (cute graphics, no Christian imagery, blank quote boxes for kids to write in) – multiple sizes in one file including “poster-sized”

Hopefully, I’ll add more resources as I discover them…

UPDATE! Here's a video of Naomi Rivka presenting the finished lapbook:

UPDATED UPDATE – same lapbook, 5773/2013 edition! (this time, done jointly by Naomi Rivka and Gavriel Zev):


Monday, May 30, 2011

Oy, vey, Shavuos! Homeschool Resources Roundup

Now that I’m back, it’s (past) time to start thinking ahead to Shavuos / Shavuot – which will start and end next week.  This little chag too often gets overlooked, by me as much as by anyone else.  We never even HAD Shavuos when I was growing up, though… at least my kids get more than that.

I’m planning on making up a few lapbook components (not many), which I’ll post here as they’re created, along with some outside resources that will hopefully help you and your kids get ready.  For simplicity, I’m going to call it Shavuos because, well, that’s what I call it.  Shove-OO-iss.  You can call it what you like.  Great!

Free printables right here on my site!

Here are two helpful links from chinuch.org:

  • Shavuos Q&A – basic questions for a preschool level, also helpful for creating curriculum (that’s what I’m doing!)
  • More in-depth Shavuos curriculum – covers a bit more, useful for a primary or intermediate level curriculum.  Lists helpful books, crafts, etc., most of which we won’t have time to get to around here what with today having been a write-off and next Monday being yet another field trip.

Other sites:

  • Ten Commandments lapbook:  A Christian site with instructions for detailed components.  Easily modifiable for Jewish use anytime or for Shavuos!

And here’s a simple version of a popular Shavuos midrash which I’ve rewritten for one of the lapbook components.  Cut it, paste it, illustrate it, do what you want with it.  I have taken the liberty of editing out the traditional names of the nations involved because I feel that makes the midrash a racist reflection on the modern descendents of certain of those nations.

A Shavuos Midrash:

Before Matan Torah, Hashem wanted to make sure the other nations of the world would not be jealous when they heard what a fine gift He had given bnei Yisrael. What was the fine gift? The Torah!

So Hashem went and offered the Torah to the other nations of the world…

First, He offered it to one nation.

They asked Hashem what was in it.

Hashem said, “It says ‘do not murder.’”

This first nation said, “Well, we live by killing. We cannot accept that Torah!”

So Hashem offered it next to another nation.

They asked Hashem what was in it.

Hashem said, “It says ‘do not steal.’”

This second nation said, “Well, we live by stealing. We cannot accept that Torah!”

Finally, Hashem offered it to bnei Yisrael, the Jewish people.

What do you think they said?

Did they ask Hashem what was in it? They did not!

All together, they replied at once, “naaseh v’nishmah!”

What does this mean? “We will do it… and we will listen.”

Bnei Yisrael loved Hashem so much that it didn’t matter what was in the Torah. Whatever Hashem asked them to do – they were prepared to do it!

Back from the Torah Home Education Conference

balt 009

I’m back!!!

And it was good.  Nay, wonderful.

I’ll write up some highlights tonight… but meanwhile, my quick take were that the top picks were talks by Elijah Cox, a 2nd-generation frum homeschooler, and the closing talk by Dr. Hadassah Aaronson, which offered chizuk and SOooo much more.

Another huge highlight:  despite my avoidance of F2F situations, getting to meet Michelle of Lionden Landing.  She’s a science educator by background – between the two of us, we could probably come up with the GREATEST Jewish homeschool co-op ever conceived… but alas, she lives over 12 hours away.  Still, it was a treat – not to mention wrapping up the day yummy Chinese food at David Chu’s China Bistro.

By wrapping up the day, I mean the conference part of the day.  My bus didn’t actually leave until 11, from a remote mall in the far, far nether reaches of Baltimore.  I did a little sightseeing, but after a night on the bus and a day at the conference, me and my feet didn’t have the heart to really go exploring much.

In the end, I went to a bookstore, sat on the subway and read for a while, then hopped on the #35 to the remote mall.  I was hoping to buy a water bottle and was pleasantly surprised to find a grocery store still open, where I bought four packages of Snyder’s of Hanover Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Sandwiches (which you used to be able to buy here), four Kit Kat bars (not kosher here), and one bottle of Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard. 

(I really like to keep them guessing at Canada Customs when I tell them what I have to declare!!!)

image imageimage

(p.s.  Customs let me down, however.  When asked, I said “$27 worth of groceries,” and they said, “okay,” and let me go without opening the bags.)

Oh – more loot, from the conference.  Bracha Goetz, a frum children’s author, spoke and I bought two of her books:  The Invisible Book (because this is a conversation we’ve been having lately) and Let Your Fingers Do the Mitzvos (which the kids are too old for, but it’s super-cute!).

image image

Plus a mini-flexi-Reading Light for the trip home, because they always seem to turn off all the lights on buses, even the “reading lights” that were put there specifically so passengers could read in dim light.  Aargh.

So that’s it for the (not much) loot.  More about the substance of the conference later!

Friday, May 27, 2011

FREE Printable (blank) Weekly Parsha Narration Page

parsha narration bamidbar You know how I love having a form for every purpose!  This is a very simple blank page where your or your child can narrate or “tell” the story of the parsha.  There is a space at the top for a drawing, and an extra-large triple-ruled line for copying out the name of the parsha in English and/or Hebrew (we do both).

(Please ignore the text of this sheet!  It’s pretty much rubbish; she said the same thing twice and stood around whining for much of the time that she couldn’t remember anything… it’s been a rough week.  But the picture and copywork turned out nicely!)

I actually started out creating copywork sheets because I have such lousy handwriting. 

Especially in Hebrew, I probably COULDN’T create copywork pages worth copying, although my print handwriting is definitely improving.  But now that I have learned to touch-type in Hebrew, it’s easy to rattle off a parsha copywork sheet.

Although we have begun using pencils for most of our schoolwork – oy, vey, does having an electric sharpener make a difference! - I usually let Naomi do the parsha illustration with a pen because the drawings look nicer.  She gets very creative with these sometimes.

I am pleased to say, by the way, that (thanks to forcing myself to use the Handwriting Without Tears font when printing for the kids) my English handwriting is coming along nicely… although, when I’m going quickly as I was on this sheet, it doesn’t always show.

Here’s what the blank page looks like:

  • To download this and other Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) printables, including weekly parsha copywork, click here.
  • For General Studies printables, including Science, English and Math, with a classical / Charlotte Mason bent, click here.

Parsha Poem: בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar

בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 1:1-4:20: Read ithear itcolour it.

Printable PDF version available here.

Parsha narrative overview here
No copywork this week – check back at the regular page next week!

Thanks to Marc Chagall for this week’s amazing paintings!

image We’re counting and counting and counting again,

Counting through snow and counting through rain;

Hashem counts the Jews to show we’re unique –

Each one so special, each day of the week.


Six hundred thousand – oh, my, how we’ve grown,

Once a family of twelve, Hashem’s bounty has shown;

Separate still, serving in their own way,

Was the shevet of Levi, still known to this day.


You’d think that a people who’d been under stress,

Would not have grown so to be more – only less;

But slavery truly helped Am Yisrael,

We grew, for Hashem and his brachos can’t fail.


image But in all this counting and naming of sons,

Two are quite absent – so who are those ones?

They’re the children of Moshe, left off of the list,

For they grew up in Midyan, and so they are missed.


I sometimes wonder if Moshe regretted,

Leaving his children when he left and abetted,

The rest of his nation in their time of need –

Instead of remaining and growing his seed.


It sometimes is true that a leader’s own kin,

Are not always where his hard work can begin;

And it also is true that despite their strong roots,

All plants must work hard to sprout their own shoots.


So perhaps Moshe spent too much time on the road,

Or perhaps his two sons could not carry his load;

But this parsha shows too that, despite this sad lack,

Hashem found a way to pay Moshe right back.


image For we learn in this parsha that a teacher can be

A parent of sorts in Hashem’s family;

When it lists the children of Aharon right there,

They’re “descendents of Moshe,” for his love and care.


A family is not just the folks that we’re born to,

It’s also the people who do what they’ve sworn to;

Raising each other in Torah and love,

And sticking together when push comes to shove.


So let’s count them and count them and count them again,

Counting through slavery, counting through pain;

Counting shows, Hashem knows, that we’re not all the same –

And He loves us so much that he calls us by name.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wishy, wishy…

Okay, I give up.  I want one of THESE:

image image image image


Call it a kobo, a bobo, a babbo or bindle… a nook or puck or whatever stupid name you want to make up*, the fact is, there are bazillions of ebooks out there on PDF.  These are CLASSICS and living books – many far better than the “modern” alternatives – and I want them and I want them paperless but as close to the paper experience as possible, if that makes any sense.

I have been holding out for years, partly because of the cost but mostly because of Shabbos:  what’s the use of a book you can’t read one day in seven???  (If you’re new to this blog, welcome!  As observant Jews, we spend the time from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday without computers, phones, e-readers, or techology of any kind!)

Plus, if everybody migrates to e-books, there will be no actual book-books left for me to enjoy on Shabbos.  This is a nightmare; if not for me, than for my grandchildren.

It would be like the Rapture:  everything on paper with any literary merit would vanish, taken up to the virtual paradise.  The only novels “left behind” (so to speak) would be those printed by Feldheim and Artscroll (Jewish religious publishing houses that typically print bland, uninspiring “women’s novels” written at about a 6th-grade reading level).

Still and all.  I have been finding a number of out-of-copyright books I’d love to use in our homeschooling over the last few weeks, and the thought (and cost) of either buying them in printed form or printing them myself is truly prohibitive. 

imageSo – ebook reader it is:  6 days a week, at least.

*p.s. Worst name discovered so far:  the Ectaco jetBook.  It looks thoroughly clunky, tiny screen and all.   Nice to have a freebie I can cross off my list straight from the get-go!

So… when are you taking the plunge???  (or have you already?)

Bamidbar / בְּמִדְבַּר Parsha Overview: Life in the Desert? Count on it!

Please forgive the crude formatting that follows.  I'm off my regular computer, typing on a broken-keyboard laptop, running Ubuntu which doesn't as yet have decent rich-text blog posting software installed (recommendations?).  So I'm sending this from gmail instead!

בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 1:1-4:20:  Read ithear itcolour it.

Welcome to a brand new Sefer of the Chumash!

This parsha and sefer are called Bamidbar – that means "in the desert" or "in the wilderness."

We were in the midbar for a long time: forty years. We'll learn why in two weeks, in parshas Shelach!

Vayikra, which we just finished, has another name – Toras Kohanim; Torah for the Kohanim.

Bamidbar also has a different name: Chumash HaPekudim; the Chumash for counting.

In English, it's called the Book of Numbers. Let's find out why!

A few months ago in the parsha, Hashem counted bnei Yisrael. Now, He is counting them again!

What kinds of things do you count? When do you count them? Maybe you might count because you want to have a lot of something – like fresh garden strawberries or a collection of toys.

Sometimes, you count something for a sad reason. Imagine you had a whole bag of fancy marbles – shiny and glittery and colourful – and they all spilled! You'd round them up, of course, and then probably count to make sure they were all there. You would be sad if you noticed some missing – maybe they're under the furniture, but maybe they're just GONE.

In this week's parsha, Hashem counts bnei Yisrael because many of them are GONE.

Many of bnei Yisrael were lost after the egel hazahav. This was very sad.

But Hashem is also showing us something important here: Am Yisrael Chai – the Jewish people keep on going!

Do you remember what the Shevatim are?

The parsha lists the names of the shevatim (Do you know the names? Can you sing them?).

These were families, born from the sons of Yaakov, Yosef's brothers, Avraham's great-grandsons.

Those sons died, but the shevatim had all grown into great big families with new leaders.

The parsha lists the names of their leaders because tzaddikim keep Hashem's message alive: they are why Am Yisrael keeps right on going!

Some of the shevatim had MANY more people than others!

Shevet Yehudah, the biggest, had 74,600 adult men. Shevet Menasheh only had 32,200 adult men.

Did you know? Dan only had one son, but in this parsha, his shevet has grown HUGE – 62,700 men. Binyamin, who had ten sons, was now one of the smallest shevatim: 35,400 men.

If you start with two rabbits, they have babies and in a few years, you have thousands of rabbits.

The more rabbits you start with, the more babies you get – lots and lots of rabbits! That's nature.

Bnei Yisrael are NOT like rabbits. Only Hashem, not nature, decides which shevatim will grow.

Only Hashem knows who truly deserves to succeed.

Now that they'd been counted, bnei Yisrael learned that it isn't enough to have many soldiers – everybody must know his place. Hashem organized all the shevatim with Mishkan in the very middle.

But one shevet still hasn't been counted: Shevet Levi.

Hashem told Moshe to count them personally, but Moshe didn't want to go into private tents.

Some people say they made a deal: Moshe stood outside and a voice called out how many people lived in each tent. That way, everybody's private life could stay private! There were 22,000 levi'im.

We still know who their descendents are today – the Kohanim and Levi'im in our shul!

Now that Levi was counted, it was time for a gigantic swap!

There were almost as many kohanim as there were firstborn men in bnei Yisrael.

Because firstborn men had done the cheit ha'egel, Hashem didn't want them serving in the Mishkan.

So Hashem told Moshe the firstborn men should each pay 5 shekels to "trade" with a Levi.

We still do this today with a firstborn son: we "redeem" him at a Pidyon HaBen when he's 30 days old

This week's parsha ends with an interesting problem:

When the Mishkan travelled, one group of Levi'im, bnei Kehas, were supposed to carry the menorah, aron, and other important keilim. But only the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, were allowed to touch those things. Anyone else who touched them would die! So how could bnei Kehas carry them without dying? Luckily, Hashem told Moshe the answer. The Kohanim would go in first and wrap up the keilim very well. THEN, once they were covered, bnei Kehas could come in and take them away!

Bnei Yisrael travelled many times. We'll learn more about that as we read Sefer Bamidbar!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Best-Laid (Curriculum) Plans: Year 1

After a year of planning and evaluating various options for Year 1, it’s finally done – our super-schmancy, fine-and-dandy Complete Jewish Homeschool Curriculum!  Sort of.  It’s an ambitious list, and I’m scared I won’t be able to do it.

Points to keep in mind:

  1. I’m flexible.  If something doesn’t work, I drop it – period.  Maybe pick up something else, or maybe drop the subject if it’s not a crucial one.  I am very open to this, though I think everything I’ve chosen for the year is do-able.
  2. It LOOKS ambitious, but most of it is just extensions of what we are already doing.  Nothing here will be a big surprise if you’ve been reading this blog all along.
  3. Most lessons are VERY short!  Depending on the lesson itself and Naomi Rivka’s co-operation, an average lesson is about 10-20 minutes.  Some subjects in some weeks will really involve ZERO additional minutes; they’re just books included in our regular family reading schedule.  A typical lesson in First Language Lessons takes less than 5 minutes at this level.  Math is usually something like 5 minutes of skip counting drill plus 15 minutes.  If we start at 9-something, our school day will likely be finished by noon (though we are probably more likely to start around 10 and finish by 1).
  4. Most lessons are fun!  Most of these subjects are already ones Naomi asks for, at least part of the time, if not every day.  As a grammar-stage learner, she loves discovering the world’s “hidden secrets” – stuff like the names of the continents, rules for identifying geometric shapes, parts of a flower.  I see this every day and love “indulging” her by sharing these secrets.

I plan to update this list if there’s anything I’ve forgotten – or if something I’ve planned doesn’t work out for us.  I also plan to add links to curriculum wherever possible.

So here, without further [as they say, and it drives me crazy] adieu... The List:

Year One Curriculum

Term 1:  June – Aug 2011 – Composer:  Mozart, Artists:  Van Gogh, Cassatt, Mondrian

Term 2:  Sept – Nov 2011 – Composer:  Mendelssohn, Artists:  Picasso, Monet, Homer

Term 3:  Dec – Feb 2012 – Composer:  Bach, Artists:  Remington, O’Keeffe, Hokusai

Term 4:  March – May 2012 – Composers:  Bartok, Hindemith, Artists:  Matisse, Degas, Kahlo

* For artist/composer information, scroll to the bottom of this list.

Weekly schedule:

·         Limudei Kodesh – 4x/week

o   Tefillah:  daily davening, plus occasional copywork & translating

o   Reading:  Kriyah v’Od, Part 2

o   Begin Chumash reading & translating/understanding

o   Dinim – Shabbos, Kashrus, Yamim Tovim, other mitzvos / middos?

o   Weekly Parsha – copywork, reading, 1x/week narration

·         Math – 4x/week

o   JUMP Math, Books 1.1 & 1.2

o   Weekly “random” math with dice, Cuisenaire rods (Miquon Orange/Red) and other hands-on materials

·         Language Arts – 3x/week

o   First Language Lessons, Books 1 & 2

o   Handwriting Without Tears

o   Finish Explode the Code 2, continue into Spelling Workout A

o   Nursery Rhymes – memorization & fun w/Literature Pockets

o   Reading from BOB Books, Set 4 / Dick & Jane, then into McGuffey Readers

o   Keep reading our regular chapter books several times a week AT LEAST! (see list here)

·         History – 3x/week

o   Story of the World, Book 1

o   Readings and activities from Story of the World Activity Book

o   Readings from Fifty Famous Stories, Famous Men Greek/Rome

o   Activities from History Pockets

·         Geography – 1x/week

o   Weekly readings and activities from Expedition Earth

o   Various songs, mapwork, etc.

·         Science – 2x/week

o   Elemental Science

o   Weekly Readings

o   1x/week narration

o   1x/month (AT LEAST) nature study plus narration

·         Music – throughout the week

o   Listen to music by term’s composer in car, at home, etc.

o   Supplement with bios from Classics for Kids and other sites

o   1x/term composer biography & narration

·         Art – 1x/week

o   Every other week, Meet the Masters artist bio, information

o   Every other week, Draw – Write – Now lessons – every week if there’s time

o   1x/month Meet the Masters practical project

·         Physical Education – 2x/week AT LEAST

o   Continue with swimming lessons & weekly dance classes

·         Social – whenever possible!

o   Weekly homeschool drop-in, shul program, and MORE

* How I chose our artists and composers:

  1. The composers here ROUGHLY follow the Ambleside schedule.  I want to do four terms per year, though, and Ambleside provides only three, so I have picked up a “make-up” composer – for this year, it’s Bach.  Well worth learning about, I figure.
  2. For artists, Ambleside tries to pair the artist to the period of the composer, leading to a pretty obscure list, with few good “beginner” artists (for 2010/2011 the artists were Durer, Caravaggio and Delacroix).  Having failed a few times at doing art in a really compelling way, I recently bought the Meet the Masters program for 50% off through homeschool buyers co-op.  This takes all the thought and most of the prepwork out of it.  The package I bought covers 20 artists – more than enough for one per month – in a well-planned order.

So… your thoughts?  Link up your own curriculum ideas if you’re already planning your coming year!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday – 19 Iyar, 5771

image Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Other “weekly challenges” I have not been doing very regularly with since Pesach:

Welcome!  We’re a homeschooling 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!

It’s Victoria Day, which we don’t normally observe because Ted works holidays, but this time around, Ted’s taken Naomi to Ottawa to see his parents.  They’re away on Monday and Tuesday, so I’m home alone with Gavriel Zev for probably the first time in his life.

Sunday (last night):  BBQ at Mommy’s (aka Bubby’s)

Monday (tonight):  Homemade Pizza w/ part-semolina dough

Tuesday:  Hmm… something with meat?  Dunno!!!  Wings?

Wednesday: Hmm… something with fish, perhaps?  Not salmon; we eat enough salmon.  Cornmeal-crusted SOMETHING.  This will need a grocery store run, because we don’t have anything in the house.  With something wonderful on the side.

Thursday, as copied and pasted from Lionden Landing (which is fair because she swiped my Awesome Kosher Family Food graphic, with its City Hall, CN Tower and all!):  Tofu Stirfry, rice and keem. 

What is keem?  I  was wondering for months what “keem” was because it kept showing up on her menus.  She clarified my question here that it is “dried seaweed similar to Sushi wrappings but cooked more so it is crispier.”  Wikipedia, which spells it “gim,” says it’s identical to sushi nori or, in English, “laver,” a pun that did not go over well with my family when we were learning about the Mishkan (tabernacle) wash basin, which is also often translated as “laver.”  Trust me – it was a terrible pun.

Friday / Shabbos:  TBA!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Big List of (Chapter) Books to Read Aloud

Updated July 6/2011!

Here are the chapter books we’ve read since we started “formally” homeschooling in the summer of 2010.  I decided it would be nice to make a list, since I’m starting to lose track.

But first:

Who are we?

In case you have no clue who “we” are – I’m Mommy, the main reader, and mainly who I read to are our two younger homeschooled children, Naomi Rivka, age 6.5, and Gavriel Zev, age 3.5. 

When do we read?

We don’t have a reading schedule, as such.  On most regular homeschool days, we have two major reading times:  one in the middle of the day and one at the end of the day.  I try to include the three “regulars” every day, but that doesn’t always happen.  It often doesn’t happen.

How we read:

Most of our chapter-book reading is just that, reading, with little or no schoolwork attached to it.  EXCEPT:  they are expected to narrate each chapter or section as we read it.  That’s simpler than it sounds.  I finish the chapter and ask the kids, “next time, we’ll be reading {Chapter 7:  The Big Surprise}.  What happened in {Chapter 6:  The Old Coat}, the chapter we just read?”  They tell me back the main points – 2 or 3 main events of the chapter. 

I’m confident that this helps them remember the story very well from one reading session to another.  Before we pick up and start reading the next time, I ask them the exact same question:  “This chapter is called {Chapter 7:  The Big Surprise}.  What happened last time, in {Chapter 6:  The Old Coat}?”

That way, we all know where we are before we start reading a new section.  This also helps in the rare case when someone is sleepy at bedtime and forgets part of a book we read – one time Naomi had been so tired, she remembered nothing of what we’d read, so I was able to go back and reconstruct it for her.

So - onward, to:

What we’re reading now (chapter books only): 

This includes our Series Reading – we usually  have all of the following on the go in addition to any other “chapters” we might be in the middle of:

  • Little House book
  • Magic Tree House Book
  • Our Canadian Girl Book

We alternate one Little House with one non-Little House book, for variety.

We’re also working our way through a Summer Reading List of high-quality kids’ books that I “borrowed” from Five in a Row.  You could really use it for any season, and you can download a printable chart of all the books free here.  I haven’t included those books in this list because none of them are chapter books.

Books so far:

Future Books:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Shabbos Food!


  • Challah
  • Chicken Soup
  • Shake n’ Bake Chicken
  • Israeli couscous
  • Tomato zucchini aka Incredible Shrinking Garlic Zukes
  • Our Shiputzim Carrot bread kugel – caution, this is NOT a dessert!
  • Corn
  • Desserts

Lunch (cholentless)

  • Challah
  • Potto salad (pottos from the cholent, which I vetoed bc of warm weather)
  • Blintzes (just a few)
  • Ted’s Blintz Soufflé
  • Ketchup Salmon w/onions on top
  • Our Shiputzim Carrot bread kugel – caution, this is NOT a dessert!
  • Lettuce salad, which Ted will painstakingly make and serve and nobody will eat
  • … and don’t forget the Cheese and Pickles!  Ted said, “I want you to make sure you add the cheese and pickles,” lest, perhaps, you think of us as a family without cheese and pickles.
  • Desserts


  • Rhubarb/Apple/Strawberry crumble pie (garden rhubarb, yay!)
  • Ted-made-from-a-mix Nanaimo Bars
  • One more dessert made by me…

Lemon Shame and Leaf Pile plants

strolls 003My beautiful lemon tree from a seed died!!!   At least, I think it’s dead.  At least, I dare not officially hope that there might still be some life in it.  It shot up like crazy over the winter, so now it looks like a spiky dead stick in a pot.  Hope, hope, hope. 

I don’t know what went wrong, really, because it was sitting beside the mango tree, which survived beautifully.  Sad, sad, sad.

Here’s an experiment for this year’s growing season: 

Pile a bunch of dead leaves at the bottom of the driveway.  There’s already a bit of soil gathered there because there’s a bump in the driveway.  Let the leaves sit over the winter.  In spring, stick some weedy plants in.  Let weed seeds land there and sprout.  See what happens.  I’ve planted horseradish, which is weedy and I figure it can grow and take off pretty much anywhere.  I’ve also stuck in some hens-and-chicks, because I really don’t like them.  And a couple of spare marigolds.  And now I will neglect this pile and let the weeds cover it and the horseradish fill it and grow.  I was inspired to do  this by a weird book (can’t remember the strolls 004title!) I got out of the library last year that talks about growing stuff in piles of soil in driveways and on stone surfaces.  You need plants with shallow roots (which horseradish, technically, is NOT), but eventually, the plants anchor the pile and it starts to look like something green and semi-nice. 

Maybe,  maybe.  Though with my track record for keeping green things alive… also maybe not.

Parsha Poem: Bechukotai / Bechukosai / בְּחֻקֹּתַי

וַיִּקְרָא / vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-27:34:  Read ithear itcolour it.

Printable PDF versions here:  Ashkenaz / Sefard


No parsha overview this week - sorry!
Copywork and parsha activities available at this page – updated weekly.

image “Im Bechukosai” – on the path that I

Show you how to go, for that’s the road you know.

Just walk here in my ways, stay here all your days;

But if you leave, don’t grieve,

I’ll always welcome you.


Blessings first, then curses – in these sacred verses,

The lessons I gave for my people to save,

Showing you the path, concealing all My wrath;

But if you stray, just pray,

I’ll always welcome you.


Grains both old and new – always here for you,

Plenty in your lands, your life within my hands,

Torah’s mighty words take wing like soaring birds;

But if you err, I care,

I’ll always welcome you.


Following my lead – everything you need,

More than food and wine, your life is truly mine

Just as in a dream, I step in and redeem;

But if you go, just know,

I’ll always welcome you.


Treasures unseen there always have been,

Your hidden reward if you carry my sword,

My words lift you high, and your soul cannot die;

But if you fall, just call,

Know I’ll always welcome you.

חָזָק חָזָק וְנִתְחַזֵּק!

May learning Torah make us strong!

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Parshas Bechukosai 5771 (video)

From Britain’s Chief Rabbi Dr,. Jonathan Sacks, fascinating thoughts on Supersession / Replacement Theology, its history and the reasons why Christian assertions – of all stripes – are very simply unbiblical.

Full text if you don’t want to watch the whole video:  The Rejection of Rejection.

“…the claim on which Replacement or Supersession theology is based – that G-d rejects His people because they rejected Him – is unthinkable in terms of Abrahamic monotheism…”

It is true, as Sacks points out that many Christians are now too well-educated (or polite) to mention replacement theology.  It’s also true that many mainstream churches (including the Catholic Church since Vatican 2) have attempted to sever their historical ties with these theological teachings (though individual clergy may veer wildly one way or the other).

However, as I’ve said here before, there is a growing movement who believe that while Jews are still God’s people, Christians have joined our covenant; the grafted olive-branch.  They adopt Jewish festivals and customs, take Hebrew names, and describe their Christian faith with Hebrew words.   They are not “Jews for Jesus,” as most were not born Jewish; they are “Hebrew Christians” – with a sprinkling of Hebrew on their Christianity for colour and flavour.

This "enlightened" theology may be even more offensive and insidious.  Certainly, it is no less wrong, on so many levels.

Related posts on this topic:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FREE! Hebrew “Plant Life Cycle” Printable מחזור החיים של הצמח

This is for the next unit in our Botany and Plant Science series.  Nothing fancy; just basic copywork, but it will hopefully get us talking about plant life cycles in both languages.

This copywork page is available in Hebrew or English.


  • Download these printable PDFs from my General Studies printables page here.
  • For Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) printables, including weekly parsha copywork, click here.

Related seeds and life cycle videos on YouTube – because I think it’s only through time-lapse that we can see plants really looking “alive”:

Flowers (next week’s topic):

Okay, I think I have a new obsession… just go to YouTube and type in “time lapse.”  Amazing!!!

The opposite of “kvetch” is…

image A good review!!!

The new hard drive arrived today – shockingly fast, so of course, I left a good review on resellerratings.com

Within an hour or so of the Purolator guy leaving, I had it installed in the laptop, formatted and running ubuntu – yay, me!  If only the printer would work, but unfortunately, it’s networked through a Windows machine, and has always been a bit flaky…

(when the kids write their Shabbos divrei Torah on the laptop, they have to email them to me to print; even on the windows desktop computer itself, they cannot print, for some reason – so, again, they have to request that I print their documents for them)

imageimage Speaking of good reviews, if you are a Rainbow Resources customer, you can win store credit reviewing books and resources at their website.  I have only written a few reviews there, but have already won three times.  They choose new winners every month.  So far, I think I have won $10 twice and $5 once.  It’s just a little bit, but it can at least help offset the shipping costs. 

I like Rainbow because they ship to Canada (fairly reasonable rates, though it can be slow), because they respond fairly quickly to questions, offer a great selection, and accept PayPal.  Just the basics, but those really do count.

Anyway, here’s my most recent review, for the Judy Clock.  This won me a credit back in April, but I haven’t used it yet.  I’m saving up for fancy things like groceries at the moment (still recovering, financially, from the big hit we call Pesach), plus my big trip to Baltimore in a couple of weeks!