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Showing posts from September, 2011

Math Out Loud! with The Verbal Math Lesson

Last year, when we started doing formal math, I immediately noticed that Naomi’s handwriting wasn’t in the same place that her “math brain” was, developmentally.  She could DO the math, but we were both frustrated by her number reversals (to the point where they were unreadable), both mirror images of the numbers and switching the place values (so 21 might be 12, with the numbers backwards).  We actually took a break from formal “handwriting” math so her fine-motor skills could catch up a bit.  And it was fine… we played with rods and did other mathy stuff until she was ready to keep going in the Miquon books (and soon, into the JUMP books). I found out today (procrastinating – or rather, taking a break from endless Rosh Hashanah cooking!!!) about a program called The Verbal Math Lesson , available in physical or eBook form, which offers parent-led, somewhat scripted lessons to supplement a regular math program – or, perhaps, to fill in at times like the one we went through last ye

Review - Life of Fred: Apples (The Verdict? They like it!)

I have read Life of Fred Algebra, so I thought I was prepared for a certain degree of surrealism and silliness, but an initial glance through this book far surpassed my expectations.  Silliness is not the word for this book’s weird mix of math, humour and awful art, and not entirely in a good way.  I honestly wasn’t sure the kids would sit through it. But they love it.  Strange. They are utterly entranced by this tale of a 5-year-old pointy-nosed midget professor who sleeps under his desk in the math department at the prestigious KITTENS University and his blob-shaped doll, Kingie. The book is a quick read, so I’m trying to pace ourselves, doing one chapter every couple of days, despite the kids begging for it at story time.  We have made it through the first five chapters so far (out of 18).  The story actually reminds me a lot of one of Ted’s rambling and nonsensical bedtime tales , which is probably why they like it so much.  The book touches very lightly upon a wide range of G

The BEST use for a muffin-top pan

Mostly, I think single-use kitchen toys are silly.  But last year, I bought a muffin-top pan and quickly discovered THE very, very best use for it… honey cake tops!!! I already blogged about this last year at my Bread Blog … but don’t just take my word for it; go out and bake some honey cake tops.  The only reason most of us eat honey cake anyway is the tops!

Easy Rosh Hashanah Ram Craft

Uh-oh… Do I use the word “easy” to describe all my crafts??? This one is based loosely on a “sheep” project in the Literature Pockets: Nursery Rhymes book, but I’m hoping my kids won’t notice its highly derivative nature.  I guess it doesn’t meet the Charlotte Mason criterion of being a “useful object” (so kids aren’t just doing “twaddle crafts” to kill time, but end up with something useful for the home and acquiring real-world skills).  However, it DOES fulfill most of my criteria for a “green” craft, anyway:  when it’s finished adorning your home, you can toss the whole thing in the backyard composter! I haven’t got time for a step-by-step, but really, all you need are, for each ram:  Black construction paper:  FACE, EAR, two LEGS, a TAIL.  Make them any shape you like! A cardboard body – mine is about the size of a piece of construction paper, hamburger-folded. A white or tan SHOFAR that kids can cut out and stick on the side of the head. Yarn to cover the body with “hair”

Meanwhile…

I have to go to work tomorrow.  Shudder. I have to wake up, have a shower, find clean clothes and a matching head-thing, put on shoes, drive across town, park and go up an elevator to an office. I know all this because I did it on Thursday already.  ALL DAY. Why am I doing this at such a crazy time of year???  In the middle of homeschooling three children?  In the middle of Yom Tov preparations?  In the middle of the first week I have felt at ALL recuperated from breaking my ankle? There’s a saying, “if you want to get something done, ask a busy woman.” So they asked – at this busy time of year, which is busy for them, too – if I could come in and help fill in here and there.  As a very special bonus, they can’t pay much .  So of course:  stupidly, crazily, I said yes. The nice thing is that all of it – the crazy time of year, the not-paying-much – means (I think) that the power is still mine in this equation.  Of course I can’t work long hours, regular hours, or even be expecte

Three New Helps for Limudei Kodesh

It seems that the best I can say about Limudei Kodesh (Jewish studies) resources is that they’re not completely appalling .  With that in mind, I browsed the shelves in a couple of local bookstores today and came away with the following: A Child’s Bible:  Lessons from the Torah A Child’s Bible:  Lessons from the Prophets and Writings Yesh Lanu Lama , a Hebrew easy-reader The first two are written by Seymour Rossel, the author who wrote Introduction to Jewish History , the book I’ve tentatively bought for Jewish history.  Well, I really did buy it, but I’m tentative because it’s not an extraordinary book.  It’s only, as I said, not completely appalling .  The pictures are very dated, but on the other hand, they’re not badly done, and the text is written – not by a committee – but by a single author who seems passionate about his subject.  I’m hoping, really hoping, that counts for more than up-to-dateness (up-to-date-itude?), especially in books about the Tanach.  I bought t

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Another Shameless Shallow Blog Post to win a contest…

I’m sure I stand no chance, but sometimes I do win these things.   This is to win a free kids’ CD from Maestro Classics, who have created a really good series of educational book / CD resources to help kids discover the joy of music (not just classical, though it’s mostly classical).  Find out more about Maestro Classics here .    Or just stop by ThriftyNiftyMommy to read a review and enter the contest anytime before September 30th!

The Lesson of the Stroller

(with thanks to Phyllis Sommer’s Ima on and off the Bima for the “Blog Elul” button and meme, which I have not yet participated because I thought I had nothing to say) My friend Sara just wrote an interesting post about strollers , and running after her toddler on Shabbos. Her post reminded me – tangentially – of the olden days, before Toronto got its current eiruv.  I started to write it in her comments, but realized (for once) that my thoughts were totally irrelevant.  “Get your own blog,” I told myself.  But then I realized, “Wait a minute.  I HAVE my own blog.  And this is what it’s for – my random dull reminiscences of bygone eras.”  “Okay, then,” I told myself.  “Why not write it there?” So I am. When YM was a baby, there was no eiruv in Toronto, so young mamas just didn't go out on Shabbos.  By the time we moved to Calgary, also with no eiruv, he was walking, so on Yom Kippur I decided to walk to shul.  The shul was RIGHT across the street.  Literally, across a stoplig

The week in Review…

This is our last “normal” week before the roller-coaster of the chagim (MONTH of Jewish holidays coming up).  I’ve found it’s best to cram a lot in the first couple of days of the week, because after that, things tend to fall apart… like this week, when I worked a full day yesterday outside of the home.  Blah. But here’s what we were up to on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today… Had an “arty” day with Draw Write Now and Mozart!   Did some kinda teary measurement math with JUMP and Cuisenaire Rods.  Not that we don’t love math!  And hopefully, we will love it even more now that we have started reading “Life of Fred:  Apples,” which just arrived this week.  It’s a very, VERY, very strange book.  Naomi isn’t sure she likes it yet, and at first, based only on the cover, she asked me NOT to read it.  But I think she’ll get into it once we’re on our way. Carrying on through First-Time Analogies (we do it during math time).  We’ve moved on to cut/paste analogies; I think she enjoyed