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Showing posts from October, 2011

NOW AVAILABLE: Hebrew Reading / Alef-Bet Lapbook!

  I wish we’d had a lapbook like this when Naomi and I started doing alef-bais two years ago.  But we didn’t, and we managed anyway.  I think this lapbook is also very suitable for “older beginners” – kids who know a bit more than she did, at 4 years old, and who are actually interested in studying ABOUT Hebrew, whether they’re Jewish or not. Some basic information: The Hebrew language is relevant and meaningful for homeschoolers of any religion who want to understand the origins of the English alphabet, the beginnings of the Torah (Jewish Bible) or the modern State of Israel.  This lapbook is perfect for a short unit study on the Hebrew alphabet and reading Biblical or Modern Hebrew.  It's also a great way to find out if kids might be interested in continuing their Hebrew studies using software or textbooks. This lapbook includes a short guide to "Teaching the Alef-Bet", with helpful web links, along with the following 13 mini-books ready for you and your child to fi

Parsha Poetry, Year 2: Noach / נֹחַ

בְּרֵאשִׁית / Bereishis / BEREISHIT / Genesis 6:9-11:32: Read it ;  hear it ; colour it . Click for printable PDF version .  And don’t forget to read last year’s poem ! Copywork and parsha activities – updated weekly. Thanks to Ted for this week’s art, liberally borrowed from his Parsha Cartoon . “What are you doing?” the neighbours all said, “What are you building back there? Why are you making a boat with a bed, And building a cage for a bear?” “I’m building a boat,” old Noach replied, “Building it sprawling and grand, And very soon now, we must all head inside For the floods, they will cover the land.” The neighbours just laughed, a hilarious mirth, Screeching, “who the heck told you that? In case you can’t see, this is mighty dry earth, So why build that box for a bat?” “Look around,” Noach growled, “just look and see, “What a mess we have made of this world. With murder and mayhem, it’s pure misery, And there’s worse that will soon be unfurled.” “Who are YOU to tell

New Frontiers in Wearable Computing

In the interest of making our teenagers look even more awkward than their hormonal surges ordinarily do, they now sell something called the Breffo Spiderpodium that was, apparently, at the top of Big Boy’s birthday wants list.  Did I mention he had a birthday???!  Yup, that’s seventeen years of Mama-hood… but who’s counting? And you know what they say – “the first forty years of parenthood are always the hardest.”  Okay, I only just read it for the first time on a fridge magnet last Sunday, but I bought the fridge magnet, because it’s funny, and maybe it’s true.  Also, the fridge magnet was only $1.50, less than a TENTH of the Breffo Spiderpodium .  Here’s what it looks like when it’s not clinging to my teenager’s undershirt: So is it mean to use the word dorky to describe my own son?  But really, it’s not him, it’s the gadgetry hanging from his neck. Which isn’t REALLY what it’s meant for.  He bought it for its ability to connect his iPod to anything, anyway, most especially the h

Welcome Home!

Late, late, late, but tomorrow night it’s supposed to go down to -2…  and I’m not taking any chances.  So:  welcome home, Tenders! Spending another winter indoors are: Big pot of mixed aloe Bit pot of mixed coleus Long rectangular planter of mixed cactus, aloe, etc. Lemon tree from a seed Mango tree from a seed Miscellaneous kitchen-windowledge coleus… picture to come. I’m kind of sad and scared at the thought of another summer ending.  Almost November and still in denial, I guess.

Butterfly Field Trip: Naomi’s Feedback Form

Once again, I didn’t bring a camera… but once again, we had a remarkably good time at one of the homeschool programs run by the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory (formerly Wings of Paradise). I did manage to save Naomi’s comments on the comment form.  She seems to have understood very little of the form and yet filled in the blanks so sweetly (look at her final comment at the end!), that I just had to save this. Awww…. We brought along Aunt Sara to even up the score (Aunt Abigail came with us once last year).  I’m not sure if I love these programs, but I love the butterfly conservatory itself, and the programs are okay.  There is sound science content, even if some of it is sometimes kind of tangential to the actual butterflies that give the place its raison d’etre.  Whatever keeps them in business sounds good to me! What I have NO idea about is why, out in the middle of nowhere, they can get dozens of homeschoolers to come out to a program like this, but here in the great big ci

Is ASL an endangered language???

I was sitting wondering this in class tonight, probably when I ought to have been paying attention, but what else is new? Who’s going to use the language in 20 years?  Is it like learning Latin, a static, dead language, or, like Yiddish once was, a language reserved for chatting with old, stubborn people who refuse to go with the new ways (in the case of Yiddish, this was “learning English”… whereas in the case of deaf seniors, it is “not getting cochlear implants”). One of the best-known deaf kids (THE best-known?) thanks to her mother’s “Signing Time” DVDs, even Leah Coleman now has cochlear implants (actually, as of seven years ago – read the article; she makes many good and important points).  Her mother still recommends signing as part of the child’s communication toolbox, but not necessarily as the primary, first language of deaf children that advocates have worked so long and hard to have it acknowledge to be.  (She DOES strongly recommend giving children a language, any la

New Alef-Bet / Alef-Bais Lapbook on its Way!

Latest and greatest in a series of amazing (if I say so myself) lapbooks by me , this will include a range of activities for Hebrew beginners of all ages.  Through twelve fun manipulative mini-book projects, it teaches:  letters of the alef-bet (I pronounce it alef-bais, but either is correct!), vowels, final letters, reading direction (right to left!), the evolution of Hebrew (ancient to modern), place names in Israel, different types of Hebrew scripts, and a few simple phrases. Not just for homeschoolers – it’s great for anyone who wants to learn Hebrew with their kids before, during or after school!  Though it introduces kids to Hebrew, this lapbook contains no specifically Jewish content, so it’s perfect for readers of other religions who want to “dabble” in the amazing and ancient Hebrew language. I’m just finishing this up right now, but we’re having a busy week, so it’ll probably be ready sometime over the weekend.  If you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know


What is this??? In the frum world, this is the ultimate “diss” – the “simchas chosson v’kallah clause” on a wedding invitation. What does it mean?  No meal.  “Come for the chuppah, then go home for two hours!” – presumably to eat something – “But then, come back to dance a bit and have dessert.” The Clause means you’re not family.  You’re not honoured out-of-towners.  You’re not close friends.  You’re not important business associates.  You’re not worth spending upwards of $100 per person on for a chicken dinner… which is probably true, and always a little sad.  On the community’s fringes as we are, we don’t get invited to many weddings… so it kind of hurts, sometimes, to be only half-invited. It also means (subtly) that that not only us but our TIME is not worth much.  With the distance of this particular hall, it’s not TWO, but FOUR 20-minute drives – over an hour of four people’s lives driving up and down and up and down and up and down.  (unless we use the two hours to go fo

Holy Boxaroni!

I just turned around and discovered that the box Gavriel Zev was playing with had been plastered with labels: It says “Pull Box”.  Apparently, his ladybug wanted it to say that and actually wrote the words… but the ladybug didn’t want to be in the picture, so the blue monster offered instead. He cut off lengths of masking tape with scissors and wrote the words all by himself without any prompting!!!  This from a kid who only just picked up a marker voluntarily for the first time a month ago … (yes, we have done SOME writing together, but it has always been reluctant and slow, with nowhere near the sophistication of these letters he drew himself)   It’s ALMOST enough to convince me to unschool – or even neglect my children outright.  Turn my back for 15 minutes to get some work done, and see what they come up with!!! Naomi Rivka is out with Ted at an animation workshop… I imagine they’ll be home pretty soon, but in the meantime, we’re having a quiet mama-and-two-boys morning.  (o

Sukkos – Last Days, almost

Almost, because there are still a few gaps in this menu, especially desserts… but I honestly don’t think anybody’s going to go hungry. I made two batches of Pumpkin Challah dough – one based on Maggie Glezer’s Pan de Calabaza , and one based on my old faithful Reliable Challah recipe, but with a cup or so of fresh pumpkin puree added.  What a beautiful colour the dough is… Meal Wednesday Shmini Atzeres Simchas Torah Shabbos Day   YIZKOR – Dairy Sara Pumpkin Challah Pea soup Mush/brox crepes Green Beans Salad Simchas Torah – Dairy Just us (late) Pumpkin Challah Homemade pizza puffs Apple kugel Shabbos – Dairy G Family Pumpkin Challah Salmon puff pastries Cholent Sushi Rice Salad Green Beans Salad Night Shmini – Meat Mommy Pumpkin Challah Squash carrot soup w/kneids Shake n’ Bake Corn fritters Apple kugel Simchas – Dairy Just us (late) Pumpkin Challah Pea soup again w/kneids Baked mac n’cheese Shabbos – Meat Guest:  B Pum

Ted’s Amazing Parsha Comics

Ted has begun his parsha comic project with not one but TWO comics for Bereishis… check them out on his blog, over here .

Chol HaMoed, Day 2: Science Centre

We’ve received a Toronto Zoo membership as a gift for the last few years – usually around Gavriel Zev’s birthday.  Family membership at the Zoo is $145 – at the Science Centre, $120.  We used our Science Centre membership for the first time today, and there are some really nice differences.  At the Science Centre, your membership gives you 50% off parking, 50% off the Imax movies, plus a discount in the gift shop (I think 10%).  At the Zoo, you get 10% in the gift shop and nada elsewhere, though they do mail you a $2 parking coupon in their newsletter a few times a year (parking has gone up by $2 every year; it’s now $10 or 12).  At the Science Centre, somehow, they made us feel like VIPs – offering us free tickets to the new Da Vinci exhibit, for example, or giving back half the price YM paid for his Imax ticket because he arrived late (changed his mind and came on his bike) and didn’t have the membership card with him.  Of course, at the Science Centre, you can’t see animals, and

Cranky Complaints-Lady asks, “Tis WHAT Season???”

Email sent via Michael’s main website.  I have absolutely no hope that anybody will reply to me – ever. In the Toronto Michael’s store today, I was annoyed to find a full display table and shelves of Chanukah merchandise.  In case you weren't aware, we're currently right in the middle of a month of wonderful, major Jewish holidays - all far more significant than Chanukah, which is a relatively minor holiday.  It seems that even with a fairly large religious Jewish clientele, nobody on staff has had the imagination to come up with a Jewish “fall holidays / harvest” theme to stave off the blue, white and silver just a few weeks longer. It takes a lot to offend me [ha ha ha… what they don’t know won’t hurt them] , and this display certainly did.  Think of it as tearing down the Xmas displays in December to make room for Valentine’s Day kitsch and maybe you'll understand why.

Chol HaMoed Outings

Last night:  Putting Edge, indoor mini-golf.  Boy, is it hard to take pictures of glow-in-the-dark mini-golf!  This is the first time we’ve taken everybody – well, not YM; he had a friend’s birthday to be at.  But Naomi and Gavriel Zev came along, with their own sticks and balls and everything.  I guess they’re called clubs ; I don’t know much about golf and “mini” is the only kind I’ve ever played.   Elisheva said, “After Abba, I won.”  It’s true.  And after her, I won.  And after Abba, Elisheva and me, Naomi won.  Gavriel Zev lost, with a score somewhere in the thousands.  Ted takes his game very seriously, and beat all of us by at least 30 points.  He was the only one who attained anything near par on most of the holes.  It was a late night, but everybody had a GREAT time. (p.s. The secret to happy “whole-family” mini-golfing?  Glad you asked!  Let two people play at once; you’re finished the holes quicker, the pace stays fun, and the people playing the hole behind you don’t get

The Sukkah – 5772 / 2011 Version!

It hasn’t changed much from previous years, BUT this year’s improvement is the snugness of the roofbeams.  Confusingly, the north-south wooden beams ARE the actual schach – schach does not have to be green, but merely have grown from a tree and never have been used for any other purpose.  BUT the schach cannot be nailed down, so the wooden beams are held in place snugly by pieces of wood on the frame.  Last year, this innovative and exciting design resulted in two guests getting conked on the head by fairly light wooden beams, and on one particularly windy day, having to eat inside for fear guests or their babies would be seriously hurt.  THIS YEAR, Ted added cross beams that ensure that even if the “schach-beams” do fall, they only “fall” onto the cross beams and never actually have the chance of landing in your soup.  Plus, it’s been so rainy that all the wood supports are swollen, so they’re clinging tight to the schach beams.  All in all, a very lovely sukkah indeed! Front view