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Showing posts from November, 2011

So now what? (tell me what to buy…!)

Thanks to my diligent and/or shameless shilling of wares for , both here and on various online fora (the proper plural of forums), I have earned a teeny-weeny gift card.  Yay, me! But when I went on the site and the shipping charges to Canada are RIDICULOUS!  I’m sure I’ve bought at least something there before and it wasn’t this ridiculous – like $8.99 shipping for a $5 paperback. My first thought was to find an MP3 instead, but I’m also not sure if they let me buy those here in Canada. Argh!  I’m so frustrated… unlike B&N and every other eCommerce site, Amazon also has no way to show you a running total, including shipping, so you have to go back and forth,  pretending you’re about to order, before it will reveal the actual shipping amount.  Tres frustratundo. So here’s where you come in.  Any ideas for how to spend this thing???  Any specific recommendations, or any workaround for the high shipping rates?  I think next time, I’ll opt for direct deposit… :-(

Raising my Jewish Children

GZ:  Spider’s having Christmas!  It’s Christmas morning… Me:  So fun!  What do they do for that? GZ:  His sister said she would get him his breakfast while he plays! Okay, then!!!

Chanukah Lapbook Close-Up Pictures

  In case you’re curious about what’s inside, I finally got finished making a full mock-up of the lapbook.  There’s certainly lots going on in here.  Ignore my creepy plastic tablecloth, please.  :-) This is just a suggested placement for the lapbook components.  Obviously, you could arrange them any way you like.  Also, they’re not decorated in any way – I would hope that when you’re working on this with your kids, you’ll personalize it as much as possible! For more information about the Chanukah Lapbook, click here .  To buy it, click the “ Buy Printables ” button at the top of the page.  Or the words “ Buy Printables ” in the previous paragraph. So here’s the lapbook… Front cover – this is the cover image included in the lapbook PDF, printed on cardstock.  Feel free to substitute anything you want, especially if your child has created it!  You can also add any kind of illustration to the back cover, which I left bare on this mock-up.  Naomi Rivka loves decorating the outside of

Meeting the Masters: Picasso(s) at work

To go along with our current artist, Pablo Picasso, I printed these two sheets from Making Art Fun:  “ Self-Portrait 1907 ” and “ Three Musicians .”  Naomi Rivka astutely noticed that this “Three Musicians” was not the same as the one we’ve been looking at, in the Meet the Masters presentation and in the Raboff Picasso book . Here’s the one that we’ve been looking at: And here’s the OTHER one I knew nothing about until I printed this PDF and Naomi told me it was different: They’re both CALLED “Three Musicians”… weird.  We are all learning so much about art… Naomi Rivka chose to do the Self-Portrait and so I did the Musicians.  It may LOOK like she just threw paint at hers randomly, but it took her a seriously long time, much of which was spent with her palette, perfecting the colours before she put them on the paper.  And the runny streaks of colour are deliberate – go figure.  Mine just turned out WEIRD.  It is very hard to capture all the nuances of brown, blue and black with

Cuisenaire Rods & Homeschool Fun for the Younger Set

While Naomi Rivka was out at ballet class yesterday, Gavriel Zev enjoyed some happy one-on-one time with mama.  He’s been working well in his phonics book, Get Ready for the Code , lately, but yesterday I decided to skip it so we could work in our Math Rods ABC Book, the Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book .  The book hasn’t been as wonderful as I’d hoped; really, you could create your own rod drawings for a kid to fill in pretty easily.  But he still enjoys using it from time to time, and it has some basic instruction-following steps for filling in the letters (“now fill in the letter with only RED rods; count how many you used”) that he’ll do if I push him gently into it. I made a crocodile for him, while he worked on the one in the book:   Honestly, he really doesn’t like most of the pictures in the book.  But the alligator captures his imagination every time.  I think we’ve done the A page more times than any of the others put together.  He also did the airplane.     You can jus

Spelling Lessons with Explode the Code

A couple of people have been asking on the boards, as I was at this time last year, how to transition from phonics to spelling.  The assumption out there in education-land seems to be that phonics is baby stuff and spelling is how big kids learn.  Maybe they’re thinking of BOB Books and their ilk.  Since our disappointing experience with Spelling Workout earlier this year, and our return to Explode the Code, I have realize that this popular perception is not necessarily the case.  Why would they make Explode the Code books all the way up to level 8 and beyond – at least to a Grade Four level – if phonics becomes irrelevant (or less important) the minute a child is reading somewhat successfully? In fact, it’s only now that Naomi’s reading fairly well that the phonics rules are starting to make sense, and Explode the Code guides her gently through understanding and navigating the maze that is spelling in English. The only thing I really liked about Spelling Workout was the idea of a

(Ancient) Egyptian Feast!

Well, maybe not ANCIENT, exactly, but I decided to make an Egyptian-style meal to tie in with all the time we’ve spent on Egypt this year with our Story of the World history.  Just don’t make me do it when we get to Ancient Rome… the thought of all those rotten fish sauces is somewhat icky. I kept the menu simple: Homemade pita , 50% spelt for greater “ancient” authenticity (more about the pita here) Falafel balls made from a mix :-) Cucumbers, which originated (as far as I know) in the ancient middle east (the tomatoes were a mistake, not just because of the anachronism, but because they were REALLY “off” tasting and I couldn’t eat the cucumber as a result... though I threw pickles into mine to compensate. Aish al Saraya (Palace Bread), created from a composite of recipes online.  We melted 1.5 sticks of butter with 1 cup of honey and 1/2 a cup of sugar and stirred in 300g of challah crumbs.  While stirring those together (careful, it burns!), I made the “cream” to go on top:  4

Give us this day our daily… blog (guest posts, anyone?)

I still LOVE bread and I still BAKE bread, but I haven’t been BLOGGING my bread as frequently as I should.  So I thought I’d open it up to anyone interested in guest-posting. Your post should be about bread (or things that are like bread, like cake, or tempeh, or cookies…!), at least in some loose way, and if you’re writing about a specific recipe, it should be kosher.  Doesn’t have to be Jewish bread (like challah), but it can be.  Posts about baking with children, homeschooling and bread, etc., would absolutely tickle me pink.   Any ambitious bakers out there who’d like to step in with a post???

“Partway-through” Update: Limudei Kodesh Curriculum

One surreal thing about schooling all year is that there’s always this feeling that you’re “partway” through the year.  Nowhere near the beginning, but not approaching the end either.  I don’t mind it, we’re definitely not in the doldrums, but it makes it tough to figure out when to stop and evaluate what we’re doing and whether it’s working. Here’s what we’ve got going on for Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) these days: Parsha: Copywork, my own (download printables here ) Reading, questions and narrating from My First Parsha Reader Safa = Hebrew Language: Currently Migdalor , but I’m not thrilled with it anymore… see below for future plans. Chumash = Torah in depth: Leshon HaTorah, still plodding through book 1 Bright Beginnings Lech Lecha workbook My own cut-apart sheets for individual pesukim Bekius = Breadth of Torah: Reading sequentially through Seymour Rossel's A Child's Bible books:  Lessons from the Torah / Lessons from the Prophets and Writings , Int

How are we doing? Social Studies…

I took a look through Ontario’s Social Studies curriculum standards for Grade 1 and had a good chuckle.   Starting with the term “Social Studies” itself, a phrase which has – over my lifetime – replaced the more useful and specific subjects, “History” and “Geography.”  As Rob & Cyndy Shearer put it in the introduction to their updated edition of Famous Men of Ancient Greece , “The most pressing bits of information conveyed in the majority of elementary social studies texts are, ‘You live in America,’ and ‘The fireman/policeman/doctor/librarian is your friend.’  These things, we believe, any non-comatose child knows long before kindergarten.” If that’s the case, the Ontario curriculum truly excels in presenting Social Studies for the comatose child.  I know that, given general guidelines like these, some truly gifted teachers may soar to great heights, and some, maybe many students may blossom.  But I would absolutely LOVE to see all kids and teachers challenged with specific standa

What do these men have in common?

(Apart from their bewitchingly jaunty hairstyles, that is… :-) ) Marc Chagall and Felix Mendelssohn – ambivalent and/or hostile and/or self-hating and/or uncaring Jews who used Christian motifs to blend in with contemporary society and pave their way to popular recognition. How do I teach my Jewish children about these men and their contribution to Western culture, while at the same time conveying the message that we can live the wonderful lives Hashem intends for us without compromising our spiritual values in the least? With Mendelssohn, we have already begun.  The explanation Naomi Lewin gives in her Classics for Kids show about Mendelssohn (mp3 podcast here ) is that his father converted the family to get ahead in business and get away from the prevailing antisemitic sentiment in Europe.  Fair enough.  She also mentions that his grandfather was the prominent Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, which is very helpful. I do think it’s important for the kids to know that it