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Showing posts from December, 2012

3-d Pop-Up Parsha Papercraft: Chazak, Chazak! (for parshas Vayechi, etc)

Despite a largely useless computer due to various hard drive failures (new one on its way), I wanted to do something special for this week’s parsha… except I like the hands-crossing Ephraim/Menashe activity so much, we’ll probably just do that again. But then I remembered – this is not only parshas Vayechi, but it is also the last parsha in sefer Bereishis – which is totally worth celebrating! This is a pop-up 3-d text project where the words Chazak, Chazak, v’Nischazek (חֲזַק חֲזַק וְנִתְחַזֵּק) can be coloured by the student, then jump out and make a delightful statement.  Geesh; I know I’m WAY overtired when I use the word “delightful.”  There’s also a song of Chazak, to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb (borrowed from Morah Morah Teach Me Torah – you can listen to the song here – search for “chazak” on the page).  It, too, is delightful. You can do this on a few different levels of complexity, depending on the age of your kids.  For the very youngest kids, I’d just cut out t

Where I disagree

In light of the school shooting on Friday in Connecticut, a mother named Liza Long has released a heartfelt article saying, “I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza's [Friday’s shooter’s] mother. I am Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris's mother. I am Jason Holmes's mother. I am Jared Loughner's mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho's mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness.” She says something I agree with wholeheartedly:  “it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people.”  Canada, too. The institutions we used to keep around to lock these folks up in are gone, and that is a shame, despite the fact that they were often abused, and many people can and should be treated and released.  We know a lot more about mental illness now, but one of the things we no longer seem to know i

Is now the time to talk?

NOTE: One year after my brother Eli's death in 2014, I published a book about the intertwining of our lives and his struggle with schizophrenia. This post and many other writings are included, in slightly different form, in that book. Please wait until the ride has come to a full and complete stop is now available in print and Kindle editions. Through laughter and tears, I invite you to come share my final journey with my brother. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In light of the school shooting on Friday in Connecticut, a mother has released a heartfelt article saying, “I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza's [Friday’s shooter’s] mother. I am Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris's mother. I am Jason Holmes's mother. I am Jared Loughner's mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho's mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about

The Heartfelt Prayers of the Innocent

Today on Shabbos, our shul had a parent-and-kid davening which we went to, for a change (which involved actually getting up and GOING to shul – yay, me!).  During the “amidah” there was a moment when kids could close their eyes and ask Hashem for something, which I thought was a very nice thing, though everybody was a bit fidgety by that point. Later on, at bedtime, Naomi revealed what she’d been thinking during this solemn, silent moment:  “I wished there was life on Mercury, because then you’d have your birthday every 88 days.” Then, GZ chimed in:  “I thought about blueberries, and strawberries, and cranberries!”  I tried to bring it back to Hashem by saying those were indeed some of His most wonderful gifts.  Then, Naomi came back with the second part of her “Wish to Hashem”:  “And then I thought, if you lived on Mercury, because it’s such a lucky place, people who were poor could take their net to the river and just find $100!”  GZ:  “If you lived on Mars, you could look up and

Fluxx, the Card Game (now available in Jewish-style) – a Chanukah GIVEAWAY!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!  The lucky winner is Susan.  Please contact me by Thursday, Jan 3, 2013 with your details. If you look around for reviews of Fluxx, you’ll probably come away a little baffled:  is it a good game, or not? Mine’s another review that’ll probably baffle you.  I don’t know if I like this game or not, and yes, I have played it quite a few times.  It’s a WEIRD game.  And many people like it, including some of my children.  Some don’t; that’s just the way this game is. Last week at the homeschool drop-in, five parents were sitting around for two hours playing this game.  It’s weirdly addictive that way; only one knew the game before they started playing, and fifteen minutes later, they all still needed quite a bit of coaching, but they were thoroughly hooked. Growing up, we had a board game called Bonkers .  Billed as “never the same game twice!” you played by putting down little cards along a fairly typical-looking board-game “track”.  Because you could play

Fire & Ice & Oil – Chanukah (Science) Miracles

What?  We did science?  It’s a miracle!  Ha ha ha ha… I kid, I kid.  But I did mention in my Chanukah activities round-up last night that our science has been somewhat less than rigourous lately.  We are enjoying our readings and workbook pages in Mr. Q Earth Science , and I’m actually happier than I thought I’d be to be spending a year away from Life Science, but we aren’t doing a ton of experiments, probably because (sigh) I’m not (in real life) a deeply experimenty person.  I don’t mind experiments, but don’t like Gathering Stuff.  Plus, it’s cold outside and this week’s Mr. Q. experiments involve tracking the position of the sun, which is kind of a tough thing to do if it doesn’t put in an appearance from one week to the next. But what we do have is lots and lots of olive oil…!  So we did three easy oil-and-water experiments – or rather, explorations .  I prefer this word because, honestly, I’m not really testing a hypothesis when I do a science demo for or with the kids.  Just

Cool Chanukah Activities Online

My annual, non-comprehensive but hopefully fun and well-rounded, roundup of What There Is For You Online.  Enjoy! From So!  With 40+ pages of Chanukah stuff on, how do you know what’s good?  I have no idea, but here’s some of what appealed to me as I waded through those 40+ pages tonight (true confession:  I stopped after page 36):   Dreidel Tally Graphing Sheet Chanukah Matching Game (very simple memory game – I just wasted the last of my printer ink printing these ones out…) “My Menorah” Hebrew Song – cute and simple original song to the tune of LaKova Sheli  (but you have to know Hebrew) Simple preschool crafts: Six Interactive Chanukah Crafts A cute Chanukah Scavenger Hunt which would be good for a party, co-op, or anywhere you want a bunch of kids running around (not here, please!) Very sweet present-passing group game where kids sit in a circle, learn right from left, hear the Chanukah story AND get to keep their presents at the end!  The Left-

I hate… “December Celebrations”?!?

Yup, you heard me right.  I don’t hate Chanukah.  I don’t hate Christmas.  I don’t hate Los Posadas, or Kwanzaa, or Diwali, or anything else that people celebrate at this time of year. But I can’t stand the “genericization” of this whole bloody month, as you’ll know if you’ve been reading here for more than about ten minutes (sorry to any long-term readers who’ve heard it all before!). Look, it’s Chanukah right now.  I know that, and I guess – reluctantly – I like it.  And next week, it will be over, and I would ask that you pretty please not continue to acknowledge it or celebrate it in any way until next year at this time.  But no… and it’s particularly poignant in years like this one, where, because of the way the calendars line up, schools and the community around us will continue to “celebrate” Chanukah on our behalf at least until December 25th, if not right on through the entire month. And here’s how they do it: Yay!  A funny animated wintertime snowman, holding a wreath, p

Jumping (math) ship… boo hoo

It is with great sadness, nay, a metaphorical lump in my throat, that I admit… JUMP Math isn’t working for us this year.  :-( I feel like this is the oldest homeschool story in the book:  a fantastic program that just doesn’t work for the kid. I love JUMP because it’s a great program.  The math is solid, the concepts are well-developed, strongly scaffolded, and rely on minimal verbal cueing in the book so the work doesn’t depend on your language ability.  The book is also very minimalist – uncluttered and easy to understand. Unfortunately, between Grade 2 and Grade 3 it also makes the cosmic leap from pages that look like THIS:   (nice, bright, spacious, lots of examples, lots of whitespace) …to pages that look like THIS: I wouldn’t say these are hard pages, but for Naomi Rivka, this has been a giant leap.  She’s definitely capable of doing the work, as you can see here… This page is actually an exception because she’s done every section.  Normally, once I’m certain tha