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Showing posts from April, 2013

Weird Muslim Facebook ads…

Are they trying to convert me????  Seriously, I’m wondering.  I have given facebook absolutely no hint that I might be open to Islamic propaganda, yet it has totally started pestering me with ads like thee every time I go on there.  These are just a few of the ads I’ve seen over the last few weeks.  That’s all we need… Jews for Allah , out to win our souls for the prophet (pbuh).  Sad thing is, I bet a lot of Jews would go for it. UPDATE!  (two days later… three more!) What the heck is going on here??? Has anybody else observed this, or is it just something I’ve clicked on that’s triggered the “Muslim-curious” facebook setting?

Really, Microsoft Word –???

Really, you don’t recognize the word Jewishness ?  But would rather I typed “Jewfishes” or “Jadishness” instead??? (perhaps it would rather I used the noun “Yiddishkeit” instead?) Well, I for one am proud of my Jewishness… to heck with all the Jadishness! (this isn’t my writing, by the way; I’m just editing for somebody…)

Pirkei Avos (Avot) Perek (Chapter) 4 Activity Pack

If you’ve always wanted to study Pirkei Avos with your kids but never knew where to start, I’ve put together a collection of activities for a range of ages, along with a general introduction to teaching Pirkei Avos, which may or may not be helpful (can you tell I’m feeling both humble and overwhelmed these days?).  This only covers 3 mishnayos (short excerpts) from Perek 4 (Chapter 4), so it’s not at ALL comprehensive, and it isn’t meant to be.  This is really just a sample to give folks an idea of the sorts of things you can do to engage your kids in both the text and the ideas behind Pirkei Avos.  I incorporated a few ideas from along with some thoughts of my own.  I was asked to put this together for a binder of “lesson plans” being assembled for the upcoming Torah Home Education Conference, about which I am feeling somewhat bittersweet, since it’s my last time attending.  I really hope that the rest of the lesson plans they are more, well, plannish, and less of a fre

Practice what…???

Small note I found in the hallway: Honestly, I have no idea what they’re planning this time…

Belly up? (or, what are you reading???)

Print media is dying quickly, or so it seems from my comfy couch, where two print publications I’ve worked for this year have gone belly up in the last month ( Homeschool Horizons and The Canadian Jewish News )… and it’s all my fault. I don’t buy magazines; never have.  When I can get them from the library, I do, and if I can’t, I try to find them online, and if I can’t, then I just don’t read them. Homeschool Horizons was the exception, actually; when it started a couple of years ago, a local, family-based homeschooling publication, I decided to subscribe.  Another homeschooling magazine I’d subscribed to had recently switched to “an exciting all-digital format” (the genteel modern way of saying “went belly-up”), so I was sort of in the market and thought it was worth supporting. Waah . And again, it’s all my fault.  Because not only do I not buy periodicals, I don’t buy books.  Almost never.  The books I do buy, over the last few years, have overwhelmingly been ebooks, first for

As plain as the…

Guilt trip alert!  There I was was, feeling like a fabulous mama for taking Gavriel Zev, Kid #4, out alone today.  We get to the subway and I announce that the subway will arrive in 7 minutes. “How do you know that?” GZ asks.  Cool!  A chance to show him something amazing! “Look on that television over there,” I say.  “There, at the bottom, it tells how long until the next train.” “What television?” “Um, the big one, hanging from the ceiling???”  I point, and he wanders towards it.  “See the line at the bottom with the big letters?”  We wander closer, and closer, until he is standing practically beneath it and then, all becomes clear.  “Yes, I see it!” Um, that’s not good. “What about that sign in the middle of the tracks?” I ask ever-so-casually.  It’s a danger / warning sign:  he adores those.  But nope, he cannot read it at all .  Doesn’t even guess. “How about the sign beside it?” He grins:  “The picture means no smoking.” “Right, but what do the words underneath it say?

Online Art Class with Mark Kistler (for free?!?)

Regular readers may have begun to suspect that we haven’t “done” art recently.  By “done” in quotes, I mean, the kids are kids and continue to draw… but we haven’t done anything formal in quite a while.  Which is why I was super-happy to test-drive one of my latest free “purchases” through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op …  Mark Kistler’s Online Art Lessons .  This is a one-year subscription which gives us access to a huge library of short video art lessons.  The lessons are mainly fun, but they also emphasize shading and technique, in a simple, accessible way.  I knew what I was getting into because you can see a few sample lessons at his site here before you buy.  So today, I went on with the kids to give it a try.  There are two levels of lessons:  younger kids (“mini-marshmallow”) and older kids (“online video art academy”).  Older-kid lessons incorporate more theoretical drawing principles along with the fun.  Little-kid lessons are just plain fun, with some theory thrown in. We

This is a troll

In case anybody was wondering:  cute, plastic, indeterminate race. Not so cute when you meet them online, though.  There, they’re a niggling annoyance that get in the way of all the fun and happy stuff the Internet is supposed to be for. I won’t go into specifics here, but hugs and happy thoughts would be nice.

Why don’t Jews here homeschool?

Last week at our regular Thursday homeschool drop-in, somebody mentioned that their first couple of weeks there, they saw me and my friends Rachel and Shira and our kids and we must have seemed like such a unified, cohesive bloc that they were actually afraid they were going to be in the minority because they weren’t Jewish! Halevai.  (if only) As it is, I usually feel like we’re the only ones in the world.  Finding Jewish homeschoolers around here is a crazy enough challenge, even with no stipulations about observance, Jewish knowledge, Jewish studies curriculum or any other criteria – just folks who identify as Jewish along with their kids, and who are homeschooling. I have put out feelers every single year, and have never figured out why there are so few of us.  It’s lonely, and I wish there were more.  There seem to be enough Jews in Toronto’s religious community that there would be more than a few families homeschooling at any given time… and yet, there aren’t. Is it because

I <3 my shoes! (and feet)

Look!  It’s my authentic Feiyue running shoes from China!  Not only are they tremendously geeky-looking, but also they offer a) absolutely no support of any kind, along with b) no premium features whatsoever.  So why are they my new favourite exercise shoe??? Apparently, studies into footwear and running found that the more support and features a pair of running shoes offered, the greater the likelihood that the runner would be seriously injured.  (I don’t have sources for this beyond the popular but controversial (yet well worth reading) book Born to Run .) Yes, indeed, folks.  The more bells, whistles, shock absorption, doohickeys and sponges and padding and gels and whatnot you introduce, the worse your feet and legs will feel wearing them.  In general – your personal mileage may vary. This was shocking news to me.  I have always loved the idea of big, boat-like, bouncy running shoes.  Doesn’t everybody?  Well, not a friend of mine who spent a summer two years ago trying to pe

What a fun guy I am: yeast (& bacteria) experiments!

In all the years I have been playing with yeast and homeschooling, I have never, ever thought to mix the two!  Luckily, Ms Frizzle did, and last month’s Magic School Bus science kit was all about bacteria and fungi.  Oooey gooey fun! Anyway, you don’t need anything fancy to do this – it takes less than 5 minutes to set up, though you’ll need something to substitute for the test tube to fit the balloon onto.  Maybe a water bottle? Step 1:  Mix WELL a small amount of yeast, small amount of sugar and warm water. Step 2:  Fit a balloon over the opening of the test tube / water bottle / whatever: Step 3:  Wait.  Take pictures at intervals as the balloon inflates to record your observations, just like real scientists.  Cool!   (Oooh, ahh… look at that inflation!) If you want to make it an experiment , rather than an observation , you could do one of two things (or both at once, if you have four test tubes / water bottles / balloons – just label everything well): Easy experimen

Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day facebook status

✡✡✡ As a Jewish homeschooler, I beg anyone who is studying the Holocaust today (Holocaust Remembrance Day) to not stop at the pictures and stories of horror, but also to talk about what Judaism is and continues to be. We mustn't forget the atrocities, but please emphasize that Jews lived and STILL live with an eternal Godly mission. Our covenant has never been broken or replaced. The Shoah is one of many terrible times in our very long history, but Am Yisrael Chai (the nation of Israel still lives). ✡✡✡ I don’t write much, here or anywhere else, about the Shoah (a term many Jews prefer for the Holocaust, in which more than 6000000 Jews and millions of others were killed by the Nazis). I got a lot of it as a kid – too much, too young.  In order that we should never forget, we were shown movies, photos, newsreels that would horrify fully-grown adults – only we were 7 and 8 and 10 and 11 and indeed, I will never forget, but I never wanted to remember, either. So I resolved not to d

The weirdest way to learn Hebrew ever

Some of us come up with some pretty weird tricks to teach ourselves or our kids Hebrew, but this one beats everything I’ve seen… Just came across this “mnemonic” vowel chart in a Christian book about the Jewish people.  NO, this is not something I am considering for my kids, but I do like to know what they’re up to – like what they’re learning and teaching about me and my ilk. The idea here is that each vowel can be learned easily by associating it with its place on this “boy”’s face. The only thing I think is useable here is the “freckles” for the segol vowel (like under here: ֶ). For Gavriel Zev, I’ve found that the secret is to make them into people – indeed, the secret of most things with him is to turn whatever-it-is into a character he can identify with. So the cholom (the “oh” in Shalom) has become “Uncle Joe” around here.  If it’s missing the vav underneath (cholom chaseir, as in “נֹעַר”) we call it “The Ghost of Uncle Joe.” Oh, and the shuruk (שׁוּרוּק) is “Aunt Minnie M