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Showing posts from June, 2013

Writing With Spite!

Here’s my concept for a writing course that would work super-well for angry little homeschoolers!  Like GZ sometimes is when he’s disrespected… and frankly, being three-ish feet tall and super-cute, he gets disrespected a lot; Naomi snickers at just about every thing he says, and he takes it VERY personally. The thing is, he’s a kid who really doesn’t like writing, though he will resort to it at times when he has something super-important and official to say.  Like when he got angry at us this morning and decided to punish us by selling everything important, starting with his GZ Cape (being in Canada, this is pronounced “jee-zed,” in case you’re curious).  And he used colons when he made the list!  I don’t know if he’s ever used these before. (the other items he sold – in his dreams:  schoolie [our schoolwork together], family, Naomi) He used more colons in a short letter (above) he wrote to tell Naomi Rivka exactly how he felt about her.  They’re allowed one envelope a day (I had t

Look what I found in my Playbook!

Just shlumped down at the table late last night, procrastinating, and pressed a button – almost at random - on my Blackberry Playbook , only to discover… a kid!!!  Elisheva has one too, and was sitting in the basement of her grandmother’s house in Calgary, chatting with her friends when I accidentally called her. That is a very cool thing, and gives me a lot of hope for the future of communicating with my family.  I totally love the Playbook, by the way.  Mine is 16gb, an older model, which I bought “used” but never opened on Craigslist back in January.  I wanted something super-portable that I could take with us on our pilot trip and beyond.  It came with this nifty little case which a) protects it, and b) includes a stupid little Bluetooth keyboard that turns it into the World’s Tiniest and Stupidest-Keyboarded Laptop.  I don’t use the keyboard much, though I did for emailing the family and my blog while we were in Israel. It has WiFi and also built-in GPS, which I’ve been playing

What My Children Learned Today

Geocaching doesn’t work.   We went straight to the exact coordinates, I swear!  I have a witness; I went with a friend who found out about this cache and everything (screenshot at left indicating that, according to my Playbook, we were within inches of the cache).  For a first foray, it sure was discouraging.  I figured geocaching was the ultimate in Homeschool Coolery, though describing it to the kids was kind of odd:  “we search for a small, disappointing treasure… and then leave it where it is!” Kite-flying doesn’t work.  Actually, this wasn’t a first; I have taught them this lesson a couple of times, I believe.  Every fall, I think, “Let’s go fly kites!”  I get all excited and build it up and build it up and then finally get outdoors with a kite and… nothing.  Boom.  No kite-flying.  Sort of like science experiments… they works for other people, but not for us.  Although today we had friends along and their mama tried and mainly failed to fly a kite as well.  So now they know fo

Shameless self-promotion (aka “Buy my books – I’ve made it easy”!)

I have just shifted a bunch of books from Lulu to Amazon, as well as making a couple of new ones available that were sitting in the “almost ready to go live” hopper. They all have “Look Inside!” enabled, but the last two are newly added, and will take a couple of days to get fully set up… These last two are the same book in two different versions.  The “ Hashem Never Forgets ” version is geared towards observant Jewish families, while “ After a Thousand Years ” is religiously neutral, for Jewish or non-Jewish families.  The only changes, beyond using the term Hashem, are that the girl is named Faigy (not Andrea), the grandfather is referred to as Zeidy (not Grandpa), and a reference to her going to university is changed to seminary (not that I’m against university, but since my daughter’s heading to sem next year (before university), I thought I’d include it as a worthwhile endeavour for a young girl!). I do have a couple more projects with art on the go.  They will hopefully be r

Death and Taxes – not hand in hand after all…

I won’t go on at length, because my blog is “niche” enough already, but I have been dreading signing up to self-publish on CreateSpace (an Amazon company) because I’d heard that they withhold tax at a rate of 30% for foreign people.  (Apparently, Canada is foreign.) There is a way around this, CreateSpace will tell you .  First, you need to get an officially certified copy of your passport, which is not the same as a notarized copy because it will cost you a lot more.  Then, you submit them (or the original passport – ha ha ha) with a bunch of other paperwork, including a letter from your prospective “employer”, to the IRS to eventually, someday, get an ITIN – taxpayer identification number.  You can do this the slow-boat way by mail or submit it – for another fee – to a certified “receiver” company in your foreign location.  Either way, once you have your ITIN, you just submit a form to CreateSpace telling them not to keep your money or give it to the IRS… simple. Anyway, that was t

Two new curricula: Spelling and…

What?!  Adding curricula?  Am I nuts? Well, first things first.  Naomi finished the Explode the Code series a month or so ago and I wanted to move her into a series of phonetically rule-based spelling books.  Except I couldn’t find any that were no-nonsense, quick and easy, with lots of independent work (like Explode the Code) and no teacher preparation.  We tried Spelling Workout last year and both hated it, and I have since looked over any number of spelling books before finally discovering the one I wanted:  Rod and Staff.  Those of you in the know will have already gasped and fainted, so for the rest of you, Rod and Staff is a Mennonite publisher of Christian curriculum materials in a wide range of subjects.  They’re not just a little Christian, they are a LOT Christian.  Still, I was so excited by the samples I saw that I decided to order the books and “work around” any issues in the texts… and there ARE many.  Um, well, first let me say what I liked, and then I’ll show you so

If wishes were fishes…

(Or, how I secretly want to continue homeschooling once we arrive in Israel… but you knew that already, didn’t you?) I wasn’t sure where to post this, and actually began posting it to my aliyah blog , but decided it was more homeschooly, so now I’m switching it to here. Homeschooling is legal in Israel, but we have already decided we cannot do it – and, more importantly, that it’s in the kids’ best interests to go to school.  I posted about this before (apparently in July 2011, so we’re probably due for an update) but I will sum up the 3 main reasons: Socialization – not in general, because homeschooled kids DO socialize, but they will need to make friends fast and although there are chugim (extra-curricular activities), youth groups, shul, and homeschooler get-togethers,  school is the best way to do that. Language – I want them to learn Hebrew immediately.  School is perhaps a brutal way to do that, but it’s fast and everybody says they become fluent within months instead of dr

Inconsistencies, rainbows and lobster-eaters

One of the things I have always prided myself on, as a parent, is consistency.  What I mean, I say, and what I say, I mean, and those things rarely change over time.  The negative flipside of this is that I have been accused of obstinacy, but there you go – let’s call it consistency and think of it as a Good Thing for the time being. Because last month I was accused by one of my almost-grown children of inconsistency, and I was horrified.  The issue, apparently, was not with anything I’d done – directly.  But, whereas my children have always learned here that we love and care for gay people the same as we would for ANY people, the school I chose to sent this child (hereafter referred to as “it” to avoid awkward him/her constructions for the sake of anonymity) to was actively condemning homosexuality and offering negative and bigoted messages to its students, calling homosexuals “those people” who were “chayav skila” (deserving of stoning). Interestingly, this child didn’t accuse me

Did you know? Jewish Student’s Book of the Centuries for History study

Nearly 3 years ago, with great trepidation, I released my first printable that wasn’t free:  a Book of Centuries.  More heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason then than I am now, I wanted my kids to do this instead of a timeline because a) our house is tiny, b) our walls are cluttered, and c) I knew it would take us a looooong time to work on. Have you ever seen what happens to a piece of paper after it’s been clinging to the walls for a matter of years???  In my house, at least, it would be in illegible tatters. Anyway, I found lots of versions around, some free, some paid, but most of them had some sort of religious orientation – which is great; frankly, I wanted a religious orientation.  They just weren’t MY religious orientation.  I wanted a book that would show what Jews were doing around the time that various periods of civilization – the Renaissance, say, or the Industrial Revolution – were taking place.  Oh, yeah, and I wanted, hmm, no, NEEDED to see Jewish dates alongside the

One more parsha resource… (Targum Onkelos, Aramaic translation)

Somebody at the homeschool conference (maybe it was Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Hayman ? but I’d hate to misquote somebody) pointed out that learning Parsha with Onkelos ( Onkelos was a well-known convert most famous for his “Targum” or translation of the Torah into Aramaic) makes an excellent introduction to Aramaic, ideal for developing skills and vocabulary that can later be used in Mishna and Gemara (Talmud). To test this theory, I have created a 1-page supplement for my weekly Parsha Skills Worksheets , with the same verse broken down three ways:  in Hebrew, in Aramaic, and in English.  There’s also a little “vocabulary” bubble at the top-right corner, with a few new words introduced each week. I’ve done two of these so far, for this week and next:  Korach and Chukas.  Sneak previews:   These were a bit harder than my usual stuff because my knowledge of Aramaic is hovering right around zilch.  If you spot a mistake, please let me know gently.  :-) To download these and hundreds o

FREE Parsha Skills Worksheets – Chukas

Doing this early because a) we’re going away, and b) it’s not too hard to do these when I’m on a roll.  Next week’s 6-page workbook focuses on the following Hebrew / English words: הִכָּה- hit יָד - hand סֶּלַע - rock רוּם  - raise מַטֵּה – stick, staff פַּעַם - time (but not telling time!) יָצָא - come out שָׁתָה - drink Grammar notes include suffixes for gender and possession (I describe it in a kid-friendly way, I promise!) and the “ayim” plural for twos. Here’s a sneak preview: As always, if you use these and they work, or don’t work, please let me know how I can make them even better.  And since I am not a professional, please let me know if you spot any booboos – I promise I won’t hold it against you. To download these and hundreds of other free Limudei Kodesh (Jewish) printables – including weekly parsha copywork and holiday resources, click here .  (search for “parsha skills”) For General Studies printables, including science, art and music resources in Hebrew and En

FREE Parsha Skills Worksheets – Korach

This week’s 6 pages of worksheets focus on the following Hebrew / English words: פָּתַח - opened פֶּה - mouth בָּלַע - swallowed אָדָּם - man, person קרַֹח - Korach רְכוּשׁ - possession, stuff אֵת - [not in English!] אֲשֶּׁר - that,which Points of grammar include feminine prefixes / suffixes and the role of the preposition אֵת.  (In case you didn’t know, it “introduces a semantically definite direct object” – yeah, that didn’t help me, either.)  Here’s a sneak preview: As always, if you use these and they work, or don’t work, please let me know how I can make them even better!  Oh, and since I’m not a grammarian or anything close, please let me know if you spot any booboos.  Yes, it’s been known to happen, even to the best of us. To download these and hundreds of other Limudei Kodesh (Jewish) printables – including weekly parsha copywork and holiday resources, click here .  (search for “parsha skills”) For General Studies printables, including science, art and music resources i