Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I am stunned

I was just looking at the homework section in Yahoo Answers. Somebody needed help with their 3rd grader's homework assignment: name 3 countries in North America other than Canada, US and Mexico.

I was shocked. There are many, many people apparently who do not know that there are more countries than just the three named. However, I'm absolutely stunned at the number of people who, instead of thinking perhaps they didn't have correct information and look things up quickly on the net to see if they were right or wrong, are not only saying that there aren't any other countries in North America, but are actually criticizing the school/teacher for thinking that there are other countries! HOLY COW.

Wow, you know? It makes the whole anti-homeschooling thing really understandable. People are absolutely convinced that they are correct and are willing to judge even if they don't have all their facts straight.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith

I just learned that these two actors homeschool their kids! Not in a modern manner--they've hired tutors, naturally, which is a traditional form of home education for those who can afford it--but they've done some interviews and I found this one quote from Jada just wonderful:

We don't want our kids to memorise. We want them to learn.

And now I've lost the site I got it from... Ah well! Here's another one, with Reader's Digest talking to Will:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


There's something about the wind and weather changes that seems to affect us all so horribly. Everybody was testy today. The 12yo and dd had a big blow up. I feel so horribly stressed and am so glad the day is done--well, sort of. Still have to do supper and all that. But back to my point: I have noticed that drastic weather changes and especially wind changes seem to do horrible things to us! I'd love to hear from others who may experience the same thing.

As for homeschooling and Montessori... I created a paper version of the checkerboard since I can't find my materials. The 12yo doesn't really need nor want to use a huge full version, but the smaller version will help him remember what to do in his large multiplication.

Homeschooling today was so-so. Two kept themselves busy with work, one worked for a while then resisted everything after that, another made so much noise and was so distracting everybody was being bothered. We went out after lunch--instead of our work period--and things really fell apart. I didn't even get flour, I was feeling so stressed by the time we were done the other shopping. That means I can't make cookies tomorrow for our French club get-together. I'll have to find something else. Oh, I guess I should make it tonight since we won't have time tomorrow! Although tomorrow is Wednesday and often a day of kind of lax work, it won't be tomorrow since the past two days were kind of lax. I'm even going to insist on our after lunch work period, since our club meeting is at 1--we eat lunch at 11 and they're usually done by 11:30-11:45. The oldest can focus on course work for an hour and I think I'll set it up so that the 12yo will do his LA during that time. That means he'll have more time in the morning to work on his science unit lapbook, which could be a messy affair and will be cleaned up before lunch.

It's after 5. I guess I should figure out a supper. lol. I feel like all of my energy is gone. The wind has taken it away...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Computer Problems Solved!

We had been going through all kinds of ideas and computer setups and were quite convinced we were getting ourselves a new computer for Christmas. We had all kinds of little blocks put in our way to actually getting a computer. This week, the computer did it's regular erratic crashing and dh really paid attention to the fan kicking in higher just before it crashed. He asked, "What if it's just overheating?"

I managed to find a fairly good program online--SpeedFan--for free, always nice, and we started monitoring the hard disk, general temperature, fan speed... The main temperature we were looking at tended to stay around 65C. It crashed, we had a look, temp was at 69. Dh tried stuff out and 'forced' it to crash again. It crashed just after it hit 69--so it had probably hit 70. We tweaked the fan to stay higher all the time and it hasn't crashed AT ALL for the remainder of this week. We are so glad!!! We now have an additional fan in there to help keep the temperature down and it's hanging around 51. Very nice. :)

I could go on about homeschooling and Montessori, but it's been a long week--despite it being a short week--and a long day. I'm going to play Sims 2 now. :D

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I need to get more sleep!

I decided to have cereal this morning. Filled the bowl with cereal. Added the milk. Went and sat down. After a few bites, I just felt like I couldn't eat anymore, like I was making myself sick by eating more. But I still felt hungry. I couldn't understand it.

But then the memory of what I'd done flashed back at me: I had put regular cow's milk in my cereal and not my rice milk. Ugh.

So, I threw the rest of the cereal away--almost a full bowl--but couldn't eat anything, despite being hungry, because of my unhappy tummy. So I decide to have something to drink. And what do I choose? Cranberry/grape juice. That just caused the milk to start to curdle and create a more acidic environment in my stomach. A minute later, my stomach hurt. I took a couple of Tums to deal with the acid and decided to just stick with water.

Good thing I'm not driving anywhere today!

On another note, went over course change ideas with the 15yo and she's happier with the idea of the extra courses down the road and using the CTS outcomes just for her own personal development--and not going for credit. (Essentially, unschooling those topics--learning as much as she wants, although she does plan on setting some time aside to work on them.) I think it will work much better. She can focus on her core courses in the mornings and then have an hour or so in the afternoon mainly for her own interests or general reviewing. I'm so glad she's just a traditional/basic homeschooler and not signed up for blended or teacher-directed!

Wow, it's already Thursday!

This week has flown by!

It's been a fairly good week. The kids have been working well, we've got some new projects started, the 15yo's making good progress through her stuff, ds has been picking work more and more... It's been good!

But now I'm at a... lost the word. Hm. Anyhow, the 15yo has declared she's rethinking her career choice and going back to what she wanted to do for many, many years before she started watching CSI: become a pediatrician.

So, there's this part of her that has high goals--college is not 'good' enough, has to be university (and all of her interests the past 4 years have been demanding ones: medicine, forensics, law, business) and yet there's this other part of her that begrudges the work she has to do, is envious of her friends in the sports programs in the city where they only take 2 classes each day... How do I help her see that if she has any hope of getting into the programs she's been interested in, she has to work at becoming somebody who wants to excel, regardless of what task is sent her way? How do I help her focus on her education rather than on her schooling? These are the questions that challenge me now. Of course, with her recent admission of a change in career desires, that has changed somewhat the courses she needs to go for. Doesn't affect what she needs to do this year, but she could scrap all the CTS courses, if she wanted to, and just focus on the core courses.

Lost my other thoughts... Have been awake since 4:30, unfortunately. My mind's not working so well this morning.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Sunday Morning Babble

I get a long weekend this weekend. My bil and sil (niece's parents) have tomorrow off, the two oldest's mom has tomorrow off so I've given them the day off and made plans with a friend for in the a.m. and park day in the p.m., and the 10yo still isn't done moving (afaik) so I don't have her yet. Unless I get a call later today about her coming tomorrow, I just have my kids tomorrow.

I have my vampire lapbook to finish today. I had hoped to work on a faux-quilt multiplication checkerboard (mine doesn't look like that, but I can't find a quilted version online) the 15yo and I had started a year or so ago, but I can't for the life of me find it. WAH!!!! The bulk of it had been finished. :(((( My thread is also missing, but I think I may have lent it to my mother when she borrowed my machine several months ago. But I'm not sure. I want my checkerboard back! And with my thread missing, I can't hem a pair of pants I bought a couple of months ago and still haven't worn because they're about 4 inches too long. *sigh*

I'm trying to think of 'inspirational' things for the kids to work on this week. Dd will probably still keep going with "Around the World", with me adding some, too, and maybe seeing if ds or the 12yo would like to start one--it'd be good to have an English model, too. The 12yo's science unit at the moment is ecosystems, which seems to interest him a bit, so I'd like to incorporate something 'more' than just going through the textbook. We can't do the 'create an ecosystem' activity described in the book because you're supposed to get critters from outside. We could modify it, however. I need to brainstorm ideas that tie in with what he's working on. I guess that means reading through the unit today! A lapbook is always a good idea... He could have a section for 'biotic' and another for 'abiotic' and different sections for the different parts of the unit. I wonder if he'd go for it? He'd definitely do a first one if I said we'll try it out and he gets to decide afterwards if he wants to do other work in the same manner or something similar. This is sounding good!

I need to work out what the 15yo has left to do for coursework she wanted to have done by the end of January and give her a rough idea of the work she has left to do and a general timeline that different sections should be finished by. She was so motivated and excited last year about working hard this year to finish a semester early, but it's just not happening. There have been definite illness issues and just plain tiredness. And I'm probably giving in too much to letting our work times slide a bit. I'm not sure she realizes what exactly is left to be done and how far behind she's getting, which means I need to show her. Her full-year subjects are okay (except maybe math)--it's the ones she said she'd have done for the end of Jan. that aren't. She has other subjects to take on after January!

Ok, done my babble. Moving on to work now.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mid-November Already

Time is going by so quickly!! It's already Nov. 11, Remembrance Day. We watched the video "Pittance of Time" in honour of the day and all the people who have fought and continue to fight for us. I think of the local soldiers who have been killed the past few years overseas. I never thought about this type of stuff as a kid and wonder what sort of effect those school assemblies actually have on kids!!

As for homeschooling, we had a bit of a slow week, yet it was still better. My work expectations for the 12yo have been clearer, so he's been doing more. I have my planning done and know what's coming next with him. The presentations idea hasn't been happening too much, but part of it is because I'm finding a clash between personality and materials/presentations. Maria Montessori noticed that some children never felt the need to touch any of the materials or sit in on presentations. There just seems to be such an avoidance on his part of working with hands-on things. Which is so ironic because he touches everything else!

With dd, the Around the World work has been keeping in her busy and she's been a little less moody with things. I think she has been craving a little more structure and now getting it, she's a little more relaxed. This is good. She still has choice, but not everything is undecided.

I haven't yet finished my first lapbook. It's taking forever. I'm being a perfectionist about it instead of just putting it together as a model for the kids. Okay, I will finish it this weekend. There. Done.

I still feel a bit like we're behind. Especially with the 15yo. And I'm feeling guilty because I feel like I need to put my foot down more and insist on the work times. Which I will definitely be doing Tues.-Thurs. this week as the two oldest are not here on Monday and we are going to a career fair on Friday, which does count as a school trip and they will have things to do for it, but it means that much less time for the 15yo to work on her math and social studies and all that. Especially her social studies. She wanted to have it all done by the end of January. We're 2 months into the semester with her textbooks and she hasn't even finished the first of six themes. I'm going to have to find a way to speed things up a bit. I had hoped to take a more interesting approach, but it's not working and she'd rather just have it all done. So, I'll help her just get it all done.

Okay, good to have some thoughts out. Now I need to go do some cleaning. :D

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Around the World in 80 Days

I was inspired by a local support group's advertised "Around the World in 80 Days" 'workshop' that they are having for member families. We're not participating in that but it got an idea going in my head of starting a binder entitled "Le tour du monde en 80 jours" (French version, naturally). I set up a very simple research form, something like this:

Jour #1
Pays visité (Country visited): _______
Continent: ______________
Population: ____________
Langue(s) parlée(s) (languages spoken): ____________
Informations intéressantes: ________________________
Carte du pays (et autres images, si désirées) (Map of the country and other images if desired):

I left the bottom half of the sheet blank for images that can be pasted on. I forgot to put Capital and will make sure to add that to the other sheets. I also printed off a map of the world with the countries outlined from here. The idea is that we (whoever wants to participate) adds to the binder a sheet on a country they've learned a little bit about.

When I had discussed the idea of doing a country a day, dd balked. I tried to explain a bit but she had herself imagining some huge thing for every day. That's not my goal for this. It's to have her enjoy exploring the world from home, working on some easy research skills and just enjoy learning something new. Ok, and admittedly, I'm hoping this will be a starting point to some more in-depth geography studies. Once she saw the sheet and saw the map where we put a point for our starting place, she said she could do it, but grumbled a bit. By the time she was done, she was asking for another one! She loves it! (Despite me insisting she write in cursive ;).) And she loved putting a point in the middle of Egypt (the country she had chosen) and joining the lines on the map. Of course, I only had one sheet done up so she couldn't do more today, but I'll have more ready for tomorrow. I'd better: she plans on going to some tropical place tomorrow. ;D

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Want a Challenge?

Here's a challenge for you and your kids (don't give any clues to your kids--just let them answer as they think!):

Question: How thick will a folded piece of paper be if you fold it in half 50 times?

Take a piece of paper. Fold it in half.
Continue folding it in half, keeping track of how many times you are folding.

What did you discover while doing this? How close was your estimation?

I'll provide more information in a few days! :D Feel free to share your results and observations in the Comments.

ADDED Nov. 5:
As indicated by someone in the comments, a piece of paper can actually only be folded 8 times--although sometimes you can only reasonably manage 7. Don't tell your kids this! My kids had a great time trying to see just how much they could fold the paper and if the size of paper made a difference. Once they saw how thick 7 or 8 times were, I asked them to think about how thick it would be if, theoretically, you could fold it in half 50 times. (The answer is that it would go past the sun!) You can have older kids work this out by thinking of having sheets of paper and doubling the layers each time. Those who are into exponents can do the 2^50. They can chart how many layers there are at 1 (2^0), then doubled, then doubled again, etc. If they aren't yet at those math skills, you can tell them that doubled 9 times (2^9) is 512, a little more than a pack of copy paper. 10 times is twice that. And so on. We worked out that you would need over 2 quadrillion packs of paper if you were to double the layers each time until you had doubled 50 times. That's over 200 trillion boxes of 10-packs of copypaper. The results thoroughly impressed the kids. And they loved discussing the math involved!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November 1st!

How did November get here so quickly?!

Today was a sort of new start. We had a class meeting this morning and I put in place that we are to have 2 hours of 'learning time' after lunch. Since the oldest has specific subject work to do, the others We only made it to 1.5 hours today, but the internal clocks are still working on the old time. It went over just fine and the kids did really well--especially for a Wednesday! Of course, two of the kids spent their time drawing in the morning, which was quite all right with me because it's something they haven't done in quite a while.

I still find myself dragging what with the time and weather change. I'm tired plus my sinuses are acting up. Then, of course, there are things to keep me busy, like Halloween last night. Didn't do any planning at all for today so had to wing it all--it worked out, though, as the kids kept themselves busy with reasonable activities.

It's 3:40 and I'd rather just go to bed right now. Ds is feeling the effects a lot, too--he unintentionally fell asleep just before lunch while I read to them from a book. He's been super tired all week. Have I already mentioned that I hate time changes??