Why the Tree of Life?


Pysanki Dye

All ready!  Now for the eggs...
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Counting-By's: Dunagan

Dunagan finished memorizing skipping counting through 12's this week.  This is his completed chart.  Each number was in plain pencil.  When he memorized one, I would then go over it with a blue pencil.  It's all blue now!
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First Day of "April" Break


"Mommy, come lay in the hammock with me!" 
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Making Bread

Trying to us my bread maker more!  Ayla is my pourer.
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April Break & Password Coming

Today is the first day of our April break!  Yay!  Spring fever came a little early this year (for me especially), and I made a deal with the boys that if we start our break today, then we start lessons back up April 23 instead of May 1.  They were fine with that, and I'm betting that it will be pretty warm by the last week of April, so we better enjoy our Spring right now.

And on a different note, I have decided to password protect our blog.  I have had a weird comment or two from 'anonymous' people, and since I'm no longer feeling the need to be an example of an Enki/Quaker homeschool, my audience has changed.  Also, the boys (D in particular) are uncomfortable with me posting their pictures to anyone but friends and family, so I need to respect their privacy as well.  If you would like the password, please leave a comment, email or facebook message me!


Death Star and the 4 Processes

Earlier this week, D and I read "Paddy's Picnic," the second Enki math story for the Four Processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).  I still love the Enki math stories and activities for introducing new concepts.  Anyway, the day after I read him the story, he was supposed to work with it artistically.  In the past, we've done a drawing of the story or maybe set up a little scene with silks and little people and animals like acting out a play.  D chose to work with the wool board for a little change.  I left the room to help K with something, and I expected to see something like Paddy Plus and Max Multiply fighting over cherries with Mini Minus and King Dominick Divide coming to the rescue.  Instead, I came back to the Death Star destroying a planet.  Notice the little Tai Fighters circling the Death Star?  That was my suggestion. :)  So, we called it good for that day.

Today, we worked with counting stones and *I* drew Paddy Plus, Max Multiply, Mini Minus and King Dominick Divide.  Normally, they are colored-coded: green-addition, yellow-multiplication, blue-subtraction and red-division, but since D sees colors differently, I held up two shades of the same color for each corresponding character and had him choose which color seemed the most green to him or the most red to him.  He seemed to make a good connection with the characters body positions and the corresponding process symbol.  Division is a sceptor, minus is Mini's "giving away" hands, Max is an energetic cartwheeling 'x' and Paddy is just a wide, fat cross over his big, lazy belly.  We did a few problems for each using the counting stones, and we both had fun.  There seemed to be a lot of lightbulbs going on as D connected what he has seen K doing in the past and what he's just started learning for himself and what it all means.  Fun!
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Spring Table

Our Easter grass is beginning to sprout!  We're going to be decorating eggs (pysanky) in the next couple of weeks.  This is my favorite season!
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[Note to my readers: I'm going to start using the kids' initials instead of their names in my posts.]

Here's our newish computer set-up for the kids (really, we're an outsourced call center for India).  It looks like more computers than it actually is.  Evan has monitors coming off one computer.

A loves doing Starfall in the morning while I'm working with the boys.  I would never have let the boys do that when they were her age.  And the boys are playing Minecraft.  What's the world coming to?
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Mad Minute

It's been a struggle finding the least painful method of helping the boys put their math facts on automatic pilot. The search always seems on, and we've tried all sorts of things over the past couple years: math songs, clapping, rhymes, MathRider, random free online games, worksheets, rote copying...  They all work well enough as long as I have willing students, but the honeymoon always wears off, and I either recycle a method we've already done or I'm on the hunt again for something new.

Recently, an acquaintance and I were comparing notes about being taught as kids with the A Beka curriculum at our respective parochial schools.  She reminded me of the math "speed drills" we used to do, and I remembered that I liked them.  These were just small sheets with about 20 math problems, and as a class, we would compete with the teacher to see who could beat him on the most right and the fastest finish.  Unfortunately, I found that A Beka doesn't sell the speed drills separately from the rest of their math curriculum (or at least not separately from their tests and quizzes), but I found something even better: The Mad Minute  It is actually out-of-print, but you can get a new copy from the amazon marketplace.


The Mad Minute is basically the same thing as speed drills with nearly 200 pages of 30 questions each going from the easiest addition problems all the way through fractions and decimals.  It is intended as a resource for grades 1-8.  I have been making a copy of each sheet, one for each boy, and then when my one-minute timer goes off, they race to see how many they can get done.  When they are finished, I check their problems and only score their correct ones until the first wrong one.  It doesn't matter if they get all the rest right.  If they got the first four right, missed one, and then get five more right, they would have a score of 4.  This sounds harsh on paper, but it encourages careful work as opposed to sloppy speed, and the boys went into this activity knowing that was the rule of the game.  After two weeks of doing this daily, they have each only missed one problem on one day, and there were not any tears, just a little personal disappointment.  And they are not racing against each other, but trying to best their own previous days' scores.  They both, so far, love it.  It's their favorite thing to do right now school-wise.  And it literally only takes one minute to do.  Nice to have another tool in the box.


Longer Net

Evan took a half day off today for my birthday, and we spent some of this afternoon showing Daddy the part of Bull Creek we visited last week.  Dunagan wanted to catch fish in a deep pool, so Dad helped him find a long stick and some wire to tie his pond net to.  No fish caught, unfortunately, though I'm sure the fish didn't mind.
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Happy Birthday to me!

I'm 36 tomorrow!  My whole family was able to join me at Hoover's for dinner tonight (chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes and fried okra with gravy all over it... mm,mm,mm).  And then we came back to our house for my favorite dessert made by mom.  With lots of candles.  Did you know that when you have that many candles that close together that the mere heat alone keeps reigniting them all? 
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Pillow Fort, Improved

Look at this cool pillow fort Dunagan built for Ayla.  He assured me that the structure was sturdy enough to stand on, and he was happy to prove it to me.  This engineering innovation is the result of pondering months of frustrating cave-ins.
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Bull Creek

We met some good friends at Bull Creek last Tuesday.  With all the rain, there was lots of water, and plenty of little minnows and frogs to catch!  And look, Ayla left her clothes on after they got wet.  A first!

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Lost Tooth

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