Monday, December 30, 2013

FIAR: A Pair of Red Clogs and Grandfather's Journey

December’s FIAR selections were A Pair of Red Clogs and Grandfather’s Journey. Both of them included the geography and culture of Japan so they went together nicely. As usual, we read the book through each day. We tend to do this over lunch. We had table discussions of the character qualities of honesty, kindness, and friendliness.  To begin, we placed a picture of A Pair of Red Clogs on the map in our school room over Japan and then we placed a picture of Grandfather’s Journey on a ship crossing the Pacific Ocean. We identified the continents and oceans on our map. We looked at Japan’s flag and some interesting facts about the country. For Japanese culture we ate Sushi, talked about kimonos and made a Japanese paper doll.


A Pair of Red Clogs is about a little girl in Japan who gets a new pair of clogs for school, but cracks them playing the Weather Telling Game and so she tries to fool her mother into buying her a new pair. 
We did several activities, one of which was to have a Japanese-style meal. 

We picked up some sushi and put out our chopsticks for the kids to try.

They didn't do too badly with them. :)

Gabe managed to actually get some food in his mouth. 

Ezra couldn't handle them so we got out the kid chopsticks that someone had given us a while back.

Since Mako broke her clogs playing the Weather Telling Game, I made some clogs for Gabe and let him try it out, too. 

"Ashita Tenkini Nare! May it be fine tomorrow!"

We actually did this every day for 5 days and the results were surprisingly accurate. However, when Olivia predicted snow the next week 3 days in a row, she was disappointed when it got up to almost 70 each of those days. :)

Our main science topic was that of weather. We talked some about actual weather prediction. Olivia had to read several library books on actual weather predicting. She likes to join in with our FIAR lessons with the boys and so if there is a way to give her a bit more information on a subject, we do that. We talked about the basic types of clouds and have spent many days identifying those in the sky. We made a rain storm in a pot and discussed the water cycle.  

Gabe watched a pot boil and the steam condense on the lid, running down like rain back into the pot.

We talked about appropriate clothing for different seasons and types of weather. We made carp kites and flew them outside in the wind.  

In Grandfather’s Journey, Grandfather travels to the US and sees many different types of land and climate. He ends up in California. We located California on the map and then talked about different modes of transportation and different land forms. Grandfather was on the ship to California for 21 days, so we counted off the days on a calendar. We built a simple model of a volcano and watched it erupt because Japan is near many underwater volcanoes.

Grandfather’s Journey is about 3 generations and so we put together a family tree and looked at pictures of 4 generations on both sides of our family starting with Gabe. 

Our science topic once we moved to Grandfather’s Journey was birds. We observed some birds and talked about their behavior, label the parts of a bird, and put together a cut and paste bird picture. 

For art we looked at Cherry Trees and made them from the kid’s hands and using a bottle for a paint stamp. We also looked at and made paper fans, origami, and talked about contrasting colors. 

Gabe had a sentence from each book as copy work. A Pair of Red Clogs included words of sound or Onomatopoeia as have a few of our previous FIAR selections. The kids love these parts of the books. The boys were gifted a couple of books from their Aunts and Uncles that included Onomatopoeia so we are having lots of fun reading those. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Irene's Energy

Irene is one energetic little girl. She loves to bounce around and chatter away. Whether it's on our bed, on the floor in her bouncer or in her excersaucer, she certainly works herself out.

She also knows how to get around. Olivia is the only other child of ours to get around like this. At this age, O had a bald spot that practically encircled her head from it. We were actually glad to see Irene do it because we never captured video of Olivia when she did it. When she's in "high-energy" mode, Irene can scoot her way across the room rather quickly.

Sometimes, though, we are able to get her to settle down and relax for a little while. :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Olivia's Recital

Olivia had her first recital with her new piano teacher. Ms Lamb has really challenged Olivia and we've seen such huge improvement from week to week. She has Olivia playing pieces from several different books, some of which are true classical pieces that we recognize. (The boys often recognize them from Little Einsteins. :) Olivia has shown great diligence in practicing every day and working hard at her lessons to master each piece. For this recital, she chose a traditional Hanukkah song. It wasn't the easiest piece to master, but she worked so hard and that hard work paid off!

She did a magnificent job!

 Nana brought her flowers to congratulate her.

 Thank you so much, Mrs. Lamb! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Teaching Gabe to Read

Gabe hasn't been a very motivated reader. He often complains when we sit him down to read his school books. He has been having some issues with reversing letters and words so he gets frustrated easily. But we know he can read because we often hear him or see him read something completely on his own. So when it come to teaching him his sight words and basics of reading, we have had to come up with fun and creative ways to do it. 

Here, he's seeing, building and writing his sight words. We got these from Confessions of a Homeschooler's K4 Curriculum. We also use her Sight Words Bingo which he enjoys a lot.

Here he is building and reading sentences using the Silly Sentences game. Thanks Nana and Pop-pop for such a fun and educational birthday present. :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MFW Rome to the Reformation - November and December

Olivia has been hard at work learning all about the Roman Empire starting with Julius Caesar on up to Tiberius so far. The main book we read was Augustus Caesar's World, which tells the story of Octavius Caesar in a mostly narrative form. Some of the chapters digressed to give some context about what was happening in other parts of the world, which was usually interesting. A word of warning, tho: The book was written in the 1940s and so has a few errors concerning dates, especially around the birth of Messiah (She titled the chapter: December 25, Year 1), and there are a few portions that could be seriously misconstrued as racist or anti-semitic, so be sure to read ahead if you're going to use this book. Other than that, the information and insight into the Golden Age of Roman civilization was really great. 

Augustus Caesar has been, by far, the most influential of Rome's Emperors, having consolidated power under one man, expanded the empire to its largest extents in history, and ushering in an unparalleled era of peace, The Pax Romana, which lasted for more than 200 years. 

She learned about how the Roman Army was structured and how its soldiers were professionals who usually had no other occupation. She also learned about how, when they conquered a region, they enlisted the locals and trained them to be part of the army.

She has also studied the great contributions that Rome made to architecture with aqueducts and arches, even going so far as to build one herself!

Those are pudding boxes that, unfortunately, had to be cut to make them the right shape. I guess that means we'll be eating pudding for a while...

While learning about Rome itself, she also started learning about Israel during the same period and how Herod became Tetrarch under Augustus. At this point, her Bible study started to mesh together with history as we read about the birth of Yeshua, his life, ministry, death and resurrection both in the scriptures and in her history books. 

Now, we're up to Acts and Paul and the spreading of the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. 

 In her Art, she's learning about perspective and proportion. It amazes me sometimes to see her duplicate the example drawings with a fair degree of accuracy. Art was never one of my strong points, so she must get this from her mother. :)

 And, in line with her science, she has started doing some human body studies, learning how to draw hand and make people proportional on the page. 

And speaking of science...

We are currently studying bones and joints. All the kids really enjoy looking at the body books and seeing all the amazing ways that God made us!

One experiment that's currently on-going is soaking a chicken bone in vinegar to see what happens. We've actually done this before, so she knows what happens, but it's cool anyway. Technically, it's not a chicken bone, but a guinea hen, which...tastes like chicken. Seriously.

She also got to poke around at a beef bone to see the hard bone and the marrow.

We made a model of a spine from wooden spools (vertebrae) and cardboard disks (cartilage)

Some of her other work includes doing writing activities from Primary Language Lessons like picture studies and letter writing. The activity is usually to read a letter in the book and write a response to it. It's funny to read her responses to letters asking about pocket knives or sheep. She's also been learning to write in cursive, which I know most public schools have stopped doing, but we feel like is still a necessary skill to have, even in this age of email and social media being the main forms of communication.

One thing both Olivia and I have enjoyed immensely (not just this year but last year, too) has been the read-aloud books they assign. The first one this year was called The Bronze Bow and it was fantastic. It was actually hard not to continue reading after Olivia went to bed. :) Even if you're not doing MFW, I highly recommend this book.

In music this year, in addition to Olivia's piano lessons, she's learning about Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart. She has been just amazed at the music these guys wrote, especially Beethoven, because he was deaf, and Mozart, who was 4 when he wrote a concerto!

That's all for this time. More to come in the new year!