Randomly Recent

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these. Gee, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here lol! What we’ve been learning about, playing with, reading, eating, watching, discussing, repeating, trying to remember to, asking, contemplating, etc. in no-particular-order: Continue reading “Randomly Recent”

Let’s Squash That Usual February Thing…

It’s in the air again. Always at this time of the year too. Where everything feels lifeless. Like there’s no meaning to anything we do. I’m speaking of the February blahs.

Actually, my blahs have more to do with life in general than homeschooling alone. I’ve been browsing our home library for books to read but haven’t been able to focus on a single page. I’ve been tweaking schedules over and over never mind that we are not going to follow one as written anyway. I stare at ingredients in the fridge and they stare back at me and I can almost here the “meh” and “bleh” being hurled back at me in various dialects of bread-ese and vegetabl-ese. Kiddo went as far as to complain about my chicken curry the other day. My chicken curry! The one dish I’ve prided myself in being able to cook with finesse. Oi!

Something is rotten in the atmosphere of Funschooling Central.

Anyway, this can’t go on forever and until some end is in sight, kiddo and I are launching a battle plan to round up the blahs and give them a blast of hilarity that we hope will banish them forever. I’ve included two of our favorite funny videos below. Perhaps you’ve already seen these but if you haven’t, we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.


Year 5 Begins…

…right after Labor Day. Our charter school year began well nigh three weeks ago but I resisted the impulse to dive in then. A number of kiddo’s classes began only in January so it felt premature (is there such a thing as post-mature?) to declare August 13 the beginning of Year 5. But it’s starting to get confusing calling every January the beginning of a new school year so I decided oh well, why not just go with the charter school designation. I refuse to call him a 5th grader on this blog though (although in real life I don’t nitpick) so here we go. Year 5. Begins.

We tend to be loosey-goosey somedays and highly structured on others. There’s nothing like the start of a school year to make me feel insecure and bring out all the pro-structure parts of me. Oh yeah, of course I know that things will fall apart around October or November and that we’ll go back to our wicked ways…but while I’m still feeling pro-structure, I thought I’d whip up a new strategy to help kiddo decompress between scheduled learning times (apart from reading or walking on the treadmill or running out to the backyard to burn leaves).

The flip side has details of what to do.

I found this at the TeachNet.com site (I’ve lost the actual link to the article). The idea is to make fun in-between lesson activity cues or even start-of-the-day warm up cues. I wrote these out on craft sticks, stuck them into a little glass jar that sits in our supplies tray and they are now ready to go. I’ve seen ideas like this on other homeschooling blogs but we never used them then for reasons I can’t remember.

I ran this idea by kiddo today and he likes it. Some of the prompts are directly copied (and reworded) from TeachNet. I added a couple of my own for skills I thought he will like to learn (e.g. learning to use chopsticks).

Here they are for anyone who wants to follow suit:

  • Practice Chopsticks – Pick up the silly putty ball
  • Brain Binder Activity –  I print ’em, you fold ’em!
  • Story Cubes – The crazier the tale, the better!
  • Draw mom in 30 seconds – (I strike a funny pose) Capture the essence. No need to be perfect! (details would have really worried him 2-3 years ago)
  • Complete The Story – I’ll give you 2-3 lines, you finish the tale!
  • Make the correct change – Match coins correctly to amount given
  • Alternative Archaeology – (I lay out a few objects, he has to pretend to be an archaeologist who unearthed them, and make up some funny uses) Describe who might have used these and how
  • Make A Timeline! (I lay out a few every day objects or I list a few key events on the whiteboard) – Arrange these in correct historical order
  • Find This River/ Mountain/ Place – Unscramble the name and find it on the world map!

I might come up with new cues every few months to keep it fresh but I enjoy doing this and it’s not too difficult. Photo above shows where I keep the sticks. On our coffee-table (where most of our learning takes place), together with chopsticks, coins (in bottom of jar) etc within reach.

If it doesn’t work as planned, I’ll throw them into a little bag and we’ll use them in the car when traveling or while waiting for an outside class to begin so it’s not a waste.

Well, wish me luck! And have a wonderful new school year!

    Randomly Recent

    Snapshots from inside and around the house this week:

    Calla lilies reappear this year, looking pretty.

    My reading assignments in preparation for a Coursera course.

    Loving my new double-burner griddle.

    New tile patterns keep popping up in front of the fireplace…those math manipulatives are being used!

    Goofy math review with AoPS.

    Only a day on Millie (my treadmill)? Oh Nooooo!

    Kiddo’s Sidney Harris addiction intensifies. 

    Physics continues but may be delayed if kiddo takes a summer math class.

    More buckyball sculptures in the making.

    Treasured Tunes

    It was only three years or so into our homeschooling that I realized how much better kiddo learns when I play some music in the background. Since that realization, we’ve just about exhausted several stations on Pandora, from Recess Monkey and Gustafer Yellowgold to Weird Al, Michael Jackson and of course, the usual list of well-known classical composers.

    I don’t know why it took me so long but about a week ago, I finally added The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles to our list of stations. I really should have introduced these songs to him earlier, because after all, they were my favorite artistes during my teen years.

    As is the usual case with Pandora, the station won’t just play The Beach Boys if you select it. Pandora also mixes in songs by similar artistes and it was during one such mix that we discovered Little Bitty Pretty One by Bobby Day.

    My parents did not play much Western music at home when we were growing up and anything Western I listened to was usually through the radio played on the school bus on the way to school. So while my repertoire of excellent Indian music grew, I missed many, many wonderful Western tunes as a result. I’m so grateful to discover these great tunes now. Every time Little Bitty plays, I drop everything and go absolutely crazy with the tune. 🙂

    I love it when kiddo chuckles at my craziness. It just loosens us up and brings a special warmth to our days.

    For your listening pleasure: http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_w_mpw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fjackraacadem-20%2F8014%2F8773250b-f321-4b84-ae52-04d05dedd81e&Operation=GetDisplayTemplate <A HREF=”http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_w_mpw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fjackraacadem-20%2F8014%2F8773250b-f321-4b84-ae52-04d05dedd81e&Operation=NoScript”>Amazon.com Widgets</A>

    What Is It About Cardboard Boxes?

    The boy and I want to make a true-blue, honest-to-goodness Calvin and Hobbes Transmogrifier. We have the perfect box, a nice big fella, thanks to the fountain portion of the Backyard Pond Project. I have no idea how we will actually make one of us “transmogrify”. We will probably resign ourselves to some “special effects”. It would be nice if we could morph, I mean mogrify, into something else for a few seconds though ;).

    As usual, we are turning to good ol’ Google for inspiration.And one of the things I love most about Google is that it can reveal so many amazing ideas for budding inventors in the brainstorming stage.

    Seen Caine’s Arcade yet? I heard about this lovely project a while back and am glad for this opportunity to bookmark it here.

    And then there’s this addictive music video by Walk Off The Earth. Really fires up the imagination this does!(Interesting message too.)

    From Pinterest: Cardboard Box Creations

    From Instructables: Incredible Cardboard

    From Escape Adulthood, a beautiful website on curing adultitis

    Check out the cardboard creations here. I like the recycled cardboard art.

    Please let me know if you have ideas for us!

    Doing What You Love

    Tried TED-Ed yet? Kiddo and I took advantage of some of the fun videos and animations to fill up a lazy evening. The video that really caught our eye, captivated our hearts and caused us to laugh out loud in delight was Aparna Rao’s High-Tech Art (with a sense of humor).

    Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it.

    Wouldn’t it be awesome to do something like this for the rest of your life?

    The PorsandRao Website.

    The funschoolers visit Google!

    One of the unplanned side benefits of kiddo’s debate class was meeting S and his lovely mom, N. N, works at Google’s HQ. She had invited us to visit so yesterday, we finally did and had a very fun tour of the campus in Mountain View.

    The highlights:

    Google is dotted with various cafeterias for its employees. The food is not just your average cafe fare…it’s restaurant-quality gourmet cuisine with some of the ingredients grown on site!

    I had Indian. Kiddo had pizza.

    Top L: One of the cafes. Top R: Pretty architecture.
    Bottom L: Even the washrooms are high-tech!
    Bottom Middle: A nap center. Bottom Right: Cute Androids.

    The boys pretend to be
    zombies in the ball pit.
    Meeting the Predator.

    N really spoiled kiddo by buying him a few souvenirs at the resident Google Store (honestly, the place is almost like a corporate theme park!) and bringing him to all the cool hang-outs. Kiddo and his buddy had a fun time in the ball pit. We were also blown-over by the well-equipped in-house gym. I went, err, google-eyed over the various pretty couches (it reminded me of a mini IKEA) and pretty little nooks for employee R&R.

    Kiddo is now considering a career with Google. I’m not sure if it’s because of its reputation for innovation (watch the video!) or the obviously very generous benefits (I think it’s the latter. I shouldn’t have let him have that sinfully delicious chocolate cake for dessert!).

    Amazing Musical Instruments

    Kiddo and I are having a laid back Friday afternoon with curve stitching (from this book; I’ll post photos of his project later) and watching these pretty cool YouTube videos. These are so amazing to me that I wanted to post them here for others to enjoy as well. Have fun!

    The first is a halo drum performance on the streets of Oslo (reminds me so much of Indian music!):

    The second, a remarkable combo of piano and dance:
    Happy weekend everyone!

    So Addicted…

    …to both the show and the music. So addicted that I spent a giftcard, usually jealously hoarded to spend on books, on the Season 2 series (gulp!) instead of waiting for it to stream free on Netflix.

    Love Maggie Smith. What a hoot she is!

    I want try to learn to play this theme and really liked the version above on YouTube. [There’s also a tutorial version here]. I have only a total of about 20 hours of beginner piano lessons under my belt so I don’t know if I will ever achieve this aspiration but I have done other crazy things like this before, so who knows? 🙂

    ETA March 6: When played slowly, I can manage the first 3.5 bars! So excited!
    ETA March 12: Aaaaaaargh! (stuck at measure 20+)

    A Much Needed Change

    You had me at first buzz.

    Look at you. Sleek, black and powerful. Ready to serve wherever and whenever I please. Crisp and clean and efficient. You needed a little tender, loving care when you arrived but once we had a connection, you throbbed into life, eager to please.

    I will use you. Oh yes, I will use you. You complete me.

    I still love you. You served me well. All these years. From our very first foray into homeschooling to these later years of printing schedules and monthly charter reports, we’ve been through so much together. After pages and pages of MEP and vintage books, how can I part with you without feeling a twinge?

    But you began to hold back. You made demands each time I needed to print on both sides. You hesitated too often. I was patient. But you refused to budge.

    Sometimes, a girl needs to move on.