Friday, September 23, 2011

22 sept 2011

Today Den asked if we can have a book reading day- whole day reading books (she read hers and I read mine) and no study. Since we have not had that for awhile, I said yes.

There was another reason for me to say yes...the last time we went to the SG library we had a BIG argument and ended up with Den tearing up. We argued about two things-

1. How many book she get to borrow- normally we can borrow up to 8 books. To be fair, we have 4 books each (we share an account). For the past few months I had not been borrowing much, instead I let her have my share. That day was a double your limit day, so we could actually borrow up to 16 books. So I told her I would like to get 4 or 5 books. She got upset and insisted that I should not borrow that many books.

That make me mad and felt that she was being selfish. I scolded her there and she started to cry.

2. What books to borrow- Den has been obsessed with Rainbow Magic Fairy and Magic Tree House recently. Im alright with both of the series however I disliked the way that she rejected everything else. Whenever I bring a book for her to read, if it is not from either of the series, she will says she is not interested. I felt she was not giving other books a fair chance.

On that day, after our urguement, we went to the Jr. Reading Department and can only find 1 magic tree house and none of the Rainbow Magic. I, still angry with her, told her that I'm so glad she didn't get to borrow any of her favourt books (I know, it was not my best moment), that off cause started the tears again. Finally she was so upset that she decided she would only borrow the one Magic Tree House book and didn't want anything else. So I ended up choosing another 13 books for her. Books that I think she would enjoy if she give them a chance.

We left SG before she had the chance to read any of the books. Today would be the perfect opportunity to test it out...since I knew she will read anything when she has nothing else to read!

She finished 10 out of the 14 books in 4 hours. She loves every one of them.

These are the 10 books:

If you are interested in the two series that Den is totally hooked on, here is the link:

Monday, September 12, 2011

09 Sept 2011

I started writing this last Friday! 09 Sept 2011. Was not able to finish until today.

Den spent the nite with my parents last night. She came home in her pj at 1030am. After lots of hug hug (well...we haven't seen each other for the whole night, what do u expect?) and breakfast, we started our study at about 1130am.

We stared with Bible Study using Proverb Project (Read more about this cool iPad apps here). We read Chapter 6 and 7 and it talked about adultery and prostitute. I explained about the first one (unfaithful to your husband or wife) and since she did not ask about the 2nd one, I just continued reading!! ^^

After prayer (Den said, "Lord help us not to be like the bad women in Proverbs." ), we played another game from Peggy Kaye's Games For Learning. I really enjoy her book. I especially appreciate her writing down why and how she use each game with her students. Today we played 2 games from her book. One for math and one for Language (she meant it for English but I used it for Chinese). If you want to read about another math game we used from her book previously, click here. Or check out the content and others comments at Amazon site below:

For math, I wanted to help Den to have better understanding on place value, so we played The Rearrange Connection. This game required a bit more preparation than usual. I've to make :

a. A game board

b. 36 number cards

Then we were set to play. We take turn to turn over a number cards and put a marker (hers were blue marbles and I used markers from scrabble) on the corresponding game board. At first she still had to take some time to think about which number on the game board corresponding with the number card she turned over but at the end of the second game, she can go as fast as me. To win, you just need to have four of your markers next to each other - horizontally, vertically, diagonally or basically any positions as long as they can be connected:

For Chinese, we played "Road block". I took 15 words that she learned before but not very familiar and wrote them down like these:

Her challenge was to travel down the road. To make it, she had to read out each words. When she reached a words she cant read, ROADBLOCK. I would then read out the word for her and she would repeat it after me and she had to start the trip from the beginning again. She had 3 chances to reach the end of the road. If she make it, she win or else I win. Unfortunately I won. ^^  (we had not been looking at all these words for the past 2 months!). We will do this again and again until she can always make the trip, then we will change the words. 

As you can see, it took some time to do prepare the game especially the math game. So while I was preparing them, Den wrote her English journal. She started this recently. She also draws  for every journal entry.
Since I took out the Scrabble set (so that I can use them as marker in our math game), I decided to play Scrabble with Den. Half way through, I realized I actually didn't know how to play....I did try to google it there and then...but still had lots of question! hahah! STL! I need your help.

After all the games, Den did her Yamaha homework and practiced piano while I cooked. 

After lunch, we continued watching a few videos from PBS about Scientists (66 current scientists,all of them in different fields of study/research! The link has short video for each of them to introduce their work and how they started and why they love science, link here). 66 of them...we still have a long way to go...we try to watch like 6 per day.

After that Den practice Chinese reading using Chinese Basic 500 (I wrote about this in my previous posting here). We are still at Level 1 book 5....had stop since we went to holiday in NZ in June! Time to pick it up again.(Have to remind my self daily...this is Improve Chinese Year...this is Improve Chinese year....)

Den watched GoodTV Chinese cartoon in the afternoon. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

08 Sept 2011

The more I read about the stories of the famous people, the more I doubt the wisdom of a so call "balance lifestyle". I mean we had been taught, well, I had been taught, it is important to have enough sleep (sleep early, wake up early), eat right, balance your work and church and family, oh and don't forget to exercise! but when you look at the stories of all those great men and women, how many of them lived a so called "balance lifestyle"?

Thomas Edison slept four hours a day...and not even consecutively! He took 1 hour rest when he was too tired and he only allowed him self to take 4 rest per day! Helen Keller studied day and night until she fainted because of exhaustion. This is the quote about Mother Teresa "Mother Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta) led a life beyond balance. She had no secular career, no family, no apparent hobbies. She had an all consuming ministry to those completely abandoned by society. Founding and leading a religious order and expanding the work of the Missionaries of Charity, left little time for sleep, let alone rest and relaxation." How about our Lord Jesus? How much time do you think Jesus get to sleep? 

Great achievement often come from great passion. Great passion often doesn't leave much room for things like sleep, eat or exercise. So now my question is, is it more important to have great passion or balance lifestyle? Or do you think they can be obtain simultaneously? 

Why am I asking this question? Because I find it a very important question to ask my self, as a homeschooling mom. When Den is interested in something, should I let her spend all her time in that particular subject/field or should I insist she has a more balance/well rounded education? Sometime when she is in reading mood or craft mood, she wants to spend the whole day/s reading or doing craft, should I let her be or should I insist on doing school as plan? Am I killing/suffocating her interest/passion by insisting she know a bit about everything instead zooming in into one area? Am I going too broad instead of deep?

These are just thought in progress...writing blog is a good way for me to organize my thought. So I have no ready answer. You are welcome to vote on that thought! Hahah! Im in voting mood!

Any way, as I said, those are just thought in progress, so please take them with a grain of salt. Remember also, this is from someone who has a rather dysfunctional sleep pattern and prefer to stay up til dawn and sleep til noon. One side note, Einstein claimed to sleep 10 hours per day and 11 hours if he need to work harder in solving the problem....because he said dream help him in problem solving. There! I presented two side of the coins! ^^

Back to what we did today. 

Den woke up at 10am. After hug hug in bed and breakfast, we did the sunflower seed math (read about this at my previous blog here) at the kitchen table...Den think it is a game, so happily (insistingly) played with me. After that we left the house for lunch in a mall and followed by Den's 2 hour art class. 

She just started the art class about a month ago. She asked me to send her to art class since she was about 4 or 5 years old. But I kept delaying it because I'm a bit worry art class might kill her creativity - you know, being told how to draw, how to paint instead of just draw the way you want it that kind of thing. 

However when I think back about my own experience, I loved drawing when I was a kid but I stop when I was a teen because I did not have the technique to draw the way I wanted it to come out. So I can understand her frustration when she does not know how to draw what she want to draw. When I found a school that is willing to let us pay on class by class basis, I decided to sign her in. She enjoys it so far and very proud of what she can do. 

After the class, she played in IKEA smallland for less then an hour before we had to leave (to beat the rush hours traffic). I sent her to my parents house, so that she can play with dogs and her grandparents. While she was there, she used iPad to do two pre-assigned homeworks - 

1. Note Goal Pro - a music note reading program Den uses to practice note reading. Yamaha students are infamous for their poor note reading skill, so I'm trying to compensate for that. ^^

iPad Screenshot 3

2. MathBoard - I use this for math drilling. I pre program the apps and it will automatically generates 20 math questions (that suit her level) for Den to works on. When she is done, she can save the result so that I can check on them later. On cool tool is the black board at the side which you can use to do all the draft calculation that you need. This is really cool on a travelling day, no need to prepare extra draft paper. 

iPad Screenshot 1

Yes! I love iPad and I think it is really great for homeschooler! Im contemplating writing a whole posting about all the great apps we use. 

We had dinner at a restaurant together. While the adults were talking away, I read a book that I just bought for Den today. Recently Den has shown great interest in comic. It started with Winx Club (Im still not sure if it is actually suitable for Den's age!), and later she discovered Calvin and Hobbes. So when I saw a series of comic featuring biography of famous people (in Chinese!童悦坊漫画名人堂) in Popular, I knew I need to get them for Den. I bought two of them - Thomas Edison and Helen Keller. I read them while waiting for Den in Art class and I love them! They are very well written. The story lines and the drawing are captivating. The language is simple .

I decided to read Thomas Edison to her first since we just talked about Thomas Edison this week. At first she was a bit reluctant because it is in Chinese but when she saw that it is in comic form, she eagerly agreed to try it out. She loved it and was very upset when we had to stop (the adults were ready to leave the restaurant!). I'm going back to buy the other two in the series - Lincoln and Newton. I think they are good buy at RM16.90 each (before member discount).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

07 Sept 2011

I know, I know, I haven't being blogging for sometime now...more than one person has reminded me that....I started one last night and gotten too sleepy and decided to go to sleep see, to blog, I have to sacrifice my sleeping time...most of the time....but then lesson preparation/researching, reading for pleasure, The Mentalist (on my defense, that is the only TV I watch!...ok...may be also Bones!) etc etc also eating my sleep-time away....I always wonder how does other homeschooling mom does all these and yet get to have enough sleep?

Another reason for not blogging? There were so much happened for the past four months, I don't know how to blog about them I've been procrastinating....I have finally came to the decision to just simply ignore the past few months and start from TODAY! ^^

Yesterday was a bad day....I planed a packed school day (we don't study every day, so our school day usually are long - 2-5 hours), Den ended up taking one and half hour finished her lunch...that make me crazy and did all the huffing and puffing....and then later we were stuck at math. Took us 1.5 hours....and I realized Den is still  confused about place value (I'm very glad I found out about that though!).

Today was a good day. Everything went super smooth and had extra time for extra activities.

I woke Den up at 10am...this is something new that I just started about 2 months ago...I actually wake her up for study instead of just let her sleep in...^^

After breakfast, I taught her how to separate the whites and colors and put them into washer. I also showed her how to run the washer and later she helped folding and putting the washed clothes back to closet. The only thing I didn't allow her to do was to put the detergents into the washer....after watching the thought provoking video from TED - 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do....I am thinking now, may be I should let her put the detergents too...

I taught her how to fold clothes when she was about 3 or 4 years old. Now she can fold them better than me. While we were folding clothes, she told me when she grew up she wanted to be a laundry maid! Hahahaha!

We started our study with Bible reading. We have been on the book of Proverbs for the past month or so...detoured for awhile with My Passport To India Part II, now we are back to Proverbs. We use a very interesting iPad app called "Proverbs Project" to study Proverbs. Cartoonist Vern Herschberger illustrated every verse in Proverbs and it is such a treat to read them. Today we covered more than a chapter and Den was still bagging for more. These are some examples:
iPhone Screenshot 3iPhone Screenshot 4

After Bible reading and prayer, we continued our Sonlight Science week 22. We had been on Week 22 for the past 2 weeks because of some of the very interesting internet links - we finally finished one of them yesterday about 4 famous scientists- Marie Carie, Jagadis Bose, Thomas Edison and Galilea (Yes! I can remember their name without checking! ^^).

Another links we have been using featured 66 current scientists, all of them in different fields of study/research! The link has short video for each of them to introduce their work and how they started and why they love science...Den and I LOVE it! We learned so many interesting things - Do you know cockroach can hold it breath for up to 45min?? LST!! That is why you should not try to drown the cockroaches! and Entomologist is the scientist that study cockroaches and other bugs! Most importantly, all these video make us feel like science is the best thing and we all want to be a scientist!

After that, Den did a puzzle using Brain Olympiad Book 1. Today puzzle was a bit more difficult, she got it all correct but took her quite some time to complete.

This is the puzzle she worked on today:

While she was working on the puzzle, I prepared a math game to play with her. Since I noticed she still having problem with the concept of place value,  I looked into Peggy Kaye's Games For Learning and found a few good games to play with her. (Wow! I finally figure out how to put the Amazon Widget in my website! Yes! Now you can just go to the link and see some of the pages inside the books and read comments!)

Today we play with one of the game. I prepared some Sun flower seeds, a few plastic cups, paper and pencil. We decided on a number (Den chose 30), then I took a turn first to scoop up (with a plastic cup) what I estimated (no actual counting is allowed) to be 30 Sunflower seeds. I counted them and put 10 in each plastic cups. I filled 3 cups and had 8 seeds left, so I had 8 more than the expected. I wrote 8 on the paper. Then it was Den's turn. She did the same thing and filled 3 cups with only 4 seeds left. The closest to the actual number win and so she won the first round. We did that again and this time we were equal. 

We are going to play this again and also some other games from the book until she get the idea of place value. I always love the idea of playing and learning at the same time and hopefully these games will help her learn the place value...or else I would have to find some other methods.

After that she practiced her ballet steps before we had lunch. 

Den practiced her piano after lunch. We make a cake for tea after that. 

We started CLP language art workbook 105-8 and Quiz 2 at around 3pm. Den make a few mistakes (some careless) in one section of her Quiz and that cost her 12 points and she lost the chance to get a reward from the reward box. This was the first time since we started the reward box system, she did not get a reward and thus the 'water gate' was burst opened. The workbook is getting harder, I was wondering if I should lower the benchmark....but I think I will wait and observe it more first. (To know more about the reward box, please read my previous blog here).

We had tea after that and she watched Goodtv Chinese Cartoons (Im counting that as part of the study - learning Chinese!). Since it had been a very hot day, she went swimming for an hour after that. Some of her friends came down and swim too and they had a very great time together.

At night, we finished making a small strip of clothes using her loom (she has been very fascinated with loom since we study it in history) and we also decorated it with gem stones. 

I have been thinking how do I actually count the homeschooling hours? Should I include all the piano/ballet practices, house works, cake making, craft, swimming (PE!) in it too? It doesn't seems fair to only count the sit down work, right? Besides, what kind of example are we setting for Den if we tell her only the sit down work are consider learning? 

Should I add in the many hours of reading that she did everyday as part of the schooling hours as well? Hmmmm...something to think about. So take a vote!