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Archive for January, 2010

Satori zoomed through her Handwriting Without Tears books and last fall we took a two month break (from everything actually). She continued to write letters and books, so I figured that her handwriting wouldn’t suffer too much. This month we started up Spring Semester and started only doing handwriting in our HWT Grade 1 book two times a week (we used to do it 3x a week). We’re doing one letter at a time, just a few pages.

However, I’ve noticed that her handwriting is not improving, perhaps getting sloppier, and showing some inverted letters. Lowercase letters are not on the proper line, they rarely descend below the line and sometimes aren’t tall. In HWT lowercase is either tall, small, or descending. I’m seeing this in our ETC workbook and all of Satori’s creative papers that she does on her own accord.

Time for some emergency practice! I’m using the StartWrite software which features HWT fonts to generate worksheets with all lowercase (we’ve actually never done this before). With this software I can specify not only the font, but the shading, letter type (dotted, dashed, or solid), starting dot, directional arrows, guide line options, and so much more. Our favorite is the lightest shading in solid, with a red starting dot, and only the middle and bottom lines. Just like HWT recommends.

This colorful worksheet Satori all the tall letters are circled in red, small are in blue, and descending are in green. I hope this will help her remember these if we do this worksheet now and then.

We will be adding these StartWrite worksheets everyday until her handwriting improves. We’ll also slowly go through Handwriting Without Tears, letter by letter this time to make sure we’re forming our letters correctly.

I’ll list a few examples of our worksheets generated this week. Below is Upper and Lowercase letters with directional  arrows.

Here’s an example of just the starting dot.

This day we covered “d” in our HWT book. They have clipart built-in to the software, how convenient! As you can see, Satori likes to add her own embellishements (nex tim sing wis me). We’ll be working on her pronunciation so she can spell correctly, lol!

Here’s some pages out of her HWT book, we’re reviewing the lowercase letters which we learned in the fall.

She’s pretty good at writing numbers, but 8 is a bit awkward. On these pages, Satori will make her own checkmark box and check it off if her HWT book “forgets” to include it. 😉

I promised I would review some of our favorite games and I realized I haven’t done any yet, so here is out first one – Rush Hour Jr. This Junior version is designed for ages 6-8, but we are just fine at age 5, perhaps even younger kids would enjoy this. I consider these types of games to be great fun as well as excellent ways to get the brain challenged.

The object is to get the ice cream truck out of the traffic grid. Cars can only move back and forth.

The one disadvantage is that these vehicles are very light plastic and can easily pop off their tracks. But once we paid heed to this and were careful, they stayed on their tracks better.

Daddy and Satori had a great time playing the game. I think the normal version of Rush Hour (get the Standard, not Deluxe version) will find its way into our house very soon!

And in the photo below – pop! The Ice Cream Truck sails away free!

I love organizing and labeling things. You can get a Dymo Label Printer for under $100, and never have to buy ink or toner, just the labels. Super useful for homeschooling. I use them to print out labels, postage, and now Timeline Figures!

This evening I decided to start our history timelines. (I will blog about my favorite timeline choices in another post.) My timelines both came with sets of timeline figures, but neither had King Narmer or a shaduf figure, both of which we’ve studied in Story of the World. I hate waiting for snail mail if I order some printed or on CD. I also wanted them in label sticker format, I didn’t want to have to cut them myself.  So I decided to make my own!

First I had to see if this was going to be easy. I loaded up the Dymo software and within a minute I had my first timeline figure of King Narmer up! (He is the tiny black and white sticker on the below timeline, you can click the image to see it full-size).

For those of you that are curious which timeline that is, it is the Classical Education Timeline Complete Package that is currently being revised. You can also find it at Pandia Press. Based on the messages, they are supposed to come out with their new version January 2010. They have one day left! It comes with a sticker pack, but doesn’t have all that you’ll need. I’ll blog more about this timeline and  our Add-A-Century timeline later.

Here he is up close.

Now that that was such a cinch, here it is documented with pictures. First I use Google Images to find a picture of the image. I copy that to my clipboard (right-click, Copy). Then I pull up the Dymo software and insert the image into my label. I had chosen “Fit to Screen” so it automatically resizes. It is also easy to put a black outline around the image, the better to see it on the timeline. Then I add a text blurb, and press the big green Print button.

Immediately comes out the beautiful label!

This is a Dymo Twin Turbo printer which holds two different labels. I can have label and postage ready at the same time, or keep a small and large label ready. I believe I have a small Dymo label printer leftover from my business, which might be fun to do as a blog giveway sometime.

And our second timeline figure it up!

If you are a member of Hannah HS Yahoo Group, they have very helpful files where you can find free timeline and history cards to print off as well.

Public Domain Images that you can use for Timeline Figures:


Want to just purchase ready-made Timeline Figures?

If you do not want to make your own, there are plenty of timeline figure choices. This one is probably the most well-known:

History Through the Ages offers hundreds of high quality timeline figures (illustrated by Amy Pak). You can get 1,260+ figures on a 2-CD set for $74.95. Store them in this beautiful “Record of Time” journal.

One of my homeschooling online groups had the great idea to send each other Valentine’s Day cards! There were so many who wanted to participate, that we got filed into groups so we wouldn’t have to send out bazillions. This was a 3-4 hour process anyway, with the whole family participating – a family craft night.

Satori did almost all the work, and I cannot believe she persevered through it all. She wrote all the names and signed the cards. She stuck on all the stickers and items, and stamped the  hieroglyphs.

Yep, since Satori memorized her hieroglyphs, she stamped each child’s name in hieroglyphs! She knew all the letters except some rare ones.

We did this assembly line, with Satori doing the writing/sticking/stamping, and daddy doing the gluing and glittering, and mama organizing and addressing the envelopes.

And once we were done, Satori sealed them with a kiss.

This week we learned and experimented with Hieroglyphs (cuneiform and more hands-on projects we’ll get to this weekend). I was kinda looking forward to playing with these ancient forms of writing, but Satori was ecstatic. She has been jumping up and down type of excited since last week (I got her on video yesterday).

I had been researching for over a month on the best tools to learn this, along with the SOTW AG book. My first choice was this Egyptian Symbols Hieroglyphic Stamp Kit. I thought it was just a book, but when we got it, it was actually a wooden box, with these stamps inside it. A small booklet comes with it. The bottom of the box shows where the stamps go back, so Satori has been very good at putting them all back.

Out of all the hieroglyphic goodness out there, why did I choose this? This seems to have the highest quality and largest stamps (some are 1″x1″) of all the kits I had been considering. (Correct me if there is a similar alternative less than $15 out there)!  Here Satori is stamping an “A”. With this kit, she actually memorized about half the alphabet without even trying!

The Egyptians used this picture writing in several ways. Left to right, right to left, top to bottom, and even stacked symbols sometimes. You can tell how to read the writing by looking at the way the animals face – they face the way that you should read the writing. Most of our stamps face left, so you read them as normal, from left to right. Here’s my name “Angela”, surrounded by a cartouche (the oval) which signifies I’m an important person!

We also got this Hieroglyphs book by Joyce Milton. I chose this one because of the stencil included. It was also a bonus that it was colorful and fun and suited for young children!

I knew it would be a hit with Satori. She dropped her stamps and filled in every stencil shape.

Here’s the stencil close up.

And the page that shows the alphabet.

Our Ancient Egypt Start Exploring Treasure Chest also has hieroglyph stamps, but they are much smaller stamps. The bonus to the treasure chest is that you get a piece of papyrus! (And many other cool stuff, more on this later.)

I discovered that the same company also makes a Treasure Chest, but dedicated to hieroglyphs! It’s called Hieroglyphics, which I recently learned should be an adjective, not a noun, but heiroglyphics is listed as both an adjective and a noun in a dictionary. This kit is neat because it gives you modeling clay and a reed stylus to make cuneiform as well! The kit includes a Rosetta Stone poster, game, stickers, of course 27 rubber hieroglyphic stamps, and more.

We chose this picture book – Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford. Great book for this age group of 4-8! I learned a lot myself, and enjoyed learning more about the Rosetta Stone.

Here’s a sample page:

I was also going to get Fun With Hieroglyphs, but I think we’ll be okay for now. This book actually has the most reviews, so if anyone has it, I’d love to hear how you like it!

I splurged today.

I had recently sold an expensive camera lens (I’ve been busy selling tons of books and photography equipment to help pay for homeschooling stuff), and for months now I’ve been mulling over getting a Discovery Plus Streaming annual subscription. If you live in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, you get this for free. But if you’re not that lucky, you can still save 40% by purchasing it through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Here is the main website for this, I do think they have a 30 day trial period:

Discovery Education Streaming Plus

I have heard some great things about this subscription, from great Spanish language lessons to Magic School Bus episodes. I wanted it for the science and history videos. Other people using it touted that it has tons of those, but also you can print off worksheets to go with the videos.

So after asking around to see if this is worth it, I finally took the plunge and purchased it through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Within minutes, I was able to log-in to the site and watch videos!

Take a look at their 143 page Title List. WOW! Want to know more? Check out this great review that is posted on the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

We immediately watched some great videos on Ancient Egypt, a story about an egyptian cat, a video on states of matter… Satori and I were enthralled. The advanced search makes it so easy to find what you’re looking for, by age, subject, media type. Some people get this hooked up to their TV, but we’re computer people anyway. When I watch it on Windows Media Player at 700 kbps, the quality is fine for me (to be honest, I was expecting horrible quality).

We’re so excited about this and it is going to be the perfect supplement to much of our curriculum – especially science, history and language!

We also have Netflix, and we do watch their Instant Movies on our TV. But the educational selection is not as vast as Discovery Education Plus.


On a related note, also earlier today I checked out my local library FREE audio book service, and I’m very psyched about that too! I already checked out Treasure Island, which I’m reading aloud to my family this month. It is hard for me to read, and now I don’t have to!

I have a feeling Story of the World is going to dominate this blog! I’m trying to figure out how to best organize these posts so that I can easily display them in order by lesson. I’ve added a new Menu to the top to find all posts relating to SOTW 1, as well as a “tag” to find the individual lessons. The tag for this post is “sotw1-2”, which means its from SOTW Book 1 (Ancients), Chapter 2. Then I’ll whip up a page that lists all the SOTW chapters with links to the blog posts. Yes, that is what I will do..

With that aside, we have learned about the gods of Ancient Egypt. A few weeks earlier, I had purchased this Ancient Egypt Toob that had several of the most famous Egyptian gods in it, as well as famous symbols of Egypt. We also got a few separately, the tall Bastet goddess being one of them. Not shown are Horus, Thoth and Amun, but they dont’ stand very well and Thoth (pronounced like “both”) plummeted off the loft banister to shatter on our floor. 🙁 I’m hoping these are good investments though as Safari isn’t making some of the models anymore.

Isis is Satori’s favorite, and we have quite a few books that tell these stories.

  • Egyptian Gods and Goddesses by Henry Barker – one of the SOTW recommended books. Satori should be able to read this book soon by herself. But since we’re not quite at that level, I read it as a quick read-aloud.
  • Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green – definitely a read-aloud chapter book. Goes into detail some of the Egyptian myths, one being the story Story of the World covered about Osiris and Set. We’ve only read the first 3 of the total of 20 tales. Parental judgement should be used if reading some of these stories, and some of them might be too long for a young child not used to longer read-aloud stories. Satori is enthralled with all things Egypt, and so far she enjoys me reading this to her.
  • Marduk the Mighty by Andrew Matthews – this one is recommended often in homeschooling circles, so we’ve had this for almost a year now. First time we read it though! There are at least two Egyptian stories on creation.
  • The Star-Bearer: A Creation Myth from Ancient Egypt by Dianne Hofmeyr – I had to snag this one used off Amazon Marketplace, it’s no longer in print. I couldn’t resist the beautiful picture book though, and we learned about some of the lesser known gods – Geb and Nut (pronounced Noot).

I discovered the fun world of the Running Press Treasure Chests, and this was our very first one – Ancient Egypt: Start Exploring. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to open the lock without the key. (HINT: Press  hard down on the protruding piece.)

Here it is opened, with the secret compartment slid out. It comes with a small hieroglyph stamp set, a kit to make your own Egyptian necklace, actual papyrus (which is why I wanted this), a booklet, games, stickers, and posters.

We got a cute little poster describing some of the Egyptian gods and goddesses.