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For her fourth grade math class, Satori’s homework involved making a math puzzle that she would put on the wall for the other students to solve. She had some ideas, but wanted my help “making it creative”. Last week I helped her write a poem to put on the wall in a creative way, so I guess she figured I’d make this project look cool too. Although I really shouldn’t help so much with her homework in the future, I couldn’t resist.

We have her a mystery five digit number. In between the purple lines are clues to fill in all the digits. The creative touches to our number puzzle include magnetic numbers, we included just the five digits of her final number, but the person doing the puzzle would have to snap them in place. We used real coins as well as a real foam polygon shape. The picture is Satori and her teacher I took on the first day.

Number Puzzle

 Who can guess the Number Puzzle?!

One of my obsessions with homeschooling is learning at least one foreign language. Having a Spanish degree, it’s only natural that I’d push Spanish. So I’m always checking out new Spanish curriculum, and by now, we’ve tried quite a few and have stuck with our favorites. But a new one that kept popping up on the forums was The Fun Spanish by Kimberly Garcia. I managed to resist checking it out for quite some time but of course finally succumbed to a Google search. I found it on Amazon in paperback for $17.85, put it in my cart, but there it sat for over a week.

The Fun Spanish

A few days back I tried to find more reviews for the program, and finally found it on a new educational products website – Educents. After googling Educents, finding out they were founded in April 2013 by two women and are a legit company, I added some products to my cart. Wanting to support this cool startup company dedicated to providing K-12 educational resources for extremely affordable prices, I went through and completed the purchase.

Educents

From Oakland Local, 8/6/14

So I got The Fun Spanish in PDF format for only $7.50! Since it was a download, in seconds I was already printing out the book, in minutes started Proclicking it, and now I have an awesome lay-flat Spanish workbook!

The Fun Spanish describes itself…

The Fun Spanish is a fun, beginning Spanish program which teaches Spanish the Charlotte Mason way, one fun phrase at a time. Elementary children read fun Spanish sentences, write fun Spanish sentences, and draw fun silly pictures to aid in memory retention. With The Fun Spanish children draw pictures of green cats, orange rats, fish in trees, and blue houses with wings. Verb conjugations included are the following: ser (to be) , estar (to be), tener (to have), vivir (to live), comer (to eat), jugar (to play), saltar (to jump), ver (to see), oír (to hear), dormir (to sleep) and querer (to want). Besides verb conjugation, prepositions, and a host of vocabulary, children using The Fun Spanish also learn the fundamental structure of Spanish sentences.

Quickly leafing through it, I determined for our purposes it would be a quick Spanish review for Satori. She knows quite a bit of vocabulary and verbs, but needs practice in conjugating verbs. Luckily The Fun Spanish focuses big on Verb Conjugation. There seems to currently only be a Level 1 book out so far, and there are 17 lessons in Level 1, with five Days per lesson, making it a One Semester Curriculum. For children new to Spanish, the book suggests spending two weeks per lesson, reviewing between days, but we won’t need that, this is just a reinforcement and practice on what Satori has learned already.

funspanish1

Each Lesson is broken into five days, which covers two pages of the workbook. The format goes like this:

  1. Verb Conjugation – read, memorize, and copy the verb conjugations
  2. Vocabulary (about 7 words)
  3. Translation Practice – a sentence in English is provided to translate. I add a line to the page for Satori to write down the translation
  4. Model – A longer, descriptive Spanish sentence where the child is to copy the sentence and then draw the picture

The silly sentences in which the child is asked to draw is appealing to children, which earns the book its title. 🙂 Here we have what looks to be an engorged tick, but is really Un gato grande y verde con piernas largas (a green and large cat with long legs).

Un gato grande y verde

 

I think she was trying to make fun of our fat cat Kashi…

 

 

 

kashi

 

As we personally will be using this mostly as verb conjugation review, I’m going to list the verbs once again. Most of these she has learned in Getting Started with Spanish book, but I do see some new ones. I’m looking forward to her getting used to a well-rounded list of useful verbs, including stem-changing, irregular verbs.

  1. ser
  2. estar
  3. tener
  4. vivir
  5. comer
  6. jugar
  7. saltar
  8. ver
  9. oír
  10. dormir
  11. querer

The $7.50 PDF download looks like it will only last for five more days, according to Educents (making it good until 8/23/14), but maybe it will be offered again. It says it is 50% off a price which is still lower than Amazon’s current price.

Hopefully a new Fun Spanish level will be out this winter or early next spring, as I figure this curriculum will be super easy to stick to faithfully each week, and we’ll have completed Level 1 by then.

A post on my favorite homeschooling forum prompted me to chat a bit about the various colored pencils that have worked best for Satori ages 4 through 9. I can be a bit of a perfectionist, so when we first started homeschooling 4-5 years ago, I purchased several sets of different brands of colored pencils. I was most excited about the Prismacolors, but to my dismay, their leads kept breaking and so they never rarely used. Plus, one of our cats took to chewing on only this brand. You can see this in one of my photos below. This post is to recap some of our favorite colored pencils for various ages and situations. Although we love to draw, we’re not serious artists, this is just for fun.

For the Younger Satori – Lyras

Then I found the short, fat Lyra Ferbys! I actually did a short blog post on these back in 2009 I see. Anyway, we got the same vibrant, rich color, but with absolutely no breakage! This little snake filled with her 12 Ferbys followed us everywhere Satori wanted to draw.

 

For the Older Artist – Prismacolors

Over time, I eventually purchased a new set of Prismacolor pencils and these did not break quite so easily. However, a few might be lemons, sadly just this morning I had a red pencil break off a hefty chunk of lead. But I am seeing Satori prefer her Prismacolors over all the others now. She says they write the easiest. (I could write another whole blog post about her verses my writing pen preferences.) We have the widest color assortment of Prismas. Here they are on the right compared to various Lyra pencils.

Prismacolor vs Lyra

Prisma vs Lyras. Note the violet Prisma gnawed on by our cat, lol!

 

Lyras still rock, but they are harder to find. I haven’t been able to get more than 18 colors in a set, although I think if you try hard, you can get up to 36. Most of ours are the fat kind, which is hard to keep a sharp point, but those points never break! They also have a buttery smooth blend yet don’t wear down so fast you can to keep sharpening them.

I think both Prismacolor and Lyra colored pencils rock equally, but since we can more easily find a wider color assortment of Prismacolors, we’ll be sticking with these going forward. If I find an equal set of Lyras, we might switc

Yes, we’ve tried quite a lot of colored pencils. The solid woodless fuchsia one below is a Koh-I-Noor Progresso, which are fun and a delight to sharpen. The leads never break, the entire pencil is the lead. They have a weighty feel, but the drawback is that they just LOVE to snap in half. They’re so very fragile that if one rolls off the desk, we invariably end up with two shorter pencils. So most of our Koh-I-Noor is small, stubby half pencils and I just throw them away then. We also have a set of the Derwent Coloursoft, which is the dark brown pencil with red color below. Nice, but for some reason, they color laydown doesn’t feel as smooth as our favorite Prismacolors/Lyras. It almost feels dry and scratchy, but the color still looks nice. The pencils are a tad more thicker than most of our pencils.

 

20140814_095530

 

For Watercolors – Derwent

The Derwent Watercolor Pencils are our favorite colored pencils that, with a brush of water, turn pencil drawings into watercolor masterpieces! I’d recommend a Water Brush to use with watercolor pencils for better control. Please note that we haven’t tried other watercolor pencils, so there’s a good chance we might prefer another brand over the Derwents.

waterbrush

 

Inexpensive Non-Artwork – Crayola Twistable Erasables

For homework, I try to keep a set of Crayola Twistable Erasable pencils. The quality is nowhere near the above that I’ve reviewed, and if your child is used to that, they might be a disappointment, especially when trying to write with them. But if Satori has to lay down a bunch of color for some homework, or write short words/phrases, these do the trick. They’re inexpensive, so we can keep purchasing them to add a bit of color to homework. They erase very well too!
Erasable Colored Pencils

The combination of being both “twistable” and “erasable” seems to offer only 12 colors, which isn’t as fun, but for homework, who cares! The downfalls are that the pencils are not labeled, so colorblind people can’t use them like they’re used to using Crayola brands which are usually labeled. Some people have noted the entire lead falls out, but we haven’t noticed that yet.

Crayola Erasable Twistables

So that’s our colored pencil review! I think for Christmas, we should get a new set of Prismacolors, some of them are quite bit up and worn down to small stubs already.

American History has been our favorite subject lately, having started it last month. We are loosely following Adventures in America from Elemental History, but mixing it up to add a bit more to the program. We allow that program to lead us, but will explore tangents on our own. I timed this post to coincide with Columbus Day, a holiday I never really appreciated, being Native American and all. But Satori learned both the good and the bad about Christopher Columbus with all the resources we used.

After reading the short passages in Adventures in America, we loaded up BrainPop and watched their Columbus movies. If you don’t have BrainPop, here’s a free Columbus Day BrainPop Jr. video you can watch to see what the program is like. BrainPop Jr. is suitable for grades K-3, with the regular BrainPop for higher grades. We love both. Regular BrainPop also offers a Columbus video.

Along with the videos with the funny robot, there are also quizzes, activities, and more offered. We decided to do this Columbus activity, as it looked pretty cool. First, we printed off the free template three times, to make each of the ships that sailed to America – Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Satori colored one in and I colored in the other two and we cut it out.

Directions are included, all you need is a pencil, scissors and the paper! We labeled all the ships, Satori choosing Niña as hers, as she is a little niña (little girl).

To take this picture, I set the ships (taped them down) on our bathtub near the loft with the world map shower curtain as the background. I simply lowered the shower rod so the ships lined up nicely to show their journey across the Atlantic!


We also read three books – Morning Girl by Michael Dorris, Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad, and Christopher Columbus. Morning Girl is about two siblings living as Taino Native Americans before Columbus arrives. Pedro’s Journal is about a little ship boy traveling with Columbus on his ship. I read both aloud. The last one was an easy reader by Stephen Krensky, so Satori actually picked that up and read it in a few minutes. You can see some of the books I’ve lined up to read (some now, some when Satori is older) on our American History book list.

 

We are using the American History timeline I designed. I’m putting it together in chunks of six pages, accordian-style so they’ll be easier for storage.

I used magnets to put it on our whiteboard and made little magnets for important events. Click the photo below to see one of our first two events!

Here’s another look across the top of our whiteboard. By this time, it is filled with permanent marker with the other events we’ve studied. The marker stays very nicely, but if we want it off, we use rubbing alcohol and it comes off clean! Using “removeable” permanent marker and magnetic stickers, we can test ourselves if needed.

 

We have finished our year-long study of Life with REAL Science Odyssey this month. To create an enduring keepsake of our Plant Study, we pressed one of the lilies we had studied using this Microfleur Flower Press.  We did 30-seconds in the microwave, then open to the air, and repeat a few more times, with less time in the microwave each time. You want the petals to be stiff and dry, but not burnt or crumbly.

I thought I’d laminate the now dried flat flower, although by doing so the flower ovules part got squished and leaked out. It was actually pretty cool. I’m not sure laminating is the best way to preserve a flower, but it worked for now. I put little labels on the end result and Satori labeled the parts. I set it on white cardstock but later thought it would have been cool to see how it would turn out with just the lamination pages, as the petals were so translucent and beautiful.

We then ate our Celebration Plant Salad, eating all parts of the plant, from the flower, stem, leaves, seeds, fruit, and roots!

Satori loves cucumbers, chickpeas, beans, and berries, and mixed all together, she loved the salad. I wasn’t expecting her to eat the whole serving, but she did with relish!

Last week when we ate our Plant Salad it just so happened it was my birthday, so we finished it off with an indulgent dessert. 🙂

This past week we then moved on to the next REAL Science Odyssey program – Earth and Space. We did their Thermometer Exploration Lab but I doubt we will do the Rain Gauge, Wind Speed, and Weather Vane activities, as the weather here has been sunny and nice lately. If it isn’t, it will turn terribly windy and blow away any of our outside projects. Besides, I just can’t wait to start our Rock and Mineral study, as I loved studying geology in college!

We started reading their informational page on Weather Changes and then proceeded to the Thermometer Exploration activity. I set out two bowls, the first two hours ahead of time for the water to reach room temperature. Then I put ice cubes in the second bowl.

While waiting for the icy water to get cold, we headed out to the front of our house which faces north and is usually shaded. After three minutes of closing our eyes to sense the temperature ourselves, we recorded the temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Interestingly, during the minute I took a few pictures, the temperature dropped down to 65 degrees! Satori said she was too chilly to stay on the front porch.

Then we headed to our back porch which in the sun can get sweltering hot quickly! A few minutes of basking in the sun the temperature raised to 80 degrees on our thermometer.

We recorded these temps on our lab sheet, as well as recording the relatively comfortable in-house temperature of 74. We have no air conditioning, but if it gets too hot, we head to the basement where it is always nice and cool.

Next we headed to our two prepared bowls. Satori stuck this thermometer in the icy bowl and we recorded 38 degrees. She was to put her hand in to feel what this temperature feels like but could only hold it there for a moment. She said it felt ARCTIC COLD!

The room temperature water was a nice 66 degrees.

On our final sheet Satori filled out the various temperatures and her comments how she felt at each temperature.

Today we viewed a few Discovery Education Streaming videos on weather. One of the videos went over making a Rain Gauge just as described in RSO, so we probably won’t do all the included activities, as I mentioned before. We will probably visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder again, it was two and a half years ago when we first visited.

We are so looking forward to this year studying Earth & Space and will be concluding this spring with a vacation to the Grand Canyon.

Today is the last day to get 25% off REAL Science Odyssey and History Odyssey ebooks over at Pandia Press. You can view all my RSO posts using the tag RSO.

This month with Meet the Masters we have been studying two famous artists – Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington. Next week we start Georgia O’Keeffe and Satori was thrilled to find out we finally get another “female” artist. So far, Mary Cassatt has been the only female artist we’ve studied.

For this blog post I’ll cover our Winslow Homer study. After reviewing the MTM online video where we learned about the American artist Winslow Homer and his techniques, we then experimented with value, and finished up with a project depicting value – with torn paper in various white, black, and gray shades.

As usual, we strengthen our art study with a Mike Venezia book – Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists – Winslow Homer. We love seeing some of the same paintings being examined in the book that Meet the Masters covers as well as other works of art.

Our DVD “The Artists’ Specials” set also features Winslow Homer as one of the six artists featured. These 45 minute films bring the artist to life, usually with a few children characters intertwined in the plot. In this episode, Homer is looking for some peace and quiet after his exposure sketching scenes of the Civil War. All he wants is solitude but two curious children attempt to befriend him.

We also always set Satori’s computer display to a rotating desktop background and slideshow. Here’s one of our favorite paintings of his. Winslow Homer loves paintings of the sea, and especially perilous situations. Here this poor man looks doomed but if you look closely, you will see a glimmer of hope.

Another activity we sometimes do is find a page in one of our artist coloring books which Satori loves to color. This particular “Snap the Whip” painting is included in Art Masterpieces to Color by Dover. I printed out a sample picture for her to copy.

For Artistic Pursuits, Satori experimented with drawing her first still life. I asked her to do this one over the summer but with no direction, she was flustered and gave up. So I gave her some guidance in drawing what she sees. I set up the still life below and filled up a wine glass with grape juice for her.

I find myself working along and this seems to suit us best, as Satori gets a few drawing lessons from me and I get to exercise the right side of the brain.

We were to use water-soluable crayons but we used our Derwent watercolor pencils, in which we have more color choice. Here’s a closeup to see what they look like with water applied. I’m sure I could have taken my time to make it look better, but we’re pleased with how they work for us.

A few days later, Satori lined up all her stuffed animals  with their name tags. Art was one of the subjects her lucky students learned that day.

She usually teaches her class in the morning at 7am, before I’m even out of bed. I hear her prattling on about various topics like the rainforest, Latin, and history. This particular morning I work up to our whiteboard filled with art projects done by all the students in her class, complete with their names on the papers. 🙂

If her stuffed animals are not her students, a real person will make an even better substitute! Daddy often gets taught, and Satori is very eager planning out her lesson schedule the night before. Even Gramy and Grampy got to spend an afternoon this summer in Satori’s class, learning logic and Latin!

Over the summer we studied plants for our science program. I’ll summarize our whole study in two posts.

REAL Science Odyssey started us out with learning the parts of a flower. We learned about a flower’s pistil, stamens, ovules, sepals, and petals. Satori discovered the purpose of flowering plants and pollination. We purchased flowers with the ability to see these parts in detail.

Here’s the worksheet that Satori filled out – “Color the Flower”. We then watched several BrainPop and Discovery Education Streaming videos as well as books.

We now appreciate flowers so much more.

During our seed study we learned about the difference between dicots and monocots, and what cotyledons means. We found examples of each in our pantry. I didn’t take pictures of these lessons, but we studied various seeds such as dry beans, lentils, peanuts, rice, corn, and popcorn. We discussed the various ways seeds can travel and their purpose for wanting to travel away from the parent plant. With REAL Science Odyssey, we are not daunted by the big scientific words as you can see. We did not do all the included science lab activities and worksheets, I skipped some that Satori already knew.

The last part of the flower we studied was the stem and roots. We learned the difference between xylem tubes (transport water) and phloem (transport food). Of course we did the classic experiment involving using celery as a stem. We filled three clear glasses with water dyed with food coloring – two with red, one with blue.

We stuck a celery stalk in the red glass (and eventually stuck one in the blue glass as well).  A white carnation’s stem was split and stuck in both a red and blue glass.

The next morning we noticed the first hints of color in both the celery and flower. The celery in the blue water had its leaves turn green and we could also see the xylem inside the stem all blue.


Below is a picture of our white carnation dipped in both colors, taken after four complete days. Half of it was blue and half was red.

I’ll be posting our final plant study event soon!