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Archive for February, 2010

February 9, 2010 marks my one-year anniversary for blogging on SatoriSmiles! To celebrate, I would like to do a giveaway. Since I love Amazon so much, I will giveaway two prizes. Two $25 Amazon Gift Certificates will be given away in the next month. One on March 1 and one on March 15.

To enter, simply comment on this post! You can get an additional entry by linking to my blog from your blog/website. You can also get 3 more entries for each comment on this blog from now until the giveaway date – for a total of 5 entries.

Thanks for reading!

Blog comments (if you do not have two previously approved comments) will need to be approved before they go live. I’ll do this throughout the day.

Here are some photos of our newly decorated living room/family room. (I had promised my mom to take these.) This is just below our Loft area where we do most of our lessons. So you can see that the family can stay connected if some of us are hanging out in the Loft or in the living room watching TV.

This new furniture kicks out and reclines, and most of it even rocks back and forth. It’s so comfy to curl up and watch movies or read.

Very important to me in this little redesign of this room was a place to read comfortably. With the adoption coming up, we may be losing our Library room to a bedroom, so I still wanted a place to curl up with my children and read. This recliner chair certainly fills that need!

This piece below was sitting in our basement playroom unused. It is supposed to be a media center, but we decided to convert it to a bookcase showcasing large hardcover books, like the kind you’d put on a coffee table. I’ll get a swivel dictionary stand to hold our unabridged New Oxford American dictionary.

When we bought this house, we inherited all this rustic Aspen furniture. We added two new pieces to this room, the bookcase above, and the end table. These join the huge entertainment center in the room, as well as all the window sills and railings in the room.

This weekend, we  got some beautiful Colorado snow. You can’t see all the windows, but this room has windows climbing way up high and we can see the snow-covered trees surrounding the house.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Satori loves to write books. Normallly they are her own original stories, but today I noticed a new story lying on the table that looked a bit familiar. We had just finished our read-aloud this week of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. We are looking forward to seeing this movie in two weeks. So naturally, Satori felt compelled to recreate the story in her own words and illustrations. I couldn’t resist sharing her story.

Disclosure: Normally I don’t share these stories, as there are rampant misspellings, but just so you know that Satori only recently turned 5 and hasn’t had a lot of spelling lessons that a normal writer would have. 😉 So without further ado, I take you through a few pages of Satori’s Alis in Wandr Land.

Title Page

Here is Alice and her sister in the beginning of the story. Her sister is reading a geography book while Alice is sitting in the tree with her cat Dinah. Translation: In spring, Alice was playing in a beautiful (forest?).  The butterfly is saying “Look”.

Translation: Mister Rabbit came but he said, “I’m Late! I’m Late!”

Alice falls down the rabbit hole…

These is just a sample of the wonderful stories and letters that Satori writes everyday. Each time I read a story of hers, I am compelled to rush her through her spelling program, but overall, I’m so very proud of her.

I just wanted to share a little update on what our life has been like in the week I haven’t been blogging. We are going to be adopting a child (or two), and it most likely will happen this year! Being adopted myself, this is something I have always wanted to do, and this year is finally the perfect time for our family to take on this next part of our life. We are pursuing the Waiting Child program, and are expecting a 4-5 year old child, perhaps even a sibling pair.

In just a short amount of time, David and I have had about 10 hours of training. Mama has been reading up about adopting an older child. We are trying to prepare the house for a home study. David thought it was time for us to replace my old furniture I bought straight out of college, and now we have a living room that I’d be proud to invite people over and hang out in. 🙂 I’m also preparing the child’s bedroom and bathroom areas, which I won’t get around to finishing until we know the gender when we are matched.

Satori is sooo excited about getting a new baby sister or brother, she keeps talking about her new sibling. She knows that this new sibling could be up to 5 years old, but we had been talking about a baby sibling for several years now, it is hard to stop saying “baby”.

We are still doing lessons, and I’ll be posting about our days once again very soon…

If you are studying Ancient Egypt, I highly recommend the National Geographic Classic Science Archaeology: Pyramid kit by Thames and Kosmos. It ties all of Satori’s interests together: archaeology, hieroglyphs, mummies, and of course pyramids.

It comes well-protected in a perfectly designed box and you’ll find your pyramid and treasures within, archaeologist tools (hammer, chisel, brush, peg), protective goggles, full-color manual, and a 3D paper cross section model. Satori fondly remembers her “paleontologist days” when studying prehistory, so she was so excited to begin excavating!

*READ THE DIRECTIONS* first, or you might miss out on some of the clever surprises! (You may not wish to read further if you want your own kit to be a surprise.)

Click on the image above to get the full detail and you’ll notice hieroglyphs on a certain level of each side of the pyramid. Satori quickly wrote down a translation, she needed no manual, she already had them memorized! These hieroglyphs of course had a few vowels and other letters that used the same translation, so once Satori wrote down the letters, Mama still had to help translate. But overall, this was a very cool puzzle. Satori was so happy that she basically solved it herself. Each side gave a message to tell you if this side was the entrance. Our first side said “TRY AGAIN”.

(There are more pictures, but I don’t want to spoil this kit for the people who want it to be a surprise!) Click “continue reading…” link below.

continue reading…

One of the activities in our Story of the World 1 Activity Guide is to build a pyramid. Their specific activity was to use sand and glue, but we wanted something simpler! So we use sugar cubes, simple yet perfect building blocks for a pyramid. All we needed was one box of sugar cubes (1 lb), some glue, and some cardboard to build it upon. To finish our pyramid off, we also used sand and gold paint.

Last night we had read a few read-along books about pyramids. You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder and Who Built the Pyramid? So we were familiar with all the many different jobs people had when building a pyramid – so it was fun to describe again these jobs as we prepared our very own pyramid, right down to the capstone.

First off we counted off the base of the pyramid – 36 cubes to build a 6×6 base.

From there we drew a line around our 36 cubes, only to take off the cubes, paint on a thick layer of glue, and then replace the  cubes.

We kept building up, next was a layer of 25 (5×5), 16 (4×4), 9, 4, and finally 1. I reminder Satori to place them tightly together, as the Ancient Egyptians did.

Once done, we painted the pyramid with glue, and sprinkled sand to give it a more authentic sand look. I did not have a more realistic sand color, and we probably would have been fine with keeping it white like limestone. To top it off, we painted the final block gold and set it on top for our capstone.

Now that I think back upon this, it would have been cool if we placed a tiny treasure inside the pyramid, then break into it later! Similar to our second pyramid activity which I’ll be blogging about next.

We are now well in our Kindergarten Spring 2010 semester so I feel qualified to muse on Satori’s progress and to reflect on new curriculum choices. I want to start off giving myself a pat on the back for staying on top of our homeschool schedule and getting most lessons done by 11am everyday, considering my spontaneous personality. Huge hugs to Satori for participating with such joy, and for going along with some lessons that I know aren’t the most exciting.


We’re using Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, and the more I read about other homeschoolers and books on reading, the more glad I am to have chosen this book as our main reading program. It’s so systematic and thorough. Within our allocated 20 minutes, we easily cover a lesson a day, and a thorough review of recently covered lessons and then touch a few lessons covered months ago. Every 7-10 days we take a thorough review day, although our reviews are already thorough, so we’ll be stopping review day. We’re on lesson 118 now, in Section 13 “Common Spellings for Other Vowel Sounds” like AW, AU, OO, OU, OI, EA and so on.

Aside from the 20 minute lessons five days a week, I do not push Satori to read on her own. I want her to learn to enjoy reading and am afraid if I push it, she might get burned out or turned off by reading. Only until last month did I encourage her to read off her easy readers, which are totally below her level, but gives her the confidence of reading. So we do try to have Satori read a few books, then mama read a read-aloud, but I haven’t been consistent.

One milestone we have finally reached is Satori’s eagerness to read books. Monday night (2/8) Satori just could not get enough of her Nora Gaydos books, and read an entire set in one sitting. In 24 hours, we read both Level 1 and Level 1 Advanced sets of Nora Gaydos. She loves the stickers and laughs at the stories. (Ah, the simple things…) We’ve started Volume 2, with sentences like “The gray ape places the cake to bake on a tray.” and “The crazy snakes danced into the lake.”  This is more her level. She also started reading the Biscuit books. I’m so glad that we got this far in our reading program, it has given her the confidence to tackle beginning reading books with ease. I’m afraid she might be getting a bit too over-eager, as she sometimes wants to try to read “my” books, lol!

On a final reading note, last week Satori went gung-ho with her online reading subscription, which we recently renewed after several months. I think she went through several maps in one day! She does this completely independently, which is a nice break for mama. She’s now on Level 2, Lesson 64, although at this point, I think she could get through all of level 3 without learning anything new that she hasn’t already learned through OPG. She is using her math skills to earn her eggs. For example, she wanted to purchase a piano for 84 eggs, but only had 24 at the time. So she worked extra hard and saved up all her eggs until she could purchase her piano. 🙂


Again, I think we chose the perfect program for ourselves. We’re on RightStart A Lesson 39 today. Recently she’s been learning how to estimate, add, write equations, money, even/odd, and dozens of other things. She is not using the abacus to add things like 7+3, but she doesn’t have it memorized either. I’m trying to get her to use the abacus, but she’s doing her addition fast and without mistakes, so we’ll see how it goes. Last night we revisited a Memory Game from Lesson 9 and she wanted to do it over and over. She has a great memory, so she kicks my butt.

I love how learning our coins – penny, nickel, and dime, it reinforces the concept of grouping things in 5s and 10s. She has no problem paying me for an apple worth 87 cents, in several different ways.


Last week I posted about a handwriting emergency, letters getting sloppy/careless. We hadn’t been focusing on handwriting at all for such a long time. My mistake! As I posted a few pictures of Satori writing, I noticed a weird pencil grip. I then launched myself into researching grips and discovered I myself have an incorrect grip. I use 2 grips, both are incorrect. Satori uses a combination of Quadropod Grip (which HWT says is okay) and sometimes something totally incorrect. So both mom and daughter have been practicing using the more commonly suggested Tripod Grip.

Satori knows exactly how each letter should be written, right down to its shape and  how to write it. When people write lowercase “e” wrong on TV, she’ll catch it and tell me how they wrote it wrong. If I forget the tiniest little detail on a letter, like forgetting to come back down on lowercase “u”, she’ll point that out and correct it for me. So daughter does teach Mama sometimes!

To get back on track, we’ve started Handwriting Without Tears First Grade book, and are using StartWrite software to make practice handwriting sheets, and are constantly checking our handwriting grip. HWT has a few tricks on  how to get a correct grip, and we’re working on those.


One more Step left in All-About-Spelling Level 1 and we’re on to Level 2.  I couldn’t ask for more from a program, but I think I talk about AAS enough so I’ll leave it at that.

Satori has been writing books about 10-15 pages long. The classical education model doesn’t start “creative writing” until Grade 5 (the Logic stage), but this kindergartner sure loves to write stories. Using her phonics and spelling she knows so far, these are fun (and funny) to read. I really need to take a picture of these books, they come complete with cute pictures! She’s been writing a story about a cat named Liz and her adventures with Gest her friend, and her babies. Here’s a few pages of one story (some misspellings corrected):

Liz met a male. The owners of the cats are mad. (picture of happy cats with collars and mad owners)

Liz saw her owner and she ran fast. The 2 cats got home. The people left Liz and Gest home.

Liz and Gest had a idea. They ran to the cat bed. (Hmmmm….) In the mornin the 2 cats be friends.

Gest and Liz got mayed (married). (Picture of Gest with a top hat and bow on. Liz with a fancy gold collar.)

The End


Not much to say about Writing, Grammar, and Logic except they’re going well and only take a few minutes a day. Nothing too exciting about these subjects, but there are some Logic problems Satori loves of which she cannot get enough. Satori wants to do several lessons of vocabulary a day. She picks up on unknown words all the time and demands a definition. She attempts to use new vocabulary in her conversation. So cute!

History is amazing, I talk enough about that, so no big updates here. I did plan on going much slower in history, but we are doing one chapter a week, which is what’s recommended. Love SOTW audio CDs to listen to in the car so we can review stories already  covered. I had no clue Satori would enjoy history so much.


We just started using Discovery Education streaming Elementary Spanish which rocks! Satori actually asked for Spanish videos so she can learn on her own, so I simply introduced her to these. They come with a teacher’s manual PDF file. We are only on our first week, more to say about this later.


Science and Art big-time. I think the prep-time of these is daunting to this perfectionist mom. We have however, been watching lots of science videos on Discovery Streaming. I keep meaning to spend an entire day to pre-prepare lessons in these 2 subjects, and then doing several in a week (I schedule these once a week).