Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Latest

Daisy has been having trouble seeing, so she had to get glasses

Here the girls are giving and receiving spelling words. Daisy is 100 lessons farther than Pepper (although Pepper can spell most of Daisy's words!), so they took turns reading each other their spelling words.

Pepper is beginning to multiply. Here she is buzzing about her multiplication bees! I drew flowers, each with a product in the center. The bees had the factors (I know there is a complicated math word to describe those but I'm too lazy to look it up and I never liked it anyway. Who needs addends and divisors and dividends and multiplicands and rubber bands and so on. 5 times 4 is 20. The end.) Anyhoo.... she had to match the right bees to the right flower. She loved that activity!

The Most Common Presidential First Name


not Barak.

It is actually James. There were 6 presidents thus far whose first name was James.

Second place? John and William tie with four each.

George has 3

Franklin 2

Andrew 2

What president was elected to 4 terms?

What president served 2 non-consecutive terms?

What president gave the longest inaugural speech and served the shortest term? (if you paid attention to the inauguration, you caught this little bit of trivia)

How many presidents have been impeached?

Who was the fattest president?

What president was never elected as either vice president or president?

How many father/son presidents were there?

How many presidents were assassinated?

Who was the first Black president? (you'd better not get this wrong, unless you've been living under a rock somewhere in the jungle!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Do You Like My New Header?

I made it myself!

The background is from The Cutest Blog on the Net (click on the little blue box in the upper lefthand corner for a link) and there are directions there for making your own background and header.

Yay me!

Chana Masala--This is to die for!

In case my one blog reader wanted to try this dish my kids couldn't get enough of, here is the recipe.

Chana Masala

2 cups cooked chick peas (canned, drained, or cooked yourself)
1 t. tamarind concentrate
2 T. oil
1/2 t. cumin seeds
1 large onion, thinly sliced in half rings
2 (or more) garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece fresh root ginger, grated
1 fresh green chili, finely chopped (I left this out, although I do like it)
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground turmeric (I use about a tsp. I love turmeric)
1/2 t. salt, or to taste
8 oz. tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (I used 16 oz. tomato sauce--I like it saucy)
1/2 t. garam masala
chopped fresh chilies and chopped onion to garnish

No fancy photos on my blog. Here are the directions

Heat the oil in a large heavy pan and fry the cumin seeds for 2 minutes until they splutter. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chili and fry for 5 minutes.

Stir in the cumin and coriander with the turmeric and salt and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes (sauce). Bring to the boil and them simmer for 5 minutes.

Drain the chickpeas and add to the tomato mixture together with the garam masala and tamarind. Cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Garnish with the chopped chilies and onion before serving.

Serve over rice or with hot naan.

Couldn't be easier! And it tastes even better the next day.

There. I feel better now that I've shared that. I hate to post such a delicious-looking picture and leave y'all to search the net for a recipe.


Free to a Good Home

1985 World Book Encyclopedia Set, Like New, a little dusty.  Tan and brown.

I'm guessing you'll want to be a local friend to take these!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Memorize the Presidents

Found here

George Washington leads them, the great and the true.
John Adams succeeds him and Jefferson, too.
Madison follows, and fifth comes Monroe,
with John Quincy Adams and Jackson below.

The term of Van Buren to Harrison's leads;
Tyler, Polk, Taylor, then Fillmore succeeds.
Pierce and Buchanan, and Lincoln in turn,
is followed by Johnson and Grant we discern.

Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur, and Cleveland we score.
Then, Harrison is followed by Cleveland once more.
Then, comes McKinley and the full dinner pail,
and one called "Teddy" who to Cuba, did sail.

William Taft his government began
and Woodrow Wilson, a marvelous man;
Harding, Coolidge are next in the rhyme.
Then, Hoover and the people had a very hard time.

F.D.R. was great in both peace and war;
Truman was striving for what we were fighting for.
The former General Eisenhower
brought the Republicans back to power.

John Kennedy's victory in the race
was for the New Frontier in the "Age of Space."
Lyndon Johnson led the people -- the free and the brave,
with a goal to achieve and a country to save.

Nixon swore to uphold our creed
of liberty, life and every man's need,
but by Nixon these rules were ignored.
So, to take his place was President Ford.

Then, came Carter with a cheery smile
to run our country "Southern Style."
Then, Carter's smile left his face,
and Reagan came to take his place.

"Dutch" stayed two terms, and Bush filled his station,
bringing with him a "kinder, gentler nation."
However, only one term did George H. W. Bush fill
when along came Clinton, known as Bill.

Eight years of great economic changes took place,
but Clinton's impeachment brought him disgrace.
The new millenium arrived with a close election.
The Electoral College chose George W. Bush as its Presidential selection.

A song from YouTube

Using silly names to help you remember

More Underground Railroad Resources

Harriet Tubman and the Freedom Train

Two Tickets To Freedom: The True Story of Ellen and William Craft, Fugitive Slaves

President of the Underground Railroad: A Story about Levi Coffin

Escape From Slavery: Five Journeys to Freedom

Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman

A Day in the Life-January

I wake to my usual alarm clock--Banana Boy screaming at Sunshine over something. Neither boy is dressed. Wrastle BB into his clothes and tell him 5 times to go brush his teeth and go to the bathroom. Tame his wild hair. He asks me today if he has girl-hair (he's been growing it out "to his ankles"). I say no, it is boy-hair. Well, the kids at school have been telling him it is girl-hair. Would you like to cut it, then? Yes! Now! After school, I tell him.

Wrastle Sunshine into HIS clothes and convince him it would be a good idea to p[oop on the potty and not in his diaper.

Try to convince Rose Bud that she should let me drive her to the bus stop since the wind chill is 35 below. She leaves on foot.

Get BB dressed for the outside world and into the van. Leave Daisy in charge of getting Sunshine dressed for his bus.

Pull out of the driveway and turn up the hill to the bus stop. Spin wheels on the icy road and go nowhere as the bus turns the corner and picks up RoseBud. Drive BB next door (downhill) to get on the bus with the neighbors. Back the van to the bottom of the hill so I can get back up to our driveway.

Put Sunshine happily on his little bus (the school van) He LOVES school and riding his little bus.

Make coffee and listen to Daisy say her AWANA verses. Encourage Pepper to practice hers. Argue with Pepper that she should practice her review verses even though she hasn't heard back from her missionary yet.

Start rice in the rice cooker for my breakfast. Stir the chick peas I soaked last night and am cooking this morning. Decide Chana Masala would go really well with my rice.

While making the Chana Masala, check Daisy's math and help Pepper with her math. Pepper started out excited this morning since it was more measuring and using the scale, but quickly got herself frustrated by the fact that it was different today (grams) than yesterday (kilograms). Once she lets herself get frustrated, she shuts down and won't accept any new information or help. Got her through the lesson and she moved off to the couch to weep over her difficult life.

Listened to Daisy do her grammar and read her her spelling words. Got her started with her writing topic for the day. Did I already say how we do this? I have slips of paper in a cup with a topic on each. The girls pick a topic and then label their page with the topic and the date. Then we set the timer for 5 minutes and they write anything they want related to the topic. They aren't supposed to worry about spelling or penmanship or punctuation, just get the ideas out. Today they picked the topic of Banana Boy.

While Daisy wrote, I snuggled Pepper on the couch.

Rice and Chana Masala were done, so I got to have breakfast. The girls got themselves each a bowl of rice for snack. I suggested they try the chick peas and they both went wild over how good they were.

I suggested Pepper just write five sentences instead of for five minutes. She thought that was a great idea and happily went off to write about her brother.

Both girls had more rice and chickpeas.

Daisy finished up her president for the week (John Adams) and begged to begin Thomas Jefferson.

Pepper decided doing her spelling list with the Bananagrams tiles would be awesome! Hey, we have to change it up once in a while.

Now they are going to play Bananagrams while I read our latest book, The Last Safe House to them.
This is another great book. It actually includes information on all the topics we've touched on so far, including the Slave Trade, abolitionists, plantation life, etc. It doesn't go into as much depth as we have, but this book on its own would be an excellent way to just touch on the subject, espeially for a 1st or 2nd grader. One of the activities in this book was to make gingerbread cookies. The girls were all over that and except for creaming in the egg with the butter and sugar, they did it all themselves!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Life on a Plantation

This week we've been reading the chapter in
A Kid's Guide to African American History on life on a plantation.  The girls haven't wanted to do any crafts or eat grits and collard greens, but we have read through everything and had lots of good discussion.

Here are the books we used:

And the girls' personal favorite  Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales (of Brer Rabbit)

We're also going to listen to some songs such as Blue-Tail Fly (you can listen to an easy-to-understand version here and read the words in heavy dialect and not-so heavy), 

Pick a Bale of Cotton (YouTube video of Leadbelly singing --skip the comments discussion) 

and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. (this is a beautiful acapella version which downloaded automatically into my iTunes.  There is a link here to the Wikipedia article on this song also.)

Next week we'll investigate the abolitionists, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

Pepper Gets Excited About School

Pepper is cavorting about this morning doing her math. Why? She is measuring.

She started out rustling through the broom closet for a meter stick. Strangely, our meter stick is 91 cm long.

Next she found some shiny gold ribbon and made a meter string.

She had to check whether she (her height), her armspan, her desk (this one was funny because it's our dining room table) all were longer or shorter than a meter.

Then she had to estimate the length of the chalkboard (our whiteboard) and the classroom and measure.

The next page switched over to centimeters and she had to estimate and then measure her math book, her pencil, eraser, a drinking straw.

She studied each item carefully and studied the ruler. She's a good estimator! She was within a centimeter each time.

Next she needed a glass of water to drink with her straw.

Next she had to drink with her straw through each of her fangs.

Next she had to find her meter string. "Oh, Meter String, where are you??? Where have you gone??" she sang.

She's currently working on her 4th or 5th page, cheerfully.

"I'm going to measure things that are a meter when I'm done!" she just informed me.

Go, Pepper.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Life Lessons and Christmas Break

If you read my other blog (Blessings, Sandwich), you already know that we have bought another house.

Over the two week Christmas break, we spent a lot of time there getting things settled and the kids, especially Rose Bud have spent their break picking up some important life lessons.

Rose Bud has learned to paint a room, including the microskills of

choosing paint at the hardware store (color, type, quantity and quality) --with the added bonus that there was an interesting crime investigation going on while we were there!

preparing a room for painting (the secrets of drop cloths and masking tape, as well as removing all the screwed in stuff on the walls)

using a paint roller vs. a brush

painting edges

determining the number of coats needed and covering brush strokes

removing the tape at the end

washing equipment

She also changed a light bulb!  Big whoo, right?  Well, they were playing in the basement and were dismayed to find out that the light no longer worked.  Busy, I said they could have Dad look at it later.  About 5 minutes later, Rose Bud came back up and said, "I think maybe the light bulb is just burnt out.  Where are those light bulbs?"  I sent her to the closet and another 5 minutes later, she was back up with the old bulb, all triumphant that she had fixed it!  

I'm always annoyed by how quickly they are to be helpless (MOOOOM!  WHERE is the mustard????  I can't find it!)  So I was proud of her for thinking of the solution on her own (truthfully, it hadn't occurred to me yet that it was a burned out light bulb, either).

Rose Bud painted a shelf, all by herself.  We talked over the placement of the colors to help her plan it out, but after that, she was all on her own.  Nary a drop of paint on her carpet and the shelf looks great!

She lined her drawers with shelf paper, measuring and cutting by herself after Nonny showed her how.  We also planned the placement of her stuff in her room.

The other kids haven't had so many hands-on lessons, but have been helping out and observing all the goings-on.  We've talked through the placement of furniture & appliances, discussed and planned the colors for their room and they have helped rip up carpet and watched the process of floor sanding.

Mostly they have just had fun.  They can scooter in the garage, climb in the barn, swing on the tire swing, roam the property, build a fort in the old cistern in the basement, explore the rooms in the house and plan their new spaces.

Presidential Fun

I've been intending, for a long, long time, for the girls to work through each of the Presidents of the United (did you know if you type this wrong, it spells UNTIED????) States. We went through most of the 50 States first. Pepper gave out round about 30 or so. I think Daisy completed 45. And being the non-closer that I am (walk by any cupboard in my house--you'll see what I mean! It drives Mr. GT crazy. He is a closer) I've left it at that. My kids will have to research Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii on their own time when they are adults.

Anyway, I decided that the first day back to school after Christmas was a great day to learn about the presidents. The main thing holding me back has been what format to use for a report form. I have a bunch of resource books of different types with Presidential Report Forms on them, but none of them included all the things I wanted them to cover and many contained things I didn't feel were important (like name 4 cabinet members).

So, combining a bunch of resources, I came up with an interview format, a paste-down portrait, and a poem to fill in.

Hey! It copied in here. Well, there you go. Feel free to use, if it tickles your fancy.

An Interview with President __________________

Mr. President, when and where were you born?

What was your education and what jobs did you have before you were president?

When were you President of the United States of America?

What was your political party?

Who was your Vice President?

Did you have a nickname?

What were some important things that happened while you were President?

Who was your First Lady and what was special about her?

Tell us a few interesting facts about you or your presidency.

Were you a good president? Why or why not

When and how did you die?

A Portrait of You

A poem I wrote about you

______________ (first name)

_______________(number) President

____________________, ___________________,

____________________, ___________________, (four adjectives or phrases)

Who loved _____________________

Who believed ___________________

Who wanted _________________

Who used __________________

Who gave _____________________

Who said ____(quote written in best handwriting)_________

________________ (last name)

The poem is taken from this resource book

Here are the resources we are using:

I'm sure there are other great resources out there.  These happen to be the ones we own and I've placed a moratorium on my purchase of new homeschool materials.  Eep!  I own a lot of stuff!