Category Archives: hands-on learning

Blessing or a Curse

Our family has had the privilege over the last year or so of learning Arabic from native speakers who started as friends and are now family.

Our family has had the opportunity to experience how badly your brain can hurt from learning Arabic.

There’s a reason it is considered the second hardest language for English speakers to learn.

Many of the sounds are different.  Sentence structure is often different.  Greetings are very different.

Let’s start with the alphabet.

My girls have been painstakingly working their way through the alphabet as well as adding vocabulary.  My lessons have not involved written Arabic, rather, I am trying to sort out the spoken.

Turns out Arabic has 18 conjugations for almost every noun and verb.  By way of comparison, Spanish has 6 verb conjugations.

And Arabic has these greetings that not only said at specific times for specific reasons but also have particular answers.  I’ll give you an example with it translated into English.

You come home from work and have been busy, I say–“God give you strength.”  You say, “God strengthen you.”  There are many others.  My favorite is “Kaif Halik (how are you)?”  “Alhamdhallah (Thanks be to God) or Ashkurallah (God is good).”

I enjoy seeing how they all fit together, but I find it hard to remember what I am supposed to say when and how.

Yesterday, Caitlyn was struggling to remember her new words for this week’s lesson.  She is used to everything except math coming very easily.  Arabic had her mad.  How dare it be so hard?  I totally relate!

Today in history we were studying the tower of Babel where the people on the earth had gotten very proud and decided that they could build a tower that would reach all the way to heaven.  Rather than letting the people be destroyed by their own pride, God introduced many languages, so the people no longer could talk easily to one another, rather, they had many different languages and communication was instantly more complicated (Genesis 11:3-9).

3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

And it has worked, hasn’t it?  Things are much more complicated than they would be if we had just one common language.

So Caitlyn, building on what she had said yesterday about it being hard, said, “see it’s a curse!!”

But is it?

Yes, it definitely makes things harder, but our language is also part of our identity.  It is part of what makes us who we are.  It is not just a bunch of sounds strung together.  It is how we see the world, how we do things.  It is the respect we show, the respect we expect.

It is also a way to bond with people.  If you even just try a little to learn someone’s language when it is not your own, you have instantly shown them honor, that you value them.  And when the words don’t come out right–you can bond over laughter–like the day I told a lady, I would bring her a house (bayt) when I meant to say I would bring her a book (ktaab).

Yes, learning Arabic is hard.  Really hard,  but that first time I was able to tell one of my friends that I loved her in Arabic, it was all worth it.

So, while Caitlyn may be convinced it is a curse to learn Arabic, it will continue to be part of our

The Sub Might Take Over

This last year my hubby has taken over teaching science to the girls.  We did some research and he chose a book.  It works out great.  I go running or do errands or…while they cover science.  But a couple times I have been called upon to sub and it is fun.  I think I might take over science for next year.

This morning we learned about low pressure and high pressure in the weather and how it creates the basic building blocks for wind.  For example, the heat of the sun causes low pressure on the beach and the coolness of the ocean, or in our area the Great Lakes,  causes high pressure, which rushes in to even out the pressure in the low area, thus causing wind.

Our experiment involved opening up and emptying a tea bag, lighting it with a match and watching what happens. It was so cool we did it twice.

Up, up, and away!!

Yeah, it was cool…I think the sub will be taking over science class/

 

Sparks are a Flyin’

Back in August, for Caitlyn’s birthday, we got her a snap circuit kit.  It has parts and pieces for making almost 200 electricity projects.  She ignored it, for the most part, when we first got it.  I was kind of bummed.  I had heard from so many homeschoolers how great they were and how much their kids loved them.  And it was a dud with my daughter.

This week I learned that wasn’t exactly the truth.  Apparently, she had lost a key piece to the kit and was stuck.  Well, that problem has been solved.  Sue or Patrice lost our TV remote this week.  It is still missing, but while looking in one of the bedrooms, Patrice found Caitlyn’s missing piece.  Ever since, Caitlyn has been churning out project after project.

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Unfortunately, the kit, while it has the pieces and instructions to make 150+ projects, it does not have enough pieces to make the projects and keep them set up.  Each project can be made one at a time.

I have enjoyed watching her put together the various projects and my favorite part was when she looked at me today and said, “thank you for getting this for me!”

A little electric current of joy to mama’s heart!!

Science Outside

We are having a crazy, wonderful fall.  It is quite unheard of to be outside in shirt sleeves on November 14 and yet, here we are…outside in shirt sleeves!

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Sue has been begging me to explode something.  I normally brush her off, but today, I said, “let’s make a plan and do it.

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I went to the best website in the universe, Pinterest and found this “recipe.”

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And started getting all the materials around to explode some sandwich bags.

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One half cup vinegar.

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A couple drops of food coloring.

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Finally, add one Tablespoon of baking soda wrapped in a little bit of toilet paper, seal it in the bag.

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Back up, watch it grow and pop pop!!

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2016-11-14 13.46.00 Just a little outdoor science fun!!

(Hubby says to try dry ice next…)

Politics Here

Let’s just start off by saying I have no idea how I am going to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.  What I do know, is I cannot wait for the political ads and posts on Facebook to be gone.

I may still be struggling about whether or not I am going to vote at all, but that does not mean we have ignored politics in our homeschooling.  We have read several biographies, we have done a unit study, we have had many, many conversations about the positives and negatives of the Republican and Democratic candidates, and talked about what an Independent Party/candidate is.

In the unit study Caitlyn and Sue created a newspaper that included articles about the overall election process  and who the Presidential Candidates were, a letter to the editor concerning a local issue on the ballot, an overview of the requirements for voting in our state and what the voting process entails, how the candidates differ and how they are similar, an explanation of our two major parties, and an overview of women’s suffrage.

But our elections education has not been purely academic.

The girls’ have each explained, based on their understanding, who they would vote for.  I am standing here wracking my brain trying to remember what each of them said about their choice.  I know Patrice said she would vote for Hillary Clinton because “she is a girl.”  Patrice has also very sweetly asked me to vote for Hillary–“for me, please mommy?”  Caitlyn has had several thoughts on the issue, but the one that sticks out to me is she would vote for Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump “is a sore loser” (she has watched portions of each of the debates).  Sue said she would vote for Hillary Clinton “because she is a girl and because I don’t think she should be in jail, she was only trying to protect her e-mail and the country.”

I may still be trying to decide what to do when I am standing in front of the ballot Tuesday, but my girls have made up their minds!

Caitlyn has even flexed some of her democratic muscles.  The other day, every time someone disagreed with what she was doing or wearing, she declared, “It’s a free country!”

And then tonight the girls capped off their understanding of the election process by spontaneously presenting their own presidential debate.  Caitlyn was the moderator, Sue was the Republican Candidate, and Patrice was the Democratic Candidate.  They covered issues including homelessness, housing, schools, and what they would do to make America greater.  Patrice, on the topic of homelessness, said anybody that “wanted a house can come ask me, and I will put them in a hotel and build them a house.”  Sue, concerning schools said, “I will get better teachers and better food because nobody can learn on an empty stomach!”  Concerning making America greater Sue said she would stop terrorist attacks while Patrice said she would give money to the homeless.

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Our debate even had some “digs” in it as Sue told Patrice her answer was “a great comedy act.”  The girls, as you can see, dressed up for the debate–shoes optional, and they had suckers from their Halloween candy.

Of course, after the debate I had to explain to Patrice what a Republican was and what a Democrat was…she’s a 6-year-old work in progress.

I am really pleased with our overall study of Americas’ election process and what the girls have learned.  They’ve worked hard to understand the world around them and we’ve had some fun along the way; what more could I ask for?

 

 

Through New Eyes

This week we have done some fun new things in our homeschooling.  In order to continue this theme, science was last night as I finally asked daddy to help me with the little microscope and slides I had gotten on Amazon awhile back.

Turns out he had one like it as a kid and had us seeing things through it right away.

We checked out Pennicilium, skeletal muscle, a bee hubby found, some of his hair, my hair, and our middle daughter’s hair,  our wedding rings, and skin.

It was a ton of fun.  And I could not help but thinking what an amazing designer our God is.  He gave such complexity to everything around us.  He could have made the world textureless and boring, but He didn’t.  He gave it layers and beauty.

Psalm 19:1  How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory!
    How plainly it shows what he has done!

 

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Pages of the Dark Ages

I fell ill early this morning, so hubby stayed home to teach the girls.

He introduced them to a real, live, printed, dictionary.  Mine from college.

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Skeletons in our Closet

Let me just come out and admit it.  I am a cheater of a homeschool mom.  I totally buy the kids gifts for the holiday that are expressly for schooling.  There you have it.

This was one such purchase

2015-02-22 15.43.00Caitlyn got this for Christmas.  Little did I know, it came like this:

2015-02-22 15.03.14And I would have to lay it out like this:

2015-02-22 15.27.56Putting pieces in as I went…

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It actually went together quite well.  There is a loose femur, but his body is holding it in, so we are good for now.

Tomorrow we dig in…to the skeletal system.

Did you know, your teeth are considered part of the skeletal system but are not counted as bones?  Stay tuned for more tidbits as we go through the body section by section:  eyes, blood, skeleton, brain…join in the fun!

 

Bangladesh Safari

We are using the book Asia and It’s People for our Bible lessons right now.  We are, surprise, surprise, studying Bangladesh right now 🙂  Yesterday we had a matching game to play.  We had cards with animal names and cards with their descriptions.  We had to match them like a memory game.

So we went on a Safari and saw Bengal Tigers, Asiatic Bears, Rhesus Monkeys, Mynah Birds, Jackals, Clouded Leopards.  Patrice found the elephants.  They were everywhere…

🙂

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2015-01-12 11.00.17See, we even had our steamer trunk and safari hats!!!

For the longest game of memory ever, but that’t not this post, huh?

 

What 300,000,000 loops get you

Last weekend I deep cleaned Caitlyn and Sues’s room.  I do not normally do this, it is there job…

But sometimes…

I swear I picked up 500 loops, and swept up another 50.  What I can’t understand is why they were in the closet.  It’s dark in there, you can’t loom.

Well anyway I whined about it in this post.

I had someone ask about this, so for all of you who are not drowning in Rainbow Loom Loops, I give you THIS…

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The top picture is the hot craze, the original, the Rainbow Loom.  Caitlyn can spend hours on it.  She is allowed to use the internet to go to the Rainbow Loom website, a site called Loom Love (that she Does love) and a little bit YouTube to learn new technices.  The next two looms are the Monster Loom.  We haven’t figured they added value.

Caitlyn has made so many things and LOVES her loom.  She and the neighbor girl have a little business selling their creations.  Caitlyn made me an Olaf snowman and her friend is making a skunk.  They are very serious about their business.  I love it.  It’s costing me a fortune.

2014-05-21 12.47.46Here are the items she chose to showcase when I told her I needed info and pictures.

And then there is this little beauty…

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Yup, Barbie in a Rainbow Loom thong bikini.  It cracks me up!!!  But we had a looooong conversation on how she will never, ever wear a bikini that shows that much of anything!!

So there you go, a showcase of my Caitlyn’s item of adoration (of course, she can’t actually use it today because she threw a fit last night over brushing her teeth and lost her privileges).