Sep. 21, 2010

Sukkot Activity Round-Up

A Mother in Israel has posted a great sukkah decorating round-up already; including graham cracker sukkahs, beautiful paper ornaments, bunting, kids painting ideas, and so much more!  I doubt we'll manage to get much decor up, between building the succah and getting ready for an in-law visit... but I hope that in the years to come we'll add until its the most beautiful sukkah ever!

Jennifer, over at Adventures in Mama-Land, posted a lovely set of pictures of their sukkah's evolution over the years, as well as a Sukkot themed poem (with PDF print-outs in Ashkenaz or Sephardi pronounciation)!

Finally, A Jewish Homeschool Blog has posted some Sukkot printables, including songs, coloring pages and games, for your children's pleasure.

I didn't have time to search for more, but if you want me to add a link, just leave a comment!  Chag Sameach everybody!

Ah, here is another Edible Sukkah idea!

Our Homeschool Diary #2

This post is part of the Our Homeschool Diary meme, but as we're unschooling thus far, I haven't really got a 'plan' for our week.  So I'm going to publish posts on Mondays with all the days of the week, and perhaps I'll remember to fill it in as the week goes by ;)

If you'd like to join the meme, head on over to her blog and snag that cute icon for your own blog (I think its for sharing, right Jennifer?)

Monday:  My father came over, and we went with the kiddos to view a condo (a spacious 3 bedroom, amazing to see such space in a condo in this area) in the neighborhood.  What was the lesson?  Well, a lesson for me, that we really still can't afford it.  But, at least there is something to aspire to, some time in the future.  We baked cookies that morning, and I showed Temima a bit more detail about measuring, since she is reading numbers now.  So, I could could tell her to fill 1 cup in the measuring cup, and she could.  I think she sort of grasped it.  And that evening we were playing a matching/memory game and I explained how to play with the 'real' rules, and we had a few goes of it, and she liked it a lot.  She really started being able to keep track of which cards we had already seen.   Oh, and also, she's been building sukkahs out of random things in our house, so I should put up a picture soon of what she made.

Tuesday: Temima, amazingly, played by herself for prolonged periods of time today, while I got some cleaning done before my mother-in-law arrives.  Our bathroom is now... well, definitely not sparkling, but at least it doesn't gross me out at first glance.  We went to the park, where Temima played with a group of girls, two older and two younger.  That was lovely to watch, how they all interacted and helped each other out and played together.  After I put Shua to bed, Temima and I played that matching game again... but this time I remembered to call the card's pictures by their Hebrew terms.  And then we spent some time with me writing out words on our white board and then reading the letters and the word to her, and then Temima would use one finger and wipe out each letter (drawing the letter, in a way, as she erased it).  That was pretty cool, because she instigated the whole thing, I was just doing what she told me to do.  Oh, and she can now dial the phone if I tell her which number to press!  Very cool.  Joseph is outside currently, in the dark, with our 14 year old neighbor boy, hammering away at the sukkah and hopefully getting the schach up.  Yay!  We have not decorated it at all, and I don't know if we'll get to it.  Its supposed to rain when we want to be eating out there, too.  And, to top it off, we have no idea where we are going to be able to store it afterwards, since we don't technically have our own garage space here. 

Wednesday:  Sukkot begins... hopefully we'll have schach by then.  Family is coming over.

Thursday:  Mother-in-Law arrives from out of country.

Friday:  Shabbat is coming, Shabbat is coming, Shabbat is coming... Shabbat Shalom!



Sep. 15, 2010

I'm joining a Meme! The "Our Homeschool Diary" meme!

As you may have noticed by the number of links I include to her blog, I'm an avid reader of Jennifer's Adventures in Mama-Land... because I like her, we're friends in real life... and well, once you add a blog to your reader, its fun to actually read it! 

She's started a homeschool meme (what's a meme?) for us Jewish homeschoolers (or maybe its for any homeschoolers, since it's called "Our Homeschool Diary"?)  And I'd like to join in.  But, as we're unschooling thus far, I haven't really got a 'plan' for our week.  So I'm going to publish a post on Monday with all the days of the week, and perhaps I'll remember to fill it in as the week goes by ;)

If you'd like to join the meme, head on over to her blog and snag that cute icon for your own blog (I think its for sharing, right Jennifer?)  I'm going to park a copy right there in my handy sidebar ---->

And as I write this, the lovely song I learned from Jennifer is running through my head, but of course I have no idea how to let you know the tune that goes with it.  But the words are.... Sunday Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday Friday, then comes Shabbos... LOL.  So, I'll add in more details for each day as it happens and when I have the chance. 

Monday:  We rode bike/trailer down to the library to return some truly overdue books... and happened to stumble across a pile of not-yet-shelved books about the current set of chagim, which we promptly signed out.  I also bought a not microfibre mop, some animal crackers, much needed scotch tape, and shampoo at Shoppers in the nearby plaza.  So educational ;)  We had fun, fresh air, and new books.  Who could ask for more?  Also got some laundry done.  My sister came over for dinner, which was a simple - boil everything boilable and stick it on the table dinner - perfect for kiddies.  She helped me watch Temima while I put Shua to sleep - our first night of Daddy's new schedule of coming home late in the evening.  He's joined the gym!  Wow!  And he's starting a university course online next month, so we're practicing my nights alone ahead of time. 

Tuesday:  This morning I managed to get into the system and sign Temima up for the two classes she desires, despite the long wait-times!  Later, we rode over to Yorkdale Mall to meet a friend, ask a salesgirl about some crocheted play food used in a window display a while ago, and pick up a gift for a certain little boy with a special haircut scheduled for this Sunday.  We had some ice cream, read the letters off a mirror in a store while helping out said friend with her two girls, and discovered the joys of toy shopping with a child around ;)  Sorry sweetie, I bought you some things you wanted, and now its time to shop for the birthday boy.  When we got home, its a bit blurry, but I remember some fun typing a story out on our typewriter to illustrate, watching some the Yom Kippur video, and eating dinner.  Oh, and I remember some alphabet candy thrown in as well.  Temima is loving exploring letters!  Oh, and the best part was that I finally bought a toy cell phone, and now I will NOT being giving the toddler my phone anymore, since he has programed a gazillion strange things into it already. 

Wednesday:  Duferrin Grove Park!  Yah!  Mud pitt and playground, here we come  Change of plans, we went out and did some errands instead.  Stopped at the library for a bit, picked up some scotch tape and a new mop.  It was a great day for me to bike around doing errands with the trailer, sunny and cool.  The mop kept the kids enthralled for a little while when we got home.  What is it with toddlers and mops/brooms? 

Thursday:   Visit mom at hospital.  Not much to say about this, except that it takes up our whole day. 

Friday: Are you ready for Shabbat?  No we're not, no we're not. We spent the day not getting ready for Shabbos.  I think that was a bit confusing for Temima, along with not having kiddush or challah and all of that.  In retrospect, I regret what I didn't do.  If the house had been clean and some food cooked, then Yom Kippur would have gone by a bit more smoothly.

Saturday:  Yom Kippur.  I think I'm going to fast... maybe drink if I feel headachy.  Wish me luck, first time in 8 years. So, the day didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, and I think I'm getting an ear infection.  I didn't fast... or rather I tried fasting several times but failed, but after a small lunch I did fast until the end, and I felt some good feelings about denying my hunger for bigger reasons.  So... positive, I suppose.  I had a nice visit with a friend as well, which passed the time.   Did this suddenly become a blog about me??? Woops, back to homeschooling news soon, perhaps.

Sunday:  Gavriel Zev's Upsherin!!! 

Baby awake and I need to get to sleep. I'll add that linky/icon into my sidebar tomorrow night, I guess.  Thanks Jennifer for starting this out for us all :)

Sep. 13, 2010

Challah Crumbs

"ChallahCrumbs is a celebration of Jewish living. We offer creative ideas to inspire your family and enrich your homes. Our site is full of Kosher recipes, Jewish crafts and learning for parents and kids."
This website looks like a great resources for all of our little homeschoolers out there.  There are themed crafts, lots of recipes, book recommendations, Parsha and Holiday learning for families, etc.  A treasure trove!

Sep. 3, 2010

Parsha Activities dot Com

"A couple of years ago, I was elevated from the position of regular shul group leader to Parsha Man. This meant that instead of running all the programing for one age group, I was now in charge of teaching the parsha to every age group, ranging from three year olds to fourth graders.  My immediate response was to search the web for a source of parsha activities I could use every week for this new job.  As much as I searched though, my efforts were in vain.  I simply could not find any parsha activities online.  Nearly every week since then, I have been amassing my own arsenal of parsha games.  Some activities came from my own head.  Others are well known games that I simply connected to a parsha.  Family, friends, and youth directors were other useful resources.  Week by week, one parsha at a time, I slowly amassed what was the beginings of what one could call a parsha curriculum. 

"But my job was not yet complete.  For I knew that every week, countless group leaders around the world were facing the same problem that I faced several years back.  There was still no online source that gave you just what was needed.  Sure there were parsha summaries and parsha questions all over the internet.  But no activities.

"And that's what this website is intended to fix.  Parsha by parsha, it provides you with some interactive method of teaching about the lessons and big ideas from every week's laining. 
But it's far from finished, and this is where you come in.  Email your favorite activity to parshaactivities@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , and become a part of this wonderful project."

Sep. 2, 2010

" is designed to enable Torah educators to share quality educational ideas and materials. Access to the best resources and inspiration from hundreds of mechanchim and mechanchos worldwide enhances the quality of chinuch everywhere. The program flourishes because of the generosity of countless educators like you who submit their valuable resources.By sharing the fruits of your labor to help others in the world of Chinuch, you are reaching thousands of students with each word, and are truly being M'kaim the words of Pirkei Avos: 'V'ha'amidu talmidim harbeh.'

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of finished and raw printed materials, and to encourage networking ideas and solutions."

From Preschool to Highschool, and even Special Education, has materials for every age, stage and subject of Jewish education.  This website is a bottomless resource of materials for home educators and school teachers, created by home educators and school teachers!  

Their main topic headings (with numerous sub-sections) are: Chodshei HaShana, Torah, Mishnayos and Gemara, Yahadus/Hashkafa, Hebrew Language, Interactive Classroom (Puzzles, Stories, Songs/Music), Yamim Tovim (Rosh Hashana, Tzom Gedalia...More), Navi'im and Kesuvim, Halacha/Dinim, Jewish History, Arts and Crafts, and Administrative Resources.

Sep. 1, 2010

Wow, there isn't a whole lot to write about

I've been contemplating what my next 'real' blog post should be... and coming up with blank blank blank, for weeks.  I decided to just start writing, and hope that something slightly interesting comes out.  I can't say that I have anything profound to say about homeschooling at this age, since four years old is barely school-age (Junior kindergarten didn't even exist when I went to school!).  I used to spend a lot of time reading about homeschooling philosophies and figuring out what I will want to do.  I found unschooling, and various interpretations of it, to be the most attractive.  I would love to research more... but there is no time in my day!  It seems like by the time my children are old enough to give me some free time... they'll be too old for any of the research I want to do to matter anymore.  It can be fustrating at times, thinking about everything that I want to do but can't get done.  Taking a moment to just play with my children usually brings me out of that funk and back to reality... because my children are just so wonderful to be with!

So, what have we been doing this summer... since nobody here is in camp this year?  Well, we've been traveling around the city (by transit), to our favorite parks, our favorites friends, and our favorite places.  Lots of ice cream, splash pads, wading pools, sand pits, farmer's markets, big friends, little friends, etc.  Experiments with Popsicle making. 

We had a period of reading some very science-y books, followed by a few visits to the Royal Ontario Museum.  Temima was very sure the dinosaur bones would come to life, and hesitated to cross the threshold into that exhibit area for a while.  The books were part of a series for children, about nature and science.  We started with one about dinosaurs, that we found by accident, and it was so good that we started borrowing more from the series in the following weeks.  Sun Up, Sun Down is a great one, explaining about how the sun and earth and moon all work, and planets, and all that.  These books were great because the pictures were easy to understand visually, and they had sub-stories mixed in with the science explanations that really kept our four year old captivated.

What has Temima been learning?  Despite my lack of interest in formally teaching much at this age, she is steadily recognizing more letters and numbers, and sight-reading her name.  She is constantly counting, and experimenting with more/less, as well as primitive adding/subtraction... all on fingers or with toys.  The other day she held two pretzels in each hand, counting them individually and then all together, and then said, "Two pretzels and two pretzels is four pretzels"!!!!  I think she's got all her colors now, but I don't know for sure.  Yes, other children knew many of these things at earlier ages, but without pushing her, I think she is steadily adding to her knowledge every day, and enjoying it as well.

What have we been struggling with?  Well, as parents, we've been struggling with a few things.  Temima is a deeply emotional person, we think, and that makes her very  loving and lovely, but also there is a difficult side to that.  She is very astute at reading emotion in others and seeing through attempts at manipulation/control.  Its unnerving sometimes.  The fun part of her ability is how we can turn traditional parenting methods into fun games for her... she love 'playing' reverse psychology!

What I have noticed recently is that when Joseph is home, she is more volatile, more quick to temper, less patient with her brother, etc.  I'm not sure why, yet.  Is it because my attention is divided while I'm trying to get 'adult' conversation in?  Is it her way of expressing unhappiness at how much of the time Joseph is gone at work?  Does he parent so differently that she sees a way to manipulate us when he's home?  I doubt that last one, although on a surface level it looks that way.  I think its a combination of the first two, and possibly something more that I haven't identified.  When I'm alone with the kids, everything seems to flow.  I rarely ever resort to 'discipline,' and even at times where I might feel I want to, I can usually re-center the situation in a fun or funny way so we can move on.  Figuring out what happens when Joseph is home is something that I think we need to really focus on because its difficult for Joseph feel confident about our parenting choices when he sees most of the negative side during his hours with us.

Do you have any similar experiences?  What happens when your children's Abba comes home?  Have you figured out how to solve this problem?  Leave your thoughts, experiences, solutions in the comments.  I look forward to reading what you think.

Jewish Homeschool Blog Carnival!

 Jennifer of Adventures in Mama-Land has gone and started a Jewish Homeschool Blog Carnival!

If she will forgive me for quoting,

"If you have blogged about anything interesting or noteworthy in your Jewish homeschool, please submit your post here.  Or you can link to it in the comments section below.  I’ll try to include everybody – I can’t imagine there will be a great big huge clamour, but it would be nice if some bloggers came out of the woodwork for this!"

I hope I have something to contribute before it closes.   If you've got something to contribute, send it over to that link up above, or write it in the comments of Jennifer's post.  This is all very exciting!