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Homeschool Idea – Reading Spinner Game

Fae really picks up on literature, and languages. We just read a book to her once, and she’ll remember it pretty well for months between readings. It probably helped that we started her on chapter books around four years old. At night, we read a couple chapters (usually the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne, or the Disney Fairies collection). The next night, we ask Fae what happened the night before, and I think that’s been training her long-term memory pretty well, with regards to literature.

This attention to reading seems to make the current Language Arts curriculum so painstaking. K12 wants me to read a story to Fae (this week’s is the real version of Red Riding Hood, by the Brothers Grimm) each day over the course of 2-4 days. After each reading, there are some cut-out activities, definitions, and general questions. Ok, fine, I get the need to ensure her grasp of the reading material. But, three days for Red Riding Hood?

And in looking forward, the near future doesn’t look any better, as far as belaboring the story. So, I came up with a new method to combine all the discussion question topics into a single, easy, and fun game.

First, what you’ll need:

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Homeschool Science – Fives Senses – Portland Style

Fae and I took part of the school day today to explore downtown. We spent the morning on her Math unit assessment, and playing with her Phonics materials that just arrived today (only 3 weeks late). After, we set out for downtown to do our Science class on the “five senses.”

With camera in hand, and adventure in our hearts, we took to the streets of Portland. Our mission was to photojournal different things to represent the five senses. I created a scavenger hunt of sorts, a rather simple one. Fae seemed to enjoy herself, and was really into getting down and taking pictures.

All of the picture ideas are hers. Most of the actual holding of the camera was done by me, but the final composition of the pictures was Fae’s. Below the cut is the assignment, and the photos we took.

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Finnish School Tragedy, Questioning School Safety in America.

Yet another college student goes on a rampage, killing 10 people then himself. This time, the shooting is in Kauhajoki, Finland. Sadly, local police had already picked up the student, Matti Juhani Saari, for suspicious activity when he posted a rather violent video on YouTube of his target practice. I won’t post Saari’s video, but here’s a video of the BBC reporting the tragedy:

One of our biggest worries about Fae in public schools is the safety. We keep hearing about school shootings, first-graders with knives, third-grade gang-bangers, etc. Granted, statistically, there’s a greater change of being hurt within five miles of home in a car accident, but still, the seemingly nightly news reports of our “schools in crisis” cast a pall on the prospect of our little five-year-old being safe.

Kiki and I still greatly worry about Fae being exposed to all kinds of elements at such an early age. However, I’m not too concerned with school shootings.

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Follow The Shipping Box

Before becoming a stay-at-home-dad, I spent the last decade in the supply chain and logistics industry. I’ve worked as an export coordinator for a major supply chain solutions company, a freight forwarder for hazardous air cargo, and as an inbound logistics analyst for a global footwear company. Globalization, foreign affairs, politics, and all things international interest me.

BBCs The Box

BBC's "The Box"

That’s why I’m totally stoked about this project from the BBC. Quick synopsis:  BBC is running a news series on globalization. They’ve commissioned an export container to be painted red with their logo and website, and to be used in the general container pool. They give updates about where it’s at via GPS on the website, and ask for readers and viewers to take pictures / videos of the container if they see it. An interactive map shows its current location, and its previous path.

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Using K12 to teach, despite themselves.

I hate to admit, but I’m a little behind in Fae’s schooling. Not for lack of trying, that’s for sure. K12 had an influx of new state Virtual Academies (Oregon’s, ORVA, being one of those). These are publicly funded schools through the state that act like a public school in their admissions, attendance, and performance requirements. So, Zae will still need to attend X amount of days in school (online), even though she’s breezing through her Math and Phonics. And when she starts third grade, she’ll have to take regular state-required SCANTRON assessments.

But, it’s free. We even get a decent loaner computer, printer, and flat screen monitor. Plus all the other materials… blocks, colored geometric tiles, something like 30 children books (for Language Arts, Science, and History. Lots of good ethnically-based books, too), magnifying glasses, a globe, etc.

That is, when we get them. Sometimes we have to be creative.

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Looking Past the Future of Education and Communication

I started to see the fragmentation of the organized, linear brick-and-mortar educational environment back around 1992. It was my freshman year of college at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and one of my classes relied heavily on collaboration through the University’s VAX system. Pretty much the old-school granddaddy to today’s e-mail, IM, and virtual work-groups.

Back then, we still had to do the bulk of our research at the university’s library. You know: Dewey Decimal System, index cards, those tiny yellow pencils that were always too dull to write with? Some of our work was shared online with the professor a day prior to submission, so he could keep track of our progress. I could also see the proliferation of multi-users in a virtual setting as we geeks ran MUDs and MUSHs.

But, all that system work was clunky and left to basically the highly technically savvy. That doesn’t seem to be the case now.

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Celebrate the moments of our… zzzzz…

Seven o’clock in the morning is the “dead zone time.” Kiki has just left for work with Yuki, and Fae won’t be up for another two hours. So, it’s just me and the cat.

Sounds pretty idyllic, right? International Coffee “celebrate the moments of your life” kind of setting as the sun rises over our Portland (nee Endor) skyline of trees and trees. Get the laptop out, sit on the front porch, sip my organic espresso freshly pressed, and be all creative.

Yeah. Not so much.

After staying up until almost 3:00 AM with Yuki, then waking up at the awesome hour of 5:20 AM for another feeding/change, I get to make the decision: Should I stay awake and work on Fae’s home-school lesson plan for today while she’s still asleep, or should I crawl back into bed and catch a couple hours of sleep?

I’ll let you know after I wake up.