Wizzy Gizmo Review

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This summer, my children have really enjoyed listening to an audio drama called “Who Created Everything?” produced by Wizzy Gizmo. In fact, they ask for it every time we get into the car. Sometimes we get back home from our errands and they stay in the car to listen to it to the very end – as if they have not listened to it before.  Continue reading »

This audio drama, all on one CD, features two girls and two boys who hang out with a scientist named Wizzy Gizmo, whom they call Wiz. One of the boys is new in town, and the other three kids make him feel right at home as they invite him to their adventure.

I liked the value instilled in kids as they hear the characters say, “He is new in town.” “Sweet! You gotta come with us!” So being new somewhere is not weird and scary. New people should be welcome and included in our activities.

Wizzy Gizmo Who Created Everything

The four friends go to Wizzy Gizmo’s lab, where they also interact with his two sidekicks – a robot duck called Quackie and a Mexican dog named Pepe, who speaks with a thick Hispanic accent. Wizzy’s new invention – the Gizmoblaster – is a machine that creates a lifelike world based on any book you read.

It’s the same idea as in many other children’s books or movies, i.e. a time machine of sorts which can take you places in time and space. The kids decide to go all the way to the week when everything was created.

Wizzy walks them through what the Bible teaches about how God created everything. The kids learn and react to information. When Wizzy tells Eli, the new boy in town, that Eli picked an auspicious day to visit his lab, the kids ask, “What does auspicious mean?”

Quackie provides an answer in a rap song which reveals his ignorance. He thinks auspicious is something delicious and nutritious. “Slice it, dice it, give it to me fried…” Pepe explains the real definition of the word after the kids tell Quackie that he is wrong.

Pepe and Quackie seem to balance each other out throughout the audio drama. Pepe tends to be more realistic and informed, while Quackie is whimsical bordering on weird.

Wizzy Gizmo Logo

The kids sing songs here and there and so does Wizzy Gizmo. At one point, Wizzy sings a song about how much he loves mangoes. Quackie chimes in towards the end and it gets out of control. Pepe remarks, “That was really weird!” And, frankly, it is.

The mango song is followed by the strawberry song. One of the girls sings that beautifully, but Quackie again breaks in with his falsetto voice. Pepe puts him back in his place with, “Quackie, that was incredibly… weird.”

My favorite bit is when everything goes dark as they travel to the very beginning of time. Quackie says with a scared voice, “Wizzy, I think I just felt something behind me… and it’s HAIRY!!!” Pepe quips, “Por favor, let go of my tail…” I laugh out loud every time.

As they go through each day of creation week, a baritone male voice reads the corresponding Bible passage. The musical background is nice and what you would want to have as the Bible is being read.

This audio drama is 36 minutes long and there are also 24 minutes of bonus tracks. It is intended for children ages 4-12, but, obviously, the whole family can enjoy this if they can put up with Quackie’s craziness. The CD costs $14.99.

I liked several things about Wizzy Gizmo:

  • the publishers present biblical concepts to children
  • my kids tell me things like “God created everything out of nothing, mommy!” I have gone over that with them in our regular devotional times, but somehow it stuck after listening to this audio drama over and over again.
  • Bible passages are read respectfully
  • it makes my children laugh
  • it explains vocabulary like “auspicious,” “firmament,” and that “heaven” can be referring to space, but also sky
  • the characters behave politely and speak respectfully

Things I did not like about Wizzy Gizmo:

  • most of the music is Christian pop rock, hard rock, or rap
  • the actors’ voices sound over-the-top, like they are trying too hard
  • Pepe’s Hispanic accent is so thick, it sounds exaggerated
  • when presenting definitions, the actors break into song and the dialogue becomes unnecessarily entertaining; do we really need to rap while learning vocabulary?
  • too much fluff around the core message

Wizzy Gizmo on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wizzygizmo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wizzygizmo
Pinterst: http://www.pinterest.com/wizzygizmo/
Google+: http://www.plus.google.com/+wizzygizmo
Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/wizzygizmo

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Our 2014-2015 Curriculum

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Our eclectic homeschool combines the classical method à la Susan Wise Bauer, some Charlotte Mason ideas, and the Moore Formula.

For the 2014-2015 school year, we follow The Well-Trained Mind suggestions for first grade, add a bit more art and music appreciation, and take a relaxed approach to it all. After all, when the 180 days of official school are over, learning does not stop. We homeschool year round, with lots of breaks. As such, I don’t feel compelled to finish a textbook by a certain date in spring.  Continue reading »

We go at the pace of the students. And since they are very, very young still, my main concern is for them to

  • play outside a lot
  • have limited screen time
  • help more around the house with age-appropriate chores
  • build character
  • learn to know God
  • add vocabulary (I recently logged our 1,000 books before kindergarten.)

Here are our 2014-2015 curriculum choices:

My daughter, PreKindergarten

  • Horizons Preschool
  • Rod and Staff Preschool
  • Romanian preschool workbooks
  • Random preK materials we picked from bookstores
  • Violin and piano lessons with me for now
  • She joins us for Bible, History, Arts and Crafts, Lapbooking, French, Romanian, read-aloud books and Science experiments.
Mom reads a Pete the Cat book to her children in a bookstore

Reading a Pete the Cat book at Barnes and Noble

My son, First Grade

Reading

 

Writing Logic of English Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive

 

Math

 

Spelling Spelling Workout - second semester

 

Grammar First Language Lessons, Level 1 - second semester

 

Writing Writing With Ease, Level 1 - second semester

 

Bible

  • Through the Bible in Felts (Betty Lukens)
  • GraceLink Primary Lessons
  • Adventurer Club (he will be a “Busy Bee” this year – it’s like scouting, but with a religious component)

 

French

 

Mother Tongue – Romanian

  • Romanian books which I read to the kids on a regular basis
  • I speak to him in Romanian 90% of the time
  • Romanian primer similar to the one I used as a first grader

 

Music

 

Home Ec

  • Chores around the house
  • Helping with cooking

 

Science

 

HistoryStory of the World, Vol. 1

 

Art

 

Crafts

  • Lapbooking (maybe one or two, as he does not enjoy it all that much)
  • Sewing buttons (he loves it!)
  • Beginning embroidery (on cold winter days)

 

P. E. 

  • Soccer at Berean Christian School (one hour per week, for fun and to develop gross motor skills; he is not part of their soccer team; this is called soccer practice, which they provide for those interested)
  • Homeschool P.E. at the Pigeon Forge Community Center (probably volleyball)
  • Swim lessons

 

Field Trips - Too many to list

 

(This post contains affiliate links.)


Mom Monday Week 33 – Fortune and Fame

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Last week will go down in history as one of the best weeks of my life. I will not bore you with my happiness. But so many good things happened every day, I was afraid something really terrible was just around the corner. You know how life is… Just when things are going well and you relax, wham!  Continue reading »

I wonder if this great week was the result of counting my 1,000 gifts – i.e., maybe I had a great week because of a change in perspective as I have been writing down ten things I am thankful for every morning. A habit, which, by the way, I intend to keep up for as long as I can hold a pen in my hand.

But no, most of the things that happened were factual and real. They were no matter of interpretation.

The only cloud – and it was a big one, though it did not affect me directly – was the death of Robin Williams. He made so many of us laugh and forget our daily struggles, but he could not get over his own. Such a sad, sad story.

mom monday wk33

As if by accident, but we all know there are no accidents in this world, I happened to listen to “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” Some of the lyrics stood out: “And as for fortune, and as for fame… they are illusions… they’re not the solutions they promise to be…”

Famous people, rich people – they are people just like us. And they need hope. Hope that this life can be lived decently and that the next life will be infinitely easier and, well, perfect. For those of us who have found hope in Christ, this life is a lot more bearable. The next life can be anticipated with assurance. And those two gifts – hope for now and hope for the future – can be counted every morning.

Rest in peace, funny, sad maestro Robin Williams!


Mom Monday Week 32 – Teach Them How to Pray

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“I would pray, but I don’t know how… Nobody taught me how to pray… Nobody… taught me… how to pray…” says Sandra Bullock’s character in “Gravity” – a recent Hollywood movie which garnered seven Oscars. If that’s not the cry of every adult who grew up without religious guidance from his parents… If that’s not the cry of every young adult who goes off to college, runs into trouble, and does not know what to do.

I know that cry. Nobody taught me how to pray growing up.  Continue reading »

I grew up with Christian parents who took me to church once a year, on Easter. We had no Bible in the home. When I started reading the Bible on my own, they panicked. Nobody we knew read the Bible unless they were Protestants, and Protestants were a religious minority in Orthodox Romania.

Mom Monday Devotional for Homeschooling Moms

Protestants were not even considered fully Romanian. After I received baptism as an adult and joined a Protestant denomination, one of our family friends asked me, “Why have you betrayed us?” Somehow Romanians have been taught to equate Orthodox Christianity with being a Romanian.

Protestantism is German or American in their book, probably because of Martin Luther and American Evangelicals who came to Romania as missionaries after the Berlin Wall fell.

When the Lord called me, at 16, and started guiding me, the first thing He taught me was to pray before my meals. I found an Orthodox Book of Prayers and looked for Mealtime Prayer in the Contents. It was the Lord’s Prayer and I read it before every meal I had by myself. I was still embarrassed to show my family that I had become “religious.”

Over time, I came out of the religious closet. I also learned to pray with my own words.

The irony is, many American adults are turned off by the concept of prayer. Their parents took them to church every week and told them to say their prayers before meals. It all became a meaningless ritual. A friend of mine who grew up in a ritualistic, rigid, empty, church-going home, came over for dinner one time. Before we could even say anything about offering a prayer of thanks before the meal, she said, “We don’t need to pray. I’m thankful, aren’t you?” We did not offer a formal prayer.

So there is a balance. When we teach our children to pray, we should make it meaningful and help them understand they are talking to the Lord Jesus, Who loves them and longs to hear their voices addressing Him. If our prayers are rushed and lifeless, a rote ritual before driving somewhere or before family worship, we might do our children more harm than not teaching them to pray at all. That’s all I’m saying.


1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

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What if you did not have to pay for college because your child got really high SAT scores? What if I told you all you needed to do is spend 20 minutes of your time every day reading to your child since birth until way into the teen years? By the way, it’s never too late to start.  Continue reading »

In The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease presents research which identifies reading to your children as an important factor in their preparation for attending college on an academic scholarship. Now that’s food for thought.

Read Aloud Handbook Cover

This summer, I have found an interesting website: 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. They are actually a non-profit organization, out of Nevada, dedicated to literacy. Besides inspiring articles about the power of reading aloud to your babies, toddlers and preschoolers, the website contains some tools for you to accomplish this worthy goal:

  • log sheets so you can record your 1,000 books as you read them to your children
  • location and contact information for your local library, in case they have partnered with this company to run the program locally
  • the rules – it’s not necessarily 1,000 different titles; you can read the same book twice and it counts as two books, for instance

This site was the impetus I needed to finally catalog our books and our reading efforts. I started keeping track of the library books we check out since May: I started out by writing down the book title and author and a few other details, but that got old after a while. I like busy work only up to a point. I ended up putting a sheet protector in my son’s First Grade Reading binder and I slide our library receipts in it as soon as we get a new receipt.

As I filled out the log sheets for my children, I came to the conclusion that we may have read 1,000 different titles before my son started kindergarten at home last fall. Here’s the math:

  • 335 English children’s books we own in our library (I KNOW we read them all, each at least five times)
  • 50 children’s books we own in Romanian and French (again, I KNOW we read them all, at least five times each)
  • 100 library books we read since May (at least twice each)
  • 100 books we received from a neighbor whose children have outgrown them (still working on those)
  • 75 books per year x 6 years (since my son was born) = 450 (this is an estimate and my husband thinks it’s on the low end :))
  • 30+ books from the SimplyCharlotteMason.com recommended preschool reading list
  • 25+ books from Before Five in A Row

Of course, we have read each title at least twice to our children.

It’s not that hard to read this much. One book per day is 365 books a year. Let’s say you take a day off every week. Even so, you should be able to read over 300 books per year to your preschooler.

If you go to the library twice a month and max out your card and that of your husband and that of your child, you should not even have to spend money on books at all the reach this goal. It does not take money. It takes dedication.


French Friday, Allons Danser! Review

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For a couple of months now, the kids and I have been listening to Allons Danser! – a CD with French music for kids, produced by Whistlefritz. It has been such a great tool for my French Play Group, not just for my children. We use the Bonjour, Les Amis song to start the meeting and Au Revoir to close.  Continue reading »

At home, I play the entire CD as the children play and I cook or do some other housework. It’s the best background music. You know how music can influence your mood even if you don’t understand the words? Marie-Louise Desage’s crystal-clear voice gives me joy. And although I understand the words, the music makes me feel like I am on a beach vacation as I wipe kitchen counters or peel potatoes.

Allons Danser! CD cover

 

The Carribean-infused melodies, written by Didier Prossaird, go along well with summer time or any time of the year when you wish you could have summer back. In short, these songs put me in a good mood – a vacation mode. They are not just for the kids.

Here’s a listing of all the songs, with the vocabulary you can expect to learn and drill as you sing:

  1. Quand Je Serai Grand listen - When I grow up – job titles
  2. Bonjour Les Amis listen - Hello, friends – greetings and the weather
  3. Un, Deux et Trois listen - One, two, three – body parts and, obviously, counting to three
  4. Le Vieux MacDonald listen - Old McDonald – farm animals and their sounds
  5. La Danse des Mains listen - The dance of hands – place adverbs like up, down, to the side etc
  6. Ma Journée listen - My day – a daily schedule of meals and activities
  7. Le Bain listen - The bath – feet, water, tub, getting into the tub, it’s fun – an invitation to have fun with bubbles
  8. L’Heure de Ranger listen - Time to clean up – here, there, now, dusting, cleaning, sweeping, broom, duster
  9. Des Jouets listen - Toys – plane, flying, bicycle, pedaling, etc.
  10. La Barbichette listen - Goatee – to hold, ouch
  11. Il Pleut listen - It rains – umbrella, yes, no, dancing in the rain, big clouds are gray etc.
  12. Les Doigts listen - The fingers
  13. Y’a Pas de Fête Sans Gateau listen - No party without cake – gift, giving a gift, etc.
  14. Les Enfants Quand Ils Dansent listen - The children, when they dance -
  15. La Tête, Les Épaules listen - Head, shoulders – the same melody and vocabulary as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  16. Le Camion de Glace listen - Ice cream van – all the kids come out of the house when the ice cream van passes by
  17. La Grenouille Reinette listen - A frog named Reinette – whimsical and funny
  18. En Haut, En Bas listen - Up, down
  19. Les Petits Poissons listen - The little fishes – swimming, in the water, little, big, the same as
  20. Au Revoir listen - Goodbye – saying goodbye in different ways, the party is over, it’s time to say goodbye

We all memorize so much better if the words are set to music. This collection will be the perfect addition to your French class. We listen to it in the car, too. I am still amazed by how much I can retain just by listening to 15 minutes of French music a couple of times a week. If you, like me, are looking for ways to maximize learning throughout the day, you will appreciate this CD you can add to your car schooling supply list.

The CD booklet contains all the French lyrics, as well as a vocabulary list for each song. Thus, instead of paraphrasing so you get the gist of the song, Whistlefritz gives you word-by-word translations to help with your goal of learning French. How helpful is that? Any homeschooling mom who took some French and remembers some should be able to utilize this CD and help introduce her children to the sounds of the beautiful French language.

Allons Danser!  CD Booklet

The CD booklet provides the lyrics and their literal translation

My children break into song in French out of the blue, while playing or running around outside. Their pronunciation may not be all there and they may not understand everything they are saying, but it’s a start. Plus, it is a great opportunity for me to join them in song. Sometimes I exaggerate a bit the correct pronunciation so they can correct themselves. Other times I just sing and have fun along with them.

I highly recommend the Allons Danser! CD above any other language learning CDs I have bought – and I bought a few.

Disclaimer; I received a free copy of the product above in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. The Amazon links above are affiliate links. All opinions I have expressed here are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


Bringing Up Bébé Review

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Two years ago, when I heard about Bringing Up Bébé, I was not interested. The subtitle of the book is, “One American Mother Discovers the Joy and Wisdom of French Parenting.” I knew one thing about French parenting: it’s very hands-off, i.e. they put their babies in crèches (daycare for babies) at three months old and, later, they send them to all-day preschool at three. This is the way I was raised in Romania by my working parents.

Pas pour moiContinue reading »

I have French friends and Romanian friends who live in Paris. I have read extensively about French culture. I had to, because I majored in French at the University of Bucharest. There are so many things I love about France. And then, there are things I just cannot accept for me, for my life, for my children and my lifestyle. If they want to do it, that’s their prerogative.

Bringing Up Bébé

Besides, two years ago, I was coming out of the baby stage with my two children (they were four and two at the time). I felt it was too late to implement anything, even if I had a shred of interest in the French way of parenting.

But, the other day, at the library, I saw this book again. I felt the urge to read it. If nothing else, out of curiosity.

I read it in about three days, stopping only to provide meals and necessary care to my children. My husband said he had not heard me laugh out loud so much in a long time. Pamela Druckerman, the author, is a journalist by trade. She knows how to be funny, how to do research, and how to tell a story to keep you engaged.

This was our first attempt - plain yogurt cake, in a loaf pan

This was our first attempt – plain yogurt cake, in a loaf pan

Bonus: I got all kinds of French language pleasure thanks to all the French expressions peppered throughout the book (there’s a glossary in the front of the book for those who are not familiar with the language of Molière).

I knew what the joy of French parenting had to do with: less time spent with the kiddos means more time for mommy, mommy’s career, and mommy’s identity away from the children. Of course there is joy in not doing diaper duty 24/7. There is joy in somebody else potty training your child. There is joy in somebody else training your child to eat his spinach and not throw food. There is freedom in not being mom 24/7 and freedom brings about joy.

However, I don’t like what comes with it, right behind joy: separation from the child for eight hours a day. That’s non-negotiable for me.

Anyhow, I did find some pearls of wisdom. Let me share some of the things French parents do, which I think fall in the category of wisdom:

  • Attend! (Wait!) – Since babyhood, French children are told to wait two minutes if mommy is in the middle of something. It helps with training babies to sleep through the night earlier and it helps with being able to have an adult conversation. It teaches children early on that the world does not revolve around them.
  • No snacking other than the 4pm goûter, which is necessary, when your child eats at 8am, 12noon and then 8pm, as most French do. Druckerman calls it the national meal plan.
  • “You have the right to…” or “You don’t have the right to…” – as soon as a child misbehaves, he is told he does not have the right to behave that way. It presents a different paradigm than disobeying a rule. It teaches the child he is an important person, with rights, but so is everybody else around him.
  • Baking weekly with the children, as young as three-years-old – I actually made Gâteau au yaourt (Yogurt Cake) with my daughter. It’s the easiest cake French children bake for their first time in the kitchen. The recipe is given in the book, but we found that the baking time must be at least doubled, or the heat increased. Or something. We ate it all right. It was delicious, if only a bit too wet – but we need to tweak it a bit more. My daughter knows about dry ingredients and wet ingredients as a result.
Berry Yogurt Cake

Our second attempt: we used a round cake pan and we added the recommended amount of frozen berries for a variation

  • Talking to children – as early as infancy – about your expectations of them
  • Le cadre (The framework) – clear boundaries set up for children (you absolutely may not come into mommy’s room in the morning on weekends, or hit a parent, or use a disrespectful tone, or throw food, for instance); but, inside those boundaries, absolute freedom allows children to develop their own interests and personality
  • Faire l’éducation (literally, to make the education – i.e., to give your child instruction on how to be, how to live) – it tilts the whole parenting gig towards instruction and a professional attitude towards their own children, and away from the emotional reactions that drive us to discipline our children and dole out consequences as soon as they disobey. It also helps with not taking things personally. When you view yourself as a life teacher for your child, you become less of a policeman for his actions.
  • Des bêtises (naughty acts performed by children, which are considered normal, acceptable for their young age) – drawing on furniture or the wall would be examples of bigger bêtises. Still, many French parents will not discipline their children for such acts of naughtiness. It’s an interesting concept which helps parents relax and not feel like they have to find a consequence or lose their temper for every childhood accident or broken glass.

 

When Druckerman’s oldest child goes to school and the teacher does not give the mom any details about her daughter’s performance in school, I have a problem. So does Druckerman, but she seems to accept that that’s just what they do in France. She is told that her daughter is “competent.” She moves on.

Like I said above, the book is hilarious. At least, for me, this side of parenting. And it’s pleasant, if you like French or the French culture at all. But I do not agree 100% with the French ways. And that’s OK.


Mom Monday Week 31 – All Eyes

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Still reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Just when I get lost in her poetic writing and can’t tell what she means anymore, I stumble upon a new pearl. For instance “All Eyes,” – the concept that spiritual life is a striving to become like the cherubim described in Ezechiel, who are covered with eyes. Thus, they can behold God’s glory constantly, from all the angles.  Continue reading »

In our humanity, we don’t see God’s glory in the hard moments – the four-year-old who throws a book at mommy or the six-year-old who refuses to behave in church. We do not see God’s face in these little people who are still growing, still pushing our limits as parents, still testing our authority. But we should.

mom monday wk31

When Jacob was coming to meet with Esau, after decades of fleeing from him, he still feared Esau might harm him. And when they came face to face, Jacob said he saw God’s face when he looked at Esau. He saw God’s face while looking into the face of the one with whom he had a conflict since birth.

Esau, the one whom Jacob tricked. Esau, the one whom Jacob feared. Esau, the brother Jacob fled from for decades. Esau had the face of God, in Jacob’s mind. Do you think Jacob might have been covered in eyes? Was Jacob all eyes, a gift received after wrestling with God all night, after being hit in the sinew of the thigh – the strongest muscle in the human body? Apparently, we need to get hit in our strongest point in order to crumble before God and receive His blessing, a new name, and a new vision – all eyes.

I could not believe my eyes (no pun intended) when I saw this text, but there it is, in Genesis 33:10. Ms. Voskamp told her teenage son, who was having yet another conflict with his younger brother, and who felt happiest when there were no people around, “Wrestle with God, beg to see the blessings… and all faces become the face of God. See, son?”

And so the journey into thankfulness takes me one step further. Besides writing down 10 blessings every morning, now I have a new column in my journal: The Ugly Beautiful. The hard things in my life, the ones that grate and scrape me, the people with the thoughtless remarks, the rude and the jealous, the naughty children, they go under that heading. Dare I see God’s face in them?

Dare I say, with Job, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 33:10) Can I grow eyes all over me, to see God’s presence in all that I receive, good or bad?


Story of the World, Volume 1, Chapter 3

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We have both the book and the CDs. I don’t plan which one we do first, the reading or the CD. It just so happened that we listened to Chapter 3 in the car a couple of weeks ago, coming back from Knoxville. When I finally got around to reading Chapter 3 to them, they were listening to me while playing on the carpet.

I asked my son, the first grader, the comprehension questions. He answered me while rearranging his LEGO bricks. I’m happy with that. I don’t always ask him to do narration at this point.  Continue reading »

I had the clay, the paper for the papyrus scroll, the cuneiform alphabet, the hieroglyphs, and all the other materials sitting on the table. I told them to come so we can roll out the clay. They came. Fast. They started working with no hesitation.

Clay tablet out of Sculpey, letter opener to write in cuneiform, rolling pin, and  cookie sheet I ruined by baking the clay without aluminium foil lining

Clay tablet, letter opener to write in cuneiform, rolling pin, and cookie sheet I ruined by baking the clay without aluminium foil lining

We decided to write HBP, short for Happy Birthday, Patty – an aunt who is having a birthday this month. We thought we should surprise her with a birthday message in cuneiform. Then, we wrote her name in hieroglyphics. I mean, why give her only one message in an ancient form of writing when we could give her two?

Cuneiform letters take a lot of space and our clay tablets were rather small. For clay, we used Sculpey – very easy to use, but it stains the baking sheet. I learned the hard way. So either use aluminium foil or an old tray that you strictly use for baking clay.

I got the dowels at Walmart. For paper, I used an 8” x 14” piece of paper.

We read Mummies in the Morning. We will not read this book again. Too spooky!

We called it a day. A few days later, my son refused to do the map work and coloring sheets. I’m OK with no coloring – it’s never been his thing and it actually feels like busy work to me. But I wanted him to do the map work. How to inspire and motivate a boy to color in his map of Ancient Egypt?

I got online and asked my trusted Facebook SOTW support group how I can motivate my son to do his map work. Many people wrote in confessing they had similar problems, mostly with boys. They just focus on the crafts and comprehension and let the map work go. Others suggested I offer a special set of markers or paints, maybe that will spark a renewed interest in map work (which he has done before without any problems, by the way).

Doing her map work - she never has a problem with this kind of projects

Doing her map work – she never has a problem with this kind of projects

We just happened to have a new set of markers, because I had gone shopping for school supplies for the new school year the previous week. So, the next day, I said, “Would you do your map work for history if I gave you the new set of markers?” It worked like a charm.

I am so thankful for this Facebook SOTW group (for Volume 1). Everybody is so ready to help out with their experience and things they have learned. That’s what I love about homeschoolers – they are always ready to support each other.


Wonderful Wednesday – Turtles and Millipedes

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Living five minutes away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park means that we see many species up close and personal right here in our yard.

I have shared before some pictures of bear, groundhog and rabbits. Two more species we saw in our back yard last week: turtles and millipedes.

These two turtles were just walking through our yard. We have seen turtles here before. A few years ago, there were as many as four in one spot at one time. So seeing two was not unusual for us.  Continue reading »

Two turtles in the grass

Turtles walking through our yard

The millipedes we see all over the house are harmless, but a disturbing presence for me. My daughter will pick them up gently and put them outside.

One day, as my husband was mowing, he noticed a large cob web on one of our trees. I had noticed it, too, but never really given it much thought. It turns out, it was not a spider web. It was a millipede nursery.

Hundreds of millipede babies hanging around quite literally. They look white and a bit too much like gross worms. So I will spare you the close up pictures I took. Not exactly Wonderful Wednesday type of material, if you know what I mean.

A millipede cocoon hanging from one of our trees in the yard

A millipede cocoon hanging from one of our trees in the yard

As you can see, they grabbed some decaying leaves for food before they locked themselves in there. On my morning walk, I noticed some other trees sporting the same type of structure. I have never seen anything like it before. The things you notice when you start paying attention…