Monthly Archives: December 2010

An Octopus Stole His Camera!

This video was the seventh most popular animal video on You Tube in 2010. I hadn’t seen it until today and found it to be absolutely fascinating, so I thought I’d share in case anyone else had missed it also.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Motivation to Get Outside



Sherry at Living and Learning will be hosting a monthly photo meme entitled “Nature Connections” next year. Once a month you can link up your photos of your children interacting with nature. It’s a great way to encourage everyone to get outside more.

Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Free Online Grammar and Writing Handbooks


I just discovered that Scott Foresman has free online grammar and writing handbooks for grades 1-6. These are excellent free resources.

Labels: Freebies, Language Arts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Weekly Wrap-Up: December 17, 2010

I haven’t posted Gohan’s weekly wrap-up in weeks, partly because he hasn’t done a whole lot of exciting things recently and partly due to the whole lack of sleep I posted about yesterday. This week, however, there have been some major changes for Gohan. Gohan loves taking lots of outside classes, so we have belonged to a PPP (parent partnership program) through the public school district for over 4 years. He attended one PPP for 2nd-5th grade, but this year we tried a different one because the old one just wasn’t offering enough classes for middle schoolers. We have enjoyed the new program, though it is one hour away. We’ve had some issues, however, with the teacher’s giving him unsatisfactory progress, due to lack of attendance for things like missing one class for illness. The final straw came when his musical theatre teacher sent a very nasty e-mail to all of the parents and one of the things to come out was that if students missed more than one class all year, they would be given unsatisfactory progress for the entire year! I even wrote the teacher to clarify that I was reading that correctly. Well, neither Gohan and I were okay with that and given that musical theatre is one of his main reasons to attend these programs, we decided to drop the program.

He will be taking some privately run homeschool classes starting in January and he will be continuing to attend the Homezone program at the YMCA (swimming, PE, and art), but he will be taking a lot fewer classes now.

The other big change in Gohan’s homeschooling is that I finally had it with Singapore math asking questions that were never taught. Gohan was doing a chapter review about fractions and decimals. Up to this point, he had studied converting fractions to decimals, ordering fractions and decimals, and the basic four operations with fractions. He came to me during the review, however, saying he didn’t know how to do a problem and no wonder. The problem was “Find the value of 5/m when m equals:”. There were several values for “m” including 1/2 and 1 2/3. What the heck! He was supposed to solve for 5/(1 2/3)! When I taught him how to do it, he was perfectly able to do it, but I have a major issue with a new concept being introduced during a review and I have an even bigger issue with the number of concepts Singapore just throws in without ever teaching. I honestly do not understand why so many people love Singapore.


Moving on to more positive things. Right now for math, I subscribed to Skills Tutor though the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op and Gohan likes it a lot, though I worry a little that it is not meant to be a full curriculum. My current goal with math is to have him ready to use The Art of Problem Solving’s Introduction to Algebra textbook next year.
I will also need to start science at home again as that as one of the classes he took at the PPP. Quite frankly, that class had so much required homework that Gohan needed help with, it was like I was homeschooling science anyway. I am not going back to Awakening Wonder, however, as Gohan has made his displeasure with that program quite clear. The problem with that program is that though I would have loved it as a kid, Gohan is not me and I should have bought a program that was more suited to his needs. Most importantly, due to his language issues, he needs a program that does not require a lot of reading, even when I read out loud to him.


In other news, for literature we’re reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I haven’t decided if I like this book or not, though I did purchase the sequel already. I’ll get back to you when we finish it.

I also switched Gohan to Skills Tutor for vocabulary, because I found that with Red Hot Root Words, he either knew the word already or I had to explain the word to him, he wasn’t learning any new vocabulary from doing the workbook.


Another major issue to come up with Gohan is that he is literally incapable of summarizing things. For geography, he needed to come up with 2-3 sentences about three animals from North America. He printed out several articles, but when I wouldn’t let him plagiarize, he honestly did not know how to put things into to his own words. It took him about 45 minutes to for each animal! We had to break up the lesson into a multi-day lesson. So, I somehow need to work on this specific skill with him. Once again, this is a direct result of his learning disorders.


Gohan has also been struggling with A Work Book for Dyslexics. The concepts are getting more challenging for him, currently the “ct” sound is proving to be extremely difficult. He also continues to struggle with knowing when to use “ee” or “ea” in words as that seems to be mostly a matter of memorizing the spelling of words.


Growing with Grammar and The Trail Guide to World Geography continue to go well, thankfully.
All in all, both he and I are ready for Christmas vacation!

Labels: Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Tot Time Weekly Wrap-Up: December 6-17

Sorry that I didn’t post much last week and please excuse me if this post seems a little incoherent, I am a bit sleep-deprived these days. Dora’s sleep schedule has gotten horribly messed up during the last three weeks. She is needing less sleep, but rather than cut out naps, like most children, she has started staying up extremely late at night (I did not get her to sleep last night until 1:10 AM!). I’ve tried all sorts of things such as having her nap earlier, having her not nap, making sure she naps, waking her early from her naps, not waking her from her naps, waking her early in the morning, not waking her in the morning, etc. Nothing has worked and she keeps staying up, wide awake, later and later each night. Fortunately, I am a night owl, so I am better able to handle this than many people would be able to, but it is making it hard for me to get things done.
Fieldtrips – Last week’s theme was gingerbread. The week started off with a gingerbread house decorating workshop. When I got to the workshop with Dora, I wanted to kiss the feet of the people who were running it. They had pre-assembled the gingerbread houses! All we had to do was decorate them, which is the fun part. As a side note, I did recently read an excellent post of helpful hints for building gingerbread houses. Dora had so much fun decorating her gingerbread house, it really was a perfect morning. She has also really enjoyed looking at Christmas lights and decorations and helping us buy a Christmas tree.
Crafts – This week, we focused on Christmas, in a more general sense. We made beeswax candles, which was very exciting for Dora, who had no previous experience with candles. We also made a felt Santa and Rudolph (I bought the kits for $1.00 each from Ben Franklin, which is a craft store). Today, I assembled this Santa puppet for her, which she really loved.
Literature – The big hit with Dora was Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.


We also read The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jan Brett (did you know that some people say “colly birds” instead of “calling birds”).


Academics – Homeschool Creations made my month by posting this Gingerbread Baby preschool pack. The big hit with Dora was size sorting, which was the first time she has shown any interest in size sorting. She also really enjoyed “hiding” the gingerbread baby in the gingerbread house.
Since Dora enjoyed size sorting with the Gingerbread Baby preschool pack so much, I also printed out and laminated these size sorting objects from Sparkle Box.
I also made these Christmas-themed lacing cards for Dora, but though she enjoyed having the cards and playing games with them, she had no interest, whatsoever, in lacing.
I have not completed it yet, but I also plan to assemble this candy cane colors file folder game for Dora. She knows her colors really well, but will enjoy matching the candy canes with their stockings.
Cooking – This was an easy one, we made gingerbread men and other Christmas cookies. Dora loved decorating cookies, though she tended to dump the entire jar of sprinkles on cookies when she tried to pour them. I had to shake off lots of excess sugar. You can also see that she favored pink sugar for decorating them.
Sensorial – Like practical life, I am going to stop blogging about this unless Dora does something unusual.
I’m linking up to:
Tot School  preschool corner Reviews and Giveaways

Labels: Toddlers
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Studying Frankincense and Myrrh

Anna-Marie from Life’s Adventures gave me the idea to buy real frankincense and myrrh this year and I thought I’d post how things went. Honestly, I didn’t even know what frankincense and myrrh were, though the “incense” in frankincense should have been a clue. Both frankincense and myrrh are dried tree sap that come from trees common to Somalia. Both frankincense and myrrh are still used today for a variety of religious and medicinal purposes, in addition to using them just as incenses.
At the time of Christ’s birth, the gift of frankincense and myrrh, would have been a very generous gift. According to Wikipedia:

Since ancient times, myrrh has been valued for its fragrance, its medicinal qualities as a wound dressing and an aromatic stomatic and for the ancient Egyptians as the principal ingredient used in the embalming of mummies. So valuable has it been at times in ancient history that it has been equal in weight value to gold. During times of scarcity its value rose even higher than that. It has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine.

Originally, I put some frankincense in Dora’s sensory bucket, but you really don’t get much aroma that way. So I decided to burn them properly. I had never used incenses before, so had to do quite a bit of research to find out how to burn them. There are electric incense burners, but I decided to go with a brass censer and charcoal, as this seemed more authentic to the time period that Christ was born in.
The first step for burning frankincense and myrrh is to light your charcoal, which we had a very difficult time of doing. Tertia did some research and finally found a way that worked for us. We lit a candle and then using tongs to hold the charcoal disk, held the charcoal in the candle’s flame until the charcoal started burning well. Then we placed the charcoal in the censer and topped it with some of the frankincense and myrrh and put the top on the censer. (If you decide to do this, be careful, the censer gets VERY HOT).
In regards to the smell, the smell was pleasant, in a tree sappy sort of way, though it got to be a bit much for me. I should note that I am very sensitive to odors, such that we use only fragrance-free products in our house.
I’m linking to: 

Shibley Smiles

Labels: This and That, Toddlers, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

NCAA Eligibility for 2010-11 Guide


The NCAA has a free downloadable guide for the current eligibility guidelines for college-bound student athletes. None of my kids are looking into participating in sports at college, so I cannot confirm this personally, but I have been told that the NCAA is very particular in regards to homeschoolers. So if your student is even remotely considering participating in college athletics and/or getting sports scholarships, you may want to peruse this publication.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Men Who Give Practical Gifts

I have to say that my husband has never given me a “practical” gift, though there were a couple of times that he didn’t get me anything. Yet, he is still around…Anyway, he is a darn good gift-giver now, very romantic and all that, but I hear some mighty funny stories about other men. In fact the male “practical” gift giving phenomenon has recently come up in discussion between me and my husband, who had not heard of this phenomenon and was amazed to learn that it was something we women laugh about (or worse). Then today, I saw this on My Spinning Plates (which is a great blog BTW) and just had to share.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

I’ve Been Awarded a Blog Award!

Leann from Montessori Tidbits has given me the Versatile Blogger Award! The

Award Rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 10 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (in no particular order…)
4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

7 things about myself:

  1. I majored in media at UCSD, back before multimedia was a word.
  2. I am addicted to Starbuck’s chai lattes.
  3. I have 23 cousins.
  4. I pushed exactly two times when giving birth to each of my five children.
  5. I was a cross-country runner in my teens, a walker in my 20’s, a martial artist in my 30’s, and now in my 40’s, have been a biker for about a year.
  6. I have been married to my husband for almost half of my life.
  7. My favorite colors are purple and green.

I’m passing this award on to this very versatile blogs:

  1. Heavenly Homemakers
  2. Mrs. Mama Hen
  3. One Hook Wonder
  4. Our Curious Home
  5. Two Little Seeds
  6. Learners at Home
  7. Journey to Excellence
  8. All Things Beautiful
  9. A Mommy’s Adventures
  10. Walking By the Way

Labels: Blogging Business
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Wordless Wednesday–Volunteer Park Conservatory


Labels: Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff