Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top 10 Posts of 2012

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope your holidays were great! I wanted to offer a quick recap of our 2012.

Here are the top 10 post of 2012 on Mother of Discussion:

On a 2013 note... I ended 2012 with big 2013 plans for the blog, but took two weeks off to focus on family.  If I'm being honest with myself I enjoyed the two weeks off from the blog more than I thought I would and now I'm reconsidering my choices.  The blog might be quiet for awhile as I decide what direction is best for me to take.  I hope everyone has planned inspiring things for themselves for 2013, and we'll see in what direction the future goes.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Japanese Food & Fun

We focused on the food and paper crafts of Japan this week.  It was a lot of fun and our tummies have thanked us.

Our first Japanese meal was tempura.  This is younger Toad
helping with our dipping sauce.  We used 1/4c. mirin, 1/4c. soy sauce, 1 c. of homemade broth (leftover from soup last week), 2 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt.  It complemented the food perfectly.

I neglected to get a picture of our feast before it was devoured.  The boys are not the best veggie eaters but this was inhaled.  Fried food is popular in every nation!

We watched this video about making tofu.  We took some of these virtual tours of Japanese castles.

We did some kirigami for the first time, Christmas themed given the time of year.  This is a picture of some of my creations.  Everything the boys made was put onto a Christmas card and given away before I could get a picture.

Our next adventure was dinner out at the Japanese steakhouse.  The boys loved watching their dinner light on fire right before their very eyes.

After dinner we went to the local botanical garden for their Christmas light display.

We wrapped up our week with origami and sushi.  The boys have done origami before, especially paper airplanes, but this was the first time they had done cranes.  Even younger Toad made one with a lot of help.  The larger sized paper really helped.  We ended up with quite a pile of them and I had origami crane mobiles on the mind because of this post from Creative Jewish Mom.

Before we started making our sushi, we watched this YouTube video.  I liked it because it's a Japanese chef, speaking in Japanese.

Prepping Rice

Peeling Shrimp
Stuffing Inari
Tuna, carrot, green onion roll

Proud of their work!

Hungry yet?

This will be my last post for this year.  I'm hoping over the holiday break I can complete some exciting changes to the blog.   Look for those in the coming year!  All the Toads wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a festive and safe holiday season!

 Our reading list:


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Scientific Classification Unit

We did a two day review of scientific classification.  Since science is so big in our house (my husband is a scientist) this comes up a lot but not in any organized fashion.  We did a little mini unit on it last year but it definitely needed repeating.  The prompt was the great free tiger lapbook we did from Homeschool Share for India week.  One of the activities was writing out the full classification for a tiger.

I downloaded the scientific classification materials from Montessori Print Shop.  We used the Six Kingdoms of Life Charts, Six Kingdoms of Life Classification Concepts, and the Six Kingdoms of Life Information Cards.

We also played the Strange Sightings game from Great Map Games.  Since geography is our larger theme this year, this was the game in the book about animals.  As we talked about where the animals were from, we talked about how they were classified too.  

Wildlife Fun for Kids did a GREAT post called Hop, Stick, and Jump into Animal Classification.  I adapted two of her activities to learning the kingdoms and general classification.  

I took some of the Kingdoms of Life cards and taped them to the trampoline.  This is not as pretty as hers, but I didn't trust myself to actually draw Protists or Eubacteria correctly.  

The boys bounced in the center and had to jump to whatever kingdom I said.  Then I made it harder for older Toad by asking him a fact about the life forms in each kingdom.  He had to jump to the right answer.

After we did that for awhile, we played classification hopscotch.

I put genus, species at the end as the double since those are the most common ones you see, which I explained.  We used little rocks to move up and down the court.

Younger Toad was so cute.  He'd jump along and not necessarily remember every word but when he got to the end he'd hop with both feet and yell "GENIUS, SPECIES" (that's spelled how he said it).

  These two activities were a big hit and very effective.  Eating dinner that night, younger Toad was telling Daddy about his day and was able to list the classification categories in order, and help his brother out when he was forgetting to list the Protists.  They're clearly great memory building devices that we can use to cover other subjects.

We read these two books on the subject:

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.  If you purchase anything at Amazon through this site, I get a tiny commission that goes into more homeschooling supplies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let's Do Modern Art Summary

This is a summary of posts from my Modern Art class at the local homeschool coop this fall.  The links are to each individual post.

Our reading list is here.

Primary color paintings inspired by Piet Mondrian are here.

Circle paintings inspired by Wassily Kandinsky are here.

Geometric drawings inspired by Sonia Delaunay are here.

I did not post about the project we did inspired by MC Escher.  I don't think the projects turned out that well, and the kids didn't have fun with it.  Since I didn't consider it a success, I didn't share it.

Construction paper collages inspired by Henri Matisse are here.

Jungle paintings inspired by Henri Rousseau are here.

Pipe cleaner sculptures inspired by Alexander Calder are here.


Leaf rubbing watercolors inspired by Andrew Goldsworthy are here.

Monoprints inspired by Margaret Preston are here.

Wood sculptures inspired by Louise Nevelson are here.

Watercolor self-portraits inspired by Frida Kahlo are here

  Pastel group mural project inspired by Diego Rivera is here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Top 10 Totally Arbitrary Marriage Strategies

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary and I'm very happy to say I love my husband and think he's a great guy.
My husband and I have been involved for 13 years, which isn't breaking any records, but sadly many marriages can't even make it that many months.  I've read many blog entries from a Christian perspective about keeping your marriage strong.  Not to take anything away from those, but as a confirmed agnostic, it's not my style.  Below are my top ten tips, not in any particular order.  If they bring you happiness in your relationship, pass them on to so someone else who could use them.

Ten Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Strong

1. Be a Team Player - Yes, that means sometimes you will take one for the team and say absolutely nothing about it.

2. Fight Fair - You work hard as parents to teach your kids to manage their emotions effectively.  Don't be an adult who throws tantrums.

3. Flirt - I mean with your spouse - because it's fun, and once a long time ago you thought it was really fun, so remember it still is.

4. Exercise - It doesn't have to be together, but keep yourselves healthy.  If you want to be together a long time you'd rather walk hand in hand along the sand rather than  navigating walkers.

5. Get over it quickly - Drama is for the theater.

6.  Laugh - At yourself, at each other.  Life's a journey, not a destination - so enjoy it.

7.  Support each other - We all take risks and sometimes make bad choices.  Be there for your partner in their life. 

8.  It's all about timing -  It's easier to recognize your timing was bad after a simple request turns into an argument. Try to think ahead a bit.

9. Make Whoopie  -  If he was once so ambitious he even sewed, he probably still wants some.

10.  Be THANKFUL - of each other and your hopefully wonderful marriage!

Now if I could just practice my own advice and follow these 10 tips regularly, I just might be able to stay married another 7 years!

We're off to see The Hobbit and get sushi so it's gonna be great day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

India Week

We finally are moving on to our next continent, Asia.  Rather behind where I'd like to be, but oh well, we had fun lingering in Oceania.  We did a gentle introduction to Asia last week with the bulk of the work specific to India this week.

We got our passports stamped for our trip (passport how to post here). Asia Passport Stamps

Older Toad did the Montessori pin flag activity for Asia.  You can get the flags as a free download at Montessori Materials here.  They are not the fold over style so you'll have to tape them to the pins which is not very official Montessori but free is great.

We got a new audiobook for the car, Jungle Book.  The boy's like Kipling, we did Rikki Tikki Tavi and the Just So Stories last year so I knew it'd be popular.  I like to make vocabulary builder projects for our audiobooks so I went to the Discovery Education website to use their free custom word search builder.  It's a great tool.  I like theirs because you can copy the word search you made into another program and bump up the font size.

The Jungle Book

We did the Tiger lapbook that was a really nice freebie from Homeschool Share.  We did not use it, but there's some free printable curriculum to go with the Magic Treehouse, Tigers at Twilight here.

It was Grandma's birthday last week so we used the Locchricio cookbook to make her an Indian feast.  I love Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks and own several of them.  The Locchricio one is a kids cookbook because the directions are more extensive than regular cookbooks but the quality of the recipes is just as good.  The banana, date chutney was really different and yummy.


We looked at the materials from the Indian embassy which I did a post about here.

We took a virtual tour and watched some videos about the Taj Mahal here.

We did the regular stuff like math, handwriting and spelling too.

Originally, I'd hoped to study Diwali when it was actually going on but we got behind.  Instead, reading about it provided some good opportunities to compare it to Christmas.  I asked Toad for some similarities and differences and he came up with some good ones.  He also read one of the Cricket publications about Hinduism. I bought a world religions theme pack on sale awhile back.

We've been getting ready for Christmas around here.  We decorated the tree (which is a bamboo palm this year), made some upcycled gift wrap (post here) and wreaths.  The eggnog has been yummy!

Hope you're enjoying the holiday spirit too!

Update 12/15/12

I should have included that the end of the month is the anniversary of Rudyard Kipling's birthday.  He was born December 30th, 1865.  A resource online.

*This post contains affiliate links

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Group Diego Rivera Mural

Our last class in Modern Art covered the work of Diego Rivera. I like to do a group project for the last class and this time we did a group mural in pastels.  First we did our standard brief introduction to the artist and looked at these three works.

From the Pan American Unity Mural at City College of San Fransisco

From the Detroit Institute of Arts mural

The Kid, image source:  Wikipedia
We segued into our project with a brief discussion of the history of students reproducing the works of great artists for practice.

For our mural, I scanned the painting Dance in Tehuantepec from Pete Hamill's book,  Diego Rivera.  I then divided it up into 6 equal parts, one for each student.  The parts were printed out full size on to an 81/2" X 11" and I trimmed the art paper down to be the same size.

They got plenty of pastels with the directions to recreate what they saw in their sample.  We talked about how to blend colors and they each got some qtips for rubbing tools.  They each did a good job and reproduced their sections really well.

Older Toad got the top left hand side.  This is his finished contribution.

Resources online for more information

National Gallery of Art's inside scoop publication
Here's the American Master's PBS series. The website includes lesson plans.

Books for more information about Diego Rivera

Materials we used

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