Friday, May 28, 2010

Week 31, days 4 and 5

Thursday: Bible. Last weekend, I went through all the verses we've memorized so far, put them on 3x5 note cards, and organized them in a card box. I filed some under "daily" review, some under "odd" or "even" (referring to the day of the month), and some under "Monday" through "Friday", based on how well I thought the kids knew them. We've been using this system all week, and it's helped to remind the kids of some of the verses they had almost forgotten. Once they're really down pat on some of the verses, I'll file them under "1" to "31" to be reviewed only once a month. Hopefully, this way many of these verses will end up in their long-term (lifelong) memory. This weekend, I intend to do the same for our catechism questions and the hymns we've learned so far. I introduced a new memory verse and catechism question, and we read 3 Bible stories: the stoning of Stephen, Philip and the Ethiopian, and the conversion of Saul/Paul. The remainder of the school day was a fairly uneventful set of our usual review exercises.

In the afternoon, we went to the library to pick up books for the next week and a half's worth of geography lessons. This ended up taking 3 times longer than I had planned, because my library card initially didn't work. A month or so ago, I had returned a pile of books from 2 different branches using their shiny new computerized return system. Unfortunately, computers being (fast, accurate, and) stupid, the system didn't acknowledge half of the books as being returned. (I had inserted them into the machine at a slight angle, you see). A week later, noticing that some of the books I had returned were listed as ovedue, I complained, and they tagged the books as "missing, claims returned". They found all but one of them, but apparently the search time had expired and I was now automatically charged for that book. If I hadn't had a distinct memory of putting that particular book into the machine, I might have been open to the possibility that it really was somewhere in our house, but I refused to pay a $30 fine for a book I had truly handed back. So this took a while to sort out, but eventually they cleared the fine and made my library card work again. I'm glad, because I rely pretty heavily on my library card.

Friday: Geography. Today, we learned about Jordan. I went through a long decision-making process on which countries we're going to cover before the end of the school year, and I've narrowed the list down to Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa, possibly adding in Antarctica at the end. I skipped Turkey, Iran, and Kenya, which had been on my list, due to time considerations and the fact that I couldn't think of anything on my short list to remove in order to put one of them in. But then, my dad lived a perfectly happy life knowing nothing about how amazing Turkey was until he was my age, at which point he was incensed at his entire schooling experience for denying him an inkling of how phenomenal their art and architecture are. So my kids will be happy too, and I'll let them in on the wonders of Turkey (and other places) before they're 30.

My box of games from RightStart Math arrived yesterday, and I started teaching the kids the mnemonic rhyme "Yellow is the Sun" for how the numbers 6-10 relate to 5. I plan to include some RightStart games on P's 5-a-days for the rest of the year, and then just play occasional games throughout the summer, incorporating more of them in our math lessons in the fall.

For language arts, I had P describe how to play a favourite game. She chose Uno, and ended up being able to summarize the rules quite effectively. She wanted to play it as well, but it was getting on towards lunch time and I wanted to make hummus. Given the choice between playing Uno and helping in the kitchen, both children chose the latter. We enjoyed our lunch of fresh-baked pita bread (such fun to watch them puff up!) and hummus as well as zaatar.

After lunch and P's violin practice, we started our study of Jordan by looking at a book about the Nabatean city of Petra that I found on my brother-in-law's bookshelf (he's in the Caribbean, so he won't mind me borrowing it). I loved explaining the pictures based on my memory of the place, trying to give a fuller sense of the place by my descriptions than the pictures alone could give. Living in Jordan for 4 1/2 years in my teens gave me the chance to visit Petra a number of times, and I fell in love with the place. One day, of course, our whole family will have to go there and probably spend a full week exploring it and the surrounding areas.

We marked Jordan on the Markable Map (there was only space to label it "J"), and discussed how, though it was hard to see on the map, Jordan did have a tiny coastline on the Red Sea - at only 16 miles long, you wouldn't expect it to look impressive on a world map. We then looked through a library book on Jordan. This took ages, I confess, because I was able to tell so many stories about the different pictures. The kids saw a picture of King Hussein and heard how I sang a solo at a school concert he came to (his daughters went to our school) - the choir teacher only told us on the day of the concert that he was expected to come, which didn't exactly make me less nervous. We looked at pictures of Jerash, and I told how my high school graduation was held at the main amphitheatre there, and how Queen Noor, our speaker, flew in by helicopter. We read about mensaf (the national dish, consisting of lamb meat cooked in yogurt on a bed of rice and pine nuts), and I told how my dad had once been the guest of honour and was served the tongue - pulled by our host out of the lamb skull in the middle of the platter. Looking at the pictures in the book made me homesick. A picture of a shepherd on a donkey with his sheep could have been taken from our back yard. Okay, Lord, when do I get to move back to the Middle East?

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