National History Bee

June 20th, 2017

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Sometimes we happen to be walking on a path that leads us to certain destination without realizing.  That’s exactly what happened to us.  

Roan Johnson introduced us to homeschool and Sonlight curriculum which has lot of emphasis on history.  Ritu Gupta introduced us to Magic Tree House series when Kabir turned 4.  Hence, Kabir started getting a strong foundation in both US and World history.  Then, we found out about National History Bee during Fall 2016.  It’s usually difficult to register for a competition if you homeschool in rural US and are not a member of a big homeschool association and local public schools are not willing to help you.  However, it was super-easy to register for History Bee competition (free for homeschoolers).  Kabir took the qualification exam just to have fun without any preparation.  He qualified for Regionals!  He prepared for it by listening to Story of the World Vol. 1-4, doing some past History Bee Q&A and learning US and World history at Khan Academy.  While preparing he had fun making paper cranes.  He really enjoyed!

We went to Birmingham, AL for Regionals in February 2017.  Kabir absolutely loved the thrill of answering questions during buzzer rounds.  He was second in the Regionals and hence, he qualified for Nationals.  We were overjoyed.  We made it a point to complete the entire 5th grade curriculum (except Math and Easy Grammar) and to enjoy all our planned vacation before the Nationals during June 1-4.

Medal at Regionals

Kabir worked hard and he completed the entire 5th grade curriculum by April 1 (except Math and Easy Grammar).  He also participated in Science Fair, TCT off-broadway production of “On The Radio”, and MMTA piano competitions.  We enjoyed our travels to LA, Greece, and India before the Nationals.  So, we did not make preparation for History Bee the only thing we need to do between February and June because in life you always have to take care of multiple areas.  In order to prepare for the Nationals, this is what Kabir did.

  • Completed the US and World history section from Khan Academy.
  • Listened to the Story of the World Vol. 1-4 and made notes so that he can review the notes during the last week before the Nationals.  I am so happy that he has learnt to listen and take notes.  This is a skill that will serve him well in future.
  • We read past History Bee Q&A.
  • We made notes from the entire 5th grade history curriculum that he reviewed during the last week before the Nationals.
  • We made notes from one of US history textbooks that we had studied during the 4th grade.  Again, he reviewed these notes during the last week before the Nationals.
  • He re-read many of the history books that we had read during grade 1- grade 4.
  • He read “History Essentials – US & World Timeline” – recommended study guide.

While preparing he made lots and lots of paper cranes.  He enjoyed and that was the key.  Also, his knowledge of US and World history has become stronger because of this and I am absolutely thrilled about it.  When we reached Atlanta for the Nationals, we were just hoping for him to do as well as he can.  He did very well during all the preliminary rounds and made it to the finals.  Being a homeschooler, I cannot tell you how reassuring it was.  I tend to go through lot of self-doubt especially because I am not a trained teacher and I have never been to US school.  So, I keep doubting if Kabir is at par with his peers.  Sometimes, I wonder if he would have done much better if he had the opportunity to go to one of the best schools in the country.  Participating in this competition reassured me that he is getting exactly the education he is meant for and is in no way any less than most of the state-of-the-art schools.  I realized that I need to be grateful for it and have faith in the Divine plan!

He couldn’t do as well during the Finals but that’s ok because he knew most of the answers but he was slow in pressing the buzzer.  I am proud of the knowledge he has gained by participating in this competition.  He is #12 in the country and we are very grateful for that!

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

June 19th, 2017

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We read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr.  Kabir was so inspired by the story.  We tried to make a crane using the instructions in the back of the book but it was too difficult for us.  Mrs. Kyoko Okamoto taught us how to make cranes in the origami classes for homeschoolers.  Kabir was so inspired that he has made 1000 paper cranes and they are all hanging in 10 garlands of 100 paper cranes each in our house in different rooms.  They are beautiful!

He has been making them wherever we go and giving paper cranes to most people we meet, hoping that his paper cranes will bring good luck to them.  He has been making cranes out of all sorts of papers but my favorites are the miniature ones with candy wrappers.  He just can’t stop and he is making more paper cranes whenever he is inspired.

Science Fair 2017

April 17th, 2017

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Boys participated in Peak Science Fair and then they presented their projects at Region VII Lower Science Fair at Ole Miss.  For Peak, they needed to create a hands-on stem activity.  So, they studied and created geodesic domes.  We took gumdrops and toothpicks so that each kid can create their own geodesic dome.

For Regional Science Fair, boys chose following projects.  When Arjun read about how Thomas Alva Edison experimented with different filaments to create a light bulb, Arjun wanted to do the same.  So, that’s exactly what he did.  He tested different filaments such as hair, copper wire, iron wire, wood, pencil lead, and nichrome wire, to see if they will glow or not.  He won 2nd place in the category of Physics and Astronomy in class I (1st – 3rd grades).


My kids do a short meditation everyday so Kabir wanted to do an experiment to see that if the same guided mental silence technique will make a difference to the stress level of elementary and middle school aged kids.  He wanted to see if our method can be proven scientifically to be helpful in reducing the stress for his peers.  We encouraged him to experiment with an open mind.  He worked with 12 subjects (one of which was Arjun) for five consecutive days.  This was first experience of meditation for eleven of the twelve subjects.  He recorded the subject’s perceived stress score on the first day and then on the fifth day.  The result showed reduction of stress by 40% on average by fifth day.  Each day, he recorded their temperature, pulse and blood pressure.  After that he lead his subject through a guided relaxation technique that involved relaxing instrumental music, slow breathing and saying positive affirmations.  After the relaxation, he recorded the subject’s temperature, pulse and blood pressure again.  He requested a written comment from the subject about the experience on the first day and then on the fifth day.  Overall, it made a positive impact and showed that the relaxation technique did help in reduction of stress.

This experiment was so beneficial to him personally that hopefully, it will make an impact on him for life.  He won 1st place in the category of Behavioral and Social Science and also, won the best project award for 4th – 6th grade category.

They also participated in “All About Space” organized by Peak Homeschoolers.  Arjun did the research about space stations very enthusiastically.  He did most of the work on his own.  The topic was very dear to his heart.  He created the Lego model of ISS.  Kabir used the model of the solar system that he had made with clay couple of years ago and wrote a poem about the solar system.

Meals by Arjun

March 25th, 2017

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Arjun has been preparing meals for the family when the mood strikes.  He is using the recipes from “What Shall We Cook Today?”  The conditions are that he has to follow the recipes in the book and he cannot use the same recipe again.  He has been rating the recipes in the book.  Also, he is using only his grandmother’s help to prepare these meals.  All the meals have been delicious and it has been a real joy.  Here are the photos of meals prepared by him with the help of his grandmother.

Science Dissection

February 20th, 2017

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Dissection of organs (heart, kidney and lung) of a dead deer in the name of science!