Lego Fair 2016

July 31st, 2016

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My kids participated in the Lego Fair 2016 hosted by our local library.  They were inspired and they have been anticipating next Lego Fair with enthusiasm.

Arjun loves stationary and so, he made a desk organizer that he is actually using!  It has a place to hold crayons, pencils, stapler, paperclips, pins, erasers, index cards, tape, and large clips.  It also has a piano that has a musical box underneath so that when you turn it it’s as if music is coming out of the piano.  He also made a glue and scissors holder.  He has a working drawer to keep more stuff.  He used about 470 Lego pieces.  He got first prize in his category.

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Kabir’s style is to go around the house and see what inspires him to create with Lego.  He is very proud of his first two creations during the first two Lego Fairs: Clue game and an electric working fan.  So, he wanted to create something that will make him feel proud again.  He had created a photo art last school year for the Music and Art festival.

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This photo art on the wall was his muse and he tried to make it with Lego.  He really enjoyed the process.   He added all the things he loves: family, camera, food/desserts, meditation, computers, homeschooling (depicted by computer, books and pencil), traveling (depicted by airplane and a car), piano, theatre, Legos and above all, America!  He used about 550 Lego pieces.  He got first prize in his category.

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It is such a great event to inspire creativity and imagination amongst kids.  There were couple of kids who made Hobbit’s carriage which was a masterpiece.  Their work was very detailed.  It was an amazing working model!  It’s a real shame that not many people take advantage of this event.  I hope that the library will not stop hosting it despite the low response.

Summary of Kabir’s Fourth Grade

June 8th, 2016

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Officially, we have completed five years of homeschooling with Kabir.  He is 9 years old and has never been to a school.  It has worked wonderfully so far and I am very thankful to the Divine for leading me to this path.  It seems like he is made for homeschooling.  He is a complete joy to do school with.  He is an enthusiastic learner and a sincere hard worker.  He has met every deadline I have set for him.  The problems are once he gets excited about a project, he will not keep it simple or take a short-cut and so, he takes a long time (at the expense of neglecting other subjects) and works real hard to get it done exactly how he had envisioned it.  For example, one day he spent about 12 hours (with only bathroom and meal breaks) to write a short story.  It was a Saturday, his father was home and we were begging him to come out and play but he just couldn’t stop writing because he was enjoying penning his thoughts down.  This is Kabir!  I pray this enthusiasm for learning and joy of learning never dies for him.

 

Meditation

My boys participate in meditation meetings held weekly.  They meditate at home everyday.  This is the first school year, when Kabir has not used Shri Mataji’s quotes for practicing handwriting.  My boys have weekly bhajan (devotional songs) sessions with my friend, Archana Mayfield over Skype.  This school year, we have focused on listening to short talks of Shri Mataji.  While listening we pause and try to understand everything She is trying to teach us – especially the lessons about every aspect of life.  So, five minutes talk given by Shri Mataji can take us about 20 minutes to get through but I pray that my boys will grow up and these lessons will make them strong and powerful enough to be humble, kind and compassionate citizens of the world.  These lessons will inspire them to work towards making this world a better place.

 

Mathematics

Kabir completed Horizons Grade 5 workbooks.  He is taking weekly online lessons for Abacus.  He completed the intermediary series of Life of Fred.  In addition, he has completed about 83% of 4th grade of Mathematics at Khans academy online.  He wants to spend more time doing Khan academy but we didn’t manage to make enough time for it.  He completed Mathological Liar Game Grade 5.

 

Logic

He is still working on Building Thinking Skills Level 2.  Hopefully, he will complete it in fifth grade.

 

Read-Alouds

We completed Sonlight Read-Alouds E curriculum.  This school year, we got the audiobooks for most of the books listed in the curriculum from either the library or the Audibles.com.  So, the advantage was that we could hear the story as a family while traveling and we could hear it with the appropriate accent and dramatization which made it so much more entertaining.  Also, we completed this section of the curriculum quite early in the school year.  For the ones we couldn’t find audiobooks, we enjoyed reading them together.  He did update his book journal blog with a few book reviews or reports.  For Reading Fair, Kabir chose The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba.  He loved it so much that he used it for science fair as well.

Kabir - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Kabir – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

 

Language Arts

We completed Sonlight Language Arts E curriculum, Daily Grams Grade 5, Easy Grammar Grade 4 and Wordly Wise 3000 Grade 4.  For spelling, we completed the 6th grade list from Natural Speller.  For handwriting, Kabir completed Cursive Writing Practice: Inspiring Quotes (we would discuss every quote once done).  Ms. Heather Tate edited all his compositions.  Heather is such a blessing for him as she takes him to his full potential.  Kabir completed the biography of his grandfather – A Grandfather’s Tale.  It took him about two years to complete this project.  We published the book and had a book release party for him.  This accomplishment is something that we will be proud of for the rest of our lives.  There’s nothing that beats this!

Cover of the book

Cover of the book

He also wrote another travel book about our trip to Hawaii.  He has become quite good at writing travel journals.

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He participated in 3 writing contests and won none.  One of these contests was a group contest where Kabir along with his friends (Gargi and Architesh) wrote a beautiful picture book for kids.  I love what they created.  All 3 of them have worked so beautifully with Heather Tate as their project coordinator.  Even though they didn’t win, I am hoping that I may contact some publisher who might be interested in the story.

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I love what he wrote for Duke Tip Writing contest and Gum Tree writing contest and it doesn’t matter that he didn’t win.  I love the way he faces his losses and wins.  He told me that there’s a winning fairy and she has to make sure that there is a balance of wins and losses.  Too many wins can give us ego.  So, she can only grant us as many wins to make sure of our balance.  Also, he loves reading stories of other winners so that he can learn from them.  Hence, he had no mourning for his losses – just maybe a little sadness for a minute or two – that’s it.  I just pray that he never stops believing in the theory of winning fairy in his life.

 

Science

We completed Sonlight Science E curriculum.  His favorite part was Tops 32 Electricity and Tops 33 Magnetism.  He completed all the activities in these two books perfectly and completely on his own.  He loves the topic of electronics and his passion has driven him towards a good basic knowledge for it.  He participated in bi-monthly Health and PE classes for Homeschoolers at Healthworks.  He participated in Peak Science Fair and MSEF Region 7 Science Fair – Lower Fair at Ole Miss.  At the Regional, he won second place in the category of Earth, Space, and Environmental Sciences and he won the Best of Class II (4th – 6th grade) award too!

Also, Kabir completed an online course from John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth: Inventions in Engineering.  This was such an amazing course and he thrived and blossomed doing this.  He made a bulb from scratch, he learnt about patent and wrote a mock patent application.  He learnt about simple machines, circuits and magnets.  He created a hidden circuit for a drawer that will sound alarm if someone other than him opened the drawer.  For his final project, he invented a no-touch bathroom seat cleaner (he shares the bathroom with Arjun!).

 

Computer/Technology

Kabir has taught himself to type using the Typewriter program in MacBook.  Occasionally, he participated in “hour of code” challenges at Khan Academy but it was very hard to make time for it.  Also, he did two online courses from John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth: Scratch Programming for Elementary School Students and Advanced Scratch Programming.  He completed these courses literally on his own with very little help from me.  He loved the courses so much that he was very keen on becoming a computer programmer.  He created an entertaining computer game for each of the courses as part of the final project.

 

History / Geography

We completed the History/Geography section of Sonlight E curriculum.  We completed American History and two World Wars (planning to visit Germany next month) this school year.  We discussed some of the controversial but age appropriate topics while studying American History during 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.  I was very glad with this opportunity and I did not let go of this teaching moment for even a second (even when he had the look of “here she goes again”).  We discussed the current events and the state of world in current times.  I have thoroughly enjoyed discussing this with him and telling him my point of views.  Occasionally, this school year, if I found a nice article in the newspaper I saved it for him to read.  We listened to audio book of The Story of the World Vol 1 & 2 (It is a really good way to teach history of the world although I found the history of India and account of Hinduism sometimes inaccurate as it is in all the history books written in the West.)  This school year, he participated in the country study and presentation.  He studied Missouri, USA (we visited St. Louis); China and Romania in Eastern Europe.

For Biography Fair, Kabir created a movie on The Wright Brothers (10 minutes and 45 seconds long).  Kabir has been studying history of India with 3 of his friends and each one of them have been making blog posts about different topics from history of India.  They should be able to complete it this school year.

 

Extra-Curricular Activities

This school year, Kabir was accepted in the Duke Tip program.  As a result, he took ACT Explore and participated in the annual writing contest.  Kabir is still part of swim team even though a little reluctantly.  He participated in two Pied Piper play productions this school year: as one of the narrators in 101 Dalmatians and as a head guard in Aladdin.  He loves being part of Pied Piper.

He took about 10 2-hour art classes from Mrs. Vicki Farmer.  Also, he participated in Tupelo Macaroni Kid Art & Music Fair at Tupelo Farmers’ Depot.  He played piano and created a photo art.  He made his silhouette and glued the photos of everything that he loves in the brain part of his face.

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He participated in 5 Monthly Challenges: Collaborative Art Challenge, Make-a-Movie Challenge, Make a Candy Challenge, Make a Handmade Game Challenge and Tallest Tower Challenge.

Kabir made “Life Lessons” for the Movie Challenge and coincidentally, Daily Journal – local newspaper held a movie contest for the first time.  So, Kabir submitted his movie and he won!  He won because of everybody we knew voted for him.  This win was a community effort!  Here’s a Daily Journal article, a video podcast, and an audio podcast about Kabir’s win.  He received a clap-board and a director’s chair as his prize.

He participated in 4 Career Quest days where we visited 21 local businesses.  He made things to sell in Kids’ Market in Town Creek Festival at Nettleton.

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He participated in monthly Lego Club whenever we were in town and Lego Fair.  He made a working electric Lego Fan for Lego Fair.

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He participated in monthly visits to Avon Lea Assisted Living.

He loves learning Piano from Mrs. Sandy Coutoumanos.  He participated in Baptist Keyboard Music Festival and National Federation of Music Clubs Piano Festival and earned superior ratings.  He participated in Mississippi Music Teachers Association Pre-College Evaluations and earned superior rating.  So, he qualified for State Finals and at the State Finals, he earned High Composite Score award and second place in his group.

He has been working on The Complete Book of Spanish.  He plans to complete it during fifth grade.

We participated in various field trips.  In addition, we participated in the following field trip events.  We participated in food webs and owl pellet dissection lab at the library hosted by Brandy Watson.  We visited Terry Vandeventer’s educational and fun, “Missississippi Snakes” Program at Natchez Trace.  Also, we visited University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford and participated in the q-tip tree painting art activity that he enjoyed thoroughly.  We visited the Nina and Pinta – Replicas of Columbus’ Ships at Fulton.  Kabir thoroughly enjoyed the Science lesson on human blood & blood typing lab with Brandy Watson.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with our homeschoolers’ group.  During this school year, we have visited Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, Vicksburg in Mississippi, St. Louis in Missouri, Florence in Alabama, Hawaii, Atlanta, Stonehenge in England, India and Chicago.

 

Conclusion

We celebrated the end of school with my in-laws, Nitu and Kumar Khiantani as our chief guests.  The boys concluded their end of school with a little puja to Shri Saraswati (Goddess of learning).  We made pizza, pasta salad and fruit cake for the party.  Kabir created a PowerPoint presentation on his achievements this school year.  It was a fun end of school party.

Kabir has aced fourth grade in my opinion.  He has learnt a lot.  He has become much more responsible and organized (sometimes too organized!).  It has been a year that has been worth living.  I had desired this school year to be a little different from our previous ones.  I wanted us to try and explore new topics or ideas.  Yes, we did manage to make this school year a little different from the previous ones.  It has been a very interesting and fulfilling year.  No regrets at all except that I wish I had more patience with my kids and I wish I could stretch the time so that it will not fly away this fast.

One of the major reasons I love homeschooling is the discussions I have with my boys, the opportunities I get to instill values and correct their mistakes.  I love how I can inform him about our point of view on every topic that comes up.  I don’t know how this is going to influence his adulthood but I hope that it will be a positive influence.

Soon, we will begin a new homeschooling year.  We are really looking forward to it especially because fifth grade might be the last year of homeschooling for Kabir.  So, we plan to do all that we can to learn and enjoy this school year.

 

Summary of Kindergarten with Arjun

June 6th, 2016

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Arjun has completed Kindergarten.  He is looking forward to first grade very enthusiastically.  He has worked hard sometimes enthusiastically and sometimes unwillingly.  He has lot of agendas in his head everyday such as making a house or digging up the yard to make a pool or making a theatre.  He loves to spend time outside and in his room creating stuff.  So, I have to do school with him as early during the day as possible to make sure he has lot of free-time during the day.  He gets tired quickly during school and so, I cannot do too much at a time.  We tailored  Sonlight Kindergarten curriculum to our needs.  Here is a summary of all that we did during Kindergarten.

 

Mathematics

Arjun completed Singapore Primary Math grade 1 workbook set.  Also, he completed Horizon Math Grade 1 Workbook set.  With Amit, he read the book Apples from the series of Life of Fred.  He has been taking classes to learn Abacus.  During these classes, he learns to use Abacus, hone his skills for mental math and practice word problems.

 

Logic

Arjun has been working on Logic Links.  He will complete it during first grade.

 

Science

We completed the Sonlight Science curriculum for K.  I can tell that Arjun really enjoys science especially if the book has recommended internet links.  Also, we did Sonlight’s recommended hands-on experiment.  Arjun is never satisfied with following the instructions and always wants to create his own version of experiments.  His favorite thing to do is to search up science projects or experiments on YouTube.  He participated in bi-monthly Health and PE Classes for homeschoolers at Healthworks.  He participated in Peak Science Fair.  He came up with the project idea himself and figured out how to do it using YouTube.  He explained it to Amit and then, with his help Arjun did it.

 

Read-Aloud

This is my favorite part of the school with my boys.  I love to lie down or sit comfortably to be cozy while reading to my boys.  We completed read-aloud section of the Sonlight.  I could tell that Arjun loved the non-fiction stories such as Dolphin Adventure and Dolphin Treasure but yawned and couldn’t wait for me to be done whenever it was fiction such as Winnie the Pooh.  He was so glad to be done with that book.  I was really surprised to see Arjun’s reaction as Kabir had absolutely loved the book.  Also, even though he can read very well, I don’t see him sitting down and reading books.  I noticed that he was competing with Kabir.  Any book that was his level, he thought it to be too babyish.  The books that Kabir reads are too heavy and boring for him but he cannot admit it.  As a result he doesn’t read for joy.  Although, he pays full attention and thoroughly enjoys the read-aloud section of Kabir’s curriculum irrespective of whether it is fiction or non-fiction.  He can actually answer quite a few questions if I asked him.  Also, I do see him sitting with science books.  He enjoys them.  He enjoys activity books but he will never follow an activity as per the instruction.  He will get the idea and create something of his own which might be completely different from the original plan or task.

So, after completing the list of books in the read-aloud section of the Sonlight curriculum, I read to him the first 32 books from the series of Magic Tree House.  It was a great idea!  Magic Tree House appeals to him as it’s based on non-fiction facts even though the characters are fictional.  He has started making the effort of reading ahead of me and I am very pleased.  For the Reading Fair 2016, he chose Magic Tree House.  He did a great job.

Arjun - Night of The Ninjas (Magic Tree House #5)

Arjun – Night of The Ninjas (Magic Tree House #5)

History/ Geography

We completed the history/geography section of the Sonlight.  Again, he enjoyed the recommended internet links.  We did a fair share of activities to go along with our lessons but Arjun is much happier if I give him the idea and then leave him alone to do the way he wants.  In the end, I cannot be critical as it just kills his joy.  So, I end up saying that he did a great job (which was very true quite a few times) or that it’s not bad at all (which was true most of the time if we forget the original goal of the task).  He participated in Biography Fair.  He created a documentary on Helen Keller (about 9 minutes long).  We visited Helen Keller museum in Tuscumbia, AL.

He participated in the country study and presentation.  He studied San Francisco, USA; China and Eastern Europe.

Language Arts

We completed the language arts section of the Sonlight curriculum.  He completed Explode the Code 4-6 and Wordly Wise A.  For handwriting, he completed the worksheets I had created with Shri Mataji’s quotes.  Once this was done, he started with Kumon workbook for cursive letters.  He has completed this workbook twice – once with pencil and second time with marker.  Now, he is working with cursive words that he will complete in 1st grade.  His spelling is really good if he is saying it aloud but when he is doing creative writing, his spelling is completely messed up most of the time.  I am just ignoring as it’s not often that he is willing to do creative writing.  When Kabir won Gum Tree writing contest in first grade and got second place in second grade, Arjun said that he is going to win it in Kindergarten.  I was concerned about this goal as he doesn’t really enjoy making up stories.  His favorite thing to do is to take a book and copy it.  Literally, he loves copy work when it’s his choice to do so.  He doesn’t enjoy it if I have given him this task as a school work.  Somehow, he came up with the story of Inventor Brothers.  I loved it and made him re-write it neatly on a nice paper and submit.  Surely, he won the Gum Tree writing contest and accomplished his goal (Kabir didn’t win and so, it was really nice for his self-esteem and now, he can’t say that it’s Kabir’s thing to do and not his).  Also, he enjoyed creative writing classes with Ms. Heather Tate in February.  He loved and took lot of pride to be able to keep up with the older kids in the class.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Arjun joined the swim team.  He doesn’t like the cold water but enjoys swimming.

He participated in two Pied Piper productions.  He played Patch in 101 Dalmatians and a skeleton in Aladdin.  He really enjoys being a part of Pied Piper plays.  We watched a Tupelo Community Theatre production – A Christmas Carol.

He took about 10 2-hour art classes from Mrs. Vicki Farmer.  Also, he participated in Tupelo Macaroni Kid Art & Music Fair at Tupelo Farmers’ Depot.  He played piano and created following 2 art pieces for the competition.  He made these completely on his own.

He participated in 5 Monthly Challenges: Collaborative Art Challenge, Make-a-Movie Challenge, Make a Candy Challenge, Make a Handmade Game Challenge and Tallest Tower Challenge.

He participated in 4 Career Quest days where we visited 21 local businesses.

He made cards and coasters to sell in Kids’ Market in Town Creek Festival at Nettleton.

He participated in monthly Lego Club whenever we were in town and Lego Fair.  Everyone got a certificate and trophy cup for participating in the Lego Fair but he insists that he won!

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He participated in monthly visits to Avon Lea Assisted Living.

He loves learning Piano from Mrs. Sandy Coutoumanos.  He participated in National Federation of Music Clubs Piano Festival and earned superior rating.  He is very proud of it.  Sometimes, he participates in the weekly bhajan sessions with Archana Mayfield over Skype but mostly he naps.

He has been working on The Complete Book of Spanish.  He plans to complete during first grade.

We participated in various field trips.  In addition, we participated in the following field trip events.  We participated in food webs and owl pellet dissection lab at the library hosted by Brandy Watson.  We visited Terry Vandeventer’s educational and fun, “Missississippi Snakes” Program at Natchez Trace.  Also, we visited University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford and participated in the q-tip tree painting art activity that he enjoyed thoroughly.  I had to keep him off my stash of q-tips that were disappearing very fast.  At the museum, there were so many beautiful handmade quilts and my boys made sure that they took photo of every quilt on display for their grandmother who loves quilting.  We visited the Nina and Pinta – Replicas of Columbus’ Ships at Fulton.

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We celebrated Thanksgiving with our homeschoolers’ group.  During this school year, we have visited Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, Vicksburg in Mississippi, St. Louis in Missouri, Hawaii, Atlanta, Stonehenge in England, India and Chicago.

 

Conclusion

We celebrated the end of school with my in-laws, Nitu and Kumar Khiantani as our chief guests.  We made pizza, pasta salad and fruit cake for the party.  Arjun created a PowerPoint presentation on Sachin Tendulkar as part of the end of school presentation.

I am very satisfied with all that Arjun has learnt as a kindergartener.  He is a very smart kid with lots of ideas.  He has the capability to think outside the box.  He is very creative with his hands.  At the same time, he has come out of his shell and has become quite outspoken (sometimes I have to put my hand on his mouth).  He is a very strong willed and strong headed boy and he absolutely drives me mad.  Our house is always a mess because of him.  He never puts anything back in place.  I am constantly running out of tapes, glues, scissors and staples.  Most paints and markers are dried because he forgets to close them.  There are pieces of paper and cardboard everywhere.  Sometimes there is paint on the carpet, wall and his desk.  Once his desk was full of ants because he saved some chocolates in it.  He is constantly creating things and making a mess at the same time.  He never saves his creations and so, we have nothing to show.  If he makes a gift for me, he might just take it back in a few days and re-gift it to someone else in the family or just use it to create something else.  Yes, this is Arjun and he rules every part of my heart!  He knows this very well and he never fails to take advantage of it.  Everyone in the family keeps scolding him but we cannot enjoy even a minute without him.  He brings joy and smile to all of us every day!  We love him and are very proud of him.

Over all, it has been an amazing school year with Arjun that I will cherish forever.

Science Fair 2016

April 19th, 2016

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Kabir was inspired by the book, “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” by William Kamkwamba.  So, he created a windmill for the reading fair.  For Science Fair, he took the same project a step further and did an experiment to figure out the effect of blade numbers, blade length and windspeed on the amount of electricity generated by a windmill.  

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Here’s the video of the his tests: Windmill Science Experiment Movie.

Here’s the paper (in MS Word) he wrote after conducting the experiment: The Effect of Blade Numbers, Blade Length and Windspeed on the Amount of Electricity Generated by a Windmill.  We practiced first with our Peak Homeschool Group and then we went to Ole Miss for MSEF Region VII Lower Fair.  Kabir won second place in the category of Earth, Space and Environmental Sciences and he won best of Class II (4th – 6th grade).

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Arjun chose to make his own motor for science fair.  He took the initiative to find a YouTube video, make a list of materials needed and explained the process to Amit in detail.  We were so impressed that we had to let him do this project.  Arjun made the motor with Amit’s help.  He did almost 80% of the work on his own including trying to write the explanations that needed to be printed out and glued to his project board.  He got the idea of making the motor from the motor that we bought at Hobby Lobby for Kabir’s Windmill project.  He impressed us with his understanding.  He learnt about the motor from a YouTube video.

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Here’s the photo of his motor.  Here’s the movie showing his working motor.

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Biography Fair 2016

April 17th, 2016

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This month, we hosted Biography Fair.  We met at the library.  Even though we had just three families who attended the fair, we made the best of it.  Kabir chose to study the Wright Brothers and Arjun chose to study the life of Helen Keller.

In school, we studied about the Wright brothers.  Kabir was so inspired that he chose to make a movie on Wright brothers using cardboard cutouts.  He worked really hard on writing the script and then making cardboard cutouts.  He had to shoot the movie (sometimes several takes) and edit it too.  The difficult part for him was that he was given merely 4-5 days to start and complete the project.  He worked hard and almost non-stop.  He has learnt so much about iMovie with this project.  Here’s the link to the movie of The Wright Brothers (10 minutes and 46 seconds long).

Arjun chose to study the life of Helen Keller.  We visited Helen Keller’s birthplace in Tuscumbia, AL.  Since Arjun has overcome the stage fright, I wanted him to concentrate on speaking clearly.  So, we chose to use littlebirdtales.com for his presentation.  He had to record several times as he noticed how he gobbles up a syllable or two from few words.  Here’s the link to the presentation of Helen Keller (about 9 minutes long).