Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

End of School Party 2017

Friday, June 30th, 2017

We end the school each year with a little party at home and we invite only 1 family as the chief guest for this party.  This year, our chief guest was their piano teacher, Mrs. Sandy Coutoumanos and her husband.  

During the end of school party, each one of them does a small presentation.  Arjun chose to play piano and read couple of poems and stories that he had written while Kabir chose to do a presentation on Mozart.  Then, one of us presents a summary of all that the boys accomplished this academic year.  This makes all of us realize how hard we have worked and how much we have learnt while having lots of fun.  Then we present the boys with a certificate and a paper graduation cap.  We absolutely love these parties!

Each boy was allowed to decide 3 items for the menu and here’s what they requested:

Arjun’s Requests

Smoothie: Strawberry, Banana, Orange Juice and Pineapple

Salad: Baby Spinach, Mango, Grape tomato, Pecan, Cranberry with Pesto dressing

Grilled Red Tomato with Oregano

Kabir’s Requests

Diploma Rolls: Prosciutto and Cheese

Homemade pizza

Fruit Cake: Mango, Kiwi and Blueberry

 

Amit and I are going to cherish these moments and I am sure that the boys are too!

Summary of Kabir’s 5th Grade

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Each school year for us has been little different spontaneously.  It seems that each school year has a different theme for us and is unique.  We have learnt so much this academic year and it has been so eventful: making a 45-minute documentary on immigrant residents of our area, publishing a book, winning science fair for a project that is dear to our heart, being #12 finalist at National History Bee, and above all – our travels.  Again, I am grateful for this opportunity.  I love what we are doing even though there are days when I feel very overwhelmed or I second-guess myself.  This year, we used Bookshark – secular sister company of Sonlight – instead of Sonlight.  Here’s the summary of Kabir’s 5th grade.

 

Meditation

My boys participate in meditation meetings held weekly in our town.  They meditate at home everyday.  Then have weekly bhajan (devotional songs) sessions with my friend, Archana Mayfield over Skype.  This school year, my boys have focused on taking turns in leading the meditations at home.  Each of them have a prayer book where they write a prayer whenever they feel the need.  Sometimes, they may write down 3 – 5 points that they have learnt from talks of Shri Mataji on a particular day.  We have started watching the series of Ramayana together.

 

Mathematics

Kabir completed Saxon Math 7/6 curriculum, and 6th grade Math at Khan Academy.  He completed Mathalogical Liar Game Grade 6.  He has completed the Abacus course (goes till 8th grade Abacus), TCAP and National Standardized Test with Mrs. Emily Zhang.  He is now focusing on Mental Math and Pre-Algebra during his online classes with Mrs. Emily Zhang.  He has completed “Cryptography: Math and Codes” from CTY Online.  He completed the Life of Fred 2-Book Set: Fractions, Decimals and Percents.

 

Logic

He has completed Building Thinking Skills Level 2.

 

Read-Alouds

We completed Bookshark Read-Alouds Level 5 curriculum.  Again, we got the audiobooks for few books listed in the curriculum from either the library or the Audibles.com.  The theme of this school year was Eastern Hemisphere and so, we couldn’t find many audiobooks or movies.  Hence, we enjoyed reading them together.  He did update his book journal blog with a few book reviews or reports.  This school year, Kabir tried to combine his language arts assignments with the book reports.  For example, if the assignment was to create a travel brochure, he chose one of the books such as “52 Days by Camel” to create a travel brochure based on the travels of Lawrie Raskin.  If you have time and an interest, I encourage you to check out his work that he has posted at his book journal blog.  Another highlight of this academic year was Kabir making one thousand paper cranes after reading “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.”

For Reading Fair, Kabir chose “The Apothecary” by Maile Meloy.  He loved it so much that he made a comic out of it.  He mailed a letter and the comic he had created to the author.  I hope she got it.

Language Arts

We completed Bookshark Language Arts Level 5 curriculum, Daily Grams Grade 6, Easy Grammar Grade 5 and Wordly Wise 3000 Book 5.  For spelling, we completed the 7th grade list from Natural Speller.  For handwriting, Kabir completed Cursive Writing Practice: Joke and Riddles.  Ms. Heather Tate edited all his compositions.  Heather is such a blessing for my boys.  For one of his assignments he wrote a persuasive letter addressed to residents of our subdivision encouraging them to recycle.  This letter was distributed in the subdivision’s monthly newsletter.  We didn’t receive any response :(.  He completed two courses called “The Process of Writing” and “Young Readers’ Series: The Right Stuff- Nonfiction” from CTY online.  He participated in both Duke TIP Writing contest and Gum Tree Writing contest.  We used the services of the publishing company of Amazon.com (free to any author who wants to publish) to publish “Tantrum Fantrum” and so, he got the experience of book reading as an author at Lawhon Elementary, Barnes & Noble, All Saints Storytime for pre-schoolers and at Amit’s work place – Cath Lab at our local hospital.  He enjoyed book reading thoroughly.

Science

We completed Sonlight F/Bookshark Level 5 Science curriculum.  Since the main focus this school year was human body, Kabir studied most of the science section of the curriculum with Amit.  He participated in bi-monthly Health and PE classes for Homeschoolers at Healthworks.  He completed 175 out of 300 snap circuits projects.  For field trips, we visited California Science Center, Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, Audobon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans, backyard astronomy with Mr. Bob Swanson, and Three Rivers Landfill in Pontotoc.  He participated in dissection of organs of a dead deer with Mr. Nate and Amit, Frog dissection and Owl pellet dissection with Mrs. Brandy Watson.  He participated in 5 homeschool classes at Memphis Zoo.  Each class was 2-hour long.  Topics covered: Tundra, Animal defenses (unique ways animals attack and defend), Properties of Matter (how do temperature, density, volume and buoyancy affect animals) and 2 Dissection Days – shark and drum fish dissection.

He participated in Peak Science Fair, Peak “All About Space” presentations and MSEF Region 7 Science Fair – Lower Fair at Ole Miss.  At the Regional, he won first place in the category of Behavioral and Social Science and also, won the best project award for 4th – 6th grade category.  I am thrilled with the topic of his project: “Will a Simple Relaxation Technique Promoting Mental Silence Have a Positive Impact on Stress Level of School Children.”  For “All About Space” presentation, he wrote a long poem about the solar family.

History / Geography

We completed the History/Geography section of Bookshark Level 5 curriculum.  We studied Eastern Hemisphere this school year.  He was introduced to Japanese culture and learnt origami with Mrs. Kyoko Okamoto.

This school year, he studied Indian History and participated in a group project where he contributed to a blog about Indian History.  Also, he created a short documentary from our trip to India for presentation of India.  He helped at representing India in the Celebration of Cultures event at Oren Dunn museum.  We visited Hernando de Soto Encampment at Natchez Trace Parkway and Oren Dunn Museum as part of our field trip.

Also, he was one of the creators of the 45-minute documentary titled: America: The Land of Hope, Opportunity, and Freedom.  They interviewed 17 immigrants living in Tupelo, Oxford or Saltillo.  We held the movie premiere in the library.

The highlight for studying history and geography was our travels (International Travels: Berlin in Germany; Athens, Corinth, Nafplio, Delphi, Mycenae, Olympia, and Meteora in Greece; Chandigarh, Amritsar, and Dharamshala in India; Vienna and Salzburg in Austria, Cabella Ligure in Italy, Zermatt in Switzerland. US Travels: Road Trip to Texas, Tucson and Grand Canyon in Arizona, Bryce Canyon in Utah, New Orleans, Huntsville, Los Angeles, and Atlanta) and National History Bee (#12 in the country).

Whenever and wherever we traveled, he planned our daily activity with help of Amit and Rick Steve’s guidebooks.  He read the guidebook and taught us the history.  The sight that I will hold dear in my heart forever was Kabir being our guide with help of Rick Steve’s guidebook in all the museums and sites that we visited.

 

Piano

Kabir learns piano from Mrs. Sandy Coutoumanos.  He participated in Piano Master Class with Mark Valenti at Blue Mountain College.  Mark Valenti is a concert pianist from Chicago.  He participated in Baptist Keyboard Festival (he played Amazing Grace), National Federation of Music Clubs Piano Festival, MMTA.  He got superior rating in each of these events.  He was awarded gold cups for getting superior rating for 3 consecutive years during National Federation of Music Clubs Piano Festival in Music Theory, Piano Solo and Concerto.  During our trip to Vienna and Salzburg, we learnt a lot about Mozart.  Also, we attended a Mozart concert in Vienna, which was our first experience of opera.  He is intrigued with the concept of opera.  He did a presentation on Mozart for our end of school party.  He completed “Mastering the Fundamentals of Music” course from CTY Online.

Spanish

He completed the Complete Book of Spanish Grades 1-3.  He is learning Spanish at Duolingo.com at a very slow speed.

 

Theatre

We saw the performance of Swan Lake at Tupelo High School and The Shakespeare Mix-up performance by Pied Piper Players.  He was Charlie in the Pied Piper Players production of “Disney’s Willy Wonka Jr.”  Also, he participated in Tupelo Community Theater off-broadway production of “On the Radio.”

Art

He took seven 2-hour art classes with Mrs. Vicki Farmer and five day 3-hour art camp with Mrs. Kit Stafford.

 

Extra-Curriculur Activities

Kabir swims bi-weekly at Tupelo Aquatic Center as a team member of Shockwave.  We participated in only 1 career quest due to scheduling issues.  Here’s a summary of some of our field trips.

He participated in following 7 challenging activities with the homeschoolers: comic book challenge (he made a comic based on the book “The Apothecary”), cardboard challenge (he made a cardboard ship), MS photo book challenge (he took photo and wrote about Tupelo Aquatic Center, Tupelo Buffalo Park, and Ballard Park), engineering challenge, collaborative art challenge (made a collage with business cards of local businesses; we donated this art to the local library), poetry challenge and sculpting challenge.

Ship – Kabelon

For the library, he and Arjun created a MS themed Lego creation.  They made Elvis guitar, Magnolia – our state flower, Cotton, Mississippi river and Natchez Trace Parkway.

We managed to participate in monthly Lego Club meetings in our local library only a few times this academic year.  He got first prize in his category at Lego Fair Competition 2016 held by our local library.

 

Conclusion

I am thankful to Amit and my in-laws for being the support that they are because we couldn’t have done this alone.  This academic year, Kabir has been accepted to Davidson’s young scholar program.  He is a hard-working, sincere, and organized kid.  He has delivered on everything that I ask of him.  He has completed all CTYOnline classes independently without any input or help from us and in a timely manner.  He is slowly learning the qualities of discipline, honesty, and time-management.  He is an independent learner and his interests are varied.  As a result, he will be able to take inter-disciplinary approach to whatever he does in life (hopefully).  At the same time, I make sure that he prays daily, eats healthy when at home, exercises moderately (swimming, biking, skating, etc.), plays and sleeps 8-10 hours each night.  I wish he wouldn’t jump around or fidget so much but then he wouldn’t be a child.  I am trying to work on his table manners.  I am trying to teach him that it’s ok to do nothing once in a while but that’s very hard for him.  Arjun has the capacity to just sit, do nothing and yet enjoy but Kabir will drive us mad and ultimately we will let him be with his books.  That’s just his personality and I completely understand.  I am really thankful and grateful for being Kabir and Arjun’s mother.  I couldn’t have had a better full-time profession for myself.  It’s probably one of the most hard-working job with the greatest self-satisfaction for me!!!

Summary of Arjun’s First Grade

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Another great school year is done!!!  I just can’t believe that Arjun has completed first grade.  Time is flying for us too fast and I so wish I could slow it down a bit.  I am so proud of Arjun as he has come such a long way in every aspect.  Finally, I find him enjoying reading.  He has developed math skills beyond my expectations.  He has worked hard to improve his writing skills.  I am more than satisfied with his progress.  It gives me a great contentment to know that the foundation of our homeschool is the teachings of Shri Mataji.  Our travels are based on learning about the world and enhancing our spiritual endeavors.  Here’s a summary of all that we accomplished.

 

Mathematics

He completed the Horizons Math 2 curriculum, Khan Academy Grade 2 curriculum.  He attends online classes with Mrs. Emily Zhang where he has completed Abacus grade 4, Mental Math grade 5 and Challenging Word Problem grade 2.

 

Logic

He completed MindWare Logic Links and Building Thinking Skills Level 1.

 

Science

He completed Sonlight Science Core B curriculum.  He absolutely loves Usborne Internet-linked books.  He completed animal report forms for many of the animals we studied during this academic year.  Kabir worked with him to do the required science experiments.  He has been working through the Snap Circuit projects.  He attended Health and PE classes at HealthWorks.  He participated in PEAK Science Fair and in Region VII Lower Science Fair at Ole Miss and won 2nd place in the category of Physics and Astronomy in class I (1st- 3rd grades).  He participated in “All About Space” PEAK homeschool event where he researched and presented space stations.  For field trips, we visited California Science Center, Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, Audobon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans, backyard astronomy with Mr. Bob Swanson, and Three Rivers Landfill in Pontotoc.  He participated in dissection of organs of a dead deer with Mr. Nate, and Owl pellet dissection with Mrs. Brandy Watson.  He participated in 5 homeschool classes at Memphis Zoo.  Each class was 2-hour long.  Topics covered: Tundra, Animal defenses (unique ways animals attack and defend), Properties of Matter (how do temperature, density, volume and buoyancy affect animals) and 2 Dissection Days – earthworm dissection and owl pellet.

History/ Geography

He completed Sonlight History/Geography Core B curriculum – Year 1 of 2 World History.  He made lap books for the first four ancient civilizations of the world.

He was introduced to Japanese culture and learnt origami with Mrs. Kyoko Okamoto.  We visited Hernando DeSoto Encampment in Natchez Trace Parkway, and Oren Dunn Museum.  He studied Indian history and did a PowerPoint Presentation on India for the homeschoolers.  One of the best way to learn history and geography is travel!  This academic year, we traveled to Berlin (Germany), India, Cabella Ligure (Italy), Greece, Vienna and Salzburg (Austria), and Zermatt (Switzerland).  In USA, we traveled to Tucson and Grand Canyon in Arizona, Bryce Canyon in Utah, New Orleans, Huntsville, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.  We took a road trip to Texas and stopped on the way in many places in Mississippi, Louisiance, Arkansas and Texas.  He wrote a travel journal of our trip to Berlin.

Read-Alouds

He completed Sonlight Core B curriculum for read-alouds.  He completed a book review form for each of the books I read aloud to him.  We added “Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein to our curriculum.  We have finished about three-fourths of the book.  We will complete it in 2nd grade.  He loves these poems.  He is beginning to enjoy books a lot!  He has read the entire series of Magic Tree House.  He presented Charlotte’s Web in homeschool reading fair.

Language Arts

He completed Grade 3 readers with Language Arts 3 of Sonlight curriculum.  He completed Explode the Code 7 and 8, Wordly Wise B and C, Easy Grammar: Daily Guided Teaching & Review for Grade 2 Student Workbook.  We have a folder that is called Arjun’s Dictionary and he adds words to this dictionary using this vocabulary form.  He has been learning some grammar fundamentals at Khan Academy.  In addition, I created worksheets for him from Wren & Martin.  He can read and write cursive very comfortably.  This year, he developed a keen interest in writing.  One of the reasons is that after he has written a draft on paper, he is allowed to type his composition on computer and edit it.  Also, he gets to work with Mrs. Heather Tate to edit his work.  He absolutely loves working with her.  One of the favorite things for him to do is to take a book and copy.  He just loves to copy text from any book he fancies.  He has always chosen non-fiction so far.  This year, he participated in Gum Tree Writing Competition.  He wrote a letter to President Obama this academic year and he received a reply that we will treasure for life.

Spanish

He completed the Complete Book of Spanish Grades 1-3.  He is continuing to learn Spanish at Duolingo.com.

 

Extra-Curriculur Activities

He swims at Tupelo Aquatic Center as a member of Shockwave.  He took seven 2-hour art classes with Mrs. Vicki Farmer and five day 3-hour art camp with Mrs. Kit Stafford.  He takes weekly piano classes with Mrs. Sandy Coutoumanos.  He participated in Baptist Keyboard Festival (he played Joy to the World), National Federation of Music Clubs Piano Festival and MMTA.  He got a superior rating in each of them.  He sometimes participates in weekly bhajan sessions with Mrs. Archana Mayfield.  He was a oompah-loompah in the Pied Piper Players production of “Disney’s Willy Wonka Jr.”

Also, he participated in Tupelo Community Theater off-broadway production of “On the Radio.”

We saw the performance of Swan Lake at Tupelo High School.

We went for only 1 career quest due to time constraints.  Here’s a summary of some of our field trips. He got first prize in his category at Lego Fair Competition 2016 held by our local library.  He made a Lego desk organizer and he used it for a long time before we had to break it.

For the library, he and Kabir created a MS themed Lego creation.  They made Elvis guitar, Magnolia – our state flower, Cotton, Mississippi river and Natchez Trace Parkway.

We managed to participate in monthly Lego Club meetings in our local library only a few times this academic year.

He has been preparing meals from the book ““What Shall We Cook Today?” with the help of his grandmother.  He is going to continue this in 2nd grade.

Arjun helped Kabir and Cox brothers to create a 45-minute long movie titled: America: The Land of Hope, Opportunity, and Freedom.  They interviewed 17 immigrants living in Tupelo, Oxford or Saltillo.  We held the movie premiere in the library.

He participated in following 7 challenging activities with the homeschoolers: comic book challenge (he sent his version of comic book to the author of Welcome to Silver Street Farm), cardboard challenge (he made a cardboard theatre), MS photo book challenge (he took photo and wrote about Tupelo Automobile museum, Oren Dunn museum, and Northeast MS Daily Journal), engineering challenge, collaborative art challenge (made a collage with business cards of local businesses; we donated this art to the local library), poetry challenge and sculpting challenge.

 

Conclusion

Arjun loves outdoors and he spends a lot of time outdoors on his own.  Also, he spends a lot of time on his own in his room creating all sorts of stuff.  As a result, it creates a lot of cleaning issues for me but I am praying that when he grows up I will look back at this stage and say that it was worth it.  I am still trying to teach him to be tidy and pick up his stuff.  He is much better than previous years in this respect.  He has come out of his shell completely and has become people-friendly (although sometimes I wish to put my hand over his mouth).  Overall, I am really happy with his progress in every aspect this academic year.  Especially, I am thrilled that he is discovering the joy of reading for pleasure.  He makes us scream, love, laugh, and cry – all at the same time.  He is the spice in this household.  He enriches our lives by leaps and bounds.

I am really thankful to each one of you for inspiring and encouraging me.  I am thankful to all those mothers who share their ideas either online or in person.  I am thankful to Amit for being a hands-on father to boys.  I am thankful to especially my mother-in-law who has moved with us for good and is taking care of most of the household chores so that I can help the boys with schoolwork.  I feel lot of contentment and satisfaction with the way this year has unfolded.  It seems like a divine plan!  Thank you!

National History Bee

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

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

Monday, June 19th, 2017

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.