Career Quests 2016 – 2017

September 21st, 2016

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We have begun career quests again this school year.  Boys love it and they look forward to many more this year.

Career Quest #1

We visited E911 office, Elmo’s Military Surplus (boys loved this store), Saltillo City Hall, and House of Bounce.  At the city hall, we met the Mayor, City Clerk, public works director, main street director, zoning enforcer, fire chief and police chief.  Each one of them gave a talk and enlightened us about their job and department.  We visited police department and fire department.  Here is the visual tour of our first career quest of this school year.

You may wish to read about Career Quests for the previous school year.

Making Movie and Publishing Book

September 19th, 2016

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Boys have had an interesting experience this year: making movie and publishing a book!

Kabir and Arjun along with their friends, Cox brothers (John Gannon and Jackson) made 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.


Kabir had co-authored and co-illustrated a picture book with his friends Architesh Prasad and Gargi Koul.  We published this book on Amazon: Tantrum Fantrum.  We are selling the book at cost price of $6:10 and if you do buy the book, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon for the book.  Today, Kabir read the book to the class of Mrs. Anna Beth Williams at Lawhon elementary school.  It was a wonderful experience for him.  Just it would have been better if he could do the reading with Architesh and Gargi.  Archi and Kabir read the book together in our local Barnes & Noble.  There was a nice article about Tantrum Fantrum on Daily Journal, local newspaper.  In October, Kabir read to preschoolers at a All Saints Storytime.  Kabir got an opportunity to do reading at the hospital too.


Challenge Activities – 2016-2017

September 16th, 2016

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This school year we have focused on the following monthly challenges so far.  I will update this post as we have more challenging events during this school year.

Comic Book Challenge: Kids were asked to create comics either with paper and pencil or on computer.  They had a choice of original story or converting a book into comic.  My boys used to create comic and each of them chose a book to convert into a comic.  Arjun created comic version of the book Welcome to Silver Street Farm by Nicola Davies and Kabir chose to create a comic of The Apothecary by Maile Meloy.  Kabir actually mailed his comic with a nice letter to the author.  We haven’t received a reply from the author as yet.

Cardboard Challenge: Kids were given cardboards, boxcutters and tapes.  It amazes me to see their creativity.  I just love to see what these kids can come up with.

Mississippi Photo Book Challenge: Kids had to click photos of something that related to Mississippi as seen by their eyes and then write a paragraph about the photo.  We put it together in a book format: Life in Mississippi.


Engineering Challenge: Kids were given empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls, clothespins, craftsticks, paper cups, paper plates, glue, tape and scissors.  The challenge was to create a roller coaster for marble.  This was very hard to keep it stable and so we had to hold it.  Once we held it , it worked.  Hopefully, this challenge got them thinking.  It was fun!

Collaborative Art Challenge: This art project was inspired by creation of John Salvest.  He has a collage in Atlanta airport made out of business cards.  For this challenge, kids collected business cards from local businesses.  When they got together, they glued the business cards to the canvas spelling LOVE and created a heart shape.  This artwork is being displayed in the Lee County Library.

Poetry Challenge: Each kid chose 2 of their favorite poems.  Also, each kid wrote a poem.  So, now each kid had 3 poems to share with all their friends when we met.  Each one read 3 poems during our meeting (2 of their favorites and 1 original).  My boys added all of the collected poems in a folder and now they have a personal folder of great poems: favorite poems and the poems written by their friends.  They plan to keep adding more poems to this folder over time.

Arjun’s favorite poems were: “Queen of Hearts” and “The Twelve days of Christmas”.  Arjun wrote following poem.

The Thanksgiving Feast by Arjun Gupta

We started by making a feast:

It had stuff like turkey, corn, and stew at the very least.

Then lots of friends and familes gathered

For the big celebration waiting ahead.

Next we thank God as in the world people celebrate;

Our delicious meal was great.

After the feast we hung paper leaves in a Thanksgiving Tree.

In the paper we wrote our wish, minimum three.

Now we kids like John, Jackson, Aidan, and Jaffet play

Until no longer we have time to stay.


Kabir’s favorite poems were: “IF” by Rudyard Kipling and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.  Kabir wrote the following poem.

Amnesia By Kabir Gupta

In this poem, I have amnesia, a disease that makes it hard for you to remember things. I am asking you, in a riddle format, to help me remember the “event we just had.” Hope you enjoy it!


At the event we just had

(And now I’m definitely really glad),

We had a round, chocolatey, spongey thing.

It was big, with frosting on top,

Most everyone’d eat it rather than pork chops.

I wonder very much, what was this thing…



At the event we just had

(And now I’m really, really glad),

Atop the cake there was something else.

It had wax, and also a wick,

And to blow it out, was I quick!

I wonder, now, what could this be, this something else…



At the event we just had

(And now I’m really, really, really glad)

Beside the cake with candles, there was more!

Many of the more stuff, there were

And put in bags with/or wrapping paper

Again, I wonder quite a lot, what were these things…



At the event we just had

(And now I’m really, really, really, really glad)

For the cake, its candles and presents, someone must be there!

And they were—Zowie, Aiden, John, Jack,

Aunties, Uncles, Grandma, Gramps!

So what category of people were at the event there…


At the event we just had

(And now I’m really, really, really, really, really glad)

Why am I so happy?

It’s cause I got a value added to my age!

Time to start a new 365-day life’s page!

Then what was this event, it’s made me so happy…








Sculpting Challenge: Kids were given clay and told to make whatever they want and just enjoy the process of working with clay.

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.



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.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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



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  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.


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.


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.



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!).



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.


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.


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


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.



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.