Saturday, October 29, 2016

Kindergarten Week 11

A few things we did this week...
Gemma worked on her millinery skills.

On Sunday, after church, I needed to work on report cards, so I told Gemma to figure out something that would keep her occupied. She dug out a bag of felt, a bag of feathers, a roll of glittery silver duct tape, and a pair of scissors. She made hats, bracelets, and necklaces, and was busy for a good hour and a half.

My friend Frankie, who currently lives in France, sent us a gateau de semoule, semolina cake, which I'd never had. 
The recipe, in French, called for 1 liter of milk, which I rounded down to 4 cups. This is what the gateau looks like as it's cooling:
The gateau, when it cooled, had a similar consistency to flan, and was creamy and deliciously rich. Thank you, Frankie! :)

We read a few chapters of Life of Fred: Ice Cream, and a bit of Training Hearts.

We also read Prince Caspian and Little House on the Prairie. I'm looking forward to being done with Prince Caspian. I'm still reading it with enthusiasm and reading the dialogue with my best attempt at a British accent. While The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was an excellent book for a 5 year old, I wish we'd waited on Prince Caspian. There are a lot of characters to keep straight, and most of them are male. Susan and Lucy (the female characters we came to know and love in the first book) get lost in the story of a war between the Old Narnians and the Telmarines. Finally, the concept of earth time vs. Narnian time is a very sophisticated concept for a 5 year old to grasp. I had never read Prince Caspian myself, so I didn't know better. If I had to do it over again, I would have saved this book for a couple of years from now.

Gemma did Duolingo Spanish six days this week! She's enjoying having conversations with the Bots.

We went trick-or-treating on Montana.
Gemma dressed as "Queen Isabella." She wore a dress I made her two years ago, a pair of lace gloves from Easter, and an inexpensive crown from a costume shop.

Last week, her tinker group built small catapults. This week, they built big ones...
She learned 5th position at ballet.

The song she is learning on piano is "Money Can't Buy Everything." 

One evening, she ran two laps (half a mile) around the high school's track. She smiled the entire time. I, too tired from teaching and report cards and parent conferences, stood and watched, and cheered her on.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Kindergarten Week 10

A few things we did this week...

We went to a screening of Snoopy: The Musical at Vidiots. The movie is only available on VHS, so Vidiots made it part of their VHS Vault series.
Before the movie started, we had donuts for breakfast...
After the movie, an animator who worked on the Peanuts movie and is currently working on the Lego movie sequel taught us how to draw Snoopy and Woodstock. Here is Gemma's drawing...
We baked an apple pie...
We made a vodka and coconut oil pie crust. I used this recipe:
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 1/2 cup cold coconut oil 
  • 1/4 cup cold vodka
  • 1/4 cup cold water
Also, I precooked the filling. I used twelve (there were supposed to be fourteen, but my husband ate two of them) Sensyu apples. I sliced and peeled them, and mixed them with cinnamon and sugar. Nothing else. I cooked that in a pot until the apples were tender and the liquid was reduced to a thick syrup.

Our finished pie...
My husband liked this one! Yay! :) The recipe is a keeper.

We listened to Maestro Classics' The Nutcracker, while putting together a pinball game (Pinball Science). The only flaw in the design is with the flippers. The first time you push them, they become disconnected. I solved this problem with zip ties. It works, but it's not as smooth as it should be.
We carved a pumpkin. Look at that determination.
We carved an owl jack-o-lantern from a stencil. It was non-scary and had a difficulty rating of one out of four pumpkins. It may have only had one pumpkin, but it took a long time to carve. One forgets just how long it takes to carve a jack-o-lantern...
Gemma did a short division riddle page by herself, while I was at work. 

Question: Which monster wears the largest shoes?

Answer: The one with the biggest feet.
We re-read chapters of "Nutcracker and Sugardolly" from My Book House. I'm not sure what the appeal is, but it's one of her favorites. There was also a bit of Little House on the Prairie, Prince Caspian, and Training Hearts.

She read several books on her own, including a couple of Beatrix Potter books, stories from the Walt Disney Classic Storybook, and chapters from earlier Life of Fred books.

Gemma started Book C in piano. The song of the week was "Brother John."

She ran around at the park, wearing bat wings with friends.

She watched the 1960s musical Oliver! over three nights, and now goes around saying, "More?!" and singing "Oom Pah Pah!" 

Recently, she's also been adding the adverb "recently" to every other sentence, whether it makes sense or not. It cracks me up. 

She did Duolingo four days this week! They've added a new Bots feature, in which Duolinguists get to have text conversations with characters like Roberto, a pizzeria owner, and Gabriella, a taxi driver. Gemma doesn't want to do the regular Spanish lessons, but she asks to do Spanish conversations with the Bots. Duolingo isn't the ideal way to learn a foreign language, but it does provide exposure. I feel that, whether she's doing the lessons or conversing with the Bots, she's getting exposure to the language.

Daddy helped Gemma build a catapult.
At our afterschool co-op, Gemma made an apple-print pumpkin.
Daddy took Gemma to a church in Long Beach to make a medieval brass rubbing.
Her finished picture:
At dance class, the got to wear their Halloween costumes. Gemma is the one with the gold crown, stretching with her scepter.
We finished Life of Fred: Honey, and started Life of Fred: Ice Cream.

The other night, right before bed, Gemma said, "Mom, the ceiling has 120 squares on it." I said, "Oh really?" She said, "Yes, because there are 12 squares going that way, so you count by 12s." Then she counted by 12s to 120. Yes, there are 120 tiles on the bedroom ceiling.

That said, here is another of Gemma's drawings:
Ahem. Let me explain. The tall person is the mother. She was playing tag with her children and she tripped over a tree root. She broke her right leg, so she has to use crutches for a month. The daughter is carrying the baby (also a girl).

Gemma had her last swim lesson of the year. She has been a Minnow all year, and she will continue in Minnows in the spring. I talked with the instructor (a substitute) after class, and he said that her biggest problem is that she's not keeping her arm out in front of her when she goes to side breathe. He suggested swimming with a kickboard, and swimming with both hands in front, clapping one hand - palms down -against the other, sort of like tagging oneself in a relay race. Though she didn't progress from one level to another, she did become a stronger swimmer and she enjoyed being in the water.

A cute picture of our Annabelle in her Sphinx pose...
There are a million other things, but I'll close with this CC hack. My friend S gave me the idea to make a poster of our Classical Conversations memory work. It's great for daily review because Gemma can either read the poster aloud, or turn around and recite from memory.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Kindergarten Week 9

This week...

Gemma, my dad, and I went to the Big Fresno Fair (an annual tradition) to see the agriculture, livestock, gems & minerals, and crafts, and eat Bubba's BBQ for lunch.

Our first stop was the agriculture hall. Here are Grandpa and Gemma posed in front of a display of prize-winning produce.
Gemma and I rode a camel (because how often do you get to do that?!).
In the livestock building, Grandpa and Gemma played tic-tac-toe...
...and Grandpa taught Gemma how to play checkers.
Gemma competed in the pedal tractor pull again, and this year, with 50 pound weights, she almost made it the entire 25 feet.
One of my favorite childhood fair memories is in the Gems & Minerals Hall. It's a display of rocks that resemble food, called "The Rock Feast."
A close-up of rock bacon and eggs...
There is also fossilized dinosaur excrement. The sign reads, "Scratch and Sniff."
A medieval princess was taking her pet dragon out for a walk... 

Doesn't that make a great first sentence for a writing prompt? ;)
In piano, Gemma is finishing up her Level B book, and the Level C books are on their way.

We are two-thirds of the way through Life of Fred: Honey.

We read Good Queen Bess, and are continuing to read Little House on the Prairie, Prince Caspian, and Training Hearts.

There was weaving in the woods...
...tree climbing...
...and swimming.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Kindergarten Week 8

Yes, we read, danced, and played piano. But we also did all of this (and more)...
The week started with the Fall Harvest Festival at church. Gemma chose to have her face painted as a rainbow princess. She also decorated a couple of mini pumpkins, and gave me one to take to work and put on my desk.
There was also a petting zoo. Check out this sleeping goat's smile. :)
Our co-op started its Fall unit.
There were apple slices and pumpkin cake frosted with pumpkin butter, a book about fall, an explanation (using a globe) of why Santa Monica doesn't have the kind of autumn shown in books, and leaf-wreath-making.

We have also been working on long division without remainders. Life of Fred: Honey introduces this concept, so I dug out a book of multiplication and division riddles. It was perfect for Gemma. She loves jokes, and the idea of breaking secret codes. We're doing this slowly, two or three problems per day.
The tinker group built looms and weaved. This is my new favorite picture of my husband and daughter...
The library had an evening where they supplied the space and materials to make posters inspired by Mexican folk art. This is us at the end of a long day, posing with my poster (in-progress). The program was two hours, but we were allowed to stay 30 minutes more, and I still couldn't finish. I spent so much time filling the page with details, and then I realized I had to go back over them with Sharpie! Gemma made several posters. She loved having so many different colors of paint and glitter glue at her disposal.
My district had Yom Kippur off, so we drove up to Riley's Farm. It was Revolutionary War Day. Here is Gemma being questioned by a colonist and a redcoat about her "odd" clothing...
I thought the tour would be a bit long for Gemma, but when she saw all of the school groups having fun, she begged to join them. The ticket price was high, and I was worried I would have buyer's remorse. I tried to talk Gemma out of it, but she pleaded. The tour turned out to be so well done, and Gemma was thoroughly engaged the whole time. Here she is with her 5th grade "classmates," learning how to curtsy like a proper young lass.
Gemma sat in the front row, listening with rapt attention to this colonist talk about the redcoats who had knocked on her door, demanding quarters.
Here is Gemma taking turns, churning butter...
...grinding wheat...
...and using a quill to write her initials...
She also watched a 18th century-style trial...
...carded wool...
...weaved (it's the week of weaving!)...
...and played with a hoop and stick (of which she couldn't get enough).
We were given "rations" of dried beef, cheese, cornbread, an apple, and lemonade. Gemma drank both of our lemonades, ate both of our apples, and ate a chocolate chip cookie from the tavern.
Then it was time for battle. Half of the children were the British, and half were the colonists. (Gemma was a colonist.) Here is Gemma, prepared to fire her "musket."
After the tour, we went flower picking...
...and apple picking.