22 February, 2008

Natural Learning and the eclipse

I do not have photos (like I did last August) to share from the week's lunar eclipse. It certainly happened at a reasonable hour of the evening so that witnessing it did not require setting an alarm clock. I have a better tripod now, and even a self-timer on my camera.

Instead, my schedule included picking up our daughter from work and then heading over to the church to pick up our sons after youth group. I mentioned how the eclipse had already begun and we could actually see it between the cloud formations passing overhead in the sky. I turned the van toward home and drove for about five minutes when I said aloud, "You know, I bet the sky is clearer east of us. We could just head out of the city limits and get a better view of this thing." Dd loved the idea, so I whipped around, drove back out past our church, then headed east toward the clearer sky! I think our almost 15 yo son just wanted to go home and sleep. He is recovering from a pretty severe ankle sprain that he acquired in football practice last week.

We were gone for almost two hours. We stopped in a few neighborhoods in the next town over, where the neighborhoods are so new there aren't many street lights. Dd tried to take a few photos on her little digital camera, in between the thickening, gathering of clouds that were pouring in overhead. I had not packed mine along, because the weatherman predicted heavy clouds and no good viewing for our part of town. We were actually very blessed to get to see any of it at all. We even got good views of Venus, the star "Regulus" and one other planet or star that were in their clear triangle formation so "close" (from our viewpoint) to the orange moon. It was stunning.

So, it was just us making the memory and chasing after the better view...

While I'm a little sad that I didn't have my wonderful camera and 300 mm lens in the van, I did have some chocolate Hershey's Kisses, and am happy that we celebrated this eclipse this way...together...in our memories forever. I was a lot of fun.


17 February, 2008

Midis/Lyrics of Music from Puerto Rico

Check these out! (Mother Auma, you're going to love this)

In an effort to share and celebrate the music that originated with Puerto Ricans, René Ramos has gathered a host of songs from which to choose.

Haz click aquí: for Midi files and music from Puerto Rican composers. You will even find a section in his pages which contain almost fifty sets of lyrics and midis of children's songs. The web design on the individual children's song lyrics are cute; some are fun (like floating oranges around the cursor).

Can you tell that I've got some free time this week? It is our mid-winter break from our homeschool co-op.



16 February, 2008

Reading a-z

I found quality online Spanish readers tonight, but most are not free. Samples are available, and there are over 2500 mini-books available at this site.

At Reading a - z you'll find a lot of resources for guided reading, progressively more difficult readers, phonics, vocabulary, (and printable flash cards) but also poetry and other language resources. You can download up to 30 printable mini-books or short stories for free, only two of which are in Spanish, two are in French.

I am tempted to register for a year, upon closer inspection of all the other offerings of mini-books and readers in Spanish. One of the free samples is a long biography, so it's nice to be able to print a sample of one of the non-fiction selections.

I like to teach with mini-books, stories, and narratives because they help learners become comfortable with the language structure and proper usage in context, just as our own children do in English.

I'll let you know if I decide to join.


09 February, 2008

The Family and Learning Languages

I wanted to share something I stumbled upon while reading some of the writings of Charlotte Mason today. I am a big believer in the power of the family (for better and for worse in some cases!) as the microcosm of training and prep toward larger society; how we function within our family(ies) and how I believe it is the primary training ground for our children and how they will approach larger life outside of the home as they grow older and engage with society more and more and eventually strike out on their own. I hope to provide for our own kiddos the sensitivity and understanding toward being loving, citizens of the world. Please don't make any assumptions of my politics based on those words, which tend (unfairly) to be loaded in the rhetoric of our political and religious evangelical landscape in which we find ourselves. What I mean is that they will be Christ to ALL others and not just be America-centric.

Anyway...I found this ~

Upon discussing the different ways in which the family unit is the unit of the nation, Charlotte Mason states in Volume 2, Parents and Children, pg. 7 the following:

"Let us ask the question: Has this, of regarding all education and all civil and social relations from the standpoint of the family any practical outcome? So much so, that perhaps there is hardly a problem of life for which it does not contain the solution. For example, what shall we teach our children? Is there one subject that claims our attention more than another? Yes, there is a subject or class of subjects which has an imperative moral claim upon us. It is the duty of the nation to maintain relations of brotherly kindness with other nations; therefore, it is the duty of every family, as an integral part of the nation, to be able to hold brotherly speech with the families of other nations as opportunities arise; therefore to acquire the speech of neighboring nations is not only to secure an inlet of knowledge and a means of culture, but is a duty of that higher morality (the morality of the family) which aims at universal brotherhood. Therefore, every family would do well to cultivate two languages besides the mother tongue, in the nursery.

Again; a fair young Englishwoman was staying with her mother at a German Kurhaus. They were the only English people present, and probably forgot that the Germans are better linguists than we. The young lady sat through the long meals with her book, hardly interrupting her reading to eat, and addressing no more than one or two remarks to her mother, as

(pg 8)

'I wonder what that mess is!' or, 'How much longer shall we have to sit with these tiresome people?' Had she remembered that no family can live to itself, that she and her mother represented England, were England for that little German community, she would have imitated the courteous greetings which the German ladies bestowed on their neighbours."

What do you all do about this dilemma? Have you ever traveled to another country and noticed or been saddened or embarrassed by your fellow countrymen at how they behaved in public in someone else's country, totally ignoring the cultural differences and acceptable mores within the given society in which they were visiting?


07 February, 2008

Simple Novels in Spanish

From the folks at TPR world:

Mini-novels for year I Spanish, French, or German students! These are in dialogue and narrative format, and include @300 level I vocab words in a story format. There are eight mini-novels in the series.

I would like to take a brief break from the text book in my Spanish I classes and just read this little novel together. With our limited twenty-week time frame in co-op, I am not sure if that would work, but I could assign this with my home class.

I could also have the kids to read over the summer if they hope to take Spanish II this fall. This would help keep their skills fresh. There are a few web pages dedicated to helping with lessons and vocab for some of these novels! I'll share a few that go along with the first mini-novel.

This first book is about a 15 yo girl, Ana, who is from a poor family. She has friends who are rich (by the world's standards) and she finds herself jealous of them. Ana's Spanish teacher tells her about a program the school has to help a student from their school to go to Mexico to live for the summer, so she asks her father if she can go. Since the school provides for it, her family wouldn't have to pay the expenses, so her father says she can go. She lives with a family in a small city who happen to be poorer than her family, so her view of life changes radically. When she returns home to California, she is able to see everything in a different light.

The second book is about a girl, Patricia, who comes to California as an exchange student from Guatemala.

Since vocabulary is presented in context of a story, level I students will be pleasantly surprised by how much they already know, but also how much they are able to pick up and understand the target language in context.

The first activity web site is here and is in Spanish. If I hear (from my Spanish teachers' list) of any in other languages, I will post them here. There are worksheets here, and they are not necessarily in line with Charlotte Mason principles. For that, you would want to present the unknown vocabulary word definitions ahead of time, and ask leading questions in Spanish, so that the students will answer (in simple narrations) in the target language. For example I might begin with, "Dime sobre los padres de Ana. ¿Son simpáticos o estrictos?"

My next post will have some stories/books written by native speakers that are popular with kids in the Spanish speaking world (say primary to middle school age).


Señora Javamom

04 February, 2008

Nice enough for flag football

One-handed catch!

Did I mention that this son is going to be in "spring training" for the homeschool football team soon? He has been my football game-watching buddy this past football season or two, but is so excited to be able to play on a team of his own soon.

On the day before this touch football game, some other friends who already play on the homeschool team gave him a good workout and taste of what it's going to be like soon. I did not go to that game, so I don't have any pictures. He came home pumped, although a little sore, with a bit more insight into what he needs to do to step up his workout in order to build up his stamina for running longer distances. He has been working out daily with weights and doing some long-distance cycling, but no sustained running until today (grin).

We're loving this weather. I'm sure it will roller coaster to freezing again soon, but we've enjoyed it while it lasted. It will warm up again before the week is out. This is Texas, after all!


Moving Day for our Oldest

Moving Day has come and gone; just wanted to share a few photos!

J's four instruments and longboard

attaching a bike rack

I can't believe it all fit in his little car!

Hasta luego, mi hijo...