Friday, June 29, 2012

Clearwater Festival Day One

Highlights from our first day at the Great Hudson River Revival:

Watching Clearwater sail on the beautiful Hudson River; Joanne Shenandoah; Tao Seeger's Brass Band; Tom Chapin; Storyteller Jesse Bruchac; the Blessing of the River; getting to see Pete and Toshi Seeger, to whom we owe the cleanup of our beloved river, as well as this wonderful musical festival.

clearwater1

clearwater2

joanneshenandoah

mikrowcleawatermodel

mysign

taoseegersbrassband

tomchapin

jessebruchac

pete1

peteandtoshiseeger

And this was our first time sailing aboard the Clearwater. Kev helped raise her mainsail, and Mikro took a turn on the tiller, which I am sure he will remember fondly for the rest of his days.

bow

raisingthemainsail

kevinonclearwater

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mikromansthetiller

mikromansthetiller2

littlesailorsandcrew

fishyfeeling

tiller1

tools

earlysunsetonhudson

mysticwhalerinsun

mysticwheelerasternofus

mysticwhalerthermal

sistership

sunsetblockntackle

sunsetclearwater

loweringmainsail

sunsetonhudson

sunsetonhudson2

NYS Homeschool Paperwork:4th Quarterly and Annual Narrative Assessment

(I am not a lover of paperwork, despite my legal background. It was a massive relief to finish this up and deliver it today (or try to, as the District Office was closed, so I had to fork over the money to send it Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, for peace of mind's sake...)

June 30, 2012


FOURTH QUARTERLY REPORT AND ANNUAL NARRATIVE ASSESSMENT

SCHOOL YEAR: 2011-2012
HOMESCHOOLING STUDENT: Mikro
GRADE LEVEL: Second
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 4/1/12 to 6/30/12
DATE SUBMITTED: June 30, 2012

Generally:

Mikro is making excellent progress in all subject matter.

We have had instruction in all the following areas, as per Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education and Mikro’s Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP): Reading, Writing, Spelling, Language Arts, Math, History, Geography, Science, Health, Physical Education, Music, Visual Arts, Patriotism and Citizenship, Fire Safety and Prevention, and Traffic, Bicycle and General Safety.

Mikro had no absences from instruction this quarter, and has exceeded the required hours of instruction (225).

Highlights for the Quarter include:

Reading/Language Arts:

Mikro reads fluently and well above grade level. He is reading increasingly more complex material, including middle grade and YA books up to 350 pages long. He reads for fun and enjoyment without prompting, and eagerly peruses his collection of animal encyclopedias and high school and college level zoology and biology texts. His reading comprehension is wonderful, and he can narrate back a good summary of what he reads. He enjoys making up rich and detailed stories, poems, riddles and jokes. Mikro is learning to type his own stories using a text editor. We are working on grammar and spelling using a variety of workbooks and online lessons from Lesson Pathways, BrainPOP, AAASpelling.com and other online resources.

We have discussed the elements of a story and how to outline plot and develop characters. We continue to practice narration and have discussed the elements of a book report. Mikro is signed up to participate in the summer reading game at the Croton Free Library, and has already reported to the children’s librarian on a book for Week 1. He continues to work on improving his handwriting and fine motor skills and has become quite accomplished at drawing dragons (a particular favorite) and other creatures. For April is Poetry Month, we looked at some different poetic forms and wrote cinquains.

Some of the books read independently by Mikro (in addition to those listed by subject matter in other categories below) include:

Arthur and the Minimoys and Arthur and the Forbidden City, both by Luc Besson; Wildlife Photographer by William Thomas; Runny Babbit and Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros by Shel Silverstein; The Dragon Chronicles by Malcolm Sanders and Gobby Walton; The Book of Dragons by Hosi and Leonard Baskin; The New Kid on the Block: Poems by Jack Prelutsky; TheThree Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara and Mark Fearing; These Small Stones, poems selected by Norma Farber and Myra Cohn Livingston; The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger; The Cat’s Elbow and Other Secret Languages by Alvin Schwartz; Stone Age Boy by Satoshi Kitamura; The Man in the Moon by Willai Joyce; Cricket in a Thicket (poems) by Aileen Fisher; Monday on the Mississppi by Marilyn Singer; A Book of Dragons: Tales and Legends From Many Lands by O. Muriel Fuller; The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson; A Full Moon Is Rising, poems by Marilyn Singer ; A Pair of Wings by Marilyn Singer; The Company of Crows: A Book of Poems by Marilyn Singer; Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer; Dinotopia by James Gurney.

Math:

We are working on fractions, decimals, money skills, including adding and subtracting monetary amounts and making change, and continue to practice two and three digit addition and subtraction with regrouping, and single digit multiplication using real life math, books, workbooks, games, drawings, original word problems and manipulatives. Mikro uses online math resources such as BrainPOP, Adapted Mind, Dreambox, IXL Math, Kahn Academy and Time4Learning. We have introduced the concept of division and its relation to multiplication and Mikro can do simple division problems. Mikro is practicing his math facts with the Timez Attack computer game.
Books include: Beast Academy 3A; How to Count Like a Martian by Glory St. John; Greater Estimations by Bruce Goldstone, Life of Fred Apples and Life of Fred Butterflies; Hidden Picture Math and Quilt Math.

Music: Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer; Multiplication by Teacher and the Rockbots.

Games: The Number Devil computer game; Timez Attack computer game

Science:

We have discussed simple machines, light and optics, sound, magnetism, electricity, motion, flight, and robotics, states of matter, gravity, space and time, marine biology wit an emphasis on bioluminescent, fluorescent and chemiluminescent creatures, and have also continued our study of the climate, habitat, food chains and animals of Africa. Mikro has gained hands on experience with binoculars, telescopes, periscopes, and other optical systems.

Classes: Mikro took a 9 week series of science classes at the Science Museum of Long Island in Plandome, NY. Topics included: botany including plant identification and seed and plant preservation; invasive species (identifying local examples such as Italian Wall Lizards, European Starlings, Asian Shore Crabs, Norway Maples, Kudzu and English Ivy and their effect on the ecosystem and native organisms); data collection and sampling including wildlife population sampling (catching and examining horseshoe crabs and asian shore crabs and noting information such as size, juvenile or adult, whether covered in barnacles or other sea life, and gender) and data presentation on graphs and charts; seining and learning about creatures inhabiting the Long Island Sound; marine biology (including performing a squid dissection) ; transect and quadrant surveys of wildlife and plants; and lifecycles and metamorphosis (including raising a painted lady butterfly). He has participated in live web seminars through the Supercharge Science web site and via The JASON Project.

Field trips: American Museum of Natural History: Creatures of Light exhibit on bioluminescence and Luna’s Sea performance; Bio Bus at Earth Fair NYC at Grand Central Terminal (nematodes, daphnia; examining compost under the microscope; genetically engineered glowing nematodes with jellyfish bioiluminescence added); Fish Stories with Christopher Letts at the Croton Earth Day Celebration at Sennasqua Park; watched the Space Shuttle Enterprise fly a loop up and down the Hudson River on her way to becoming an exhibit at the Intrepid Museum; learned about exotic animals at a library program at the Croton Free Library by Animal Embassy; Urban Stages: Up, Up and Away: The Life of Dr. Mae Jemison (a play about the inspiring life of the first female African American astronaut , a medical doctor mission specialist); World Science Festival, including Icarus at the Edge of Time (gravity, space and time), the Flame Challenge and Cool Jobs panel (physics, chemistry, biomechanical engineering, zoology, neurology), Innovation Square (robotics, physics, quantum levitation, lasers, genetic engineering), and the Science Street Fair (fossils, robotics, zoology); observing the Transit of Venus via pinhole technique; trip with homeschool group to New York City Center for Space Science Education (a Challenger Center) for a workshop on working in space and a simulated space mission. We also enjoyed educational exhibits at the Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, including microscopic observation of aquatic life such as diving beetle larvae, microscopic observation of aquatic macroinvertebrates such as caddis fly , crane fly mayfly and dobson’s fly larvae and crayfish, and observing live specimens such as american eels, a painted turtle, a giant water bug, diving beetles, and waterboatsmen, a tadpole with only three limbs developed, an adult and larval stage red spotted newts, hogchokers, white perch, striped bass, blue crabs, and the preserved skeleton of an atlantic sturgeon and dried skin and scutes, etc. Mikro also learned about the physics of sailing, and manned the tiller on the Clearwater and watched his dad help raise her sail.

Projects: Mikro made a handbound book of drawings of his favorite bioluminescent organisms. He participated in the Project Feeder Watch citizen science project, collecting and reporting data through Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Mikro helps us to maintain a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat. He is caring for a growing menagerie of reptiles and invertebrates including garden snails, a goliath hornworm caterpillar, a hermit crab, a Chinese Water Dragon and a Bearded Dragon; he collects, observes and releases insects, birdwatches at our feeders, and takes many nature walks where he has observed such things as birds building nests, courtship behaviors and mating, and parent birds feeding their young; American Kestrels hunting; bald eagles, ospreys, egrets, cormorants and great blue herons going fishing in the Croton River, Hudson River, New York Harbor and the Long Island Sound, redtailed hawks hunting rodents and consuming them, insect and wind pollination of plants and damselflies, dragonflies and snapping turtles in the local wetlands.

Books: Animal Life (DK); Prehistoric Life (DK) ; A Day With Homo Erectus, A Day With Neanderthal Man, and A Day With Homo Sapiens Sapiens, all by Fiorenzo Facchini;. Cobras by Sylvia A. Johnson; Field Guide to Prehistoric Life by David Lambert; Dinosaur Scientist by Thom Holmes; Monster Fliers From the Time of the Dinosaurs by Elizabeth MacLeod; Animals Come to My House: A Story Guide to the Care of Small Wild Animals by Esther Kellner; Deathtrap: The Story of the La Brea Tar Pits by Sharon Elaine Thompson; Icarus at the Edge of Time by Brian Greene (and World Science Festival Educator’s Guide); Fireflies by Sally M. Walker; Glow in the Dark Animals by Kris Hirschmann; Bodies from the Bog by James M. Deem; Mystery Fish: Secrets of the Coelocanth by Sally M. Walker; Put Inclined Planes to the Test by Sally M Walker and Roseann Feldmann; Put Pulleys to the Test by Sally M Walker and Roseann Feldmann; Rhinos by Sally M. Walker; Hippos by Sally M. Walker; Geothermal Energy by Graham Rickard; I Want to Be an Engineer by Catherine O’Neill Grace; Fireflies in Nature and the Laboratory by Lynn Poole; The Winking, Blinking Sea: All About Bioluminescence by Mary Batten; Ocean (American Museum of Natural History) by Robert Dinwiddie, Philip Eales, Sue Scott and Mikro Scott; Water Insects by Sylvia A. Johnson.

Magazines: Dig; Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids, Kids Discover and Zoobooks.

Videos: NOVA: Monster of the Milky Way (black holes); Physical Science for Children: All About Properties of Matter (Schlessinger Science library); Physical Science for Children: All About Heat (Schlessinger Science library); The Way Things Work: Levers (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Levers (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Screws (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Wheels and Axles (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Pulleys (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Inclined Planes (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Belts and Gears (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Ballooning (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Levers (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Flight (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Magnets (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Electricity (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Engines (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Telecommunications (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Friction (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Heat (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Light (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Musical Instruments (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Photography (Schlessinger Science Library.); The Way Things Work: Sound (Schlessinger Science Library.); Bill Nye: Chemical Reactions; Rock & Learn: Physical Sciences; Bill Nye the Science Guy: Safety Smart Chemical Reactions; Bill Nye the Science Guy: Safety Smart Electricity; Videos from the World Science Festival web site, including previous years’ Cool Jobs panelists, and many others; Various TED Talks including: Glowing in an Underwater World, The Weird and Wonderful World of Bioluminescence, Underwater Astonishments, Hooked by an Octopus; James Cameron’s Aliens of the Deep; Videos from the American Museum of Natural History including Jellies Down Deep, and Jelly Farmers; Cornell lab of Ornithology’s Heron Nest Cam and Red Tailed Hawk Nest Cam.

CDs: Science by Teacher and the Rockbots; Here Comes Science by They might Be Giants; Science Songs by Miss Jenny.

History, Geography, Social Studies & Patriotism and Citizenship:

During this quarter we have backtracked in time a little to do a more thorough study of early man and prehistory, based on Mikro’s interest in the topic and have explored the history of Easter Island, also at Mikro’s initiative. We have also continued our study the Ancient History of Africa, the Middle East and the “Holy Land”. We have used Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World as a spine, have gone through sections on Africa and the Ancient Israelites, as well as maps, videos, nonfiction and fiction concerning the cultures studied. We have had discussions about colonialism, slavery, governments, world religions including Greek and Roman Polytheism, Animism, Voodoo, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, African myths, folktales and legends, Bible stories from the Old Testament, and the historical and religious underpinnings of the ongoing conflict in the middle east.

In American History/New York History/Patriotism and Citizenship, we have discussed the Constitution, the function of governments, the Bill of Rights, rights and responsibilities of citizens, including paying taxes and learning about how to prepare a personal income tax return, the faltering economy, income disparity and the Occupy movement, slavery, racism and the Civil Rights movement, the Holocaust, prohibition, the Civil War, the California Gold Rush. We have studied United States geography and are looking at each of the 50 states, focusing this quarter on Texas and Florida.

Books:
Africa: The Slave Trade: 1440-1870 by Hugh Thomas; Come With Me to Africa: A Photographic Journey by Gregory Scott Kreikemeer; African Aesthetics by Susan Mullin Vogel; Bildad Kaggia: Voice of the People by Evan Mwangi; Shaka Zulu: Great Warrior King by Stanley Gazemba.

America: California by Linda Jacobs Altman; L is for Lonestar by Carol Crane; S is for Sunshine by Carol Crane.

Other: The Emperor’s Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China by Jane O’Connor; Easter Island by Caroline Arnold; The Day the Stones Walked by T.A. Barron; Striker Jones: Elementary Economics for Elementary Detectives by Maggie M. Larche.

Prehistory: The Stone Age News by Fiona Macdonald; Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland’s Prehistoric Village of Skara Brae by Catherine Arnold; A Day With Homo Erectus, A Day With Neanderthal Man, and A Day With Homo Sapiens Sapiens, all by Fiorenzo Facchini;.Everyday Life in Prehistory by Neil Morris.

Videos:
Families of the World: Israel; Families of the World: Afghanistan; The Music of Africa (Educational Video Network); Digging for the Truth: Season One (Archaeology) (Episodes: Who Built Egypt’s Pyramids; Nefertiti: The Mummy Returns; Pompeii Secrets Revealed; ¬¬¬¬¬Hunt for the Lost Ark; The Holy Grail; The Iceman Cometh; Quest for King Solomon’s Gold; The Lost Tribe of Israel; Secrets of the Nazca Lines; The Search for El Dorado; Giants of Easter Island; Mystery of the Anasazi); Who Do You Think You Are: Season One (PBS).

Field trips: Terracotta Warriors at Discovery Time Square Exposition Center; Jewish Farm School in Cold Spring; Urban Stages: Up and Up: The Life of Dr. Mae Jemison; Urban Stages: South of the Border: Latin American Folktales ; Fleet Week: Parade of Ships and visiting the USS Wasp on Memorial Day; History Walk : Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge with South Street Seaport Museum.

Music:

Mikro is taking recorder lessons and is learning to read musical notation. He has also continued to learn be exposed to a wide variety of music and attended performances by All Lit Up, Nenad Bach and Hope Machine at the Croton Free Library. He also attended the Clearwater Festival for the third time this year, and enthusiastically participated at Circle of Song.
Books: The Musical Instruments series: Flutes by Bonnie Carson Turner.
CDs: Putumayo’s African Dreamland and African Playground; Leadbelly Sings for Children; Clearwater Classics by Pete Seeger; and our family iTunes library.

Art:

Mikro attended plays by Urban Stages including South of the Border: Latin American Folktales and Up and Up: The Life of Dr. Mae Jemison.

Mikro has continued his drawing and experiments with various media, including charcoal found on the beach, clay, watercolors, markers, colored pencils, acrylic paints and collage/assemblage. We have looked at art books and videos on African art including masks, body art, sculpture, pottery and metalwork. We have explored the fundamentals of art making including line, shape, form, value, and color theory. Mikro keeps a sketchbook. He is fascinated with scientific illustration at the moment, and is making detailed sketches of skulls and skeletons and some internal organs, as well as many drawings of snakes, lizards, aquatic macroinvertebrates and other creatures. He has made many articulated paper puppets of dragons and reptiles. He sculpted a cobra, which was bisqued in a kiln, and then glazed it and refired. He is immensely proud of his finished sculpture. He also made several fossil impression style ceramic ornaments of creatures such as ammonites, trilobites and dragonflies, as well as a ceramic platter featuring an archaeopteryx, which were kiln fired (and glazed by mom due to time constraints). Mikro also made a nature assemblage of a great blue heron on the beach at Croton Point Park, in an homage to one of his favorite artists, Andy Goldsworthy. He also created a treasure box out of recycled materials to hold his beach treasures, and painted it with dragon motifs.
Books: How to Draw Dragons by Ralph Masiello; African Aesthetics by Susan Mullin Vogel; M is for Masterpiece by David Domeniconi.


Phys Ed:

Hiking, park days with homeschooled friends and/or family; tree climbing, warm up exercises and running; basketball informally with friends and family; trampoline.

Health:

We have discussed avoiding illness through proper hygiene, how germs are spread, proper hospital visiting etiquette, maintaining a healthy weight through proper eating habits and exercise, safety issues related to food allergies, use of an epi-pen, vision and eye safety, maintaining adequate hydration, personal hygiene including dental hygiene, why drugs, alcohol and smoking are unhealthy, HIV and AIDS, and the perils of drunk driving. Books: The GF Kid: A Celiac Disease Survival Guide by Melissa London. Videos: Health for Chiildren: Personal Hygiene (Schlessinger Media); Health for Chiildren: Dealing With Feelings (Schlessinger Media); Health for Chiildren: Decisions and Conflicts (Schlessinger Media); Health for Chiildren: Drugs and Diseases (Schlessinger Media); Health for Chiildren: Nutrition (Schlessinger Media); Health for Chiildren: Environmental Health (Schlessinger Media.


Traffic, bicycle and general safety:

We have discussed the importance looking both ways before crossing the street, obeying traffic signals, watching cars for signals, safe and appropriate behavior on public transportation, seatbelts, carseats, not distracting the driver, using a cell phone to call for emergency assistance, hiking and wilderness survival including avoiding hypothermia, not hiking alone, and not consuming unknown plants; what to do if lost or separated from family, how to avoid getting lost in the first place, how to ask for help.

Fire Safety and Prevention:

We continue to review what to do in a fire emergency, including formulating a family escape plan, stop drop & roll, get low and go, exiting the house immediately and not returning, trying to wake family members, but leaving if unsuccessful, telling firefighters if family and pets are still inside, using a cell phone or going to a neighbor to call 911, and waiting at a designated location for family members. We talked about fire prevention strategies.


ANNUAL ASSESSMENT:

As set forth above, and in our three prior quarterly reports, which are hereby incorporated by reference herein, Mikro has made outstanding progress this year and is reading well above grade level.

He has independently finished books that are over 350 pages long. He will be participating in the Croton Library’s Summer Reading Program. He is making good progress with spelling and penmanship, tells wonderful stories, and has a rich and advanced vocabulary.

He has a firm grasp on the concept of multiplication, and is working on improving his command of math facts. He has the times tables (from 1 to 12) mostly committed to memory. He understands the concept of division and can do simple short division problems.

He is fascinated by science, and performs in that subject at several years above grade level. He refers to himself as “a biologist.”

He enjoys history, joins in political discussions, is proficient at reading a map, and can identify the continents and countries we have studied on a map or globe.
He loves to sing and is excited to learn to play songs on the recorder.

He is active, healthy and physically fit, and is developing into an enthusiastic and strong swimmer.

He has made outstanding academic progress in all subject areas, in which he performs at or above grade level. He is a voracious reader and a curious and self-motivated learner who loves science, nature, history and mythology.

We are extremely proud of his achievements, and look forward to another wonderful year of learning together.

Dated: June 30, 2012
Signed: Us

Happy Independence Day a Little Early: 4th of July Dominoes

Monday, June 25, 2012

More New Family Members

Because I am a complete sucker for a certain little boy's love of animals, which is as huge as my own, and because creepy, crawly and odd has grown on me since becoming the mom of a little boy, I have some more introductions to make:

First, there are Raez and Kulmi, two garden snails we abducted from a stucco wall at a train station:

kulmiandraez

And then we have Coney (whose full name is Coney Island Mermaid Parade Mercrab... we have a contest going here to see who can hang the longest and silliest name on a pet...), who is a hermit crab:

coney2

coneyislandmermaidparademercrab

hermitclaws

hermitat

And last, but not least, we have David, a Goliath Hornworm (Mikro named him), who was originally intended to be a snack for Amicus, but grew on the boy (and me) until the thought of him being crunched up was too much to bear, and he got his own little plastic condo at Coyne's Crazy Critter Camp...

davidthegoliathworm

And here is Mikro sweet talking Amicus while she bathes--- rest assured, he is not telling her about David...

aboyandhisdragon

Trust me, she won't wither away to nothing for missing a treat. She is a big lizard! And Mikro has no great remorse about keeping her alive and growing on a menu of crickets and greens and fruits and veggies...

amicusinbath

Field Trip to NYCCSSE Challenger Center

astromikro

Our homeschool Group visited the New York City Center for Space Science Education on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
nyccsse challengercenter

The kids got to play with some toys like yoyos and astrojax and try to predict how they would perform in a microgravity environment. Then they watched astronauts on the International Space Station playing with the same toys. Next, they went into a lab and tried out some activities designed to show them how hard it is to work in a weightless environment when there is no clear up and down. They wore mirrored goggles and had to try to write their names and trace between the outlines in a pattern. I tried it too, and it was hard! They also tried putting together inch cubes in a defined pattern while wearing clunky gloves inserted through the wall of a water tank. This was much harder than it looked, and a lot of the more high achiever perfectionistic kids (ahem, mine included) got really frustrated when it didn't come easy. I explained to Mikro that this was the whole point. Stuff that's trivial to do with Earth gravity is much more difficult in microgravity.

spacewriting

spacetracing

weightlesslego

Next, they watched a film of a shuttle launch, then went through a rotating "airlock" into a mockup of a space shuttle, which had various stations with tasks for them to perform, like drawing in space gloves, an eye hand coordination test, manipulating a robot arm, and getting a probe ready for launch by making sure it matched the wiring diagram.

drawinginspacegloves

preparingprobe4launch

usingrobotarm

Afterwards, they visited a mission control room, looked at samples of mission patches, and then drew their own. Mikro and his best friend, E, worked on patches for a joint mission with themselves as crew, going out of our solar system looking for extraterrestial life. They each drew a patch with their names on it as crew. Very cool!

inmissioncontrol

glowboy