Monday, October 21, 2013

First Quarterly Report - 4th Grade


SCHOOL YEAR: 2013-2014
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 7/1/13 to 10/15/13
DATE SUBMITTED: October 16, 2013


Mikro is progressing at a satisfactory level or above 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 at a very advanced level. At the moment, his favorite books concern mythology and folktales, though he still enjoys nonfiction, particularly in the biological sciences. He enjoys making up rich and detailed stories, world building, and creating new mythologies.

He is taking a Comparative Religions course which requires typewritten homework essays, and is getting good practice in spelling, composition and grammar in connection therewith, as well as improving his keyboarding skills. We continue to work on grammar and spelling using a variety of workbooks and online lessons, and through journaling.

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

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, both by J.K. Rowling; The Monsters of Morley Manor by Bruce Covillle; The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland; Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, both by Douglas Adams; The Lost Heir and Jake and the Giant, both by E.G. Foley; Hide and Seek by Kate Messner; Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke; The Secrets of Dripping Fang series : Book 1: The Onts; Book 2: Treachery and Betrayal at Jolly Days; Book 3: The Vampire’s Curse; Book 4: The Fall of the House of Mandible; Book 5: The Schluffmuffin Boy is History; Book 6: Attack of the Giant Octopus; Book 7: Please Don’t Eat the Children; and Book 8: When Bad Snakes Attack Good Children, all by Dan Greenburg; The 39 Clues series: Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan; Book 2: One False Note by Gordon Korman; Book 3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis; Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson; Book 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman; Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson; Book 7: The Viper’s Nest by Peter Lerangis; and Book 8: The Emperor’s Code by Gordon Korman; Esio Trot by Roald Dahl; Zoo Doings: Animal Poems by Jack Prelutsky; The Dragon That Lived Under Manhattan by E.W. Hildick; Gift Horse by Betty Levin; What’s in the Garden by Marianne Berkes; Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Sidalis; Water , Weed and Wait by Edith Hope Fine; The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony; First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden, by Susan Grigsby; First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew by Robin Gourley; The Flower Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta; Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis by Robbin Gourley; The Great Frog Race and Other Poems by Kristine O’Connell George; Fantasy Chronicles: Wizards and Witches by Ann Kerns; The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishman; The Glass Mountain, retold by Diane Wolkstein; A Book of Fairies by Patricia Sexton; The Secret History of Mermaids and Creatures of the Deep or the Liber Aquaticum, by Ari Berk; A Flower Fairy Alphabet by Cicely Mary Barker; Bustle in the Bushes by Giles Andreae; A Gopher in the Garden and Other Animal Poems by Jack Prelutsky; I Heard It From Alice Zucchini: Poems About the Garden by Juanita Havill; The Rainbow Orchid, Volumes 1-3, by Garen Ewing; The Knight in Rusty Armor by Robert Fisher; The Book of Fairies by Michael Hague; Tree of Dreams: Ten Tales From the Garden of Night by Laurence Yep; The Nixie’s Song by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black; A Book of Charms and Changelings by Ruth Manning Sanders; The Jaguar Stones, Book 1: Middleworld by J&P Voelkel; Shoots of Green: Poems for Young Gardeners by Ella Ramblett; Write Your Own Fairy Tale by Natalie M. Rosinsky. Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill; Sea Dream: Poems from Under the Waves compiled by Nikki Siegen-Smith; An Egret’s Day, poems by Jane Yolen; Max Finder Mystery Collected Casebooks, Volumes 1, 4 and 5 by Liam O’Donnell; Chicagoland Detective Agency: Vol. 2: The Maltese Mummy, Volume 4: The Big Flush and Vol. 5: The Bark in Space, all by Trina Robbins.


This quarter, we have introduced the concepts of equivalent fractions, ratios, and mixed numbers. We have also looked at solving simple single variable algebraic equations, and are continuing to practice two and three digit addition and subtraction with regrouping, and single digit and two digit multiplication, simple division, percents, fractions, decimals, and money skills, including adding and subtracting monetary amounts and making change, using real life math, books, workbooks, games, drawings, original word problems and manipulatives. Mikro uses online math resources such as BrainPOP, Khan Academy, Lesson Pathways, Dreambox, and BigIQKids. He also is making good progress through Teaching Textbooks 4, and will be moving to Teaching Textbooks 5 thereafter.

Books: Fractions, Decimals and Percents by David A. Adler.

Videos: Math Challenge: Equivalent fractions and Mixed Numbers (Sclessinger Media); Solving for X: Pre Algebra Volume 1 (Bill Nye).

Music: Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer; Division Unplugged.

Games: Timez Attack; The Number Devil computer game; various games on Dreambox math online.


Mikro is fascinated with geology, astronomy and biology, and asked to spend time studying them this school year. He has watched a number of college level lectures from The Great Courses from their Biology: The Science of Life and Our Night Sky series.

Mikro and his dad are extremely interested in 3D printing, and are learning to design and build 3D objects using software packages such as Tinkerbot and Blender.

We participated in World Wide Water Monitoring Day by taking and analyzing several water samples from the Croton River at Silver Lake. Mikro is an avid amateur naturalist and catches, studies and releases specimens from nature. Highlights this quarter included a walking stick insect and a praying mantis. He is also studying, collecting and identifying insect galls.
He attended Hackademia, at Alpha One Labs in Brooklyn, at which he participated in science experiments and workshops, including extracting DNA from strawberries, microscopic observation of samples from nature, learning to solder, building “squishy circuits”, etc. Another highlight of the quarter was spending the weekend at Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. Mikro participated in several workshops offered by Cognizant, including Hack A Toy, where he disassembled a remote control car and learned how to change the control system, and a Solar Lanterns building project. He attended lectures on topics including Raspberry Pi microcontrollers, citizen science EEG devices, brain hacking; citizen science projects using weather balloons for aerial photography; the history of the New York Worlds Fairs and similarities with Maker Faire, and Making and Inspiring Science with Science Bob. He also built and fired off an air pressure rocket. Another greatly enjoyable and educational event which Mikro attended was the Reptile Encounters Program hosted by Saw Mill River Audubon at the Croton Free Library, featuring turtles, lizards, a baby alligator and a snake.


Lunch at the Zoo: What Zoo Animals Eat and Why by Joyce Altman; Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe; In the Garden With Doctor Carver by Susan Grigsby; Dumbcane and Daffodils: Poisonous Plants in the House and Garden by Carol Lerner; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Brian Mealer; Salamanders by Emery and Durga Bernhard; Walking Sticks by Kristin Petrie; Stick Insect by Diane A. Kelly; Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau and On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein, both by Jennifer Berne; Track That Scat! by Lisa Morlock; When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched and Pterodactyls Took Flight: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life in the Triassic by Hannah Bonner; A Strange Place to Call Home: The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals That Call Them Home by Marilyn Singer and Ed Young; Luis Alvarez, Wild Idea Man; Lise Meitner Had the Right Vision About Fission; Rachel Carson: Clearing the Way for Environmental Protection and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak: Geek Heroes Who Put the Personal in Computers, all by Mike Venezia; What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae: A Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos; Wisdom the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over Sixty Years, by Kitty Harvill; Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch; Geckos by Katie Marsico; Planet Ark: Preserving Earth’s Biodiversity by Adrienne Mason; Marvels in the Muck: Life in the Salt Marshes by Doug Wechsler; Crystals by Rebecca Faulkner; Experiments with Rocks and Minerals by Salvatore Tocci; The Incredible Story of Skyscrapers by Greg Roza; Summer Camp Science Mysteries: The Whispering Lake Ghosts by Lynda Beauregard; So You Want to Be An Inventor? by Judith St. George; Is This Panama? A Migration Story by Jan Thornhill; The Mystery of Darwin’s Frog by Marty Crump.

Magazines: National Geographic Exploring Space (Special Issue); Dig, Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids, Kids Discover and Zoobooks. Time Magazine Special Edition: Rise of the Robots.

Videos: Mikro watches TED Talks on scientific topics of interest and other scientific programming online, such as Bob Ballard’s Nautilus Live website, with live video from remotely operated submersible vehicles, videos and webinars from the America Chemical Society, Discovery Streaming Education Unlimited, and various websites including PBS, Project JASON, and Amazon Prime Instant Videos. He also has a subscription to science videos and experiments online by Robert Krampf, The Happy Scientist and Supercharged Science. Mikro has watched programming about Camouflage and Defense in the Insect World, Ladybirds, Fire Bugs and Leaf Hoppers, Bugs and Other Hemipterans, Dragonflies: A Complete Insect Lifecycle; Bees: One Big Fmily; Bees and Other Hymenopterans; Spiders and Other Arachnids; Garden Spiders and Crab Spiders: Similarities and Differences; Paper Wasps: The Life Cycle of a Colony; Ant Lions and Ants: Predators and Prey; Processionary Caterpillars and Peacock Butterflies; Cras and Other Crustaceans; Sand and Spider Wasps; Caterpillars, Butterflies and Moths; Trapdoor vs, Agelena Spider: Comparing Behaviors; Damselflies; Green Bush Crickets and Locusts; Ground Wasps; Praying Mantis: Insect Predator; Bees: Social or Solitary Insect; Aquatic Insects: Larvae to Adults; Insect Adaptations for Water; Heteropterans (True Bugs); Homopterans; Ants and Aphids: A Symbiotic Relationship; Garden Travels: San Francisco Insect Zoo; Genes and Geniuses: The Lost Human Story Buried in Our DNA (ACS webinar); The Disappearing Spoon: Strange Tales From the Periodic Table of the Elements (ACS webinar); Masin Wasps: Insect Builders; Rose Chafer and Carabid and Tiger Beetles; Dung Beetles: Nature’s Cleaners; Flies and Cicadas; Planet Earth: Deep Ocean; Dinosaur Sex podcast from NY Academy of Sciences; Torroidal Vortices; Jet Pack Rocket Science; and many others.
Classes: Mikro is taking a ten session series of classes on a combination of topics including biology, chemistry, physics and robotics at Science Museum of Long Island. Recent topics included the physics of toys, survival science, sound and magnetism.

Field trips: Maker Faire, a weekend of hands on science activities, robotics, lectures on robotics and hands-on craft activities; Hackademia at Alpha One Labs; World Wide Water Monitoring Day sample collection and analysis; night time bug and spider safaris, many nature walks where Mikro has observed such things as great blue herons feeding (Mikro is doing a “heron count” of sightings along the Hudson River and will be graphing his results), birds caring for their young, hummingbirds feeding, butterflies pollinating flowers, dragonflies mating; beachcombing for treasures such as seashells, stargazing with a telescope, following NASA's scheduled sighting opportunities for the International Space Station; and watching meteor showers.
Projects: collecting and observing bugs, monitoring nest boxes and bird feeders, maintaining a compost heap, caring for and observing a growing collection of pets including two bearded dragons, a Chinese water dragon, a pair of Italian Wall Lizards, a hermit crab, snails and various insects; building simple Arduino circuits, building electronics kits, maintaining a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

History, Geography, Social Studies & Patriotism and Citizenship:

During this first quarter we have continued our study of Ancient History, focusing primarily on the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Ancient Americas, including the Olmecs, Toltecs, Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. We have used Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World as a spine, as well as maps, videos, nonfiction and fiction concerning the cultures studied.

Mikro is also taking a Comparative Religions course for teens, taught by Hunter College Professor Wendy Raver. The class took a field trip to the Rubin Museum and looked at Hindu, Buddhist and tribal religious art. So far they have covered the following topics: what makes a religion a religion, prehistoric religions including animism, totemism, shamanism, and anthropomorphism; tribal religions; sacred space and sacred time, and creation myths.

In American History/New York History/Patriotism and Citizenship, we have discussed Colonial America, including the triangle trade, the colonial economy; the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the Constitution, the function of governments, the Bill of Rights, rights and responsibilities of citizens, immigration, slavery, racism and the Civil Rights movement. Mikro attended the Theaterworks musical production Civil War at the Louise Lortel Theater in Manhattan, and saw the Shipwrecks exhibit at the Discovery Times Square Exposition Center. He also listened to Native American speakers at the Two Row Wampum festival event at Croton Point Park.

Aztecs/Incas/Mayans: The Word Of Mythology: Mayan and Aztec Mythology by Jim Olhoff; Life During the Great Civilizations: The Aztec Empire by Sheila Wyborny; Mayan and Aztec Mythology by Michael A. Schuman; Musicians of the Sun by Gerald McDermott; Investigating Machu Picchu: An Isabel Soto Archaeology Adventure by Emily Sohn, You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Mayan Soothsayer: Fortunes You’d Rather Not Tell by Rupert Matthews; You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Aztec Sacrifice: Gruesome Things You’d Rather Not Know by Fiona Macdonald; You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Incan Mummy: A One Way Journey You’d Rather Not Make by Colin Hynson; How Did They Do That in The Aztec Empire by William Noble; Hail! Aztecs by Jen Green; Exploring the World of the Aztecs with Elaine Landau by Elaine Landau; The Aztecs: Life in Tenochtitlan by Matt Doeden; Myths of the World: The Ancient Maya by Virginia Schomp; Hands of the Maya: Villagers at Work and Play by Rachell Crandell; Spirit of the Maya: A Boy Explores His People’s Mysterious Past by Guy Garcia; The Two Mountains: An Aztec Legend retold by Eric A. Kimmel; The Chocolate Tree: A Mayan Folktale by Linda Lowery and Richard Keep; The Night the Moon Fell: A Maya Myth retold by Pat Mora; The Boy Who Wouldn’t Obey: A Mayan Legend by Anne Rockwell; White Flower: A Maya Princess by Victor Montejo; The Eagle and the Rainbow: Timeless Tales From Mexico by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal; The Poet King of Tezcoco: A Great Leader of Ancient Mexico by Francisco Serrano; Aztec Times by Anthony Mason; Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark; Life Among the Aztecs by Eleanor J. Hall; The Honey Jar by Rigoberta Menchu; The People of Mexico by Colleen Madonna Flood Williams; Hispanic American Crafts Kids Can Do by Fay Robinson; Ballplayers and Bonesetters: One Hundred Ancient Aztec and Maya Jobs You Might Have Adored or Abhorred by Laurie Coulter; Aztecs: Facts, Things to Make, Activities by Ruth Thomson; Ivy’s Journal: A Trip to the Yucatan by Judith Herbst; Secrets in Stone: All About Maya Hieroglyphs by Laurie Coulter; Lost Temple of the Aztecs: What It Was Like When the Spaniards Invaded Mexico by Shelley Tanaka; The Lama’s Secret: A Peruvian Legend adapted by Argentina Palacios; Up and Down the Andes: A Peruvian Festival Tale by Laurie Krebs; Maya’s Children: The Legend of La Llorona by Rudolfo Anaya; Rain Player by David Wisniewski.

America: Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase.

Other: The Good Garden: How One Family Went From Hunger to Having Enough and Mimi’s Village and How Basic Healthcare Transformed It, both by Kate Smith Milway; Painters of the Caves by Patricia Lauber; selected readings handed out by Professor Raver for Comparative Religions.

Videos: Ancient Civilizations for Children: Ancient Aztec Empire (Schlessinger Media); Ancient Civilizations for Children: Ancient Aztecs: Fall of the Empire (Schlessinger Media); Ancient Civilizations for Children: Ancient Maya (Schlessinger Media); Ancient Civilizations for Children: Ancient Inca(Schlessinger Media); Families of the World: Mexico, Families of the World: Mexico: More Families; Families of Guatemala; New Dimensions Media Films (via Amazon Prime Instant Video): Rosario in Argentina; Frederico in Argentina; Julia in Mexico; Rosita in Mexico; Mexico; Mexican Indian Civilizations: Olmecs to Aztecs; Mexican Indian Civilizations: The Maya; Global Treasures: Teotihuacan; Global Treasures: Uxmal; Global Treasures: Palenque; Travel With Kids: Peru: The Inca World: Machu Picchu and Cuzco; Secrets of the Ancient Olmecs (BBC); Lost Civilization of Peru: The Moche (Horizon); The Mysterious Cities of Gold (complete series); Crash Course in US History: The Black Legend, Native Americans and Spaniards; When Is Thanksgiving; Natives and The English; The Quakers, The Dutch and the Ladies; The Seven Years War and the Great Awakening; Taxes and Smuggling: Prelude to Revolution; Where US Politics Came From; American Revolution; The Constitution, The Articles and Federalism; Thomas Jefferson and His Democracy; The War of 1812; The Market Revolution; Slavery.

Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips: Research Rescue Squad (primary, secondary and tertiary sources, reliable vs. unreliable sources); Slavery; Global Economy (international trade including the triangle trade, shipping); The Industrious Tradesmen (apprenticeship, journeyman and master stages of craftsmanship); Colonial Idol; The Will of the People.

Websites: Colonial Williamsburg; Mariner’s Museum (including Merchants of the Great Exchange and Whose Lunch Is It Anyway).


Mikro learned about the lives and music of several composers, including Bach, Beethoven, and Strauss. He enjoyed a live performance of classical music by Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall, and a wonderful program, Percussion Instruments with Simon Boyar, at the Croton Free Library. Books: Cool Classical Music by Mary Lindeen.


Mikro has continued his drawing and experiments with various media, including clay, watercolors, pastels, markers, acrylic paints and collage/assemblage. He is participating in the Sketch Tuesday art challenge online. Mikro’s favorite subjects for drawing are insect larvae and mythological creatures, especially dragons He is taking a Crafty Kids class at the Croton Free Library, and also enjoyed a LEGO Building Workshop there. He enjoys watching TED Talks on sculpture, architecture, and other art forms. We watch FaceOff (Syfy Channel) together as a family, and often design our own characters to fit the various challenges presented therein. Books: Dreaming UP: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale; The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin Side by Side by Susan Goldman Rubin; Uncle Andy’s: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol by James Warhola; The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan by Christy Hale; Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Rodriguez; Paul Klee, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, Rene Magritte, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gaugin, Roy Lichtenstein, and Grandma Moses, all by Mike Venezia; 13 Art Inventions Children Should Know by Florian Heine.

Phys Ed:

Swimming at Silver Lake; hiking, park days with homeschooled friends; soccer and basketball informally with friends and family; trampoline, mock combat ninja battles in the woods as part of an ongoing role playing game created by Mikro and his friends from our homeschool group.


We have discussed puberty, good nutrition, the basic food groups, the food pyramid, safety issues related to food allergies, basic human needs, vision and eye safety, laboratory 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. Videos: Puberty for Boys: Amazing Changes Inside and Out (Discovery Streaming).

Traffic, bicycle and general safety:

We continue to discuss the importance of always wearing a bicycle helmet, of looking both ways before crossing the street, obeying traffic signals, watching cars for signals, safe and appropriate behavior on public transportation, seatbelts, car seats, not distracting the driver, what exit signs and emergency instructions (e.g. on the trains) mean; water safety; boating safety; strangers, staying where mom and dad can see you, what to do if lost or separated from family, how to avoid getting lost in the first place, how to ask for help. Mikro knows his name and address including zip code, and his parents' full names. Mikro has a cell phone and knows how to use it to call for help, or contact his parents, in the event that he becomes lost.

Fire Safety and Prevention:

We have discussed 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.



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