Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mikro Hits Double Digits!


I can't believe my little guy is 10!




Sunday, April 7, 2013

Nature Nearby: The Beach

Another beautiful spring day, another walk on the beach...












Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nature Nearby and Library Day

After dropping off our paperwork at the school district, we spent the entire afternoon at the library.


Mikro's friend J came in around 4 pm, and they hugged and ran off together. Mikro read her a book about elves and fairies. When they closed the doors at 5:30, we headed out.

I got a text from Kev saying he was running for a train and wanted to be picked up because he was carrying stuff, so we elected not to go home, but to spend the next hour and a half at the park instead (since it's right next to the train station).

It got pretty windy, so there was no activity at the red tailed hawks' nest. They must have been hunkering down to keep their babies warm. Pretty sure there are chicks from the parents' behavior and from the noises coming from the nest... But nothing visible yet. While that was disappointing, there was still a lot to see:







Third Quarterly Report


SCHOOL YEAR: 2012-2013
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 1/18/13 to 4/4/13
DATE SUBMITTED: April 5, 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 well above grade level. He devours books. His favorite present of all time is the Kindle he received for Christmas, which leaves us in the strange position of having to tell him to stop reading and instead eat, sleep, etc. 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, riddles and jokes. We are working on grammar and spelling using a variety of videos, workbooks and online lessons from Lesson Pathways and other online resources. Mikro’s penmanship still needs improvement, but he is making steady progress. He is keeping an electronic journal on his laptop, which also serves as a vehicle for working on spelling, keyboarding, composition and self editing skills.

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

Little Bo in London by Julie Andrews Edwards; Wolves of the Beyond series Book 4: Hunger Wolf, Book 5: Spirit Wolf and Book 6: Star Wolf by Kathryn Lasky; Sketching Outdoors in Spring by Jim Arnosky; The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King and Silver on the Tree all by Susan Cooper; Flea’s Five Christmases Series: The North Pole Challenge, The Rudolph Challenge, The Jack Frost Challenge, The Frosty Challenge, The South Pole Challenge, all by Kevin George; Benjamin Franklinstein Lives, Benjamin Franklinstein Meets the Fright Brothers, and Benjamin Franklinstein Meets Thomas Deadison, all by Matthew McElligott and Larry Taxbury; The Curse of the Blue Figurine, The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull, The Revenge of the Wizards Ghost and The Mansion in the Mist, all by John Bellairs; Gods of Manhattan, Gods of Manhattan: Spirits in the Park and Gods of Manhattan: Sorcerer’s Secret, all by Scott Mebus; Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; Sea of Monsters; The Titan’s Curse; The Battle of the Labyrinth; The Last Olympian all by Rick Riordan; The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid, The Throne of Fire, The Serpent’s Shadow, all by Rick Riordan; The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero, The Son of Neptune, The Mark of Athena, all by Rick Riordan; The Demigod Diaries and Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades, both by Rick Riordan; The Dragon’s Tale and Other Animal Fables of the Chinese Zodiac by Demi; Kung Hai Fat Choy by Demi; Demi’s Dragons and Fantastic Creatures; The Donkey and the Rock by Demi; The Conference of the Birds by Demi. Kaspar, Prince of Cats by Michael Morpungo; Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson; The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Boy of a Thousand Faces by Brian Selznick; True Lies: 18 Tales for You to Judge, told by George Shannon; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Last Battle all by C.S. Lewis; The High Deeds of Finn MacCool by Rosemarie Sutcliff; The Seven Wonders series: The Amazon Temple, The Babylon Game, The Cleopatra Curse, The Colossus Crisis, The great Pyramid Robbery, The Mausoleum Murder, and The Olympic Conspiracy, all by Katherine Roberts.


We are continuing to work through the Teaching Textbooks 4 curriculum and to practice two and three digit addition and subtraction with regrouping, and single digit and two digit multiplication, simple division, money and making change, addition, subtraction and multiplication word problems, rounding, estimation, fractions, decimals, percents, measurement , graphing and Cartesian coordinates, using the Teaching Textbooks 4 (CD-Rom) program, as well as real life math, books, workbooks, games, drawings, original word problems and manipulatives. Mikro uses online math resources such as Adapted Mind, Dreambox, BigIQKids, Kahn Academy and Lesson Pathways. We have introduced the concept of long division. Mikro’s confidence in doing multi-digit problems is increasing.

Music: Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer; Division Unplugged by Sara Jordan.

Games: Timez Attack; Math Noodlers, card games where Mikro keeps score.


Mikro has studied such topics as: genetics, genetic mutations, DNA, RNA, heredity, motherhood, fetal development, babies and infancy, cells, cell structures, cell specialization, cellular respiration, death, the immune system, the nervous system, neurons, nutrition, the reproductive system, the spinal cord, computers, computer history, robotics, bacteria, antibiotic resistance, the Apollo program, spaceflight, nanotechnology, atoms, the atomic model, periodic table of the elements, states of matter, change of properties, radioactivity, isotopes, carbon dating, the law of conservation of matter, fitness, metabolism, population growth, dreaming, imagination, snowflakes, oceans, the ocean floor, geologic time, the earth’s structure, plate tectonics, natural disasters, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, humans and the environment, ground water, solstices and equinoxes, the rock cycle, identifying minerals, crystals, metals, plastics, the everglades, rivers, air pollution, digital animation, erosion, fossils, dinosaurs, evolution, extinction, natural selection, human evolution, classification, the 6 kingdoms, monotremes, arachnids, mammals, bats, protists, protozoa, asexual reproduction, mitosis, seed plants, seedless plants, carnivorous plants, plant growth, pollination, honey bees, ants, insects, the energy pyramid, food webs, using BrainPOP and a combination of online resources including Youtube, AMNH, U.C. Berkeley and other numerous websites. Mikro is also fascinated with astronomy and space. We continue to stargaze as a family, with the aid of a telescope, binoculars, and an Android Application called Space Junk, which identifies celestial objects overhead. We made several unsuccessful attempts to spot the comet Pan Starrs. Mikro and his dad are learning to design and build 3D objects for 3D printing using software packages such as Tinkercad and Blender. We continue to explore topics in marine biology and the life sciences, as well as electronics and robotics, flight and aerodynamics, ecosystems, habitat and food chains; evolution, ecology and conservation.

Books: Discover Nature in the Winter by Elizabeth P. Lawlor.

Videos: The Happy Scientist on such topics as: chemical reactions, optics, photography, optical illusions, insects, the scientific method, plants, and sound. Mikro also watches videos produced by the American Chemical Society called ScienceBytes.

Field trips: Dragons & Dreams program by the Science Tellers at Croton Free Library; birdwatching, beachcombing for treasures such as seashells, sea glass, and driftwood and observing the behavior of shorebirds; stargazing with a telescope and following NASA's scheduled sighting opportunities for the International Space Station; and watching meteor showers.

Projects: monitoring bird feeders, maintaining a compost heap, caring for and observing a growing collection of pets including two bearded dragons, Chinese water dragon, Italian Wall Lizards, hermit crabs, snails and various insects; building robotics and electronics kits, and maintaining a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Mikro is really enjoying watching the behavior of his latest lizards as they interact.

History, Geography, Social Studies & Patriotism and Citizenship:

During this quarter we have continued our study of Ancient History, focusing primarily on the ancient Middle East and the three major world religions that originated there. 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.

We have had discussions on Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the current conflicts in the Middle East and their historical antecedents, the history, geography, cultures and landmarks, folktales and legends of Israel, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt.

Mikro has also been exploring topics of interest using BrainPOP online, including: holidays including St. Patrick’s Day, the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the thirteen colonies, the Iroquois Confederacy, Pocahontas, the French and Indian War, guns and gun safety, Benjamin Franklin, the Bill of Rights, causes of the American Revolution, Greek mythology, Athens, the Olympic Games, Egyptian pharaohs, Cleopatra, mummies, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, Homer, Feudalism, religion, Charles Darwin, the Scopes Monkey Trial, Roald Dahl, J.R.R. Tolkien and William Shakespeare.

In American History/New York History/Patriotism and Citizenship, we have discussed the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the Constitution, the function of governments, separation of powers, federalism and states’ rights, the Bill of Rights, rights and responsibilities of citizens, current events implicating the Second Amendment and the First Amendment, the judicial system (both federal and state, including how a law suit is initiated, trials and appeals), immigration, slavery, racism and the Civil Rights movement. We attended several rallies and protests at the Capitol Building in Albany, and visited the New York State Museum, where Mikro was fascinated by the huge rocks and minerals collection, and the wonderful exhibit on the historical way of life of his Mohawk ancestors. We also attended the National Museum of the American Indian’s Two Row Wampum panel, featuring Onondaga Faithkeeper Oren Lyons and Pete Seeger.

America: One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World by Joe McKendry.

Middle East: We Visit Kuwait by Kathleen Tracy; We Visit Saudi Arabia by Kathleen Tracy; We Visit Yemen by Claire O’Neal; Iran by Madeline Donaldson; Take a Trip to Saudi Arabia and Take a Trip to Egypt by Keith Lye; We Visit Turkey by Amelia LaRoche; Stories of the Arabian Nights by Anthea Bell; My Grandmother’s Stories: A Collection of Jewish Folktales by Adele Geras, Hosni the Dreamer: An Arabian Tale by Ehud Ben Ezer; The Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales, retold by Peninnah Schram; Brainteasers from Jewish Folklore by Rosalind Charney Kaye; The Magic Horse, The Old Woman and the Eagle, and The Boy Without a Name, all by Idries Shah; The Hungry Coat, Jesus and Muhammad, all by Demi; Menorahs, Mezuzas and Other Jewish Symbols by Miriam Chaikin; While Standing on One Foot: Puzzle Stories and Wisdom Tales From the Jewish Tradition by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin; Easter by Gail Gibbons; Celebrating Passover by Diane Hoyt Goldsmith; Masada by Neil Waldman.

Precolumbian Civilizations of the Americas: The Smoking Mountain: The Story of Popocatepetil and Iztaccihuatl by Dan Jolley and David Witt; Mesoamerican Mythology: Quetzalcoatl by Tom Darling.

Other: Stories to Solve: Folktales Around the World, More Stories to Solve: 15 Folktales from Around the world and Still More Stories to Solve: 14 Folktales From Around the World, told by George Shannon; Groovy Greeks by Terry Deary; The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum.


Mikro continues to practice recorder and learn new notes. He can play several simple songs.


Mikro has continued his drawing and experiments with various media, including clay, watercolors, markers, acrylic paints and collage/assemblage. He is participating in the Sketch Tuesday art challenge online. Mikro is taking a crafts class at the Croton Free Library and was invited to join his mother’s adult level pottery class, which he is now enjoying. We watch FaceOff (Syfy Channel) together as a family, and often design our own characters to fit the various challenges presented therein.

Foreign Language:
French: Bon Jour Les Amis, Vol.1 ( DVD).
Kanienkeha (Mohawk): YouTube Videos.

Phys Ed:
Hiking, park days with homeschooled friends and/or family; soccer and basketball informally with friends and family.

We have discussed good nutrition, safety issues related to food allergies, laboratory safety, gun 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.

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.

Fire Safety and Prevention:

We continue to discuss what to do in a fire emergency, including reviewing our 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 also talked about fire prevention strategies.

Dated & Signed

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Brings New Life... Even to the Blog!


Today was beautiful and spring like! We drove Kev to the train this morning, and stopped off at the canoe launch to see if there were any interesting birds around. As Mikro said, "Just seagulls and geese..." I snapped a couple of photos of the very low tide conditions, and Mikro made a goofy self portrait while I drove us to the park nearby.





First we stopped at the nature center for a look around. The place makes me sad, as it seems a shadow of its former self, back when we had homeschool nature classes there...


Next, we went to the beach, where Mikro amused himself, and I discovered a pair of nesting redtails. I never did get a great shot, but they didn't pop up out of the nest much. I will try again tomorrow with a better lens...






After that, we headed home for a day of homeschooling and wretched NY homeschool paperwork. But first, we filled feeders and looked at all the new flowers in the garden...