Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger. You proved a song and a dream can change the world.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Second Quarterly Report



SCHOOL YEAR: 2013-2014
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 10/16/14 to 1/15/14
DATE SUBMITTED: January 16, 2014


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 at a high school or college level. He is currently reading university level resources in Comparative Religions for a course for homeschooled teens taught by a college professor. 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 participated in the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) Young Writer’s Program again this year and composed an original story which exceeded his word count goal. He is working on expanding his Nanowrimo project into a full length middle grade novel. His keyboarding skills are improving slowly, though he is still a hunt and peck typist. He is beginning to learn to write in cursive.

Mikro’s Comparative Religions course requires typewritten homework essays, through which he is getting good practice in spelling, composition and grammar, 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:

Pete Seeger’s Storytelling Book, composed by Pete Seeger and Paul Dubois Jacobs; Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life, edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz; The Magic Thief and The Magic Thief Lost by Sara Prineas; The Troll With No Heart in His Body and Other Tales of Trolls from Norway by Lise Lunge-Larsen; Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy; The Dragonology Chronicles series: The Dragon’s Eye, The Dragon Diary, The Dragon’s Apprentice and The Dragon Prophecy by Dugald A. Steer;
Jake and the Gingerbread Wars by E.G. Foley; Max Finder Mystery Collected Casebooks, Volumes 6 and 7 by Liam O’Donnell; N.E.R.D.S. Book 5: Attack of the B.U.L.L.I.E.S. by Michael Buckley; Bone 1: Out From Boneville and Bone 2: Great Cow Race, both by Jeff Smith; Doodle Soup: poems by John Ciardi; Eragon and Eragon’s Guide to Algesia by Christopher Paolini; Arthur Spiderwick’s Guide to the Fantastical World Around You and the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles series: The Nixie’s Song, A Giant Problem and The Wyrm King, all by Terry DiTerlizzi and Holly Black; The Oak Lord by Catherine Cooper; Lost in Babylon by Peter Lerangis; Sarah and the Magic Mayonnaise Jar by Meira Pentermann; Wright on Time Series Books 1-6: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota; all by Lisa M. Cottrell Bentley; The Felix O’Shea Collection: Felix and the Incredible Transporting Machine, Felix and the Land of Dreams, Felix and the Mystery of the Golden Monkey and Felix and the Amazing Shrinking Machine, all by A.R. Gajraj; Where the Fairies Dwell by Miranda Simon; In a Glass Grimmly; A Tale Dark and Grimm and The Grimm Conclusion, all by Adam Gidwitz; The Evil Pond: Legend of the Golden Warrior by Papa G; Whale Shines: An Artistic Tale by Fiona Robinson; Dinosaurology: The Search for A Lost World by Emily Hawkins; A Practical Guide to Dragon Riding by Lisa Trutkoff Trumbauer; Monsterology Handbook by Dr. Earnest Drake; Alienology by Dugald A. Steer; Oceanology Handbook by Pierre Aronnax.


Mikro learned about the metric system and the US system of weights and measures. In connection with his ancient history studies, he learned about Mayan math and the base 20 system and did simple addition problems using this method and symbol set. He is continuing to practice single digit and two digit multiplication, simple division, long 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: Patterns in Peru by Cindy Neuschwander.

Videos: Math Challenge: Equivalent fractions and Mixed Numbers (Sclessinger Media); Solving for X: Pre Algebra Volume 1 (Bill Nye); NOVA: Fractals: Hunting the Hidden Dimension (PBS); Vi Hart’s Logarithms video and several Mayan Math videos on YouTube.

Music: Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer; Division Unplugged.


Mikro is fascinated with geology, astronomy and biology, and asked to spend time studying them this school year. He has watched several more college level lectures from The Great Courses’ Biology: The Science of Life and Our Night Sky series.
Mikro and his dad are learning to design and build 3D objects using software packages such as Tinkerbot and Blender.

Sneed B. Collard III’s Most Fun Book Ever About Lizards; Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox; Geology Rocks series by Rebecca Faulkner: Sedimentary Rock; Igneous Rock; Metamorphic Rock; Crystals; Fossils; Ocean Detectives: Solving the Mysteries of the Sea , Sea Soup: Phytoplankton; Sea Soup: Zooplankton, Under the Ice, and Shipwrecks: Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath the Sea, all by Mary M. Cerullo; Survivor’s Science in the Ocean by Peter D. Riley; Secret Lives of Deep Sea Creatures by Sara Swan Miller; Scorpions: Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle; Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery From Your Own Backyard, by Loree Griffin Burns; The Sandwalk Adventures and Clan Apis byJay Hosler; The Kid Who Named Pluto and Other Stories of Extraordinary Young People in Science by Marc McCutcheon; Ocean Drifters: A Secret World Beneath the Waves by Dr. Richard Kirby;

Videos: Mikro uses Discovery Streaming Education Online’s extensive collection of science videos. Particular areas of study at the moment include geology and earth science topics, as well as evolution and marine biology. Mikro also 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 The DARPA Robotics Challenge; The Unfixed Brain, The Unfixed Spinal Chord ; What’s Inside The Earth: An Introduction to Earth’s Interior, Crust, and Mineral Resources; Plate Tectonics; the Rock Cycle; Geysers; Glaciers; River Deltas; Hot Springs; Volcanoes; Earthquakes; Crystal Formation; Precious Minerals; Weathering and Erosion; Crime Scene Investigations and Forensics; Reverse Engineering the Wright Brother’s Flyer; The Scientific Method; The Metric System; Measuring Volume, Weight, Mass and Distance, and many others.

Classes: Mikro finished up his series of classes at Science Museum of Long Island on a combination of topics including earthquakes, tsunamis, and plant biology.

Field trips: American Museum of Natural History special exhibit: Whales: Giants of the Deep; Bonham Auction House previews for Dueling Dinosaurs auction; many nature walks where Mikro has observed such things animal tracks in the snow; bald eagles fishing from ice floes in the Hudson River, and examined a dead sturgeon on the beach, stargazing with a telescope.

Projects: monitoring 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, a snail 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 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 [NAME] College Professor [NAME]. The class took a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History and looked at native American, pre-Columbian and African religious artifacts. This quarter, they have covered the following topics: initiation ceremonies and rites of passage, magic and the use of rituals and sacrifices, polytheistic religions of Ancient Greece and Rome, the interplay of religion, philosophy and ethics, the rise of monotheistic religions in the middle east (Judaism, Christianity and Islam); the Old Testament; prophets and prophesies.

In American History/New York History/Patriotism and Citizenship, we have discussed Colonial America, including William Penn and the Pennsylvania Colony; 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, and current events involving constitutional questions.

Field Trips:

Mikro accompanied his parents to the polls on Election Day . Mikro participated in the New York City Home Educators’ Alliance’s annual History Fair and presented on William Penn. He also recited the Gettysburg Address from memory on stage. He spent Veteran’s Day visiting the U.S.S. New York, learning about life aboard a Navy ship, and thanking military personnel for their service to our country. Mikro also participated in a holiday event bringing good cheer to hospitalized veterans at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital.


Aztecs/Incas/Mayans: How Did They Do That in The Mayan Civilization by Elizabeth Scholl; The Secret Legacy by Rigoberta Menchu; Secrets of Lost Cultures: The Maya: Activities and Crafts from a Mysterious Land by Arlette M. Braman; Calendars of Native Americans: Timekeeping Methods of Ancient North America by Lynn George; The Fifth and Final Sun: An Ancient Aztec Myth of the Sun’s Origin retold by C. Shana Greger; Days of the Dead by Carrie Gleason; Paper Crafts for Day of the Dead by Randel McGee; Day of the Dead: A Latino Celebration of Family and Life by Carol Gnojewski; Inca Town by Fiona Macdonald;

America: William Penn: Founder of Pennsylvania by Ryan Jacobsen; Let Freedom Ring: William Pen, Founder of the Pennsylvania Colony by Bernadette L. Baczynski; Pennsylvania by Ann Heinrichs; The Pennsylvania Dutch: Craftsmen and Farmers by Eva Deutsch Costabel; Haym Saloman: Patriot Banker of the American Revolution by Shirley Milgrim; Haym Saloman, American Patriot by Susan Goldman Rubin; The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln; All About America: Colonists and Independence by Saly Seznell Isaacs; O Say Can You See: America’s Symbols , Landmarks and Inspiring Words by Sheila Keenan; When the Moon is Full: Supernatural Stories from the Pennsylvania Mountains by Robin Moore;

Other: The Romans: Gods, Emperors and Dormice by Marcia Williams; Hera: The Goddess and her Glory by George O’ Connor; Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press by Bruce Koscielniak; The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young; Everyday Life in Prehistory by Neil Morris; Everyday Life in the Bible Lands by Cath Senker; What Is Religion by Bobbie Kalman; ; Kids Book of World Religions by Jennifer Glossop; What Do You Believe (DK); Early Peoples: Australian Aborigines (World Book); What Made Tiddilak Laugh retold by Joanna Troughton; selected readings handed out or assigned by Professor [NAME] for Comparative Religions (including passages from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and from the Koran).


Mikro enjoyed a performance by percussion group STOMP. He also learned to sing several Christmas carols and listened to CDs of Handel’s Messiah and Christmas music and hymns.


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 He is taking a Crafty Kids class at the Croton Free Library. 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.

Field Trips: Mikro enjoyed the special exhibit on Rene Magritte at the Museum of Modern Art, as well as browsing the permanent collections. He especially likes the surrealists. He also enjoyed a field trip to the Brooklyn Museum with our homeschool group, where he participated in a program on Transformation in the Americas, which dovetailed nicely with his studies of pre-Columbian civilizations in ancient history, and his study of comparative religions. He also enjoyed the American Museum of Natural History’s anthropology collections, which he toured with Professor [NAME]’s Comparative Religions class, focusing on Eastern Woodlands, Plains Indian, Pre-Columbian and African religious art and artifacts. Mikro also enjoyed seeing his beloved LEGOs used to create amazing replicas of famous works of art which he has seen in area museums and in books, as well as original sculptures by Nathan Sawaya, in the LEGO: Art of the Brick exhibit at Discovery Times Square Exposition Center.

Phys Ed:

Hiking, park days with homeschooled friends; 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, safety issues related to food allergies, basic human needs, 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.

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; gun 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. Videos: Eddie Eagle Gun Safety program.

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.

Dated: January 16, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014



A little late night free verse...

Polar Vortex Ponderings
Copyright 2014, Chele Coyne

The neighbor’s wind chimes
Dance a frantic jig,
Their clamor nearly drowning out
The wind’s psychotic howling.
Media fanfare heralds the “Polar Vortex”,
Which sends the mercury plummeting,
As temperatures wave to zero
On their way down to double digit negatives.
Tomorrow’s tides will ferry sheet ice along
On its journey towards the city,
Bald eagles riding these frozen rafts
Like Hudson Line commuters,
Sharp eyes trained on the water,
In search of a likely fish,
While Gotham’s imported workforce
Look up from smartphones long enough
To marvel at the wild nearby
On this frosty winter morning.


What Passes For Lunch Conversation In My House

Kev and I are talking about a new book club for grownups at our local library and Mikro sticks his nose in, wanting to be included.

Chele: It's not a question of reading level. You read on a high school/college level; that's not the issue.

Kev: I don't know whether the books would interest you enough to finish.

Chele: Or whether they would have adult themes that aren't really appropriate for children. Like sex, for example.

Mikro: Or the dreaded topic...

Chele: (Recalling past expressions of pre-teen disgust) Romance?

Mikro: Gah! I can tolerate the first, but not the second.

Kev: (Laughs)

Chele: Which just makes you typically male.

Kev: (Laughs more.)

Chele: He is your son!

Mikro: (Somewhat indignantly) Well, I didn't say I was personally interested in either [mom notes-- which is good, because he's only 10!], but sex is interesting because of the science. You know, the biology of sperm...

Chele: (Nearly choking on soup, laughing) Trying to eat here. Go take your biology of sperm into the kitchen. Begone!