Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mikro!

Happy birthday to my amazing, sweet, funny kid, Mikro! You make the world a brighter place.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

March Field Trips and Classes

Creativity and Education Innovation Fair during Seven Days of Genius at the 92nd Street Y:

Appalachian Spring at Tribeca Performing Arts Center:

Science Project and Interview for AMNH Science Alliance Program:

Earth Science Rgents Lab class: spring semester began:

Hall of Biodiversity at AMNH:

Hayden Planetarium:

Fun at the New Victory Theater:

And lastly, another great Broadway Playhouse show (no photos).

Third Quarterly Report, Fifth Grade


SCHOOL YEAR: 2014-2015
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 1/17/15 to 3/31/15
DATE SUBMITTED: April 1, 2015


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 continued to improve his spelling, grammar and composition skills by working on his Nanowrimo novel, and by writing a series of personal essays in support of his application for admission into the Science Alliance program for middle schoolers at the American Museum of Natural History. He also has a private blog, where he can journal his thoughts and experiences.

This quarter, he elected to take the National Mythology Exam in the Greek/Roman, Norse, Native American, African and Theseus categories. We are eagerly awaiting word on his results.

Mikro reads at a high school or college level. He devours books on mythology, folktales, science fiction and the sciences. His keyboarding skills continue to improve, though he is still a hunt and peck typist. He continues to work on his penmanship, especially in cursive. We also did a brief review for the Fifth Grade Language Arts test, using Barron’s New York State Grade 5 Elementary Level Language Arts Test by Hermon R. Card. Mikro also read a lot of the poetry compiled in What Your Fifth Grader Needs To Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr..

Mikro participates in a book club at the Croton Free Library. Books read and discussed this quarter include: The Search for Wondla by Tony Di Terlizzi and Ulysses Moore, Book 1: The Door To Time by P.D. Baccalario.

Mikro is in the middle of a Great Courses class called Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, featuring Professor David Zarefsky of Northwestern University. Topics covered so far include: Introducing Argumentation and Rhetoric; Underlying Assumptions of Argumentation; Formal and Informal Argumentation; History of Argumentation Studies; Argument Analysis and Diagramming; Complex Structures of Argument; Case Construction—Requirements and Options; Stasis—The Heart of the Controversy; Attack and Defense I; Attack and Defense II; Language and Style in Argument; Evaluating Evidence.

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

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove; Spy School and Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs; The Genius Files: License to Thrill by Dan Gutman; The Dragon Circle by Stephen Krensky; Tin Tin in America, Cigars of the Pharaoh, The Blue Lotus and The Black Island, all by Herge; Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling; Dungeons and Dragons: Rules for Fantastic Medieval Role Playing Adventure Game Campaigns Playable With Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures, by Gary Gygox and Dave Arneson; LEGO Architecture: The Visual Guide by Phillip Wilkinson and Adam Reed Tucker; The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects by Isaac V. Kerlow.


Our focus this quarter has been in reviewing material for the fifth grade standardized test in mathematics. Additionally, Mikro learned about the geometry of circles and triangles. He celebrated Pi Day, and learned to calculate the area of a circle. He is also learning about trigonometric functions and applied math in the area of Earth Science, such as calculating the eccentricity of a planet’s orbit. He is continuing to practice multi-digit multiplication, simple division, long division, percents, fractions, decimals, graphing, 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, and Khan Academy.

Books: Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late by Laura Overdeck.

Videos: Vi Hart’s Pi and Tau videos on YouTube.

Music: Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer; Division Unplugged.

Field Trips: National Museum of Mathematics.


Mikro continues to take an Earth Science Regents Lab class with Jen Seron, using the collections of the American Museum of Natural History. Topics this quarter included: early astronomy and the development of our current model of the solar system; Earth’s motion; and Earth’s hydrosphere.

In addition, he researched and completed a science project in connection with his application for the Science Alliance program for middle schoolers at AMNH. He designed a board game to teach the evolution of life over geologic time, which covered such topics as plate tectonics, climate change, biodiversity, and evolution. He presented his project at an interview with the education department at the museum.

He continues to explore his interests using BrainPOP, The Happy Scientist and Discovery Streaming Education, TED Talks, Ted Ed Talks, You Tube videos, World Science Festival Videos, etc., as well as his vast collection of science books.

He is currently working on an independent study project on natural satellites to present to his Earth Science class.

Mikro and his dad are continuing to learn to design and build 3D objects using software packages such as TinkerCad and Blender.


Prehistoric Life (DK); The Field Guide to Prehistoric Life by David Lambert; Seven Wonders of the Gas Giants and Their Moons by Ron Miller; 1001 Facts About Space by Carole Stott; Many Moons: The Myth, Magic and Fantasy of Our Nearest Heavenly Body by Diana Brueton; Falling Stars: A Guide to Meteors and Meteorites by Mikro D. Reynolds; Moonbase: First Colony in Space by Michal D. Cole; Thirty-two Moons: The Natural Satellites of Our Solar System by David C. Knight; What If We Lived on Another Planet by Olive MacDonald; DK Universe by Robin Kerrod; Living in Space by James Trefil; The Collector’s Guide to the Minerals of New York State by Steven Garg Chamberlin; Science for Kids: 39 Easy Astronomy Experiments by Robert W. Wood.

Textbook: Earth Science: The Physical Setting, by Edward J. Denecke, Jr.: Chapter 1: Early Astronomy and the Geocentric Model; Chapter 2: The Development of the Heliocentric Model; Chapter 3: Heliocentric Earth Motions and Their Effects; Chapter 5: Our System of Time; Chapter 12: The Origin and Nature of Earth’s Hydrosphere.

Videos: The Making of the Fittest (HHMI); Evolution: Fossils, Genes and Mousetraps (HHMI). Mikro has watched programming about and discussed the following topics this quarter, in addition to the above mentioned: Engineering and design of the Freedom Tower; nature programs featuring snowy owls, ducks, eels and coywolves; moral behavior in animals; nanorobots; the ecological benefits of whale excrement; the Amazon River; plant communication; the evolution of flight, convergent evolution.

Classes: Earth Science Regents Lab with Jen Seron .

Field trips: American Museum of Natural History: Hall of Biodiversity; Hall of Minerals; Spiral of Deep Time; Creativity and Education Innovation Fair at the 92nd Street Y’s 7 Days of Genius Festival; bird watching; many nature walks where Mikro has observed such things animal tracks in the snow; bald eagles fishing from ice floes in the Hudson River, red tailed hawks mating; stargazing.

Projects: designed a space ship for 3D printing using Blender software package; designed and built a game demonstrating evolution over the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras; ongoing project on natural satellites; examining interesting specimens under the microscope, such as hair, scabs, banana peels, leaves, etc.; maintained a compost heap, caring for and observing a collection of pets including two bearded dragons, a Chinese water dragon, and a turtle, maintaining a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

History, Geography, Social Studies & Patriotism and Citizenship:

During this quarter we have concentrated on preparation for the National Mythology Exam. Mikro studied Greek/Roman, Norse, African and Native American myths and legends, and took the exam in early March.

We also continued our study of the Dark Ages and the Vikings. We are in the middle of a 36 lecture offering from The Great Courses called Vikings, featuring Professor Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane University . Topics covered to date include: The Vikings in Medieval History; Land and People of Medieval Scandinavia; Scandinavian Society in the Bronze Age; Scandinavia in the Celtic and Roman Ages; The Age of Migrations; The Norse Gods; Runes, Poetry, and Visual Arts; Legendary Kings and Heroes; A Revolution in Shipbuilding; Warfare and Society in the Viking Age; Merchants and Commerce in the Viking Age; Christendom on the Eve of the Viking Age.

We also completed Experiencing Rome, A Visual Exploration of Antiquity’s Greatest Empire (a 36 lecture offering from The Great Courses featuring Professor Steven L. Tuck of Miami University). Topics included: Roman Colonies—Small Romes; Local Baths and Roman Bathing Culture; Roman Harbors—Liminal Monuments; Putting It All Together I—A Day in Pompeii; Putting It All Together II—A Day in Rome; Conclusions and the Images of Empire.

In American History/New York History/Patriotism and Citizenship, we have discussed politics and current events, the Constitution, separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, rights and responsibilities of citizens, totalitarian governments and tyranny, immigration, slavery, racism and the Civil Rights movement, and current events in the Middle East and American foreign policy.

Mikro loves cartography and spends hours looking through atlases for fun. He particularly enjoyed looking up destinations from The Amazing Race (Season 1) on the map.


Mythology: Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths and D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths, both by Ingrid and Edgar Daulaire;; American Indian Myths and Legends by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz; The Myths of Greece and Rome by H.A. Guerber; Tales from Africa by Kathleen Arnott.

Dark Age/Vikings: Step into the Viking World by Philip Steele; The Art of the Vikings by Shirley Glubok.

America: My History Is America’s History: 15 Things You Can Do to Save America’s Stories (National Endowment of the Arts).

Other: Past Worlds Atlas of Archaeology (Collins); World Atlas of the Past (Volumes 1-4) by John Haywood.


Mikro attended several performances at the New Victory Theater, including: Lion Boy, Cambuyon, and Pinocchio. He also attended a concert of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, with dance performances by Dance Theater of Harlem. Mikro also enjoyed Broadway Playhouse productions called Celebrating Meredith Wilson and Celebrating Frank Loesser, which featured historical and biographical information about the featured composers, as well as songs and activities involving audience participation.


Mikro produced a game board for his science project that involved drawing representative fauna for 9 periods of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, as well as painting maps of the world for each such era, and designing game pieces. He continues to explore his interest in photography, film making and special effects, and cartography. He draws constantly and experiments with various media, including clay, watercolors, pastels, markers, acrylic paints and collage/assemblage. He enjoys watching TED Talks on many art forms. He designs objects for 3D printing with a software package called Blender. He also builds fine scale plastic models with his dad.

Mikro completed a 36 lecture program from The Great Courses entitled 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World, featuring Professor Diana K. McDonald of Boston University. Topics included: Where Do We Come From?; Ancient Cave Art—Chauvet, France; The Uruk Vase—Vision of an Ordered World; The Standard of Ur—Role of the King; “Ram Caught in a Thicket”; Great Ziggurat at Ur—Ancient Architecture; Victory Stela of Naram-Sin of Akkad; Neo-Assyrian Palace Reliefs; “Queen of the Night”—Babylonian Goddess; Ishtar Gate and Processional Way; The Ancient City of Persepolis; Palette of Narmer—The Conquering King; Statue of Khafre—Rebirth of a King; Tutankhamun’s Mask; Tomb Painting of Nefertari; Kritios Boy—Idealized Athletic Youth; Discobolus—Motion in Sculpture; Parthenon Marbles—Metopes and Frieze; Greek Vase Painting—“Death of Sarpedon”; Aphrodite of Knidos; Laocoön—Three-Dimensional Narrative; Column of Trajan; Bronzes of Ancient China; Great Stupa at Sanchi; Borobudur—Ancient Buddhist Stupa; Colossal Olmec Heads; Sarcophagus Cover of Pakal at Palenque; Carved Stone Lintels of Yaxchilán; Teotihuacán—Temple of the Feathered Serpent; Colossal Stone Statue of Coatlicue; Aztec Calendar Stone; Moche Earspools—Miniature Masterpieces; Ancient Andean Ceramics; Ancient Andean Textiles; What Can We Learn from Ancient Art?; How Ancient Art Reverberates

Field Trips:

Mikro enjoyed the special exhibit on Henri Matisse at the Museum of Modern Art and also enjoyed browsing the museum’s permanent collections.

Phys Ed:

Hiking, park days with homeschooled friends; beginning free weights.


We continue to discuss 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. We discussed autism, and neurological differences, such as giftedness and sensory processing disorder.

Traffic, bicycle and general safety:

We discussed safe sledding and avoiding hypothermia We continue to discuss the importance 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, and how to ask for help.

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 know 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: April 1, 2015


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nature Nearby: March Edition

What a difference a week makes. From a frozen river and snow obscured beach, with eagles fishing from ice floes, to patches of sand and signs of spring...