Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A couple quotes about mathematics

I was spending some time this afternoon reviewing the new level of math that Kiersten will be starting this week. Kiersten and I have been using Right Start Mathematics this year and loving it. I say "Kiersten and I" because this is definitely NOT a curriculum that allows you to send the child off to do a worksheet. So far this year she maybe has done 10 worksheets. This aspect appeals strongly to me! I love the interaction we are having as we are making some wonderful memories together. This curriculum also uses math games heavily. Micah is happy to play these with Kiersten and they even request to play some of the games when they are not required to. What a plus!

Under the page titled "Some General Thoughts on Teaching Mathematics", Joan Cotter says, "The only students who like flash cards are those who don't need them."

Joan Cotter has spent time examining the Asian way of teaching mathematics. She lists some of the differences between their approach to education in general and the way we approach it. I'll quote a couple that stuck out to me.

"I first grade teacher has the same status as a university professor. If a student falls behind, the family, not the school, helps the child or hires a tutor. Students often attend after-school classes."


"Asians and Europeans believe anyone can learn mathematics or even play the violin. It is not a matter of talent, but of good teaching and hard work."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our Afternoon

We spent about 3 hours baking and then an hour cleaning and getting supper ready. We ended up making Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Oatmeal Coconut Cookies, Oven Baked Caramel Corn (Thanks, Joyce!), and Tiger Butter(Thanks, Leslie!). We let the cookies get a bit too brown but they are yummy; more for us to eat, I suppose. After starting on the Caramel Corn I realized I only had a couple tablespoons of corn syrup, instead of 1/2 cup as the recipe called for. I don't know how much of a difference this made, since this was my first attempt at this recipe. (But I've saved it in my files and will be able to try it again sometime. Progress....)

All of treats were made using ingredients I already had on hand. We could have made lots more with what we had on hand. I suppose getting iced in was good for my budget. I saved time and money, what a deal! :)

Oh, and I keep forgetting that we made a pan of brownies to take with us to church on Wednesday night. We'll be caroling throughout our community and when we get done, we'll all enjoy different soups that each of us will bring, along with goodies. This has been a tradition for years and years for our family and we look forward to doing this with our church family.

Our kitchen was a busy, fun, happy place this afternoon.

Plans For Today

I had planned a big shopping day today but we are iced in so we'll enjoy our time at home instead. We spent our normal time reading aloud this morning. The kids and I are thoroughly enjoying our reading of Jotham’s Journey! I’ve wanted to read the book for several years and I’m sorry I waited this long. It’s definitely a favorite with all of us.

I really do need to get some baking/goody making done for get-togethers that we'll hopefully be able to go to later in the week. I have all the ingredients for caramel corn and that sounds really yummy.

I think I'll dig through my pantry and see if I can't make some tiger bark, too. Wonder what all we could make just using pantry items??? Could be a fun project! I'll post later and report our accomplishments.

The idea of making caramel corn and tiger bark came from friends. At our Thanksgiving meal I realized how every food on my table bore the influence of friends or family. Nothing was original with me. There was my Grandma’s Cranberry Salad, my Mother in Law’s Sweet Potato Casserole, my Mom’s bleu cheese/romaine salad, and Tim’s aunt’s hash brown Casserole. And a new recipe, Brown Buttered Pecan Broccoli, that Clarice recommended. I always take note when Clarice says something is yummy! I’ve never fixed anything that she suggests that my family has not loved, especially my husband. She’s just own of those ladies that knows what good food is all about!

I love food and I enjoy cooking. I always seem to have way too many new recipes to try. There aren’t enough meals to fit them all in! I so wish that over the years I would have kept track of all the different recipes that we love, but I haven’t! I make something new; we love it and I go on to something else new that we will enjoy, too, but I’m not organized in all of this. For instance when, we were first married, Tim and I had a very limited food budget. I would cook everything from scratch and I might add, I had a great time doing it! Pancakes are cheap food and we made them every way imaginable! We made special syrups for our special pancakes. One meal we remember was Scottish Oatmeal Pancakes with an orange syrup. I’ve tried many other Scottish Oatmeal Pancake recipes but none of them are like those first ones I made. Wouldn’t it be fun for me to be able to look back on all the different pancake recipes that I used in those first years of our married life?

I am making progress, though, not all is lost. I have a three ring binder with sheet protectors that I use to store favorite recipes.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Robert Frost

Nathan has been reading Robert Frost's poetry for the past 12 weeks. He chose the poem "Walking by Woods on a Snowy Evening" to memorize. Just today, I finished reading aloud to the children Robert Frost: America's Poet by Doris Faber, Illustrated by Paul Frame.

We learned that Robert's dad loved to go on long nature walks with his son, up and down the hills of San Fransisco. Before the age of eleven, when Robert's father died of tuberculosis, Robert nor his sister ever attended school. His father liked to say, "There's no need to coop him up in some unhealthy schoolroom." And when Robert had children of his own he chose to keep his children at home and traveling with him, also. All throughout Robert's life, we noticed that he sought out nature and solitude. He would continually go from times mingling with people to needing times of solitude, manual labor, and hours with nature. I had to wonder how much those early days of trekking with his father must have influenced his life!

Robert Frost, later in life, taught college English classes. I found his teaching style so interesting, quite unconventional! While he ruffled the feathers of other professors, he was often a favorite teacher with the students.

Mr. Frost was the first to speak at an Inaugural Address, invited by President Kennedy. At his death two years later,
President Kennedy spoke for all of his fellow countrymen: "He had promises to keep and miles to go, and now he sleeps."
I've been reminded, once again, of the power of "living" books! Some of my children have been inspired to write a bit more than normal this week. The writing did not come from an assignment that I dreamed up, but it came from the feelings and thoughts of their hearts. I love it when this happens. It's beautiful and it's the kind of education that Robert Frost thought most valuable!