Thursday, December 12, 2013

More Math Games

Raise your hand if you like doing math in your jammies.  Ahem.

Today's math was a variation on the Around the Circle addition game.  I taped numbers to the floor and we practiced multiplication facts.  He hoped, skipped, stepped his way through twenty minutes of drills.  Well, maybe more like 15 but it seemed like 20.  Just sayin'.
At one point my son wanted to make up his own games with the numbers on the floor.  I followed along.  Hey, as long as we're thinking about numbers, it's progress, right?
His favorite was "Twister Math."  I would call out a sum and his body parts would touch numbers that added up to that sum.

 The baby enjoyed refining his pincer grasp cleaning up.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Competitive Math Games (without batteries)

Even though Comm. Central is on Christmas break, the Majors are still doing math, handwriting and a few other fun things. Complaining to my husband that I wanted our son to work harder in math, my dear man said, "Can you figure out a way to make it feel like a competition to him?"   I am not a competitive soul - I don't understand the need for competition.  I'm here to tell you this worked for us.

Draw a huge circle, put numbers around it and one inside (see below).  Then add around the circle.  For example, 7+18=25, 7+12 =19, etc. Time yourself and try to be faster each time.  I gave him a minute each round.  Then put a different number in the center.  I think this will work too for subtraction, multiplication or division.  Today we only worked on addition.
Once he finished going around the circle, I told him how many seconds remained.  For even more math, he told me how many seconds it took him to complete the task.  We did it again to see if he could beat his time.  (On more than one occasion, he lost several seconds arguing with me about the correct answer…)  Below is the tally sheet.  You can see after the third try on his 8s he was fatigued, taking over a minute to complete the circle.  I had him to (change speeds) write three words in cursive then back to math.   This proved to be enough of a distraction to make it the best round of 8s.  I didn't want to end on a frustrating note.
The idea for this game came from Strayer Upton Practical Arithmetics, book one (originally published in 1934).  We've borrowed books one and two from a friend and my understanding is book one is for third grade and book two is for fourth.  I really like their emphasis on figuring in your head and the many, many, many practical word problems.
 Here is another addition game.
 I'd love to hear your ideas for making math competitive - or at least fun.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reformation Trivia

My husband turns 40 this year.  His birthday is near Halloween and for several years he has talked of throwing a "Reformation Day" Party.  Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door at Wittenburg on October 31, 1517. (Cue Munsters theme song - thank you Comm. Central memory songs!)

This year we're making it happen.  It's an adult-only Reformation-education style party.  He's dressing as Monk Martin and I'm his bride, Katie, a former nun.

Today I was researching a bit for the party and decided it would be beneficial if I read through the 95 Theses.

Near the end of the document, #92, caught my attention: Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace.

The phrase "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace rang in my ears.  I could hear the voice of my son reciting memory work from Comm. Central but I couldn't remember which piece it was.  I asked omniscient Google who told me it is actually from the Bible, in Jeremiah 6:14 & 8:11.

But we haven't memorized that passage from Jeremiah.  Where was it from?!!

Anyone remember?

See if this jogs your memory:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace ­ but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

The question remains, "Was Patrick Henry quoting Jeremiah or Luther?"

I suppose it doesn't really matter, I just thought it was cool to make the connection.  Without Comm. Central, I would not have been able to put the two together.

Happy to see fruit of my labor,

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kon-Tiki {rafting adventure across the Pacific}

My husband read this book review on Kon-Tiki then reserved a copy of it from the library.

It's a true story of how six men traveled 2,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean in 1947 on a raft made of balsa wood to prove a theory that Polynesians migrated from Peru.

I was hooked after reading this paragraph from the reviewer:

Kon-Tiki is not a monotonous log or diary of a voyage; it is an amazing adventure. It is not a typical living geography book, though it does describe in vivid detail the people and terrain of Peru, the ocean currents, the South Pacific islands and their respective inhabitants and culture. It encompasses a vast array of other subjects: history for one, with its interesting description of the world after World War II, the technology, industry, and interests of the young men who survived the brutal realities of that war; worthy literature, as Heyerdahl masterfully employs excellent language to tell his tale with admirable literary flair; anthropology, as he enthusiastically justifies his pet project to prove a theory about the relationship of the Peruvian Indians to the Polynesians is contagious enough to awaken interest in that field; even government as he negotiates and pulls strings to get the project underway.

Because I am a mother of two boys, I'm thinking of buying a copy of this book for them to read again and again.  You can buy a mass-market paperback for $5.  I'm not an expert at gauging reading levels, but I would put this one on a high-school level.  For my fourth-grader, I will pick passages for him to read - specifically surrounding the crew's observations of marine life.  Already I have read several passages to him aloud.  It's not that the story line or words would be too hard for him to read, I think he would be lost on some of the details (that I find engaging!)

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can watch a one-hour documentary [from 1950] free. In 2013, Hollywood made another version.  I've not seen either because I want to finish the book first.

What books are you reading?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lego Robotics 6 week course

*If interested, contact Heather, ASAP*

Engineering for Kids Homeschool Class
Ages 8-14
Fridays 8-9:30 at The Bible Church of Little Rock October 4, 11, 18 and November 1, 8, 15
Cost is $125 per student with small discount for additional siblings.

This is a 6 week course in Robotics using Lego robots and learning how to design, construct and program the robots.

Cash or check due at first class. Please sign up by calling Heather Muckleroy at 817-694-2828 or email her at

Deadline to sign up is Monday, September 30, 2013.  Hurry!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vocabulary Words

A friend gave us this set of wooden Montessori letters {awesome}.  But this activity could be used with the fridge magnets that most of us have.  Using manipulatives help us be excited about learning to spell, rather than just copying long lists of words.

The list above is from the Wordly Wise workbook, recommended to me by homeschooling guru Tamara Sims.  You can buy it on Amazon or check it out at Mardel.  Flipping through the books, trying to decide which level was best for us, I hardly recognized any of the words for level 12.  Here's hoping his vocabulary is strengthened beyond Momma's before he graduates Majors Academy.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Frontier Days for Homeschoolers

The Historic Washington State Park interpretive staff will provide a special experience for homeschool groups on October 4. Students will experience Frontier Days as the 19th century pioneers would have experienced it. Programming will be designed to correlate with state curriculum requirements. Sign up early for this hands-on adventure! Contact the park for further details and reservations.

Date: October 4, 2013
Time: 9 am - 4 pm
Admission: $5.50 plus tax
Phone: (870) 983-2684

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Letters from Egypt & other Charlotte Mason Recommendations

This morning we started reading aloud Letters from Egypt.  In 1879, Mary Whately wrote to friends and family in England about her experiences in Egypt.  She ties in Scripture references as well as Egyptian culture and customs.  After reading the first letter, I'm hooked!  And thinking that it would be a fill the "family read-aloud-before-bed" criteria.

If Letters from Egypt interests you, another from the Charlotte Mason website that we ordered for this year's enjoyment was Ancient Egypt and her Neighbors.

 From the website: A fascinating narrative of life in Ancient Egypt intertwined with captivating stories of the other civilizations that existed alongside her—neighbors far and near. Makes the ancient world come alive! (Grades 1–6)

Lastly, for grades 1-3, Boy of the Pyramids might grab your attention.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Does Your Child Struggle?

If you read one article this week, this one will encourage your struggling learner.  Or, cause you to view struggling differntly.

Struggle Means Learning: Difference in Eastern and Western Cultures.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Homeschooling Struggling Learners

You are invited you to join me (Lisa Lipe) for "Homeschooling Struggling Learners" at the Home Ed Kick-Off this Tues. night, August 13th at 5:30 at Second Presbyterian Church located at 600 Pleasant Valley Drive (near Cantrell and I-430).

Please come if you are homeschooling a struggling learner (or beginning to suspect that you might be).  Please also invite anyone you know who is thinking about homeschooling a child who is struggling to learn in a regular school setting. 

In this session you will learn the importance of foundational sensory-motor skills for academic learning and for attention.  Receive an overview of interventions including cognitive training, nutrition, & specific teaching methods for reading, writing & math difficulties.   Get information on resources to help plan a successful homeschooling year for your child.  I will be taking questions and will stick around after the session to talk with parents.

All parents who attend will receive a coupon for a free developmental vision screening for their child to help determine if difficulty with visual skills may be contributing to problems with reading and/or attention.

I have been working with struggling learners for over 20 years and have experience with various types of learning issues.  I have spent many years homeschooling my own children and the last 5 years helping other people home school theirs.  I am excited to have this opportunity to speak with you!

Lisa Lipe, M.Ed.
Integrated Learning Connections

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Aromatherapy - Perky Sunshine

As the school year starts, we begin to think about what worked last year and things we want to try differently this year.

Over the summer some friends introduced me to the healing power of essential oils and I've been learning more about how to incorporate oils in our everyday life.  Last week I listened to a talk by a naturopath Mary Ward, who says she never gives a talk without spraying something in the air.  That day she used a blend she called "perky sunshine" (10 drops pink grapefruit, 10 drops lemon, and 5 drops of peppermint in a 2 oz spray bottle of water.)  Lemon is said to increase concentration and memory building.

I can't speak to it's effectiveness yet.  It's a nice room spray if nothing else.


FYI - my essential oils come from Nature's Sunshine.  They have extreme purity standards and are a fraction of the cost of some multi-level marketing companies.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Frankenstein Read by Jim Weiss - FREE

Frankenstein, read by Jim Weiss, is available for free download at the following link this week:  

You can sign up for weekly texts of the books avail for the week.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Handwriting and Riddles

I stumbled upon this Cursive Writing Practice Jokes and Riddles book today via Simple Mom.  Looks like there's one for handwriting (print), too.

Hoping to motivate for legible writing,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tour of the Landfill and Recycling Facilities

A small group of friends toured the Little Rock Landfill and Recycling facilities today.  I got the idea when visiting the Flower and Garden Show a few months ago - they were giving away small bags of compost.  I thought, "I want to know how they do this.  And I'm sure it would be interesting for kids."  

Sure enough they do tours for school groups.  It was a very interesting tour and I would recommend you going - especially in small groups of 15 or less.  (I don't enjoy tours with large groups.)

Below you see a mountain of yard waste.  In the mid-90's it became a (sensible) law that yard waste could not be mixed with the trash.  If you live in central Arkansas, you will well remember the powerless Christmas day storm that left some people without power for a week.  The composting team is still working through the debris.
 Below is the mulcher.  It grinds up trees as well as bags of leaves.  They usually do the wood separately from the smaller, easier to grind things.
 I'm not sure why some of my pictures turned on their side and I'm not going to waste time to figure it out...I'm sorry for the strained neck.  :)

After the compost is shredded, it is put in rows to "cook."  The below machinery is for turning the compost while keeping it in neat rows.  After cooking, the compost is run through a screen that removes the pieces of plastic bags.

 This is a mountain of finished compost, maybe 30 feet tall.  If you drive out to the facilities, the mulch and compost are very inexpensive.  I want to say that for another couple of weeks, a truck load of mulch is only $10.  The compost isn't much more.
 And here are two rows (of many) of compost.  They keep an eye on the temperature so that it doesn't spontaneously combust.  Seriously.
After viewing the composting we continued our tour in a 15 passenger van up the hill to where the garbage is dumped.

We learned many interesting factoids about the landfill.  Some I knew already because I briefly studied landfills in college but even those who did not study mounds of trash found it interesting.  

Did you know the landfill emits methane gas; the city sells this gas?  Or, that the leachate (the garbage juice that drains from the garbage) is piped into the waste water system?  yech.  Or, at 4:00 everyday the garbage is covered with six inches of dirt?  Surprisingly it did not stink.

However, the recycling center had a bit of a smell.

The recycling center was about a 15 minute drive from the landfill.  Once there we watched a brief and interesting video about how they separate the recyclables.  Then the shades were lifted in the education room and we were able to see first hand the mounds of recycled materials.

Out side were bales of plastic and steel that we could inspect further.
 The tours lasted about 2 hours.  Call Barbara Meier 918-5260 to set up your field trip.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Spelling Bee on Friday, May 10

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to the Comm Central group about a Spelling Bee for my competitive 3rd grade son (who otherwise wouldn't be interested in studying lists of words.)  I thought I would post specifics here, in the event someone didn't respond to my initial email but were interested.

After giving it more's how the spelling bee will shake out (I'm open to suggestions).

We'll just do ONE FRIDAY and see how it goes on May 10 at 12:30. If afterwards we think it was profitable time then we can talk about subsequent Fridays..

My house (so that my baby can nap.)  Our neighborhood park is only 2 blocks away so if you'd like to take your littles there while we spell, that's fine.  Or, we have a trampoline in the back yard...and a flat driveway & cul-de-sac for ride on toys...Or we can do both.  I live near Whole Foods (email me for exact location.) 

What list?
That's a good question and I'm open for suggestions.  I had planned on using this site for words.

I'll say the word.  Then ask the child to say the word and let them spell it out loud.  I will allow a piece/pad of paper and pencil for them to write it down and look at it.  Depending on how fast/slow the process is, I could put a time limit on their turn - I will play that by ear.  We will start with easy words and work our way harder until the last man is left standing.  When a person misspells a word, I will spell it correctly for them then ask them to sit down.  The next person will get a new word.  I want the spelling bee to last at least 20 minutes.  If we have a clear winner within 5 minutes, we'll have a second and maybe 3rd round.  I specify these time-constraints because my 3rd grade extrovert will be ready to get the "work" out of the way so he can play. 

I'm not sure of the age span of the children who are participating.  If you could reply and let me know who and what age is participating it will help me plan (or spelling level - like "my child is in kindergarten but he can spell 4th grade words."

Let me know what I've missed.  Feel free to invite non-Comm Central families.  And mark your calendar for May 10 at 12:30.
luvmyhub AT gmail DOT com

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book:: Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Several years ago, when my husband and I were thinking of adopting a daughter from China, a friend recommended that we read this well written book to help us understand the culture.

Below is the product description from Amazon.  I have bolded the sentence that summarizes the book.    -Julie

Blending the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history, Wild Swans has become a bestselling classic in thirty languages, with more than ten million copies sold. The story of three generations in twentieth-century China, it is an engrossing record of Mao's impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love.

Jung Chang describes the life of her grandmother, a warlord's concubine; her mother's struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents' experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a "barefoot doctor," a steelworker, and an electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving -- and ultimately uplifting -- detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.

Friday, January 18, 2013

App for IEW - and it's FREE!

I just found out that IEW has apps for free for Apple and Android! Oh. My. Goodness. I think our composition lessons are going to get easier now. Baker will do anything on the iPad (LOL). Here's the link...IEW apps page.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another Comm. Central Student

Last Friday, we welcomed our third child into the family, a son weighing in at a whopping 10 pounds, 10 ounces.  We named him Schaeffer Allen Majors (after Francis Schaeffer).

If you want more details, click on over to my personal blog.