Cooking Lessons 101: Sushi

We’ve been adding cooking to our homeschool repertoire in an attempt to engage and excite our recently diagnosed ASD son. It is a wonderful way to engage him and sneak in “school”. And it’s a great way for me to get him out of his quiet space and spending some time with me as during down times he gravitates to spending most of his time in his room reading…not that that is wrong, but it’s good to do other things and broaden your horizons. There are so many fantastic life skills and educational opportunities with cooking, from math, to direction following, food safety and even the important skill of following through on a project.

Sushi was an interest of Mr.M’s…and it really worked on his ability to stay on task and yes…to finish what he starts. Because as anyone who has made sushi knows, it’s a bit time consuming!

Even scripture has a few things to say on finishing what we start…take this one for example!

“Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.” 2 Cor. 8:11 NLT

I purchased this fantastic “learning to make sushi” kit from Chapters. It had a really excellent DVD with it. We watched all the way up to the California Rolls section (which was what he wanted to make). It totally broadened our horizons on different kinds of sushi though, and actually made us consider trying some different types!

We needed some help improving our sushi rice, and this video REALLY fixed things. Both Marcus and I realized what we had been doing wrong, and were able to correct it:

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We got our mixture of sushi rice vinegar from the book that was included, and the taste was perfect. Our rice turned out amazing and was super easy to work with!

Here are some pictures of our final results: All in all, we thought it was a complete success!

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Moments such as this…

A moment between two brothers ages and differences and worlds apart in their interests. Enjoying each other’s company. I do not get these very often with them, but they come in bursts. And your heart grows, because you hope and pray that one day, they will cherish each other’s company and be the VERY best of friends.

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And this moment…a time to cherish and remember, time with nana to learn and grow. And make apple sauce with a seasoned cook 🙂

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Brushing every day keeps the dentist away…

Well here’s some health and nutrition for you…
I know, how exciting!

The boys, however, were very excited, going to the dentist right now is FUN! (None of them have had to have fillings yet – can you tell?) And they really like the prize cupboard.

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I’m not really sure how my eldest son felt about me taking pictures of his recent visit to the dentist, but he was a good sport about it, and completely cavity free again too! 🙂

This was little Monkey’s first visit. The hygienist was AMAZING. Honestly. She showed him how the chair goes up and down, and introduced all the tools just like he was in his very own “Handy Mandy” show. “Here’s Mr. Sucky! He has a VERY important job!” She really got my nervous little man interested in everything and feeling really comfortable. So kudos to them!

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I feel Monkey should have been sooner, but the old dentist told us that they didn’t want to see him until he was three. This was their first visit to our new dentist, Dr.Forrest. She’s great, and would have seen the boys earlier. Monkey consequently seems to have some small “pits” in a few molars. Ugh. She says that it may not be cavities, but might be the start, or simply that he has naturally deep indents in his teeth. I certainly hope it’s the latter!

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What happens when everything is quiet…(sometimes)

I sent the boys outside mid-day (as I usually do). Coats and snow-pants on. Mittens and hats. Boots. It’s actually getting easier now. They know the drill.

We went through quite a cold spell for a bit there. Usually I force them outside, cold or not, but I felt that at close to -25 ish it was a bit too much. We did other things like YouTube workout videos. Skating at the Brock Rec Center. But they always enjoy free play outside more. So I’m glad that the weather has warmed up a bit. It was beautiful today.

I really enjoy my time when they are playing outside. It’s so nice to be able to sit down for a cuppa and relax. Sometimes I actually throw in a load of laundry….or even more amazingly, I occasionally FOLD it. Yes folks, sometimes it get’s folded 😉

But, I digress.

It got very quiet. Usually the boys are outside for a minimum of an hour. That’s my rule. This time they were playing out there for over three hours. That’s honestly quite a lot for a chilly day! So I went outside to see if they were needing any hot chocolate or anything. Nope, they were fine. But they might like a glass of water. And…”Hey mom! Look at what we’re building! An igloo!” And they were! Cool!

I love it when I find my boys up to projects like this without any prompting for me, which I do often. THIS is real fun. THIS is being a kid.

Incidentally, we are studying the Inuit section of Canada’s Aboriginals in our studies right now. And to think I was going to ask them to build one out of marshmallows. What WAS I thinking?!

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They’re halfway done…

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Honestly it looked pretty hard to build, I will be very impressed if they manage to make it curve over and get a top on it.

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Filling up the wheelbarrow with all the snow in the yard…;)


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Love these beautiful faces…!

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Hoar Frost…

Hoar frost: (also called radiation frost or hoarfrost or pruina) refers to the white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights when heat is lost into the open sky causing objects to become colder than the surrounding air. A related effect is flood frost or frost pocket. which occurs when air cooled by ground-level radiation losses travels downhill to form pockets of very cold air in depressions, valleys, and hollows. Hoar frost can form in these areas even when the air temperature a few feet above ground is well above freezing. Nonetheless the frost itself will be at or below the freezing temperature of water.

Hoar frost may have different names depending on where it forms. For example, air hoar is a deposit of hoar frost on objects above the surface, such as tree branches, plant stems, wires; surface hoar is formed by fern like ice crystals directly deposited on snow, ice or already frozen surfaces; crevasse hoar consists of crystals that form in glacial crevasses where water vapor can accumulate under calm weather conditions; depth hoar refers to cup shaped, faceted crystals formed within dry snow, beneath the surface.

The name hoar comes from an Old English adjective for showing signs of old age, and is used in this context in reference to the frost which makes trees and bushes look like white hair. It may also have association with Hawthorne when covered in its characteristic white spring blossom.

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Yesterday when we woke up it was a beautiful foggy day.

Mr.M noticed that it looked like there was hoar frost on all the trees, so we went outside and explored for a bit. It was so beautiful! Monkey was very fascinated by it all and had to touch every one. By the time we got outside, the sun had come out and it was starting to melt, so it wasn’t quite as spectacular as it had been earlier, but still pretty. 

Good time to test out the new camera too..! It makes me want to re-do all the posts I did in the time frame when the camera broke…(if only!)

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Who was schooled today…the student or the teacher?

Today was a pretty epic day. I tackled something with Mr. M that I didn’t really think he had the capabilities for. And he blew me away. Completely and utterly. 

Writing for Mr.M has always been scary. Pretty much anything to do with words, on paper. But more specifically, note taking and report writing, writing his own stories without someone scribing for him, and writing anything longer than one sentence by himself. Something that I was beginning to think he would never be ready for.

Mr.M has always been super sharp. He picks up anything to do with math and science, facts or figures, with ease. I wish I’d been able to do that when I was his age! He gets the math side from his father and his grandma Winter. That much is obvious. Thankfully teaching math to him and listening to Steve Demme from the Math U See video’s has really brushed me up on some earlier math concepts that I needed to work on. It’s pretty cool actually. But Mr. M just gets it.

He has always struggled with the writing side of his language arts.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not all of the language arts, Mr.M is a super reader and always has been. He devours huge novels with ease, and though he’s in grade four he has tested at a grade 6+ reading level, which is pretty cool. But to put words down on paper, to even form letters on paper, has always been hard for him.

I’m thinking maybe he should be a doctor. With that illegible print he would fit right in! He’s gotten a bit better, but it’s obviously still pretty stressful.

He becomes very over anxious with the writing process for stories, paragraphs, even simple sentences. Lots of tears. I’ve been gently guiding him to greater things, over time. Bit by bit. Holding his hand the whole time. It’s been painful. Stressful. And for someone who can somewhat hold their own in this area, frustrating.

Let’s just say that I’ve been blessed to learn a bit more patience than I thought I would. And I’ve learned to ask for advice. That’s my silver lining, I guess. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. Concepts are built from a good foundation, and I feel like over time I have been giving him that. But it’s never been fun. And I’m not going to deny that the loss of that makes me a bit sad.

This week I was feeling a bit daring and dangerous. He has been making some progress in the writing area, and I wanted to see how he would do with writing a report.

I introduced the concept gently. “Hey buddy, I was thinking about going on a trip to the museum this week. We could go together one night, just the two of us, and look at some of the native artifacts, and you could pick one that interests you. And then you could take a picture of it, and we could work together on researching and writing a report on it. It would be special because you picked it all by yourself. What do you think?”

He seemed quite exited about it, but he did not however, want to go on the field trip – the one thing I thought would draw him in.

Apparently, the unit we’ve been doing together on Canada’s Natives (using the Canada’s Natives Long Ago by Donna Ward as our basis), was exciting enough already. I’ll take him after maybe. But he did use the online gallery from the McCord Museum, and looked through the artifacts until he found a bow. Not surprising, really. After searching through, he told me he’d rather do a research paper on natives and war. I was going to tell him to be more specific, to pick something simpler, but fortunately I came to my senses.

As a complete aside – check out this pretty cool Haida art we did today. We just have to work on learning how to avoid smudging oil pastels as it really bothered Mr.M, but I thought he did an awesome job. I showed him how to put a piece of white paper underneath his hand while he works!

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This is what I love about homeschooling. If your child is passionate, instead of forcing them into your mold, or societies mold, you can just let them go with it. The book told me to tell him to pick an artifact. As someone who did go to school, I often have a hard time breaking the mold. Our children need to learn to question, and to think about what they are doing. Weird, right?!

We started by talking about how we learn to take notes using the research materials we have gathered. I used a wonderful video from YouTube for this. The professor did such a great job of explaining it. Why re-invent the wheel? She teaches her students how to take Cornell notes. It’s a really effective format for note taking, and translates really well for elementary school students.

Mr. M adapted to it easily, another surprise for me, and completely blew me away. He worked on his notes all day…made goals for himself (“I promised myself I would finish to the end of this paragraph before lunch, mom”), and even went back in the evening to “edit” them. Where’s my thermometer…?! ‘Cause that was not MY child!

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Please forgive my terrible photo’s! My Nikon died but a brand new one is on it’s way 😀 I can hardly wait, because nothing compares to it!!

This is another thing that I love about homeschooling. It’s not always my children that are “schooled”. Sometimes it’s me too. This was one of those days. I learned to not pre-judge my child. Yes, I have always tried to not make him fit into a mold, but sometimes you forget that. I guess I was in need of a reminder.

I was reminded that my boys need to be given a chance. Give them the tools, and they have the opportunity to show you how amazing and wonderful they are. They often surprise me. Knowledge is power!

Weather Unit

Science is a pretty big deal for our family. We get pretty excited about it. Especially Mr.M. Okay…mostly Mr.M. 😉

So you can imagine it was a pretty awesome day when a cool, thick looking package arrived in the hands of Mr.Fed Ex man.

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We had just come home from our afternoon walk. As I’m heading into the driveway, a creepy looking van with the door open pulls up right behind me. You can imagine my thoughts. Just as I was about to run though, I realized, somewhat tentatively, that it wasn’t so bad…only your “friendly” neighborhood Mr.Fed Ex man. He smiles at me, (standing back within the required “no grab” distance), and says “GREAT! I don’t even have to get out of my vehicle! This is going to be the easiest delivery ever!” I smile back at him, not really sure what to say, (especially considering what I was thinking of him before). Then he just sits there, really far away from the door, holding out his little device for me to sign. At this point I realized I’d better get over my fears of getting too close to the van and just sign the thing, or I wouldn’t get that fat looking package. Am I the only one that has a fear of getting too close to vehicles that pull up beside me? This was majorly drilled into me at the “stranger danger” presentation by the RCMP last year that Mr.M went too. Anyways, yes, I know…I’m paranoid. 😉
So, I digress. Anyways, it was so exciting to get our very first little curriculum package from our new support school library. This one was the Weather unit. SO cool that they put it all together and mail it out to you for free! We only have it for two weeks, and are winding down our studies on Saturday. Normally I like my Saturdays home school free. I’m just like that, ok?! But we have one more day that we couldn’t fit in, and so I’ve had to give in. Sigh. Of course Mr.M is ecstatic!

We’ve been working through the unit, and really enjoying ourselves. We’ve been using a book called Weather Watch by Scholastic. For the life of me I can’t find it on Amazon right now, but if I manage to become un-lazy (is that a word?!), and get the author, then I’ll link it later. It’s a nice book, with some really neat experiments in it. The only problem is…a lot of them haven’t been working! We end up having to “tweak” them or look online for a better way. It’s a bit frustrating, but I guess it’s good for us to be more inquisitive and learn how to solve our problems…;)

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These are some pictures from our first experiment on atmosphere. We were investigating air by trapping water inside a measuring cup and then sliding an empty little cup up underneath of it. When we slid the little cup up underneath, we realized it wasn’t really empty after all! It was filled with air! The cup floated to the top of the measuring cup with it’s trapped air.

The boys were pretty excited about this experiment. We had to do it over and over again, and Mr.M begged me to leave it up so he could repeat it for daddy when he got home ;)

The boys were pretty excited about this experiment. We had to do it over and over again, and Mr.M begged me to leave it up so he could repeat it for daddy when he got home 😉

Trapped air! Can you see the little cup floating at the top?

Trapped air! Can you see the little cup floating at the top?

Here’s a few more pictures of the obligatory “Tornado in a Jar” experiment. The book called for us to put some dish-soap in. It didn’t specify how much, so we put about 1/2 tsp. That was waaaay too much! It was just a bubbly mess. So Mr.M dumped his out and put one drop in, which worked like a charm.

What kid doesn't love a tornado in a bottle?!

What kid doesn’t love a tornado in a bottle?!

So all in all it’s been a pretty fun couple of weeks. We did quite a few other experiments, but I didn’t take pictures of them all. Maybe I’ll post some pictures of the weather artwork that the boys did later. Just in time for….snow! But let’s leave that topic to rest for now….;)

Our First Day of School 2013

I’m pretty sure our first “official” day of school was even more fun because it was a week later than we usually start. Usually we start the same week as the public schools. Probably because it’s the way I’m wired, and even after 5 years of homeschooling I have a hard time thinking otherwise 😉
This year, I decided to go against tradition, and all my instincts, and start a week later. *gasp!* Mostly because the “back to school” week is just way too busy, filled with FUN! Things such as the “Not Back to School Picnic” and other events have made it too busy for me personally to start with a nice “bang.” I like everything organized and ready to go. Of course, it never works out exactly this way, but you know, we all have our hopes 😉

We have some fun traditions for the first day of school! They were chosen by Mr.M, and likely will adapt and change to suit Monkey’s needs as he becomes more involved.

Tradition #1: The boys get to pick what they want mom to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This year it was cinnamon buns and bacon and smoothies for breakfast, Kraft Dinner and veggie sticks for lunch, and make your own pizza night for dinner.

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Tradition #2: After we have breakfast, the boys head downstairs where the basement has “magically” transformed into the night into their school area for the year! I always pile all their books on top. In each pile of books there is always a special surprise for them. This year I picked up some of the Smithsonian Kits from Costco to throw in. Mr.M scored the Rock and Gem Dig, and Monkey was excited to find the Volcano one in his pile. I know they don’t rate very good – but my boys LOVED them even though they’re a bit gimmicky.

 
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All in all it was a fantastic day!!

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Bible readings in the morning during breakfast.

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Our home school “baby in training” and general trouble maker 😉

Not Back to School Picnic

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Monkey at the cool photo booth one of the mum’s set up.

Mr.M posing with some awesome shades at the Not Back to School picnic

Mr.M posing with some awesome shades at the Not Back to School picnic

We went to the Not Back to School picnic for our first day of school! It was with our local home school group. We try to attend every year. It’s always SO much fun! This year one of the mum’s set up an amazing, and pretty awesome photo booth. She even painted a funky canvas to use as a backdrop, with lots of props on sticks for the kids. My boys got a real kick out of it 😉 Especially the pirate hat with the eye patch. Yarrr!!
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and my boys had a blast. Yay for homeschooling! What better way to celebrate learning and fun by having a picnic with your friends?! Have you ever attended your own Not Back to School Picnic? What kinds of fun things do you do there?

Our 2013-2014 Curriculum Plan

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Our summer

It’s hard when you’ve just finished up an amazing summer like THIS to start thinking about serious things like say…home school curriculum! But who says it has to be completely serious?!

I for one am pretty excited about our new year. The major goals for this year were:

  • Have fun! (Crazy, right?!)
  • Go with the flow…if the boys show interest in something new and exciting, then I’m going to include that into our plans.
  • Throw it out if it isn’t working. (Especially in the area of Language Arts – something my oldest is struggling with right now).
  • Include lots of field trips and extra activities.
  • Stay active!
  • Include Monkey in a bit of Pre K work, so that he gets more one-on-one time with mommy, but only if he wants to.

2013-2014 Grade 4 Curriculum Plan

Math: Math U See Gamma

Language Arts: 
Spelling: All About Spelling (since it’s our first time we’re starting with Level 1 to see how we do)

Grammar: First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind

Printing: http://www.drawyourworld.com/draw-write-now/

Writing: Jump In! A Workbook for the Reluctant Writer

Social Studies: For the first part of the year we will be using the Canadian Aboriginals Study resource kit from our support school library (I love these because they mail them out for free to us! Then we use the resources, and ship them back for free! So handy! I don’t always use everything that it comes with, but it’s nice to have it if we need it).
After we have completed our Aboriginals Study, we will be using the next kit for grade four that HCOS offers…the Canadian Explorers Unit Study. Mr.M is really excited about both of these – that boy is already well on his way to being a HUGE history buff just like his papa 😉 And I think it’s pretty cool that he is…because knowing your history can be so helpful in understanding God’s Word! We are thinking about maybe continuing with our work in Story of the World Vol.1 when we are not doing these two units to further his love in that kind of thing.

Last year's work from Story of the World.

Last year’s work from Story of the World.

Science:
We are going to be completing three smaller unit studies this year, they look like a lot of fun! We’ve already started the first one. All three of them are also ordered from the HCOS library:
Weather

Habitats

Light and Sound

Bible:
We tend to integrate this into our school day and life. However, Mr.M, Monkey, Muffin (sitting on my lap), and I are doing one daily Bible reading in the morning from the Book of Kings and discussing it in detail. We read each verse and I try to bring out some lessons. This way I don’t overwhelm Mr.M…I don’t think he’s *quite* ready for working through his own Bible devotion time yet. Maybe next year!

Fine Arts:

Music: We signed up for a really neat opportunity to join the public school at the Sagebrush Theatre. We won’t be directly going with them – but we will be able to see the shows that they get to. We don’t know what they are yet, but I’m excited about this one!

I’m thinking of doing a Famous Composers study too. Any suggestions or fun ones?

I’m also considering using Piano Lessons for Kids. It’s a YouTube resource for teaching piano lessons at home. This guy does an amazing job! We’ll test out a lesson next week with Mr.M and see how he does. I have my Grade 7 Royal Conservatory in piano so for me this is not such a stretch…you’d think, wouldn’t you? But honestly…I cannot teach piano. It’s NOT my forte 😛 I’ve tried. Big tears. Big stress. I just don’t have THAT much infinite patience. Music teachers posses it in bucket loads. Go music teachers!!
Art: SO excited about this one! Especially since Monkey will really enjoy doing this with us! (Can you tell I LOVE painting?!) Modern Master’s ebook with Video Curriculum by Deep Space Sparkle: I LOVE Deep Space Sparkle. Her website is AMAZING. She is AMAZING! It’s just well…AMAZING! Check it out! Go, go!!

Phys Ed: We’re going to be doing a lot of fun activities this year! Here’s just a few of them:
-power walk/bike ride every day (this is for mom…unless it snows, then I make Mr.M and Monkey walk).
-Mr.M is in rec soccer
-skiing with our home school group
-geocaching
swimming lessons
skating twice a week with our local home school group
-and mayyyybeee we will consider signing up for the YMCA membership. Did you ever check how many cool programs for kids they have?! It’s awesome! And they offer free childminding while mom goes and jogs away on the treadmill or enjoys a free yoga class. Plus, amazingly our family qualifies for a subsidy. Who would have thought?! Fun!

Anyways, that’s what we’re up to this year. It’s ALL subject to change, of course! 🙂 That’s the beauty of homeschooling!