Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Japanese Resources

I thought I'd write about what we are doing with Japanese and what sorts of things we are using.

Anime
First, there is anime which we watch with English subtitles.  You can really pick up a lot of words from a foreign language just by watching TV shows in that language.  It's mainly random vocabulary and sayings but it's a start.  Plus, my daughters figured out about the use of tones, syllables, and how to pronounce the words just by watching anime.

Online resources
Then there are lots of boards on pinterest with helps for learning the language.  And then there are various sites with good resources like practice paper to learn hiragana and katakana.

Hiragana worksheets
Flashcards and practice sheets

Rosetta Stone
We also purchased Rosetta Stone.  It is not the homeschool version but I knew that we would be using other resources as well and I got a good deal on it.  It has 3 discs, there are 4 units on each disc and 4 chapters within each unit.  It takes us about 2 weeks to do a chapter.  We each take about 15-20 min a day to work on it.  It is all in Japanese even the writing.  There is no Romanization of the words.  So you start figuring out pretty quickly vocabulary, word usage, grammar and such early on.  I'm very happy with this purchase.

Textbooks
We are looking at a variety of textbooks, one of which we will start using in August.  I am looking for something that is not too dull, that draws them in and is a little more visual.  Here are some of our choices:

Time for Japanese  the downloads of the first couple of chapters of this three level course look fun. Plus there is a lot of online resources for this program.

Irasshai (the name always makes me think of the boy-band Arashi and Jun--lol)  Is a series of videos, texts and workbooks.  I like the idea of videos.

Genki then there is this textbook and workbook series that a lot of colleges use.  It looks a little dry but there is a ton of information in the texts.

Flashcards
These are important especially for learning kanji.  If my daughters want to take the JLPT eventually then they need to not only know basic Japanese but be familiar with lots of kanji as well.  So we are looking at:

White Rabbit Flashcards

Wow, it looks like a lot of resources and a lot of work but it really isn't.  We're actually having quite a bit of fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Social Interaction

What kinds of things do we do to meet our children's social needs?  I know that's a question that a lot of people wonder about especially as we are reaching the "What about prom?" years.

My daughters have been active in a play group that has now evolved into a get together and talk about stuff group for almost 8 years.  So every week (or just about every week), they get together with the same group of friends that they have built relationships up with over the years.

We are also involved in a weekly co-op which gives them classroom and lunchroom experiences.  So when they go to college they will know what it's like to go to class once a week, sit in your seat and interact properly with classmates and the teacher.  All while doing their work on their own at home.

Also, they are involved in a monthly anime club at the local library that includes non-homeschooled children.  So yes, they are not totally isolated in their own world but they also know how to talk to kids whose education is far different from their own. 

Group music lessons is another thing we do that gets them out of the house and interacting with their peers. 

Plus, just being out and about in the community doing things like going to the library, the local stores, the park, or going to community events or museums.  There is lots of opportunity for us to get out and make new friends.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Learning Japanese

The language my daughters want to learn is Japanese.  I'm OK with that.  So we got Rosetta Stone and I'm liking it.  You are totally immersed in the language.  I mean they don't even Romanize the sounds of the words, you just get it in how it would be normally written in Japanese.

By the end of the lesson one activities, I already knew a few phrases and words that I had not picked up from manga or anime.  Which is really cool.  My oldest daughter though is passing the rest of us by and is well into lesson 2 while her younger sister and I go back through the stuff we missed in lesson 1.

Now the big thing about Japanese is that there are 3 main alphabets in use currently: 

Hiragana--which is a phonetic alphabet for Japanese words
Katana--which is a phonetic alphabet for foreign words
Kanji--which is Chinese letters

Most kids in elementary school learn the first two alphabets and more than 1,000 kanji characters.  You need to be able to read over 2,100 to read a newspaper in Japan.  Which most kids master by the end of junior high school. 

Over the summer we're sticking with Rosetta Stone and then in the fall we will start working with Genki Elementary Japanese and the White Rabbit Kanji flashcards.  My hope is that they can at least try to get through the 5-3rd Japanese Language Proficiency Tests before they go to college.  But we'll see.

I mean I dreamed but never really thought my oldest daughter would be taking Algebra II her ninth grade year but that is our reality.  So who knows where we will go in the future.

Monday, April 14, 2014

High School Line-up

So what are we planning for ninth grade?

Algebra II--we will use MathUSee since it's been a good fit for upper level math for us. 

Biology--through the local co-op using Apologia.

Japanese--Rosetta Stone and I am looking at Genki's An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I for bookwork.

English--they may offer speech at the co-op and then we will work on composition and short stories at home

World Geography--using tour guides and the internet to explore and travel the world.

There may be other things offer at co-op like art, study skills, home ec, etc.  Or we may explore like topics at home.  My oldest spends a lot of time drawing on her own.

I know you are wondering why Japanese?

Well, my children found manga early on as a way to help find joy in reading.  That led to anime and role-playing games from Japan.  It also helped them to develop a love of drawing.  Currently they only watch anime in Japanese with English subtitles.  They would like to be able to read their books, watch their shows and play their games in Japanese eventually. 

My daughter's main goal for high school is to get into college and pursue a career in math or science.

Long Time No See

It's been a while since I've posted on the blog.  The last two years we've been working on middle school through a local co-op.  Which has been a good thing but as we head on toward the High School years and my daughter has made the decision that she wants to do that at home and with the co-op, I thought it would be nice to chronicle the last few years of our homeschool journey. 

In that, I will share our plans, interests, curriculum choices, passion and pain as we walk on this path.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fractions and Square Roots

Homeschooling this summer has been really rocky.  Our toilet was leaking and so we have ended up remodeling the whole thing.  It started with just moving the toilet out of the closet and getting a smaller vanity but we found tile on clearance and so the whole bathroom has been in shambles for about a month.

Our biggest goals for this summer were to prepare my oldest daughter for algebra and the literary analysis class.  She needed to work on negatives, exponents, roots, and order of operations.  Also, she needed to learn to write not only a paragraph but a five paragraph paper.

Negative numbers, exponents and root work is going well.  We will start working with order of operations today and I think she will be fine for algebra.  As for writing, I am still working with her on paragraphs.  The teacher recommended Jensens' Format Writing.  I liked Writing Strands better.  We still have two weeks before her class starts so she should have paragraphs down by then and we will just have to work on the rest as the class goes on.  She does have Call of the Wild read and is working on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

As for my youngest, we are getting started on fractions.  She is doing well in math as long as she has her fact sheets for addition/subtraction and multiplication/division.  If she doesn't hit a big wall with fraction work, I think that she will be on track to start algebra by her 9th grade year which is on track for the majority of students.  And you know 10th grade is OK too.  She can still do geometry and algebra II before graduating.

The other big thing that she has been working on is learning Hieroglyphics.  She picked up a book at a thrift store on them and has been studying the unilateral signs and is getting started on the bilateral signs.  She really enjoys this and is driving the project herself.  I just help her with the pronunciation guide.  I'm starting to wonder if this will be the foreign language she puts on her college applications.

Other than the interruptions, I think they are making a lot of progress this summer.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Comic Books & Manga

Learning to read has been a struggle for both of my children.  Part of this process was finding something that they liked to read.  So many things out there for kids to read they considered "stupid" or "boring."  I found that cartoon, manga, graphic novels and comic books helped made reading fun and it helped all the skills to click so that they became fluent readers.

For my oldest the "Baby Mouse" books were what really got her into reading.  They are cute, fun stories that appeal to girls who are not into being all "girly."  My youngest daughter had everything click for her as she read bind-ups of old X-Men comics.  She really liked Storm and reading all about her adventures. 

Now they both collect comics which are kept in plastic bags with boards and we have a database file to keep track of which ones they own.  So they are learning how to keep things nice, organized and inventoried.

Many people think comics are not worthy of their child's reading time.  But many comics have large difficult words in the text, life lessons to learn, and explore science and imagination.  Many have links to mythology or classic literature.  My daughter loves many Marvel characters and Thor has opened up the world of Norse mythology and culture. 

Spiderman, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic all love working with science and/or engineering.  The world of comics is full of doctors, teachers, moms, and all sorts of highly educated people who struggle not only against super adversaries but with life as well. 

Not everyone is comfortable with their kids reading these sorts of things but they are the gateway to books. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Getting Back into the Rhythm of Homeschooling

We had our first full week of gearing up for the new school year and curriculum.  It's been going OK.  My oldest is practicing concepts that she was introduced to last year but needs some mastery of before starting Algebra.  This week she worked on exponents.

My youngest started working on learning Hieroglyphics.  She is the main person driving this study and I am helping her out when needed.  They both started their history studies and it wasn't too bad.

I have high hopes for the new year.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Skedtrack Part II

Skedtrack
I spent some time last month and as our curriculum arrived putting in the lessons for the year.  I had things start on Monday, July 9 and printed out the week's work for each child.  At the end of the school day, I log-in and check off what is finished.  If I wanted to I could do this at the end of the week and just punch in the dates for when lessons were done.

The thing that I really liked about the online public school was the computerized lesson plans and calendar.  Skedtrack almost recreates this for us.  I think it will be easier to keep on track as the computer will adjust the lesson for the dates.

Things about Skedtrack:

You enter the school term/year.
You can have different students with their own schedules.
You enter in what the subjects are and the books/curriculum used.
You enter in the lessons.
You enter in what days the classes take place and when the start date is.
Then you can print out a day or a weeks worth of work and check things off as they are finished.

I have high hopes for this program this year.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nerd Wars and Tour de Fleece

My second submission for Nerd Wars this round was a spinning project.  I chain or navajo plied the alpaca yarn into this:

I decided that the scientific challenge of "Hide and Seek" would be a good one for this.  After all it is brown, the color of dirt and mud.  Many animals are various shades of brown to blend into the dirt background.  I linked it to "A Game of Thrones" through Arya who uses dirt and mud to hide herself in the city as an urchin or street child. 

I loved spinning this yarn.  Alpaca is my favorite fiber and spinning it from a cloud was fun.

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