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Everything posted by jade

  1. Definitely upgrade. I used to have a Palm and am so glad that I have an iTouch these days. So fun to use and more options than a Palm. Go for it1
  2. Try reading Frog and Toad and Little Bear books. They're relatively easy, but are classics and all kids should know them. Aesop's Fables books are good to read and then talk about. Short chapter books might include A to Z Mysteries, Geronimo Stilton mysteries, Time Warp Trio books. Don't miss Junie B. Jones books. Very funny. Or try reading aloud Winnie-the-Pooh, which reads aloud well. So does Wind in the Willows, which mainly appeals to boys. Try some graphic novels. There are several these days that geared for the younger set. Perhaps Babymouse, Captain Underpants, Toon Books Well just some ideas.
  3. Graphic novels as well as comics are different than novels or picture books. I think all have validity as a reading document. My husband has taught several college courses on graphic novels and we all have grown to appreciate the genre. There are many graphic novels that are geared for high school or adult readers. But many newer ones are coming out for younger readers, including a series edited by Art Spiegelman, the creator of Maus (http://www.amazon.com/Art-Spiegelman/e/B000APXXEK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1) and his wife Francoise Mouly, the art editor at The New Yorker. Their series is called Toon Books (http://toon-books.com). We had a wonderful experience this year using Chester Comix by Bentley Boyd (http://www.chestercomix.com/) which is American history through comix books. Highly recommended! We supplemented these occasionally with a textbook, but mostly used Chester Comix. We're clearly moving into a more visual culture and visual literacy is going to be increasingly important in the future. Children need the ability to read and analyze texts of all types. Graphic novels are one type of text.
  4. I just love your blog! I found it through your postings on graphic novels. The title of your blog is even interesting. I'm assuming you adapated it from the novel title I Capture the Castle. thank you for being a bright spot in my day!

  5. Scribblenuts is very fun and innovative Drawn to Life is similarly interesting. We also like the Diner game.
  6. Apple doesn't enable stores to discount iPods that much. The Amazon price you linked to is quite good. Sometimes stores like Target will not have a sale price, but will add on a $15 or more gift card, so it's like $15 off. Other online places often add extras (cases, etc.) for no additional costs. You can also buy a refurbished iPod on the online Apple store (http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/ipod?mco=OTY2ODY4NQ). We have bought items from there and have been satisfied. There might be a fabulous deal somewhere in November, but it might sell out quickly. There also might be another generation iPod by then. I would also suggest your husband look at the iPod Touch as well. It's basically the iPhone without the phone. We like it much better than the bigger iPod. You can access an amazing amount of info and games through your in-house internet wifi. It has more versatility than the iPod, which is basically just for music and some video. Have fun shopping!
  7. I have completed 3 Nanowrimo novels and am re-visiting the first with plans to go back to the others. I even started a local group and it's now up to 100+ people in an area where I didn't think we'd find that many. Nanowrimo is a great support and resource place for writers. I think it should be seen through that lens first and then as an incentive to get writers to the 50,000 words. If you go to Nanowrimo now, and you can sign up I think now, you'll find loads of resources. There are many calendars that help you maintain a daily word count. You need to write about 1500 words a day to make it to 50,000 by the end. It's doable, but I found it takes persistence and a very supportive family who get what you're doing. Try to do it by yourself but also look into at least participating in November.
  8. There's another part to this article -- it also discussed how difficult it is just to get kids together to play. That part rang true for us. We have to schedule playdates sometimes a week or more ahead of time because kids have so many activities. It's a separate issue that somehow got intertwined in the friendship part of the article. I find it annoying that it's often difficult for kids to just hang out together. Kids have to be pretty resilient these days and adopt to many situations, particularly if parents work or if they're in sports, etc. While I totally agree with the odd position on trying to ban close friendships, i do think that encouraging kids to be friends with lots of kids has considerable merit.
  9. I've enjoyed our HP Photosmart C5200, which we've had for 2 years now. I bought it specifically because I also wanted to print on DVDs and CDs that we create. It's always good to think about what kind of print jobs you're going to do. For instance, do you think you're going to use an SD card from your digital camera to directly print? Then you need that option. That said, I agree that wireless isn't that important. however, you should be able to hook up at least one printer to your home wifi system. Look at the price of ink that your chosen printer uses. Look at comparables, too. I would seriously consider a Kodak printer these days as the consumables, i.e. the ink, is supposed to be cheaper. I always go to cnet.com and read the reviews there. The writers are reliable. We also have a Brother laser printer that we like a lot. One feature that I thought was important this time around was that it prints double-sided. I'm so tired of wasting paper. Anyway hope you enjoy your printer!
  10. If you are going to Tennessee, consider stopping in Nashville. We really love stopping there. The Frist Art Center has one of the best kids arts spaces in the country. There are hands-on activities that span the interest and ability of pre-schoolers to grandparents. We usually make a print, create a video and do some kind of artsy thing. The art is usually connected to the interesting exhibits. ((http://www.fristcenter.org)). We enjoy eating at the cafe there as it's clean and cool and not as busy as nearby honky-tonk restaurants. The arts center is on Broadway, right off the interstate and very near the Country Music Hall of Fame. The hall of fame is interesting, even if you're not a country music fan. We have found this is a good place to get the headphone commentaries. The science center in Nashville is geared toward kids. We like running around there and especially climbing up the tower and seeing out over Nashville. The city also has a water park that is very popular, but we haven't visited. If you like history, you might enjoy touring Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, which we found quite interesting. There's also the zoo, Cheekwood, funky bars. We usually stay in one of the Hampton Inn on the Vanderbilt side of town. I think much of the touristy part of Nashville is open after the floods. However, the Grand Old Opry and the discounts stores in Opryland are not opening until the fall. We also like the Kentucky area called Land Between the Lakes. Kentucky has wonderful state lodges that aren't too expensive and are in beautiful spots. Two other thoughts for traveling: Get a AAA membership as it will save you on hotel rates and a few dollars on entrance to many places. Bring along any museum membership you have from hometown museums as many museums have exchanges with others and you can get in for free or reduced rates.
  11. I am thoroughly enjoying the conversation about moms who swim at the pool. Sometimes I feel odd because I am the only mom who swims. We have fun splashing around in the water, occasionally working on strokes -- plus it's great exercise. The legitimate reasons that some moms don't swim are good for me to remember. On a few rare occasions, I don't get in the water either. So I should not complain too much. What bugs me is seeing lots of women who could probably benefit from the exercise that happens with just a little movement in the pool. If you have the opportunity for exercise, why do so many women not just do it? I sometimes think it sets a bad example to kids if mom don't get wet a little -- plus it's amazingly fun and cooling! And I've noticed that dads usually don't sit on the sidelines reading -- they at least get in for awhile, splash around with the kids, and then take a break to read. Oh well, thanks for sharing and listening.
  12. My husband wrote an essay on what it's like for some men to read Little Women: "Men and Little Women: Notes of a Resisting (Male) Reader.†in Little Women and the Feminist Imagination. Edited by Janice M. Alberghene and Beverly Lyon Clark. New York: Garland, 1999. He continues to receive feedback from that essay. You might find it interesting to read when thinking about how to talk about Little Women with contemporary boys While quickly re-reading his essay, I noted again that Theodore Roosevelt loved Alcott's books. In the essay, my husband says that he doesn't teach Tom Sawyer as much as Little Women, but since writing it, he has been teaching Tom Sawyer more often. Personally, I would have an 11-year-old boy read as much Mark Twain as he could possibly stand. This year is the 175th anniversary of the author's birth and there are lots of celebrations around the country, many of which focus on Tom Sawyer (http://www.twain2010.org/) I was an avid reader and I loved Little Women, but I don't think I read it until I was at least 13 or 14. By that time, I could comprehend what it was about. On the other hand, I encountered (by listening to it being read aloud and reading it myself) To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 11 and loved it.
  13. Just wanted to note that we've been to the North Carolina beaches twice. Each time my relatives planned the trips, so I kind of just went along. But we were surprised at how different the areas are. We loved the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher -- and the white crocodile. But the area leading into the Aquarium (Kure Beach) was not necessarily our favorite area to stay again. Nice, and clearly loved by many, but a little more funky beach style.
  14. You'll probably drive I-55 through Springfield, Illinois, along the way to Chicago, which is another 3 1/2 hours away. Kids really enjoy visiting the relatively new Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield. It's very interactive -- almost like a mini Disney with holographic actors and ghosts, seats that vibrate when canons go off and a walk-through history of Lincoln. Then, visit the real thing that's just a few blocks away -- especially the only house that the Lincolns every own, which is still pretty much the way it was. There's also New Salem, which is about 30 minutes north that has re-enactment homes, kind of like Plimouth Plantation, that's low key but interesting as well. If you're into homeschooling, I'm assuming you might also be into educational type experiences, and the Abraham Lincoln sites are rather unique. I would also suggest St. Louis, as others have. So many museums in St. Louis are free -- including the art museum and the Zoo, which is world class. There's also the Magic House, a kid-friendly science museum. Not free, but good. The Drury Hotel chain has lots of hotels in St. Louis at good rates and they include a nice breakfast, indoor pools, and happy hour with popcorn, snacks and soft drinks. The St. Louis Botanic Garden is fantastic! There's a great kids area, lots of tree house type things, that are wonderful and the cafeteria there is pleasant with good food. It may not sound that kid oriented, but we are always amazingly pleased when we visit. And if you're driving through Missouri, you might check out Branson (lots of music, Silver Dollar City, etc.) and Laura Ingalls Wilder's farm that is an interesting museum, especially if you have read some of the books. Have fun! Drive safely
  15. Thanks for posting this question. There are lots of pros and cons to be weighed, if you're not doing homeschooling mainly for religious reasons. DS has friends who are going to junior high and he is incredibly curious. He is reading up on as many books about middle school that he can find. We took a tour, looked around. But we all agree that we have to see how it works out. It may, it may not. I guess you won't know until you try. I wish schools were much, much better.:glare:
  16. Thanks for your ideas. I am glad that we seem to be going along similar paths. I think that it's good to realize that HS children have achieved success. Just found this site that has free certificate templates (http://dyetub.com/certificates/) that might be good to use if you need a certificate of some sort. I have scrounged around in my vast collection of papers and found nice pre-printed certificates that I am customizing.
  17. I would definitely go to a store that sells used games, such as Game Stop, because there are more games there than many other stores. Also usually someone who works there is knowledgeable about some of the games, but there are too many for everyone to know all of them. They'll tell you what might be appropriate. If you don't want to invest as much money you can buy a used DS. Also, lots of kids get into the trading aspect of used game stores -- buy one game, play it, then trade it for another. The Nintendo DS is a great game platform and will probably be much more reliable than some of the other problems that you've seemed to encounter. I can't remember very many DS games that we have had problems. But don't just stick to Lego and Playmobile games, just because you know the companies' toys. That said, the Lego games have all been quite fun. I would highly recommend the Lego Star Wars games over the Lego Battle game. It helps to know the Star Wars films, but they are still fun whether you've seen the films or not. And the violence isn't too much, more slapstick than anything else. The Pokemon games are interesting because they do require reading. However, I know of some boys who got excited about and improved in reading because of the need to read in Pokemon. They are lots of puzzles and then interactive fights. Check out reviews on forums such as http://www.gamespot.com, edutainingkids.com or commonsensemedia.org for a sense of what some of the games are about, the age levels and what people actually like about the games.
  18. Just wondering how you end the year. Do you have a kind of end of the school year celebration or something? I've been reading how some of you keep going throughout the summer, which we're going to do as well. But I still feel we need some kind of celebration to signify that we go this far! Plus, DS is finishing fifth grade and going into sixth grade and in our PS that's moving from one school to another, so it's kind of a big deal among his friends. Consequently, it's a big deal for him even tho he's been homeschooled. Along the same lines, do you prepare report cards or something for your kids? I don't think I'm going to do it, but wondering if it gives kids a good psychological boost or anything. I realize some state require more detailed reports than others and ours doesn't require reports. We are going to have graduation certificates that are really positive.
  19. We have used LOF Fractions and then supplemented with Singapore and online games from iknowthat.com and a few other places. We are big fans of LOF. I wish I had something like that when I was in elementary school because it makes word problems so fun. But I think that it definitely needs supplemental practice.
  20. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. Try other books by Stroud, too. The Sorceress series by Michael Scott. A current series that's popular. N.D. Wilson's 100 Cupboards series. This is a recent series. I think Wilson is a particularly good writer and the final book in the trilogy was just published. I would try him to get grounded in as many classics as possible. Challenge him to read a lot of Mark Twain, probably not Huckleberry Finn, but go beyond Tom Sawyer, to Prince and the Pauper, the Jumping Frogs books, his travel guides, etc. Twain is a particularly good writer for boys. Then suggest he read Little Women for a girl's perspective from the same time period. Read Kenneth Grahame: Wind in the Willows and Golden Days. If he's read the updated version of Peter Pan, has he read the original? Black Beauty by Sewell. E. Nesbit books, such as The Woudbegoods -- fun story about a family of kids at the turn of the century that have adventures. Because it's British and 100 years old, the book is more challenging than similar contemporary books. Try Charles and Mary Lamb's retelling of Shakespeare plays. Then go see the plays or watch film adaptations. Edith Hamilton's Mythologies, the classic on Greek and Roman myths. Mary Shelly's Frankenstein -- which is different than the films. How much Roald Dahl has he read? I'm thinking he's probably read a lot already. What about biographies? The Autobiography of Ben Franklin is funny and short. There are lots of biographies written for kids and teens. If he's reading that much, I would probably emphasize the importance of being grounded in the classics, rather than just reading for pure pleasure. The more classic texts he knows, the better off he will be in the long run.
  21. The movie was fun, but rather sad. It didn't make middle school look very pleasant. My son said it followed the book relatively well. There are a few new characters to help the plot development. I liked the way the film incorporated animated illustrations. the production values aren't as high as say a Disney film, but that was fine here. Kids will probably like it.
  22. Guinea pigs are fun pets. They do take awhile to get acclimated to people. I had one when I was right out of college and now have had another for two years. It took months of picking up this one and holding it for it to become as mellow as my previous one. Different personalities. I've heard that males do better alone than females. After lots of debate, I decided one was fine, altho two are supposed to be great. For bedding, we use the recycled paper fluff stuff from the pet stores. Sort of expensive, but I've read negative things about the cedar chips, which I used for the first gp who lived 4 1/2 years. Our gp loves to curl up in a fluffy lambskin-style bed, kind of like a miniature dog bed. Easy to put in the wash, too. Make sure the gp has a place or two to hide. Wood is better than plastic, as they'll chew on the plastic. They have to have something to chew on. We give ours Timothy Hay, pellets, lots of carrots, spinach, lettuce, pears, apples, parsley, cilantro, dandelion leaves (washed off!). He likes celery but some friends told us that might not be so good for them. Sometimes we let the gp chew on a papertowel roll or paper without ink on it. Be sure not to have it in a place where there's lots of odd noises at first. They're really sensitive to ping-ing sounds, some music, etc. Have fun!
  23. It's interesting to me that many of the manners people have mentioned are really common sense and politeness. I found out that my son is more interested in manners than I realized when we ate at my mother's formal dining room in her retirement center. No one is allowed to wear jeans in that room, so we had to get a little dressed up. Once we sat down, he asked lots of questions about which knives and forks to use when. He was rather nervous. The food was the same as the informal dining room nearby, altho not the place settings and atmosphere. But it was sweet to see his concern. That said, I just want to admit that on one of the coldest Sundays in January my son wore his cute, Peruvian-style knit hat through the entire church service, as well as a sweater. He ended up going up to the front, as he was volunteered for a part of the service. I cringed a little with his hat on. And altho there are older conservative types in the church, no one said anything. I guess being cold superceded hats off for a boy in this case. I decided not to make a big case out of it on that Sunday.
  24. I'm glad that this type of question was brought up and that the conversation here could be civil. It's clear that parents do have differences in how they handle boys' rambunctious behavior. I appreciate reading different mothers' perspectives on what they consider wrong and what they tolerate. Having once or twice screamed because I thought a kid was getting way out of hand and also having had to deal with parents who have behaved rather oddly, I know there are multiple ways to viewpoints on things like this. The one point that I would add is that maybe playing handheld games while waiting for dance class to finish maybe isn't such a bad idea. I have encountered many good parents who are against so many new technologies. But once they see that some of the games available actually have some educational merit, they are more open minded. Or, bring a book to read. A plan is good in these kinds of situations.:)
  25. Well, we liked Avatar and Alice in Wonderland in 3D. They didn't seem as hard to watch as say the 3D show at the Coke Museum in Atlanta. I wasn't going to go to see the Dragon film in 3D until I read Michael Phillips' review in the Chicago Tribune today. He said the 3D really made this film pop. So, maybe we'll see it eventually.
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