Foreign Language Archives - Page 3 of 7 - Eva Varga


September 6, 2016

When we first began our homeschool journey, my eldest was just entering primary school while my youngest was toddling around after her. I had done a lot of research in the early years and had selected curriculum that remarkably worked very well for us during the elementary school years.9th 7th curriculum

As they approached middle school, I made a few adjustments but essentially we stayed on the same path. Our curriculum choices have always been inspired by Charlotte Mason, with leanings to Classical Education and Unschooling. I am really excited about this new school year (2016-17). It brings the biggest changes to our curriculum choices as well as our schedule and approach to schooling at home.

Curriculum We Use Now for 9th & 7th Grade

Language Arts

Until this year, the kids have always done their language arts studies together. We have used Writing with Skill, Brave Writer, and most recently, Cover Story.

Jeffrey is excited to begin One Year Adventure Novel, developed by the same author as Cover Story. The video-based, self-paced writing curriculum guides students step by step through the process of writing a compelling, fully structured novel in one school year.

Geneva will be going in a new direction. After much research, we opted to try Excellence in Literature series by Janice Campbell. She will begin with Literature and Composition: English 2 as she is already a strong writer. We also purchased the Handbook for Writers as a guide along the way.

math curriculaMath

This is the area that is perhaps undergoing the biggest change. Jeffrey will continue with Life of Fred as the format works well for him and he is having success. While Geneva has worked through most of the Life of Fred books (through Advanced Algebra), there are still concepts that are difficult for her. Read more of our experiences with Life of Fred here.

Recently her girlfriend informed her that she had taken the math placement test at the local community college and encouraged Geneva to do the same. While she had had success with Mr. D’s Math and we’d considered pursuing this further, ultimately she wanted to be with her friend. { I’ll address this again in extracurricular activities below. }

History & Social Studies

We are taking a major step away from our usual world history. In preparation for a family trip to New England later this fall, we’ve jumped into a fully immersive program, focusing on All American History. We are very excited as it provides opportunity to explore American Art History as well as American government.

As a part of the Scouting merit badge system, we are also working through the requirements for the three Eagle required citizenship merit badges: Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, and Citizenship in the World. Even if you are not members of Scouts, you can download the workbooks and work through the assignments independently. They are great course outlines and enrichment activities.  { I’ll further discuss Scouting in extracurricular activities below. }

Science

This year, we are using the NOVA awards program and Scouting merit badge system as an outline for our studies. It allows us to design a program specific to our interests and skills level. I will also continue to write my own science curriculum and seek out a variety of citizen science opportunities for us as a family.

Foreign Language

We will continue to work on developing their fluency in Mandarin. Our tutor is AMAZING and we’ve all learned so much from him. He uses Better Chinese curriculum but often supplements with materials he develops himself.

Geneva has opted to begin a third language. She hasn’t quite settled on one yet and thus I have encouraged her to study Latin for at least one year – mostly for familiarity with word roots. She has a passion for natural sciences so an understanding of Latin will help her as she pursues higher level biology courses.

fall recitalPerforming Arts

The kids have had some experience with theater and dance. While they enjoyed it, it is not a passion or an area they intend to pursue. We thereby focus on instrumental music. Geneva plays violin and Jeffrey piano.

They work with a private instructor once a week and beginning this year, they will take part in an ensemble. We are very excited about this opportunity because they have not had previous experience playing with others. They struggle to play pieces together so this will provide them the skills they need for success.

Passion Projects

As the kids have gotten older and more independent, they have begun to pursue topics of interest to them individually. We call these passion projects. What they learn and how they choose to develop their skills in this area are entirely up to them. I do try to encourage them to keep a log or record of the books they read and the tutorials they watch, however. They are also beginning to document their growth in an online portfolio.

Fine Arts

Geneva is most interested in art. She wants to combine her passions for art, nature, wood working, and architecture. She dreams of converting a shipping container into a mobile tiny house / art studio. To pursue her goals, she takes many art classes, volunteers at the art museum, visits with artists whenever possible, and has even helped her grandfather build her bed (with dimensions specific for the loft in her tiny house).

Coding & Programming

Jeffrey is a gamer and he absolutely LOVES Minecraft. Through this platform he has custom coded his own online server, developed websites (one for his server and another for his Scout troop), and has a growing YouTube channel whereby he edits a variety of gaming videos. It is no wonder that the programming merit badge was one of the first he earned.

independentstudyExtracurricular Activities

We live in a small coastal community. While there are homeschoolers here, we have connected with only a couple of families. In our previous two communities we had built connections with a large circle and enjoyed numerous social outings – field trips, lake days, enrichment classes, and nature outings.

While many of these were in fact organized by me – my kids have insisted they do not want me to take on so much. On top of that, I have returned to work part-time as a substitute teacher so I just don’t have the time.

Swim Team

Both kids continue to take part in swim team. While we enjoy athletics for the fitness and connections we build with others, we don’t schedule our lives around sports. If a swim meet works in our family calendar, we may take part. We have noticed a significant difference between our SOAR team and our new team, however. This may be due in part to the fact that our head coach retired earlier this year and thus our team is undergoing a major transition.

Scouts

What is most exciting is Scouting. I had long desired Jeffrey to join Boy Scouts but intentionally waited until he turned 11 years. So many boys who are active in Cub Scouts do not continue when they enter middle and high school. Granted, this is mostly due to a heavier course load and interest in sports and cars. I was more fearful that he may get burned out.

He thereby joined in February and is now official Tenderfoot Rank. Our troop is small which is both a blessing (more opportunities for leadership) and a curse (most of the other boys are 15 years or older, Jeffrey is one of only three in middle school).

As he has worked through the rank requirements and merit badges, Geneva has often expressed interest. She has also taken part in many of the outings. I thereby began to research Venturing and Explorer Scouts. As we learned more, it became clear that Venturing was the perfect fit for her.

Her crew is also small and though we haven’t yet met the other girls (though it’s a co-ed program, her crew is all-girls), as the lead advisor described the personalities of each, we know it will be a good fit. We are both very excited. In fact, the girl friend I mentioned above will also likely be joining. 🙂Service Learning

Volunteer experiences have always been a major component of our homeschool. Scouting provides many more opportunities to serve our communities. Geneva will continue to volunteer at the art museum. Jeffrey will continue to volunteer at the retirement home and has encouraged his sister to join him. As a family, we will continue to partner with the estuarine research reserve.

Why We Homeschool @EvaVarga.netCurriculum We We’ve Used Previously

Last year, I outlined our curriculum plans for 8th and 6th grades. Just two years ago, Geneva was entering 7th and Jeffrey 5th. Our Curriculum Choices for Middle School were similar.

 

In the earlier years, our approach was much more relaxed. While we used curriculum in some subject areas (math, Mandarin, language arts, and history), we followed more of an Unschooling approach.

I am surprised I didn’t share more frequently what curriculum we were using. I wrote a little about our goals for 5th and 3rd here and 3rd and 1st here. As I didn’t make too many changes as the years progressed, I suppose I didn’t see the need to revisit. I regret this now.

backtohomeschool bloghop

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop Schedule



July 5, 2016

We homeschool year round and our new school year has just begun. This year marks a huge transition in our home with one child entering junior high and another entering high school. Though we are not beginning new educational resources or curriculum until August, July provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what resources we have enjoyed, what courses we will be taking in the coming school year, and what resources we want to purchase.

We are excited for this new school year. With both kiddos increasingly independent in their studies, I trust we’ll be learning a wide variety of skills and material. Below are a few of our tried-and-true favorite educational resources and a couple we look forward to adding to our curriculum.

list of educational resources

Educational Resources for Teens

If your child is interested in Minecraft, architecture, languages, or you name it … you can transform your child’s interests into a fun lesson. Keep scrolling to check out what’s new and what’s popular.

What’s new?

3D Animation Course – My son is passionate about Minecraft and is intrigued by the 3D character animation concepts in this year-long online course where he learns to create animated short movies using his favorite Minecraft characters. How cool is that!?

Learn to code with minecraft

Buy Coding Game For Kids

Mixing with the Masters: A New Twist on the Old Masterpieces – My daughter and I just love Alisha’s style and are delighted to learn about the masters through her mixed media art workshop. Mixing with the Masters is the first of several volumes that will be released over the course of this year and the next.

Beginning Architecture Course – Frank Lloyd Wright never had it this good! This three-part series of Beginning Architecture online course is the perfect gift for young Lego and Minecraft enthusiasts like my son.

North Star Geography Online Class – We absolutely LOVE the geography curriculum by Tyler Hogan. Now North Star Geography is offered as an ebook and audiobook, automatic grading of each lesson’s quiz & mapwork, and a direct helpline with the author. Perfect for an on-the-go family like us!

Bright Ideas PressExplore Our World with North Star Geography

What’s popular?

Learn to Code with Minecraft – One of my son’s favorite things to do is to modify the Minecraft game with special mods. With this year-long online course, kids learn Java programming skills to code their own Minecraft mod from start to finish. They will delight in watching when their work results in a unique, shareable Minecraft mod that they built from scratch.

Life of Fred High School Math Books – Say good-bye to drill and kill exercises. We’ve been using Fred since middle school and my kids love the approach. Instead of nothing but dry exposition and endless drill exercises, they contain fun stories about Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius.

math books

Buy Life of Fred

Online Language Program  My daughter loves languages and has set out to add Italian to her repertoire. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to include foreign language into your next year curriculum. Choose from Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian or ESL English Videos, songs, and games help learners become bilingual or trilingual FAST!

Tegu Blocks – I don’t know about your kids but mine still enjoy playing with blocks from time to time, especially when they are watching their young nieces and nephews. Tegu Blocks are magnetic wooden blocks and are just the right size for on-the-go fun. If your teen is an entrepreneur who enjoys babysitting, Tegu Blocks are a fabulous addition to his “bag of tricks”.

Educents Tegu Blocks

Educents Tegu Blocks

The Ultimate Middle School Digital Resource – The Ultimate Middle School Package provides you with 24 comprehensive educational resources for Sixth through Eighth Grade in the areas of Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies! Includes both the Student and Teacher’s Edition!

 



April 30, 2016

My kiddos have been studying Mandarin for years. For this reason, I am always on the lookout for resources to provide them with a rich experience.

When Hanbridge Mandarin reached out to me to review their online courses, I jumped at the chance.

Hanbridge Mandarin

I was provided a free trial of the courses as well as compensation for my time in writing this review.

The virtual classroom was easy to navigate and the instructor was excellent. A native speaker based in Shenzhen, China, she was able to customize lessons for both myself (a beginner) and my daughter (an intermediate/advanced learner).

I share more details in my HubPage, Hanbridge Mandarin: Stepping Stones to Fluency and encourage you to look into this great resource. For a limited time, they are also offering a significant discount via Educents:

Hanbridge Mandarin 4 Online 1-on-1 Lessons ~ Jump start your Chinese learning with online classes from native live Chinese teachers for a significantly reduced rate. Educents offers a package of 4 lessons for just $11.25 per lesson!!



December 23, 2015

I feel very strongly that a comprehensive world view is important in today’s society.  In our homeschool we strive to develop an awareness of other cultures and lifestyle choices by reading great books, diving deeply into history, and immersing ourselves in other cultures through our travels around the world.

As our communities become more diverse, many parents are looking for literature and other tools to help their children develop a deeper understanding of their neighbors.

Through our studies of Mandarin language, we have developed a greater understanding of the Chinese culture than I had dreamed possible. My children enjoy cooking Chinese foods and celebrating many of the holidays unique to China (Mid-Autumn Festival, for example).

multiculturalbooksdayI received these books in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions below are mine and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Exploring Chinese Culture with Children’s Books

One of the best ways to learn about another culture is through children’s books. China Institute has published four hardcover books about the Forbidden City, one of the world’s most fascinating landmarks. Each of the books will have its own interactive e-book app, which will feature a bilingual option to toggle between reading and listening in English and Chinese.

For Younger Readers

Bowls of Happiness: Treasures from China and the Forbidden City by Brian Tse  teaches children about Chinese artwork and culture and their universal spirit of generosity, love, and respect for nature. The loveable illustrations are coupled with photographs of porcelain art found in the Palace Museum’s collection.

After reading the story, my kids both wanted to create their own bowl of happiness. We went to a local pottery studio and painted our own. I’ll be posting pictures about this experience on Facebook and Instagram very soon.

Brian Tse has also authored This is the Greatest Place! The Forbidden City and the World of Small Animals. This charming book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture the majesty of both the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps.

multiculturalbooksdayFor Older Readers

In the book What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? Life in China’s Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu and Eileen Ng readers will journey through the average life of an emperor and learn about the real people who lived in the palace, including the prince who fought off a rebel invasion, the palace maids who lived in the Inner Court, the emperor who ruled twice, and the emperor who loved crickets. This book can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, with lively illustrations that encourage reader interaction.

In the Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu is a large format book which conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous foldout spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely.

Be sure to check out the lesson plans and interactive activities that accompany these delightful books.

forbiddencity

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

The Mission

The mission of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD) is to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book.

The annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day is made possible by a team of 12 amazing Co-Hosts (you can view them here), the initiative’s non-profit status, and 200 participating bloggers like me.

We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

The Reading Challenge

The Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge is a special project connected to Multicultural Children’s Book Day ~ 26th January 2016 ~ that gives classrooms the opportunity to earn a FREE Diversity Book for their class!

The goal of the reading challenge is to help teachers build their classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! This special project is free of charge to all teachers and schools and helps MCCBD achieve their mission of getting multicultural books into the hands of young readers and teachers. The MCCBD 2016 Classroom Reading Challenge has begun, learn more here.

MCBookDay-white-21-300x234Special thanks to all our Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors:

Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press * StoryQuest Books * Lil Libros
Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk * Candlewick Press
Silver: Lee and Low Books * Chronicle Books * Capstone Young Readers
Bronze: Pomelo Books * Author Jacqueline Woodson * Papa Lemon Books * Goosebottom Books * Author Gleeson Rebello * ShoutMouse Press * Author Mahvash Shahegh * China Institute.org



October 31, 2015

I have been fascinated with ravens since I was a child. I recall my mother reading aloud Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven at Halloween. Poe was one of her favorite authors and she delighted in reading this glorious poem in narrative voice.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netNew research has found that ravens remember prior interactions with people and even communicate these interactions with others of their kind. I’ve read stories of ravens leaving trinkets and gifts for those who have shown them kindness. My father has a pair of ravens that visit him regularly and when we visit, they can always be seen perched nearby keeping an eye on things.

Raven Mini Unit

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an Audubon post, How to Tell a Raven From a Crow on Facebook and the wheels in my head immediately started spinning. Would not this make a wonderful Halloween themed mini unit? Yes! I must put something together …

Science

The Audubon link I shared above is the perfect place to begin. While ravens and crows may look similar in some ways, there are several distinctive traits that help set them apart.

You probably know that ravens are larger, the size of a red-tailed hawk. Ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies overhead. The crow’s tail feathers are basically the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, however, have longer middle feathers in their tails, so their tail appears wedge-shaped when open.

Go outside and watch them. Bring along your nature journal and record your observations. How many do you see? How do they interact? What are they eating? Do they scratch at the soil with their feet? What sounds do they make?

Consider adding several quick sketches in your journal or taking photographs. When you return indoors, take more time to illustrate the birds you observed. Feel free to use a field guide or photograph to help you.

Literature

Ravens are perhaps the most common bird symbol in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. They assume a variety of roles, ranging from messengers of deities and sages to oracles and tricksters. They play a central part in many creation myths and are typically associated with the supernatural realms lying beyond the ordinary experience.

The Raven: Mini Unit for Middle School @EvaVarga.netThe history of ravens as mythical birds can be traced as far as the 1000-year-old Norse mythology. Odin, the chief god in Norse mythology, had a pair ravens called Hugin and Munin perching on his shoulders. Each morning they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody. They would come back by sunrise and whisper to Odin what they had learned. Sometimes Odin himself would turn into a raven.

Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Hugin
That he might not return,
But I worry more for Munin.

Huginn ok Muninn
fljúga hverjan dag
Jörmungrund yfir;
óumk ek of Hugin,
at hann aftr né komi-t,
þó sjámk meir of Munin.

I encourage you to research the symbolism of ravens in a culture of your choice. Here are two of my favorites:

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

How Raven Stole the Sun (Native American Myth)

Art

Ravens have appeared in the mythology of many ancient people. It is no surprise, therefore, that ravens are also popular subjects in art.

I have often been inspired by children’s books. My kids and I will periodically try to recreate the illustrations we enjoy in picture books. I am not alone.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netOn the website, Native American Art Projects and Lesson Plans, I found two lesson plans centered around children’s books featuring ravens:

A Man Called Raven (Oil Pastel)

How the Raven Stole the Sun (Crayon Batik)

 



July 23, 20151

Two things about birthday celebrations that remain consistent in every culture are songs and greetings. These are universal ways of honoring and sharing with others the special moment and the joy of the guest of honor. Did you realize, however, that the song is not the same in every culture?

Hurra for Deg @EvaVarga.netOne of the Norwegian traditions I like best is the singing of Hurra for Deg (Cheers for You),  the Norwegian birthday song. It was written by Margrethe Aabel Munthe (1860 – 1931). Though there are two verses, more often only the first verse is sung.

The kids are at heritage camp this week learning Norwegian and the traditional handcrafts of our heritage. This year, parents have been provided little glimpses of camp life via Facebook. I was delighted that one of the counselors shared a short video of some of the girls singing Hurra for Deg as they worked on their Rosemaling. While I am unable to share the video, it inspired me to share the lyrics with you.

Hurra for deg som fyller ditt år!
Ja, deg vil vi gratulere!
Alle i ring omkring deg vi står,
og se, nå vil vi marsjere,
bukke, nikke, neie, snu oss omkring,
danse for deg med hopp og sprett og spring,
ønske deg av hjertet alle gode ting!
Og si meg så, hva vil du mere?
Gratulere!

Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring,
And look, now we’ll march,
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?
Congratulations!

Hurra for Deg is a lively tune and a lot of fun to sing. Consider adding a few dance movements for a more rousing version:

Everyone stands in a circle around the birthday honoree. Begin singing while you are standing in the ring.

When you come to “march”, then march all around the birthday child with high knee-lift, while looking at him/her.

On “Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around”, make these movements wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

On “Dance for you, hop and skip and jump,” begin to dance in a circle around the birthday child. Try to make eye contact with him / her, as this gives attention.Continue the dance the rest of the song.

After the song is finished, deserves celebrating a real generous applause!

If you are interested, here’s the second verse:

Høyt våre flagg vi svinger. Hurra!
Ja, nå vil vi riktig feste!
Dagen er din, og dagen er bra,
men du er den aller beste!
Se deg om i ringen, hvem du vil ta!
Dans en liten dans med den du helst vil ha!
Vi vil alle sammen svinge oss så glad:
En av oss skal bli den neste!
Til å feste!

We wave our flags up high! Hurray!
Yes now we’ll really celebrate!
The day is yours, the day is great,
But you’re the best!
Look in the ring who you want to choose!
Dance a little dance with who you want to!
We’ll all turn around together so joyfully,
And one of us shall be the next – to celebrate!