Sunday, July 21, 2013

Minnesota Week

Because it's important to learn about our own country, too, we dedicated one week this summer to learning about Minnesota. The choice was easy: my husband's parents live there, and they came to visit us this past week. We ate tater tot hotdish (casserole) and bars (cookies baked in, not on, a pan) but didn't try to make lefse, seeing as we lack an enormous griddle and other specialized equipment. We watched How to Talk Minnesotan on YouTube and laughed at ourselves saying "you bet" and "whatever". We got Swedish meatballs at IKEA in honor of the Scandinavian settlers of Minnesota. But we didn't do much serious intellectual work. We were pretty much on vacation from schoolwork. Uff da!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back in the Classroom?

I know teachers are just humans, and I think there are many great public school teachers. I don't link to this article to criticize all teachers but rather because I dislike how the school district resolved it: this teacher should not be interacting with high school students again so soon. There is no reason to think he won't engage in the same behavior on the sly again. And yet some still wonder why many parents don't feel they can trust the public school system with their children....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Australia Week

What a great country to study! Australia has such unique wildlife and so much material accessible to us because it is in English! Here are some of the things we did to celebrate "Australia Week":

  • Check out and read/view library books and DVDs (about aborigines, British convicts, Great Barrier Reef, etc.)
  • Netflix: The Rescuers Down Under, The Man From Snowy River, Strictly Ballroom, Wild Kratts episodes about kangaroos and Tasmanian devils
  • Food: Pavlova, Vegemite, oatmeal cookies, meat pie, carrot/cheese/raisin salad, fish & chips, Lamingtons 
  • Dress up as marsupials 
  • Culture: Have a playdate with an Australian friend, who showed us a kangaroo skin and bullwhip and shared a late morning "tea" of Australian-style sandwiches (creamed corn/baked beans and cheese inside!) and lemon cordial (I used this recipe as the basis and substituted citric acid for tartaric acid)
  • Craft: Aboriginal dot art
  • Music: Listen to Australian aboriginal musica and folk songs, make a didgeridoo with PVC pipe and decorate it with permanent marker
  • Computer resources -

Friday, July 12, 2013


We've been learning about Australia this week. I tried two times to make a pavlova meringue. The first time it came out much too flat. But the second time I used a recipe that had been altered to work at a high altitude, and we were all very pleased with the result! Here's a picture:
Now imagine that rosy beauty filled with whipped topping and covered with fresh berries, and that's what we had for dessert last night. Multiculturalism can be very tasty!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Russia Week

We finished "Russia Week" on Saturday. Here are some of the things we did to learn about Russia:

  • Library books and DVDs about/set in Russia
  • Netflix: The Hunt for Red October, Peter and the Wolf (animated short film), Space Dogs, Michel Strogoff (cartoon), Man v. Wild (2.08, 2.09), Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, Fiddler on the Roof
  • Color Russia map and country flag
  • Do Highlights puzzle book about Russia
  • Crafts: Matryoshka paper dolls (from this website -, flower garland headbands (finally found a use for my wedding bouquet!)
  • Sport: Ballet (we have a DVD that shows a short ballet lesson geared toward small children)
  • Food: Lox/cream cheese on bagels, pelmeni (I cheated and used frozen pirogis), cabbage and pickled beet salad, Polish chocolate (similar to Russian), rassolnik (barley-potato-pickle-broth soup), jello with sour cream in it, berry juice blends, rich Russian cake (the buttercream frosting had a pound of butter in it!)
  • Music: Listened to many Russian folk songs
It was a great week! Since the U.S. Independence Day fell during Russia Week, we made red-white-and-blue flower garlands and watched The Hunt for Red October; I was struck with how different a world we live in now that the Cold War is over and Lithuania (home of the Red October's defecting submarine captain) is an independent country.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Paper Matryoshka dolls

Here's the finished product from the craft found at the link in the previous post:

Matryoshka dolls

Much as I would love to make actual matryoshka dolls, I don't have a lathe or woodworking skills. So for a Russia Week craft, we're doing this cute paper doll matryoshka craft I found online:

If my children's efforts turn out well, I'll post a picture later.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Philippines Week

Mabuhay! Last week we learned about the Philippines. Among other things, we did the following:

  • Use lots of library books and DVDs (they know me well at the library this summer)
  • Music: Listen to music from the Philippines on Grooveshark
  • Food: Buy/prepare Filipino food from Asian market, including champorado, lumpia, halo-halo, and pancit
  • Culture: Invite a Filipina friend over to talk about her life as a child in the Philippines, dance the tinikling (done with bamboo poles)
  • Craft: Make pastillas de leche, do some weaving (square loom like this)
  • Color flag and map of the Philippines
  • Sport: Swimming lessons