Category: Education

Saturday Photo Hunt: Party

We are not party type people. In fact other than the kids’ birthday parties we don’t tdo them at all and even those are small. However yesterday, with it being leap day and the kids being grumpy due to the weather (it was snowing, a lot and too cold to really enjoy it) and Rachel feeling left out (she wanted to play but the other two didn’t want to do what she wanted to do) I suggested she plan something for them that they would enjoy.

It started with her creating a scavenger hunt. She wrote up about 6 clues and hid them around the house. Then she came back to me asking what the prize should be. I had a gingerbread house kit their aunt had sent that I had been holding onto for a just in case activity. She wrapped that up and hid it in the final spot.

She got her brother and sister to look for clues and helped them out since her spelling is not the best. When they found the kit they headed to the kitchen for a “house decorating party”. (Rachel donned a mask due to her severe cinnamon allergy.) After decorating it they let their daddy join in (he wanted the gum drops–all the rest of the candy was stuff no one could eat). They then put it out in the snow for the birds to enjoy.

(The snow is about a foot deep–Issac is walking on top of a layer of ice.)

Running Edubuntu from a Live CD

logo.pngFor screenshots of Edubuntu check this out.

So, with  all this talk about Edubuntu, I realized that maybe I should explain how to go about downloading and running it.  In fact, there is a bit of a trick to it which I have messed up more than a few times because I am a ditz like that–enough so that I went ahead and made a few cd’s for people who want them instead of explaining to my less technically-minded friends how to go about it.  (I have wasted plenty of cd’s because I “forget” how to burn an image.)

Before you download and run it there are two things you need to do.  (It doesn’t take much space to run so most people will not have issues with that.)

  1. Reboot your computer.  When it is starting up there will be a splash screen that tells you what type of processor you have.  As long as it doesn’t say 64 somewhere in there you should be good with the regular install.  (You can also check this by going into your control panel, system, and looking at your computer info.   AMD 64 requires a different setup which is the second one listed.)  Most people have a regular 32bit chipset and can run the first version.  If you can’t tell I suggest downloading and running the first chipset (or if you aren’t sure, email me and I will be glad to make you a cd and send it to you or you can order one from their site.)
  2. You need a cd burning software that can burn a cd image.  You are not burning data or an audio file you need to burn an .iso which is a disk image.  Nero Burning Rom can do this as can Sonic.  More than likely the program that came with your cd burner can burn a disk image but you need to tell it that is what you want.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try to burn it as a data cd.  It won’t work.  I know because I ALWAYS forget and mess this up several times before remembering that I need to “Burn Disk Image”.

Now you can go the website and download.  You want the personal version, not the server.

Once you have downloaded and burned the cd all you do is put the cd in the cd/dvd player before rebooting.  Reboot and if your computer can boot from CD then it should automatically take you to the Edubuntu screen.  There it will give you several options but you likely won’t have to do a thing.  It will auto start in 30 seconds.  It will sit there a while–remember, you are running an entire OS from a cd, but it will start.  Just wait (probably about 3-5 minutes, on older machines like ours it takes a bit longer).  Once it boots you are good.  The screen looks quite a bit like a Mac (at least what I remember Macs looking like–it has been a while.)

Now you can play the games and run the programs without needing to install the software.  If you decide you love it you can install from there but I wouldn’t advise it unless you don’t mind losing what is already on computer or have everything backed up and I would recommend reading the docs on the site before doing so.  You can’t run Microsoft programs on an Ubuntu machine and have to convert your mp3s to .ogg format.  It is great if you don’t use Microsoft software and tend to use open source anyway or if you have a second computer for the kids (like us, we have 4 computers, two are old ones that belong to the kids.)

There are a few games that say they are missing bits.  If you install, it is easy to update those–they use other software that is normally already installed on a Linux machine.  If you don’t install you can’t update those but the rest is still well worth it.

I will talk a bit more about the games available in a future post.

A Day in the Life 19

My neck is out and my back aches. Sigh. We got a big snow and I shoveled even though my neck was twinging so my dad could get in the driveway. I only shoveled a little but it was too much and now. Sigh. I am off to spend several hours flat on my back playing Harvest Moon because I can’t sit up for long. Before I go I want to share a couple things:

This morning my “teaching himself to read” child called me over to the table where he sat eating animal crackers.

“Look Mom, this says low fat!”

“Did you read that yourself?”

“Yup.” He grinned and went on eating.

As I said he has been having me “read” a hymn book to him. He likes to help me read the words, which are divided into syllables so he can easily sound them out. He then helps me sing the songs. It is very sweet. (It had never occurred to me that all the old hymn books I collect from yard sales would make such great easy readers.)

My little boy has taught himself to read!

Also, all three kids are very into Edubuntu and are spending lots of time playing GCompris and and several other great educational games. The other cool thing about Edubuntu is that you can go to the Edubuntu site, download the isntaller and burn the image to a cd–which will allow you to run the whole thing off the cd without installing over your copy of Windows. We have two copies running though one of the machines still has Windows on it. It is amazing to see what they are learning from this wonderful program.

Frugal Friday

I thought I would share a bit more about our once a month shopping and what works for us.  I have several things that make this work for us.  I have three main places where  I shop once a month and other places that I use for “we’re out of” run-ins.

GNC: GNC is where I purchase all our supplements, including mine for RA plus all our enzymes.  Due to the food allergies in our house and Rachel’s neurological issues these are necessities and equivalent to purchasing prescriptions but without insurance covering the cost.  Therefore I purchase them during the first week of the month which is GNC’s Gold Card week–which saves me 20% automatically on my whole order.  I don’t shop at a company owned GNC but at a private, family owned GNC.  The owners know me and my kids and will often order exactly what I need so it is on hand when I get there.  They are also very helpful when I have a question unlike the other GNC’s in our area which are all company owned and have no control over their stock.  Because what I purchase is all GNC brand they usually have those items on sale meaning that more often than not I get what I need for 40 to 60% off instead of just the 20% off.  Since our regular bill there comes to about $300 a month without sales this is a big savings.  (I also stock up on the things I know we will need when there is an extra good sale.)

Sam’s Club (and before Sam’s club it was Aldi):    This is when I get our main groceriesI stock up on paper products (as I mentioned we have a house with too much space and plenty of dual purpose furniture so stashing is not a big deal.)  I also fill our deep freeze with frozen veggies and bread products.  There are also a few frozen  restaurant style foods I pick up–like egg rolls–which keeps us from going out to eat.)  Produce comes from here as well  since we tend to eat a lot of fresh when we have it–those five pound bags don’t last long.  When that is gone we eat frozen until I get back to the store.  We have a “when we’re out, we’re out” policy for many items that I consider treats.  Making fruit a treat is a good thing.  Eggs, soy milk, and bread also fall into this category.   We try to use up most foods BEFORE the next trip (other than crackers and that sort of thing which have a long shelf life.)    Meals can get pretty creative when we start getting low on things. 🙂

Before we joined Sam’s Club  I went to Aldi–there are certain items I will have to get there when we run out because my kids like their Fit & Trim brand of several things and if I am in need of small items then that is where I will go.

By shopping here once a month I save about $200 on our main groceries and another $200 or so just because I am staying home in instead of “running in”. 

Frankferd Farms: This is our local wholesale natural and organic foods warehouse.  Foods are sold in bulk with very little packaging and you wait in the warehouse while they load it into your car.  This is where I get my 25# bag of organic, unbleached white whole wheat flour for $10, my 10# bag of organic spiral noodles for $7, my 1# bag of yeast for $2, and the list goes on.  I get all our baking needs here as well as specialty foods for Rachel.  It often costs me less to get organic versions of bulk foods here than it would to get regular versions at the local grocery store.  I do not buy many prepackaged foods here unless they are on sale because the prepared foods are much more expensive.  It cost me $100 for what would cost roughly $500 at our local grocery store.

Finally, I occasionally make less than wise purchases.  With so many food allergies in the house I occasionally pick up a brand we find that someone is allergic to or we discover an allergy after purchasing the item.  Occasionally we find that I picked up a brand that someone used to like and lo longer does.  In some cases we eat it anyway but if something looks like it is going to be sitting around for months and no one touches I find it is time for a trip to the food cupboard.  We pack up everything that no one easts for whatever reason (the unopened packages) and drop them off so they will benefit someone else. This way we free up space and are helping others out.  Since my kids like to occasionally do a food run for the food cupboard anyway we don’t really consider this a loss.

A Day in Life 16: When Learning is a Choice plus Doodle-a-day 2-19-08

When something is a requirement it is hard for the rebellious nature not to rebel. When learning is a choice then the rebellious will choose it because they really do want to learn. And when a person really does want to learn something that person will find a way.

  • When we went to the library last week my son asked for Hooked on Phonics: level 1, my daughters asked if they could get books to read. I reluctantly agreed only because we pay quite a lot in library fines because they forget which they got out.
  • Before bed my son read a book with me because he wanted to learn to read it. He also asked if he could play the Hooked on Phonics game in the morning. I told him he had to get his work done first (Mondays he throws all their dirty laundry down the step, move it to the hall where he has to sort it, plus put away all the pots ad pans and plastic items from the dishwasher.)
  • He woke at 8:30 and before he got his breakfast he had done the dirty laundry, not only the upstairs but also all the dirty laundry from the bedroom and the bathroom and he did everyone’s dishes, not just his own. He then came and told me and asked if he could play his game. (He has played it before and knows the answers pretty well but he is a cautious child and wants to REALLY know things before moving on.)
  • He spent an hour playing the Hooked on Phonics game which moves you through reading all sorts of three letter words then asked to go outside after he ate breakfast.
  • He went off to visit our elderly neighbor, who loves having company and happily reads him books, plays restaurant with him, and watches as he builds amazing towers with her set of blocks.
  • He spent hours playing happily in his room with his magnetics, exploring the world of magnetism and time outside with one of his plastic swords fighting off the monstrous trees that have invaded our backyard in search of fair princesses who need rescued or pretending he is a tiny little man inside my father’s back hoe moving sand around our fire pit and covering and rediscovering matchbox cars.
  • He asked to play Number Rings with me (a math game put out by Discovery Toys that requires the players to add, subtract, multiply, and divide 3 dice in order to fill in all the numbers from 1-18.) He then proceeded to beat me with only a little help with multiplication from me.
  • At bedtime he read If You Give a Pig a Pancake with only little help from me.
  • The next morning he he asked if he could do his school work. He then proceeded to get out all his workbooks and do page after page of his phonics workbook–effectively teaching himself all the long a spellings and reading them on his own. This after spending some time outside and realizing it was too cold and putting away 20 items in his room so he could go outside in the first place.

This is the same child who, when told he HAS to do something gets very worked up and can’t possibly get anything out of it because he is too busy being upset. Each of my children are different and he is my methodical self-motivated child. This child would be in trouble constantly in school because he can NOT sit still and can NOT be quiet (he makes noise and moves around all through our church time and reading time although if he is engrossed in a project he can be still). When he works on workbook pages he talks constantly and then gets up and runs around the house jumping off the furniture and shouting cock-a-doodle doo (his latest noise discovery.)

Doodle-a-Day:2-18-08 plus some thoughts on unschooling

When I was a kid I was fascinated with the outdoors. I would spend all summer outside,carrying a backpack full of essentials including my favorite doll, a Tupperware cup full of homemade lemonade, colored pencils, book, and notebook. I am sure I had a first aide kit of sorts in there as well as some natural books and other things that seemed necessary to being out in the woods.Read More

IF: Theory

The plan worked better in theory .

Loosely based on my kids who love building Rube Goldberg machines and often have slightly odd theories about how things work.  In this case instead of a Rube Goldberg machine I used my son’s ball track–which also often works better in theory than in actuality.   And this is one of my kids’ favorite way to do things, planning out outlandish activities then testing their theories.

I couldn’t decide between color and black and white–the color is just colored pencil because watercolors wouldn’t work with this paper.

Yes, I have been doing doodles each day but haven’t gotten them posted due to household issues–not only is Rachel less than great but my husband is in pain with an injured back and muscle spasms.  So much has been going on that I shipped the other two to Grandma’s house. 🙂

A Day in the Life 15: Some days are like that, even in Australia

Rachel tried to snow board but her feet were too big for the foot holes. She got in trouble for stuffing her clothes and toys under the dresser, every, single, day–because mommy keeps checking her work. Her mouth and head hurt because she is getting two molars which mean a fever which means she is on seizure alert.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week,” says Rachel

Mommy told her to wear a helmet when sled riding and she didn’t. Then she thinks she hit a tree and thinks she hit her head but only remembers suddenly being on the other side of it lying in the snow. She thinks she will wear a helmet now.

Yesterday she wore her footy pajamas and got in trouble for running in the kitchen which she was doing because she wanted bacon and told mommy that and then ran again and her feet fell out from out under her and she landed on her back hitting her head in the place that still hurt because she had hit it on the tree.

“It has been a terrible, no good, very bad week,” says Rachel

Last night she didn’t sleep well because her head hurt and woke up in pain because her earing was pinching her ear went back to sleep and then woke up with it bleeding from being pinched and her head hurt from being hit and while she was trying to take the earrings out she knocked over a nail polish which broke open all over the carpet. She tried to clean it up with water but that didn’t work and now the bathroom smells like nail polish and remover because mommy had to scrub it.

“It has been a terrible, no good, very bad week,” says Rachel “Life’s not fair,” she says.

At breakfast she was out of bread and took her zinc without eating so then her stomach hurt and she couldn’t find something she wanted to eat and her head hurt and her ear hurt. Then she got a fever again and had to take a bath which she didn’t want to do because it made her cold. Then Mommy made her change out of her new fuzzy pink sweater and wear her tank top and light pj pants, “I HATE my light pj pants,” says Rachel. And daddy can’t comfort her because his back is out and his neck is spasming and she wants her daddy.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week ,” says Rachel. “And everything is awful.”

She was fighting with her brother and sister and was mad because they wanted to watch one movie and she wanted to watch another and mommy said that they had done their work and could watch the one they wanted because she had just watched the one she wanted. And Mommy called Grandma who came and took her brother and sister because they were fighting and mommy had to take care of both herself and daddy and they get to go play in the snow and visit at grandma’s while she has to lie down and be sick, and her head still hurts and everything is awful.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week,” says Rachel. “And they get to have all the fun.”

Mommy settled her down with some hot carob milk and a pile of new movies to watch and the house is quiet. “Everything is awful, and it has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, ” says Rachel.

“Some weeks are like that,” says Mommy.