Common Core brainwashing

I saw this article today on Yahoo! about a poem a North Carolina teacher had taught eighty students in fifth grade to recite at their end of year program. It may be an isolated event. The teacher may have even though this was cute to teach. However, it is subtle brainwashing of our public school students. Using them as pawns in the Common Core debate.

The theme and title of the poem is “We Learned More with Common Core”. I agree with critics that it’s reminiscent of some of the Soviet era brainwashing propaganda that I’ve seen and heard about. Here’s the poem:

Text genre, features & theme to explore

We learned more with common core.

Fractions, decimals, journal prompts galore

We learned more with common core.

RUNNER & CUBES are strategies for

Learning more with common core.

Vocab words like (clouds, organs, force), & omnivore

We learned more with common core

Economy, government, Revolutionary war

We learned more with common core.

So many new concepts to explore

We learned more with common core

Running shoes

Getting kids to be more interested in staying active can sometimes be a challenge. Other times it just takes going shopping. Yesterday I took my kids shoe shopping. My son’s shoes don’t even come close to fitting anymore so he’s been wearing his mud boots. Ever since we read the book Running With Rachel, my daughter has fallen in love with running, and been pestering for me to get her running shoes. The stores are starting to have back to school sales or summer clearance sales which is a great time to go. Plus, we won’t have to fight the traffic and crowds next month.

We went to a shoe store in the mall. After measuring my son’s feet, we were shown to the area where size 6 boys shoes were. He tried a couple pair on but they were too tight. The clerk then showed us the men’s section. I was concerned because the men’s shoes were much more expensive than the boys. However, the clerk pointed out one pair that was on sale for just $10 in his size. My son tried them on and lo-and-behold they fit great!

They also had socks on sale. My daughter was complaining about all her socks either being too small or having holes, so I picked out a bag for her. She wanted colors but I got white. I’m tired of mismatched socks on her or spending extra time trying to find and match them. She didn’t seem too upset after explaining that to her. But now she wanted new shoes too. Not just any shoes, but running shoes. *sigh*

The clerk sized her feet and showed us the shoes for her. My daughter said she wanted running shoes and the clerk pointed out a few pair. After more discussion, we decided on one style that had 2 color choices: purple and pink. The purple were on sale but not the pink; go figure since they were the same style and size just different colors. Well, she tried on the purple ones. Then we had to go open the sock bag since she was wearing sandals today. After getting socks and shoes on we wandered around a bit to make sure they fit. My daughter has a habit of saying something fits even when it doesn’t if she has her heart set on it. But these shoes did fit fine.

At the register, the clerk overheard me asking my daughter to help pay for her shoes. She also heard me tell my son he couldn’t get fancy laces because we didn’t have any extra money right now. After she rang up our items, she said she had an extra 15% off coupon we could have. That meant between the sale prices and her coupon, I was able to get everything for the price I budgeted just for my son’s shoes!

The kids wanted to go play Frisbee at the park to try out their new shoes, but it was raining. They also said they were interested in joining the cross country running club this fall. I’m just glad they want to be more active.

Yummy, easy rice pudding

I had some left over rice tonight and decided to try making rice pudding. I’ve never made it before and always imagined it was a lot of work. However, this recipe was very easy and good. The kids helped measure and stir.

  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1.5 cup cooked rice (I used brown rice)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk, beaten egg and raisins. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Planning, planning

I was browsing curriculum sites trying to decide where to go for middle school. Hard to believe that he is in 5th grade already. Anyway, that leaves more advanced and diverse studies for middle school.

So I think for 6th grade we will do the Sonlight Science F which covers health, medicine, and human anatomy. We covered a bit of this in 3rd grade but will go into more detail.

Karen is following Richard’s studies except for science. She isn’t as gifted at it as he is. However, she is studying the same subjects, just not in the same depth.

I would like to find a good middle school level government/civics program as well as electives suitable for 6-8 grade. Any ideas?

Summer update and back to the books

Sorry for the long absence here. We have been busy this spring and early summer. In May, we went to Florida for a week vacation. Everyone had a great time at Epcot, Disney World, and Sea World. Pluto snuck up behind Richard while we were sitting on a bench taking a break. It was so funny! I took some pictures before he (Pluto) went to the group picture area where the line was about half an hour (!) for a picture. A stilt-walker teased Karen with a silk ribbon during a parade. We went to Cape Canavaral Space Port but missed the shuttle launch by 2 days. 😦 We also spent a day at the beach and got the obligatory tourist sun burn.

Then a week with everyone back in Fairbanks before I took the kids and drove down the Alaska highway to visit their grandparents in Washington state. 2 weeks of driving (1 week each way) for 1 week visit, but it was better than not going and still cheaper than flying. We bought a new tent and camped out all but 2 nights along the way. We saw lots of wildlife including mountain sheep and little lambs, moose and calves, bison and calves, caribou, deer (one walked right through our camp just 10 feet from the tent!), elk, a coyote carrying its meal of ground squirrel, ground squirrels, a wolf, and a mama black bear with 2 little cubs. We also swam in hot springs and visited some museums.

While in Spokane, we went to Cat Tails wildlife park and Richard hand fed a lion! That’s right, he fed a lion. The cats are behind a tall chain link fence. There is a small plexiglass cage thing with a small hole in it facing the fence you stand in. The trainer puts chunks of raw meat on a plastic skewer and you push it through the hole for the lion to take. I did one piece. You can really tell how powerful they are. This was a big male lion. We were told it is the one that roars at the start of MGM movies. Whenever the train whistles or an emergency vehicle goes past with the siren on, he roars so that must have been how he was trained.

Now 10 days with everyone here. Tomorrow I leave with the kids again. This time to Wasilla and Kodiak for about week.

As a result, we haven’t yet finished the school year. There’s still about a month or so left. I squeezed in 3 days of school this week, but will start again in earnest when we get back from Kodiak. The good news is that the books for this upcoming school year arrived while we were traveling. After finishing up this year’s school, Richard will move up to 5th grade and Karen will start 2nd.

I haven’t decided yet if I want to use the Christian Light Education math or Math-U-See for her. She seems to do better with more traditional style textbooks like CLE.

Here’s what they will be studying:


MATH: Math-U-See Beta or CLE math 200

READING: CLE reading 200- phonics, comprehension

LANGUAGE ARTS: CLE LA 200- grammar, punctuation, handwriting, spelling

BIBLE: CLE Bible 200- Old Testament

SCIENCE: Alaskan biology coloring book, CLE science 200 (birds)


MATH: Math-U-See Gamma (fractions)

READING: CLE reading 500- context clues, figures of speech, poetry, inferences

LANGUAGE ARTS: CLE LA 500 – advanced sentence diagrams, verb tenses, subject-verb agreement

BIBLE: CLE Bible 500-Old Testament & maps

WRITING: Institute for Writing Excellence level A

SCIENCE: Alaskan biology written by my old college prof Ron Smith

What do you use water for?

My husband and I own many apartment buildings. All the units have modern low flow toilets and shower heads which cut our bills in half when we installed them. On average, they currently use about 50 gallons of water/person every day. Not 50 gallons per apartment, but 50 per person! That seems incredibly high to me but it is the average in all the buildings so it’s not like one building is using more than others unless there is a leak.  Nor do we water lawns.  So this is all domestic use by the tenants.

I have 4 people in my family. Even when doing laundry and we all have a bath, we won’t use 200 gallons in a day. We have a 1000 tank which lasts us about 3 weeks. So I’d like to know a few things about your water use. For you homeschoolers, this may make a good conservation project or discussion starter.

1. How much water does your family use averaged per person each day?
2. What do you do to use all the water?
3. Are you trying to cut back on your water usage and if so how?

Please leave me a comment letting me know. Thanks!

Thinking ahead

I am thinking ahead again. While I am ordering for this year, I am starting to think about next year. This helps me keep an eye out for interesting things of the topics I think we may want to study. One thing I’d prefer to do is have both kids studying similar things for social studies and science.

They may be on different levels, but if the topics are similar, it makes it easier for me. In fact, this is how the district is set up. Each level delves deeper into the science content areas. So while the content areas stay the same, the student is learning new things each level. This works great because instead of bouncing around and learning a little geology, biology, physics, and chemistry each grade, I can concentrate on one for a year and get several levels of that content area finished then switch to another. My children enjoy the more in depth study as well. They are understanding more specifics rather than just a general understanding. It’s a mastery approach rather than the spiral approach general used in elementary school.

The drawback is finding quality materials instead of general textbooks or small, disjointed unit studies. Luckily WinterPromise and Sonlight seem to share this approach to teaching science. While filling out forms and browsing websites for this year’s items, I discovered WinterPromise has redesigned their geology program. It now has several items I was interested in. The target grades are 3-6 so Karen will be a little young using it in 2nd grade. However, most of their science programs are on the light side so I think it will be fine for both of them.

Then I’d like to revisit biology for their 3rd and 6th grades respectively. The Sonlight Science 3 has some good books.

For 4th and 7th grades we’ll do chemistry.

Then Richard will be ready for Apologia science texts while Karen does the more advanced parts that he already did. I’ve heard mostly good about them. From the review on the general science text has been successfully used starting as early as 6th grade so I may do it then with Richard considering how gifted he is in science. They are available from Sonlight and Christian Light Education. Sonlight is on the approved vendor list for our allotment so I’ll likely order from them if we end up using it.

I may put together an Alaska study using books such as Julie of the Wolves, White Fang, The Call of the Wild, To Build a Fire, and Robert Service poetry (such as the Cremation of Sam McGee. Add some history books such as the journals of Judge Wickersham, native stories such as The Roots of Ticasuk, early Fairbanks such as The Way it Was; along with Alaskan geography such as building the Alcan Highway in The Trail of ’42, stories of the great 1969 earthquake,;the Valdez oil spill, and biology (Wild Harmony, To the Arctic) for a cross-curricular theme for middle or high school. Or turn it into a wilderness adventure study by adding My Side of the Mountain and Where the Red Fern Grows (I still cry when I read that one).