Homeschool Summary, Sept 2017

September was mostly a wash.  There was 5 weeks in the month and we only managed to work completely one week.  The rest was taken up by two trips to LA and testing.   Because we couldn’t have a complete work week due to traveling, I ended up giving the kids some evaluation tests in the morning, then they were free to play.

The following is what they did in that one week plus whenever we were in the car and they had nothing to do but read or listen to audiobooks.


  • English – Wrinkle in Time (AR 4.7) audio and read, Black Stallion audiobook, Harry Potter 4 movie, Writing with Ease Weeks 4-5, plural nouns,
  • Chinese – 小主播看天下, 及時的呼喚 (Wrinkle in Time) not completed, 小學生童話字典 chap 5, 怪傑佐羅力, 精靈迷宮 (read to), 二年級問題多
  • Math – litter/mililiter, decimals & fractions review, line/angle nomenclature review
  • Science/History – Plants vs animals, needs of plants
  • Others – violin book 2.3, autumn festival lanterns
  • Circle Time – 土星環 & 星座(songs),  Space Oddity魚仔, 演員



Book Review: I Love Martine 我愛瑪婷

Age: 7

Good for: 6+ or 4+ (audiobooks)

After a year of feeling like Astroboy will never start reading, I have re-discovered books in my collection I can offer to Astroboy!.

A few months ago, I finally got tired of the endless 奇先生妙小姐 Mr. Men and Little Miss audiobooks and pestered Fleur for I Love Martine 我愛瑪婷 audiobooks she converted for me.  The kids, especially Astroboy, were hooked immediately.  He then wanted to read the books.   It was his go to series to read in the car before we moved to Zorori.

I Love Martine by Gilbert Delahaye is a series of 52 books with 26 audio CDs, translated from French.  It’s no surprise it’s got a very 50’s feel to it since it was written in the 50s.  The story is about Martine and her little brother (born sometime along the series) and all their adventures.

I say adventure because sometimes it is very mundane daily school and home life such as caring for a new bird, or learning how to swim, other times it’s exploring the forest/swamp close by their house, or taking a train by themselves to visit grandma.

Though these are picture books, they are very long stories with super large and lovely illustrations accompanying each story.  With its tiny font, it’s not really an early reader.  But once the kids are on track for Level 1 books (basically after all your Little Bear, Frog and Toads, etc), they can definitely read these for practice.


Learn Chinese Profile: When Your Kid’s Chinese is Better than Yours

Dots read my first post on how another parent teaches Chinese and pointed out that most questions regarding teaching Chinese can be categorized into (and I quote):

  1. My kids don’t go to immersion
  2. My Chinese is crap
  3. I don’t have the money for a library

I guess it worked out that my first post was category #1!   And Fleur happened to fit into category #2!

Okay, technically Lavender’s spoken Mandarin Chinese isn’t that great either.  But for her, her struggle was whether she can teach Chinese at after school instead of an immersion school.  Similarly,  it’s not completely true that Fleur‘s Chinese is crap.  However, she faced the issue of providing the level of Chinese teaching she wanted for her kids when she didn’t have it herself.

Fleur is the complete opposite of Lavender when it comes to parenting style.  For those who read the first post and thought, “Too intense and not me”, I hope reading Fleur’s story illustrates, once again, it’s not the methodology as much as it is the consistency.

Yes, choosing the most efficient methodology that suits one’s family does matter, especially with English competing for the children’s attention.  But whatever method you choose, consistency puts you ahead. (more…)

Homeschool Summary, Aug 2017

Such a great month I had. We worked hard and played pretty hard.

Really, it’s going so well I want to talk about what’s been working for me and what I learned, not the kids.




Finances During Our 3 Month Stay in Taiwan

So maybe you are planning to do a short term stay in Taiwan to up your kids English, like 3-6 months.  What do you do about money?  You don’t want to bring a wad of cash from the US.

Here’s what I did when I went back 4 years ago and stayed for 3 months.  It assumes you have a Taiwanese ID.  I hear you can still get a bank account if you don’t, because there are tons of foreigners in Taiwan, how do they live otherwise?   But I think it’s some more hoops to jump and I opted not to jump through them by getting an ID first.

Note also that this is what I did 4 years ago, maybe other banks can do the same thing now. (more…)

Sagebook Supplemental Materials

A friend recently asked me to make a zhuyin companion cards to my Sagebook flashcards.  I don’t know why I had not thought of that before!  At this point, I think I’ve made most of the materials I have ever wanted to make to help my kids learn their Chinese characters.  So it is time to actually list is out in one summary page for my easy reference.

Character Flashcards

I made both Traditional and Simplified versions of these cards color coded to the book colors, with radicals highlighted.  The Traditional version also comes with zhuyin cards.  They’re available from Etsy.


Baking Soda and Vinegar Space Rocket

Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 7: Baking Soda and Vinegar Space Rocket

Agenda:  Space Rocket

Materials Needed: baking Soda, vinegar, plastic bottle, construction paper, scissors, tape, duck tape, wine cork, plastic saran wrap, funnel, straw, paper towel

Two weeks into class, I asked Eclectic Mama is she would mind researching and running the last class.  I had a vague thought that ending our exploration of Astronomy by building a rocket was a good idea.   But I got overwhelmed by the rocket options available as I started researching so I pawned off the whole task to her instead.

Best decision ever and I will try to also ask someone else to do our last class for our next session.  They have 6 weeks to research and come up with a lesson plan and I will then have 2 weeks of recharge time.

Anyways.  As this was our last class, there was no real agenda other than to have fun building a rocket.  This took us the whole 1.5 hours because it was so so fun for the kids. (more…)

Implementing a Chore List

It only took me 2 years, but I finally implemented a chore list this last month and so far it’s going fairly well.

Here’s what our chore list looks like.  It’s along our hallway with one of those protective sleeve covers so we can re-wipe weekly.  The chore list word doc is here.



How I Arrived at My Chore List

The second hardest part for me was coming up with this chore list.  I’ve been asking around various FB group for ideas and collecting info for awhile.  What finally pushed me over was joining the free Chore Chart Challenge on Simplified Organization website, run by the same woman who does the Scholé Sister podcasts.

Apparently what I was missing was sitting down and doing a big huge brain dump, no filtering, on paper.  The on paper part is very very important because what kept happening is I have a list of chores in my head and then I always started by trying to organize them.  It was much simpler to organize and cross things once I had the list on paper.


Toilet Paper Solar system 

Age: 7, 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 6: Solar System


  • Book on Neil Armstrong
  • Toilet paper Solar system
  • Draw your own solar system

This is week 6 of our first co-op session.  I’m reaching a point where I procrastinate prepping night after night until the night before class.   Next week Eclectic Mama will do a rocket ship presentation.  Everyone is thankful that we’re doing a 6/7 week on 1 week off schooling routine.

I’m kicking myself that I did not do this type of schedule earlier.  It gives us so much more breathing room.

This week the focus is on the planets.   Given our limited time I thought the best thing to do is to get the kids to at least memorize all the planet names in both English and Chinese.  If they want to follow up, they can do that at home.


Our Work Plan 2016-2017

This post is only about one whole year late.  But since I always document our workplaces for my own future reference…….

For the 2016-2017 school year, I had 2 different work plans, one during GYA16 and one for Spring 2017.   Here’s the Spring 2017 work plans.  The travel work plans is a modified version that we very very loosely followed.         


We try to study English, Chinese, Math, History, Geography, Arts, Science daily with focus on English/Chinese/Math.

In 2015-2016, I started by planning how many times an activity had to happen each week and planned what she had to do every day.  So in a way, she ended up with a “todo list” in a grid format, of subjects she was to study daily.  She could have choices within the subjects, but the subjects were fixed.  This was my way of ensuring all subjects were covered.

When that still didn’t quite work, I severely cut back what she had to do by ended the year by having “must dos” daily and the rest are “do one from this list.  So English she must do All About Spelling, then choose amongst Story of the World, Writing with Ease, or writing a diary.