Review: Learning Multiplication with Speed! Multiplication Card Game

Age: 6.5

Fall semester our Gap Year, Astroboy expressed an interest in multiplication.  When we came home, I dug out my multiplication card game out of my closet and we played games for a few months.

I tell people this is how Astroboy learned his multiplication.    Though that is not quite true, but that’s the next post.  However, I think this was a huge part of how he memorized multiplication table painlessly.

The game is called Speed! Multiplication.  It’s a skip counting game.  I love the cards because it is almost like a Montessori material with its bead chains printed on each hard.  If it were made in the same Montessori colors, it would be perfect.


Periodic Braindump

Other than the periodic book reviews and monthly summaries, I havn’t been writing much.  But so many things are swirling around in my head, obsessing me.  I’m working through ideas and there’s nothing right now that I could write a whole long post about yet, to talk about my findings or conclusions I’ve arrived at.  A brain dump is in order though, so I have room to actually think.

Thumper is hitting her teenage years soon and I’m starting to see signs of it.  The “You can’t make me’s”,  doing things mom disagrees with, etc.  I was a semi-rebellious daughter and it’s very strange to be on the other side of it.  I keep thinking about writing a post on Non-Violent Communication, about how I really need to read those books I bought ages and ages ago on communicating with your child, but things pull me away.

I also keep thinking about how a parent need to be so very careful of the way they talk to their children when they homeschool.   A child doesn’t get to leave a bad teacher at school at the end of the day.  They’re stuck with me.  But thinking is thinking, and actually doing something about it is something else…..


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 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.