Introduction to Decimal Fractions 小數

As usual, new school year brings a spate of new learning, until we all get tired and drop everything except reading and math memorization.

Last week, I introduced decimal fractions.  This is something that should be introduced in second grade, ending in third.  Though I’ve seen it introduced later in other AMS style albums.

Last year, I was very anxious and worried that I didn’t start on decimals or fractions.  But I’m finding that it was good to wait.  Since Thumper learned her multiplication/division operations last year, it is much easier to introduce decimals and fractions additions this year.

To a certain extent, on paper, decimals are very easy.  All you’re doing is manipulating numbers and learning where to place that little decimal point.  You don’t really have to understand why it works if you don’t really want to.


State of our Chinese before 2016-2017 School Year

Wow, this school year will mark our 4th year homeschooling!


Last Year, Thumper started the school year reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Chinese.  That’s about a 2nd or 3rd grade level, and Level 4 in Chinese reading level.  She spent the rest of the year jumping around, re-reading the Reading 123 series, the Dahl series, starting but unable to finish books like Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, picture books, etc.  People remarked that her spoken Chinese improved so I tried not to worry that she is seemingly stuck around the Reading 123 level (Level 2-3).

Because our focus was on learning to read in English, the Chinese reading was just me providing reading time and allowing her to read whatever she wants.  The rest of our Reading 123 and the Reading 456 series came at the end of the school year and she binged read the rest of the Reading 123 series and maybe a book or two of the Reading 456 series before she gave up.


A Summary of Our Last 4 Months

Every week, I think about writing a post on our progress in homeschooling, thoughts on books, and what we’ve been up to.  But nothing gets written because it takes too long.  However, we’re about to embark on a 4 month trip.  I figure I should at least summarize what we’ve been up to and other random thoughts I have before our big trip.

We moved in April and sold our house in June.  Given that I got the idea in my head at the end of February, it was a very quick move.  Thankfully half of my house was already in various plastic boxes due to me kondo’ing the last 3 years.  But the whole thing still took up a lot of my energy and I’m amazed we still managed to homeschool some and attend our co-op during our move.

We’ve downsized from a 00600 sq ft house into a 1000 sq ft apartment.  I don’t think I’m made out to be a home owner, despite loving to garden.  So it’s with a relief that I no longer live in a big house and had to toss/sell various things.   I love our new neighborhood and our new way of life.  We get to walk everywhere.


Choosing a Handwriting (Cursive) Curriculum

For our new semester, I’ve decided to switch from our New American Cursive handwriting practice to something else, mostly because I was raised on the old style of handwriting and New American Cursive bugged me.  It took me 2-3 days to research.  Never knew that it’s so complicated.


Though we’ve only started learning the curriculum and I don’t know if it works, I must document what I found out lest I forget all I learned.


Learning Writing through Chinese Calligraphy

Beginning February of this year, I finally signed the kids up to a Chinese calligraphy class.

Best extra-curriculer class we took this semester, other than music.

I’d wanted the kids to do Chinese calligraphy for a long time.   Three years ago, I visited a Montessori preschool and was told that they don’t ask the children to write, but instead teach characters through calligraphy and learning the evolution of characters.   We know that many kids nowadays write too early.  You can see it in their pencil grip.  And especially with Chinese, where they traditionally do repetitive writing, it’s not good for their hands.

Calligraphy is a good alternative if the children aren’t ready to hold a small pencil.


Chinese Reading Levels

I keep searching for my post of Chinese Reading Levels whenever I try to determine Thumper’s reading level.  Looking through the archives, it seems that I got confused by the levels myself and mislabeled them for awhile.  So spent some time today to re-research and re-organize.

The levels are a combo of the often cited reading levels articles by Tian Xia Magazine 天下 and what I saw in the jacket cover of the books by 東雨文化 Kingin Publishing.

Below, I present my Chinese Reading Levels. (more…)

Practical Life: DIY Salted Eggs 自製鹹蛋

I’ve been wanting to make my own salted eggs, which is a classic Chinese dish, ever since I read about it from a homeschooler’s FB page.  Partly because I felt like I was failing on the teaching Chinese culture front.   What if my kids never learn how delicious salted eggs(鹹蛋)and hundred year old eggs (皮蛋) are?

Thank goodness for my mom.  She brought some over when she came to help me move; and talked up just how delicious they are.  Thumper had a taste and was sold.

That prompted me to research recipes after my mom left.  It turns out that it is super duper easy to make!  However, there are many recipes floating around.  As usual, I researched the heck out of it and made my own recipe by combining tons of other ones.  Which guarantees that it’ll fail the first time.

You learn from failures, I say.  Perfect for homeschooling.

Supposedly the perfect salted egg is one whose egg yoke is “顏色紅而油多”, reddish and oily.  I will likely perfect this version a bit more.  I really like this recipe from Bean Panda even though I didn’t follow it. (more…)

Learning to Spell with All About Spelling


With the new semester, I made some changes to our daily work plan.  One of the my aim this semester is to get Thumper solidly reading in English.

Last semester, Thumper started with Primary Phonics but got bored and frustrated after set 5.  She kept getting confused by all the various double vowel sounds like oe, ae, ai, ea, etc.   I moved her onto reading Dr. Seuss, then beginning readers such as Little Bear, Frog and Toad, books by Lobel, etc, to see they would help.  With Dr. Seuss, I saw an improvement because it contained a lot of nonsensical words that rhymed.

However, she was still really struggling with long words.  She could not segment words into smaller syllables to read.  I decided that she needed to, just like with zhuyin, refocus on all the phonics and relearn.  She learned her phonics in her Montessori preschool but I did not know how much practice she had or had not with diphthongs (two vowels) and digraphs.  Best to just review everything. (more…)

Science: Volcanos 火山爆發

After weeks of slacking off in science due to move, I finally did a presentation today on volcanos.  It’s actually because our Story of the World chapter had an activity on volcanos and I signed up for it.  We’re trying a new thing in our co-op where we each sign up to host and present a history chapter so it’s not so hard on the two members who had been hosting most of the time.  Thankfully it nicely segwayed into layers of the earth and volcanos in science, planned presentations months ago before I veered off course.

Before we started on volcanos, first we had to continue from our First Great Lesson story about how the earth was created.   (We’d already done a few presentations on the states of matters but I also skipped a few presentations in the Creation of the Earth section of my album.)

First we read a picture book on the layers of the earth.  It’s a story about two animals who decided to dig their way to the other side of the earth.  From the picture book we learned some layers of the earth terms. (more…)

Making Sense of English Reading Levels

I obsess over reading levels.  Just a little bit.

It’s hard to not obsess when you decide that English comes second to Chinese.  While I know, logically, that if my kids have really high level Chinese, it will take them probably at most 1 to 2 years to catch up to English.  I know, logically, they get good English input from their father, and that is super important to reading and writing.  But I still worry.

So here’s how I assuage my worry, by looking up English reading levels.  This way I can say, my kid is 1 grade behind or my kid is at grade level in English!  Yay!  At the same time, I know there is more to reading that cannot be seen by a simple letter or number.

But I cannot escape from measurements against a standard. (more…)