Oh England!

I’m sorry for my longish absence without warning and for trying to catch up with your posts (you may have noticed all the ‘likes’). I had to give up half way because I had left it for too long and they were too many posts to read up. I’m really sorry about that. Instead,  I am more determined than ever to get an e-reader. After Google Reader was discontinued, I didn’t bother importing all my favorite blogs onto a software. Is there any particular app you prefer? I’ve heard great things about Feedly.

I’ve also decided that apart from a few scheduled posts in the Summer, blogging regularly and homeschooling and traveling is all a bit too much to handle together. I’m going to have to make a list of priorities and see them through instead of stressing myself out with too many goals.

Meanwhile, you know that sadness you feel when you leave some place stunning and just want to return to it? I’m feeling that right now. The English countryside is beautiful, the weather was (thankfully) perfect and the fact that we had no internet or phone connections except during some parts of the day made it an ideal retreat. We also manage to go to the coast and find Nemo. The kids were obviously over the moon. I wonder how much of this they will remember!

I will leave you with photo highlights of our trip. Until next time!

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Does Travel Negatively Affect a Childs Education?

Originally posted on Our Global Unschool Adventure:

We found this post writtten last week by Caz makepeace from Y Travel Blog really sums up how we feel about our children’s education. Simon and I took our children out of school intentionally to travel and learn with them. I was once a teacher in a classroom frustrated by the direction of the Australian Curriculum, and the negative effects of standardised testing. It frustrated me even more when I saw my kids loosing interest in learning, and losing confidence. Our decision to travel with the kids has meant that we do very little of what would be considered normal ‘school work’, and yet we are watching our children grow in confidence and learn every day. At the end of the day, learning is something you should never stop doing, and enthusiasm should be celebrated and encouraged. Who gives a crap about test results?

Does Travel Negatively Affect a Childs…

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teach them to read

Originally posted on shift:

photo copy 2..
Thought for the day, and week, and month, I suppose, at the rate I’ve been blogging:

If you want children to write, teach them to read. If you want them to read, show them reading is fun. As a kid, I was a bookworm, but it wasn’t until I became a teacher that I realized how much reading had impacted my understanding of the structure of the English language. No one cares about adverbs and subjects and predicates and helping verbs. No 8-year-old wants to break that stuff down. What they want are action and adventure and ideas. What they want are the things of life.

Except for that one student. If you really think “will” + “not” = “willn’t,” we may have a problem . . . Except that, there, the study of grammar failed you, too. You wouldn’t have said “willn’t” in day-to-day speech. You were…

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Subtraction game ideas to teach the concepts of ‘difference’ and ‘take away’

Before I start, I’d like to apologize for my blog silence. I tried to schedule as many posts as I could but some of them got lost in the maze that is the internet. I was away on vacation with the family to England (Photos up soon I promise!). What I have learnt in the past few weeks is that clichés are clichés for a reason. You know when people say they need a vacation to recover from a vacation? Oh boy is it true! Meanwhile, I have been able to write this post on Math because homeschooling doesn’t have terms. It’s an ongoing process! :) Hope you are all well. I will catch up with all your blogs soon! 

Experiencing difficulty in learning subtraction is a very common problem early in schools because students fail to move beyond the not-so-foolproof counting strategies of subtraction taught at kindergarten level. A simple solution lies in explaining the concept of subtraction to kids as both ‘take away’ and ‘difference’, helping them to understand the concept clearly. ‘Difference’ can be explained as comparing two numbers while ‘taking away’ can be explained as ‘removing numbers from a larger series of numbers’. M&M candies, cookies, chocolate squares, buttons, cookies, Lego blocks, cheerios, and marshmallows have always been very efficient tools in teaching kids the ‘difference’ and ‘taking away’ concepts. However, when I am not time bound and the kids are eager to learn, I play a few subtraction games with them in order to help them master the concept.

Flip flop math explaining ‘difference’

I stumbled upon this cool subtraction game on Pinterest when I was researching for general math game ideas for my 2 1st graders at home. I improvised on the game suggested by The Teacher’s Cauldron and came up with my own! This is a subtraction game that will help them understand the idea of ‘difference’. You will need a fair collection of sea shells, card stock, plastic laces, glue, scissors, markers, and 2 large sheets of construction paper. Distribute the shells unevenly among the kids and make multiple teams of 2 children each. The idea is to compare the number of sea shells and make a flip flop craft out of their ‘analysis’. If two girls in a team got 6 and 1 shells respectively, they cut out two flip flop bases and write their names on them. Next, have them write the number of shells they got on the flip flop next to their name. Paste the flip flops on the large construction paper and write the ‘difference’ in the space between their flip flops. Follow the image and replace the names with the answers and the addition problems with the number of shells each girl/boy got. Make several such pairs of flip flops for each team. Help them make the straps with the plastic laces and their flip flop craft is ready to go on the soft board.

Burning game explaining ‘take away’

This is a magic math game for kids of 2nd grade. It’s a twist to regular boring games, but must only be tried with necessary precautions in place!

You will need a mix of 3 portions of lemon juice and 1 portion of water, cotton swabs, a candle, a matchbox, papers, and markers to play the subtraction game in the class. Write an addition problem, like in the image, on strips of construction paper.  The only thing that you need to do differently here is write the number that’s hidden under the orange paper with cotton swabs dipped in the lemon juice and water mix. Ask the kids to calculate the number by ‘taking away’ the first digit from the answer, ‘taking away’ 7 from 10 in this case.

Hold the paper over a lit candle for the missing number to gradually reveal itself! The kids will be thrilled to bits to see their prediction appear magically on the paper! Please make necessary precaution and follow safety rules in the class while lighting the candle and holding the paper over it.

Free Games for Teen Parties

Free Games for Teen Parties

Photo Courtesy – Rodrigo Della Fávera

Finding suitable games for your teenager’s birthday party need not be the ordeal it usually is. After all, the idea is to entertain a bunch of 13-19 year olds, not to embarrass them. So check out these cool free games that will make it a party your teen will definitely want to host. Here goes:

Guess what!

  • Choose four participants per round and ask three to step out of the room.
  • The fourth participant is given twenty seconds to mime a silly, improbable scene – bathing a giraffe; changing baby’s diapers; turning the hands of a gigantic clock, etc.
  • Before he starts, a second person is invited to watch the demo. When it is over, the third person is invited into the room and watch as the second person acts out what he thinks he has just seen. When this is over, the fourth person is invited into the room to watch as the third person repeats the mime. The fourth person is asked what he has just seen and gets three guesses.
  • Let the fun begin!


  • Create small chits of paper for each player and mark one of them with an X.
  • Fold and distribute the chits.
  • Everyone must look at their chits secretly and put them away.
  • The player who gets the X is the hitman and must not reveal his identity.
  • Have everyone sit in a circle and examine everyone else carefully.
  • When the hitman winks at a player, the player says “I’m dead!” and drops out of the game.
  • If another player spots the hitman or thinks he has, he must say “I suspect.” He is the first ‘detective.’
  • The game then pauses and another player must support the first detective saying, “I second detect.”
  • The first detective then names the person he thinks is the hitman.
  • If he is right, the hitman drops out and the game continues with another hitman. If he is wrong, the first and second detectives drop out and the game continues.
  • If the hitman eliminates everyone successfully, he wins!

Two Truths and a Lie

You’ll need an index card and a pencil per player for this fun free game.

  • Each player must write his name on an index card and write three pieces of information about himself below that.
  • Two of these must be true, one must be a lie.
  • Everyone must then exchange their cards and see if they can spot the lies.

This game works really well as an ice-breaker.

Understanding dry ice with science experiments

Many science experiments explain in detail how dry ice can be made but very few list its usage and application. Here is a detailed study of dry ice with possible science experiments, usages, and applications of dry ice in our daily lives.

What is dry ice?

The cold dense white mist produced by solid carbon dioxide in air is commonly known as dry ice. In chemical terms, dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, a normal part of our earth’s atmosphere. Dry Ice is particularly useful for freezing, and keeping things frozen because of its very cold temperature: -109.3°F or -78.5°C. The coolest thing about dry ice is that it changes from a solid directly to gas without changing into liquid. Wearing insulated gloves is a must while handling dry ice.

Making dry ice –

Follow these easy steps to make dry ice easily.


  1. CO2 fire extinguisher or carbon dioxide tank
  2. Cloth bag
  3. Insulated gloves


  1. Put on your insulated gloves first.
  2. Carefully insert the nozzle of the fire extinguisher into the cloth bag.
  3. Clamp your hand around the mouth of your bag and discharge the fire extinguisher.
  4. Turn off the extinguisher and seal the bag.
  5. You will soon see dry ice in the bag. Store it in the freezer for longevity. 

Science experiments with dry ice

Blowing up balloons –


  1. Balloons
  2. Empty plastic bottle with a narrow mouth
  3. Pellets of dry ice
  4. Insulated gloves


  1. Blow up a balloon with your breath and keep it aside.
  2. Put a few pellets of dry ice in a bottle.
  3. Hold a balloon over its mouth and see it getting inflated with the carbon dioxide that releases when the dry ice sublimes.
  4. Once it inflates, tie it up with thread.
  5. Toss up both the balloons in the air and notice their flights.

Observations and questions – Which balloon comes down sooner? Can you explain why?

Explanation – Carbon dioxide is heavier than air which is why the balloon that contains dry ice falls down faster!

Hot pot –


  1. Dry ice
  2. A large pot
  3. Hot water


  1. Place a few pellets of dry ice in the pot.
  2. Pour hot water in the pot and watch the cool cloud forming almost immediately.

Observations and questions – How soon does the cloud stop forming? Don’t add any more water till all the cloud is over. How does it happen?

Explanation – Over time, the dry ice will make the water cold and the “smoking” will slow down. Dry ice will blend only with hot water to produce carbon dioxide and smoke.

Aren’t the science experiments cool? They can be easily tried and tested at home with adult supervision and by wearing proper safety gear, especially insulated gloves. Dry ice will get you cold blisters if you don’t use gloves. Have fun with science!

New Obsessions – Healthy Diets

I have a Pinterest addiction. Everyone who knows me know that once you show me even one pin, you’re not likely to get me to anything else for the rest of the day. Having said that, Pinterest has helped change our lives somewhat. For example, my latest obsession is Bento Lunch Boxes.

The Japanese are a health conscious race – some of the oldest people in the world are from there and it is due in large to how healthily they eat. I started experimenting with them a while back and realized that it is possibly the best way to get your kids to eat their veggies and fruits. I’m no artist and my lunch boxes look nothing like this but it has worked for me.

The drawback is that it’s not something a homeschooler can make everyday. Still, maybe a weekly treat isn’t too much to add to the timetable? I’ve already pinned a few Bento Lunch Box ideas on my Pinterest page. I’m going to, hopefully, start ticking them off as done.

Have any of you tried Bento lunches? Has it worked for you? Would you give it a try?