A2Z Homeschool – Ann's Blog

Homeschooling From Ann's Perspective

Volcano Party Menu


Volcanoes (Main Dish)

1/2 lb. hamburger (or other ground meat
1/4 pkg. taco seasoning
1 C. shredded jack cheese
Sliced black olives
1 pkg. (8oz) dinner rolls
2 C. coarsely crushed corn chips
1 can tomato sauce
8 tsp. grated cheddar cheese
8 slices of black olive

Brown ground meat and drain well. Stir in seasoning. Mix in chesses and olives, set aside. Divide roll dough into 16 sections. Shape into flat rounds and sprinkle on corn chip crumbs, pressing crumbs in slightly. Place 8 rounds on greased cookie sheet. Divide meat evenly among 8 rounds, shaping into volcano cone-shape. Press sides of dough closed with fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. When ready, transfer to plates and top each with tablespoon of sauce, 1 teaspoon cheddar cheese, and 1 olive slice forming “lava flow.” Serves 8.

Earthquake (drink)

1 C plain yogurt
1 C fruit (peach, papaya, strawberries)
For a delightful, creamy cool “aftershock” shake in a covered cup or whirl in the blender until smooth.
Serves 2.

Volcano dessert

Simply make an bundt cake.
Drizzle red icing flowing out from the center for “lava” or “magma.”
Add sprinkles for “tephra.”

Messy Mud Pie

3 1/2 C. chocolate wafers (graham crackers or chocolate sandwich cookies
6 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Qt. chocolate ice cream
1/2 C. chocolate fudge topping
1/2 C. semisweet chocolate chips
1 C heavy cream
1/4 C powdered chocolate milk or hot cocoa mix

Place cookies in large ziplock bag, close and crush (to resemble dirt). Pour 1 1/2 C of the crushed cookies into a 9 inch pie pan (save the remaining for topping).

Stir in melted butter, press in bottom and sides of pan. Freeze for 20 minutes.

Remove ice cream from freezer to soften for 10 minutes. Spread half (2 C) onto the bottom of the chilled crust. Dig potholes in the ice cream. Fill each with 1 Tbsp of fudge topping. Freeze for 10 minutes or until set.

Stir chocolate chips “rocks” into the remaining ice cream. Remove pie from freezer and spread remaining ice cream evenly over top. Place the pie back in the freezer while you whip the cream.

Pour heavy cream into a mixing bowl and beat with a hand held mixer at high speed for 3 – 5 minutes (or until cream starts to thicken). Add chocolate milk mix and beat for 1 -2 minutes, or until beater starts to leave swirls in the cream.

Remove pie from freezer, spread whipped cream evenly over top. Sprinkle pie with remaining cookie crumb. Cover and freeze for 3 – 4 hours.

Once the pie has frozen solid, slice into wedges and eat right away.
Serves 6 – 8

Volcano Breakfast

If you want to start off your volcano day party with a volcano breakfast try this:
Put a pile of scrambled eggs (in a cone shape) in the center of each plate. Create a small indent in the center of the eggs. Fill the “crater” with ketchup and drizzle down the sides.

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Read Any Good Math Lately?


by Holly Furgason

I had always hated math. It actually goes beyond just hating math. My mother taught me that members of our family were incapable of math. I know it sounds cruel but it was her firm believe that for some unknown genetic reason math was beyond understanding by members of our family- especially females.

I was able to make my way through elementary school fairly well. Addition and subtraction were easy enough. Multiplication and division were a bit harder but I understood the concepts and could figure problems out. I don’t even remember math in junior high school. Perhaps I’m in denial about the horror of those math years and have pushed them to a back corner of my mind.

By the time I got to high school and signed up for Algebra, the only math required for a New York state regents diploma, I was surely lost. I failed Algebra that year and had to attend summer school where everyone passed as long as they showed up. I learned just as little about Algebra as I did when I took it the first time! I realized I was a word person (word problems, of course, escaped me) and I concentrated on word based subjects such as history, English, and five different foreign languages.

I stayed in denial about math for a long time afterward. I had to take Algebra for the third time in college and passed with a C but I still didn’t understand any of it.

When I decided to homeschool I never thought past the basic four- addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I realized when I worked with preschoolers that these concepts are discovered naturally and children generally understand them before school age. And so it was with my children.

Eventually they asked me how to add more than one digit, what happens when a column adds up to more than 9 or what to do when you have to take 8 away from 6. Of course, this was in the range of the basic four. It would take just a few minutes to show them how to work out various problems on paper and then they’d be on their merry way using their new found knowledge in many ways.

As the kids grew older I started to worry a little. Sure, we were doing all those unschoolish math things like doubling recipes, plotting gardens and playing Yahtzee but when my oldest announced that he wanted to be an engineer and an astronaut, I panicked! Surely he would need to know advanced math that would require formal studies. I purchased several types of math workbooks from the book store, waiting for him to decide it was time to buckle down. It never happened. Not to worry, I assured myself, when he needs it he’ll learn it.

Throughout our homeschooling journey, I have always found new and exciting ways of learning the traditional subjects taught in school. I even started a successful business based on a more effective way of learning a foreign language. I was surprised at feeling the need to rely on textbooks and workbooks but it never entered my mind that was any other way to learn to math!

One day I ran over to the library right before it closed and, unable to find the book I wanted, I looked at the shelf hoping to find something interesting enough to tide me over. Right there in front of my eyes was a book entitled Math Power: How to Help Your Child Love Math, Even if You Don’t, Revised EditionHow to Help Your Child Love Math, Even if You Don't
by Dr. Pat Kenschaft. Marvelous concept, I thought and I snatched it up.

I was very impressed with Dr. Kenschaft’s book though it only dealt with the preschool and early elementary years. She even quoted John Holt and had homeschooled her daughter for a time. Surely she would have some words of wisdom for older kids. So I did what any desperate person would do- I called her!

We spoke for about an hour and she had many things to share with me. She assured me that my children weren’t ruined and that at least they wouldn’t have to deal with the damage of rote learning. I came to realize that my mother was just a product of rote and computation. One phrase of Dr. Kenschaft’s, however, stuck out in my mind– “READ MATH”.

Read math? Ah, words! I can do words! But all the math books I’ve seen were full of numbers and problems and equations and horrible explanations involving numbers and problems and equations. Where in the world would I find math I could read? There is, Dr. Kenschaft gently informed me, a large mathematics section in any decent library. Who would have thought!

I quickly slipped into denial mode again and didn’t think another thing about what she had said. My son was now talking about being a professional clown. A noble and traditional vocation I assured my husband. No need to learn advanced math I told myself.

On another trip to the library, perusing the “New Books” shelf while waiting for my children, I noticed a book with the interesting title, My Brain is Open. Well, at least that’s what the big words said. When I picked it up I saw that the title continued MY BRAIN IS OPEN: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul ErdosThe Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos. Math! The old, familiar fear gripped me! I quickly put it down and moved on. Three times I went back and picked up that book, each time reading the cover a little further and each time coming up with more excuses to leave it where it was. I finally took a deep breath and, without letting my brain know what I was doing, I picked it up and ran to the check out line.

I read the book in two days! For the first time mathematics appeared interesting to me. After reading it a second time to my children, I went back to the library and started looking for children’s books on mathematics. The selection was incredible!

These children’s books filled in many blanks in my own math education and presented concepts that had been incomprehensible to me in a way that made sense. We read about math history, numbers, pi, sets, mathematicians, Fermat’s Last Theorem, logic, topology, proofs and more. And we’re still reading!

I pick up some of those workbooks to play with from time to time and excitedly share my discoveries and abilities with my children. Of course, as life long unschoolers they don’t see what the big deal is. To them everything including math is there just waiting to be learned when you’re ready or interested.

Will this be enough? Not if your child’s going to be an engineer and an astronaut but it is the beginning of a darn good mathematics education; one in which the children understand advance concepts, appreciate the beauty of the subject, and find it just as interesting as anything else there is to discover! John Allen Paulos in his book Beyond Numeracy: Ruminations of a Numbers ManRuminations of a Numbers Man says that teaching math by rote and computation is like teaching literature by spelling and punctuation.

So, have you read any good math lately?

Here is a sampling of some of the math reading books and a few other resources that my family has enjoyed. Although many of them present the same concepts, they do so in different ways and different contexts so that the concepts become much clearer as time goes on.

Math Novels ~ Math stories to delight children, suggested by your Homeschooling Guide, Ann Zeise.

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So, why this blog?


Welcome to A2Z Homeschool: The Blog.

You are probably thinking: “Is Ann moving her site over to this domain?”

No, not exactly.

I’ll be using this blog site for new articles by me from this point on. If others wish to be contributing authors, I will add them on, or they may start their own blog elsewhere on this domain.

I’m just learning how to blog and set this up. Already encountered the password problem, so we’ll be working on that, and hopefully make it much easier to get started here.

See you around.

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