Friday, February 03, 2006

Olympic Lesson Plans

The Winter Games

There are 15 different sports this year. There is one I've never heard of before in my life.

  • Alpine Skiing

  • Biathlon

  • Bobsleigh

  • Cross-Country Skiing

  • Curling

  • Figure Skating

  • Freestyle Skiing

  • Ice Hockey

  • Luge

  • Nordic Combined

  • Short Track

  • Skeleton

  • Ski Jumping

  • Snow Board

  • Speed Skating

Knitted fortune cookies

Click on the title to see the fortune cookies. It's a free pattern someone worked up for Chinese New Year.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And the winners are....

Andrea and Ron's family have won the first drawing for participating in the Homeschoolalong. Please email me with where to send the prize and your family's ages so I can try and find something that all (or most) of the family can enjoy. The prize closet currently holds games. I have prizes starting at age 5 and going all the way up to the teen/adult category.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

New topic: Olympics for February

To sign up email: homeschoolillinois [at] insightbb [dot] com

Take the topic where you will. Think both inside and outside the box. If you wish to participate but don't want to post yourself, you can email me your posts and let me know you are participating.

Happy new topic...Let the Games Begin

Also, please think of some topics for next month. A couple of suggestions are Ireland, seeds, and weather.

Paper lanterns

Emma and I made some Chinese Paper Lanterns. Fun!

Chinese zodiac - patterns and compatibility

(This was written by Ron, but posted by Andrea)

While I was growing up, a magazine (Time, I think) ran an article on the 12 year chinese zodiac. At the time, I was disappointed to discover that I belonged to the year of the snake. Since then, I've gotten over it. At the homeschool-along, entries are interesting items about China or chinese culture. Today, I spent a bit of time at wikipedia, reading up on chinese zodiac. One of the things I learned was that the chinese zodiac in the magazine article was a simplified westernized version.

One of the things I vaguely remembered from my reading long ago was that the chinese zodiac included a short general description of the character and compatability suggestions. A google search landed me on a chinese zodiac page. This had the applicable years for each animal in the zodiac, the general descriptions and the compatabilies listed.

Since I'm a bit of a geek for patterns, combinations, etc., I decided to make a compatibility chart. I grabbed a piece of paper and made a matrix (table) that I could check off. I noticed a pattern in the checks. Does the following show off the patterns?

Compatability Pattern

Here I've added the remaining compatiblity lines:

Compatability Pattern

Now, don't run off and get a divorce if there isn't a line between your animal and your spouse's animal. It only says most compatible. If it's any comfort, there isn't a line between Andrea and I.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Count with your fingers Chinese Style

Click on the title to go to the link that Mandy left in the comments.

Choosing a Chinese Name, part 2

In Part 1 I talked about one way to choose a Chinese name, using lists of “transliterations,” and also pointed out some of the shortcomings of this approach. So what are the other alternatives? One is to pick from a list of actual Chinese names that are commonly used. There are several places online where you can get lists of Chinese names, and they usually also tell you the translations of the names so you can pick out something that is meaningful for you. There are also books you can get that are written specifically for English speakers who want to pick a Chinese name, often geared towards those who’ve adopted a child from China. One book I’ve looked at that I got through my local library system is Best Chinese Names: Your Guide to Auspicious Names by Liu Xiaoyan. These books give you lists of names to choose from organized by personality characteristics and other traits to help you find a more meaningful name.

One site I found has an interesting twist on the approach of looking up a Chinese name based on your English name. At the On-line Chinese Tools site, you enter your: name, “desired essence of the name” (e.g. Wealth and Fortune, Mind and Intelligence, etc), gender, and birth date. The system then provides you with a real Chinese name, including the Chinese characters, the Romanization (i.e. the name in English letters), and the translation. This site also contains some information about how Chinese names work. I put in my information and came up with 魏 奧銳. The Romanization (pinyin) of this is Wei Au rui. According to the site, this is pronounced something like “way ow ray.” Wei is a Chinese surname and dynasty name (in Chinese names the last name is listed first), Au means “mysterious, obscure, profound” and Rui means “sharp” or “acute.” That’s a much more meaningful name than “one whose relationships are only hallucinations!” (see previous post)

Having said all that, here’s what I actually did to come up with a Chinese name for myself, and what we’re going to do with the kids. First, I looked up my name “Aaron” to see what the meaning is. You can do this in a baby name book, or there are websites where you can do this. Here are a couple Behind the Name and Baby Names World. The name Aaron is of Hebrew origin (Aaron was Moses’ brother in the Bible) and means “high mountain.” I then used an English-to-Chinese dictionary to find Chinese characters for “high” and “mountain.” The two online Chinese dictionaries I use the most are Zhongwen and Mandarin Tools. Both allow you to search based on the English word you’re looking for. The character for high is 高 (gāo) and the character for mountain is 山 (shān). There are of course often several different Chinese characters for words as common as “high” and “mountain,” just as we have several different English words that convey these same concepts (elevated, lofty, tall, etc). This seemed ideal, but I didn’t want to stop there because I didn’t know if this would be considered a reasonable Chinese name to a native. Happily, I was able to find it in one of the books on Chinese names I listed above. It turns out that Gāoshān is actually a real Chinese name!

So Gāoshān turned out to be an ideal Chinese first name for me for several reasons. It has the same meaning as my English name, and it has some very pleasant personal associations for me as well. It also has the added benefit of using relative simple characters, which is important to me because of my interest in Chinese calligraphy: 山 is a heck of a lot easier to paint than 魏!

I don’t know if my kids’ names will turn out quite so well, but I’ll let you know the results!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Housekeeping note

If someone leaves a comment, I try to add it as a post to make sure people don't miss out on ideas and projects.

Tennial left these links in the comments

We did a China geography coop last year and it was great fun! Some of the resources can be found in the following posts:

China co-op week one

Chinese numbers and colors

China history and government

China endangered animals lessons

Ana B left this in the comments

This sounds neat! I just so happen to be focusing on China as well this month. We're reading a biography of Hudson Taylor (founder of China Inland Mission now called OMF). We're are reading about the plight of Christians and life in general in China. We are praying for China with the help of Voice of the Martyrs resources. I plan to watch with the kids a video on the life of Hudson Taylor, Inn of Sixth Happiness, and Chariots of Fire (went on to become a missionary to China).

We are enjoying this so much. It's a very humbling and interesting and culturally rich study. If anyone is interested in any of these aspects of China study, please let me know---I've got more info.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Chinatown Podcast

Lion DanceSo today Paul and I went to Chinatown in Toronto hoping to find another lion dance like we'd seen in years past. No luck, unfortunately. Perhaps we'll see one next weekend, as it is a bit closer to the 29th.

We did, however, put together a podcast (34 MB - 37:35) of our trip. No major learning experiences except on the culinary side, but we did have fun wandering around and seeing the sights. Some of the photos we took (of the food only) can be found here. The podcast has a bit of soundseeing, some chatting, and a few songs to break things up.

FYI - this year is the year of the dog. Unfortunately for me, this is to be an unlucky year for those of us born under this sign. I'm not sure if I want to believe it or not. After all, a couple years ago a Chinese astrologer told me that I was to become very wealthy in my mid 40's, and live to be 93 years old. If I choose to believe that prediction, then shouldn't I also believe that 2006 is not going to be the best one for me?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Here's another link

Nancy Music
Mandy left this in the comments as one of her favorites and I wanted to make sure everyone saw it.

Olympics for February?

Heidi suggested in the comments that we do the Olympics for February. I was thinking the same thing. I, after all, am competing in the knitting Olympics this year. What do you think?

Possible topics:
Winter Sports
Ancient Greece...
You get the idea

Template change

There were some issues with the last template and things were going from bad to worse. I went ahead and changed the template and we'll see if that helps.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I was born in the Year of the Goat

This makes perfect sense to me. Some of the finest spinning fibers come from goats. My hobby is knitting and I'm learning to spin.

What year were you born in? We have a Year of the Rabbit, Rooster, Tiger, Horse and Monkey living in our house in addition to moi.

A printable book

I paid the 20$ yearly fee for Enchanted Learning and printed some books on the Chinese New Year. This is the cover page of the one I did for my oldest. She really enjoyed it and it is really easy for me to just print the assignment. Posted by Picasa

Our first day of studying Chinese New Year

My eldest son did this dragon coloring page. I also joined Enchanted Learning and downloaded their Chinese New Year book. Posted by Picasa

More Links

  • Chinese New Year Coloring Pages

  • Chinese New Year and General Chinese Crafts

  • Enchanted Learning
  • Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    We have a button!

    Thank you Kimberly! I'm so pleased. I put it on my homeschooling and knitting blog.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Some links to get started

    Choosing A Chinese Name: Part 1

    One of the projects we’re going to do as part of our China study is to have the kids choose Chinese names for themselves. I did some research into Chinese names about a year ago because I’d been playing around with Chinese calligraphy and brush painting and wanted to know how to sign my works in Chinese (they actually do this using a name seal or “chop,” but that’s a topic for another day).

    Anyway, I discovered that there are a couple different ways to pick a Chinese name based on your English name. As with many things in life, there’s an easy way but it gives you fairly lame results, or there’s a way you can get better results but it’s a lot more work. Read on, but you can probably guess which route we’re going to go!

    The easy way is to look up the “Chinese equivalent” of your English name using any of the lists that are available online. Here is one list from here and one from here . The good thing about doing it this way is that it’s easy. You just look up your name and you can see the Chinese equivalent in the actual Chinese characters. For example I looked up my name, which is “Aaron,” and I got 艾伦. Incidentally, the Romanization of this (using the pinyin system) is “ài lún.” That was quick and painless!

    Unfortunately, there are a couple problems with this. The method used is a “transliteration,” which basically means it’s a group of Chinese characters that are pronounced similar to the way your name sounds in English. Using my example, “ai lun" sounds fairly close to “Aaron.” However, it’s still fairly unlikely you’d recognize your name as spoken by a native Chinese speaker, because the sounds are so different. But the main problem is that this isn’t a real Chinese name and doesn’t make any sense in the Chinese language as a name.

    This can be easily illustrated using my name, and truth is indeed stranger than fiction. According to one online Chinese dictionary, the characters translate into “mugwort” and “human relationship”. I had no idea what the heck mugwort is, so I looked it up. According to, mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a plant from the daisy family used in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, but also for such diverse things as “to season goose, especially the roast goose traditionally eaten for Christmas” and in witchcraft, where it is purportedly “useful in inducing lucid dreaming and astral travel.” Yikes! You really couldn’t even make this stuff up. So anyway, “ai lun" could probably be translated into something like “medical herb causing hallucinations that help improve your relationships with others”. OK, I made that up. But the point is, this doesn’t seem like a very auspicious name to me, and certainly not one I’d expect any sane Chinese parent to christen their bouncing baby boy with.

    Ok, so what’s the alternative to “your Christmas goose is cooked and so is your relationship with your in-laws”? Well, that’s a bit more complicated and I’m out of time, so I’ll have to tackle that tomorrow.


    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Celebrating Chinese New Year

    We are going to start our very first homeschoolalong with the topic of China/Chinese for Chinese New Year. This topic will run a month. Some suggestions are:

    • Ancinet China

    • Chinese New Year

    • Dragons

    • Chinese food

    • Chinese art such as brushpainting

    • Learn your name in Chinese and how to write it

    Everyone can share their resources and what they do here. You can always have a bit here and link to your blog with more information. To sign up email: homeschoolillinois [at] insightbb [dot] com