Homeschool 2018 Olympic Mania!

soohorang pic

Soohorang & Bandabi photocredit: polkadotsoph

The 2018 Winter Olympics was an awesome experience for our family, and much to our dismay, it has come to an end.

Our family has been zealously watching a lot of the sports and cheering wildly together. At first my kids had no idea about the Olympics but after sensing the excitement of the Opening Ceremony with all its pizzazz, music, dance, lights, drones, mascots, athletes, they were hooked. We were too, and I had to see this weird sport called curling. It looks strange at first with all that brooming movement, but we’ve slowly warmed up to its inherent beauty.

I took my kids’ excitement as the perfect opportunity to revolve our school lessons around the Olympics this month.

History lesson: talking about how the Olympics started in ancient Greece thousands of years ago. We covered other important historical facts: only men could participate in the Olympics, they competed in the nude (this produced a lot of giggles), instead of a medal, the winner received a laurel crown, war ceased during these games, the running of the Olympic torch, and the symbolism of the Olympic rings.

Chris and I were eagerly waiting to see the athletes enter the stadium from both South and North Korea during the Opening Ceremony. Elliot was curious to know why there were two Koreas, so the teacher in me thought this was a great opportunity to talk about freedom, differences between a president and a dictator, privations faced by the common North Korean people, and individual choice. It was not well received. I was asked by Elliot to discontinue the discussion.

Social Studies: discussing how the Olympics are hosted by different countries each time and that this year’s Olympics is held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. I emphasized the excitement of the games being hosted by Korea in part thinking this would develop cultural pride as Koreans; plan didn’t go as intended. They looked perplexed and said they only love Team U.S.A. (I understand patience is needed on my part. While growing up, I straddled 2 cultures and felt so confused. I began to finally accept myself as Korean-American in my 30s. Living up to the name of late bloomer, I guess.)

The mascots were very popular and much loved in our home! This was a great way to tell them Korean folklore stories that Chris and I remember from our childhood (choppy at best). We looked up the symbolism of the white tiger and the IOC NEWS provided an easy explanation of it: “The white tiger has long been considered Korea’s guardian animal…Soohorang not only has a challenging spirit and passion, but is also a trustworthy friend who protects the athletes, spectators, and all the participants of the Olympic games.”

Learning about the flags and locating the participating countries on the world map were popular activities too. They felt proud to correctly identify or guess correctly the flags shown on the TV screen. We also made a trip to the bookstore to get a reference book about flags – they felt very grown up to have the salesperson walk us around several sections to find the perfect book for them.


American flag made from felt, puffy glue, star cut outs


New reference book about flags. It was the last copy with a ripped seam, so Barnes & Noble offered 25% discount. Yay!

Science: making a cardboard ramp for marble races and a cardboard snowboard ramp attached to plastic marble run.

We tested the run with marbles of different weight, experimented with various obstacle to determine which obstacles made the ramp more challenging or accelerated the speed of marbles. Throughout the building and testing, necessary adjustments and changes were made.

Math: checking out the judges’ scores and seeing which numbers are higher or lower, learning about scoring for curling (I’m still puzzled and poor Chris was bombarded with scoring questions from us), making charts and graphs of how many different types and numbers of dinosaurs and marbles they have, which involved lots of counting, sorting, classifying. The latter activity didn’t correlate with the Olympics, but it was part of the first-grade math workbook activities.

Team Spirit: cheering for Team U.S.A. and Korea, familiarizing ourselves with the various winter sports. We also talked about what it means to be a good team player, the discipline it takes to become an Olympic athlete, being happy for the winners, learning how to lose gracefully, withstanding pressure to succeed and excel, and doing your best.

Language Arts: learning how to read the Monopoly Here & Now cards while watching the Olympics, writing out and alphabetizing the names of different sports, and working on related worksheets.

Overall, learning about the Olympics in real time was very entertaining, relevant, and educational. Since what we covered was reinforced quickly, it was easy to get excited and feel productive. When doing an activity or a chore, I would say “go for the gold” and begin talking like a commentator to explain what the athletes were doing. The determined looks on their faces and posture poised to leap into action meant serious business. For example, who could walk and carry a full glass of water without spilling any along the way?

For a few days our dining room was transformed into a track for speed sock skaters and relay running of the Olympic torch. The torch was improvised by wrapping a rubber band around a small plastic flashlight to the tip of a plastic feeding syringe.

(Ellis’ medical condition has brought with it an influx of various medical supplies from her hospital stays into our home. Too much to use and too wasteful to just toss. So we’ve morphed them into props for playing, become toys or art supplies, used to inject oil into the car, or wherever else they can be used).

Overall, I can confidently say that our learning about the 2018 Winter Olympics has exceeded my expectations! We made special family memories and learned interesting facts and historical story about the Olympics that made it more meaningful to us.

One thing that does make me sad is that the kids will be much older at the 2022 Winter Olympics. They probably won’t be as silly, chattering endlessly about the teams till our ears hurt, or insist on cuddling us while watching the games. Gosh, they grow up so fast that each passing day is both a blessing, to know that I made it through the day, and a nostalgic longing for the times that has already passed.

photo credit: polkadotsoph mascots via photopin (license)

What in the world is rube?!

I have never heard someone use the word “rube” in my life. At first glance, I thought it was related to rubiks cube or a ruby gem. But a quick search on the internet showed me it’s a negative word to describe an unsophisticated person who is from a rural area. A synonym is hick or bumpkin.

If you ever want to insult someone indirectly, the word to use would be “rube.” They may call you a “rube” back. It’ll sound like the most sophisticated yet incomprehensible verbal insult to bystanders.

Overall, the words posted on the daily prompts are definitely exposing me dig deeper into the meaning of words and to learn some esoteric ones along the way: rube is one of them.


Dress up vs. costumes for kids


Dressing up is a favorite pastime of ours. Kids get very excited to put together zany outfits with random things they find around the house. Rarely do we refer to it as costumes: it’s just called dress up.

Comparing these two words make me realize that both words have similar meanings: putting on external accessories to appear like someone else. However, the word costume sounds like a deliberate attempt to be like some other specific person or thing whereas dress up seems more informal.

Our dress-up bin contains a variety of accessories: tiger ears, a pirate treasure box, beaded purse to carry to a tea party, butterfly wings, gloves, wands, goggles, hats, sunglasses, etc. They sometimes wear mixing bowls on their heads and march around holding spatulas. Get the wrapping ribbons out, the kids wrap scraps around their wrists to blast power beams and tie around their heads to become so-called ninjas.

To create more possibilities I get tempted to buy more dress-up items, but I consciously stop myself. My rationale is that dress up becomes more spontaneous if ordinary things can be creatively used to imagine ourselves different. But don’t hold me to it because I may just cave when I see dress-up props on sale at local craft stores!!


The Sunshine Blogger Award

I started the other day with a happy dance. Jenny from My Garden surprised me with news that she had nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger award. It is exciting, humbling, and special to have a fellow blogger encourage a newbie blogger like me!!

Thank you Jenny!! Please check out her blog, My Garden ~ a Kiwi’s take on life, to get acquainted with her love for nature, flowers, environmental preservation, family life, writing, and about life in New Zealand. I hope you enjoy her writings as much as I do.

Below are my responses to Jenny’s questions:

  1. Who inspires you and why?

I’ve thought long and hard about this question and had difficulty naming just one person. Then it occurred to me that people who inspire you change through different seasons of life. In my current life season, my kids’ enthusiasm and general wonder about the world show me that life is an exciting adventure. They can’t wait for morning because that means more play; me on the other hand, I can’t wait for night so I can stop playing and can sleep instead.

2. Where is the most relaxing place you have been?

My couch on a sunny afternoon with my kids and husband napping.

3. What song/ music puts you in a good mood?

Contemporary Christian music, especially Toby Mac and Jasmine Murray!

4. What kind of weather do you like the most?

Sunny with mild warmth and a nice cool breeze.

5. Do you have a favorite quote you like to share?

So many!! But if I had to choose one, it would have to Henry David Thoreau who inspires me with his boundless love for nature, simplistic living, and solitude.

“I love a broad margin to my life.”

My nominations:

  1. Quaint Revival
  2. Running Ruminations
  3. Stella Tarakson
  4. The Diary of a Country Bumpkin

My questions:

  1. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
  2. What is one thing you like about yourself and why?
  3. How do you stay motivated to blog?
  4. What’s the best advice you got?

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them  new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

I hope my nominees get a chance to respond to my questions! I would love to hear your interesting answers. Thanks everyone!!





Tendency to misplace items and mistake time

pexels-photo-753290via Daily Prompt: Tend

I tend to do a lot of things that would be better avoided. One of them is misplacing everyday things. However, the good news is that they are not lost permanently, just misplaced temporarily. Chris kindly comments, out of exasperation, that I would save time if things had a designated spot and if I put them back in its place after use.

I wholeheartedly agree that that’s a great solution but executing that on a consistent basis is another story. One positive light is that during my searches I randomly find things that I misplaced in the past. It’s like a treasure hunt that my kids love to do too. Don’t get me started about finding toys under the couch and shifting all the furniture around together – makes for an achy body but dust-free floors.

Another thing I tend to do is show up too early or miss an event altogether because of some misunderstanding with time. An example of the latter was evident yesterday when we showed up to Ellis’ first dance class one and a half hours early. She frowned at me saying, “Mommy! Not again!”

I tend to do a lot of things, like misplace items or mistake time for too soon or too late. It makes me me, slightly flawed and kooky. I’m okay with not having it all perfectly together but those I’m living with may disagree.