Saturday, November 26, 2016

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Almost Time for Our December Break!

I can't believe December is right around the corner! The kids are looking forward to taking most of the month off from school. We will only be doing Tuesday school with our homeschool friend. I must admit, I am looking forward to it, too. We have been going strong almost every day since the beginning of August.

In our little corner of the world, the wildfires are still raging, and there is still no to little rain in sight. The air quality is keeping us indoors ALL of the time. We are getting a bit restless. Thank goodness for dance. The kids get lots of their energy out at classes and rehearsals. I, however, miss my walks. We are keeping busy indoors.

Science ~ We wrapped up several experiments this week. The first was our mummy experiment that we started back at the end of October. We carved designs into apples and covered the apples in a combination of baking soda, salt and powdered bleach. We started a control apple in a zip lock bag by itself. Then we waited the better part of a month. On opening day, we were pleasantly surprised.

Our mummy apples were preserved but spongy. The flesh was completely white. Our control apple was rotten in places and covered in mold on one side. 

We also completed our red cabbage pH indicator strips and used them. We boiled red cabbage and cut up coffee filters into strips. We then dyed our strips with the cabbage liquid and set them to dry. We also made our control liquids. We made a control base with ammonia and distilled water and a control acid with vinegar and distilled water. After a few days we conducted our experiments.  We dipped our strips into diluted milk, bleach, coffee, wine vinegar, tea and lemon. The strips changed colors. We determined by the color change whether or not the item was a base or acid. The activity worked out great.

Art~ The kids are busy making Christmas gifts in art with Miss Laura. I can't wait to see what they produce. Elijah made a very detailed Shrinky Dink. He drew the Celtic knot free hand. I am so amazed by his attention to detail. It would make a lovely piece of jewelry. It is about the size of a half dollar.

Grandma also conducted another one of her awesome art classes for my kids and their twin friends who are also homeschooled. We learned all about book illustrations. The kids looked through many picture books from their childhoods and shared memories of their favorite picture books. They realized that the illustrations in picture books are very important. We picked Shel Silverstein for an in-depth study. Then they learned about Shel Silverstein's life and looked through several of his books to find poems they liked. They each chose a poem that he had not illustrated. We photocopied the poems and they pasted it onto the page and illustrated it. 

Dean with one of his favorite childhood books, The Story of Ferdinand

We are trying to find a good stopping point for the rest of our subjects. We will be continuing art, science and geography in December. I am sure there will be lots of music, too. Next week, we are really going to have to read lots more of Hitty Her First Hundred Years in order to complete it. We also are a bit farther behind in math than I would like to be before break. However, we are not likely to get too much farther ahead, since it is also tech week for the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. C'est la vie!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wildfires, Emotions and Nutcracker Prep

It has been a rough week around here. The more than 30 wildfires that are all around us are really making it hard to breathe. Our oldest son must stay inside all of the time because he has asthma. Many people are having lung issues and the local hospital is very busy with sufferers. We desperately need rain.

Image result for party rock fire pictures

On the homefront, this has been a week when relationships and health took precedence over school. We are working hard to keep everyone physically and emotionally healthy. It is an uphill battle for some.

We are in full force with rehearsals for The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The kids are at the dance studio six days a week. This year Dean is a street sweeper, a guard, a party guest and a Spanish doll. Anne is a street sweeper, a guard, a cat and an elastic doll. Anne has wanted to be an elastic doll since she was a little girl so this is a dream come true.

What we did for school ~
  • 15+ hours of dance classes and rehearsals for both kids
  • Learned a new hamstring stretch program for Dean (flexibility is a real struggle because of his cerebral palsy)
  • Made red cabbage indicator strips for our chemistry class
  • Did two chapters in chemistry
  • Completed three math lessons for each child
  • Read daily
  • Read aloud two chapters in our family read-aloud, Hitty: Her First Hundred Years
  • Completed two more lessons from Cover Story for English
  • Anne hand sewed a flower pillow.
  • Dean is working on a Shrinky Dink of a Celtic knot that he drew himself.
  • Wrote in their journals daily.
  • Watched several documentaries to understand more about how firefighters fight wildfires
  • Practiced three hours of piano (Anne) and for ukulele (Dean).
  • Wrote a 250 word report on Benjamin Franklin
  • Watched CNN Student News daily

We also went to the opening of the movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We loved it. I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving. We are planning a very quiet and light Thanksgiving this year. 

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tending the Home Fires

What a week! This was a stressful week for my household and our country. My son has had a very difficult week at dance. He has been dealing with a bully, and I had to finally intervene on his behalf. The dance studio dealt with it quickly, but the damage is done; and I have work to do on the home front to strengthen my son's self-esteem. Also, my children watched this very bitter election very carefully. This was the first major election that they were really old enough to understand, and it was a rough one to watch. They really thought that, once the election was over, life would go back to normal. I always feared that it wouldn't and it won't. This election really dredged up the anger, fear, hatred and division that is running deep in our country right now. There is much work to do to bring peace, respect, kindness, understanding and cohesiveness to our country. My children have witnessed first hand the hatred that usually doesn't permeate openly our rather open-minded little city. Our friend's adopted children are crying, because classmates told them they are going to be deported back to Africa. We also have seen white supremacy supporters screaming in our city streets. This is all very shocking to my children. 
Here are our shoe boxes for Meals on Wheels and Operation Christmas Child.
What is a mother to do? My children are always, I start at home. We are a family that believes that everyone is a child of God and has a right to thrive on this planet. Everyone is a gift. We must find the light in each and every person. There are times that finding the light in a person is very difficult, especially when they are spewing hatred. But we must find the light. So we are doubling our efforts to show kindness. We are praying, caring, trying to understand and living our lives gently. We are asking, "What would Jesus do?" The Prince of Peace would not be spewing hatred.
We attended the soft opening of our new science museum.
As this week has passed, I have reminded my children that they are responsible for their actions and words, that they can always spread light in the darkness. So we step through our days lightly, basking in the love we find and praying for those who are struggling to feel and show love.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Week of Homemade Erupting Volcanoes

We are having so much fun in science this year. I am really happy that it is clicking for everyone and that we have found a schedule that I can stick to. Getting enough science done to satisfy my children has been a challenge in recent years. This year, we have a friend over to do science with us for two to three hours. Then the kids are assigned open-ended homework (such as a paper) to do before the next class. They can spend a little or a lot of time on the homework paper/project depending on their interest in the topic. They seem to be satisfied, finally!

Our most recent science project was making and erupting volcanoes. We began with a box as our landscape. I cut a hole in the bottom of the box that the Snapple or a similar bottle could move through. Then we covered the bottle with a plastic bag (to be removed later), so the volcano structure would not stick to it during assembly.

We then used cardboard strips to build the frame.

Next, we used lots of Plaster of Paris and paper towels to create the shape of our volcano. We used paper towels because they gave a smooth surface to paint on later.

Once their volcanoes were dry, we painted them with acrylic paint.

The day finally arrived to erupt our volcanoes. I made up a lab sheet so the kids could record their observations. We used this website for our first eight trials. I really liked how they learned more about having a control group in experimenting and that they got to see how to make their eruptions bigger through the trials.

We then moved on to the hydrogen peroxide and yeast eruptions. You can find instructions here. These were much more exciting than the vinegar and baking soda eruptions. 

Lastly, we moved outside to do Mentos and Coke eruptions, because there is always time for more messes! 

Ah, science! We had a blast!

Blessings, Dawn