Thursday, September 30, 2010

"This Week in Review" Thursday

Another busy, busy week! In addition to our homeschool schedule, I was also confronted with a situation with our youngest child who is in kindergarten in our public school. {There are many, many reasons why our other three children still attend public school, especially as it pertains to our younger two who are in 1st grade and kindergarten. I won't go into all of that now. Public school is what is best for them at this time, or we would have them home. We think it is likely that we will bring them home for school  when they are ready to go to middle school, but we will make that decision when the time comes.}

Anyway, our youngest daughter is in kindergarten and has always been a go-getter. She is very smart and needs/wants lots and lots of stimulation, always has. She went to Preschool when she was 3 and Pre-K when she was 4. She is a young kindergartner, but was completely ready and willing to go. She was great for the first month. Then all of a sudden she started crying when I took her to school. She was saying she didn't like the work, but this confused us because when she comes home she does her homework, copies of her brother's homework and anything else I will copy for her. And we have never experienced her crying when going to school before. Ever!

To make an already-long-story-short, we have determined that she is bored at school. She is already doing 1st grade skills on her own at home. I talked with the school counselor and her teacher. And thankfully we have a school that is willing to do whatever it takes to help their students excel. Part of that has been developing an individualized plan for Brynne to do some 1st grade work independently, while the other students in her class are doing their work, in an effort to keep her engaged and interested in school. The other part of the equation is for me to be more present at her school during the day to help her with the crying spells she is experiencing right now. Because of all of that, I have been running back and forth between the elementary school and our school at home most of the week. And I am bushed! Dawson has had to do a lot of independent work, which isn't a completely bad thing.

Here is what we did get accomplished this week:

A World of Adventure ~ This week has involved more predicate and subject work and learning about types of sentences and proper uses of punctuation. We are reading out of Exodus for our literature lessons and Dawson has been making a chart of the 10 Plagues. He also wrote a short scene of a play using the text of Exodus 2. We have added to our life-size timeline that wraps around the top of our wall in our school room. It's been really cool to see the crossover of the biblical and historical events.

Social Studies ~ We did some weather/climate studies and some map work. Otherwise Dawson has been using this time of the day to work on his book that is due tomorrow. The story includes facts about both Ancient Egypt and the desert. Today he embalmed a cartoon figure to get it ready to be mummified. He really enjoyed this simulation. Although it's a cartoon character, it still might be "gruesome" for younger viewers.

Science ~ We completed our experiment of mummifying an apple. Otherwise Dawson has been working non-stop on his book. He has a huge Science test tomorrow afternoon over all he has learned on Deserts, including about 50 vocabulary words.

Fine Arts ~ We ended last week making Papyrus paper. This week it's been all about drawing the illustrations for his book. He also included some photography into his illustrations. More on that later.

Other ~ In Math, we have decided to make a switch to Life of Fred. We have ordered the decimals and fractions books and are hoping they come in by Monday so he can get started on them. I plan to hold onto Saxon to utilize problems for extra practice if he needs it. In Spanish Dawson has been working hard on his oral assignments, workbook pages, guided practice pages and LiveMocha. He is loving Spanish. Typing is still going pretty good. He is getting the hang of his Good Typing lessons. Although Dawson has the third book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, he hasn't read any of it this week because of his work on his book. That really has been a time-consuming project.

One last thing, Dawson made a coconut cream pie this week that was to die for!  It was so good!!! He is thinking now of planning an entire meal, including desert, and cooking for the entire family one evening.

We have now completed our unit on Ancient Egypt and Deserts. It has been a fun and exciting and extremely informative unit and I am almost sad to see us leave it. Next week we are on to Ancient Greece and a science study on the body systems, personal health and first aid. Our Bible, literature, language arts and fine arts will all correspond with these topics. This will be another 6-week study.

If you are needing any Ancient Egypt resources, look at my Index of Topics on the sidebar for lots and lots of ideas! Although the base of our assignments and projects came from our A World of Adventure curriculum, I drew many things from other research and from tips from other bloggers. {Thanks to all of you!!} I am hoping to now Pay it Forward.

Dawson bugged out of town to go to the lake with his friend before he got his blogging done, so this post will have to do for Weekly Wrap-up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making Papyrus Paper

What a tedious job this would have been in Ancient Egyptian times! If I would have had to rely on this procedure in order to be able to write, I wouldn't have done any writing.

{You were supposed to use green paper and a light green paper, but we used green and yellow because that's all we had.}

First you draw a line about 1/2 " down from the top on the long end of one of the pieces of paper and the short end of the other one.

Then you cut about 1/2" strips all the way across up to the line.

Then you weaved both of the pieces together. This took forever.

Dawson thought he was a genius and had come up with a way to lay them out so he didn't have to actually weave. But then he turned it over ... ha, ha, ha!!!

He had trouble doing this. He did it for a while and then I finished it for him while he ate his lunch.

When it was completely weaved it was dipped into 1 part Elmer's glue and 4 parts water mixed together.

It was laid on a paper towel and patted dry.

Then it was laid out in the sun until it dried.

Then it was "papyrus paper". {Actually it was two pieces of construction paper weaved together and bonded with some glue water.}

The real lesson learned from this project was that even the smallest tasks of writing required very difficult work and it could not have been easy to live in Ancient Egyptian times.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Mummified Apple

Last Monday we started an experiment to determine what mixtures of baking soda (natron), iodized salt and Epsom salt would best mummify a slice of apple.

We had the following combinations and apple slice weights (weighed with a control-weighted object):

Control (plain apple): 8 oz.
1/2 c. baking soda: 8 oz.
1/2 c. iodized salt: 8 oz.
1/2 c. Epsom salt: 8 oz.
50:50 baking soda and iodized salt: 8 oz.
50:50 iodized salt and Epsom salt: 9 oz.
50:50 baking soda and Epsom salt: 9 oz.
Equal portions baking soda, iodized salt, Epsom salt: 8 oz.

We put the apples aside for one full week and then inspected them this morning.

Question: Which substance combination will mummify the apple more?

Background Research: When Egyptians first started the mummificaton process, they used natron (baking soda) to dry out the body. Over the years they perfected their processes, using other salts.

Hypothesis: Dawson predicted that the combination of Epsom salt and iodized salt would do the best job of mummifying the apple. I predicted that the combination of baking soda and Epsom salt would do the best job of mummifying the apple.

Analysis and Observations: After one full week Dawson shook off the salts and weighed each apple slice. The Control did not lose any weight. Some of them lost exactly 1 oz. Others lost 1 1/2 ozs. Some had mold. Some were very browned. Some were significantly dryer but still the full color of the apple. These were the main observations about the substances:
  • The natron did the worst job of drying out the apple and was a poor preservative as each apple with natron was molded.
  • The Epsom salt was an excellent preservative, but didn't dry out the apple as much as the iodized salt.
  • The iodized salt dried out the apple significantly, but didn't do as good a job preserving it as it did when mixed with Epsom salt.
Conclusion: The 50:50 mixture of iodized salt and Epsom salt did the best job mummifying the apple, both in drying it out and in preserving it. Dawson's hypothesis was correct.

Here are some "yummy" pictures of the mummified apple slices! Pie anyone?

This was a great experiment! You can go here to do it yourself.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What ever my mom calls it when i blog ... [that would be called Weekly Wrap Up - Dawson Says {Week of September 20th}]

Hey blog follower people, it's Friday again which means I gotta blog. WHOOPY (not). Well this week we really didn't do anything exciting... except I got to go volunteer at my brother and sister's elementary school again and this was more fun cause I got to go out to recess with the kids and I taught about 30 little boys how to play dodgeball. I also worked up at the book fair and since I "did my time" I got to get a hilarious poster. And that's about it....... later.

DAWSON!!!!! :)

{As mom thinks we did a few exciting things this week, you can go here to read about it.}

We are linking up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Thanks Kris for hosting this every week!

"This Week in Review" Thursday {Posted a Little Late}

I have learned a lesson this week: When Dawson has a big project to do, that will be time consuming, I need to consider taking some things out of his curriculum so he has time to work on it. The rough draft of his Desert Book was due at the end of the day yesterday. But, on top of the other work he has had to do it's not going to end up being as well-thought-out and complete as I had envisioned. It's really my fault more than his because of my quest to get things done and checked off a list! And who has been the one stressed out? .... Me!

Hopefully, I will remember this lesson in the future.

What else did we get accomplished this week?

A World of Adventure ~ Lots of subjects and predicates! We completed The Golden Goblet today. The story has been good, and it has provided us with tons of new vocabulary words. Dawson has been putting them on notecards, writing them into sentences and taking tests over them. We compared and contrasted two of the main characters of the book and the main character with Dawson. And he wrote an expository paragraph, using the comparing/contrasting chart of him and the main character.

Social Studies ~ With the extra work that has gone into Dawson's book, we have mostly just been reading the Social Studies material and taking notes on it. We've discussed Pharaohs, customs, did a map study of transporting goods and read a line chart.

Science ~ We started an experiment on Monday ... mummifying an apple.

We cut two apples into 8 "equal" pieces. Then we weighed each of them with a kitchen scale and recorded it on the lid of the container in which it would be placed. (Tip: If your apple isn't heavy enough to hit a measurable weight on the scale, put a heavier object in there with it. We put in a small ceramic "Holy Grail" that Dawson made in public school. It helped us get an accurate weight.)

After we had all of the apples weighed and placed in their proper containers, we started putting in combinations of salts. The first one had all baking soda (natron). The second one had all Epsom salt. The third one had all iodized salt. The fourth one had 50:50 baking soda and Epsom. The fifth one had 50:50 Epsom and iodized. The sixth one had 50:50 baking soda and iodized. The seventh one had equal parts of all three. The eight one had nothing. It was our control.

We put the containers upstairs on our bookshelf (out of sunlight) and will empty them on Monday. We will weigh the apples again (with the "Holy Grail" again, too) to see which one lost the most moisture.

The purpose of this experiment is to see what substance or combination of substances did the best job of mummifying the apple, of drying it out.

We can't wait to see them Monday!

Pre-Algebra ~ We actually came upon an assignment in our Saxon curriculum this week that we could not understand based on the instructions and examples given. It was on Least Common Multiples and it was!!!  I did a search and came upon It had a completely different explanation for how to figure the LCM (that was so much easier to understand and actually made sense!) and then had unlimited problems for him to do. We skipped our Saxon lesson for that day and did the online lesson instead. I will definitely be relying on this website in the future.

Fine Arts  ~ This has definitely had to take a back burner this week, with the book project. But today we are going to make papyrus paper.

Other ~ Dawson's Spanish curriculum is Realidades by Prentice Hall. He also uses a free online program called LiveMocha. It has a lot of cool features. And we experienced one of those this week. Part of his assignment was to write, in Spanish, some descriptions of six people. A couple of days later we had an e-mail from LiveMocha telling us that we had a message from another member. She had corrected his sentences, like a teacher would, and given him encouragement about future assignments. (Good thing, too, because I don't know a lick of Spanish!) He read her corrections and sent her a message back thanking her. In Typing Dawson successfully completed Lessons 1 and 2 of Good Typing and will be moving on to Lesson 3 next week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Places We Do School

We have an awesome school room! And when we are getting all into our work, and especially when we are needing the aid of the white board, we are in it.

But when you have a fidgety 13 year old boy, sometimes you have to move around a bit.

Dawson has been found doing school here ...

and vocabulary cards and sentences here ...

working on his Scripture memorization at the upstairs living room table ...

and sometimes we even bring it all downstairs to the living room and set up there ...

Of course he does lots of reading on his bed or on the couch. The weather has been cooler this past week, so it's always nice to take our work outside to our back porch (which is where I am now while Dawson is working on his Desert Book in the den.)

School's not just for school rooms anymore!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Update on the Canine Student

Just wanted to give a quick update on Crusoe's condition. He is MUCH BETTER! Thanks to i.v. fluids, rest and some good medications he is almost back to normal. He and I even went on our run this morning and he did great!

Now it's time for him to get caught up on his Algebra.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What a Relief!

I posted last week about the Ancient Egyptian Relief that Dawson was making. This relief was a really great all-week project. It was so cool that I wanted to repost it with step-by-step instructions and pictures.

First you mix Plaster of Paris, according to the instructions. We made two batches. Pour the creamy plaster into a shoe box lid sprayed generously with cooking spray.

Use any type of carving tool you would like. We had actual clay carving tools that came with our Sculpey clay. But, a toothpick or a nail would work just fine. Start carving as soon as the plaster starts to harden up. The harder it gets, the harder it is to carve. {Dawson learned that the hard way.} Just keep testing it to see how hard it is. It dried much faster than the instructions said it would.

Carve in a picture of your choice. Dawson carved Osiris that he copied out of Ancient Egyptian Drawing Book by Ralph Masiello. We checked this book out of the library. Just carve it as though you are "drawing" the outlines of a picture you are going to color with crayons.

When you are done carving, brush off the excess plaster to make it as smooth as possible.

Let it dry overnight.

The next day use any kind of sandpaper, cut into small squares, and sand all around the outer outline. The deeper you sand, the more your Relief will be raised. Brush away residue as you work. When it is raised to your liking, put it aside until the next day.

On day 3, boil some tea bags to make really strong tea. Use a sponge brush and stain your relief with the tea so it looks antiqued.

Let it dry completely overnight. Then on the final day paint it with vibrant colors. Don't forget to go over all of your carving lines with black paint to make it stand out.

Take off the shoebox.

Dawson added hieroglyphics to his Relief. It says, "Osiris".

Very cool.

The Desert Book Project

Dawson has a two-week book project to do on deserts. The assignment was for a non-fiction book.

I found an excellent rubric with instructions on how to write your own book.

But when I saw that it's instruction advised that the student could either write a comedy, mystery or other fictional story I thought, "Why not? Why not let Dawson use his imagination and make this book a fictional one including facts about deserts?" He liked that idea and immediately started brainstorming.

He has decided to make his book a fictional story about a nerdy little boy, Clyde, and his dog, Sam, who are looking to solve the mystery about how King Tut died. I thought it was a great idea, on his part, to make the story not only about deserts but about Ancient Egypt, too! We have been studying each of these topics in depth.

He has worked out the outline for his story and drawn the characters. There aren't as many desert facts in it as I would like, at this point, but I've instructed him that he needs to incorporate one fact about deserts every two pages.

Let me tell you what has made me smile (as a teacher)!

The first week of school we learned about the Elements of Literature (Writing). In his initial brainstorming session he used those elements to create his story line. The writing instructions given to him didn't mention the elements and I didn't either. He just did it on his own!

I love seeing him take what he has learned and use it in his work.

The one problem with this project??? He is so into it that he can't hardly concentrate on any other assignments. All he wants to do is work on his illustrations and story concepts. I guess there could be worse things.

The rough draft of the book, in hand-written form, is due on Thursday.

Then he will spend four days scanning his illustrations and transferring his written work into to create an actual black-and-white bound paperback book. He'll turn that rough draft in for my editing eye, and then he'll have two days to make revisions and turn in a final draft. Then we're going to order the book.

I forgot to mention that he also has an owl character who will be on each page. It will be fun to see how this all comes together.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Dawson Says (Week of September 13th}

As you all know, I stink at starting my blog post. So I'll just off saying  things I liked about this week as usual: Well I had to cook lentil casserole (which was nasty! You can see pictures of me and my mom gagging over it and dumping it down the drain on her blog.) I also made a relief, which is hard to explain so you can look at pictures of that, too. Things I did not like are: Algebra (do i even need to say why?). And that's really all I didn't like.....


To see mom's perspective on this past week, go here to her "This Week in Review" Thursday post.

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Sometimes Plans Just Change

For those of you veteran homeschooling moms, I imagine you know this all too well. Me, however, I have a lesson plan. And I like to complete it!

But, sometimes you just have to put away what's not important. And yesterday was one of those days.

Yes, we worked on projects when we could, and Algebra got done. But, all of the miscellaneous Language Arts assignments and stuff were ditched to make sure we were taking care of him ...

He was very sick yesterday. After $320, we still are not sure what is wrong with him other than he has been not been able to keep any food or liquid down. He was lathargic. He went to the vet and had blood work done and x-rays looking for obstructions and i.v. fluids and an antibiotic shot and an anti-nausea injection. They went ahead and let us bring him home to rest, but we are going to have to watch him carefully to see if he's able to keep any food or drink down. If he's not, then back to the vet he goes.

We were supposed to go do clay sculpting at our favorite art museum last night, but after the exhaustion of the day we decided to just skip it.

I hated getting off track with school. But Crusoe is a member of our family and we love him. And when someone in your family is sick, then he or she is all that matters.

Please shoot up a prayer for Crusoe that he shakes this sickness quickly.

** Update: When we brought Crusoe home from the vet last night, he was in bad shape! He had diarrhea in Dawson's bedroom that had an odor like I have never smelled. It's so bad that even after steam cleaning, his carpet may need to be replaced. We kept him in our pool house over night in case he got sick (Crusoe, not Dawson). I honestly expected to not find him alive this morning. But, he got up (albeit very slowly), ate a little bit, drank, didn't throw any of it up, went outside and pottied, and is now resting again. He is in a lot of pain, though. Climbing stairs or getting on the bed makes him wince. I called the vet and the fact that he had a bowel movement tells her that he likely does not have an obstruction, but probably ate something wood related (mulch, stick, wooden block) that has torn up his intestines. He will be on two stomach medications and is getting a pain pill today. All we care about is that he is okay. It was scary and neither Dawson nor I slept worth a darn last night. I even cried when I went to bed. This is the most attached I've ever been to an animal.

Now we are going to try to do some school work today.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"This Week in Review" Thursday

Is it Thursday already?? Are we almost done with a full four weeks of school? Are we exactly two weeks away from finishing our first unit study? Has Dawson almost completed reading three novels? Is this day going to be the first day we have to cut some things out because of an emergency situation {sick pet}? Am I tired? Is Dawson?

The answer to all of those questions is .... Yes! .. a resounding Yes!

What a week! It seems that our week has been heavy with Language Arts, so much so that Dawson has been getting up at 7:00 a.m., starting school around 8:00 a.m. and not finishing Language Arts until at least lunch time. That's left us with Pre-Algebra, Social Studies, Science, Fine Arts, Typing (one day a week), Spanish (two days a week) and personal reading all to do after lunch!  We haven't finished school until at least 3:30 p.m. every day and Dawson has done his personal reading before bed. {He wants to know what happened to my assurance that we would be done with school by 2:00 p.m. every day.}

Yesterday I planned the next two weeks and noticed that the load lightens up dramatically. Although things get kind of project-heavy, the busy work seems to be much less in the next two weeks. That will be much-welcomed, I think!

Here's what we've done this week, so far {We've got something fun planned for tonight, and he's finishing up on a project tomorrow, so I'll probably have a separate post about that also}:

A World of Adventure: We are deep into The Golden Goblet, which brings with it tons of vocabulary words, similes and metaphors. Our work has been heavy with it. Add scripture memorization, Bible reading, vocabulary sentences and tests, grammar worksheets {antonyms, synonyms and combining sentences} and a new spelling lesson, and we have been busy busy!!

Social Studies: At the beginning of the week we had our lentil disaster. Since then we have been discussing and taking notes on imports and exports, classes of people and adding Egyptian History dates of interest to our living timeline {I'm hoping to have them all posted up there over the weekend.}

Science: The biggie right now is the Desert Book Dawson will be working on over the next two weeks, until we conclude our unit on Ancient Egypt. The curriculum called for him to make a book with facts about deserts, illustrating it as he wanted. I decided to have him take it a couple of steps further. First, I gave him the option of either making it a non-fiction book, or making it a fictional story {mystery, humorous, whatever} and including the necessary facts about the desert. He is to do all of the research, writing and illustrating. Then second, we are going to use to actually make it into a printed and bound book. Check back tomorrow when I tell you what he has decided to do!!

Fine Arts: Dawson has worked all week on a really cool project ~ making a raised Relief. Here's how he has done it ...

He mixed Plaster of Paris and poured it into a shoebox lid sprayed heavily with cooking spray.

Once it was almost completely hardened, he used sculpting tools to carve in the outline and major lines of a picture of Osiris. Once it was carved he brushed away all of the excess plaster and let it dry over night.

Then the next day he used sandpaper and sanded down all around the outline of the picture to raise the picture of Osiris.

Then he painted the whole thing with strong tea to give it an antiqued/weathered look.

Tomorrow he will be painting on the details with vibrant paint colors. So, you will definitely want to check back to see how it turned out!

We skipped Sketch Tuesday this week because tonight we are going to Philbrook Museum to do clay sculpting. Again, I'll have more on that tomorrow!

Pre-Algebra: We have been moving along. Although we have not been successful in moving it to earlier in the day, we have reduced the problems to just doing 2-30, evens, instead of 1-30. If we had done them all this week I think we would have been doing school until dinner. If he misses a problem, I have him redo it and then do its odd equivalent. That way he's getting extra practice on the things he is missing.

Other: Dawson has finally completed Lesson 1 of Good Typing. He was thrilled! Now he moves on to Lesson 2. He has been working on his Spanish lessons and putting in some time on LiveMocha. And he is just a couple of chapters away from completing the second book in The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. Book 3 is waiting for us at the library. We are heading up to the elementary school to volunteer this afternoon, and tomorrow afternoon is "real life school" while we grocery shop.

Like I've said many times in this post, check back tomorrow for updates on several things we still need to complete and to read Dawson's next enthralling blog post about how he feels about this last week.