Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal

July 8-14, 2016 Our Homeschool Weekly Report, days 155-159

July 8-14, 2016

It is almost eerie how the reflection of me taking a picture of the poster blends in with the poster's content.
 Quentin went to acting camp every day this week, and...
a Fencing lesson... 
including his first one minute match.

days 155-159
Shakespeare: Midsummer Night's Dream
" ...Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight..."
We looked at the scene in which Bottom, Quince, Starveling, Snug and Snout are practicing their play and Puck gets the idea of how to have Titania fall in love with a beast -by giving Bottom the head of a donkey!

The Reluctant Writer's Research Paper
James has been working on his research paper on wasp nests. This week we worked on finding internet sources. He was required to find websites sponsored by an organization or one in which the author cites his name, and hopefully, accreditation. No wikis allowed. He was required to write another outline for the websites, extracting information from them that he had not already gathered. He also needed to include the citations in the form of name of article, name of website, author's name or the name of the organization and link address.
James also worked on a essay comparing the Incans, Aztec and Mayans.

Aside from that, math goes on as usual, as it is Teaching Textbooks and so it is self-teaching and self-grading.

What have you been up to this week?

July 1-7, 2016: Our Homeschool Weekly Report: days 150-154 Independence Day Weekend

July 1-7, 2016

This week was incredibly busy and fun. We had lots of Independence Day Weekend celebrations, which included lots of good food (including cute red, white and blue firecracker jello cups),playing at the beach, watching fireworks and having fun with friends.

We had to take our car in for service and spent the day in Newark, Delaware, ending up at the Hibachi restaurant.

days 150-154

Quentin started fencing lessons.

Katie is doing well with her college class.

Shakespeare: Midsummer Night's Dream
"...There sleeps Titania sometime of the night..."
For our Shakespeare studies this week we looked at the part in which there are lover's quarrels. Oberon puts magic juice on Titania's eyes in order for her to fall in love with a beast. Puck  mistakenly puts the magic juice in Lysander's eyes and he falls in love with Helena.

The Reluctant Writer's Research Paper
Remember James' research paper on wasps? We are still working on it. He made an outline of the book of his choice, making one section of the outline for each chapter of the book that applied to his topic. The outline was written in phrases and was encouraged to write the phrases in his own words. This is to reduce the possibility of plagiarism, even accidental. He also wrote down the citation (name of book, author, date of publication, publisher and city of publication.) You would be surprised how many times the books were returned to the library without our writing down this information, so I get them in a habit of including that information on the outline.

Nothing else in particular to note on these quite yet, but I have a few posts coming.

How to Have a Homeschool High School Graduation of Your Dreams

Everyone has different ideas on what the ideal high school graduation would be like. The president of a local homeschool group wanted her daughter's graduation to be a several thousand dollar affair and that wasn't what we had in mind, so we decided to have our graduation in our own backyard. My boys, however, didn't have an idea of how to go about planning their ideal graduation, so I gave them this list of possible ideas to choose from. This list might also be helpful to you, if you are planning a homeschool high school graduation, to make your graduation one that is just perfect for you.

In the Beginning: A successful graduation requires a bit of prior planning, weeks in advance.

Place: You and your graduates will need to decide the venue of your graduation. Do you want to hold it in a church or community hall? Do you want to hold it outside at a local park on just in your backyard as we chose to do? How do you want to decorate the area? Do you want it to be elegant or casual? We had originally wanted it to be elegant, but it became casual as time went on. Sometimes plans do change, and that is okay, too.

People: Who do you want to be presenters and speakers for your graduation? Who do you want to invite? Do you want to send invitations or do you want to call your guests? You will have to consider your space in relation to the amount of guests. Our graduates chose to invite only family to their graduation, but you might choose to invite many people important to you. It is the graduation you want that is important.

Things: Do you want to have a cap and gown or go casual? What colors will you choose for your school? My boys wanted blue cap and gown but chose red, white and blue for their tassels. This made an easy color scheme for us, since our graduation fell between Memorial Day and Independence Day.

The Ceremony: The core of the traditional graduation has ceremony that includes certain parts.
Opening Remarks: This is just a welcoming greeting to announce the start of the graduation. This can be done by an organizer of the event or someone else who is meaningful to the graduate(s), such as a beloved uncle or neighbor.

Processional: This is when the graduates come out and walk through an aisle and reach a seat waiting for them, often on a stage area. This is traditionally led by an important person in the school and has Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background.

Since we decided to have our graduation in our backyard, we played Pomp and Circumstance on our portable CD player. The boys decided that they didn't want anyone leading the procession, although I did follow up in the rear only because I wasn't sure about how my autistic graduate would respond to the ceremony and I wanted to be available to help prevent any problems with the ceremony for the others.

Commencement Speeches: A speech by someone significant to the graduates or their school. This is often a encouraging and uplifting address. For a homeschool graduation, this speech is often given by the parents. In larger graduations, the top students often give speeches celebrating students' accomplishments and hopes for the future. In small homeschool ceremonies, all the students can give speeches of thankfulness and filled with their most special memories. Some homeschool graduations also include slideshows of pictures of the student throughout their schooling, complete with a graduation song of their choice. My boys, being shy in nature, decided not to have any speeches. Since we decided to have our graduation outside, we did not have a slideshow, but had a science display board of photos that was displayed in the party area after the graduation.

Presentation of Diplomas: A school official, often the person who led the processional, presents the diplomas to the graduates. They read the diploma, and then calls the name of each student and the student then steps up and receives their diploma. The presenter shakes the graduates hand and congratulates them. For our graduation, since we had two mothers and three sons, we would have the opposite mother's present the diplomas. In this way, the mothers each were able to see their sons' get their diplomas and it seemed more official for the students. Others might want to give their own child their diplomas since they have worked together  in order to obtain this diploma. We had our students stand up, the diploma, including the name was read to the student and then he was given his diploma. The graduates also decided to have their graduation songs softly playing in the background as they were presented their diplomas. (Sam picked, Faith of the Heart

Eddie picked Proud to be an American

and we played Wonderful World for Alex.)

Moving of the Tassel: Now that the students are officially graduates, they symbolize this with moving the tassel from the right to the left side. 

Benediction: This is a parting blessing that also symbolizes that the graduation is coming to a close. For our benediction, I decided to read a portion of the letter that was included in the diplomas sent to us by our umbrella group, Homelife Academy because I couldn't imagine anything more fitting.

"As you move into this new season of your life, we pray for God to make clear His direction for you. We believe every individual has a calling and purpose in God's Kingdom. If you are unsure of that direction right now, just keep praying...God will reveal it to you in His perfect timing. Remember God's purpose for your life is more about character than career (see Philippians 2:5). These two things summarize God's will for your life, that you:
Maintain a vital and growing relationship with Him, trusting Him in all things.
Let Christ live life through you, whatever career or role you find yourself. 
The rest will fall naturally into place." 

Recessional: Our new graduates now leave the graduation area just as they came in, diplomas in hand. You can play appropriate music during this as well.

The Celebration
The celebration of your students' graduation can be as formal or informal as you would like. It could be at a fancy restaurant or a casual affair at home.

We decided to have their favorite dinner, the opening of gifts and games outside afterwards.
It really doesn't matter what you choose to do as long as it celebrates this landmark occasion in the student's (and teachers') lives.

Red, White and Blue Punch (a lesson in Density)

Here is a fun way to make a patriotic punch and have a little lesson in density. You will need 3 different kid-friendly juices/drinks in red, white, and blue as long as the three colors of drinks are of different sugar content per serving. The larger the sugar content difference, the better your drink will layer. That’s because this involves a little kitchen science density. For your bottom layer you want something with close to 40 grams of sugar per serving, the middle layer should have around 20 grams of sugar per serving and the top layer should have as little as possible.

 The sugar content can be found on the package with the rest of the nutritional information. You can see that our white layer mixed just a bit with the other colors. This is because the sugar density did not differ enough in the layers. There are also a few more tips and tricks to get the layered effect.
First start by filling your container, whether it be a large dispenser like in the above photo or individual glasses with the drink of the highest sugar content per serving, in our case, red Gatorade Fruit punch, which has 56 grams of sugar.

Next fill the container totally with ice. Place a large metal spoon across the top of the container so that the spoon is up against the side of the container. Now, slowly pour the drink with the next highest sugar content over the spoon and down the side of the container to fill it up one third of the way with the second color, in our case a white drink, Gatorade Frost: Glacier Cherry, which has 21 grams of sugar per serving. Try not to let any of it pour directly over the ice in the center or it will mix with the next layer and the colors will combine. 
Slowly pour your drink with the next highest sugar content very slowly over the ice to make your second layer. The ice will act as sort of a buffer. 
Lastly slowly pour the drink that has the least sugar content on top to form your top layer. We used Powerade Zero Mixed Berry, which has less than one gram of sugar. It is a light blue, however, and that may have contributed to it not showing up as a distinct layer. 
If you would like to complete the lesson in density, you could try it again, using drinks that are a similar density and show how they mix instead of staying as layers. You could use Hawaiian Punch Fruit Juicy Red, which has a sugar content of 14 grams of sugar, instead of the Gatorade Fruit Punch and compare the results, as it has a density level much closer to the Gatorade Frost: Glacier Cherry, (21 grams of sugar per serving.) Have fun, drink up and learn science!

Red, White and Blue Jello Firecrackers

You can make a batch of these little red, white and blue firecracker jello cups for your next patriotic holiday. You can add fruit to make the jello look like it has confetti in it or leave the jello plain. You can use a dairy jello layer for the white layer or you can use coconut milk. All three have a red jello layer and a blue jello layer, made from packaged jello mixes.

You will need:
3 oz raspberry or strawberry jello
3 oz blue berry jello
@20 maraschino cherries with stems

If you want to add fruit to your cups, you will need:
3/4 cup blended fresh strawberries
3/4 cup blended fresh blueberries

You can make the white jello mix in two different ways.

For the dairy-based white layer:
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tbs sweetened condensed milk
5 oz heavy whipping cream
1 oz milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin

For the coconut-based white layer:
1 cup coconut milk
2 packets of Knox gelatin
1/2 cup sugar

To make the cups:

1. Mix blue jello just as it says on the box, with 1 cup of boiling water. Mix well. Add in 1 cup cold water. If you are adding fruit, blend blueberries and stir through the jello. Pour in to cups 1/3 up the cups and refrigerate until it sets.

2. Make white jello. For the dairy based white jello, mix cold milk with gelatin. Let it set for a minute then microwave it for about about 30 sec. or until it melts. In a separate bowl, mix sour cream, sweetened condensed milk and whipping cream with a mixer. Pour gelatin slowly into the mixture while you continue mixing. Pour white jello to 2/3 up the cups as fast as possible. Refrigerate until it sets.

For the coconut based white jello, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup coconut milk to a saucepan and sprinkle the Knox unflavored gelatin over it. Turn on the heat to low and stir well, cooking on low until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.Allow to cool several minutes and then add 1 cup of cold water. Let cool a bit before you add it to the cups because if it is too hot it will start mixing with the blue layer.
Transfer to fridge and allow to completely cool and set.

3.  Mix red jello just as it says on the box, with 1 cup of boiling water. Mix well. Add in 1 cup cold water. If you are adding fruit, blend strawberries and stir through the jello. Pour in to cups to top off the cups and refrigerate until it sets.

4. Insert maraschino cherries. Press cherries into the jello, leaving the stem stick out to form the firecracker's fuse. Serve.

Any uneaten cups can be topped with lids and stored in the refrigerator.


How to Hang Movable Outdoor Lights Without Trees or Patio

I have always loved the look of strings out outdoor lights. It always seemed like an instant outdoor party once they are hung. However, for years I didn't have them because we don't have a backyard patio or even trees that were suited for hanging lights on. I had seen some potted light poles, but they could not be moved, and I wanted the flexibility of being able to light any area I wanted. Here is what we came up with:
For each movable light post pot, you will need:
a 1" x 2" x 8' wooden pole
a bag of quick drying cement
metal pot holder brackets
one large plastic planter pot
a drill
potting soil
flowers of your choice

If you want to weather-proof your poles by using either stain or paint, it might be easiest to do this before you start assembling the light post pots.
To assemble your light post pots, first attach your metal pot holder brackets to the top of your pole.

Center the other end of your pole in the planter pot. Mix the cement with water as it instructs on the side of the cement package, and immediately pour into the bottom of your planter pot so that it fills the pot about 1/3 of the way up your pot. Alternatively, you could mix the cement directly into your planter pot and then immediately push the end of your pole into the cement.

Using whatever you happen to have around that will work (we used lumber scraps), surround the pole across the top of the pot to keep the pole in place as the cement dries.

Once the cement is dry, you can take the props away. Drill holes in several places around the pot above the line of the cement for drainage holes. This is why the pot must be plastic or some other material that you can drill into.
Layer on top of the cement, a layer of gravel. This is also for drainage and it gives the pot additional weight.
Next fill it with a layer of potting soil and plant into the soil your flowers. If you are planning to use these light poles for a specific party, you can use plants that fit in to your party's color scheme.
Now you can move the pots where you want them and string your lights on them. Now you are celebration ready!

June 24-30, 2016, Our Homeschool Weekly Report, days 144-149: Our 2016 Graduation

June 24-30, 2016

I could talk about the paper that James is writing, (and in fact, I will in another post) and reading about voices in the woods in Midsummer Night's Dream or about Quentin's memorizing passages from it, but all of that kind of fades in the background for us as we prepared and had our 2016 Graduation in our own backyard.

It was a most moving and magical ceremony. A couple months ago, we all met together (Eddie, Hope, Sam, Steven and I) and I gave them all options for their graduation (I will be writing a post on that as well) and as they picked and decided (and, thankfully, we were all in harmonious agreement) their own unique ceremony was created. 
Our red and blue layered drink was just one of the decorative items in our red, white and blue color scheme.
This drink was supposed to have a white layer as well, but it didn't quite work out that way.

They had decided blue gowns with red and white as complementary colors in their tassels, and since it is between Memorial Day and Independence Day, there were a lot of decorations and ideas on that color scheme.

The boys walked out from the house to the backyard while Pomp and Circumstance played in the background.

Hope read Sam's diploma, and then presented it to him, while his chosen graduation song, Faith of the Heart, played softly in the background. We had decided from the beginning that Hope would present my boys' diplomas and I would present Eddie's.
We were not sure how Alex, who has autism, would respond to the ceremony, but since it was in our backyard and among friends, we had decided that we would let him do whatever he wanted to, as long as it didn't interfere with Sam's and Eddie's ceremony. To our surprise and pleasure, Alex loved all of the ceremony and was thrilled to participate and do whatever we asked him to. I am so glad we decided to include him. His diploma was presented with Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World playing softly in the background.
We decided that I would present Eddie's diploma to him and Hope would present the diplomas to my boys.
I presented Eddie's diploma while his chosen graduation song, Lee Greenwood's I'm Proud to be an American played softly in the background.

After receiving their diplomas, they moved their tassel from right to left, symbolizing their being graduates.

I then read to them a passage from the letter that was included with Sam's diploma from our umbrella school, Homelife Academy,

"As you move into this new season of your life, we pray for God to make clear His direction for you. We believe every individual has a calling and purpose in God's Kingdom. If you are unsure of that direction right now, just keep praying...God will reveal it to you in His perfect timing. Remember God's purpose for your life is more about character than career (see Philippians 2:5). These two things summarize God's will for your life, that you:
Maintain a vital and growing relationship with Him, trusting Him in all things.
Let Christ live life through you, whatever career or role you find yourself. 
The rest will fall naturally into place." 

The boys then processed down the path and back into the house...
where a party to celebrate their accomplishments was waiting for them.
Playing Bocce.
As evening fell, we enjoyed games outside together...

Post on how to make these Movable Light Posts can be found here.
and felt as if it was indeed a Wonderful World.
Eddie and James playing light sabers with sparklers.
How was your week?