Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal

History and Geography Meme #180: American Indians, lesson 5: Middle American Indians, part 4: The End of the Incans, Aztecs and Mayans

American Indians, lesson 5: Middle American Indians, part 4: The End of the Aztecs, Incans and Mayans


What are some of the reasons Columbus sailed to the west and discovered the Americas? Why did he not sail until 1492?

Why was Montezuma afraid? Imagine you were one of the men with Cortes. Describe Pizzaro's life before he met Montezuma, and how he might feel when Montezuma sent you lots of gold. How would this make you respond?

What made the warfare between the Spaniards and the Aztecs worse? Was there anything that could have made the warfare less deadly?


What did the conquistadors do to the Incans and to Atahualpa that was very wrong?


What happened to the Mayans?

Spanish Rule

Do you think there is any good reason to think that maybe the Spaniards were not as bad as a lot of people have said they were? Why or why not?

Do you think the Spaniards did anything right while they ruled in South America? 

What do you think were the good things about the Incan, Aztec and Mayan cultures? What were bad things?

Sources and resources:

  • Incans, Aztecs and Mayans, John Holzmann
  • The World of Columbus and Sons, Genevieve Foster
  • The Kingfisher World History Encyclopedia
  • Homeschool Curriculum, Grade 6

Multicultural Kid Blogs
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Science Sunday: CSI: More Labs: Determining pH, Iodine and Vinegar Demonstrations and Fingerprint Analysis

This week we analyzed the cola and the ice cube tray for poison, determined what the white powder found at the crime scene was and examined the fingerprints on the glass.

Class Preparation:
  • You will need to have fingerprints for the students to compare with the cup. Use only the thumb and of course make sure that the same person who left the fingerprint on the cup is the same as the one you are using for Mr. Body. Have fingerprints for comparison for the suspects as well.
  • You will also need to take with you the cup that was taken from the crime scene in which you developed fingerprints.
  • You  need to make up some cabbage juice pH indicator. I found the easiest way is with a blender. You will also need a can of cola and three containers, preferably very small. An eyedropper is very helpful.
  • You will need to bring with you water from the ice cube tray (the water you have added 1 Tab. baking soda to 1 cup of water.)
  • In addition to the mysterious white powder that was collected from the crime scene, you will need to take with you a package of corn starch, a package of baking soda and some egg carton trays cut into six sections. Small plastic spoons and an eyedropper are very useful as well.

Class Activities:
  • Analyze the cola for poison. Obviously, I didn't put actual poison in the cola (and I told the students this) but it does afford us an opportunity to do some pH demonstrations and it mimics similar techniques used to determine what a substance is in actual labs. I put about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda in the cola to change its pH. For this demonstration, have three small containers available (I used vials). Have your students put some cabbage juice pH indicator in each of them. I used an eyedropper for this. At this time, I talked about what pH was, related it to gardening, and showed them that cola was acidic by the fact that phosphoric acid is one of its ingredients, and that for the purposes of this scenario, our possible "poison" was alkaline. I then talked about how cabbage juice can indicate the pH of a substance, determining whether the substance is acidic or alkaline, by its color change. I then had a student add some of regular cola to one of the vials and the students were thrilled to see the color change despite the fact that the cola was colored brown. They then added some cola from the crime scene and were delighted to see that it changed to a different color. This proved that "poison" was added to the cola! What does this clue tell you?
  • Analyze the water in the ice tray for poison. Do this in the same way as you did the cola, using plain water and the water from the ice cube tray (in which you have already added baking soda to.) The colors will be even more dramatic without the cola brown to mute them. Your students will find out that the poison was in the ice, and therefore got into the cola probably from the ice. What does this clue tell you?
  • Analyze the mysterious white powder to determine whether it is cornstarch or baking soda. To your six-section containers add cornstarch to the two cells of the first column, and baking soda to the two cells of the second column. Now have your students test the first row by adding three or four drops of iodine to the powders. If the iodine turns black, that means there is the presence of a starch. You can see that it doesn't change color in the baking soda. Now have your students test the second row by adding a few drops of vinegar to the cells. The vinegar will fizz in the presence of baking soda, and will do nothing to the cornstarch but get it wet. Now have your students test the mystery powder. Is it cornstarch or baking soda? What does this clue tell you?

  • Compare the fingerprints that have shown up on the cup with those in the case file. You might need to help your students by guiding them to look for loops, whorls and arches. 
  • source
    What does it mean that only Mr. Body's fingerprint was found on the glass?

Next week we will be analyzing all of the clues to help us determine what happened to Mr. Body.

What science studies have you been doing?

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Please include All Things Beautiful Science Sunday Meme in your post with a link
All posts that do not link directly to a science related post will be deleted.

October 2-8, 2015, Our Homeschool Weekly Report, Days 21-24

October 2-8, 2015

First Friday Homeschool Roller Skating

days 21-24

Alex's (age 21, special needs) geometry workbook
Quentin (6th grade) worked on geometry concepts this week. We discussed congruent shapes (shapes that have the same size angles and corresponding sides) and found congruent shapes within a sunburst pattern. The study of geometry has involves spatial relations. We had worked on this type of thing for years with games (such as Mighty Mind), so we did not focus on this too much. We also reviewed geometric solids (sphere, cube, rectangular solid, pyramid, cone and cylinder) and  polyhedrons. He made a chart to describe and compare the attributes of the solids, with the headings: name, number of sides, number of faces and number of corners. We worked with the formula Edges = Faces + Vertices - 2. First we counted up all the faces, vertices and edges and he could see that the edges did, in fact, equal the faces plus the vertices minus 2, and that following the formula was a lot easier that figuring them all out separately. Of course Quentin wanted to know, "why two?" but I could not answer that. (Anyone have an answer for me?) We then looked at the problem in another light, working with another view of the same concept, Euler's Polyhedron Formula,V-E+F=2. Looking at these same concepts from different viewpoints was an interesting concept for him. Quentin, who normally does not like math, even stated that he liked geometry.
James (8th grade) worked on commutative properties of addition and multiplication (lesson 5, Teaching Textbooks Algebra I).
Alex (12th grade, special needs) will be working with perpendiculars (Key to Geometry, book 4) for a long while as we take it very slowly. This week we looked at comparing segments. Sam (12th) is working on Roots and Irrational Numbers (Teaching Textbooks Algebra II).

Alex's (age 21, special needs) composition
This week in their English work, Quentin and James completed exercises in spelling, grammar and cursive handwriting. Alex worked on a writing exercise in which he wrote three sentences about chipmunks and painted a chipmunk picture.

This week at co-op the students in the CSI class went over all the information they had learned all semester and solved the mystery of who killed Mr. Body.
We also had a line-memorizing contest, with the actor who had memorized the most lines received a large chocolate bar. 

This week in history we read about the Incan government and they made maps of the Incan Empire. Alex painted an outline of a llama, which we will turn into an art project next week. James found this really cool seed pod which had naturally turned into a skeleton so that you could see the seed inside. We also read about Diogo Gomes on the Gambia, Alfonso V ("El Africano"), Columbus and John Cabot as a boys and the Medicis in The World of Columbus and Sons. We read chapters 7-11 of The King's Fifth.

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History and Geography Meme #179: American Indians, lesson 5: Middle American Indians, part 3: The Mayans

American Indians, lesson 5: Middle American Indians: Mayans

What were the four periods of Mayan history and what were things that dominated each of the periods?

What are glyphs?

Were the Mayan gods concerned that people did the right thing?

What is bloodletting?

What is a cenote?

How did Mayan cities differ from our cities? Could you even call them cities?

What was a batab?

How did the Mayan laws compare with our laws? Were there some that were similar? How were they different?

Describe a typical day's schedule for a Mayan peasant. How was this similar/dissimilar to the European peasant in the Middle Ages?

What did Mayan parents do when a baby was born?

Describe a hetzmek. Why were hetzmeks held at different times depending on what sex the baby was? Is a hetzmek similar to any ceremonies you are familiar with?

How were marriages in Mayan society similar/dissimilar to marriages in our society?

Can you think of any other cultures that treated/treats their dead in a manner similar to the way the Mayans treated theirs?

What kinds of art forms did the Mayans have? Were their any other cultures that had similar art forms? How were they different? What are some of the materials they used?

What is a dibbing-stick? 

What is a manta?

Name at least three ways people around the world try to make themselves look more attractive.  How did the Mayans?

What did the Mayans use for money? How did some Mayans counterfeit their money?

Compare the trading the Mayans did with that of the Incans or the Aztecs.

What are some of the reasons the Mayans didn't go to war as much as the Incans or Aztecs?

Describe how the Mayans' style of warfare was similar to the other peoples we have studied. How was it different?

What were some of the interesting thins that the Mayans accomplished?

Sources and resources:

  • Incans, Aztecs and Mayans, John Holzmann
  • The World of Columbus and Sons, Genevieve Foster
  • The Kingfisher World History Encyclopedia
  • Homeschool Curriculum, Grade 6

Multicultural Kid Blogs
Don't forget to link up to the Multicultural Kids Blog's Blog Hop each month.

  Remember that I am pinning all posts to Pinterest.
You might want to check out the Pinterest board and see all the past posts.
Follow Phyllis Bergenholtz's board History and Geography Meme on Pinterest.

Please include this button on either the post you have linked or your sidebar or mention All Things Beautiful History and Geography meme in your post with a link. All posts that do not link directly to a history or geography post will be deleted.
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Science Sunday: CSI: The First Labs: Ink Chromotography, DNA Fingerprinting, Handwriting Analysis, Developing Fingerprints

We did our first labs for our CSI class. This class will need a little prior preparation, but it was well worth it because the kids were very interested and kept to task the entire period.

Preparing for Class:
The chromotography demonstration set-up.
  • Prepare chromotography strips for the class. Take the pen you used for the note and another pen and make chromotography strips for them. Instead of a second pen, to make sure the strips are dissimilar, you can use ink from a jar of ink used in pen and ink projects or you can make your own ink by mix together 1/2 tea. red food color and 1/4 tea. green food color. 

from Mystery Science; Part III: Ink Chromotography (If you want to do the experiment yourself)
Make a dot of the ink from the ink used to write the note on one 1-inch x 3 inch rectangle of paper towel. Make a similar dot of the second ink on an identical 1-inch x 3 inch rectangle of paper towel. Label each strip with a pencil. Tape the strips each to a pencil or craft stick. Set these sticks over the rims of two glasses of water so that the water touches the strips and climbs up the strips. When the water moves through the dots, the ink should separate. They should separate in a different manner. If they don't, then choose another type of ink for your second sample. You want them to look noticeably different.
  • Prepare the DNA fingerprints. To prepare someone's DNA fingerprint, cells are removed from that individual and the DNA is extracted from those cells, then cut into small pieces with restriction enzymes. Because everyone's DNA is different, restriction enzymes cut everyone's DNA into different sizes and numbers of pieces. By analyzing the DNA pieces, an investigator can distinguish one individual from another. To look at these pieces, the DNA fragments are loaded onto a gel and then are exposed to an electrical field that causes the fragment to travel through the gel. The rate and distance at which fragments can travel through the gel depends on their size.  Eventually the fragments form invisible bands throughout the gel. These DNA bands are then transferred to a nylon membrane. Radioactive DNA probes are added to the membrane, then x-ray film is placed over the radioactive probes on the membranes. When the x-ray film is developed, the radioactive probes have exposed it in places where there is DNA. This film makes a DNA print. As you can see, completing this process in a class lab would be difficult (although not impossible -see below) and so you will need to draw some fictitious DNA fingerprints. On a thin strip of white paper, draw a series of thick, medium and thin lines with gaps of various widths between them. Make two copies of one (one for the perpetrator and one that the lab will give to your CSIs) and different ones for the other suspects.
  • Prepare handwriting samples. Have four people, including the person who wrote the note, give a handwriting sample, even if it is just a signature on the statements (see below.)
Class Activities:
  • Read and analyze the suspect's statements. I wrote out statements of each of the suspects. They were a little lengthy to put in this post, but if you are interested in doing this scenario, I can send them to you. The pertinent facts were that a brown pen was found in the kitchen and another in Professor Plum's front pocket. Each of the statements were signed. Analyzing the statements for clues may take a bit of time, so work through it slowly.
  • Perform chromotography lab on the ink from the brown pens. Your students will now perform the same lab as you did with the two inks, with the ink from the mysterious note. Which ink is it more like once it begins to divide? Can you identify which pen the ink came from. Who does this implicate?
  • Identify the DNA fingerprint from the hair in the comb. Explain the process of DNA fingerprinting and then show your students the DNA fingerprint you made that the lab will give to your students. Show them the DNA fingerprints from all the suspects. Have them compare them and match the DNA fingerprint from the lab to the matching one among the suspects. What does this clue tell us?
  • Analyze handwriting samples. Have your students compare the handwriting samples to that of the mysterious note. There are twelve basic characteristics your students can look for  when comparing handwriting. They can circle where they see similarities in the samples. Which one has the most comparisons to the note? What does this tell us?
    • Line quality: Do the letters flow or are they written with very intent strokes?
    • Spacing of words and letters: What is the average space between words and letters.
    • Ratio of height width and size of letters: Are the letters consistent in height, width and size?
    • Lifting pen: Does the author lift his pen to stop writing a word and start a new word?
    • Connecting strokes: How are capital letters connected to the lower case letters?
    • Strokes to begin and end: Where does the letter begin and end on a page?
    • Unusual letter formation: Are any letter written with unusual slants or angles? Are some letter printed rather than written in cursive?
    • Pen pressure: How much pen pressure is applied on upward and downward strokes/
    • Slant: Do letters slant to the left or right? You may be able to use a protractor to determine the degree of the slant.
    • Baseline habits: Does the author write on the line or does the writing go above or below the line?
    • Fancy writing habits: Are there any unusual curls or loops or unique styles?
    • Placement of diacritics. How does the author cross the t's or dot the i's?
  • Develop the Fingerprints. Hold up the bag from the crime scene with the fingerprints.  Put 3 or 4 drops of Krazy Glue on a small piece of aluminum foil. Place the glue so that it won't directly touch the cup and seal the bag and put it some place safe. Explain that over several hours, the gas from the glue will adhere to the oils of the fingerprints and make the fingerprints appear white and easier to see. Explain that you will have them try to identify the fingerprints the next time you meet.

(Note: You can do your own DNA fingerprinting lab if you can buy Edvotek Kit #109 ($79), electrophoresis apparatus ($199), power supply ($199), automatic micropipet and tips ($179), balance, microwave or hot plate, white light visualization system ($119). Obviously this is out of most home educator's budget for just one science demonstration. I felt I needed to say, however, that it can be done at home, if you are so inclined.)

What science studies have you been doing?

I am pinning all posts to Pinterest.

Please include All Things Beautiful Science Sunday Meme in your post with a link
All posts that do not link directly to a science related post will be deleted.

September 25-October 1, 2015, Our Homeschool Weekly Report, Days 14-20

September 25-October 1, 2015
This week Quentin went with our friends Hope and Eddie (and Thomas) to Gettysburg, while the rest of us stayed home.
days 14-20
Day 14
Quentin at Gettysburg
My  history-loving boy (especially the Civil War) loved being at Gettysburg. On their first day there, they toured cemetaries, saw some monuments and took a tour of the Jennie Wade house. At home James and I worked on Algebra. Sam worked on math, English and Japanese all week. In math he is working on Powers and Exponents (Teaching Textbooks, Algebra II.)

Day 15
Quentin at Gettysburg
In Gettysburg, they toured many monuments and saw the locations of the Battle of Little Round Top and Devil's Den.

 Day 16
Quentin at Gettysburg
This was Living History Weekend at Gettysburg so they saw volunteer groups representing Union and Confederate troops which hosted a camp and program during the day and in the evening they took a ghost tour.

Day 17
Quentin coming home from Gettysburg
As Quentin made his way back home, James and I worked on English (oa, oe, spellings of long o sound, article usage) from The Logic of English and cursive handwriting. 
As soon as Quentin got home, Steven, James and I had to head to duPont Children's hospital for therapy. 
We read about Nicholas of Cusa.

Our feast of Michaelmas.
Day 18
Feast of Michaelmas
We celebrated the feast of Michaelmas, and learned a lot about Medieval history in the process. First of all, because the Feast of the Archangels falls at the end of September, it was traditionally associated with the end of the harvest season. It falls near the autumn equinox and also marks a medieval festival when harvest was finished and farmers paid rent to the landowners, often offering geese as part of the exchange. So then, the Michaelmas goose itself became associated with paying off debts, and according to folklore eating one on the day would bring financial luck for the coming year. It was also the time (at least in Ireland) when the fishing season ended, the hunting season began, and apples were harvested. Apples, then, were also often eaten. It is also said that when Michael and the other archangels cast the fallen angels from Heaven, Lucifer, on his way into Hell fell through the thorns of a blackberry bush and cursed its fruit. The medieval English said then, that blackberries were no good to eat after the triumph of the archangels (Sept 29) and that all blackberries should be finished up on that day. So, armed with all of this knowledge, we went about making our feast for Michaelmas, a traditional goose (sorry no goose available, so chicken had to do), Apple and Cheese Frittata (for my dear vegetarian husband) and Blackberry salad.
We read about the Incan enconomy and 
We also made preparations for co-op by making some red cabbage pH indicator.  We read about Prince Henry and Chapter 5 of The King's Fifth.

labs at CSI Class
Day 19
Co-op Science and Drama
We went to our co-op and had our CSI class (post about it for Science Sunday) and our Drama class.
 Murder at the Banquet, Drama Class
This was also Katie's birthday, so we had two little celebrations with cupcakes and singing "Happy Birthday"-one at the co-op and one at home.
We also read about the beginnings of slavery from Africa to Europe, about Incan warfare and chapter 6 of The King's Fifth.

Day 20
Alex completed another postcard art project, this time featuring the Super Blood Moon. Quentin completed his English work (oa, oe, spellings of long o sound, article usage), and James worked on algebra (Undoing Multiplication and Division). We read about Africa and the Africans in the 1400's and about the Incan religion.
We also read chapter 7 of The King's Fifth.

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Super Blood Moon Eclipse Art

To continue with Alex's postcard art projects, we decided to celebrate the Super Blood Moon Eclipse that occurred on September 27. I got the idea from the Full Moon Trees art project from Art Projects for Kids, but we executed it a bit differently.
We started off with a postcard sized piece of cardstock. This size lends itself to well, sending as postcards, but also to fitting inside a schoolwork portfolio. I usually have Alex also write a paragraph about the subject in the piece and that makes a very fine portfolio of learning by the end of the year. I also find that small pieces are easier for my special needs student to accomplish without frustration or fatigue. All-in-all it works out well for us.
Anyway, back to the project at hand... first I traced a spice lid to use as our moon. If you think your student can do this himself, then by all means, have him do it, but I knew that Alex would struggle with this part, so I did it for him.  
Next, I had him use dark blue and purple chalk pastels to cover all of the card except the moon. I had him use his fingers to blend these colors a bit (a technique I learned from the Pastels Tutorials at Hodgepodge).

We then went on to add the black trees limbs using black tempera paint. He did most of the limbs, but since he had trouble add a fine touch with his brush, he let me add a few thin branches on the ends of his limbs. It really helped to make them look real. My goal is for Alex to have fun, learn a bit and accomplish his project, so if he needs help here and there, I have no problem with it. If you feel you want your child to do all of his own work and he is unable to do the fine work, then by all means, leave the finer limbs off. 
It was here that we remembered that we wanted to do a little orange-ish blood moon effect, so rather than leaving it out entirely, he went back and added some orange and red in the moon using chalk pastels. Because we had already painted the trees, it has a little bit of gaps where the tree limbs cross, but I actually in the end liked the effect a lot. If you would like it more even, then your student might want to add the orange in when he is working with the chalk pastels for the background. 
This is the second one of the same project. I have him complete two of them so I can send one as a postcard to his aunt, and save the second one for his portfolio.

Nature Calendar: October

source: The Chuppies Monthly nature calendars from Natural Science Through the Seasons by James A. Partridge

How to Make Red Cabbage pH Indicator (without stinking up the kitchen!)

Red cabbage makes a great pH indicator, but making it by boiling it on the stove for the juice can make the house smell like, well, cabbage, which for most, is an unpleasant smell.
There is an easier way, and, surprisingly, it produces more juice than the boiling method.
  1. Take about 1/3-1/2 of a small red cabbage and slice it into large shreds.
  2. Put the cabbage shreds into a blender.
  3. Add about 2 cups of boiling water.
  4. Turn on your blender and blend until you have a mush (yes, mush is a scientific term on this blog.)
  5. Put a strainer over a bowl. Pour the mush into the strainer, straining out the juice.
  6. Now you can  use this red cabbage juice as an indicator. Acids will turn the pigments in the indicator to a reddish color; bases will turn the pigments bluish or yellow-green.
How to Make Litmus Paper with Red Cabbage Juice

  1. Cut strips from plain white paper towels about an inch wide and a couple inches long.
  2. Take the paper towel strips and soak them in the cabbage juice for about a minute. Remove them and let them dry on something that won’t stain.
  3. Let the paper strips dry and as soon as they are dry your litmus paper is ready to use.