Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ........... painting by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Snapshot Summary, February 22-26 {week 23}

I somehow became the owner years ago of two abaci that looked very different. I had never learned how to use them, but I thought they were neat looking. Since we have been studying Ancient China and Japan, I thought it was time we learned about them. One of them was from China and Steven taught the boys how to use it. It was pretty easy to learn. The second abacus I had I learned was from Japan and is not really called an abacus but a soroban. It is a little harder to learn. We also explored Sumi-e, which is an ink washing drawing technique which began in China and spread to Japan. (Sumi-e is the Japanese name for it.) We also began a study of brass instruments, starting with the trumpet. We listened to some pieces of music that features the trumpet and they colored in the brass section of their orchestra lapbooks. With all this work on China and Japan, I needed to give the boys a sense of where we were talking about. We had already completed a map of China, so we looked at a map of Japan this time, although it also had a bit of China on it for reference. We colored in the section of Japan where the Ancient tribes first began to civilize and become a nation. Then we had fun with science experiments about weight and speed. Then, for Washington's Birthday, we looked at money again. And then Quentin made a I-made-it-myself Cherry Pie.

I started Aesop fables with three of the boys today and we decided to do lapbooks with them. For the story we did today, The Fox and the Grapes, we looked at what the saying "sour grapes" means. We will do a story each day while we are studying Ancient Greece. Katie helped Quentin make a zebra-striped "Z" and he insisted on adding eyes to it, even one on the back, which goes against the wall when we hang it up. They then made zebra-striped pudding desserts with animal crackers on top. Although the chocolate pudding was the kind you cook, the vanilla was the instant kind and Quentin did a lot of it himself. He is getting quite good at measuring out things like the milk and using the hand mixer. The evening was filled with creativity. Inspired by this, we wanted right away to try making some collages of our own. Colored construction paper was fine enough for the small boys and I. For some reason Quentin was scared to cut the shapes in the paper himself, which is unusual for him. He tends to be the type to jump right in. So, I cut the shapes to his specifications, and he glued them in place. I was grateful that I had said, "yes" to cutting the shapes instead of insisting that he do it himself. What could have been a teary exchange, unexpectedly became a very warm exchange of cooperation and closeness. James, on the other hand, had no problem doing his all by himself. He was very concentrated in his work. He would overhear us talking about our work and say, "Oh, that's a good idea. Can I do that too?" We, of course, said, "By all means." He loved taking these ideas and incorporating them into his own style, feeling the freedom to be able to make it a snowy night scene that also had a bird's nest.

I started off the day building a scene of the Greek and Persian wars from a pop-up patterns book. James, Alex and Quentin watched me and Quentin played with it a long time. Then he got out the other Greek scenes we had made to play with them as well. While we are studying the Greeks I thought I would teach them some vocabulary words that come to us from the Greek language. Katie set up an area so that Quentin could paint a flowerpot, and then she had some soil and Zinnia seeds. Z for Zinnia. A little seed of hope for Spring.

25 & 26
Thursday and Friday
Thursday we had a fun day with friends. So much so, I forgot to take pictures. Katie stayed home with Alex and made homemade donuts for Quentin because Friday was the last day for them to read Curious George Learns the Alphabet. At the end of the book Curious George is rewarded with fresh donuts, and she wanted Curious Quentin to be as well. He was quite fascinated about how the holes and the donuts matched up perfectly, and he kept giving them out in sets. The morning we were greeting with a dusting of snow, and the snow continued on and off for most of the day. The first thing today was to put away my first try at yogurt cheese and mix this Friday's bread dough and let it begin it's first rise. Then we made Greek Hoplite puppets, and Olympic torches. Then it was time for shaping the bread dough, and since it was Challah bread this week, James had a fun time braiding it. While the dough rose a second time Sam and I began cutting out, folding and taping the pieces for the Battle of Marathon game. Meanwhile it was time for Quentin to give the dough an egg wash and a sprinkling of poppy seeds, before going into the oven. By the time Sam and I were finished with the game pieces, it was time for the bread to come out of the oven and lunch to be served, a salad of mozzarella cheese chunks, avocado chunks, cherry tomato quarters, fresh basil leaves, and a splash each of lime juice, olive oil and wine vinegar, along with the yogurt cheese, bread and butter. After lunch Sam and I sat down to play The Battle of Marathon. The battle went on so long that it had to be interrupted to make a batch of snow cream. I'll bet that didn't happen at the first one. 

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