Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

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

Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast

Everyone loves this favorite from Dr Seuss.

Katie decided to celebrate the book this morning with a Green Eggs and Ham breakfast sandwich.

She fried Canadian Bacon in one pan and some scrambled eggs dyed green in another.
Some cheese was melted on a croissant in the microwave. The breakfast sandwich was easy to put together from there.
We like them anywhere...we like Green Eggs and Ham!

Nature Connections in September

that transition month between summer and fall usually has us outdoors a lot, but with Steven's injury, we were not able to get out as much as we like. The boys did ride their bikes, of course.
Marsh pastels
We did a fair amount of pastel work relating to geography and our nature studies.

The little boys enjoyed playing on a downed tree from hurricane Irene.
frog, dragonfly and backyard yard pastels
We made fall leaf cookies for the first day of fall. I didn't have a leaf shaped cookie cutter, so we gathered a few leaves and used them as templates for our cookies.

Quentin set up his paints outside to do portraits en plein air.
Katie gathered some willow branches and made an Indian game with the boys.
They also made corn husk dolls.
She also took them to gather Magnolia seed pods for a Nature swap...

and a little stop at the town park to play.

Nature Study: Lesson 36: A Study of the Fish

"A fish lives in the water where it must breathe, move and find its food. The water world is quite different from the air world and the fish have... form, senses and habits which fit them for life in the water." -Handbook of Nature Study, p.147
The Handbook of Nature Study suggests to show a diagram of a fish with all the parts labeled to the children so that they "will be able to learn the parts of the fish by consulting it and not be compelled to commit them to memory arbitrarily." We decided that they could include a diagram in their notebooks that they could consult, but I did not require them to memorize them. I did, however, immediately began using the terms in my questions to them about the fish.

We talked about how the fish moved and how they used their different fins. We also talked about their scales and about how the mouth is always moving, making swallowing motions.
We talked about how the fish takes in water like we do air and as the water runs over their gills, the oxygen is removed just as the oxygen is removed from air in our lungs.

sources and inspiration:
  • The Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Comstock

Milk Colors: where science and art meet

This is another oldie but goodie. We have done this before as a science experiment alone.

Pour about a cup of milk in a bowl.

Drop a few drops of food coloring along two sides of the bowl. Add a few drops of dish soap in the middle of the bowl. Or, instead you can dip a toothpick in a little dish soap and have them to put it in the food coloring in the milk.

Either way, the reaction of the soap disrupting the surface tension of the milk causes the colors to radiate away from the soap.

We then decided to make some colorful swirling colors paper (similar to the shaving cream marbled paper activity) by dipping heavy paper (we used watercolor paper) in the colorful milk swirls and then pulling them out, and then just letting them dry.
They turned out quite well and will make nice note cards or backgrounds for their school work journals.

North Eastern Indian Toys and Games: Cornhusk Dolls

Making corn husk dolls has been on my list of things to do with the boys for a long time. I had made them with Katie when she was little, but I hadn't made them with the boys yet.
Many Indians made them to resemble their own tribes. The Iroquois and the Seneca have legends centered around the corn husk doll.

Gather a half-dozen or so corn husks. Some make them while they are still green. They are easy to bend then, but they have a tendency to mold as they dry out. If you use fully dry husks, they are difficult to bend. Some people soak them in water about an hour before making the dolls. We dried our husks out a few days and they were partially dry but were still limber enough to bend.

Arrange your husks so the thinner ends are at the top. Tie your husk ends together a couple of inches down from the top. We used string. You could also use raffia, some thin strips of the husk, some leather thong or yarn. Trim off the ends so that it is even at the top. Take half of the corn husks and fold them over where you have tied to cover the string and make a nice surface for the face. Tie a piece of string at the throat.

Now take a couple thin pieces of corn husk and roll them to form the arms. Tie at both ends and trim neatly at both ends. Lift half of the bottom of the body corn husks and slip the arms up in place.

Tie a string at the waist under the arms.

If you are making a girl, all you have to do is trim the bottom to make her skirt even. If you are making a boy, divide the bottom husks into the two legs by cutting them in the center. Part them and tie at the ends to form legs. Trim the bottoms of the legs evenly.

We found the easiest way to make hair was to hot glue gun some corn silk on the head. This of course is not as authentic as tying it on or the like, but is the easiest.
Other tutorials on how to make a corn husk doll can be found here: (If you have one, leave your link in the comments.) Everyone seems to make them a little differently.

North Eastern Indian Toys and Games: Tiny Indian Doll Pouch

Remember our little Indian girl? She is sporting the wampum belt we made for her, and now she has a tiny beaded pouch as well.

This is a good beginning sewing project because it doesn't take long to make.
Cut a piece of felt about two and a half times the length of the pouch you want to make.
Fold the bottom up about two-fifths of the way up. Sew the edges together with a simple stitch with embroidery thread or thin string. If they have trouble getting a embroidery need through two thicknesses of felt, you can punch some guide hole in it with a nail and hammer, much like we did with our felt treasure pouches.

You can thread some beads on as you go for decoration.

For this pouch, Quentin sewed two beads on the front as well. Leave a length of embroidery thread for the pouch's strap.
The rest of the felt can be folded over as a flap for the pouch. You can punch a whole in the flap large enough for the beads to fit through as a latch for the pouch.
All finished and ready to hold some tiny treasures a little Indian might like, such as acorns.

North Eastern Indian Toys and Games: Wampanoag Toss and Catch Game

This simple toss and catch game is the first of the Indian toys we will make this week.
I found the directions from the Plimoth Plantation
You will need:
 some thin cotton string or jute twine about 15 inches long,
a (non-poisonous) flexible piece of vine about 12 inches long (we used willow branches) 
and a straight, somewhat thin stick about 8 inches long.

Wrap the piece of vine to make a circle about 1 ½ or 2 inches in diameter. Wrap it several times, and then twist the free end around the circle to hold it in place.

Tie one end of the string to the stick, about 2 - 3 inches down from one end. Make sure the knot is tight.
Tie the other end of the string to the vine loop.

You’re done! Now give it a try.

The object is to swing the loop out and up and try to catch it with the end of the stick you are holding. Once you master the toss and catch with one hand, try it with the other.

Three-Sisters Soup

1/2 yellow onion, diced or shallots
1/2 cup celery
3 cloves garlic, minced

1 T olive oil or 1/2 T butter

4 cups vegetable broth or other broth, or water

1 butternut squash, peeled and cleaned, cut into large dice
2 cups fresh or frozen lima beans or 1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and broken into bite sized pieces
2 cups fresh or frozen corn

1/2 tea. each, combination to taste:,
ground cumin
black pepper
chili powder
Italian Seasoning

Take a large stock pot and heat up the fat in it over medium heat. Add your aromatics once the fat is hot cook until golden Add in everything else, liquid last. If you want it thick, only add liquid up to the point where it barely covers the veg. If you want more liquid... add more! Turn the heat up to high.
Once the soup hits boiling, reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer for an hour or so, until vegetables are tender.

ripe avocado slices
shredded cheddar cheese
corn fritters
fried squash blossoms.

Source: Catholic Cuisine

Weekend Snapshots: September 24-25: Baking Weekend

(UL) Fall Leaf Cookies. I didn't have any leaf cookie cutters so we traced real leaves.
(UR) Quentin set up a portrait studio; portraits of Mom and Katie.
(Bottom two, unfrosted and frosted) Caramel Apple cake with Cider Cinnamon Frosting and drizzled with caramel sauce.
(ML) Blackberry Buttermilk cake.

Colonial Toys: Button Spinner

This simple colonial toy is made with just a button and a two-foot piece of string.
The larger buttons work best and the string needs to be thin enough to go through the button holes and not be too tight.You need a flat button (not a shank button) with at least two holes.
Thread the string through the holes in the button.
Tie the string ends together.

Keeping the button in the middle, spin the button to twist the strings.

Hold the ends of the string with your fingers pull the strings to let them begin to untwist.

Release the pressure and then pull the string taut again to keep it spinning.