Home School Life Journal

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

Our Homeschool Weekly Report, September 14-20, week 3: Light, Biological Key and the Telegraph

week 3

 We enjoyed a relaxing time at the Covered Bridge...
 feeding the ducks and geese.

 We have enjoyed many spy missions.


 We had fun learning about light. We learned about the Law of Reflection, in which the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence. 

We also learned about Refraction of Light. When light encounters a transparent obstacle, some of the light will pass through the obstacle. It may be hard to see from this photo but when the beam hit the water, part of the light bent away from the line because light travels faster in air than in water.
We sorted pasta so the boys could get a feel for how the Biological Key works.
The boys, with Steven's help, made a two-way telegraph, which was a nice extension to their previous experience with making an electromagnet.


Quentin continued work with place value, adding the thousands column to his place value chart. We are now putting a smaller chart in his math journal because he can abstract the amounts into numerals without using the manipulatives. We played with different numerals, having him plug them into the chart. We reviewed that if there wasn't a numeral in any particular column, one needed to add a zero to the column.
I tested James with percentages and fractions and I found that he could use some work in these areas, so we will be beginning there next week. 
Alex is still working on multiplication. 
Sam is working on motion and percentage problems in algebra.

Language Arts

James worked on using adjectives to describe an object in the room and seeing if we could guess what he was describing. Quentin is struggling with reading and I am not sure why. It doesn't seem like dyslexia. He just can't seem to keep all he learns in his mind, so we have to review material over and over again. He has the desire to learn to read, however, so we just plug away at it. He worked on words with l and then a vowel, such as plant or clock or plus. Alex worked on completing sentences from Quentin's spelling book, and surprised me by being able to define opposites, something he has always struggled with (ex. What is the opposite of right? Left).

History and Geography

As I said before, Steven helped the boys build a telegraph, and so we did some work on the telegraph and the Transcontinental Railroad. They practiced sending Morse code messages back and forth and found out just how difficult it can be.
We also completed some work on the Underground Railroad and listened to Follow the Drinking Gourd on CD in the car.

We also looked at the states to achieve statehood in the 1850's: Oregon, California and Minnesota
The Near Extinction of the American Bison
The Homestead Act of 1862
The Long Walk of 1863
Orphan Trains
States to achieve statehood in the 1860's : West VirginiaNebraskaNevada and Kansas.

Sam is studying South Africa and wrote a summary on the Zulu wars and completed some related map work.
James, Quentin and Alex sketched and labeled maps of Japan. We reviewed all that we had learned about Japan's history and brought them up to about 1900. We reviewed the geography of Japan and looked at some of the wildlife that lives there. We will be continuing our study into next week.

Physical Education

The little boys still are really enjoying the gym class they are taking with other homeschoolers.

Sam is out of commission, however, because of a mishap in the backyard (at 10:00 at night!) which led to several hours at the Emergency Room and 5 stitches. Katie and Sam had planned to go on a hike up in the mountains this weekend, but that had to be cancelled.

  • The Story of The Golden Spike, R.Conrad Stein
  • Li-Lun: Lad of Courage, Treffinger
  • The Magic Tapestry, Demi (This story is also in  Wonder Tales From Around the World, Heather Forest
  • The Dragon Prince, A Chinese Beauty and The Beast Tale, Laurence Yep
  • Beautiful Warrior, The Legend of the Nun's Kung Fu, Emily McCully, Set during the Ming dynasty,  this is a retelling of the legend of Wu Mei, a woman who was allowed to study Kung Fu ("human effort") with Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Monastery.
  • Tiger Woman, Laurence Yep, Based on a Shantung Folk Song about a selfish woman getting her wish
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven, Elizabeth Coatsworth (age 8 and up), fable from ancient Japan
  • The Master Puppeteer, Katherine Paterson, (age 13 and up), set in feudal Japan
  • The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn (The Samurai Mysteries), Dorothy Hoobler, (grade 6 and up), While attempting to solve the mystery of a stolen jewel, Seikei, a merchant's son who longs to be a samurai, joins a group of kabuki actors in eighteenth-century Japan.
  • Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, Rhoda Blumberg, (5rd grade, age 10 and up), the opening of Japan (1853-1854).
  • Shipwrecked! The true adventures of a Japanese boy, Rhoda Blumberg (4th grade and up), a 14-year old boy, Manjiro, is shipwrecked while fishing off Japan's shores and is not allowed back into Japan because of its seclusion laws. He lives in America for a while and then returns to Japan just in time to help with negotiations with Commodore Perry. Manjiro ends up rising in status in Japan to become a Samurai. Fascinating true story.
  • Wonder Tales From Around the World, Heather Forest
  • Follow The Drinking Gourd. Rabbit Ears (CD)
  • Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman, Dorothy Sterling (4th grade/age 9 and up)
  • The Underground Railroad, Raymond Bial



  1. Looks like such a fun week! I had a question on my blog and I would really love your input when you have the time

  2. Cool! Spy Missions are pretty neat! Great light demonstrations! But ouch on the foot! :(

  3. You all have such wonderful and productive weeks.
    Blessings, Dawn

  4. OWIE! Hopefully the stitches come out soon.

  5. I love covered bridges! I told Kei that when my job starts back I would love to visit everyone around here. Loving the spy missions! :) We read "Follow the Drinking Gourd" when we studied the Underground Railroad. That seems like so long ago. So sorry about Sam's foot! I hate that for him.

  6. Ouch! Sorry about the stitches. It looks like a great week otherwise. It must be fun to teach many kids of different ages.

  7. I really enjoyed reading this post. The telegraph work is just awesome. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Poor foot!!! :(

    Lots of wonderful stuff for you all this week. :)

  9. Oh goodness - some forced rest this weekend? But what a lovely week. I think y'all are surely enjoying your new spot in TN. Making a telegraph - awesome! And I absolutely love learning surprises like your spelling surprise. Your photos are gorgeous.

  10. Thanks for linking up to TCB. I'm going to have to look up some of those books. Sorry about Sam's foot! Hope it's fully healed soon!

  11. I love the spy missions photo! The telegraph sounds like a fun project :)
    Look at all the great books you've been reading!
    I'm sorry to hear about Sam's foot...I hope he recovers quickly!

  12. Wow! It looks like you had an incredible week of homeschooling. Thanks so much for linking up to The Children's Bookshelf. I hope that we will see you again this Monday. : )

  13. AW, poor fella!

    Your kids are learning about things that I never even learned!


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