Home School Life Journal

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

Our Homeschool Report, November 23-29, week 12

week 12
Last Friday, we finished up our study of Arabia by celebrating at a Middle Eastern restaurant, Babylon.
This week Katie made gingerbread cookies with Quentin and James.

At the beginning of the week, I make a list of possible explorations for the younger two boys, and they get to pick from the list (or come up with alternatives of their own). In this way, we both get our needs met. I have some ability to guide their studies and they have some control over what they learn about and how they learn about it and when they study it. They work on their reading and writing skills and sometimes math skills on most every day, in varying degrees in addition to this. I direct Alex's studies pretty much totally and Sam has his own schedule that he works through during the week.

On Monday, both James and Quentin wanted to begin their study of Russia. I had gotten some books of Russian fairy tales out of the library to read to them at night and they had piqued their interest.
James wanted to explore the onion domes and St. Basil's cathedral.
Quentin was more interested in Russian clothing. And so, they both made art projects around their interests. Alex worked on reading comprehension.
On Tuesday, Alex, James and Quentin all made maps of Russia and we took this opportunity to go over some of the places we had studied before, a review of sorts. We also added Scandinavia, where we will be headed next. Quentin also worked on writing his first name in cursive.
On Wednesday, Quentin wanted to work on his phonics/reading skills and completed a few workbook page. He likes them sometimes as a change of pace. Alex worked biology. I read him some from a book and asked him a few basic comprehension questions. He began a sketch of a cell for a notebook page.
Sam and Katie got together and made this series of comics about biology. Sam had the ideas and asked Katie to sketch them out for him and he added the words. Well, at least Sam is paying attention. : )
 James completed this Kandinsky-style art project
On Thursday, Quentin completed this sketch of a Russian Nesting doll.
James and I enjoyed a math activity centered around Anno's book, Anno's Magic Seeds. He figured out how many seeds there were after each step.
Alex worked on a Lift-the-Flap book on Invertebrate Classification, a map of the Panama Canal and a bit about Teddy Roosevelt. I will post more pictures as soon as I take them. I am afraid that picture-taking is one of the things that I seem not to be able to keep up with lately.


When we read The Firebird (by Jane Yolen) Quentin became very curious about a phrase that ends the story, "there's a tale for you, and a crock of butter for me." We researched it and found out that this Russian saying is a common way for storytellers to end their stories. According to The Distinctive Qualities of Russian Fairytales by Rebecca Steltner , "the storyteller simply wants to raise attention to the fact that he has not yet been paid for his story and that he cannot live on stories alone...sometimes the narrator will be more direct and say exactly what he wanted in return,
'Now I wouldn't mind a glass of vodka' or 'There is a tale for you and a crock of butter for me.'"

  • The Arabian Nights by Wafa Tarnowka
  • The Firebird, Jane Yolen, This story is based on a Russian folktale and a famous ballet. The story includes an evil wizard, maidens held captive, Prince Ivan searching to save them and a mischievous Firebird. The illustrations in the book feature the folktale, with vignettes of the ballet in the border.
  • The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Alexander Pushkin This story features jealous sisters and a tsarina and her infant son that gets sealed in a barrel and cast in the ocean. They are helped by an enchanted swan, which eventually turns the son into a gnat so he can fly back to the tsar to be rescued. Gorgeous illustrations.
  • The Little Humpbacked Horse, Adapted by Elizabeth Winthrop, A classic Russian tale. Ivan is sent on one impossible task after another and is helped by the little humpbacked horse.
  • Luba and the Wren, Patricia Polacco. This is a favorite author of ours. An Russian-style adaption of the tale, The Fisherman and his Wife.
  • Russian Folk Tales, retold by James Riordan
  • Locks, Crocs, and Skeeters; The Story of the Panama Canal, Nancy Parker
  • Peter Pan (CD in the car)
On The Menu:
In addition to a second Thanksgiving dinner, and Katie's gingerbread cookies, this week we tried these new dishes on the menu...
Mexican Potato Bar from I Wash You Dry
Italian Chicken over Pasta from Our Story
Easy Cheesy Squash Bake from Kalyn's Kitchen

They were all very good and I would recommend that you try them.

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  1. What a wonderful week! I really like the comics of biology, it looks like something Michelle would enjoy doing. Your collages are so beautiful, and yummy:) Thank you for sharing.

  2. What wonderful interest-led learning, and I love all the notebooking work, too!

    Thanks for sharing the link to the invertebrate lift-the-flap book. That ties in nicely to our science studies.

  3. What great living and learning going on! We had a stream invertebrate hunt the other day and found dragonfly nymphs and caddisfly larvae. The lapbook looks like fun. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. Looks like a busy and wonderful week of learning! Great photos :) I especially like the art work, and that photo of the cup and saucer {that might sound crazy, but I have a thing for pretty cups and saucers ;) } The food looks delicious, and I love all the gingerbread cookie decorating.
    The study of Russia and the Russian fairy tales sound like fun!
    Have a great weekend Phyllis...you and your family are often in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. I don't think it is strange that you like pretty cups and saucers! I love them, too. Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.

  5. I should never visit your blog when I'm hungry! Your food photos are so delicious looking. I'm drooling here (sorry, not a nice visual!) I need to go and get dinner - you couldn't send some over, could you??

  6. What a wonderful week. The food all looks so good. Yummy. I love all of the art projects and the way you are giving them freedom in their learning.
    Blessings, Dawn

  7. Oh how I love to read your weekly posts! Hey, I just saw a Russian nesting doll ornament (in pink dress) at Walmart today. I didn't check the price but it was quite pretty and caught my eye. Maybe something to add to your tree this year after finishing up your Russian studies?

    1. That sounds wonderful. I will have to look for it.

  8. I find out about the best downloads from your posts. Now to check out that lift the flap one.


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