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 Weekly Report, July 11-17: Summer Session, week 3

July 11-17
On Saturday, Steven and I visited with my mother who is in a rehab center (details on why here), which is almost two hours from our house. On the way back home, we went grocery shopping and so we didn't get home until evening and were exhausted. Katie had made dinner (Crockpot Taco Soup) and we came home just as she was about to serve it. Later we had popcorn and watched the CD Laurel had made of Once Upon a Time. It was very nicely done, and the boys enjoyed seeing themselves act for the first time. Steven had not seen it before because he had to leave during the show because Alex was making too much of a disturbance.
Other bits of fun...

  • after one more of the torrential thunderstorms we have been having, a frog hopped on the outside of one of our living room windows. It was interesting to see the underside of a spring peeper. 
  • Katie got the first big ripe tomato out of the garden and it was delicious! 
  • We have been enjoying light summer foods...banana peanut butter crackers with honey, cinnamon and chia seeds...black bean tostadas...shrimp salad bowl, to name a few.

On Sunday, Steven took Katie and the youngest boys to a Pre-Bastille Day party at a dear friend's house. We look forward to this party every year. 
Her house is in a beautiful setting...
and there is a pot luck/cookout and lawn games.

On Tuesday, the boys went bowling with friends. This is a great summer activity for when it is too hot to get some exercise outside. Our local bowling alley has a great deal for the summer, if you can get a group together, it is only $5 per person, shoe rental included, for two games and a snack of pizza and soda. You might want to check and see if your local bowling alley has a similar deal for some summer fun.

On Thursday we went to Goddard Visitor's Center, NASA with friends. To be honest, it wasn't as good as we expected. The lady at the front desk wasn't as pleasant as one would expect, the lady running the sphere demonstration was unable to answer questions that we (even the kids) could answer (things like, "Are there thunderstorms on the sun?) and  several of the hands-on exhibits were closed.
On the way home, Katie made origami appropriate to the day and Quentin had imaginary space explorations.
week 3
We only got a chance to do some summer learning at home on Friday, Monday and Wednesday, but we did accomplish a few things on those days.


Botany: The Mustard Family

Parts of a Hibiscus Flower

This week in our quest to learn the most common plant families, we learned about the mustard family. Mustard Family, which is identified by its four green sepals, four petals, six stamen; four tall and two short and one center pistil. This required us to learn about the parts of flowers and their terms.


Summer Constellations: Aquila


After finding Lyra, Aquila was next on our list. If you can find the summer triangle, you can see that Lyra is on one of the points of the triangle, and Aquila is on another of the points. Aquila means "eagle" in Latin, and looks like an bird with its wings spread in flight, with its beak (a rather large one, too) made with the brightest star, Altair (which comes from the Arabic phrase "al-nasr al-tair", meaning "the flying eagle".) Aquila represents the eagle who carried out many tasks for Jupiter (and Zeus in the Greek mythology) including carrying his thunderbolts. This constellation was also known to the Romans as "Flying Vulture" (vultur volans).


Lesson 2: Moving Matter

In our explorations of moving matter, we completed several experiments involving states of matter, dissolving, freezing points and the properties of liquids.
There are many simple ways to show changing states of matter. Perhaps the simplest one is to make some Jello. It begins as a powder, or solid. Water, a liquid, is added to the Jello, but not before some of it turns into steam, a gas by the physical change of the water's boiling. Once the hot water is added, the Jello powder turns into a liquid as well as it dissolves. Putting the Jello liquid into the refrigerator, chilling it, by physical change, turns the Jello back into a solid.
You can also look at the changing states of matter by dissolving lollipops in some hot water and seeing the solid change into a liquid. Take this liquid and pour it into an Popsicle mold and pop them into the freezer and you will see your liquid turn back into a solid as it freezes, and make a tasty summertime treat as well, but be careful to eat them before they change back into a liquid state! We talked about how temperature can affect the changing states of matter.

We also experimented with what substances freeze the fastest under the same temperatures.We put 1/4 cup of hot water into three other cups. To the first one we then added 1/4 cup of table salt, and to the second we added 1/4 cup of Epsom Salts. The third cup we left with just the water. To the fourth cup we put 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol in.  To the fifth cup, we put 1/4 cup of Jello with hot water added to make a liquid. Next they had to hypothesize the order in which the liquids would freeze. We checked the cups every hour throughout the rest of the day. Cups Two and Three froze first. It was somewhat difficult to tell when the Jello froze solid and when it was just thickened. The fourth cup froze last. This is to illustrate that different substances have different freezing points.

There is no better way to examine liquids and their properties than giving them some mystery liquids to explore. I chose four liquids that were either clear or nearly clear: liquid hand soap, baby oil, canola oil and corn syrup. The first thing they did was explore the properties of the mystery liquids, comparing and contrasting them. (The Homeschool Scientist has a great Properties of Liquids worksheet you can print out to use with this exploration, if you wish.) I introduced the term, "viscosity" which is best described by experience. You can say that it is a way to describe a liquids movement against gravity, but they will probably be most contented to think of it as the liquid's thickness. The boys ranked the liquids from the one with the most viscosity, to the one with the least. There was some differences of opinion, and that was okay with me. Now, with this in mind, I brought out the containers of the real liquids and had them match them up by what they had observed from handling the test tubes of liquids.
Next, we decided to see how the liquids responded in experimenting environment to see if what they had observed about the liquid held true. I put one cup of flour in four bowls, one for each liquid we were exploring. I labeled each bowl with the liquid's name and they began by adding two Tablespoons of each liquid to the bowls. We kept adding more of the liquid until it formed a pleasing dough to play with. They quickly noticed that the more viscous the liquid, the more tablespoons they needed to mix in in order to make a dough. They ended up adding 6 Tablespoons to the Corn Syrup, 5 Tablespoons to the Liquid Soap, 4 Tablespoons to the Vegetable Oil and 3 Tablespoons to the Baby Oil.


Equatorial Africa

Alex finally got around to finishing the African Mask Art Project that he has been working on for some time. This is a nice project because it can be done with a wide range of ages and abilities.

Latin Roots

The Latin roots we learned this week were: Dormiio, Dormitum which means sleep, Annus which means year, Stella which means star, Arbor, Aroris which means tree and Tempus, Temporis which means time.

sources and inspiration:


  1. What a blessing to have Katie there to save the day - or make dinner - which is often the same thing :)

  2. I love the origami - very clever. When I have the time (one day in the distant future) I would love to learn the art of paper folding.

  3. Your daughter is so good at origami. What a great week, even if the Goddard center wasn't that great. You would think it would be excellent. Sometimes we are surprised how wonderful a hole in the wall is when a very professional place isn't great. Have a great weekend.
    Blessings, Dawn

  4. Sounds like you guys had a great week (despite a disappointing field trip)! My favorite thing is the finished African Mask project :-)

  5. Your mother's condition sounds very much like my MIL's condition, only she REFUSES any help. What-so-ever. It has been painful for my sisters-in-law to watch (the ones who live near her), even has them so frustrated. I will keep her in my prayers.

  6. I'm sorry your mom's in rehab. I'll check out that post after. How nice it must have been to come home after a hard day to a delicious dinner all made for you! You guys are really eating healthy. The tomato makes my mouth water. It looks so delicious. It sounds like the field trip was a bit disappointing, but all your other fun activities probably made up for that! I just love how you guys always find something to celebrate!

  7. the first big ripe tomato out of the garden is surely something to celebrate. I always love to stop by here because you are always up to something fun!

  8. Your weeks sound so full and rich, Phyllis. What a good idea to spot the constellations. It gets dark so late here in summer I'm not sure my kids will be spotting many but I might give it a go. I'm looking forward to reading more about your science.

  9. That reminds me, I need to make sure we have a NASA trip this year since we'll be studying astronomy.

  10. I think your week sounds amazingly full of awesome learning! As always. That Pre-Bastille day Party looks like such fun. We had one tomato, the squirrels got it. Not OUR squirrel but a yard squirrel. :) Kate is such a blessing to you. I'm sorry your NASA field trip wasn't as good as you thought. The lady probably rarely gets asks questions from kids!! Have a great week Phyllis.


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