Home School Life Journal

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

October 23-29, 2015, Snapshot Summary of The Fall BFF Retreat and The Ultimate Halloween Party

The boys looking over the new packs of cards Hope bought them before the trading commenced.
Magic The Gathering Party

BFF Retreat
On Saturday, I went to my sister-in-law's for my annual fall BFF retreat.

Chesapeake Bounty
We went to this farmer's market where they had baskets of various sizes which you could fill for various sums with whatever you wanted. I bought lots of fruits and vegetables including an Asian pear, Japanese eggplants, and a Daikon radish. I bought a jar of jam and some artisan bread. Then we bought two dozen of the best blue crabs I have had in years. We ate our fill and then picked out the rest for crabcakes the next day.

Monday and Tuesday
26 and 27
Sunrise Garden
On Monday I went with Brenda to the library where she volunteers and to her Tai Chi class. On Tuesday, we went to the Sunrise Garden. Back at home, Steven took Quentin to his rehearsals.

Wednesday and Thursday
28 and 29
Co-op and The Ultimate Halloween Party
On Wednesday, I came home and we went to (or taught) co-op classes. On Thursday, we had the Ultimate Halloween Party.
On the menu was Ghostly Shepard's Pie, 
Roasted Red Pepper Deviled Eggs - naturally orange colored pumpkin shaped deviled eggs. the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
Roasted Red Pepper "Pumpkin" Deviled Eggs, Dracula Burgers, Mummy Cheese Sticks, 
Black Candy/Toffee Apples
Poison Candied Apples and Spider Web Cake, Spiced Cider and
Homemade crock pot pumpkin latte. This recipe is EASY to make and is my go-to drink when entertaining in the fall or winter. Made with REAL ingredients from your pantry. Everyone loves it and amazed that it is made in a slow cooker.
pumpkin spiced latte.

We had the traditional games such as donuts on a string.
 We made candy bats, 
owls and monsters.
 We bobbed for apples.

We carved Jack O' Lanterns out of pumpkins or turnips and we watched the 1931 Frankenstein movie. We had more planned, 
(ghostly craft and roasting marshmallows), but ran out of time, so we are likely to do those before Halloween.

sources and resources:

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Mock Trial, part 2: The Opening Statements

Here is a format you can use to write your own Mock Trial Opening Statements.

Calling of Case by Bailiff

"All rise. The Court of _______________ is now in session. Honorable Judge ______________ presiding.

Each side may outline the proof to be presented to the jury during the trial. Opening statements are not evidence, only expectations of what each side expects the evidence to prove. These statements are not evidence but only explanations of what each side claims and expects to prove. The claims must be proved by evidence. The conflicting claims constitute the issues.

The Opening Statements for the Prosecution


Good morning, my name is ________, and I am the prosecutor in this case. It is my pleasure to represent the people of this state. On {date of incident}, the defendant in this case {describe what he or she did in detail}. At the conclusion of the case we will ask for a verdict of guilty. 
It may be helpful to point to the defendant in the courtroom when you refer to him.


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this case is about {sum it up in a memorable way...examples could be...a defendant who could not control his anger or a man whose greed got the better of him or  a defendant who is pretending to be insane to avoid being held responsible for his own actions}. 
These are some pretty basic themes. To develop your own theme, try to summarize your prosecution case in a sentence or two.


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution will call three witnesses to the stand. We will call (first witness) officer __________ who will explain that he was on duty in (place) (when...possibly...on the night of the robbery), and (did what? possibly...responded to the 7-11 and observed the defendant fleeing from the scene with a bag in his hand. We will call (second witness, such as...the store clerk who was on duty, and she will testify (what?... such as...that she recognized the defendant as the robber even though he had a bandanna covering most of his face.) Lastly we will call (third witness...such as, a government psychologist) who will testify what? such as... that he did a mental health assessment of the defendant. The psychologist will testify that the defendant was definitely not insane at the time of the commission of the crime.)
A couple of examples are provided above, but you will need to summarize for yourself what each witness is going to testify to. A lengthier opening statement will provide a lot of details as to what each witness will say. 

Anticipate the defense theories:

A good prosecution opening statement will try to anticipate the points that the defense will raise in their opening. Remember that the prosecution has to give their opening statement first so you will have to guess a little as to what the defense will say. Often times a prosecutor will state something along the lines of “Ladies and gentlemen, the defense may argue that the defendant acted in self-defense, however, the witnesses will all state that it was the defendant who approached the victim and began attacking him.” Or the prosecution will state: “Ladies and gentlemen, the defendant may argue that the defendant was temporarily insane at the time of the fight. However, we will show that the defendant was merely intoxicated when the fight broke out, and not of the witnesses will describe unusual behavior.”


At the conclusion of the case we would ask you to find the defendant guilty, that the state has not met its burden of proof. Thank you.

The Opening Statements for the Defense


Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my name is so-and-so and it is my privilege to represent (name of client) in this case before you today.


In your defense opening statement, your job is raise some doubt in the jurors minds about the prosecutor’s claims as to what your client has done. So after you introduce yourself, and tell the jurors who you represent, you should begin to highlight the facts in the case that support your defense theory.

"You have heard the prosecutor explain what she hopes will be proven, but the prosecutor did not tell you all the facts.
The prosecutor has explained that my client was (example: identified” as the bank robber), but in fact  (example: this supposed eye-witness is a man that has held a grudge against my client for a long time, and he has made many inconsistent statements about the case.)

The prosecutor has explained (next point...such as...that my client was found the next day with over 50 thousand dollars, but none of those bills’ serial numbers was matched to any bank, and my client had the money due to a recent inheritance.)

The prosecutor has stated (next point...such as....that my client confessed to the robbery, but this statement was made to the police under coercion, and my client is mentally ill and didn’t know what he was saying.)

So we would ask you to keep an open mind and listen to ALL the evidence, and return a verdict of “not guilty”. Thank you."


Solving the Mystery

This week students organized the information they have been getting by analyzing the crime scene map and the lab work they have completed.
 To facilitate their organization of the clues, I took a piece of poster-board and divided it into columns which I headed with the suspects names.
Then we reviewed each of the clues that they could get from the crime scene map...
and the lab work they completed and they evaluated what implications of each clue and put it in the proper column or columns (some clues could implicate more than one person.) 
We then went over each clue and determined whether it was something that definitely implicated that person or whether it indicated that it could be evidence to implicate that person. For the ones that were definite, we outlined them with a marker. We discussed the possibilities of who had committed the crime and talked about whether the suspects had the means (the ability) to commit the crime and what the possible motive (the reason the suspect committed the crime) might be.
We then made a timeline of the events as stated in the statements from the suspects. To make the process easier, we assumed that everything that the suspects said was the truth from their point of view and that the murderer just left out the part where the crime was committed. This helped the students to see the sequence of events and when the suspects had opportunity (whether the suspect had the chance to commit the crime).
I then took a show of hands for each suspect to see which students thought which suspect committed the crime. (There were a few who thought it was multiple people working together.) Based on this, I broke the students up into groups with similar thought and asked them to come up with a story about what happened the night that Mr. Body was killed. (We even had a group that felt that Mr. Body had committed suicide.)
After some time, I had them come back together and each group was allowed to present their case and the rest of the class was allowed to ask questions or ask for facts to back up their story's details. When all the groups were finished, I took another vote and discovered that the stories changed some people's minds.
I did not tell them who I had intended to be the criminal because next semester we are going to take the criminal(s) who the class voted to be the most likely to have committed the crime to trial, and I want them to see through this process how important it is to have solid evidence to convict a criminal. It is a learning process!

History and Geography Meme #181: American Indians, lesson 7: Native Americans, part 1: Northeastern Indians

American Indians, lesson 7:  Native Americans, part 1: Northeastern Indians

  • Read about the Indians of this cultural area. List the tribes on the large map you created.
  • Draw pictures of artifacts, tools, clothes and houses unique to this area.
  • Study the houses used in this area. Observe the materials that are used in this area. You could make a model of a wigwam or longhouse out of similar materials you can gather outside.
  • What is the weather like in the Northeast? How did this affect what houses the Northeastern Indians lived in? What did they eat?

The Northeast Indians lived in an area of cold winters and warm summers. Their houses protected them from the cold winter weather. Long houses held many people. The long house was divided into many small living spaces for related family groups. Several long houses formed a community. Some of the Northeast Indians were farmers, while others relied on hunting, fishing and gathering. Maple sugar was plentiful in the Northeast.

  • Read about the Iroquois' sachems. Women could not become sachems but they could remove a sachem if he did not perform up tho their expectations. Discuss their method of decision making.
  • Read about the importance of religion in the lives of the Northeastern Indians. Read about their beliefs and their practices. Compare their religions with Christianity.
  • The Iroquois played lacrosse. What are the similarities and differences between their form of lacrosse and our own?
  • The Northeastern Indians were some of the first to meet European settlers. Read about Squanto, a Patuxet Indian, who helped the settlers. Discuss what happened between the Indians and the early settlers that caused them to become hostile toward each other.

Sources and resources:

  • Incans, Aztecs and Mayans, John Holzmann
  • The World of Columbus and Sons, Genevieve Foster
  • The Kingfisher World History Encyclopedia
  • Homeschool Curriculum, Grade 6

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October 16-22, 2015, Our Homeschool Weekly Report, Days 29-33

October 16-22

Life has been very busy for us lately. In addition to our regular school work, James has been learning more how to cook independently.
Sunrise on the way to DuPont Hospital for Children.
 We got the results of the intensive testing we had done for James at DuPont Hospital for Children. There were no real surprises but it is always hard to see what you already know written in black and white (such as his reading level is mid-first grade). Also, I was hoping for new insight or instruction, but they didn't really have much advise except to keep on as we have been doing. I suppose that should make me feel good, but it was depressing instead. (Perhaps I may be inspired to write a series on the techniques we have been using.} At least we have the pieces in place to allow James' schooling to go at about half the pace as the regular student, with him graduating probably at the same time Quentin graduates.

Quentin has started rehearsals for The Christmas Carol and so he is in his element. The cast seems to love their Tiny Tim as well, so all is happy on that front.

Quentin has also begun running his own role-playing campaign, which is also a delight to see. Although he said that it was difficult, he made it look easy as he was able to maintain both the creativity and the game mechanics {with the use of a calculator :)} with seeming ease.
We began our mock trial class at our co-op with the students writing their own opening statements and we are continuing with rehearsals for Murder at the Banquet, despite setbacks of the loss of a cast member.
days 29-33
How was your week?

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Mock Trial, part 1: Introduction to Trial Procedure

As an introduction to our mock trial, I gave them an overview of the parts of a trial. There are nine parts to a criminal trial.
  1. Jury Selection
  2. Opening Statements
  3. Presentation of Prosecution's Case
  4. Presentation of Defense's Case
  5. Closing Arguments
  6. Jury Instructions
  7. Jury Deliberation
  8. Verdict on Guilt
  9. (If Guilty) Sentencing

We are going to be writing a script of a mock trial as we go through the course, and hopefully, we will be able to record the final script as our mock trial class final project. Because of this, we will not be focusing on the parts of a trial that have to do with the jury, but I wanted to go over them so that the students had a complete picture of the trial process.

Jury Selection
  • Find out about the jury
  • Challenges for cause: can be things that would render the juror ineligible for jury duty such as felony conviction, or is biased in some way. Unlimited amount.
  • Peremptory Challenges (get 6 in a criminal case, unless it is a capitol crime, in which case you get 12.) You do not have to give a reason. 
To give them an idea of what the trial procedure looks like, I had them watch this video clip. Before they saw the clip, I told them to pay particular attention to 
  • how the attorney's introduced themselves 
  • the language the attorneys used
  • the theme of the case
  • how attorneys provide character sketches of the key people involved in the case
  • how the attorneys tell their side of the story by introducing the witnesses and describing the evidence, not by argument

Opening Statements
We then went on to learn about and create Opening Statements. I divided the class into two groups, the Plaintiff/Prosecution and the Defense. We then went through the various parts of the Opening Statements.

  1. What is the Prosecution's/Defense's goal in this case?
  2. What are the elements of the charge and the defense?
  3. Character sketches: Talk about the importance of how the Plaintiff/Defendant are perceived by the jury in this case. How does each side want to portray these people? Students then look to the testimony of the various witnesses to find good descriptors and then, work together or alone, each student writes a 1-2 sentence description of the significant characters.
  4. Theme: Talk about how jurors instinctively use themes to reduce the large amount of information they hear into something they can easily remember, so attorneys should select a theme for them. A theme can be a single word or a short phrase. Include key words that the jury can hear again and again during witness testimony and the closing arguments. 
  5. Important Facts for Each Witness: For each of their own witnesses, students should identify which facts or evidence are crucial to their side.
  6. Theory of the Case: A theory of the case is your side's version of what "really" happened. It should incorporate all the uncontested facts and your side's version of the contested facts. It should be simple to understand.
  7. Homework is to draft an opening statement which will include:

    • An introduction of the attorney (such as "Good morning, my name is _________ and I am representing ______, the defendant in this case...."
    • A theory of the case (On date, who, did what, how {such as in an act of revenge.})
    • Theme: such as "This is a case about revenge.."
    • A character sketch of the major people involved in the dispute: such as "_________ was an angry woman with a grudge against the world"
    • An explanation of the charge/defense: such as "You will asked to decide whether this was an act of self-defense, which requires three things. First..."
    • An introduction of the major witnesses for one's own side, such as " You will meet ________, who has known the defendant for many years..."
    • The key evidence that those witnesses will present, such as "_______ will testify that ________ did not even have his knife with him that fateful night..."
    • A conclusion requesting a verdict: "We ask that you find the defendant not guilty..."

These will be read in class and voted on as to which will be included in the final script, or perhaps the best parts of each draft will be put together to make the final script.

CSI: More Labs: Determining pH, Iodine and Vinegar Demonstrations and Fingerprint Analysis

This week we analyzed the cola and the ice cube tray for poison, determined what the white powder found at the crime scene was and examined the fingerprints on the glass.

Class Preparation:
  • You will need to have fingerprints for the students to compare with the cup. Use only the thumb and of course make sure that the same person who left the fingerprint on the cup is the same as the one you are using for Mr. Body. Have fingerprints for comparison for the suspects as well.
  • You will also need to take with you the cup that was taken from the crime scene in which you developed fingerprints.
  • You  need to make up some cabbage juice pH indicator. I found the easiest way is with a blender. You will also need a can of cola and three containers, preferably very small. An eyedropper is very helpful.
  • You will need to bring with you water from the ice cube tray (the water you have added 1 Tab. baking soda to 1 cup of water.)
  • In addition to the mysterious white powder that was collected from the crime scene, you will need to take with you a package of corn starch, a package of baking soda and some egg carton trays cut into six sections. Small plastic spoons and an eyedropper are very useful as well.

Class Activities:
  • Analyze the cola for poison. Obviously, I didn't put actual poison in the cola (and I told the students this) but it does afford us an opportunity to do some pH demonstrations and it mimics similar techniques used to determine what a substance is in actual labs. I put about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda in the cola to change its pH. For this demonstration, have three small containers available (I used vials). Have your students put some cabbage juice pH indicator in each of them. I used an eyedropper for this. At this time, I talked about what pH was, related it to gardening, and showed them that cola was acidic by the fact that phosphoric acid is one of its ingredients, and that for the purposes of this scenario, our possible "poison" was alkaline. I then talked about how cabbage juice can indicate the pH of a substance, determining whether the substance is acidic or alkaline, by its color change. I then had a student add some of regular cola to one of the vials and the students were thrilled to see the color change despite the fact that the cola was colored brown. They then added some cola from the crime scene and were delighted to see that it changed to a different color. This proved that "poison" was added to the cola! What does this clue tell you?
  • Analyze the water in the ice tray for poison. Do this in the same way as you did the cola, using plain water and the water from the ice cube tray (in which you have already added baking soda to.) The colors will be even more dramatic without the cola brown to mute them. Your students will find out that the poison was in the ice, and therefore got into the cola probably from the ice. What does this clue tell you?
  • Analyze the mysterious white powder to determine whether it is cornstarch or baking soda. To your six-section containers add cornstarch to the two cells of the first column, and baking soda to the two cells of the second column. Now have your students test the first row by adding three or four drops of iodine to the powders. If the iodine turns black, that means there is the presence of a starch. You can see that it doesn't change color in the baking soda. Now have your students test the second row by adding a few drops of vinegar to the cells. The vinegar will fizz in the presence of baking soda, and will do nothing to the cornstarch but get it wet. Now have your students test the mystery powder. Is it cornstarch or baking soda? What does this clue tell you?

  • Compare the fingerprints that have shown up on the cup with those in the case file. You might need to help your students by guiding them to look for loops, whorls and arches. 
  • source
    What does it mean that only Mr. Body's fingerprint was found on the glass?

Next week we will be analyzing all of the clues to help us determine what happened to Mr. Body.

October 9-15, 2015 Our Homeschool Weekly Report, days 25-28

October 9-15, 2015

The Christmas Carol
The most exciting thing that happened this week was that Quentin auditioned for a part in The Christmas Carol at a local theater. We were delighted when we received this email a few days later, 
"Hello everyone! I want to congratulate you all on a wonderful audition. I had 47 people in all try out for this show, so please don't feel discouraged if you aren't on this list- the competition was fierce! My decisions were made based on your audition and your availability that you listed in your sheet. Thank you!" and below Quentin's name was listed for Tiny Tim!
He is ecstatic!
Rainbow at the beach after a storm.
Other Things That Happened This Week:
Therapy for James' Anxiety
Game Night
Eddie's Birthday
We also celebrated Eddie's 19th birthday.

days 25-28
We completed our usual work in English (The Logic of English) and we began a new study in skeletal archaeology in science. (A post coming about this.)
Continuing with Quentin's (grade 6) study of geometry, we reviewed the formula for finding the area of a rectangle or square (base x height), and the formula for finding the area of a triangle (base x height divided by 2). We also explored finding the area of an oddly shaped area by counting the number of square units within the area. We talked about occasions when this type of math would be used such as laying tiles, carpeting or baseboard molding. 
We also worked on measuring the volume or capacity of the inside of a 3D object. He learned that to find the volume of a rectangular prism, he needs to multiply the base x height x width. To find the volume of a non-rectangular prism, he had to find the area of a base, then multiply the base x the height of the figure. Since this was half of a rectangular prism, the figures had to be also divided in half. The volume of a figure is always expressed in cubic units.
James (grade 8) completed a lesson on algebra notation.

Alex completed his Incan art project he started last week. It was based on the art project (Peru Mixed Media Canvas) at That Artist Woman and it shows the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, the Peruvian mountains that name the ruins and a llama. We read Lost City in the Clouds, The Discovery of Machu Picchu by Elizabeth Gemming to accompany this project. We should be finishing up our study of the Incans next week and move on to the Aztecs.

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