Home School Life Journal

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

Snapshot Summary, May 2017

May was a busy month, filled with activities that have become routine. 
 James went to his MTG club.
The boys went to First Friday Roller Skating.

Quentin went to Voice 
and Fencing lessons.

He also participated in a team-building tournament called War of the Room. Unfortunately his team didn't win, but it was a fun day and he did well for his team.
His fencing club is getting quite large, with 66 members now.
We went to the beach most days that were sunny...
and even some that weren't.
We even took cheese fries to the beach one day.

 We enjoyed trading books at the neighborhood little free library.

 Katie and Sam finished up their semesters at Chesapeake College. Katie got A's in English Composition, Painting II and Freshman Seminar, and a C in Math. Sam got A's in English, Freshman Seminar and Microeconomics and a B in US History. They both qualified for the Honor's Program, but they are transferring to Anne Arundel Community College next year so that they can take additional courses in their selected majors (Katie-Art and Sam-Politics). Katie is register to take  Ceramics I, Drawing I, First Aid and Statistics next semester. Sam is register to take Statistics, Japanese I, Introduction to Philosophy and Political Theory.

 Quentin turned 13, and for a few weeks we had three teenage boys in the house (Sam turned 20 at the end of the month). For Quentin's birthday party, we had a mystery party set in an Italian vineyard.
They all enjoyed acting their parts, as the dinner progressed.
 There was lots of intrigue as the clues were revealed, one by one. The characters challenged each other and defended themselves as the story unfolded. In the end, the murderer was revealed...
and then Quentin's birthday was celebrated.  Quentin wanted a Baked Alaska as his birthday cake, so I gave it a try. I had never made one before. I hadn't even made meringue before. It didn't quite turn out as the meringue began to slide off before it browned, but I rescued it before it was a total flop and it turned out to be tasty even if it wasn't browned or perfect looking.

One of the gifts Quentin got for his birthday was two baby rats.

We had a combination Memorial Day-birthday party for Sam, 
and then a few days later had a Japanese party.
Katie made from scratch the Onigiri and Miso Soup, which were delicious!

I hope you had a great May!

Our 21st year of Homeschooling Comes to a Close, May 2017

As our school year is all but finished this month, we are switching over to summer schedule in June. With that are also thinking ahead to the new year.
We will be working on Biology throughout the summer as we can, and continue with whatever we do not complete into next year.

Quentin will pick up American History where we left off next year. We are planning a couple of history related field trips this summer.

The Edcon workbooks seem to be working for James, so we will continue with those in the fall. Science and History materials from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum also seems to be working for him, so we will continue with those in the fall as well. 

Through the summer we'll be keeping skills up, (such as math) by playing games and by completing activities in my summer learning camps.

Sam plans to continue with Japanese and Katie plans to paint throughout the summer.

Quentin plans to continue fencing and voice lessons throughout the summer except when he is going to Acting Camp.

Beginning in June, we would like to enjoy some fun days of summer. How about you?

Civil War Presentations Projects

  • Write a mini play on one significant event during the Civil War. You may act out all the roles yourself, using quick costume changes and different voices, or you may organize a cast.
  • Research both Confederate and Union flags used in the war and replicate an authentic flag.
  • Find and make a recipe from the South and one from the north, authentic to the Civil War time period.
  • Research uniforms and present the information you learn graphically and create a presentation to explain the information.
  • Research Civil War maps in terms of their use and accuracy and create a presentation comparing a Civil War era map to a modern map of the same area.
  • Make a diorama of a famous battle or event.
  • Research artillery pieces and how effective they were in the war, and create a presentation to convey what you have learned. 
  • Research hats of both soldiers and civilians. Discuss them in terms of both fashion and function.
  • Research the music of the era. Include the background to one of the pieces.
  • Research doctors, medical personnel, medical tools and supplies. Compare to modern methods.
  • Research Matthew Brady, Timothy O'Sullivan and photography of the era. Show examples of their work.
  • Research Civil War money. Both sides had trouble financing the war. What role did inflation play in the Union victory?
  • Compare two generals, one Union and one Confederate, other than Lee or Grant. What common threads run through the biographies of both men?
  • Research spies of the war. What made an effective spy? How difficult was it to detect spies in a civil war where both sides are nearly identical in dress and language?
  • Research drill manuals. Demonstrate how soldiers drilled in preparation for battle.
  • Research Lincoln's speeches during the war. Give an analysis of one of them and recite it in costume.
  • Create a re-enactment of a famous event in Civil War history and film it with you as the narrator explaining the action.
  • Research artists, sketch artists and painters who worked during the Civil War. Compare and contrast two of the works.
  • Research recruitment posters of the war. Make one of your own using the techniques you believe were most effective, and explain your choices.
  • Research the Red Cross during the Civil War and Clara Barton's contribution to the organization.
  • Research inventions of the war. Which aided one side or the other? Which dramatically altered history? Which have changed little over the years to the 21st century?
  • Research ironclads and how they were used by both navies in the war.
  • Research the role of the bugler and the drummer in the armies of both sides. Perform one of the era's tunes or either drum or bugle.
  • Research prisons of the Civil War, and make a presentation on them in general or one or two specifically.
  • Research fortification techniques used by both sides. Begin your research with abatis, palisades and chevaux-de-frise.
  • Take an event of the Civil War, explain what happened and then write an alternate history, a "what if" based on something dramatic changing the event.
  • Research the rioting in Baltimore, and then compare it with a similar protest, like Kent State in 1970.
  • Research bayonets and make a presentation on them.
  • Research the role of the African American soldier.
  • Write a history of blockage runners in the Civil War. 
  • John Wilkes Booth Escape Tour
  • Research Lincoln's assassination. If possible, take a field trip to Ford's Theater or the John Wilkes Booth Escape Tour. 
  • Research Sherman's March to the Sea. Using maps and illustrations or photographs explain why it took place and what happened.
  • Research the role of your state in the Civil War. Take photographs of as many of the sights as you can.
  • Research censorship in the war.
  • Research the role of religion and chaplains in the war. Research the US Christian Commission and its role.
  • Research pistols and rifles used in the war. Show how they were used.
  • Research conscientious objectors and how both governments dealt with them.
  • Research desertion and deserters. Why did they desert and how did both governments deal with them.
  • Research corps badges and make a visual presentation of the information.
  • Research Lincoln's actions during the war that could be labeled "unconstitutional." Did these actions make him a dictator?
  • Research the role of submarines in the Civil War. How were they important?
  • Research the role of the foreign-born soldier in the Civil War. Which side benefited the most from them? What kinds of incentives were offered?
  • Research the origins of the Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
  • Research the Copperheads and the Peace Societies and present your findings of these dissidents organizations.
  • Research the role of Allan Pinkerton and the Secret Service during the Civil War.
See more of The American Civil War curriculum, sources and resources here.

Pioneers, part 12: The End

part 12: The End

Monday: Timeline

Have your student add to his timeline: 1869: First transcontinental train completed, however it did not stop travel over the Oregon Trail.

Tuesday: Role-Play

You are now about to cross the mountains. The trail is rocky in places. In other places, the ruts are very deep. By the looks of it, it is clear that some wagon wheels prior to you have gotten stuck in the ruts. Part of the mountain trail is very steep. You have heard that people sometimes take the wagon wheels off and let the wagons down with ropes. What do you do?

As you descend, it begins to snow in the mountains and the Indian guide, who has been with your your Wagon Train since you left Paradise, tells you that this is the fourth snow of the season. The snow nearly blocks the path but he believes that it is still open, but with the snow now coming down it will soon be closed for the rest of the winter what should you do?

Roll a D6 and on a roll of 3, the wagon has this happen to them: The toll on your wagons is to the point that you must stop and repair the tongue before you continue 200 DPS

Roll a six-sided die. On the roll of a 6, the wagon has this happen to them, someone stole all of your flour and dried meat last night. What do you do? For a good solution you continue with no delay. For an acceptable solution 400 DPS,  for no solution, 800 DP's.

50 %: Last night a pack of hungry wolves attacked the wagon trains herd of cattle. Two cows were killed and you had to destroy to others because of the wounds they received. The GM picks which were killed, which wounded.

(If they decide to go over Snow Pass.)
The heavy snow continues to fall making your progress slow and difficult as you near the top one of the lead wagons slides halfway off, and the trailer overturns. You are trapped and the cruel winter has you. You see the snow continue to fall for nearly a week and your wagons are snowed in for the winter. If you have snow shoes you manage to walk over the pass and reach safety, otherwise you have a 65% chance of making it out alive.

(If they decide to send out scouts to check the trail.)
The scouts take several hours to make it up to the pass and then return. Valuable time is lost as they report that the pass was still open but the hard snow will close it within the next few hours. You now have to decide what you're going to do.

(If they decide to stay in High Valley for the winter.)
The winter came quickly you manage to build a few shelters and collect some additional supplies before the winter sets in. During the Long Winter the game is scarce and the weather extremely cold. When spring arrives and you can move again you find that you have lost three fourths of your supplies and a number of men, women and children have lost their lives. The Wagon Train weakly makes its way to the Valley, a mere skeleton of the enthusiastic group that left Fort Independence

(If they decide to return to Paradise.)
Going back is rough. The snow clogs the trail and the pass is full of deep snow. There is a 15% chance you're trapped at the pass and wiped out by the savage winter. If you have snow shoes, you have 50% chance to succeed and make it back to Paradise where you spend the winter. When spring arrives, you have only a few supplies left. Your money is gone and the best land in the Valley is gone. You have, however, your life and your family

Wednesday: Writing

For Those who Arrive in Oregon.
You have finally arrived in Oregon It is now the start of the rainy season. Food is scarce, and your supplies are low. What must you do to survive your first winter in Oregon?

For Those that went to California.
You have arrived in Sacramento and you're ready to find gold. Are you going to mine or use a stream? Describe the tools you use and how you use them.

Thursday: Writing Projects

Have your students finish their writing projects

Friday: Presentations

Have your student present to an audience (can be just your own family) everything he has done and talk about what he has learned.

Pioneers, part 11: Encounters on the Trail

part 11: Encounters on the Trail 

Monday: Timeline

Have your student add to his timeline: 1854: Kansas-Nebraska Act opened up these territories for settlement.

Tuesday: Writing

Write a "roadside telegraph" -a message that you will leave for wagons that are following you. It has to be written using sun-bleached bones or on paper attached to a stick. Sketch what this message would look like.

Wednesday: The Role-Play

(For those traveling the California Trail) You are at the Humboldt Sink. The only water supply is from springs and geysers that spout boiling hot, stinking water. Just beyond this is the Forty Mile Desert, where nothing grows and there is no water.

(For those on the Oregon Trail)
The wagon train has passes Fort Boise and is now approaching the Blue Mountains. The oxen are tired and are having a hard time pulling the wagon. The oxen will never be able to pull the wagon over the mountains. You are going to have to leave some things along the trail.

Roll a 6-sided die. A one means that a large mud slide has blocked the trail and it will take you several days to clear the mud away so the wagons can get through. 500 DP's.

Roll a 6-sided die. A one means that your wagon came down off a rise and fell into a ditch, breaking it's front axle. You must stop while your wagon is repaired. 300 DP's for waiting for the repair and an additional 100 DP's if you are not carrying axle grease.

Roll a six-sided die number 6 wagon repair water barrel has charged loose while going across very Rocky stretch of the trail and fell on the Rocks split open and you lost all the water you had in it if this was your only water barrel subtract 1 EF 400 DPS if you have only one additional $100 if you have two additional barrels

If you have a dog, while looking for firewood you and your dog encounter a coyote that is acting strangely a coyote attacks your dog you think the coyote is rabid writing research paragraph on rabies and how to treat a bite 200 DPI for a good paragraph 400 DPS for an acceptable paragraph 1000 EPS 4 no queria

(For those traveling the California Trail.)
You must travel across the Forty Mile desert. Do you travel during the day or night? During the day, the hot earth burns your feet. You are very thirst-crazed, and people are beginning to be really frightened.

There's very little food along the trail for the animals and those who are not carrying feed for their animals find them growing weak unable to work and in need of Special Care 100 D piece for each animal without feed

The animals are dying because of continuing lack of water lack of food and the extreme heat. Everyone roll percentiles 75% chance that each animal is affected. For each oxen, lose 2 EFs, each cow, 1 EF, each goat, 1 EF, each mule. 1 EF, each horse, 1 EF.

After finally making a cross the Forty Mile Desert, you have reached the small settlement of paradise there is plenty of fresh water from melting snow high in the mountains lush green grass for your animals and if you supplies to replenish those used in lost during crossing the desert after five days in Paradise you arrested the animals are strong and your spirits are high at 10 a.m. and go

You are just two days out of Paradise in the climb has begun to take its toll on your animals the altitude of nails 7000 feet and you still have to climb 2000 feet to get over the past the guide and Scouts have just returned from checking the trail ahead and they have informed everyone on the trip by the train but the trail is going to become very Steep and narrow auction mules and horses will have to be hitched 8 to 10 to each wagon to pull it over the top this will mean repeated trips for all of the livestock to make the final climb a little easier everyone must reduce their wagon loads to a maximum of 500 BW units

Thursday and Friday: Writing Projects

Have your student continue to work on his writing projects.

Hands-On Middle School and High School Biology

Here is the newest biology curriculum that I have put together. We will be doing some of the activities throughout the summer and on into the fall. This program is designed for students from Middle School level to High School grades. You will, therefore need to establish for yourself the level which meets the standard for your student(s) grade level(s). Everything should reflect the students' mastery of the material covered. Students will need a blank notebook to record information. I ask my students to keep wide margins on the left side of their notebook pages and double space their writing so that they can go back and add questions, comments and reflections in the margins.

Part 1: Introduction to Biology

from the experiment Osmosis and Diffusion...what is the difference?

The Chemistry of Life

Students review molecular biology concepts. They also observe and learn about the processes of diffusion and osmosis. Students learn the basics of organic chemistry and see how easily enzyme function can be destroyed.

The Cell

Students further their knowledge of internal structures of various cells by viewing cork and onion epidermis cells. Slides of cells are viewed microscopically and students are challenged to determine whether they are viewing plant or animal cells. Students observe cytoplasmic streaming and the response of plant cells by the presence of salt. Banana cells are also viewed to see what the largest part of the cells contain.

Cellular Reproduction

To observe the physical characteristics of DNA, students extract DNA from strawberries or onions. Students observe under the microscope how a cell divides during mitosis and observe the difference between plant and animal cell division. Students also construct a model of a virus and learn about its characteristics. 


Students learn about the history of genetic research and how to make Punnet Squares. Students learn about a Di-hybrid cross to understand how multiple traits are passed from one generation to another. Students will also understand how sex - linked traits are passed from parents to offspring. 


Students will learn about Charles Darwin and his theory. 

Part 2: Aquatic Habitats

Pond Life

Study ecosystem of a pond and collect and culture specimens from a pond. We will collect four jars of pond water and culture them with hay, rice, egg yolk and soil, separately. 

Microscopic Pond Life, part 1

Identify and sketch organisms from the collected and cultured specimens using a microscope. 

Microscopic Pond Life, part 2

Look at the same cultures a week later. Do the organisms differ from the week prior?

Constructing a Pond Model

Using gravel, sand, water plants such as Elodea and 1 1/2 gallon aquarium, students create a pond model. They record what they have done in science journals and predict changes the habitat may go through in the future. Students also look at the  Elodea under the microscope.

Kingdom Plantae

Students learn about basic plant anatomy, macroscopic and microscopic structures of a leaf, Students begin leaf identification and a leaf collection. Students learn how anthocyanin and pH help determine leaf color. Students learn about plant stems and roots and look at examples of them (both monocot and dicot) under a microscope. Students learn the basics of plant classification. 

Adding Tubifex Worms and Snails to the Pond Model

Students add Tubifex worms or Daphnia and Snails to the pond model, one at a time and record observations. Students also observe Tubifex worms under the microscope to learn about their body structure.

Adding Fish to the Pond Model

After observing and recording the structures of fish, the Gambusia, Guppies or Goldfish are added to the model pond and then their behavior is observed and recorded. Predictions are also recorded. Fish scales are viewed under the microscope. 


As the pond model habitats begin to resemble an actual pond, interactions are observed and recorded. Decomposition may be covered. Mosquito larvae are observed and then added to the habitat. 

Designing and Conducting Experiments

Students will be asked to come up with their own question to investigate by designing and conducting their own experiment using the scientific method, which will be accurately recorded.

Subkingdom Algae

Students will observe microscopically and microscopically at least two of the five phyla of the Subkingdom Algae. 

The Pond Models will be kept and observations recorded while we go on to further studies.

Part 3: Forest Habitats

Exploring Soil

Soil will be collected from different places and compared. The samples will be viewed under the microscope. Soil profiles will be done on each of them. 

Building the Forest Model

Using a plastic container, sand, birdseed or grass seed, dry leaves, twigs and a strawberry,  alyssum, Violet or other small garden plant, students will create their own Forest models. They will record what they have done in their science journals.

Inside a Flower

Plant Physiology and Reproduction

Students learn how plants use water, including viewing xylem under the microscope. Students learn about plant growth and reproduction, including dissecting and labeling plant parts. Students observe various types of fruits and classify them based on their differences. 

The Environmental Factor and  it's Effect on Radish Leaf Color

Students will observe the effect that the environment has on a genotype to make its phenotype change.


Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect 

Using a thermometer and a plastic 2-liter bottle, students will observe the ability of carbon dioxide to absorb energy from sunlight. These findings will be recorded in their science journals. The water cycle, the oxygen cycle and the carbon cycle are covered.

Adding Earthworms to the Forest Model

Earthworms are observed and recorded about before being added to the habitat. Their role as decomposes are discussed. 

More About Earthworms

Invertebrates as a class are studied. Earthworm anatomy, including internal structures, are recorded. Experiments are designed and conducted using g earthworms as the basis of the study.

Adding Isopods to the Habitat

Students will be encouraged to identify and understand Isopod structures and behavior while adding them to the Forest Model. 

Adding More to the Forest Model

Students can add one additional thing they collect to their Forest Model, such as Garden snails or slug, beetles, crickets and the like. They could instead add an inanimate object such as rocks, shells, and the like. Observations of any interactions are recorded. Just as the Pond Models were kept and ongoing observations were recorded, the Forest Models are also kept, observed and recorded. This will overlap with the activities in part 3, so that the activities in part three are conducted with both a cricket and the mammal.
from Kingdom Fungi

Kingdom Fungi

Students observe fungi and learn how members of the class Basidiomycetes grow and reproduce. Can they grown in the Forest Model? Students also learn about the fungi of the Class Ascomycetes, in comparison and contrast to Class Basidiomycetes. Students observe how yeast reproduce through budding. This is compared to how Class Zygimycetes grow and bud. Various molds and mildew, as well as Impertfect Fungi, will be observed microscopically and microscopically.  

Part 4: Mammal and Insect Observations

The Animal Corral

Students learn the basics of scientifically observing animal behavior as they read about scientists such as Jane Goodall and begin observing animals is a animal corral. They learn about how assumptions and anthropomorphism affect our ability to accurately observe animal behavior.

Stimulus and Response

Students introduce stimulus objects, such as foods, into the animal's environment and observe how the animal reacts. Students generate hypotheses about how certain behaviors help animals in the wild survive. Students discuss the shortcomings of observing animal behaviors. 

The Sampling System

As a continuance of the last section's discussion, students discuss the value of mapping animal movements. They then learn to use a time sampling system of mapping animal movements. 

Holding and Observing Animals

Humane treatment of animals is covered and students practice how to humanely handle both a cricket and a rat. They also observe and record the physiology of the  cricket. Using drawings, the internal structures of the cricket are also explored and compared to the internal structures of the mammal. Insect identification is also learned. 

Designing Experiments

Students design their own animal behavior experiment by choosing a single stimuli and a topic to investigate. The topic is then narrowed to one hypothesis that can be tested within a half-hour period. The choices available to the animal are identified as well as the actions that will be observed and recorded. The concept of a fair test will be covered.

Mapping Animal Movements

Students use a sampling system to map the movements of a rat and a cricket. First they are observed and mapped as they explore an empty container and then after food and a shelter are added.

Identifying Movement Patterns

Students construct bar graphs as a first step in analyzing the mapping data they have collected. They then compare the trials conducted with and without stimulus, and the differences in behavior revealed by the data for the rat and the cricket. How does the behavior of the cricket and the rat differ from each other? The concept of key location is also covered. Students can also take this technique into the field by conducting a similar experiment in the backyard or a park.


Students get the materials they need and set up their experiments. After the experiment has concluded, students record their results and write their conclusions.  

Scientific Convention

With an audience, students describe their experiments and summarize their results. At the end of each report, there is a period of comments and questions from the audience. Students may wish to revise and improve their experiments.

Part 5: Other Areas of the Animal Kingdom

from Phylum Cnidaria

Other Invertebrates

Students observe a specimen from the phylum Porifera and note the simplicity, yet complexity of this animal's support structure. Students also observe the hydra and a planarian.

Class Aves (Birds)

Students observe bird embryology, look at feathers under a microscope,  learn types of feathers and skeletal structures. Student begin bird identification in the backyard and through field trips to nature centers, parks and bird sanctuaries.

Katie sketches the albino Corn Snake at the Reptile House.

Class Reptilia

Students learn the characteristics of this class, and the differences in the various orders that make up this class. Students visit a reptile house and learn about how they live.


  • Exploring Creation with Biology,  Jay Wile, grades 8-10
  • Aquatic Habitats,  LHS GEMS, grades 2-8
  • Terrarium Habitats, LHS GEMS, grades 2-8
  • Mapping Animal Movements, Katharine Barrett, LHS GEMS, grades 5-9
  • Mapping Fish Habitats, LHS GEMS,grades 6-10
  • Animals in Action LHS GEMS, grades 5-9
  • Exploring Creation with Zoology,  Swimming Creatures, Land Animals, grades 1-8 
Hands-On Middle School and High School Biology

Pioneers, part 10: Rain, Rain, Go Away...

part 10: Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Monday: Timeline

Have your student add to his timeline: 1850: Peak year of traveler's west, with approximately 55,000 travelers.

Tuesday: The Role-Play

(For those on the Oregon Trail)
The Snake River is just ahead. You will travel about 250 miles along the south side of the river. The Snake River is very difficult to cross. The common crossing is shallow,  but 600 feet wide and moves very swiftly. There is one small ferry that takes wagons across. Sometimes it takes days to get across. Indians swim the River from morning to night and can assist for a price. You can chain the wagons together to cross or take the wagons apart and float them across the river.

Heavy rains being to fall and continue for several days.  Your youngest party member was soaked when your wagon leaked. He/she caught pneumonia. 20% chance she dies. If so, lose 1 EF and 400 DP's for the delay of the funeral.

Rain has fallen now for seven days and the trail has become an impassible muddy mess. % chance your wagon has bogged down and mused be pulled out before you and the wagons behind you can proceed. 300 DP's for the delay.

You come to the Snake River crossing, but because of the high rushing river, your guide has decided to delay the crossing for several days in hopes that the water level will recede. Three days have passed and the rains continue. What do you do? 100 DP's for the time lost waiting do far.
If you decide that no more time can be wasted, and you attempt to cross the river today, the guide tells you that you must lighten your load to 650 BW units.  What do you leave behind?
As you prepare for the crossing, you suddenly realize the importance of rope. Without enough rope, you cannot safely guide the wagon sd and pull them across the river. If your wagon train is not carrying 7 or more lengths of rope, you lose 1 EF and the chances of getting washed away grow %.
Roll a 6-sided die,  a 1 or 2 means that a member of your wagon party falls off the wagon and drowns. Lose 1 EF.
Roll a 6-sided die.  A roll of a 1 means that one of your draft animals drowns in the crpssing. Your wsgon, too, is almost lost, but friends rush to your aid and help you to save it.
Roll a 6-sided die. A roll of 1 means that a large tree, rushing down the river, smashes into your wagon and crushes it in the raging water. You manage to hold on to the lifeline but your wagon, your supplies  and your draft animals are all lost. You must find another wagon on which your party can ride for the remainder of the trip. Lose 3 EFs for all your loss. If you roll a 2, your wagon swamps midstream.  You manage to get across but you lose 60 BW units of supplies, including your flour and salt. What did you lose? Start with your flour and salt.

Wednesday-Friday: Writing

Have your student continue to work on his writing projects.