Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

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

Food and Culture; Lesson 7: Mexicans and Central Americans

Lesson 7: Mexicans and Central Americans
A Traditional Oaxacan Comida

Research and then write a comparison/contrast paper on the staple foods of the different regions of Mexico.

A Border Dinner
Fresh Red Salsa and Tortilla Chips

List two regional United States foods that are modifications of Mexican recipes. First, describe the possible origin dish, and then explain how it has been modified.

An Ecuadorian Dinner
Fish Ceviche
Potato soup
Fresh corn Tamales
Plaintains and Milk

What countries make up Central America? 

A Guatemalan Dinner

Describe the food staples of Central America.

A Brazilian Celebration
Feijoada Completa
Braised Collard greens
Brazilian Rice
Coconut Bread Pudding or Tortellini de Banana
Capirinhas, beer

Do immigrants from Mexico and Central America have any health problems? How may acculturation to the American diet contribute to these health problems?

Optionally, make one or more of the recipes listed here for your family to try.

High School Ancient History Lesson 6; The Rise of Greek Individualism

Note the continued emphasis on the individual, looking at the major city-states of Sparta and Athens and their means of achieving security.

Map activity: City-states of Greece.

Complete the following outline using your notes.

I. Sparta-Experiment in Elitist Communism
     A. Dorian State
     B. Messenia
     C. Lycurgus
II. Athens- Experiment in Democracy
     A. Solon
     B. Cleisthenes
     C. Pericles Read Funeral Oration from Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War.

Food and Culture; Lesson 6: Africans

Lesson 6: Africans

Research the cuisine that West African slaves brought to America and describe it in your notes. Include one American food recipe that has its origins in Africa. What traditional food might be served on Juneteenth?

Optionally, make some or all of a West African meal to serve to your family. Here is some suggestions:

A West African Meal
Ginger Beer or Green Tea with Mint

Research East African traditional cuisine and compare and contrast it to West African cuisine. What countries have influenced East African cuisine.

Ethiopian Dinner

Honey Wine, Ethiopian Coffee

Research the Nigerian child naming ceremony. What foods are used in the ceremony and what do they symbolize?

What is pica? Why does it occur?

What factors of the traditional African American diet contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure?

A Traditional Black Southern Supper

Making Native American Pemmican

Pemmican is a food that was developed by North American Indians, the word coming from the Cree word pimîhkân, which itself is derived from the word pimî, “fat, grease” which refers to the fat that was added to the lean meat from large game, such as buffalo, elk, or moose, in order to keep it together in a cake. The meat that went into the pemmican was sliced and dried in the sun or in the smoke of a fire, then ground into powder using rocks. Often dried fruit such as berries were added to the mixture. The mixture then could provide most, if not all, of the foods and nutrients one needs to survive on long hunting expeditions or just as a mainstay food through the long winters. It was easy to carry, tucked an a leather pouch. Later it was eaten by European explorers to the New World. It was even eaten by the Arctic explorer Vihljamur Stefansson.

We have been studying Native American groups this fall and so we decided that it might be interesting to try our hand at making and eating pemmican, and I will share the recipe with you, so you can try it as well. We found that it was pretty tasty!

We debated a bit on which recipe to try, and ended up settling on a recipe that uses already prepared jerky as the meat ingredient. We did this mainly because we did not want to spend a lot of time on this activity and we had already made our own dried meat before when we studied pirates, so we did not have to duplicate that step this time. 

This recipe calls for suet. You can find food grade suet, called Recipe Ready lard in the refrigerator section of your grocery store.


1/2 lb Jerky 
1 Tab. Brown sugar 
1 oz (2 Tab.) Raisins 
2 oz (4 Tab.) Cranberries 
2 1/2 oz. (1/3 cup) Suet 

Run the dry jerky through a food grinder a few times (we used a blender). In a loaf pan add the cranberries, raisins and brown sugar. When the mixture is well blended, melt the suet and stir it in. Let the suet cool and harden. You can then form it into balls and enjoy!

source: Recipe Source

High School Ancient History Lesson 5: Greece: Emergence from the Tribal State

Note that security is still the major goal or theme for man. The Greeks, however, obtained that goal through a major emphasis on the individual and the unique types of individuals the Greeks admired.

Compare and Contrast: Egyptians and Greeks

Map work: Ancient Aegean

I. Greek Heroes
     A. Myths personified the major ideals that the individual was to aspire to. Originally Greek heroes were warriors.
          1. Myths Research the major gods and their myths.
          2. Heroes: What ideal do each of the characters in The Illiad and the Odyssey represent?
               a. Homer
               b. Achilles
               c. Hector
               d. Odysseus

     B. Myths as History
          1. Henrich Schlirman
          2. Sir Arthur Evans

II. Greek Political Development
     A. Polis: city-state
     B. Dorian Invasion
     C. Archaic Age

Food and Culture: Lesson 5: Central Europeans, People of the Former Soviet Union and Scandinavians

Lesson 5: Central Europeans, People of the Former Soviet Union and Scandinavians

What were common staples of central Europeans, Scandinavians and people of the Former Soviet Union? What were their methods of preserving foods?

Research the foods of Central Europe, the Former Soviet Union and Scandinavia. 
  • List two well-known foods associated with being prepared in Germany, Poland, Scandinavians and people of the Former Soviet Union and one other central European country.
  • Describe three sausages that can be found in Germany or Poland. 
  • List four food in the United States that are thought to be descended from eastern European countries.
  • What is the German Abendbrot?
  • What is zakuski in a Russian meal? What foods may be included?
  • What is a smorgasbord in Scandinavian countries? What foods might be included?
  • Are their any religious holiday foods in central European countries?
  • Describe a traditional Christmas or Easter dessert for three countries in central Europe, the Former Soviet Union and one Scandinavian country. 
  • Describe the religion, worldview and food beliefs attributed to the Gypsies.
Optionally, pick one of the meals below and serve one or more of the dishes to your family. Did you like it? Why or why not?

German Abendbrot
A selection of sausages, sliced ham and cheeses
Beer or white wine

A Russian Dinner
Vodka and Beer

A Swedish Lunch
Milk or Beer

Homeschooling Year 23: September 2018

Down at our beach.
As I look back over September, I see the highs and lows that reflect some of the best and the worst of what it means to be a part of humankind. This is not to say that I have seen either the best or the worst of what we have to offer, but that I have seen a sampling of what those extremes stem from.
Down at our beach.

My husband, at age 55, was laid off from a job that he had held for the last eighteen years, the early part of last June, due to "downsizing." I chose not to mention it then because in those first couple of months (June, July) we were both busy with the younger boys activities and switching to a moment of repose after the older ones finished up their college year. We also were feeling optimistic that Steven would find another job soon as there is always a feeling that jobs in the computer field are prevalent. So, we lived off of his severance pay and the money we normally used for our annual vacation and for Christmas expenses, and felt it was a difficult time that we just had to weather. 

During this time we had to navigate the world of the unemployment office and then the state health insurance switches. We found out that we would not be eligible for unemployment benefits until October, as the severance package payment should take us until then, despite the fact that it was designed to last us through the end of August. How we were supposed to survive through two additional months is still a mystery to me.

We also had to switch all of our doctors because they were all in Delaware and we had to now have doctors in Maryland. My GP is one that I have had for many years and has seen me through my debilitating condition through to the point where I could begin to live life again, and so is a relationship I find impossible even conceive of replacing. The specialists for my children's epilepsy and for Alex's autism and James' anxiety all had to be found and intake and assessment appointments all had to be made and kept; appointments that were so far in the future that Alex and James had to go without their medications for over a month, suffering the affects that we had long thought they wouldn't have to experience again. Discoveries, such as the fact that this new insurance does not cover any dental except check-ups and teeth being pulled, were also made. I had always, naively. assumed that teeth being filled was merely a part of  the basic level of health care.

Steven, who has pretty consistently applied for about three jobs a day, has found it impossible, at his age, to find a job comparable to what he had before. Many jobs have gone overseas, in this technologically advanced age, so employers can pay less wages. Many jobs have become contractual positions, which pay hourly wages without benefits. If one looks into paying for those benefits (namely health and tax), it essentially cuts the wages virtually in half, making what looks like a good wage into one that is not sustainable. With them are the head hunters who try to pressure you into these type jobs by doing things such as trying to cover up the fact that benefits are not included. 

All of these things are what I mean when I say a sampling from that  which is the worst that humankind has to offer. Seeing my dear husband, who should be looking at retirement in the near future, having to take a part-time job at a local supermarket and suffer the aches and pains of standing on his feet for nine hours at a stretch is certainly a humbling experience. 

The dot in the center is Quentin.

And yet, for every negative thing, there is always a flip-side. If one can only be able to step back and take a breath, one can always find the good that comes from the wellspring of the best that life has to offer. All the beautiful things that I have savored in life, have now been made to seem even more beautiful, in contrast to the difficult. So, we had loved and laughed. Hugged and prayed. Appreciated and gave. I have always felt that if gratitude leads your life, you will never be without and these past few months have shown this to be true. Things such as my considering going back to school for a year to get the credentials to be a Paralegal would not have occurred to be had this crisis not come into our lives. With an open heart, my heart is open to new possibilities. I hope that your life, too, is forever open to new possibilities, whatever your circumstances and that no matter what difficult times that you are enduring, my wish for you is that you can see the beautiful things in life as well, for all things are beautiful.


James' unique way of eating Parmesan-Pepper Chicken Noodle Soup.
As we began our 23rd year of homeschooling in our family, James is in the middle of his Sophomore year and Quentin began his Freshman year of high school. It just seemed like yesterday that those two were born and I was looking ahead to these years. They seemed so far off then, but those years have flown by and now here we are with the youngest two in high school. For this reason, I am posting more series with high school level work. I will be also revising some of the material I had done when the kids were younger, but all of the new posts will be on the high school level. If you are looking for posts with younger material, however, there are lots in the archives.
At our friend, Pat's 80th Birthday Party.
James is taking English 10, World Geography,  United States History II and Integrated Physics and Chemistry II using Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. He is also doing Biology with Apologia Curriculum and Algebra I using a textbook that I got out of the free bin at a used book store. We will also be finishing up the First Aid course that we began during the summer.

Quentin will be working on composition and literature in a homebrewed English 9 course, as well as the Ancient History course that I will be posting through out the year. He will also be doing Algebra I, using the same textbook James is using as well as Physical Science from Apologia. He will also be working on the First Aid course as his Health credit and Latin for foreign language.

James' bottlecap collection.

So, in September, James has covered many topics. In American History II, he studied about the Statue of Liberty, World War I, Dog fights over France, the Bolsheviks and Marxists, Produce, tractors, and government regulations, The Great Depression, Free enterprise,  Gangsters, Women voters the Stock market. Socialism, The big three auto manufacturers,  Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, Aircraft carriers and submarines, Exploring the South Pole, Standardization of classrooms and students. The Trans-Atlantic Cable, Radios, satellites, and movies, Man on the moon,  Computers, Fashions of this time period, Nelson Rockefeller, Mount Rushmore, and African-American athletes who changed sports.

In World Geography, he studied Oceania. Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Mariana Islands, beaches of Tahiti, Sydney harbor, mountains of New Zealand, deserts of Australia, Western Plateau, Hamersley Range, the Kimberley, Great Artesian Basin and Cape York.

In Integrated Physics and Chemistry II, he studied speed, energy, force, simple machines, Laws of Motion, heat, pressure, density, wave motion, light, electricity, circuits, current, power, safety with electricity, and discovery by design.

In Algebra I, James and Quentin completed work with Variables and Expressions, Evaluating Expressions, Reading Algebra, Open Sentences, Identity and Equality Properties, The Distributive Property, Commutative and Associative Properties and Formulas.

In addition, Quentin worked in Ancient History on Prehistory: The beginning of civilization, the Foundation of Ancient Civilizations, Egyptian Religion and the Building of the Pyramids and the Major Development within Ancient Civilizations.

Quentin also began writing essays with topics such as Can a group of people function effectively without someone being in charge?, as well as more factual essays such as ones about Hitler and essays with topics in which he had to use examples from literature.

The College Kids

Katie and Sam have been very busy with their new semesters, but seem to be doing well. Katie is taking Ceramics III, Sculpture II, Food and Culture and Geography. Sam is taking Ecology, Oceanography, Food and Culture and Abnormal Psychology. It has been interesting as discussions come up in which topics from Katie's geography class, Sam's ecology and oceanography classes,  and Quentin's and James' physical science courses overlap and interweave.

And so, that was our September. How was yours?

High School Ancient History, Lesson 4: Major Developments within Ancient Civilizations

Make note of major developments of folk movements, empire building and the unique developments in religion, especially regarding the Hebrews.

Complete the following outline using your notes.

I. Invasions -Folk Movements- influence on settled societies
     A. Hittites
     B. Hyksos
     C. Second Wave of Invasions

II. Empire Building --- dominate and control other peoples -a common theme of Western societies
     A. Motives of Empire
          1. Security -control others in order to protect oneself
          2. Revenge
          3. Profit-material, economic gain
     B. Control
     C. Assyrians
     D. Persian Empire
          1. Cyrus the Great
          2. Cambyses
          3. Darius the Great
          4. Read The Code of Hammerabi

Food and Culture, Lesson 4: Northern and Southern Europeans

Lesson 4: Northern and Southern Europeans
Research and then summarize the immigration patterns of Northern and Southern Europeans.

Looking at the following menus, can you describe the traditional food habits of England, Ireland and Italy?

A French Lunch

An Italian Lunch
Biscotti and Espresso

Spanish Tapas
Fried Almonds, pieces of cheese, sausage bites
Sherry or sangria

Optionally, you can make one or more of these menus for your family.

List five of your favorite foods. Do any of these foods have roots in Europe? You may have to do a little research about these foods unless you already know their origins.

Describe your typical meal cycle and meal composition. Are these similar to those in Europe?

What is the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking? What are the origins of these styles?

Research and then write a comparison/contrast essay on the immigrant experiences of the Irish and Italians.

How did the New World foods such as tomatoes, potatoes and corn influence European food preparation. Compare and contrast the foods Europeans ate in the Middle Ages and today.

Why is the Mediterranean diet considered healthy?

High School Ancient History Lesson 3: Egyptian Religion and the Building of the Pyramids

Note the theme of security within the Egyptian's tremendous concentration on religion, the afterlife and the building of the building of the Pyramids.

Watch Pyramid, David Macaulay on YouTube.

Complete the following outline using your notes.

I. The Egyptian State

II. Life After Death
      A. Mesopotamia
      B. Egypt
            1. Embalming
            2. Sarcophagus
            3. King Tutankhamen

III. The Erection of Tombs
     A. Mastabas
     B. Old Kingdom Pyramids
          1. Zoser at Saqqara
          2. Bent Pyramid
          3. Pyramids of Giza
                a. Cheops- Khufu
                b. Chephren -Chafre
                c. Mycsrnius -Menkare

IV. Mysteries of the Pyramids -Curse of the Pharoah 
      Books of Interest:
     A. The Pyramids of Egypt, I.S.E. Edwards
     B. Mysterious Pyramids, Martin Ebon
     C. Pyramid Power, Max Toth
     D. The Curse of the Pharoahs, Philip Vandenberg
     E. Secrets of the Great Pyramid, Peter Tompkins

Food and Culture: Lesson 3: Regional Americans

Lesson 3: Regional Americans
List and describe factors influencing regional cuisine. Pick a regional cuisine from the list below and summarize the influences. You can talk about other foods from the region. You do not have to limit yourself to what is mentioned in the menus. Optionally, make another menu menu for this region. You could also cook one or more dishes from this region for your family.

A New England Supper

A Mid-Atlantic Brunch
Scrapple with Eggs
Toast with Apple Butter
Bagels and cream cheese

A Great Lakes Sampler

A Hearty Plains Lunch

A Southeastern Luncheon

A Gulf Coast Supper

A Southwestern Supper

How did Native American foods and cooking techniques influence regional United States cuisine?

Compare and contrast the preparation of beans, corn and apples in different regions of the United States.

Describe one unique recipe associated with a particular region of the United States.

What region of the United States has the healthiest cuisine associated with it?

If you wanted to choose to eat unhealthy for one day, which regional cuisine would you most like to try? Why?

What foods would you have if you decided to eat locally sourced foods? Make a menu using these foods. List some arguments for eating locally sourced foods.

High School Ancient History, Lesson 2: Foundations of Ancient Civilization

Note the theme of security and how the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians achieved and maintained security.

Make a map of the area to include in your notes.

Complete the following outline using your notes.

I. The Formation of Civilization
     A. Sedentary
     B. Farming of crops and the Domestication of animals
     C. Surplus food -social impact
     D. Establishment of Social patterns
     E. Keeping records
          1. Cuneiform -Mesopotamia
          2. Hieroglyphics -Egypt
II. Role of the State
     A. Two Societies Emerge -Mesopotamia and Egypt
     B. Why?
          1. Why did these societies emerge where they did?
          2. Once these societies emerged, why did they form the type of societies they did?
     C. Purpose of the State- the Search for Security
          1. Mesopotamia
               a. Sumerians -Ur
               b. Akkadians
               c. Babylon
          2. Egypt -Menes (Narmer) -consolidation of power
     D. Both Societies looked for security
     E. Ancients view of Nature
     F. Placating the gods
          1. How did such dogma achieve acceptance?
     G. The type of societies that were formed

Food and Culture: Lesson 2: Native Americans

 Lesson 2: Native Americans
Pick two regional areas of traditional Native American cuisine to research. 
Recipe Source and Recipe Goldmine are good sources for such recipes. 

A Traditional Northeastern Indian Meal

Strawberry Juice

A Traditional Southeastern Indian Meal

Huckleberry Honey Cake

A Traditional Great Plains Indian Meal

Peppermint Tea

A Traditional Southwestern Indian Meal

A Northwest Coast Indian Meal

  • Describe the similarities and differences between the two in terms of types of foods used and preparation of those foods. For these regions, you might consider making a menu of some of these dishes and or preparing and sampling them. If you choose to do this, please leave a comment with a link to a post on this for others to see.
  • Research Native Americans that live/lived near where you live. Have they influenced the foods that you eat today? If so, what dishes can you trace back to an American Indian dish?
  • In Native American culture, what is considered the cause of illness?
  • Research and describe the uses of corn for the traditional Native American.
  • What is the contemporary American Indian's diet and how has it been influenced by their history? Does this sub-culture of America have a lot of any particular illnesses that could be influenced by their diet? (diabetes, for example)

High School Research Assignments

This is a great place to start high school students writing fact based research essay. The steps below can work for any topic, but here is a topic you can start with, if you wish.

Research Question: How did Ivan Pavlov's experiments with dogs demonstrate that human behavior could be changed using conditioning? What kind of dog was Pavlov's dog? What is the Pavlov Theory? Explain classical conditioning.

Steps to writing a fact based essay:
  1. Analyze the essay questions. Make sure you understand what they are asking, and therefore what the teacher is expecting to be included in the essay.
  2. Research your topic thoroughly and find studies that support your ideas. Take detailed notes while doing research. Look for information in different types of sources including books and journal articles. Don't rely just on what you can find online.
  3. Create a reference list. Find out what style your teacher is expecting for your sources or reference page. Include all the sources you have used in your research.
  4. Create an outline. I always require my students to include the outline with their paper. A good outline will help your student to structure his information and save him a lot of time when he starts to write.
  5. Write a strong thesis statement. A thesis statement usually appears at the beginning of paper, in the introductory paragraph. It is usually one sentence tha offers a concise summary of the main point or claim of the essay or research paper. 
  6. Write your first draft, including all in-text citations.
  7. Proofread and edit the essay. Check grammar, spelling, structure of the essay and quality of the ideas.
  8. Revise and review the first draft. Refine your argument and make improvements to content. Correct any spelling and grammar mistakes you found while proofreading.
  9. Turn in your first draft to your teacher. Once you go to college you will need to have a friend, classmate, older sibling or a parent to do this step for you, which is to read and review your essay for content, structure, grammatical and spelling errors you have missed. Consider this feedback seriously and make revisions.
  10. Prepare the final draft to your teacher's specifications, including page requirements, style requirements and whether or not a title page or table of contents is required. Make sure you understand when the due date is so that you can pace yourself accordingly.
Research Extras:
  • This article on the APA website describes how some college students figured out who "Little Albert" really was and what happened after the famous (infamous) conditioning experiment.

High School Ancient History, Lesson 1: Prehistory

Make note of the ultimate goal of all civilization -security. With that in mind, the question arises -when did civilization arise?

Complete the following outline using your notes.

I. Periods of Human History
     A. Stone Age
          1. Paleolithic
          2. Ice Age
          3. Mesolithic
          4. Neolithic

II. Cave Paintings
     A. Where? In Pyrenees Mountains
     B. Why?
          1. Religious
          2. Intellectual Control over Environment
          3. Art
     C. Sense of Time

III. Stonehenge
     A. Stonehenge I
     B. Build on Salisbury Plain
     C. Stones from Quarry 30 Miles away
          1. Gerald Hawkins -Stonehenge Decoded
          2. Ditch Bank
          3. Heel Stone -Sarsen Stone
          4. Aubrey Holes (56), John Aubrey
          5. Heel Stone
     D. Stonehenge II
     E. Stonehenge III
     F. Trilithons and lintels
     G. Druids

IV. Myths and Historical Perspective
     A. Myths are Truths that are no longer believed.
     B. The imagery of myths are not allegory.
     C. Myths often relate the creation of the world and sometimes it's future destruction.
     D. Myths tell how God's created humans.
     E. Myths provide a moral code by which to live by.
     F. Myths are generally stories that have been handed down for generationsg.
     G. Myths are used to explain natural phenomenon.
     H. Gods are often visualised as having human shape, feeling human emotions and performing human acts.
     I. Myths render the cosmos more intelligible.
     J. Myth is to be taken seriously because it reveals a significant truth.