Home School Life Journal

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

This Moment: Spring Swing Edition and Snapshot Summary, April 9-13, week 25

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments at SouleMama.

Snapshot Summary, April 9-13

Our dug-out cucumber "canoes".
Nex Perce
We made dug-out canoes like the Nez Perce Indians, only ours were cucumbers in which we dug out the seeds. (We filled them back up afterwards with spiced Feta cheese and had them for lunch.)
Quentin and James sketch the elements of an English town as it grew from 1700-1850 during the time of the Industrial and Farming Revolutions.
The Industrial and Farming Revolutions
We have been learning about the changes in England brought about by the Industrial and Farming Revolutions. The boys drew on large sheets of paper towns in England as they progressed from 100 to 1850. They spent about two solid hours on it, and learned more about the effects of the Industrial Revolution than I could have taught them in any other way.
Vermont State Study
We learned about the state of Vermont this week and decided to have a pancake supper with maple syrup to celebrate this state. 
The Long Winter and a Taste Test
We have finished The Long Winter of the Little House series for some time now and have been wanting to do a project related to it. We thought it would be perfect to make buckwheat pancakes just like Almanzo, and to serve them with molasses and brown sugar. 
We decided to combine those two ideas into a taste-test to see which of the three toppings would win at our house. 
What to find out which one won? 
If you haven't already read the answer in this post, it might surprise you.
I taught him how the decimal point is added to the number so you can tell which are whole numbers and which are fraction. I used a circle sticker at the top of the counting board to designate where the decimal point is.

Decimals: Fractional Values to Beans, Cups and Bowls
James has begun to learn about decimals. We began by assigning values to beans, cups and bowls on a bean trading board in preparation for using it to represent decimal fractions. When we were working with fractions, we made up different Unifix cube sticks and called them one. We now did the same thing with beans on the trading board. If one cup on the trading board is now one, instead of ten, then one bean is 1/10. We thought of it as if the cup represented a class at co-op which had 10 students in it. The class would be one, and each student would be 1/10 of the class. If we decided that the bowl represented one (instead of 100 as it had in the past), then we could look at it as one co-op school, in which each class was 1/10 of the co-op (assuming that the co-op had 10 classes in it) and each student was 1/100 of the co-op students. After this introduction, we played with writing down various numbers, using this concept of fractional values. I will post more about this as we continue learning about decimals.

Base-Counting Game
Quentin also used the place value board this week, but in an entirely different way. He learned about the concept of different base systems. We explored groupings in bases other than ten with a simple counting game, using nonsense words for the base number and looked for the patterns that resulted. Once he grasps the patterns of the smaller groupings, it is easier to understand these same patterns in base ten.
"Zero spocks and one."
This counting game activity gives students a understanding of place value (base 10) by exploring groupings in bases other than ten and look for the patterns. Once they can see and understand the patterns of smaller groupings, it is easier to understand the same patterns in base ten.
I begin by asking for a silly word or fun game. This makes the game more appealing. Quentin suggested spock. I then explained the rules to the game. The first rule is that the blue column is where we are going to put spocks. The green column is where we add one counter at a time. As soon as we have enough for a Spock, we exchange the green counters for one blue spock counter. In this case, I chose for us to explore base 4, so every time we had added one more to three in the green column, we exchange the four greens for 1 spock.. For each round, he read the board, saying the number of spocks first and then the number of ones. 
The picture above is the result of round one, and Quentin read it as "zero spocks and one."
"Zero spocks and two."
This is the result of round two. We continued on in this way until we got to the base we wanted to explore.
"Zero spocks and three."
"One spock, and zero."
 I had to make sure that he exchanged the four counters for one spock.
We kept playing the game, counting one at a time up to the point that he would need to exchange the counters in the blue column for one in the next (red) column. Now we started taking one away for each round. I made sure he repeated the name for each step.
"Three spocks and two."
We played this game as long as I had his interest. We are going to play this until he can easily add and subtract by one and regroup without being instructed.
Once we reach that point, we are ready to start the game all over again with a new  amount, and a new fun word. We will probably also change materials because this encourages flexible thinking.
We will repeat the game with various groupings and names until he can anticipate the adding and subtracting.
After some time, perhaps weeks or even months, and he has played several grouping games and I feel that he really understands the pattern, I will proceed to the connecting stage, adding its concepts to the game. I will post about that when we get to it.
Biology: Genetics
Our radish seeds we planted last week for our genetics experiment sprouted, however the results were not what we expected nor what they should have been according to our text. Do  you ever have that with experiments? Our task, then is to find out what our unplanned variable was that caused our experiment to veer in another direction. This is as important an experience as the original experiment.

What We are Reading
We finished Little Town on the Prairie, and have begun reading These Happy Golden Years.
James is reading about the Bermuda Triangle.

On The Menu
mushrooms sauteing for soup

We tried a few new recipes this week. In addition to the cucumber boats, we had homemade mushroom soup and broccoli-cheese soup for lunches. New dinners included Tamales, Rotisserie Chicken in a crockpot , Caprice Tarts and Mexican Stuffed Shells. I made up my own recipe for vegetarian stuffed shells by modifying the meat-filled version and they turned out quite well.
homemade tamales
outside fun
The boys have really been having a lot of fun outside, swinging, spaying water with the hose and mud play.


  1. Ooooh, the book about the Bermuda Triangle is going on my library list for sure. And, I love the cucumber boats. You are so clever!!

    have a great weekend!!

  2. I love the bean counting game!!! We're gonna have to try that! Sounds fun and educational! Found you via Homegrown Learners' link-up. So nice to visit your site.

  3. You always have so many great things going on I am not sure which to comment on- I could wind up taking as much room as your post! I love that picture on the top. And all of your math activities! And your reading! It looks like a great week.

  4. Great stuff going on!! Love the book list!

  5. I love how hands on you are! It's absolutely wonderful! :)

  6. I think I will have to borrow your dug out cucumbers. I always love reading about your week.

  7. I am always EXHAUSTED after reading about your weeks- you are such a good Mama-Teacher! ;0)

  8. That first picture exudes pure joy! I love the enormous smile. The cucumber idea is fantastic! While I probably won't turn it into a lesson just yet I will certainly turn it into lunch. We have been reading the storybook versions (not the chapter books) of Little House on the Prairie... Love those books!

  9. Looks like you guys stayed busy! Another post with wonderful math ideas too. Thamk you for sharing.

  10. Oh hooray for cucumber canoes!! What fun. And very interesting on your genetics experiment. I wonder what the unseen variable is? And your Vermont maple syrup pancakes are making me want pancakes for supper...

  11. I always get excited to head over to your 'home on the web' because I know I will find so many awesome things!

    I love the way you tie your studies into food. I think that is just a marvelous idea. Love the dug out canoes!

    I also love all the great Math activities you use. I bet you never hear, "I hate Math" at your house. :)

  12. I love all of your photos, but the first one is awesome:) Such joy in that one picture!

    I also really like the photo of your boys both drawing together. Learning is so fun and hands-on at your house! Love the math activity.

    And your weekly wrap-up made me kind of hungry too...for pancakes:)


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