Home School Life Journal

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

Our Homeschool Weekly Report, September 20-26, week 4: Documenting Hands-On Projects

September 20-26
Hands-on projects come in all sorts of varieties. Sometimes they are just getting out plastic soldiers and setting up a battle scene for explanation of some aspect of military strategy. Sometimes it is completing an art project that relates to topics in other areas such as science or history. Usually those projects only take one day at the most. And then, there are more extensive hands-on projects that take several days to complete. The archaeology dig projects (cake archaeology, sandbox-Lego archaeology) were in the last category. They spent some time one day setting them up, another day digging them out, a third day sketching the finds. There were days in between those activity days as well so that they had time to contemplate and assimilate what they were learning. The last piece of the project was documenting the project in their history notebooks.
Quentin's (age 9) history notebook page, with a couple of sentence narration.
 They began documenting the project by putting some photos I had printed out on a page and then writing a title with bubble writing. Then they wrote a sentence or two, describing what was in the pictures.
 We worked on verbs this week in English, so James picked out some verbs (as well as one adjective) to use as captions for one of his history notebook pages.
James wrote a couple of sentence narration for his caption for this page.
Week 4


Alex is continuing his study of East Africa and this week we decided to add some Kenyan dishes to the menu. The idea was that Alex could help me prepare the dishes, as he is often underfoot at dinnertime, anxious for the meal to be served. He wasn't too keen on helping out in the kitchen this week, however. Every time he came into the kitchen, I got him to help, but he would leave as soon as he could. At least he helped to keep him from getting underfoot while I cooked. :)
We had  Dry Potato and Pea Sak and Sukumi Wiki for our Kenyan meal. Sak means a spiced vegetable dish, and this dish is a mild curry.
Sukuma Wiki, which in Kenyan literally means “stretch the week.” I am not a fan of kale, so I wasn't sure about this dish, but I LOVED it. I got the recipe from Global Table Adventure, and I loved the way she presents the recipe.

"...First, fly to Kenya and pick up some produce at the local market..."

Shopping at Kenyan markets. Photos by Ryan Harvey and Angela Sevin
We are also using DK's Children Just Like Me to show him how the people in various parts of Africa live.

He also is working on small reports of different types of savanna animals.

Ancient History

We began our study of Sumer and Akkad. We read the sections in our spine, Usborne's Ancient History on Mesopotamia, The Birth of Writing, The First City-States, The Royal Tombs of Ur and The First Empires.

We also read the Gilgamesh Trilogy by  Ludmila Zeman. These are gorgeously illustrated books that tell the story of Gilgamesh in simple language. I love them.
Quentin's (age 9) history notebook page using History Portfolio.
They had the choice of writing a sentence or two narration of what they had learned on writing a sentence or two copywork on the subject.
Quentin sketched this map of the area freehand, using the instructions from Mapping the World with Art by Ellen McHenry. It is hard to tell from the photo because he used the colors black and brown, but the modern names are labeled in one color and the ancient names, even if still in use are in another. I love this program because I feel that it is far better to trace a person or map yourself than to put in a printed from the computer one and it is even better yet if you can draw one yourself. It is my goal by high school to have my students drawing their own maps.
We also read about the tower of Babel and the dispersion of languages.
Sam wrote his opening paragraph for a summary on the concpt of civilization.

English Grammar


We reviewed what the boys already knew about verbs. The verb is another of the eight parts of speech. A verb tells what a person, place or thing does or is. It declares the action or being of a noun.
They boys added to their knowledge of verbs, by learning about the two general types of verbs:
  • Transitive verbs: A transitive verb must have a noun following it to complete its meaning. This noun experiences the action of the verb.(example: John wears...what?)
  • Intransitive verbs: An intransitive verb does not require a noun following it to complete its meaning. (John runs.)
Some verbs may be transitive in one sentence and intransitive in another. Their task was to pick a paragraph in their history text and find all the verbs. We discussed whether they were transitive or intransitive and why.



To make angle fish, construct a fish out of a circle, using a protractor to create its mouth,  making sure a new angle is used for each fish.  The angle is cut out and the chunk of paper becomes the caudal fin , or tail fin.
I introduced types of angles, learning many more geometric terms along the way; acute, obtuse, right, vertex, degrees and straight angle. I had them look for them in the room. We made angle fish. 
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational: It's Snowing Angles!
from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

We made angle snowflakes.
Alex is using Key to Geometry, which is very basic and step-by-step, using only a pencil, compass, and straightedge. He began by drawing lines through points.


The boys have been enjoying reading about tarantulas. Did you know that there is a tarantula so large that it can eat birds? It is called the Goliath Birdeater.

Fine Arts

Drama Class at Co-op
James', age 12
 Chalk Pastels Art Class at Co-op
Sam's, age 16

Physical Education

What Else Did We Do This Week?

To celebrate the last day of summer, we made s'mores in the backyard.
 Steven took the boys down to the beach...
 as the warm days are starting to fade.
 It was really breezy...
but beautiful.

In the Kitchen

Curried Mango Chicken
Curried Mango Chicken from  The 21st Century Housewife was to die for. Even my picky eater, Quentin, loved it.
Katie made these wonderful Spiced Fried Apples, recipe from Pocket Change.



  1. I love both pastel pictures, but James' is particularly atmospheric. Wonderful stuff!

    1. Yes, I think I am framing that one and putting it on my wall.

  2. What a wonderful week. The food looks so great. I like all of the documenting you all are up too.

    1. The recipes we tried this week were all very tasty. I think the documenting really seals the learning for the boys.

  3. wow James has a talent for art my friend! Those pictures are awesome! Great that you found a new recipe! Love the learning going on! Enjoy the weekend!

  4. I had to follow the link and print off the kale recipe! We get kale in our produce basket at least once a month, and I'm always looking for something to do with it other than just kale chips :-) I'm also taking notes on the history notebooks because I'm pretty sure that I'm going to switch from History Pockets style notebooks to sketchbooks after we finish studying Indian cultures.

  5. Snowflake angles!?! What a great idea - thanks for passing it along :) The fried apples sound very yummy.

  6. Love all the hands on activities!

  7. What a week!! Tell the boys that we were camping last summer and a large tarantula decided to cut through our campsite to get to wherever he was going :) The kids were snapping photos of it and it just froze...totally frightened I'm afraid. Once we left, it left ;)

  8. Sigh, now that Gilgamesh book would have been awesome a few weeks ago...... Double sigh, and sigh again.

    So many great ideas here to use later. So many boards to pin this to........

  9. Looks like you had a really amazing week! I LOVE the archaeology in the cake idea! I wish I had seen that last week since we did a quick discussion about archaeology this week!!!!

  10. Awesome idea about keeping a hands-on journal of hands-on projects WITH their thoughts. Hands-on can be hard to document sometimes. They'll look back at these with fond memories when they are older! I've been told every year for 3? 4 years? from my portfolio assessor that Key to ___(Math) is the way to go. Inexpensive, simple to follow, right to the concept, no fluff workbooks. I haven't used them, but I am tempted to look into them more. Love James' pastel! Boys look like they had an absolute blast at the ocean/beach! As always, so much wonderful, creative learning! Inspiring!

  11. As always I am in awe of what you guys do. The food looks wonderful - I love when food can tie in to lessons. :) The art all looks fabulous too! I really like how you all are documenting your projects. AWESOME!

  12. Everyone looks mighty happy! We have the book, Children Just Like Me" too! It's a beautiful book! You've got a couple of great artists in your family!

  13. Do you get sick of me saying the same thing each week? I just love your weeks. I love your ideas, I love your implementation, I love seeing all the things they are doing. I just love it all. I imagine your house full to the rim with joy Phyllis. Sorry to just now catch up. I was sick Thur-Sunday. Missed seeing your post! :)

    1. I am sorry to hear you were sick. Oh, we have our moments (and our days) in which there are arguments and complaining, just like any other house. We do have lots of fun, too, however.

  14. Art projects are so beautiful, and you keep so very busy! Your boys are lucky to have such an incredibly creative Mom!

    1. They did the art projects in an art class with another teacher, so I can't take credit for them, but that you for the kind comment.


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