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 27-October 3, week 5

September 27-October 3
What have we done this week?

Katie's Birthday

My dear, sweet Katie turned 22 on Monday.


We had fun making s'mores in the backyard. We do love our s'mores.

Week 5


Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

We enjoyed going to the zoo during their great homeschool deal week. Our whole family got in for $5, instead of the usual price of $17.50 per adult and $12.50 per child 11 and under. It really is worth it to find out if any educational place you want to visit has a homeschool week or day. This fit in well with Alex's study of Africa as we have been learning about savanna animals. We got in just before it closed down with the government shut down.

The Beekeepers

 What started out to be a little errand ended up being one of the best field trips my kids have ever been on. We saw a sign around the corner from our house for local honey, so we went over to get some...
 and we met Mark and Becky and their lovely Macaw, Rhett.
 They let the kids each have a feather from Rhett, and a taste of honey comb.
 They showed us the hives.

 They showed us their chickens.
They were wonderful people and the kids loved this little impromptu field trip.


East Africa

notebook pages from Discover Africa at Balancing Everything
Alex learned about Uganda and zebras this week.

Ancient History

Rosh Hashana

L'shanah tovah tikatevu 

(May You Be Inscribed in the Book of Life for a Good Year)

I decided to include the Jewish holidays in our school work this year while we study the ancients. I have tried to do this before, but somehow I can never keep straight when they are, or they come at an inconvenient time, so I ended up dropping it. This year, I decided to do mini-celebrations of the holidays but to not worry about doing them on their actual dates, but rather what fits best with our schedule. I am vaguely doing them when we read about the pertinent portions of the Bible. Our first celebration was Rosh Hashanah, Hebrew for "Head of the Year" for it is the start of the Jewish year.

"The first day of the seventh month shall be a solemn rest to you, a memorial proclaimed with the blowing of trumpets."  -Leviticus 23:24

The sound of shofar, or a horn made from a ram's horn reminds one that sacrifice is sometimes necessary. This holiday, among other things, celebrates the binding of Isaac, or Abraham's offering to sacrifice his adored son, (Genesis chapters 18- 22). Rosh Hashanah begins the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur is at the end. This is a time to tell people you have hurt that you are sorry and ask for forgiveness. Legend has it that God opens the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah and judges each person, writing down his fate for the next year. Since the festival meal often begins with apple dipped in honey, we decided to use some of our newly-purchased honey for this purpose at our tea time. We also went to the river to toss bread crumbs in to represent the casting off of sins. There is also a tradition of eating pears, plums or some other fruit not yet eaten that season.

Sumer and Babylon

We had lots of fun playing the Royal Game of Ur and thinking about how it might have been played.
 The Babylonians used cuneiform writing, which was an adaption of the cuneiform from Sumer.
The name cuneiform itself simply means "wedge shaped" (from the Latin cuneus "wedge" and forma "shape") because of its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. I made a stylus from whittling down one side of a chopstick end (the handle end). After I did this, I found a post on Writing Cuneiform that tells how to make a stylus from a chopstick by sandpapering it down. 
 Either way, once you have your stylus, you can make the triangular wedges with the end you have shaped, and the lines with the other end of the chopstick (the end that normally touches the food.) Writing Cuneiform suggests that you keep your clay pretty thick, almost like a smoothed stone, but I hadn't found that blog when we did ours and we flattened it pretty thinly. We did find that sometimes the stylus went all the way through the clay when it was this thin. We went to the Write Like a Babylonian site and typed in their initials to give them something to write.
 I wanted them to have something to put in their notebooks, too, so we made some on paper with paint. I wanted to use either black or white paint, but red was all we could find this day, so we went with it.
We also read about Abraham, Issac and Joseph.
Sam's map from History Odyssey

Sam wrote a first draft of a one-two page summary describing the elements necessary to constitute a civilization.

English Grammar

Verbs as Predicates

The action or state of being of a noun subject or subjects is the Predicate. As with subjects, there are two types of predicates:
  • Simple Predicates: The verb which tells about the subject.
  • Complete Predicate: The verb which tells about the subject, plus all the words which go with the verb to give an more detailed picture.
A complete sentence must have a subject and a predicate. The boys had to locate the complete and simple predicates of sentences in their history and science texts.


Coordinate Graphing

We left off James' coordinate graphing with volume and capacity. A natural next topic is weight.
If a rubber band is arranged as shown, can the distance it will stretch as successive numbers of washers are placed on the hook be predicted?
If a graph can predict how far the rubber band will stretch, can it tell how many washers were added? 


The boys practiced counting money with a Money Bingo game I picked up at a Dollar store.

Fine Arts

Drama Class and Art Class

In Drama class, I gave them mini open-ended scripts for two people of about 8 lines and they paired off and made up the circumstances to fit the lines. They had a good time with it. I gave them two lines, an opening and ending line for a skit and for homework they had to write a mini-script.
In art class, some people were finishing up their chalk pastels and some were done, so the teacher brought a paper stained glass project for the kids to work on once they finished their chalk pastels.


  1. Please wish Katie a happy birthday from us over in England!

  2. Don't you just love impromptu field trips? The cuneiform writing is fascinating, and I'm looking forward to reading about your Jewish holiday celebrations.

    1. Oh, I hope I do the Jewish holidays justice. Yes, we really loved this impromptu field trip anyway. Thank you for your kind comment.

  3. Happy Birthday to your Katie! Love that field trip....would love to see the hives close up! I always admire your learning style...Enjoy the weekend!

    1. Thank you, I will pass the birthday wish on to Katie. Oh, they were so generous with sharing their bees with us.

  4. Happy brithday Katie! What a beautiful smile! She seems like such a delight! What a great field trip! Amazing what pops up when you don't expect it too! Always love your hands-on math! But now I'm hungry from your cooking! LOL

    1. Oh, yes, Katie is a treasure for sure. We are so blessed to have her in our lives.

  5. I love impromptu field trips! Locally there are two museums doing homeschool week next week - one will definitely be closed though :-/ because of the shutdown.

  6. So much inspiration in one post, Phyllis- thank you! I especially love the graphing activity and the zoo pictures and the field trip. And Happy Birthday Katie! Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Thank you. We are enjoying the coordinate graphing this year. I will pass along your birthday wishes to Katie.

  7. Wow! You fit in a ton in one week. I recognized the Royal Game of Ur right away in the top photo. My kids also enjoyed the game. I love the math correlation graph. There are so many amazing hands-on activities. Way to go!

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words. We did have a lot of fun this week. I am still trying to balance our at home and out-of-the-house time, however.

  8. A wonderful week! I especially loved your mini Jewish holiday idea. It seems the right way to honor the intent and learn about a holiday :-)

    1. Thank you for saying that. I worry so that I am somehow being disrespectful not to have it on the proper day or learning how to do the appropriate activities from books, but it is from the heart and I really do respect them. Thank you for telling me that you feel it is the right way to do it, too. {hugs}

  9. Happy birthday to Katie - her roller skates are very pretty. I think it's great that you had Rosh Hashanah celebration even if it's not on actual date. Will you also do Hanukkah? That's my personal favorite :)

    1. Yes, we usually light a menorah that a friend of mine gave me. (see here... http://homeschooljournal-bergblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/snapshot-summary-december-19-25.html and here http://homeschooljournal-bergblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/snapshot-summary-december-26-january-1.html ) We often celebrate Passover as well.

  10. I think your Jewish holiday idea is wonderful. You are such a clever mom.
    Blessings, Dawn

  11. Happy birthday Katie!

    I always love how you get little celebrations into your weeks. I can't wait to see how it goes adding in the Jewish celebrations, I've thought that would be interesting too, but I've also thought it would be interesting to add in the Catholic Saints as well.

    1. Yes, I suppose being Catholic I should add those in, too. :)

  12. Happy birthday Katie!

  13. Happy Birthday to Katie! She looks very happy! All your projects and activities looks so fun. Wish I lived closer to you guys! It's always a huge blessing when deals like the one you got at the zoo present themselves! Blessings to you and yours!

    1. I wish I lived near you guys, too. Your friendship has meant a lot to me.

  14. Your weeks and your pictures are always so amazing! Good food, fun learning and such a variety of activities. I am in awe. Also, LOVE the pink wheels on the skates!


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