Home School Life Journal

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

Teaching Grammar using History and Science Texts and Our Homeschool Weekly Report, October 4-10, Week 6

Teaching Grammar using History and Science Texts

I have mentioned before what grammar topics we have been working on, such as nouns or verbs, but I haven't written much about how we are learning about them. During my planning time prior to the start of the start of a new school year, I jot down some English grammar and punctuation concepts I want them to learn (or review) the coming year. 
Our lesson on common and proper nouns from our history study of Mesopotamia. These lists were later used to help them write their narrations.

Often I will have down the same part of speech for both of the younger boys, such as verbs, but I will take the concepts to a more complicated level for my 6th grader than for my 4th grader. For example, if the part of speech we are going to look at this week is verbs, I may go over with the both of them conjugating present, past and past participle verbs or singular and plural forms of verbs or the difference between helping and linking verbs. For James, I would also include irregular verbs and often misused verbs, or subject-verb agreement.

How do we do this?

  • Look at a current passage in our history or science lesson for grammar lesson material.
Whatever concept we are going over for the day, we look for in our history and/or science texts. For example, for verb tenses, we would search for verbs in our history text, and then I would ask them to write down the present, past and future tenses of the verbs in columns. From the First City States section of The Ancient World, we found these verbs: swelled, flooded, trapping, irrigate, carry, covered, stayed and lived.  We wrote them down in a list form and looked at them. We noted that most of the verbs were in their past tense form, which makes sense for a history text. I then made a chart for them to fill in, with the headings Present, Past and Past Participle. I then had them tell me the form of each of the verbs and put them in the proper column. Then they were to tell me the other forms for that verb, to complete the chart. For example, for the word swelled, they told me that this was the past form of the verb swell, and they filled it in under the past column. They then filled in swells under the present column and has swollen under the past participle column. They did this for each of the verbs.
You pick out a sentence or two (or more) from their history or science texts that illustrates the concepts you have been working on. Each week I usually have them working on one grammatical and one punctuation concept. For this piece, you will make sure that they correctly accomplish whatever grammatical or punctuation concepts you are working on. Do not work on everything at once, however tempting this may be. You can expect them to maintain any concepts you have been over in the previous lessons as well as the current concepts you are working on, but do not expect them to get them all every time. Sometimes there is a lot for them to remember all at once. If they consistently drop a past concept, I know we need to review this again.
  • Have them complete a narration at the end of the week, and hold them responsible for the concepts learned. 
Often I will help them with their narrations with outlines they have taken from their texts while working on the grammatical concepts. For example, I gave them the list of verbs we had generated in order to make a narration for the First City States. This reinforces the grammatical concepts and gives them a place to start, so they are not starting cold on their narrations. A blank page can be scary, but it is less scary with a list of verbs for a crutch to fall back on.

  • Writing to practice concepts learned.
Sometimes I will give them writing assignments to practice the concepts they have just learned to answer the question of whether they have internalized the concepts and can apply them to other pieces of their writing. These can be anything from a general knowledge question to a review from last year question to a creative writing piece. For example, one of these might be their assignment for the week.
  • Write about 6 things you like to do in your spare time.
  • Write a definition of the word reflection and tell about at least five places where reflection could appear.
  • Write a short story that begins, "While digging under some rotting leaves..."
  • Describe a good deed you did for someone, and write about how you felt after you did it.
For any of these, prior to their beginning to write, I remind them of the grammatical concept that we have been working on. For example, I might say, be sure to have strong verbs in their right tenses and not just to-be verbs.

This is how we accomplish our English studies without ever using a grammar worksheet that would just get thrown away at the end of the year. These lessons are something they are proud of as they can see concrete evidence of learning and how their writing has improved as the year goes on.

What else have we done this week?
October 4-10
Week 6
Sickness has descended on our family this week, so not a lot of school work was accomplished.


East Africa

Alex learned about Rwanda and Burundi, finishing his study of East Africa. He learned that in Rwanda cow dung art is used for wall decorations. We had seen some paper made from cow dung at the gift show at the Maryland Zoo last week. 

Ancient History

We looked at the rise of Babylon, after the fall of Ur by the Amorites. We learned about Hammurabi and his laws. We also learned about how the Hittites, the Kassites and then the Elamites took over ruling Babylon. All of these rulers adopted the Babylonian culture as their own, so the culture did not change under these new rulers. They all used the Sumerian cuneiform script as well. We read about Joseph being sold into slavery.


Base 6/60 Math

We learned about how the Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations used a base 60 mathematical system, rather than the base 10 system we are used to, but the system used ten as a sub-base, in the sense that it did not use 60 distinct symbols for its digits. They divided the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds. This was inherited by the Babylonians, who added a positional system to the base 60 in which the value of a particular digit depends both on the digit itself and its position within the number. Because there was no symbol for zero in Sumerian or early Babylonian numbering systems, it is not always immediately obvious how a number should be interpreted, and its true value must sometimes have been determined by its context. The base 60 system is also used in measuring angles, there are 360 in a circle. There are 60 minutes of arc in a degree, and 60 arcseconds in a minute. I brought to their attention that we are using the terms minutes and seconds in both time and geometry.


We reviewed area, as a measure of the surface of an object. Area is the number of square units that will fit inside a flat figure. We talked about times in which figuring this out would be useful, such as measuring a wall in order to buy the right amount of paint or a floor for carpeting. We transferred this concept to measuring the amount of wrapping paper needed to wrap a box. We learned the formula for finding the area of a rectangle or square, base x height.We learned the formula for finding the area of a triangle, base x height divided by 2, and looked at why this was so. 

We have had lots of opportunities to continue our relationship-building, that has become our priority as of late.
Katie got a chance to try out her new skates, during the monthly homeschool skating. Quentin said he had lots of fun too, as he is beginning to be able to stay away from the wall most of the time.

 On Tuesday, we met some friends at the park to have lunch and play.
On Wednesday, our co-op had a pizza party to celebrate the last classes of the first session. In drama class, they presented skits that they had written. I gave them the beginning and ending lines, and they had to write 6-8 lines in between. I was pleased and impressed by their skits. In art class, they began a chalk pastel of a swan on a lake, which is quite a challenging piece.

Steven took Katie, James and Quentin to Turner's Creek Fall Festival, where they looked at the Kent Farm Museum...

 enjoyed the Scales and Tails display.

and the displays of Hands-On Farm Equipment.

 They also made scarecrows.

In the Kitchen

as were these Breakfast Pockets from Comfy in the Kitchen.

Join me at...


  1. I can't believe you are all in t shirts! It's plummeted to 9 degrees over here and we have our wood burner on every day! Looking at your guys in t shirts is making me feel cold!
    What a great week full of Autumnal fun!

    1. We rarely get as cold as you are experiencing, even in the dead of winter. We have had unusually warm weather, even for us, though. We have had many days of 70-80 degree weather.

  2. You all always have so much fun and keep so busy! Love the roller skating!

  3. I love the detail you shared for teaching grammar - plus the writing prompts and the accountability! And a chalk pastel swan on a lake does sound challenging! Hooray for staying away from the wall in skating - (I actually took roller skating as PE in college - at 7 a.m. in the morning believe it or not :) I love seeing your weeks full of so much fun learning.

  4. Another GREAT week Phyllis. So sorry about the sickness, but it looks like you did so much in spite of it. I just love all the field trips you go on! I love the idea of the skit! What beginning and ending lines did you give? Did you let each person do it alone? I am scrambling for ideas because I don't want to just play games each week. The roller skating looks so fun. Wish we could join you or you join us! We love Homeschool Skate Day!!!

    1. The beginning line was, "What are you doing here?" and the ending line was, "Just forget it. I tell you, just forget it." Yes, each person did their own script and then they paired up with someone and each pair did the two scripts back-to-back. Did that make sense? Next session I am giving them scenes from scripts to work on, in addition to the skills work.

    2. Yes!! Thank you so much. I need ideas!! :)

  5. Thanks for sharing the link to the breakfast pockets. That one's going on my meal plan soon! It sounds like a great fall week!!

    1. They were nice because the boys could reheat them in the microwave.

  6. What a fun week. The breakfast pockets look delightful. I wish we had a homeschool skate around here.
    Blessings, Dawn

  7. Thanks for sharing how you teach grammar. It's an interesting process, which also got me thinking about how I need to get the kids started on cursive, or as my daughter calls it "fancy writing."

  8. I love your school days! Thank you for sharing.

  9. What a wonderful week! Don't you just LOVE homeschooling! :)

  10. What a great way to study grammar! I think I'll give it a go with Jerry! As always you guys have had a fun and exciting week! Thanks for sharing the vegetarian recipe. Believe it or not, I'm always looking for easy vegetarian crock pot recipes and there aren't many out there!

    1. I know. My husband is vegetarian and so I am always looking for them too. I sometimes adapt regular recipes, and they sometimes turn out and sometimes don't. :)

  11. Not a lot of schoolwork? Y'all got tons of learning done!!
    Hope everyone is feeling better now:)
    Love the hands-on fall field trip!
    And teaching grammar without worksheets...Yay!

  12. There was so much in this post. I would love to make scarecrows. That looks like so much fun. Your writing/grammar method sounds like a great way to go. No workbooks:) and the way you tie it to your history curriculum is really interesting.

    I hadn't realized the way we track time and degrees came from the Sumerians. It's a really old system. Imagine how easy it would be if it was redone in base 10, and all the trouble it would cause too.


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