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, January 31-February 6, week 20: Ancient China

January 31-February 6

Ancient China: Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties

This week we learned about Ancient China. The Xia (She AH) Dynasty saw the beginning of farming, irrigation, early settlements and the invention of the potters wheel. The proof of the existence of this period is somewhat shaky, so many Ancient China timelines begin with the Shang Dynasty. The Shang dynasty saw the invention of the horse drawn chariot, silk, bronze weapons, carving of jade and ivory, wood writing and historical records were carved on tortoise shells. The Next Dynasty, the Shang, saw the inventions of multiplication, Bronze and Iron casting and about the ideas of Buddha, Lao Zu, and Confucius.
According to The Book of Games by Jack Botermans, Tangrams may have originated during the Eastern Zhou period.
ca. 2100-1600 BCEXia (Hsia) Dynasty
ca. 1600-1050 BCEShang DynastyCapitals: near present-day Zhengzhou and Anyang
ca. 1046-256 BCEZhou (Chou) DynastyCapitals: Hao (near present-day Xi'an) and Luoyang
Western Zhou (ca. 1046-771 BCE)
Eastern Zhou (ca. 771-256 BCE)Spring and Autumn Period
(770-ca. 475 BCE)
Confucius (ca. 551-479 BCE)
Warring States Period
(ca. 475-221 BCE)
221-206 BCEQin (Ch'in) DynastyCapital: Chang'an, present-day Xi'an
Qin Shihuangdi dies, 210 BCE
source: Asia for Educators

Chinese Chess

References to a game called xiangqi, or Chinese Chess date back to the Warring States period. The Chinese Chess board is composed of 9 files (vertical lines) and 10 ranks (horizontal lines). On each side of the board against the back edge is the palace, which is a 3 x 3 space. In the middle, dividing the two opposing sides is an area called the river. In Chinese, it is often called the Chu River or Han border, a reference to the Chu-Han War, a period of discontinuity between the Qin Dynasty and the Han Dynasty. The pieces are similar to western chess (the General instead of the King, the Advisors, Elephant, Horse, Chariot, which is a lot like the rook, Cannon and Soldier, which is a lot like the pawn, but many move somewhat differently. 
We ordered this set and then glued pictographs of the western version of the pieces (from here) to the back of the pieces. Hopefully, we will begin to learn the Chinese characters and will be able to flip them over to play.

Senbazuru and Chinese New Year 

Senbazuru is the Japanese name for one thousand paper cranes held together by string. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Katie has been working on her Senbazuru project (although hers are not held together by string) for nearly a year, and finished up just a week before Chinese New Year, so it was fitting for us to see her finished project for the first time for our Chinese New Year celebration.
Here is the largest...

and these are the smallest. She made a centerpiece from the bowl of the smallest ones, along with her 1000th crane and some chopsticks.
Quentin and Katie decorated the whole house with them, and these were the leftovers.
Katie also made origami horses for each person's place setting.

 She made us a dinner of Asian Salmon and Shrimp Fried Rice.

 We played Chinese chess and...

 Hasami Shogi or Japanese Chess, solitaire version...

and Majong.

Ancient Babylon
Sam write a brief summary of the Babylonian legacies other than the Code of Hammurabi.

English Grammar: The Infinitive

In English the infinitive may be recognized by the little word "to" before the meaning of the verb (to go, to walk, to live, etc.)


Quentin and James both worked on fractions.

What Else Did We Do

 The boys are still taking classes at our co-op once a week. James is taking art.
 Quentin is taking Nature Study...
and all three are taking Drama class. All the students are writing scripts which we plan to put together to make a humorous show.
We enjoyed gathering with some friends and having a family spaghetti dinner and game night.
Around the World Night
Also, Quentin enjoyed being in the news this week as our local newspaper took a picture of him, as well as other students, and printed a news story on the fair.

Difficult Week

Philip with one of Katie's tiny origami swans, taken April 2013
On a more personal note, I have been going through a difficult time lately. My brother had been having a terrible chest cold with a lot of coughing for a few weeks. Then he began having trouble breathing, so he went to his local hospital via the ambulance. They kept him in the ICU under an oxygen tent. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but when he didn't respond to treatment, they determined that there was a heart problem. By the time he got to Washington Medical Center, he had heart failure. He underwent open heart surgery to repair the valve and other issues. The surgery went well, but he is still sedated and in ICU. There have been typical issues when one undergoes this type of surgery -low blood pressure which required two units of blood, almost kidney failure and consequent dialysis. He is still being given oxygen and a feeding tube. They predict that he may need to stay in ICU for two weeks and then a regular room for at least two weeks. It will be a long, slow recovery.
taken January 26, 2014

Also, last Monday James had his second seizure. He will have a sleep-deprived EEG on the 25th and another appointment at DuPont Children's Hospital on March 27th. We are hoping that he won't have any more seizures before this appointment.
If you feel moved to pray for us, we would appreciate it.


  1. It's good to have a face to put with the prayers for your brother (and a very sweet picture of James, too). I am always impressed at how you manage to keep such meaningful and beautiful weeks of learning going through difficult circumstances. It's a great encouragement.

  2. I'll be praying that's a lot in one week.

    Katie's crane's are amazing, it takes a lot of dexterity to make those itty bitty ones. I was feeling proud a few years ago to successfully make a normal sized one.

  3. I love the way you customised the Chinese Chess. You always seem to go the extra mile when you learn about other cultures, and make it look so much fun. I appreciate that you also take the time to share what you learned with us.

    You and your family and especially your brother and James are in my prayers, too.

  4. My prayers are with you and your family, I hope your brother's recovery goes well.
    Katie's Senbazuru project is phenomenal - 1000 paper cranes! Congratulations to her.

  5. Our prayers are with you this week. I love Katie's cranes. They are wonderful. What a neat accomplishment.
    Blessings, Dawn

  6. I'm sorry to hear about your brother.

    What lovely origami cranes - she did a great job!!

  7. It looks like you had fun learning about China! I'll keep your family in my prayers. :)

  8. Oh my gosh, Phyllis! I'm so so so sorry to hear about these health issues in your family. Know that we will keep you all ( including your brother and his family ) in our prayers. Hang in there. Hugs!!

    1. Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and prayers. Thank you for your support.

  9. Phyllis - you always have such amazing weeks - in spite of and even though you face such difficulties. Love, hugs and prayers for you and your family.

  10. Seriously impressed with Katie's cranes, and I will definitely include your family in my prayers. How difficult. I hope tests and recovery go so, so well. :)

    (And you are having a lot of fun for February! I look forward to seeing what else you do!)

  11. Wow your unit study looks amazing! That is a lot of info your family learned. YEAH to reaching 1000 paper cranes. :)
    I'm sorry your brother is going through a difficult time now, good that he came through surgery. Prayers for healing. Prayers for James as well that they can determine what is happening and that he can be treated.
    Thanks for linking with This Week each week. You brighten my weeks.

  12. Still praying Phyllis, for all of you.
    I can't believe all those cranes!!! Katie is amazing, I wouldn't have had the patience or the manual dexterity. They all look incredible!

    1. I know what you mean...I can't even fold one! Thank you for your prayers.

  13. I have never known someone who made all 1000 cranes! That is so cool! Praying for your brother and son :(.

  14. I love the paper cranes, and am so sorry to hear about your family medical issues. Since my daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia, my entire way of thinking has changed. It's hard not to worry about what you can't control.

  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother and James. I 'll be praying for them both.


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