History Feed

A Day for Apples!

According to the Farmer's Almanac, it's Johnny Appleseed Day - the day the American legend died, not to be confused with his birthday which takes place in September. September may seem the more fitting month to celebrate apples - it being harvest time and all - but it's always a great time to enjoy an apple! And though I do enjoy a fresh apple now and then, there's something about cooked apples that really appeals to me ...

Baked apples

They go so well with those homey scents and flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove ... 

I know people can be quite partial to one variety or another, and I have always been fond of McIntosh apples since they were the kind my grandmother cooked with the most. (Her "pink" applesauce was the best!) I think of them as a traditional New England apple, but it is my understanding they originated in eastern Canada. There are several varieties that have been bred from the original Mac - the Macoun, the Spartan, Cortland and Paula Red to name a few ...

So of course, now I'm wondering: Is there an apple you like best of all?

Here's a recipe for the apples seen above, a delicious baked version filled with dried fruit and honey. Wouldn't these make a cozy, nourishing breakfast on a cold March morning? And if you're looking for some more appley ideas, here's a link to a post I did on Johnny Appleseed Day last year.

In the interest of keeping it simple with little ones - why not head to the library to pick up a book or two on apples (there are bound to be lots!) and perhaps stop at the market to buy a few apples? (See how many varieties there are!) Or if the weather is cooperating, visit your local orchard and see how the apple trees are faring. Are they showing signs of life yet?

By the way, this is one of my favorite apple books, a lovely Swedish story:

Our apple tree

Our Apple Tree

Beautiful illustrations, and a sweet imaginative story. It nicely describes the different seasons in an apple tree's life.


So there's a few thoughts for this Tuesday, my friends ... but wherever your day takes you, I hope you enjoy it! Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!

National Lighthouse Day!

I had no idea that yesterday was National Lighthouse Day (or that it existed at all), but in its honor I'd like to show you all a picture of Earlybird's bedroom door ...

Lighthouse door

My mum painted it before he was born. :)

And here are lighthouse curtains made by Bill's mom ...

Lighthouse curtains

And even a lighthouse lamp!

Lighthouse lamp

(In case you couldn't tell, Earlybird's bedroom is done in a lighthouse theme!)

Also, here's a link to my Portland trip last September - my friends and I visited several lighthouses that weekend, so naturally there are tons of pictues! And here's a link to the "Open Lighthouse Day" website - lots of great links to explore there! (Fyi: Maine's annual "Open Lighthouse Day" is Saturday, September 15th this year.)

Finally, how about a few "lighthouse book" recommendations?

The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Gray Bridge

North American Lighthouses Coloring Book

Lighthouses for Kids: History, Science and Lore

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

The Lighthouse Cat


Have you ever visited a lighthouse before? They're such an interesting part of our maritime history!

Well, my friends ... have yourselves a wonderful Wednesday, and I'll see you again sometime soon!

Refresh Yourself!

Coca cola vintage ad

Well, I just learned that on this day in 1886, the first glass of Coca Cola was sold! How very interesting ...

Here's some more information from China Bayles' Book of Days:

"In 1886, in a three-legged kettle in his Atlanta, Georgia, backyard, Dr. John S. Pemberton brewed a carbonated, nonalcoholic, herbal tonic that he called Pemberton's French Wine Coca. Pemberton's formula called for 5 ounces of coca leaf (the source of cocaine) per gallon of syrup. The coca's hefty kick was boosted by a generous does of the caffeine-rich kola nut; hence: Coca-Cola.

The first glass of Pemberton's tonic was sold to the public at Jacob's Pharmacy on May 8, 1886, for five cents. Originally advertised as "valuable brain-tonic and cure for all nervous afflictions," a glass of Coke contained about 60 milligrams of cocaine. After Asa Chandler bought the company and began distributing syrup for bottled Coke, the drink's popularity soared. But the dangers of cocaine were recognized, and public disapproval mounted. The drug was removed from the drink by 1903, the company insisting that the "spent leaves" of coca were used for flavoring only."

So first of all - yikes! Glad to hear the Coca-Cola company realized the dangers of its original brew (or at least, it responded to public concern). But secondly, and on a far less serious note, I must pose the inevitable question:

Which do you prefer? Coke ... or Pepsi?

To be honest, I try not to drink soda at all - but given the choice, I'd definitely choose Coke over Pepsi. And I will say, sometimes, if I get a headache, the best cure I've found is taking 2 Motrin with a glass of Coke. It almost always wipes my headache away. (Fortunately I hardly ever get headaches!)

Well, my friends ... hope your day's going well. See you here again very soon!

Miniseries/Masterpiece Monday

Titanic logo

This is kind of a "Masterpiece Monday" post, and yet not exactly ... because I didn't actually watch Masterpiece last night! But perhaps some of my readers did, and I do plan to do so later this week when it reruns on another PBS station. If you watched The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. It's another Dickens tale - his last I believe - and from what I read it sounded (not surprisingly) a bit dark ... I have to say, I don't think Dickens is winning a lot of Downton Abbey fans, lol! Birdsong, beginning next weeked, looks a little more promising.

Speaking of Downton Abbey, though ... FIRST of all ... did you all hear the rumor that Maggie Smith is leaving DA? I'm hoping it's just a contract dispute, but time will tell. The show just would not be the same without her.

Also speaking of DA ... did anyone watch Julian Fellowes' Titanic this weekend? We did - Bill and I, that is - and we really enjoyed it. I thought it was well done, and, for a five-hour production, quite absorbing. I found a couple of the situations somewhat far-fetched, and I wish there had been more to the end ... maybe a glimpse into the lives of the survivors ... but overall I thought the storytelling was solid. This was the first time I've watched anything related to the Titanic tragedy - I have always found it all so disturbing - but now I am eager to learn more. If anyone has any books or films to suggest I'm all ears!

I'll add more thoughts in the comments as I can later today ... right now I have some kiddoes to supervise. :)

Have a great Monday, my friends!

Last night was Greek Mythology Night ...

... and it was so much fun!


Once a month our homeschool support group holds an 11-15 year old "Activity Night." We've been participating for several years now and it's something my boys really look forward to. The gist of it is, one family volunteers to "host" a month and organize the night's activities. Most months it's as simple as getting the kids together for pizza and a dvd at someone's home, but we've also gone out to the movies, visited a corn maze, held a Yankee Swap, and spent an evening at the mini golf course. It's always a fun night - for the kids as well as the mums (or dads as the case may be)!

Our family hosted this month's gathering, and we decided to go with the theme, "Greek Mythology Night." Our inspiration was this movie, this game and my boys' long-held fascination with ancient civilizations and mythology.

I started setting things up early Friday afternoon; this was the buffet table in its early stages:


Earlybird insisted the chip bags be part of the picture, lol. And no, chips are not necessarily "Greek" - not as far as I know - but these are 11-15 year old kids we're talking about. Chips are always a must on Activity Night. ;)

For the table I used a light green tablecloth, tall ivory candles and a length of grapevine garland. On the windowsill above, I lined up the Percy Jackson books as well as our beloved (and quite bedraggled) D'Aulaire Book of Greek Myths.

Just above the books the boys lined up some of their action figures ...


Dragons of all sorts, Cerberus (the three-headed dog), a (Lego) ogre, and several knights and gladiators rounded out the gallery.

So with the house more or less ready, and the food order called in, we waited to welcome our guests. (Six families in attendance this month, 12 kids in all.)

Our menu for the night:

Soda and water

Chips & salsa * Hummus & pita

Pizza (both regular and Greek)

Greek salad

Spinach pie (Spanakopita)

Greek Sweet Bread (Kouloura)

Assorted desserts & tea

After supper, the kids tried their hand at a Greek Mythology quiz one of the boys made up for the group. He awarded badges depending on quiz grade: mortal, demigod, oracle, minor god, Olympian god, fate.



It was a very challenging quiz!

After the quiz, the kids split into two teams and we had a little trivia game. I used the a Professor Noggin set of cards called "Creatures of Myth and Legend." The kids handled questions on everything from unicorns to phoenixes to leprechauns to golems! There was much laughter and not just a little competitive spirit. ;)

After the games, the desserts were spread out, plates were filled up and the kids settled down to watch the night's movie. The mom's settled in to drink tea and chat. :)

(Now, I don't know what setting I had my camera on, but all the pictures I took last night came out with an awful yellow hue. I'm still going to share them - just wanted to prepare you, lol! I promise, the food tasted much better than it looks in my pictures!)

And all these lovely treats were made by my friends ...


Holly's delicious Greek sweet bread, or "kouloura."


Beth's festive "Greek alphabet" cupcakes.


Yasmina's yummy vanilla twist cookies.


Laura's sweet, crunchy raspberry crumb bars.


And finally, Kim's soft and buttery "kourabiethes."

Dear readers, this night was such fun - one we'll remember always. And it was a late one too! - we said our goodbyes around 11:00! Needless to say, this was a long lazy morning ... and no cooking! We had plenty of delicious leftovers to enjoy. :)

Next month will be another movie night - February's pick is How to Train Your Dragon ... I wonder if there's such a thing as "Viking" cookies?

Well, thanks so much for stopping by today! I hope your weekend is going well. Take care of yourselves and have a good night ... I'll see you all again sometime soon.


A Trip to the American Textile Museum

Last week we attended a field trip to the American Textile Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. The trip included a guided tour of the museum as well as two excellent classes: "Junk to Jackets" and "Technical Tools." Crackerjack took the former; Bookworm took the latter. 

Here are the class descriptions:

From Junk to Jackets (Grades 3-10): Learn how recycling is used in the textile industry to make cloth, and consider its ecological impacts. As a colorful and educational keepsake, students will fill "ecological containers" with layers of materials showing the steps of the scientific process invented to convert plastic soda bottles into knitted fleece fabric. Students will do experiments revealing material characteristics and illustrating advances from nanotechnology research used to make modern fabrics even better!

Technical Tools (Grades 6-12): In a hands-on lab setting, work in teams to problem-solve how to overcome the technical difficulties experienced by the early US cotton industry, and experience the challenge of inventing that transformed the US during the early Industrial Revolution. Figure out Eli Whitney's inventors' success secrets as you engineer your own solutions. A world events timeline provides an international perspective.

This was our first visit to the museum, but I knew we'd get there one of these days (and I have a feeling we'll be back). Our history focus this year is the Industrial Revolution, and Lowell was one of the most important cities at that time. In fact, I believe it is known as the birthplace of the (American) Industrial Revolution.

I have a ton of pictures to share - no really, a ton - so I've made up a couple of photo albums instead of bogging down this post with jpgs. You can find my pictures in the two new photo albums on the right hand sidebar - one is called "ATM Field Trip" and this has the bulk of the pictures I took on our tour and in the boys' classes. The other album is called "Apron Exhibit" and it holds the pictures I took in the museum's special exhibit, a tribute to the 1950's and the apron phenomenon. Sorry these photos are not of the greatest quality, the lighting was fairly dim throughout most of the museum and we were not allowed to use flash photography. 

I hope you enjoy the pictures and if you are in the New England area - whether you live here or are visiting some day - I highly recommend you pay a visit to the American Textile Museum. The people who led us through the day were friendly, enthusiastic and so helpful. I look forward to another visit this spring!

Notes for Late Winter Learning


I've been working on my notes for next month and I thought I'd share them here with you all. Sorry if they seem kind of disjointed - sometimes that's just the way my brain works!

*Season: Late Winter*
*Month: February*

On the 1st of the month, we'll read Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story and I'll serve shepherd(ess) pie for supper. I found a deep blue, star-laden fabric at the craft store - I'll wrap that around Earlybird as we read. :)
I'll refresh the nature corner to reflect the new month at hand - heart-shaped rocks, pretty amethysts, tealights and tiny pairs of lovebirds will take their place on the shelf. 
I'll add some red and white heart-shaped doilies to the learning room windows.
Early on the morning of the 2nd, we'll await Punxsutawny Phil's prediction. We'll read our favorite Groundhog Day book (yep, we have a favorite!) - How Groundhog's Garden Grew. Whether the outcome is more winter or an early spring, this book fits either mood. It really encourages an appreciation for each turn of the year.
 The 2nd also brings Candlemas, so we will roll beeswax candles in the morning and dine by candlelight in the evening. We'll also recite the old saying ~
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter will take another flight.
But if Candlemas be clouds and rain, 
Winter's gone and won't come again.
We'll start watching for the earliest blooms - snowdrops. Bill planted the tiny bulbs in the northwest corner of the garden last fall. They probably won't show up till March (until the snow has melted somewhat) but it will be fun to start looking.
Earlybird and I will read The Story of the Snow Children and learn about "Snowdrop Fairies" in Flower Fairies of Winter.

Deep sleeps the Winter,
Cold, wet and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!

I'm planning to make a tiny snowdrop fairy for the nature shelf - sort of following the directions in All Year Round. (I say "sort of" because I'm going to use a wooden peg base instead of making a soft stuffed doll.)
Over the weekend of the 7th-8th, we'll take part in the annual Mass. Audubon project, Focus on the Feeders. We've done this for the past several years now.
Midnight-moon On the night of the 9th, we'll look for the Full Snow Moon. The next morning we'll look up how many inches of snow our town has had so far this winter - and whether we're above or below average. (My guess is above!)
On a clear, mild day we'll go for a late winter nature walk. I'll have the older boys look for animal tracks in the snow, while Earlybird and I gather a basket-full of winter weeds. Back at home I'll make a "winter weed" bouquet for the nature shelf. 
On the 12th, we'll attend an Abraham Lincoln Celebration with our homeschool group. I'll set up a book display in the learning room filled with books on our 16th president. (We're studying the Civil War this winter, so this activity is quite timely.) For dessert that night, I will serve a jelly roll - a "Lincoln Log," if you will. :)
We'll start listening for the earliest spring birdsong on Valentines Day when, legend has it, the birds choose their mates. We'll make some Valentine "treats" to hang in the trees outside our windows.
Around the second week of February, according the the Audubon Society, is when skunks begin to mate. (Just in time for Valentines those clever critters.) We'll watch our favorite Valentine special, A Kiss for Little Bear, which includes the story of a wedding between two skunks.
Starting early in the month we'll start preparing homemade Valentines for friends and family. (This means a trip to the craft store this weekend to purchase any necessary supplies.) 
We'll hang a poster of presidents on Presidents' Day. And decorate frosted cupcakes with little American flags.
Our nature study focus this month will revolve around the Beatrix Potter story, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. We'll observe and learn about red squirrels and owls.
Our homeschool Nature Study Club will be dissecting owl pellets this month. We'll also walk into the woods to observe an owl's nest.
Earlybird and I will begin his very own Book of Trees. (Simply a handmade, child-friendly field guide.) We'll be reading The Happiness Tree and focusing on evergreens this month. (Next month: maple trees.)
Later in the month we'll start tracking the daytime and nighttime temperatures. When the days get over 40 and the nights fall below freezing, it means the sap will start running. (Next month's nature study focus.)
One day late in the month, we'll visit the nursery to purchase seeds for our spring garden. We'll start some seeds at home in a sunny window or two.
On the 24th, Shrove Tuesday, we'll make masks for Mardi Gras and eat pancakes and bacon for supper. We'll decide what we're giving up for Lent this year, as the next morning brings Ash Wednesday.
Earlybird is learning how to use the library. Meaning, he's learning how to behave when we're there, how to politely ask for help, how to treat books, etc. We will turn a plain canvas bag into a "library tote" for him, embellishing it with rubber stamps and fabric paint, etc.
As always, I must stress ... these are my notes - my hopes, and ideas - they do not always ALL come to pass. As you can tell, though, I do enjoy finding ways to weave the natural year into our home learning lifestyle. I find a wealth of inspiration in every turn of the year; I hope maybe you can find a little inspiration during your visit here!
Have a wonderful evening, my friends. I'm off now to feed my troops supper. :)

March Means Maple Sugaring ...


And chilly wet days just like this!

At winter's end, there comes a spell of fine weather, maybe several weeks of it if we're lucky. During the daytime, the sun shines brightly (warmly you might even say) and the temperatures rise close to 50 degrees. But the nights, they stay cold - and bitterly so. As the saying goes, March is a tease, but there is a method to the madness. Because the combination of mild days and freezing nights works pure magic on our maple trees (or I should say, within), and that's where the payoff begins ...

Maple sugaring is a time-honored tradition in New England, a rich and interesting part of our history. But its more than just tradition and history - the long journey from sap to syrup is truly part of the year's natural rhythm. And so of course, this all made a timely topic for our Nature Study Club; our March meeting, organized by my friend Cherice, took us on a tour of a real maple sugaring operation.

I hope you'll join me in a quick review. :)

We began at the Sugarshack ...


Inside the shack we watched and learned about the evaporation process, which over time, turns sap into syrup. The machine you see pictured below does most of the work - fired by wood heat, it boils down the sap (which looks, and even tastes, just like water) into syrup. The nice man who explained it all to us, showed us each part of the process and the tools used along the way.


The green barrel in the picture below represents how much sap it takes to make one gallon of syrup. Actually, it's one and a half barrels, Bookworm just reminded me!

Generally speaking, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, but the red maples which populate the area actually require even more to do this - anywhere from 75 to 100 gallons! (The maples that achieve the best sap-to-syrup ratio are the ones that turn day-glo orange in the fall - my favorites!)


This pile of firewood filled the whole side wall of the shack. Needless to say, the whole place was filled with steam, and the scent of woodsmoke. What a nostalgic smell!


After the shack, it was on to the tapping ...


The two rangers pictured below spent a good deal of time explaining to the children about the tapping process. They described the weather conditions necessary for sap to begin running, and they showed the kids how to tell maples from other trees when there are no leaves to compare (hint: look at the branches and buds).

They also let the kids taste the sap, listen to it "ping" inside the buckets ...


... and tap a tree on their own!


(This is the practice tree, lol. It's seen its share of taps, I'd say!)

Next it was on to the history portion of the tour ...


We learned how Native Americans discovered sap in the first place (about 8,000 years ago!) and how they boiled it down with wooden cookware ...


(They added hot stones to the sap and brought it to a boil in this way!)

The children were also shown how taps have developed over the years ...


Taps through the ages, from left to right ~ crude slashes made in the bark, a tap and bucket made from wood, the same made from metal, and the newest method which involves plastic tubing that runs from the trees down to a larger and central storage pipe. This last method is quicker, less labor intensive and eliminates animal interference.

Our second to last stop - woodcutting!


The kids were shown several methods of woodcutting - a two-person handsaw, a wedge and sledgehammer, a maul, a large gas-fired splitter and finally a chainsaw. (Above you see my boys handling the two-person handsaw.) The folks running this portion of the tour were careful to point out that no trees are actually cut down at the reservation - only trees that have fallen by natural means are used for firewood.

The final activity was a wonderful sampling of the syrup itself - poured generously over hot pancakes and popcorn! Oh my, so good! (I don't have any pictures of that part - I was too busy eating!)

It was such a terrific day! We learned so much - about nature, natural resources, and historical New England. And though the weather was a bit drab and uncomfortable, it felt so much like March - wet, muddy, chilly, a few flakes in the air. Getting outside, feeling the cold and smelling the damp woods all around us ... well, Spring didn't seem quite so far off ...


I must admit, it did feel good to get home to a hot cup of tea ~ with a dollop of maple syrup for good measure! ;)

Well, thanks for stopping by and sharing in our Nature Club adventure this month. April's meeting will bring us back into a different Wood, where we'll search, silently, for spring. And I am certain, by that time, we'll find it ..

Have a great night, everyone!

On PBS Tonight ~ Buffalo Bill

Thanks to my handy-dandy Entertainment Weekly, I just learned that the PBS show AmBuffalo_billerican Experience will feature Buffalo Bill tonight. I'm not sure if they know how great their timing is, but tomorrow, February 26th is his birthday! (I learned that fact in this book, a favorite of mine for calendar planning.)

The show is rated PG, and I'm sure it's quite tame; still I'll watch it first before showing it to the boys. You can see a preview at the PBS site and there is a teacher's guide available, too. I missed the program on Kit Carson which aired earlier this month; but it seems you can view it online here. There are plenty of resource links, too.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love PBS? :)

Of course like any red-blooded homeschooling mum, my wheels start turning furiously when I stumble upon an interesting resource. And these programs look really good. But, knee-deep in ancient history as we are this year, I'll have to keep my gears in neutral. We'll watch these shows and enjoy them and then we'll move on - because of course I'm already thinking "unit study" with a capital U. ;)

I'll keep them in mind for next year when we turn our attention to America circa 1850 onward. I've already started a folder for gathering ideas. (Natch!) And as for books, well, I already have a few in mind ...

For the younger grades, I really like the Steven Kellogg books, (Pecos Bill, Mike Fink, Paul Bunyan, etc.) as well as the excellent books by the D'Aulaires, such as the the one pictured above. In the past, we've enjoyed the detail-rich Holling books, but we've yet to read Tree in the Trail, a cowboy story. Old Sam and Brave Buffalo Fighter will make good reading for Bookworm, and these childhood biographies will be perfect for Crackerjack. Jim Weiss's American Tall Tales will warrant a listen, and then there's that Disney movie all about American folk heroes ...

Oh, there I go getting carried away with Americana when I need to stay focused on the Greek gods! Still, we'll take a moment to honor Buffalo Bill's birthday tomorrow, maybe even with some "cowboy chow" for supper: wagon-wheel pasta, cornbread and giant cowboy cookies for dessert ...

(I guess we're not called eclectic homeschoolers for nothing, lol!)

Have a great Monday, y'all! :)

Sundaes on Presidents' Monday


And to cap off our President's Day ~ bowls of vanilla ice cream topped with homemade butterscotch sauce. Mmm, mmm, mmm! I'm not sure that ice cream sundaes are particularly patriotic, but no one raised an eyebrow when I passed these out. ;) (Hang on ~ here's a connection. And a recipe too! Don't you just love Google?)

And now Bill and the boys are waiting for me in the family room with "National Treasure" all queued up. I think we just found a new President's Day tradition! :)

But before I go, here's our family recipe for that scrumptious sauce ...

Grama's Butterscotch Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (I used unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup Karo syrup
  • 1/2 cup cream or evaporated milk (I used heavy cream)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix and boil first three ingredients to the soft ball stage. Add cream or evaporated milk and vanilla. Stir. Serve over ice cream (or maybe bread pudding).

Have a good night, my friends. :)

Land that I Love ~ A Survey of the States


This winter we are beginning an overview of the United States of America, as well as an informal study of our own state geography and history. Above you see our primary materials:

The notebooks (one for each older boy) will be divided in this way:

  • Front cover: a blank map of the United States of America
  • Sections:
    • Massachusetts
    • New England
    • Mid-Atlantic
    • Southeast
    • Southwest
    • Midwest
    • Mountain
    • West

Goal: To cover two states a week till we've covered them all.

Schedule as follows:

  • M-F: Boys complete one puzzle page from the MA book; file behind MA section.
  • On Monday: color two posters, one for each state; hang up in learning room.
  • On Tuesdays and Thursdays:
    • Present new state fact card
    • Read about state in guidebook.
    • Color state bird sheet; write capital at top of page
    • Place sheet in binder behind appropriate regional divider.
    • Color in state on blank US map.

I'm not requiring memorization at this point, just familiarity. So far this has been a fun and easy way to acquaint ourselves with the country. Next year we will focus our history on America from 1850 to the present and I anticipate a more in-depth study of US geography at that time. We'll also take time to learn about the Saints of America.

But this year, like every year, we'll honor all the national holidays ~

~ National Holidays 2008 ~

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day ~ January 21
  • Abraham Lincoln's Birthday ~ February 12
  • Presiden't Day ~ February 18
  • George Washington's Birthday ~ February 22
  • Patriots Day (Boston) ~ April 21
  • Memorial Day ~ May 26
  • Flag Day ~ June 14
  • Independence Day ~ July 4
  • Labor Day ~ September 1
  • Patriot Day (US) ~ September 11
  • Columbus Day ~ October 13
  • Veteran's Day ~ November 11
  • Thanksgiving Day ~ November 27
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ~ December 7

I've been keeping ideas for celebrating each of these holidays in my seasonal planning notebook (the one where I file my themes and plans outlines). I try to keep the activities simple and family-friendly, and to weave in our Faith as I can, too.

Today of course, brings us President's Day, and many (most?) schoolchildren are on vacation this week. Our little homeschool is not on vacation, though we are taking today off because Daddy is home for the day! We'll hang our American flag and talk about the upcoming presidential election, and for supper I'll serve what to my mind are all-American favorites: old-fashioned meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn, along with buttered whole-grain rolls. For dessert we'll enjoy little President's Day sundaes and then we'll watch National Treasure, a great family favorite ...

But right now I'm off to get the day rolling. I hope yours is a good one, whatever your plans!

George Washington was brave, we know; he loved this land we hold so dear. And when his birthday comes around, his noble name we cheer.**And Lincoln, who was strong and true, his birthday too, we celebrate. So raise the flag and sing the praise of heroes, good and great.

("Washington and Lincoln," from We Sing and Listen)

Links for Lincoln ~ Take Two!

(Note: This is actually a post from last year, but I wanted to put it up again in case anything is useful to you. And while I'm at it, here's our "Tea and Craft" post from Abe's Day last year.)

I just love the month of February ~ it brings with it cold grey skies and warm red hearts and we mustn't forget those February presidents! How fun and meaningful it is to celebrate our national holidays all through the year. For, according to Mrs. Sharp:Abe_lincoln

"Unfortunately, with the exception of Independence Day, little attention is paid to the observance of patriotic holidays. As the origins and meanings of these very special days have slipped through the cracks, we have lost one of the most important legacies we can pass on to our children. There is no better place to begin restoration than with a homegrown observance of Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays."

Well, tomorrow is Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, and in honor of this very special American holiday, here are a few fun ideas for you and the children ...

You could ...

Make a yummy pretzel cabin.

Paint a log cabin birdhouse.

Play with your Lincoln Logs.

Read Abraham Lincoln by Ingri d'Aulaire.

Or Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters.

Make penny rubbings. (Make designs from the rubbings, too.)

Make a penny pendant.

Make a lucky penny pin.

Polish your pennies.

Make a top hat. (Another version here.)

Print a coloring page.

Do a word search.

Check out lots of Lincoln websites.

View the Lincoln home.

Read a poem about him.

Read his speeches here. (Specifically the Gettysburg Address.)

Go on a virtual field trip.

Outline a report.

And then test your knowledge about Honest Abe.

How about a little copywork in praise of our February presidents?

George Washington was brave, we know, he loved this land we hold so dear; and when his birthday comes around, his noble name we cheer.

And Lincoln who was strong and true, his birthday too we celebrate; so raise the flag and sing the praise of heroes good and great.

(from We Sing and Listen, Seton Books)

And don't forget the Jelly Roll (aka Lincoln Log) for dessert ...

Have fun! Next week is Washington's turn! :)

Blue Food at Book Group?


You betcha!

Because a book group discussion can only stand to be enhanced when one is sufficiently (albeit artificially) sugared up. ;)

Seriously though, the food did tie-in to the book of the month: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.* And in my defense, the pumpkin cakes were made from scratch and the blue corn chips were organic. Now - the aquamarine frosting, teal sprinkles and electric blue Gatorade -well, I can't vouch for any of that ...

But I can tell you, it all tasted good. :)

So! It was my turn to lead the discussion at this month's book group - Bookworm's group this time. (I led Crackerjack's back in November.) Such a fun group of kids they are, too. They all LOVE to read and they all have read a LOT and they all enjoy pretty much the same kinds of books. And boy, can these kids talk. I could have just sat back and let them do all the talking, lol. (They're always this talkative, mind you - it wasn't just the sugar.)

Right, so the book we read for the January meeting, as I mentioned above, is called The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and The Olympiads Series #1. There are three books in the series so far, with a fourth set to be published in May. (I hear-tell the movie rights have been sold, too.) And since I've already used up most of my blogging time tonight telling you about the food, I'll just copy the summary from the back of the book:

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school ... again. And that's Lightningthiefthe least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

I have to say I really liked this book. The story was fast-paced and I enjoyed the Greek mythology immersed throughout. (Informative and entertaining, with neat twists on long-standing traditions.) This book came highly recommended by good friends, but I was also intrigued by the subject matter - it's excellent timing for us to read this book now - we're starting Ancient Greek history next week! This book definitely made me want to learn more about Greek mythology, all the while hitting on things I already knew, but in a new and modern way. (For instance, Ares, the god of war, rides a Harley.) :)

The other neat thing about leading this month, was the author's fantastic website with lots of mythology links and a teacher's guide. A few clicks of the print button and half my work was done for me! Which explains why I had so much time to bake. ;)

We coGreekmmythsvered many discussion questions during the hour-long meeting, and we also worked together on a "Gods of Olympus" worksheet, brainstorming together the characteristics of all the Olympiads - as well as Hades, and several other mythological creatures. I brought out our copy of the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths which supplied even more tidbits and background, as well as, of course, lots of great pictures. Some of the kids knew a lot about Greek mythology and were eager to share additional information and help make connections.

The last activity we did was to work on a "demigod generator," a worksheet that allowed the kids to imagine their own half-god status. They had to choose one of the Olympiads to be their "god" parent and then dream up the powers they would have, the way they'd be dressed, their friends and enemies, etc. This was a lot of fun, but only a few kids were courageous enough to share their thoughts with the group. ;) We had a son of Pan, a son and a daughter of Ares, a son of Hermes (that would be my son, btw) and a son of Artemis. The kids were very creative! If you are interested in doing this activity with your own children, here is the link: Demigod Generator.

And by the way, Crackerjack had a wonderful time with the younger group; this month's selection was The Trumpet of the Swan (though he, ahem, didn't actually finish the book quite in time). My friend Cherice led the lively discussion, had the kids make paper swans and served watercress sandwiches for snack! 

*Oh, and about that blue food ...here's my connection:

"See, Gabe had once told my mom there was no such thing. They had this fight, which seemed like a really small thing at the time. But ever since, my mom went out of her way to eat blue. She baked blue birthday cakes. She mixed blueberry smoothies. She bought blue-corn tortilla chips and brought home blue candy from the shop. This - along with keeping her maiden name, Jackson, rather then calling herself Ugliano - was proof that she wasn't totally suckered by Gabe. She did have a rebellious streak, like me."

(Gabe was the mean, ugly, smelly and abusive stepfather whom Percy loathed. Percy's mom has good reasons for marrying him, which we (and Percy) come to understand in the end.)

Well, that's the book club report for this month! Having volunteered for both the younger and older groups I am now done leading for the year. Which means next month you'll find me at the moms table, sipping coffee and chatting away. :) Next month's book group selections are Lion Boy (Bookworm), which I've never heard of but looks really good, and The Penderwicks (Crackerjack), which I have heard of and which has been on my to-read list for some time!

I hope you all have a terrific weekend! We have no major plans, just a few errands and lots to do around the house. The tree is down, so now I can get the learning room all back in place - because Monday finds us back at work! I'll be posting our second semester plans very soon ~ and I'll catch up with all the questions left for me here as soon as I can, too!

Thanks, as always, for your comments and questions and just for stopping by to check in. See you all soon! :)

November Home Learning Plans


Happily, November brings a quieter schedule for us, a time when we can get back on track in both the home-learning and home-keeping departments. I've been asked how I get "so much done" in a given week, but the truth is lately - I haven't! Our schedule through the early fall has been hectic to say the least, and now that we're home more again, I see I have lots of catching up to do around here!

I do feel that being at home - as opposed to always being out and about - is a key factor in how much one can get done in a given week with regards to the lessons, the housekeeping and the homey little projects and crafts. I am always working on that balance for my family - home enough to be productive and rested; out enough to remain connected and refreshed.

I know a while back I promised a peek at my schedules. Things have been so unusual lately, I've hesitated to post them (they seemed like wish lists, lol) but I think I am getting back to a routine now. I'll finish tweaking them and then post them here soon. For now, here's a look at my home learning notes for the month of November.

Math: Now that Earlybird's OT schedule has loosened up, our math mornings can get back on track. I aim to start the boys Saxon lessons by 8:30 a.m. We've dragged our feet on our math journals, but we're back at them this week. For inspiration, I am ordering Algebra to Go: A Mathematics Handbook for Bookworm (he loved Math at Hand), and for the younger two, I'll make up a math basket of good reads like Millions to Measure and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I'll have the boys keep an allowance record inside the cover of their math journals, too. This should get them opening those books at least once a week! Fridays look to be a good day for math journaling.

Language Arts: Daily lessons, directly after math. I've made some changes here. We're staying with the Spellers we chose for this year (and completing one lesson a week). I just started Bookworm on Wordsmith after a recommendation by a good friend. Crackerjack has started Easy Grammar Grades 3 and 4 which I used with Bookworm several years ago. After the holidays we will begin Latin. Assigned reading: The Golden Goblet and Island of the Blue Dolphins (Bookworm); I'll begin reading aloud The Chronicles of Narnia with Crackerjack and closer to December we'll read Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allen Crow for Book Group. After that we'll begin listening to A Christmas Carol on audiotape (we're seeing the play next month).

History: It's back to Story of the World for us! I attempted to wing it this year with ancient history - cobbling together living literature, history encyclopedias and Uncle Josh's Outline Maps to name a few resources, but it was just too much work. I missed SOTW, and so did the boys, so we're back on board. We already had it on the shelf from years ago when Bookworm first studied ancient history, but I ordered the audiotapes as a supplement. I will require Bookworm to do more supplemental reading and outlining this time around. Our Homeschool Games Day this month is all about history and geography games; the boys want to bring this Mythical Beasts Groovey Tube game. :)

Science: My main goal with chemistry is to do one experiment a week. For right now I'm using the Janice Van Cleave book, but I'm thinking the boys will find a chemistry kit under the Christmas tree this year! (If you can recommend any good ones, I'm all ears!) Bookworm is taking a homeschool chemistry class at MIT later this month. Our Aquarium School experience has been wonderful; this month the boys will study sharks and talk with a research scientist. They will also dissect a dogfish during class. (!)   

Nature Study: We will focus on the concept of earth's winter sleep (nature slowing down, the animals hibernating, the light fading). I would love to set up a terrarium with the boys and I've been scouting out resources online and in magazines to do just that. We have our Nature Study Club meeting mid-month and we'll be watching for the Full Beaver Moon just after Thanksgiving.

Habit: Washing hands often and thoroughly. (Two rounds of Happy Birthday!)

Family Value: Compassion

Crafts & Activities: Lots to do in the next two months with so many holidays and feast days coming up! I'm going to try not to over-do it, but here are my general ideas:

  • election day cake - there's a history to it!
  • yarn crafts: fingerknitting and branch weaving
  • window stars (Bookworm loves making these; I've ordered windows-full this year!)
  • lanterns for Martinmas
  • corn husk folk
  • homemade pretzels
  • clothing donations
  • a terrarium (probably after Thanksgiving)

Religion: We are completing our parish CCD program at home, and I'm assigning Mondays as the day to work on those lessons. This is the first year we've done this - last year we attended classes at our church and all the years previous (save for Bookworm's First Communion year) we did our own thing. Since I must report in to our DRE in January, we'd best get cracking. ;) We'll continue to sit down on Thursday afternoons for our weekly teatime, reading from the coming Sunday's Magnifikid and discussing the gospel and any saints of the week. Coming up we will celebrate Martinmas (a few days before his actual feast date as it falls on a Sunday this year). We'll also bake St. Elizabeth breads just like we did last year, and make up a set of homemade donation envelopes for the Bread & Roses collection box at church. And by the end of the month we'll be gearing up for Advent, of course!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day, everyone! Don't forget to send me your submissions for The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts Fair by tonight! :)

Autumn in the Learning Room


Yesterday I spent some time cleaning in the learning room. It's hardly done yet, but everything looked so sunny and soft when I called it a day, I couldn't help but snap pictures. :)


As you can see my bookcase is in need of a good pruning! Especially that craft shelf and the budget basket - yeesh! (I have lots of autumn craft supplies stashed in that bookcase!) That small bulletin board will be coming down next week; I have a Thanksgiving project in mind for it. :)


Bill put up these little pumpkin lights the other night, as well as the wrought iron lanterns. With the afternoons growing dark earlier each day, I turn them on right after lunch. It feels so cozy as the light fades outside.


This is the other corner of the room, which is not quite big enough for a piece of furniture (I've tried) but roomy enough that it looks like it needs something ...


Our cat Smokey insists on sleeping in the in-box (much to the boys delight)! We use the inbox for any and every little thing that gets done through the week. I go through it on Friday (and/or over the weekends) and file things where they need to go. The ball jar on the left holds links from our holiday paperchain - I have a vague idea what we're going to do with them, but I'm still ironing out a few details.


Here is all my stuff spread out for some serious planning. (Our lessons had been cleared away for the day.) A clipboard, next week's folder, things I want to read (sections of the Globe and the October Martha Stewart), grocery flyers and coupon packet, and my journal set on top of my planner.

On the far side of the table are the boys' magazines that had just arrived in the mail. They were playing outside when they came, so I set them out in what I hoped was a tempting way. I believe that is called strewing. :)


More strewing! Above you see our learning center this week. As you can tell, we are studying Egypt. On the far right is a tray for loose paper, and the shelf below holds our "school" bags.

A close-up of our nature-blessings shelf:


A beeswax Celtic cross candle (which I never light because I want it to last!), a nest filled with feathers (and the tip of a red squirrel tail), three little acorns, my favorite starry silver candleholders, a lovely wooden sun face, tiny Indian corn and our Sumerian clay tablets (which have nothing to do with nature's blessings, but this is where they were set to dry).

This windowsill has become something of a catch-all for random nature things ...


You might not be surprised to learn I've started collecting little birds. :) My mum bought me the chickadee on the far left, and the paper mache bird is from our Christmas ornament collection. On the right is a sweet little brushy-bird I found at a country store last week (for all of $3!). (It's kind of like these which I LOVE.) In the middle is my tiny wooden red squirrel just below the suncatcher my parents brought me home from Vermont. In the far right corner is a wooden owl resting on a mushroom and two milkweed pods from our field.


Ah, those magazines attracted somebody's attention. :)

Well, this was a good start anyway. I hope to continue my autumn cleaning this weekend. Today we are hosting some friends for a playdate - a viewing of Evan Almighty and an eggnog tasting. YES, eggnog is back in the stores! And there are a few new flavors this year!

I'll let you know how our tasting turns out, but in the meantime, Happy Friday!

Happy Columbus Day!

Are you on holiday today? Off to leaf-peep or watch a parade, perhaps?

Well, it's a dark, rainy morning here and I am on my third - no, Columbusmake that fourth - cup of coffee. That might sound like a lot to you, but believe me, it's sorely needed today. For some inexplicable reason, Earlybird was up really, really early this morning. I'm not going to tell you how early, it's just too crazy to say. No fever, no nightmares, no apparent discomfort of any kind. He was just up. Up, and ready to go.

So, here I am nursing my hot cup of caffeine and I've just remembered the schools have the day off. Hmmm. I don't usually follow their calendar, but today I am sorely tempted ...

Well, maybe a slower day is a good idea. Lots of sitting and reading and maybe some dramatic play. We could read EncounterColumbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, and we might make these just for fun. Perhaps we'll tear apart the sectional and make a ship from the cushions. (It needs to be vacuumed out anyway.) Or better yet, the boys can pretend their bunk bed is a ship (the top bunk being the crows nest of course) while I tidy their room and fold laundry ...

Over lunch I'll read aloud that timeless poem, the one that begins "In fourteen hundred ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue ..." and I just requested Encounter by Jane Yolen at my local library. I've never read it before, but I understand it tells the Columbus day tale from a native boy's view. It should make for some interesting discussion.

Oh! And how about this: a delicious spice cake? What a wonderfully fitting Columbus Day treat! And just the thing for such a damp, dark afternoon.

All right, one more sip and I'm off. However you're spending your holiday, I hope you enjoy it.

Gingerbread & Cider: A Back-to-School Tea

Yesterday afternoon the boys and I had a little teatime in celebration of our first week back to "school." After our summer-send off last week, I wanted to serve something that just said fall - in spite of the soaring temperatures outside, lol - so first on the menu, in place of hot tea, was fresh-pressed apple cider. (It's back in the markets again - have you seen?!) I offered to warm it up but it was unanimously decided that cold crisp cider was just the ticket for such a warm September day.

Now for the snack ... I was thinking of an alphabet theme, especially for Earlybird who's beginning kindergarten at home this year. He just loves letters! Well, paging through one of my old journals the other day, I came across a clipping I'd saved from Family Fun magazine. According to the article, in Colonial America, when children learned the alphabet, their families celebrated by making gingerbread letters.

Well that sounded good to me! Any excuse to make gingerbread, right? :) And to use these lovely cookie cutters I've had for years and hardly used at all:


I bought our set at Williams-Sonoma years ago. They now come in a smaller tin which you can see here. These are great for cookies, obviously, as well as play dough (though I have a separate plastic set for playtime). A nice idea at the holidays is to give a beautifully wrapped box of iced cookies, spelling out a warm greeting such as PEACE or NOEL. (That is a Martha tip, as you probably know.)   


All the boys helped with the dough, which I made from a recipe that came with the tin. (I wasn't all that pleased with it, to be honest. No eggs and no molasses, rather stiff ... but it was ok for today!)

Above you see Bookworm helping with the rolling out of the dough. He really loves to cook and asked me if this year "cooking" could be one of his subjects. Hmmm, I thought, that fits in nicely with our chemistry study! (And then I envisioned biographies of famous chefs, a field trip to a bakery ... oh, the rabbit trail I could make out of this!)

Initially, our idea is to compile a binder for Bookworm filled with kid-friendly recipes that he can learn to make on his own through the year. In a future post I'll be soliciting such recipes from you all! ;)


The younger two got in on the action too, of course. Actually this was taken near the end of baking when the scraps were left to be played with.

Earlybird enjoyed shaping letters himself and then finding those cookies in the baked batch! His favorites were E, H and Z. :)


This is the smile of a boy who is thrilled it's apple cider season again, a culinary delight second only to the appearance of eggnog in late October.


I shooed the boys off to play and set up the table - the platter is a wooden pineapple tray that belonged to my grandmother years ago. The pineapple was a traditional symbol of welcome in Colonial America.

The cookies looked (and smelled) good, but it was the brightly wrapped package that caught the boys' attention first.


What could it be?


A back-to-school gift from mum and dad: The Dangerous Book for Boys! The boys were intrigued by the title ...

"Dangerous? What's so dangerous about a book?" asked Crackerjack.


They dug right in to find out. ;)

And so our new year was officially kicked off, and as if on cue, the mail arrived just as we finished up tea - bringing with it our approval letter from the town. What great timing!

That letter will be stored securely in our files, but the memories of today will be filed away too - slipped inside the yearbook of our hearts, a book I hope will grow fat with experiences all year long.

It is my job to envision and prepare for such experiences - to lay the groundwork and then to step back and watch. I am, after all, headmistress of a rather dandy (and not too dangerous) school for young boys ...

I seriously doubt I will ever lack for material. :)

Poetry Friday: Dinosaurs!


I'm Glad I'm Living Now, Not Then!

When earth was yet a little child
Dinosaurs lived free and wild.

Some as big as spacious homes,
Some as small as tiny gnomes.
A few had wings to fly the skies
With giant beaks and searching eyes.
Harboring murder in their breasts
They stole the fledglings from their nests.
One giant breed lived deep within
Dark waters with its kindly kin.
Still others wandered mean and bold
And ate each other, I've been told.
I know what might or must have been-
I'm glad I'm living now, not then!

(Lillian M. Fisher)

I think the boys will get a kick out of this one; it goes along nicely with our current dinosaur study. It will make a nice copywork page for their notebooks, perhaps accompanied by a coloring page or sketch.

It's been a long time since we've studied the prehistoric age, so I'm still pulling things out of the book boxes downstairs. A few resources we've started with:


The picture of the crane fly fossil in Comstock's book is a virtual match to our specimen!

I brought up the dinosaur toys and as you can see above we have them set up with our book display (they migrate quite often and end up all over the house). We'll plan a trip to the Harvard Musuem of Natural History sometime this summer, but in the meantime I'm going to pick up a copy of Night in the Museum, a movie we saw (and reviewed) last New Year's and enjoyed very much. If you like Ben Stiller you'll find it quite funny. It's set in New York's Natural History Museum, and a T-Rex is a central character. ;)

So there's our poem for this week. For the whole Poetry Friday Round-up, stop in at HipWriterMama's today.

Happy Friday!

I'm SO Excited!

A few things have me kicking up my heels this bright and beautiful afternoon ...


1. I have now heard from several excellent (not to mention, lovely) sources (thanks for the tip, Elizabeth!) that VICTORIA magazine is coming back into print this fall! Say it with me ladies - hooray!! I simply cannot believe it! This magazine is, perhaps - no, definitely - my all-time favorite periodical. I started collecting it when I was, gosh, 18 or so I think? My grandmother and I shared a subscription and we loved every single page of it - columns, recipes, photography - even the ads were a joy. We were so sorry to see it go out of print, and I have cherished the copies I kept as a treasure. I can't wait to tell Gram our beloved Victoria is returning to us this October! I can just envision how gorgeous that first issue will be - all decked out in its holiday finery no doubt. I think we (meaning all we online friends) should join together for a virtual "blog tea" this October to celebrate! Who's with me? :)

2. And thanks to a morning visit at Jennifer's I learned that it's Educator Week at Barnes & Noble (beginning today) and so, naturally, I added that favorite haunt to my Saturday errand list. I have been waiting for this discount week to purchase a certain book ... and today was my chance! I think The History of the Ancient World will tear me away from Austen's Victorian England for a bit. ;) Its author is Susan Wise Bauer who wrote the history program I've used with the boys for years now. And as much as I enjoy SOTW (learning right along with my children), this new book is meant for grown ups - it's thick, heavy and filled with maps and timelines. I can hardly wait to dig in! I enjoy history to begin with, but this book is particularly timely as we are returning to SOTW 1: Ancient Times next year (meaning September 2007). Well, I've just found my summer reading ~ I'll let you all know what I think when I get through it.

And finally ...

3. This morning Bookworm and I attended the first VBS meeting of the new year. Oh, was it fun! And so nice to see many familiar faces (and meet some new ones, too)! This year's VBS (or vacation bible school) theme is Avalanche Ranch: A Wild Ride through God's Word. At every turn we'll be hollering "Wahoo!" and twirling our (pretend) lassos in the air. (You might remember we had a ton of fun at last year's Fiesta.) At today's meeting we practiced some of the songs, games and dances (oh, we're a lively group, I assure you) and figured out who would lead which stations. Bookworm will be a (gulp!) teen leader this year; even though he's only 12 in June, he's considered a teen for VBS purposes. I am back at the games station again, or, as it will be known this year, Horseplay Games. After the meeting Bookworm and I picked up the signature red shirts at the craft store (love the crimson shade - last year's yellow was not my color). ;) Do any of you do VBS at your church? If so, what theme are y'all doing? (Guess I'd better work on my cowgirl accent!)


Stay tuned to hear all about our VBS adventures as we go along. It's a long way to August, but it will be here before we know it!

Have a great evening, my friends, and enjoy a blessed Sunday tomorrow. Good night!

Back to the Learning Board!

It's been a while since I've had the weekly lessons board up and running! At long last it feels like we're back on track.


As you can probably tell, we're studying the earth this week. I must point out a few other things, beginning in the upper lefthand corner:

  • Porcupines - we're just kind of interested in them right now. Fisher cats are making a splash in the local headlines and they are the only predator that can successfully hunt the porcupine. We realized how little we know about porcupines (I'm not sure we want to know about fishers) so we dug up some information - from Big Backyard magazine and The Beginning Naturalist, to start.
  • An invitation to a friend's birthday party.
  • A coloring page of Henry V and his sword (our history topic this week).
  • Some photocopied bits and pieces from various history resources (in addition to Henry V, we also are reading about Joan of Arc).
  • Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, the picture book (we also have the CD-ROM somewhere around here).
  • My grandmother's pie crust recipe (kind of a long story involved here, something to do with Earth Day - more on that later).
  • The map with the stars is a project I "borrowed" from Suzanne. The stars show all the 4Real children who are making their First Holy Communion this spring! Isn't it a lovely idea for these children to pray for one another as their big days approach? CJ was so happy to apply each and every star, and it was a great geography lesson to boot!
    • If you have a child making FHC soon and would like to leave his or her name and home state in my comments, please do and we will add you to our map - and our prayers!
  • Finally the Earth book we're using - DK Eye Wonder: Earth, in conjunction with a science encyclopedia for meatier info., and a chart of the earth's layers.
  • Oh! And there's our Earth Day reminder, smack dab in the middle of the board. (It's this Sunday, by the way.)

A few more pictures from today:


Coloring and labeling cut-away earth diagrams. The apple was for illustration - and morning snack. :) (That's Koala Krisp in the mugs in case you were wondering.)


A favorite picture book, timely for this study and this week. The apple peels were brought directly to our compost bucket beneath the sink. (We'll talk more about compost and soil later in the week.)


To make the earth chart, I cut up strips of construction paper (with a little help from my friend there) and then the boys helped me arrange them in the appropriate order:


As you can see, the earth's layers are represented by varying colors. They are surrounded by pale blue atmosphere and, further out, by starry black space.

So now that the board's all set, it's on with the work! Have a great night, everyone. See you in the a.m. - or sometime roundabouts. :)