Homespun Homeschool Week #8

Week 8 of homeschool: we made a Tang Dynasty pop-up palace, checked the progress of our bean plant, made block print wrapping paper like the ancient Chinese, drew impossible squares, made Van Gogh pop-up art, created an impressionistic landscape from last week’s thumbnail study, made a rainbow with water, sunlight and a mirror, wrote poems about our Solar System… and then made some more pop ups!

Homespun Homeschool Week #7

Week 7 of homeschool: we took a tour of our solar system, posted Martin Luther’s 95 theses of the Protestant Reformation, read (& wrote) Robert Frost poetry, experimented with litmus paper to find acids & bases, did thumbnail studies of impressionistic landscapes, looked at hail up close, and assembled a puzzle of a Monet painting!

Homespun Dance

Homespun Dance

I love the fact that learning thrives in community. We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by some amazing families, who are in this crazy endeavor with us. One of those families run the Citrus Heights Dance Academy. So it was a no-brainer to put my son in dance classes there. I am looking forward to the Christmas show, where I will be right up there on stage with my son, making music, while he dances and shines. I love that he is getting to experience the arts in this way. And I love this picture!

Tasting the Past

Although I generally try not to hold by son back too much, I have tried to keep him from working ahead in our Classical Conversations work, so that he can be fully engaged each week as we encounter new material. But the kid is a sponge. And unbeknownst to me, he had worked ahead and memorized the Presidents (or at least gotten pretty far along), before I could stop him.

With the upcoming presidential election, there is an added element of interest, with questions like, “How long till we know who is President?” And “So I guess there were no debates when Washington became President, because there weren’t 2 parties yet.” For the State elections I took him with me to watch me fill out the ballot, so he could see how the process works. The fact that his uncle was running for office gave us another reason to focus on politics. Unfortunately, we learned that people running for office can be ruthless and cruel; but that too has been part of the learning process.

My son has been pretty interested in George Washington, since he was the first President, so this past week I decided to make Marth Washington’s Ginger Cookies. We got the recipe from a Constitution Island cookbook, when my sister and I were homeschooled in New York. We used to work as volunteers at the island, working with groups of school kids who would come in for field trips. We would make the cookies, and serve them on the boat, on the way over to the island.

It’s always a beautiful thing when you can experience the past – whether by seeing it’s historical markers in person, or even tasting a piece of years gone by. There’s a reason this recipe has stood the test of time. I highly recommend it!

* Martha Washington’s Ginger Cookie Recipe *

(Makes 100 cookies)

3/4 cup soft butter
3/4 cup lard (I just do all butter, no lard)
2 3/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses

  • Mix first 5 ingredients together; beat well.

4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. each ginger, cinnamon & ground cloves

  • Stir dry ingredients to combine. Add dry to wet ingredients until well mixed. Dough will be soft. Chill briefly.
  • Roll into 1-inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and press into balls with the bottom of a glass.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes.
  • Note: I sometimes half this recipe because of the quantity of cookies… but I usually end up regretting it.

Letter to China

This writing exercise was pretty straight forward: write a letter to someone who’s never been to your home – from either another country or even another world! My son picked China. I love the details he included in what he wrote 🙂

Sequoia Scavenger Hunt

Recently we visited Big Trees Park in Arnold, home to the Sequoias, the biggest trees in the world. I knew I wanted to do some nature observation for our school work, but I wanted it to be lively and fun. What better way to take in all the sights with small boys than a scavenger hunt?

Off we set to hike the park with Granny, looking for the items on the the list. Because of the cooler temperature and rains there were no butterflies to be found – the only item we couldn’t check off the list. But we did spot quite a few squirrels and birds not on the list. What fun, and what a joy to know that while we learn, we are also making beautiful memories with our children.

Making a Compass

One of the joys of homeschooling has been the discovery that my son loves geography. I have been trying to incorporate as much as I can, in order to give him a broad foundation for understanding how to read maps. Classical Conversations recommended the Legends & Leagues Geography Curriculum for 1st grade. I bought Mr Tardy Goes From Here To There, and the Legends & Leagues Workbook, which have been a great supplement to our other geography curriculum.

One of the activities we did recently was to make our own compass. I had no idea how easy it would be! All we needed was a sewing needle, a magnet, a bowl of water and a small piece of paper. With just a few simple items, we were able to determine North, South, East and West. Now the concept of the magnetism of the poles is something my son has a better grasp of, because he has seen it in action, firsthand. And we got the added bonus of being able to experience the wonder of science together in the process!

(Free Compass Tutorial)