Friday, March 4, 2011

Week of Feb 28-March 4 OR What we've been doing for the past months!

It is so nice to be back blogging!  I've missed this activity and missed reading about what my homeschooling friends have been doing :)

What happened here?
Teenagers played in leaves.

We hosted Thanksgiving, as usual.
Daisy spent hours creating gnomes and Gnomeville out of fabric scraps, beads and other goodies.

Nutcracker (no pictures--on the phone still, oops)

We held the traditional cookie decorating with the cousins.

Followed by the traditional Christmas morning top-of-the-steps photo.  Guess who had to be woken?

Followed by the traditional gigantic brunch, present-opening and dinner at Grandpa's.  (I'm in the red, btw)

Daisy's dearest friend and her twin visited from Georgia for several days of silliness around Daisy's 11th birthday.

And then it started to snow.  And the teens were off school.  A lot.

Older Sister turned 16 and we hosted a Mystery in the Library party for which the guests all dressed as characters from classic books.  I highly recommend Merri Mysteries!

And it snowed some more.  Yes, teens home from school.
And I was sick from early January until last week.

But what happened with homeschooling?

--Challenge Math chapters on Area and Algebra
--from a pre-algebra text: powers and exponents, simplifying equations, solving multistep equations
--a few bits from Patty Paper Geometry
--contest math problems
--Math Olympiad competitions in December, January and February

Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome were the focus of our study from Thanksgiving through February.  This week we began our studies of the medieval world with the Byzantine Empire (Constantine and Justinian/Theodora) and the rise of Islam (the geography of the time, life of Muhammed and the basic tenets of Islam).

Ancient Greece sources used:
--K12's Human Odyssey Vol. 1 part 2 chapters 8-9, part 3 chapters 1-4
--Oxford Press The Ancient Greek World almost every chapter, I think
--Calliope magazine Oct 07 issue "Ancient Olympics"
--Calliope magazine May 06 issue "Persia Rise and Fall"
--Calliope magazine Jan 10 issue "Parthenon"
--Dig magazine March 08 issue "Alexander the Great"
--Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliffe  (as literature)
--The Wanderings of Odysseus  by Rosemary Sutcliffe (as literature)

Ancient Rome sources used:
--Human Odyssey Vol. 1 part 3 chapters 5-10
--The Ancient Roman World chapters 1-8,10,11,13,15,18
--Calliope magazine Dec 07 "Heroes of Ancient Rome"
--Calliope magazine Nov 05 "Rome's Master Builders"
--Calliope magazine Sept 05 "Buried by Vesuvius"
--Rome in Spectacular Cross-section by Stephen Biesty

And this week we used
--Human Odyssey Vol. 1 part 3 conclusion, part 4 introduction and chapters 1 and 2
--Oxford Press The European World 400-1450 chapters 1 and 3
--Oxford Press The African and Middle Eastern World 600-1500 chapters 1 and 2

After reading about poor Odysseus, Daisy switched over to mythology in preparation for the National Mythology Exam (which she took on February 23).  She primarily studied Greek mythology using D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and some internet resources, plus a study guide by the Mythology exam people.  As a fifth grader, she was only required to take the main portion of the exam and the Ancient Beginnings subtest.  She had decided early on to take the Norse subtest as well, so she studied from the D'aulaires' Book of Norse Myths.

Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop Level A units 1-9.  This series is/has been used by my teens, though only Levels F-H.  I'm hoping there's a good correlation between the S-O vocab and The Boy's pretty darn good ;) SAT critical reading score that will carry over to his sisters!

Jeepers, I can't remember.  We haven't done "official" grammar since before I was sick.  Whoops.

Michael Clay Thompson's Building Poems sections on stanza, simile and metaphor

After NaNoWriMo in November, she hasn't done any writing outside of history and science classes.  I think November took a lot of her and I don't know if she'll do NaNoWriMo next fall.

We're through Chapter 4 in Galore Park's So You Really Want to Learn French 1.  We haven't done any new French since mid-January though, as I was coughing way too much even to speak English for sustained periods of time.  We'll resume next week.

So what could be left?????  That's right, it's
When last we left you, Daisy was studying Chapter 7: Oceans in CPO Earth Science.  She then moved into Chapter 8: Mapping Earth, for which we did Investigation 8A Topographic Maps (a picture FAIL, sorry) and skipped 8B as it required a group activity and some specific-to-CPO ocean depth diagrams I didn't feel like reproducing the week before Christmas.  Duh.

After Christmas break, we focused totally on her Science Olympiad events.  It was such a luxury to have the time during the day for studying and practicing as last year we had to do everything in the evenings and on the weekends :)  We spent between 30 minutes and 2 hours each school day from January 3 until the competition on February 12, reading library books (at one point we had 40 books checked out...), visting websites, watching DVDs, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Daisy participated on the local homeschool group's team.  They actually sent one team of fourth graders and two teams of fifth graders!  There were 52 teams total participating in this Division A Science Olympiad.  Her events this year were Chemistry Crime Scene, Food Science, Ocean Life and Estimation.

For Chemistry Crime Scene, she had to identify seven mystery white powders (baking soda, cornstarch, sugar, salt, plaster of paris, sand, limestone) and two combinations of two powders using three liquid reagants (water, vinegar, iodine) and a hand lens.  Then she had to match fingerprints left "at the crime scene" and determine through chromotography what marker had been used to write a note.  This was the most enjoyable event to help with! 

A chromotography afternoon:

The Food Science event was in a test format, with stations for each question.  The topics covered ranged from digestion to healthy eating to specific vitamins and minerals.  Having rocked Fruits & Vegetables as a fourth grader last year (first place) proved to be a great help.

Ocean Life was another test format but as a powerpoint.  There was a mix-up with the start of the event as the supervising teacher was ill that morning.  All that could be found were the actual powerpoint and the answer key but no questions.  Yikes!  The substitute actually made up questions as the powerpoint progressed.  Daisy wasn't really happy about that.

Estimation was the hardest to study for, in fact she only did a few hours total.  Another powerpoint test format, Daisy and her partner had to answer questions like "how many people, hand-in-hand with arms outstretched, would reach from the earth to the moon?"  

The result:

second in Chemistry Crime Scene and fourth in Food Science!

Next year Daisy will participate in Division B for middle schools (grades 6-8) on the state level.  The homeschool group usually does very very well in Division B, with their A team often moving on to Nationals.  Could you imagine?!

The day after Science Olympiad I read in the newspaper about  the Great Backyard Bird Count -----science for that week!  Armed with a checklist of birds likely to be seen in our area during February, a pile of field guides from the library, binoculars and a new feeder in the front yard, we practiced identifying birds prior to the count days.  Alas, we only spotted four different species during our 15 minute period on the Monday (Presidents' Day).  Perhaps the birds knew that the last snowstorm of the year would arrive just a few hours later?!

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Another snow day.  No pictures this time of my beautiful Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' (aka red bud) coated in snow.  I was so tired of it by February 22nd.

We continued with more birding the rest of last week.  I found a fascinating new library book Global Birding: Traveling the World in Search of Birds with amazing photos of fantastic birds.

Next school year, I think I'll have Daisy keep a notebook of birds she sees. Ornithology is often a Science Olympiad event ;)

Back to CPO Earth Science this week for Chapter 9: Earth and Time.  We conducted Investigation 9A Sedimentary Rocks and Relative Dating (soil-sand mix in the container):

The second picture didn't turn out so well, but there was another sand layer and a second soil layer on top of the first, below all the water.

Investigation 9B: Time and Tree Rings wasn't a photogenic lab, sorry.  It was fun, though!  We didn't have a microscopic tree cross-section slide nor a nicely cut cross-section of wood, so we just used google images for that part. 

So what's up for next week?  Solving inequalities, the last Math Olympiad competition of the year, the spread of Islam, medieval Islamic mathematics, sciences, and arts, a return to grammar and French, and moving on to Chapter 10: Sensing Earth's Interior with a Bill Nye dvd and Investigation 10A: All Cracked Up (modeling the earth with familiar items).

Have a great weekend!


  1. Hello! This is my first visit and it was nice to get to know you this way. =)

  2. You've accomplished so much!!
    I think my dds might enjoy the National Mythology Exam...I'll have to look into that!

  3. Hi Karen,

    I am glad you are blogging again! :)

    It looks like you have gotten so much done over the past few months. I am very impressed.

    Tell your daughter that I love the gnomes!

  4. Y'all have been having so much educational fun! Thanks for the update.