Monday, February 27, 2017

Awesome American History: Pilgrims, Manhattan, Religious Freedom

 This was pages 14-22 in The American Story, by Jennifer Armstrong, covering 1620-1655.

The story we focused on was the Mayflower crossing, partly because my kids are remotely descended from those settlers. 

The second story was about the Dutch buying the island of Manhattan from the wrong tribe of Native Americans (the Dutch didn't understand the political struggle between three tribes and mistakenly believed the first tribe they came across was the uncontested owner of the island)

The third story was about Jewish people gaining citizen's rights in New Amsterdam (which became New York).

For the art activity, we constructed sailing ships, and for the active activity, we blew them across an "ocean" with autumn storms happening as they reached the middle of their journey.

Finally, for our snack we had pumpkin pie.

Super fun class and a great use of a beautiful warm spell in February!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Poem of the Week: The Bend

The Bend

Around the bend of a phrase
you return, it’s dawn in a book, it’s
a garden, one can
see everything, the dew, a moth
on a leaf and it’s you
who rises suddenly amid the pages
and the book grows more lovely
because it’s you
and you’ve not grown old, you walk
slowly to the door.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lent Plans

The vine and the branches.  Basically it's a 7 foot tall vine cut out of brown paper with branches for each member of the family. We cut out tons of leaves and grapes and put them in a basket. Whenever anyone sees someone doing something good, they put a leaf or fruit on that person's branch. On Easter we decorate the vine with Easter lilies. We often put a picture of Jesus and the "vine and branches" quote on the vine.

Gospel desserts! No desserts or sweets except for Sunday, and the Sunday desserts are related to the Gospel of the day.  We have a lot of fun with this!  Also, we keep the cookie jar filled with pretzels.

Sacrifice bean jar. (One bean for each sacrifice and on Easter they are replaced with jelly beans to show that Jesus' sacrifice makes our sacrifices sweet.

My basic plan is to follow the classic Lent idea: Prayer , Fasting, Alms-giving.  The no sweets thing takes care of the fasting, and we'll decide together which charity to save for during Lent.We make a jar decorated with pictures related to the people for whom we are raising money.

My prayer idea is to try for more daily Mass, this wonderful Lectio Lenten Journal, and the Lenten Cross.

The Lectio Journal is Lectio Divina (a deep, prayerful way of reading Scripture) using each of the daily Gospels during Lent.  Well, that's why I bought it, it turns out it is much more than that: drop dead gorgeous, reverent art, and a structured way of thinking about how to grow in virtue this Lent.  Solidly Thomistic, but accessable.
 I think it was intended to be used with high schoolers, but, of the fifteen people I know who are using it this Lent, all of them are adults!

The Lenten Cross  This is made of 40 squares of light purple paper, each the size of a post-it note.
You do a scripture reading, have a kid draw a representation of the reading on a square, and then tape the square to a wall. By Easter the squares form a large cross representing Salvation History.

We've done this several times and the kids loved it. You can find the readings and more info here.

And, of course, we'll do the Walking with Jesus Poster

That's about it, simply because that's about all I can keep track of for 40 days!  

More Lent Ideas here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Chemistry Final

Not a Chemistry final like an exam, more like a combined last class on applied Chemistry. 

We looked at how the breaking of chemical bonds absorbs energy by making chocolate ice cream (salt as it dissolves breaks into ions, further cooling the ice).

We looked at acid base interactions by making bath bombs (baking soda and citric acid do  not react until you add water).

We ended up with a side lesson on diffusion as the essential oils made the whole house smell like sandalwood, rosemary and orange!

We did a little physics with tea bag rockets (convection currents, fire as a chemical reaction, density).

And we did a little organic chemistry with candy making.

The changes in the sugar which take candy from being a solution (liquid at room temperature) to firm ball (squishy) to hard crack (brittle solid) are neither phase changes nor chemical reactions.  They are the result of heat producing changes to the shape of the sugar molecule!

Sugar in the solution and in the lollipop have the same chemical formula (C6H12O6), but different molecular structures!

Fascinating and delicious!
 We also heated and cooled sodium acetate ("hot ice").  This is the stuff in reusable hand warmers: they are a super saturated solution of sodium acetate that, when disturbed, comes out of solution into crystals, releasing heat. 

You can reheat them by boiling to return them to a liquid state, essentially storing that heat to be released later. 

I gave the kids sodium acetate hand warmers as a memento of the class.

We ate the ice cream and a king cake, and celebrated Chemistry.

And they took home their (cleaned) aprons, notebooks, lollipops, bath bombs, and we are done!

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Return of Awesome History: Native Americans

It was epic!  No, just kidding, it was awesome!

So this is Awesome American History (round 1).  We are using  The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong  as our core book.

We read about three chapters (stories) on our own, and then we meet up to  do an art activity, an active activity, and a themed snack.

I had intended to do the whole book in two semesters, but that meant we had to read four or five chapters a week, and we ended up feeling rushed.

Since part of the idea is to be able to branch off and look more deeply into some of the historical times,we decided to spread the book over three semesters instead.

Anyway,  we started out with chapters featuring Native Americans, Roanoke, and Pocahontas. This was pages 1-13, and years 1565-1607.
 Our art activity was making a totem pole.  All the kids colored and cut out the animals and faces (quickly drawn by Shelli: it helps to have an artist on staff!).  I suspect you could find these as printables online.

The kids also used some as hats, and then made their own living totem pole.

Kid ideas put the awesome into Awesome History!

For a snack we had cornbread and parched corn. 


Parched corn is sweet corn dried in the oven tossed with a tiny bit of butter and salt.

Warning: addictive!

The active activity was an Aztec ball game. 

It's kind of like soccer in that you can't use your hands, and kind of not like soccer in that you can't let the ball touch the floor.

If that sounds fiendishly difficult, yes.

The "goal" was to get the ball through a vertical stone hoop, but...good luck with that.  If anyone ever managed it, they automatically won the game.

Most of the time the game was about not dropping the ball, and two good teams could keep the ball in the air for an hour.

Incidentally, some historians believe that the losing teams would be sacrificed (the game was played on the field in front of the sacrificial temple (pyramid).  Other historians believe the winning team was sacrificed, since being selected as a sacrifice was an honor.

We decided to start out easy and used an air filled balloon.
And not sacrifice any of the players.

But it was pretty awesome, anyway!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Poem of the Week: I Saw a Man

"I saw a man pursuing the horizon" 
I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”

“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Just In Case You Think I am Excessively Organized

Not My Bookshelf Ever
On Monday I was looking ahead to a long empty week.  No more Chemistry, what would I do with myself?

Just then I got a text from a friend asking if she could come along to the museum on Wednesday. 

Ha! I started to text back, We aren't starting up Adventurers until... I had to look it up. 


So we went, and it was super fun and great and we had 4 families there.

And look at that!  We are starting Awesome American History on Friday!

Well, at least I know what to do with myself. 😊

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

 Valentine Sudoku with candy hearts.

Lots  of Valentine jokes.

Kid: what's for lunch?

Me: Quiches.

Kid: Quiches?

Me: Sure! (Big kisses on the top of their head)

We had our traditional Valentine treasure hunt, which ended in the chapel.

And red heart balloons!

And raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes, shared with friends and neighbors.

And a big jello heart, photobombed by a Temmie.

And best of all, lots of valentines we made for each other!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Poem of the Week: I Loved You First

"I loved you first: but afterwards your love"

Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda. – Dante
Ogni altra cosa, ogni pensier va fore,
E sol ivi con voi rimansi amore. – Petrarca

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Which owes the other most? my love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be –
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.