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Archive for February, 2010

Chapter Five from Story of the World covered Sumer and King Sargon – the first Sumerian dictator. Some of the Sumerians inventions include the wheel, mathematics based on the number 60, kilns, the plow, and the first superhero, Gilgamesh.

Today we tackled the Sumerian Seal activity outlined in SOTW Activity Guide. This is to demonstrate the fact that in ancient times, most people couldn’t write. So they made their own special seals with their names on it, so they could stamp their “name” when needed.

We did this as a family activity. Here’s Satori rolling flat her piece of clay.

We all carved a pattern in our clay. Satori made a hawk, Dad made a cat, and Mom made a wolf.

Here they are laying out to dry. This is only the first part, but I’m not sure we’ll do the next part. We’re supposed to take wet clay, and press it into this dried seal to make an impression. Then make it into a pendant by making a hole in the top.

If we finish this project, I’ll of course post the results. But somehow, I have a feeling that our wet clay won’t make a very good impression into the above dry seals… I may however, want to redo this as a cool scarab as the project shown in another craft book.

It was Family Craft Night again at Satori’s house! Tonight we tackled several projects.

I have several Ancient Egypt craft books on  hand.

First up was a “Royal Cartouche” project from our Make History Ancient Egypt book. An oval cartouche around Egyptian hieroglyphs means that it is the name of an Egyptian king or god. To do this craft you’ll need: scissors, poster board, markers/colored pencils, white glue, colored craft sand, gold cord or piping, and Popsicle stick (or gold pen).

I cut a piece of poster board measuring 3″ x 6″, rounding off the corners. Then I marked off a 1/4″ border around the edge. Mom did those tasks ahead of time, so the family could just dig in and have fun. Next we drew in our hieroglyph symbols to spell out our name, coloring them in with bright permanent marker.

Afterwards, Mom and Dad very carefully painted in glue around the design, but within the border. We then sprinkled colored craft sand to cover the entire cartouche. Once dry, only Mom had the patience to glue a gold cord around the edge, and wrap a half Popsicle stick around the edge. For Dad and Satori’s cartouche, I used a liquid gold marker to outline it, which I think looks just as nice in person.

Poor Satori’s Royal Cartouche was in the middle, both Mom and Dad didn’t do a good job gluing and spilling sand on hers, the paint dried too quickly, and Dad got lazy and mixed up the orange and blue sand. Otherwise, hers would have looked better.

The picture in the craft book looks perfect, but I knew ours wouldn’t come close to perfection. It was so much fun anyway! If you do this craft carefully, it would look very nice. The sand sparkles in the light.

Next up we did the Scarab Activity in Spend the Day in Ancient Egypt. A scarab is a kind of beetle called a “dung beetle”, but despite that, the Egyptians believed it to be sacred. Lapis lazuli was one of their favorite colors, so we took some turquoise clay to begin our scarabs.

Using some clay modeling tools, we etched in our beetle’s head and body and designs.

For this particular clay, we were able to put it in the oven at 275 degrees for 30 minutes and ended up with our cool little scarabs! This book suggested to poke a whole through them to wear as a necklace. The Make History book had a similar craft, but suggested making it into a neat little stamp to stamp your name.

We then took some gold clay to make the “Ankh Amulet” described in Spend the Day in Ancient Egypt. The anhk is the Egyptian symbol for life, and we are seeing this symbol everywhere now. The Egyptians would wear this as a protective amulet to keep them from harm. They often make the ankh from gold, but we made do with this yellow clay.

A bit more about our Ancient Egypt craft books… We are closely following the SOTW Activity Guide, and plan on doing the cool projects, skipping the not-so-cool ones. So far we’ve gotten some great ideas out of the book! Several history curriculums recommend Ancient Egyptians and their Neighbors. We got our Sugarcube Pyramid activity out of this book, and I hope to do a few more projects next week, like the Overnight Fig Cakes recipe. The Spend the Day in Ancient Egypt is a great book, besides the crafts we did tonight, we got the Egyptian Pleated Gown idea from this book. They also have an awesome, realistic Papyrus activity, some cool Egyptian musical instruments, more recipes, and some Egyptian jewelry we’re looking forward to making if we have time. The Make History book is intimidating, much more involved than a family with a 5 year old can do, but I’m looking forward to the next time we study Egypt in 4 years or so. They feature real photographs of their finished crafts, and they look just amazing.

We actually did this experiment twice, as the results were not what we expected…

After one week, here are the two apple slices. The first one is the “mummified’ apple. The second is one we just left out. The second one looks truer to color! The mummified apple has retained its shape, but the peel has turned black, and the insides discolored. I thought maybe it was because I soaked it in salt water before hand.

So we tried again! We did the same thing, without the salt water soak. Here is our apple slice weighing in at 7/8 oz.

And here’s that same apple almost a week later, weighing in at 1/4 oz. It has lost 5/8 oz due to the dehyrdation of the salt/baking soda mix.

But it still looks black. I think we should have given it a month to see moredecay on the untouched apple slice.

Behind the scenes I’ve been working on updating a SOTW Lessons page. I started making this page last year as I was preparing our SOTW lessons, but now I brought it into the blog for easy viewing. Seeing all the chapters lined out on one page makes it easy for me to see at a glance where we are, for current, past, and future lessons. This is a work in progress. I actually told Susan Wise Bauer’s team I was doing this, so that I could come up with something that wouldn’t infringe on her hard work. I think it will actually make people more interested in her program, as well as helping me plan, so everyone wins.

Also updated is our K-1 Weekly Lesson schedule. I’m a spontaneous person, so I don’t have a schedule down to the hour. Click to see full view, or head to the link above. You may notice I finally cut out our Explode the Code workbook, it was redundant. We cover reading/phonics with our normal reading and We cover handwriting in our normal handwriting and copywork for several subjects. Spelling is adequately covered in All-About-Spelling. There are subjects that we haven’t covered yet this year, like Science and Art. I do feel bad about that, and hope to get organized enough to include them. Other subjects, like Spanish/Latin/piano/swimming class/drama classes maybe we’ll start later this spring or summer.

A Sample Monday

If I had to describe a typical day, here’s how a typical Monday might go. As you can see from our lesson schedule above, actual sit-down work is less than two hours a day, so most of our day is spent as freetime. For some reason, we both like to do Math at night, after we both get a second wind. It has become very enjoyable, but the disadvantage is that if we’re busy, we sometimes skip it. I need to prioritize certain lessons to make sure we cover them as planned.

  • 9:00: Wake up, breakfast, shower, check email.
  • 10:00-10:20 – Reading (OPG)
  • 10:20-10:40 – Spelling (OPG)
  • 10:40-11:00 – History (SOTW)
  • 11:00-12:00 – Mama reads aloud, Satori plays, watches educational video, etc…
  • 12:00-1:00 – Lunch
  • 1:00-5:00 – Freetime – Play time. Possible craft. Possible educational videos/movies.
  • 5:00-6:00 – Dinner
  • 6:00-6:20 – Math (RS)
  • 6:20-6:25 – Writing (WWE)
  • 6:25-7:00 – Mama might work on blog, while Satori might color/play.
  • 7:00-9:00 – Playtime, mama workout time, TV time…
  • Before bedtime, Satori reads a few stories from her readers, and then Mama reads aloud from a chapter book.

I chose RightStart for the lack of emphasis on boring worksheets, but we did have a few short worksheets this past week. No problem, they were short and Satori whizzed through them! I have the order mixed up on the photo below, but the first worksheet was the simple addition by 1, for which Satori did not need the abacus. (She doesn’t need it for simple addition either, as she has been figuring simple sums in her head. She probably does this by counting, which I’m not sure is the RightStart way, but she does it fast anyway.)

We covered Level 41 on Monday, which built upon partitioning 10. Instead of memorizing addition facts that add to 10, here’s how RightStart Math approaches this. The past few lessons we’ve been using a Part-Whole Circle set with 10 in the whole circle, and another number in one of the part circles. (We previously photocopied the Part-Whole circle set and then I laminated it, so we can use dry erase markers to use it over and over.) Using the AL abacus, Satori can figure out the other number easily. We practiced this with all the sums, even writing all the possibilities down when solving word problems. We then did the Handshaking Game which was a unique game and used her toys in adding to 10.

A few days of doing this, Satori was familiar with equations for partitioning of ten. She completed the above worksheet on the left, relying on her abacus for all the equations. Then, we played a game that helped her learn her equations in a much more fun way! Addition Memory is a twist on the basic memory game in that you must find two cards that add to 10. The first time we played with all cards facing up, just to get the idea of finding cards that add to 10, such as a 6 and a 4. Then we started for real.

We like to start our Memory Games with a fun design, like a flower or pyramid. This is a smiley flower.

As we found pairs adding to 10, we lay the numbers in pairs face-up so we can visually see the numbers as added reinforcement. The first game Satori used her abacus for all but a few sums.

Mom won the first game (I do not cut her any slack), so of course we played again and again! I think we played 4 times total, each time Satori was relying on her abacus less and less. She knew when she picked up an 8, that she would need a 2. When she found a 5, she’d need the other 5. 9+1 and 10+0 were easy to figure out, I think the only ones she still needs an abacus were for 7+3 and 6+4 and vice versa.

Next time, we will start out playing the Addition Memory game until she has the last two sums memorized, and then we will play yet another RightStart Game to learn our sums to 10 – Go to the Dump!

The cards we use came with the RightStart Level A Starter Kit, and are very nice cards, sturdy and glossy, which should hold up to hundreds of math games through several children!

Yesterday we finished our spelling program, All-About-Spelling Level 1! Satori got to put her last sticker up on her AAS chart and I presented her with her Certificate with Achievement.

I framed her certificate and hung it up on the wall above her desk. (I erased out her last name for privacy purposes.) Satori was so excited we had to call Daddy and tell him the news!

Here’s a brief summary of what Satori learned in Level 1, which we started last June, when Satori was 4.5 years old. First off, All-About-Spelling is a vertical phonics program, so right away we started learning all the different sounds for each letter. Some vowels have 4 sounds, and some consonants had some tricky ones to remember, so this took a while! What she didn’t master right away simply went into our Review file. Next up we learned to segment words, how to hear the sounds in the words. We familiarized ourselves with the alphabet – its order, vowels and consonants. We went quickly through the lessons that taught how to spell words using their basic sounds, and the easy digraphs and blends.

Eventually we learned tougher concepts, like when to use a C or K for beginning sounds, when to use K or CK for ending sounds, when to double letters at the end (like “tell” or “dress”)… We learned consonant teams (“ng” and “nk”), compound words, plural words, and lastly, open syllables. The end of each lesson requires the child to spell our phrases or sentences, which was great practice to hear it orally and apply everything learned.

Here’s a sample of what Satori can now spell successfully.

Tomorrow we will pull out Level 2. I’ll have to do a little bit of organizing first, such as updating our AAS tile whiteboard with new sections such as “Vowel Teams” and “The Sound of /er/”. We’ll be starting a “Jail” to hold our spelling Rule Breakers. First lesson will be a review of Level 1, as well as learning more about open and closed syllable tags.

I’m looking forward to furthering Satori’s spelling skills. She always writes books and letters and will greatly benefit from learning more spelling rules. We have progressed far enough in our Reading subject that she already knows how to spell many things, but by systematically learning the rules, she won’t forget to add her silent-E, and so much more.

Here’s a sample of words we’ll learn in All About Spelling Level Two.

Last month when we did our Ancient Writing in Hieroglyphs and Cuneiform activity, I made sure we made some extras specifically for this experiment.

Ancient Sumerians and Egyptians did their writing on stone or clay tablets, and the Egyptians also used papyrus. To this day, we are able to read the stone/clay tablets, but not much papyrus writing has survived. When asked what she thought would last longer – clay tablet or papyrus, Satori gave the common sense answer, but it was fun to do this experiment anyway.

We used Daddy’s hieroglyph papyrus roll and his cuneiform tablet. By the way, he didn’t do the cuneiform wedges right, I just noticed. It looks like he scraped them in, where he was supposed to just stick in his wedged stick. All the more reason to put them through methods of destruction to see if they will survive!

First, the pieces were submerged in a Nile flood for five minutes.

They both survived, but the ink on our paper was getting smeary.

Our clay tablet was starting to dissolve, as we did not put it in a fire kiln or bake in the sun to make it totally waterproof, luckily we could still read it though.

Next test was to have them back in the hot Egyptian sun for thousands of years. (Oven for half an hour.)

As we took them out, the clay tablet was unchanged, but our paper scroll had crumbled in places and is now barely readable.

Want to see some actual ancient writings that can still be read today? The oldest tablets go back to 3000 BCE. Here’s a Babylonian tablet from 87 BCE that described the arrival of Halley’s comet:

This one was found from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh and tells the story of the Babylonian flood and the ark Utnapishti built, very similar to the biblical Noah.

On the other hand, here is a sample of papyrus.