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Archive for September, 2011

We have finished our year-long study of Life with REAL Science Odyssey this month. To create an enduring keepsake of our Plant Study, we pressed one of the lilies we had studied using this Microfleur Flower Press.  We did 30-seconds in the microwave, then open to the air, and repeat a few more times, with less time in the microwave each time. You want the petals to be stiff and dry, but not burnt or crumbly.

I thought I’d laminate the now dried flat flower, although by doing so the flower ovules part got squished and leaked out. It was actually pretty cool. I’m not sure laminating is the best way to preserve a flower, but it worked for now. I put little labels on the end result and Satori labeled the parts. I set it on white cardstock but later thought it would have been cool to see how it would turn out with just the lamination pages, as the petals were so translucent and beautiful.

We then ate our Celebration Plant Salad, eating all parts of the plant, from the flower, stem, leaves, seeds, fruit, and roots!

Satori loves cucumbers, chickpeas, beans, and berries, and mixed all together, she loved the salad. I wasn’t expecting her to eat the whole serving, but she did with relish!

Last week when we ate our Plant Salad it just so happened it was my birthday, so we finished it off with an indulgent dessert. 🙂

This past week we then moved on to the next REAL Science Odyssey program – Earth and Space. We did their Thermometer Exploration Lab but I doubt we will do the Rain Gauge, Wind Speed, and Weather Vane activities, as the weather here has been sunny and nice lately. If it isn’t, it will turn terribly windy and blow away any of our outside projects. Besides, I just can’t wait to start our Rock and Mineral study, as I loved studying geology in college!

We started reading their informational page on Weather Changes and then proceeded to the Thermometer Exploration activity. I set out two bowls, the first two hours ahead of time for the water to reach room temperature. Then I put ice cubes in the second bowl.

While waiting for the icy water to get cold, we headed out to the front of our house which faces north and is usually shaded. After three minutes of closing our eyes to sense the temperature ourselves, we recorded the temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Interestingly, during the minute I took a few pictures, the temperature dropped down to 65 degrees! Satori said she was too chilly to stay on the front porch.

Then we headed to our back porch which in the sun can get sweltering hot quickly! A few minutes of basking in the sun the temperature raised to 80 degrees on our thermometer.

We recorded these temps on our lab sheet, as well as recording the relatively comfortable in-house temperature of 74. We have no air conditioning, but if it gets too hot, we head to the basement where it is always nice and cool.

Next we headed to our two prepared bowls. Satori stuck this thermometer in the icy bowl and we recorded 38 degrees. She was to put her hand in to feel what this temperature feels like but could only hold it there for a moment. She said it felt ARCTIC COLD!

The room temperature water was a nice 66 degrees.

On our final sheet Satori filled out the various temperatures and her comments how she felt at each temperature.

Today we viewed a few Discovery Education Streaming videos on weather. One of the videos went over making a Rain Gauge just as described in RSO, so we probably won’t do all the included activities, as I mentioned before. We will probably visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder again, it was two and a half years ago when we first visited.

We are so looking forward to this year studying Earth & Space and will be concluding this spring with a vacation to the Grand Canyon.

Today is the last day to get 25% off REAL Science Odyssey and History Odyssey ebooks over at Pandia Press. You can view all my RSO posts using the tag RSO.

This month with Meet the Masters we have been studying two famous artists – Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington. Next week we start Georgia O’Keeffe and Satori was thrilled to find out we finally get another “female” artist. So far, Mary Cassatt has been the only female artist we’ve studied.

For this blog post I’ll cover our Winslow Homer study. After reviewing the MTM online video where we learned about the American artist Winslow Homer and his techniques, we then experimented with value, and finished up with a project depicting value – with torn paper in various white, black, and gray shades.

As usual, we strengthen our art study with a Mike Venezia book – Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists – Winslow Homer. We love seeing some of the same paintings being examined in the book that Meet the Masters covers as well as other works of art.

Our DVD “The Artists’ Specials” set also features Winslow Homer as one of the six artists featured. These 45 minute films bring the artist to life, usually with a few children characters intertwined in the plot. In this episode, Homer is looking for some peace and quiet after his exposure sketching scenes of the Civil War. All he wants is solitude but two curious children attempt to befriend him.

We also always set Satori’s computer display to a rotating desktop background and slideshow. Here’s one of our favorite paintings of his. Winslow Homer loves paintings of the sea, and especially perilous situations. Here this poor man looks doomed but if you look closely, you will see a glimmer of hope.

Another activity we sometimes do is find a page in one of our artist coloring books which Satori loves to color. This particular “Snap the Whip” painting is included in Art Masterpieces to Color by Dover. I printed out a sample picture for her to copy.

For Artistic Pursuits, Satori experimented with drawing her first still life. I asked her to do this one over the summer but with no direction, she was flustered and gave up. So I gave her some guidance in drawing what she sees. I set up the still life below and filled up a wine glass with grape juice for her.

I find myself working along and this seems to suit us best, as Satori gets a few drawing lessons from me and I get to exercise the right side of the brain.

We were to use water-soluable crayons but we used our Derwent watercolor pencils, in which we have more color choice. Here’s a closeup to see what they look like with water applied. I’m sure I could have taken my time to make it look better, but we’re pleased with how they work for us.

A few days later, Satori lined up all her stuffed animals  with their name tags. Art was one of the subjects her lucky students learned that day.

She usually teaches her class in the morning at 7am, before I’m even out of bed. I hear her prattling on about various topics like the rainforest, Latin, and history. This particular morning I work up to our whiteboard filled with art projects done by all the students in her class, complete with their names on the papers. 🙂

If her stuffed animals are not her students, a real person will make an even better substitute! Daddy often gets taught, and Satori is very eager planning out her lesson schedule the night before. Even Gramy and Grampy got to spend an afternoon this summer in Satori’s class, learning logic and Latin!

Over the summer we studied plants for our science program. I’ll summarize our whole study in two posts.

REAL Science Odyssey started us out with learning the parts of a flower. We learned about a flower’s pistil, stamens, ovules, sepals, and petals. Satori discovered the purpose of flowering plants and pollination. We purchased flowers with the ability to see these parts in detail.

Here’s the worksheet that Satori filled out – “Color the Flower”. We then watched several BrainPop and Discovery Education Streaming videos as well as books.

We now appreciate flowers so much more.

During our seed study we learned about the difference between dicots and monocots, and what cotyledons means. We found examples of each in our pantry. I didn’t take pictures of these lessons, but we studied various seeds such as dry beans, lentils, peanuts, rice, corn, and popcorn. We discussed the various ways seeds can travel and their purpose for wanting to travel away from the parent plant. With REAL Science Odyssey, we are not daunted by the big scientific words as you can see. We did not do all the included science lab activities and worksheets, I skipped some that Satori already knew.

The last part of the flower we studied was the stem and roots. We learned the difference between xylem tubes (transport water) and phloem (transport food). Of course we did the classic experiment involving using celery as a stem. We filled three clear glasses with water dyed with food coloring – two with red, one with blue.

We stuck a celery stalk in the red glass (and eventually stuck one in the blue glass as well).  A white carnation’s stem was split and stuck in both a red and blue glass.

The next morning we noticed the first hints of color in both the celery and flower. The celery in the blue water had its leaves turn green and we could also see the xylem inside the stem all blue.

Below is a picture of our white carnation dipped in both colors, taken after four complete days. Half of it was blue and half was red.

I’ll be posting our final plant study event soon!

It’s been awhile since I’ve used my Nikon DSLR camera for portraits. Here’s a few updates we took this week for Satori’s Fall 2011 photos.

Since she has lost quite a few teeth, we have four different smiles for Satori to use when getting her picture taken. Here’s #1 smile (pleasant smile, no teeth).

And here’s she’s escalated to the full-blown, all-out, #4 smile – all teeth showing in a typical Satori laugh.

Satori loves her Crocs so much, it was a challenge to get her to wear these super cute shoes.

And just so you know that Satori isn’t always all “smiles”, here’s a picture of a glum Satori. (Due to being forced to wear aforementioned shoes for this picture).

Not to end her photo shoot on a negative note, here’s a smiley Satori once again.

David asked me to take his portrait this weekend as well, so I’m adding his new LinkedIn photo. We wanted to take advantage of the aspens turning colors which we just noticed starting yesterday.

The excavation of our driveway leaves a nice rocky background for a portrait.

Good ole’ Maddie loves her David.

I never know what I’m going to do when I wake up in the morning. Today the urge to make an American History timeline hit me and an afternoon later, I finished! I thought I’d share for those of you who might like it. It starts in the year 1000 AD when the first European set foot on American land and goes up to the year 2055.

It is 24 pages that you can print off in Landscape mode. There is a bit of space on each page (right of the light gray line) if you want to bind them together somehow, although since I made it in Landscape, I’m not sure what sort of binder would fit. I suppose just using your own cardstock, decorated by the child would work. You should be able to store it in accordion fashion if you don’t have room on your wall.

The download is in two parts because of restrictions of file sizes on my blog.

It starts with a Pre-Columbian page with century divisions, but the rest of the timeline has 5-year increments.

I may make an even earlier version later to show the Native American civilizations that thrived before the Europeans arrived. As half Native American myself, I intend to do a more indepth study with Satori next time around.

You may wonder why I spent an entire afternoon and evening making my own timeline when I already have a few up. As we started studying American History, I realized I would not have enough room on the timelines to add all the American History events. I plan to laminate ours. I discovered that you can write on laminated things with a permanent marker which you can always rub off with rubbing alcohol. It will be nice to have a timeline that can be erased in case we want to test ourselves on events.

Yes, I am officially a self-professed timeline addict!

I’ve also started compiling an American History Literature book list that I plan to read with Satori over the years. We have been very excited about learning American History this month! We’re using Adventures in America which is geared for grades K-2, and it seems a bit simple for us, but I’m grateful for its simplicity in getting started. I’ll be making our own plans for the next phase of American History in which I’ve already got some great books lined up.

We’ve been busy at Fox Mountain Academy the past few weeks, so I haven’t had time to blog much! (That’s the name we put on our homeschool ID cards and what we call ourselves.) We started September 6th with official second grade. Since Daddy has been in Chile a lot lately (and is there for two weeks), we are sending him a picture of Satori doing her work. She’s lost quite a few teeth recently, so one of her new nicknames is “Toothless”. 🙂

So far we’ve been very happy with all our curriculum, I think I’m finally getting good at picking out what might be a success in our homeschool. Some new curriculum we are trying out this fall include:

  • Adventures in America (plus our own additional readings for American/US History)
  • English From the Roots Up (just a few minutes a few times a week, so far we learned PHOTO and GRAPH)
  • Minimus Latin (another fun Latin we started after Song School Latin)
  • Writing With Ease 2(third time’s a charm, we flew through WWE1 in a few weeks and started 2)
  • Reading lots of books! Just finished Mary Poppins and The Hobbit this week. Starting Lord of the Rings and The Voyages of Dr. DoLittle
  • and a few others we haven’t started yet

We have moved to the next level/year in:

Satori is also attending a Colorado homeschool enrichment program called OPTIONS. We are in love with her first grade teacher!!! She’s been a dream… always so positive, creative, and nurturing. She even has a blog with included student family permission and no names listed of course. You can see what Satori did in her second week of school. Satori can be spotted in the second picture, next to her best friend! She loves hanging out with her friends but is glad it’s only one day a week. She tells me excitedly about everything they learn – the wordless books by David Weisner, all about the rainforest, warm and dry colors in art, her new Spanish teacher, and so on…

While I write this blog post, after she finished her independent work, she then started putting name tags on a half dozen of her stuffed animals, so they can learn along with her and I can ask the whole “class” questions. New students include: Peter Rabbit, Roxie Dog, Pixel Bear, Cobbler the dog, and Tigriss Tiger.

It’s getting cooler and we see snow up on the mountain tops when we leave the gulch we live by. We had to turn our heat on one day already.

We miss you Daddy and Gramy and Grampy!!!


If you are a Pandia Press fan or are curious about their programs, now is the time to check them out. Pandia Press is now offering 25% off all REAL Science Odyssey and History Odyssey eBooks.

We are huge R.E.A.L Science (RSO) fans after having tried several science programs that were either too simple or too challenging to implement. I’ve blogged plenty about our experiences with RSO Life. I especially love it because it has been effortless to teach and I (and Daddy) have learned tons. I plan to blog about our Plant Study later this week and then we will dig into their next program – Earth and Space.

I have an updated, easy-to-find list of books to use with RSO Life, and will include our favorite Plant books to complete the list. We’ve also had fun adding Discovery Education Streaming and BrainPop videos and resources to go along with the lessons. Currently the following R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Level One eBooks are available – Life, Earth & Space, and Chemistry. We have all three and are looking forward to the release of Physics 1 and the Level 2 series. Biology Level 2 is already in the works, soon to be released.

You’ll notice that the books correspond to the classical education suggestions on science studies, but anyone can use them. Same with their History Odyssey offerings. For history, they have all three levels available – they have 10 years of history available! By the time we reach Level 3 (grade 9-12) stage, I’m sure the final two years will be up. Each level has age-appropriate lessons and goes through the same cycle for each level – Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern and Modern Times. I just purchased Middle Ages 1 yesterday at the sale price of $21.75.

The Pandia Press Timeline will go perfectly with their history program. I blogged about the new Pandia Press Timeline earlier this summer.

Pandia Press offers a great Try Before You Buy with an extensive preview of their books if you’re not sure their program is for you. I highly suggest heading on over to the Pandia Press 25% off eBook sale check it out. The sale will go on for this month of September only.