Sunday, January 1, 2017

Year in Review + Top Posts of 2016


What a year!   My husband changed jobs, and last spring I briefly spent some time substitute teaching again.  We finished our second year of homeschool, started our third. 

I went briefly from a homeschooler of one to a homeschooler of two at the end of the summer...which sadly, didn't go as well.   My middle child wanted to try homeschooling, but for various reasons he was only going to homeschool for a year before returning to public school, and after a trial month it wasn't going as well as it needed to (because of me, not him), and he ended up returning to public school.   If we had more wiggle room...more time to ease into to it without heading back so soon I might have stuck with it, and I still wonder if I should have.  But he's been doing well back in public school, and I think it was what was best for our family.

We started co-op with me teaching my first class there (a short, three week class on Ships and the Sea...which was so fun.  I grew up on a boat so it was right up my alley).

We went from "at our own very slow pace" Story of the World to doing it with a group doing two chapters a week.  It's been a year of trying new things.

My homeschooled son has gone from a boy who hated reading to falling in love with Piggie and Elephant books, even CHOOSING to do his reading first in stead of putting it off til last.  Woo hoo!  We still have so long to go but that's some progress I can get excited about.

And of course there was this blog. While it officially started December 2015, I didn't really start working on in it earnest until this August this year.   My most popular posts of this year were...






Funny thing I noticed when researching that little list...since August I've had visitors every day (at least a few), except one...Christmas day.   And that makes my heart glad.  I appreciate all of you who visit and read my blog, but that's a good day to NOT be reading blog posts...*grin*.   I hope you all had a precious, wonderful time with your family this Christmas, and have a happy, happy, new year!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!




Ring Out, Wild Bells
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.



Happy New Year!!







Thanks to Graphics Fairy  for the Bells Illustration 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Story of the World: Vol 1 - Chap 4 - Making Mummies



I know this is labeled as a "Story of the World" post, but we actually didn't use the text for this lesson.   However, all the activities work perfectly with Chapter 4 - Making Mummies, if you were using that.

We had already read about the mummification process in several different library books on Egypt, so I wanted to take a different tack and look at the science behind how mummification works.  Also, technically, I knew that the mummification process described in Chapter 4 of Story of the World was really not fully developed until the New Kingdom (though I don't know if I would have cared enough to tweak this if there hadn't been other reasons to).

For our alternative text we used a page from "Science of Ancient Egypt:  Mummification" (part of a larger bundle on Ancient Egypt by Dr. Dave's science which I bought after falling in love with his free sample unit on The Nile).   It covered some things that the other books we read didn't about the science behind making mummies.

You may notice that Unit is for 4th - 7th graders...and when we did this my son was a 1st grader with a Kindergarten sized attention span.  So, why would I do a crazy thing like that?   Well, because my son loves science, because this presents that science in an engaging way, and I had a feeling he would listen, even if he didn't understand absolutely everything.

I didn't try to cover the whole unit though, since I knew that would be an attention span stretch.  In stead I  used a couple of pages from it for this lesson, and I did what I always do...added some tactiles and visuals, and of course, lots of questions. 

First, we reviewed Egyptian mummification with this video...




Then, before we dug into the text, I took my son outside to see something I knew had been sitting out by the fence in our yard...the remains of a dead bird.   I knew it would be a great example of what happens to an animal after it dies...and how microorganisms take part in that process (though I'm sure ants took a part too).



I pointed out the bones and the beak and the feather, and asked my son "What do you think happened to the rest of it, all the bird's muscles and stuff?"

He gave a guess about the bird going to heaven (theology lessons pop up when least expected, don't they?).

"Well, the Bible doesn't say whether birds go to Heaven.  Some people think they do, and some people don't, but we don't know.   But when people go to Heaven it says God gives us new bodies...so our old bodies stay here when we die.   So even if animals go to Heaven it doesn't mean their bodies do too.  So what do you think happened to the bird's body?"

I let him give a couple more guesses and then said, "Lets go inside and find out!"  That got him interested and he listened intently as I read the whole page on "Preserving the Body"  which talked about how microorganisms break up and consume dead things and how the mummification process prevents that.

At that my son expressed some fears about microorganisms eating him...so I told him about how when we're living that our cells have ways of fighting bad bacteria and germs, and that other bacteria lives in our body and doesn't hurt us, but when someone or something dies than its cells die too, and so the microorganisms then start to eat the dead cells.

(Yeah, all that...it was all off the cuff and I wasn't sure if that was completely correct, though it did assuage his fears.  Later I checked up on it and got this great answer from someone on Answers.com.  I was pretty on target...but he gave some extra details that were really great.)

We skipped the next page to come back to after we had done our egg experiment (as it gives away the end), and read the first paragraph of "The Chemistry of Salt."  This first paragraph talks about how salt is a mixture and how there are different kinds of salt (even baking soda is, chemically, a salt).  So, I showed him some.


Aw, the salt looks like a funny monster face.
Click on it to see the different salts enlarged.


We looked at regular salt, coarse ground sea salt, Himalayan sea salt, Epson salts, and baking soda.  I left these out on a dish for him touch and play with while I read the next paragraph about natron.  When we got to the last paragraph about where the Egyptians got natron (in the Natron Valley, in the Nile Delta), we looked it up on our map.

Then, we did an experiment where we mummified a hard boiled egg.  I've seen this done with apples too, or a whole chicken (as suggested in the SOTW Activity book).

  1. Hard boil an egg (or two if you want to have a "control" egg...see section below).  Peel off the shell.
  2. Measure the egg with flexible tape ruler and write down results.
  3. Weigh egg and write down results.
  4. Mix an equal amount of salt and baking soda to make an approximation of natron (you can just use salt in stead)...enough to cover an egg.
  5. Put the egg in a cup or open container and cover completely with natron mixture.
  6. Uncover egg and repeat steps 1 - 3 every day for several weeks until the weight and size remains constant.

CONTROL EGG
We also put another egg outside in an open container to see what happened to it (but did not measure it, because I knew after a while we wouldn't want to touch that one).  In stead we took pictures.

 

Below are our pictures of our egg mummy (left) and control egg (right). OK, yes, that first picture is the same egg reversed...cause I didn't take a picture of the mummified one before we put it in the salt.  It's not consecutive days because we didn't take a picture every day (the days shown are as follows:  Day 1, Day 2, Day 5, Day 9, Day 12), and the sizes are not completely to scale, though I did try to show how they shrunk (it was a little more dramatic than the pictures here show, actually).  But you can still get the general idea.

Click to see larger pictures.









(We missed taking a picture of the mummified egg that last day shown, but I thought the changes in the other egg were interesting).   The control egg eventually withered away to nearly nothing and we tossed it.  The mummified egg eventually turned rock hard and gray, but alas I didn't take a final pic. I left it outside and then forgot about it a long time and it was gone (guess it didn't stay forever, but we live in a humid area, not the dry Egyptian desert).  Plus, some animal may have eaten it.

This was a fun lesson and my son really enjoyed it.  I would recommend this experiment for any kids interested in mummies.

Alternative Activities







You can find this post on the Family Friday Link-up,










 










Story of the World - Revised Version Changes - Chapters 1 - 5

Below is a list of the substantive changes I found made in the Revised version of Story of the World, Volume 1 for  Chapters 1 -5.   Minor changes such as splitting up paragraphs are not noted, nor are picture changes.  There may be other changes I didn't notice as well.  For a full list of changes by chapter click hereClick here to view all my Story of the World posts.

Chapter 1 - Section 2:  The First Nomads Become Farmers
There were a few semi-substantive changes/additions, in addition to a few minor wording changes (not mentioned here).

CHANGE 1:

Original - Paragraph 1 (last sentence)

And it was called "fertile" because plenty of rich grass, wild barley, and wild wheat grew there.

Revised - Paragraph 2
And it was called fertile because two rivers, called the Tigris and Euphrates, ran through it.  Rich grass, wild barley, and wild wheat grew in the damp soil of the river banks.

CHANGE 2:  

Original - Paragraph 3

Nomads who settled in the Fertile Crescent had to feed themselves without wandering around to find wild leaves, nuts and berries. Soon the people who lived in the Fertile Crescent discovered that wheat or barley seeds, dropped onto the ground, grew into new plants.  They found out that these plants needed extra water to flourish.  The land near the rivers was damp enough to make growing easy, but further away, the land was dry for much of the year.  So the new farmers learned to dig canals from the river out into their fields.  That way, even if it did not rain, they could bring water to their crops.

Revised - Paragraph 4-5
Nomads who settled in the Fertile Crescent couldn't just pick leaves, nuts, and berries to eat.  Soon they would run out of wild plants to harvest.  Instead, they had to begin to plant grain for themselves.  The nomads of the Fertile Crescent were turning into farmers.

These new fields of grain needed extra water to flourish.  The land near the rivers was damp enough to make growing easy.  But it didn't rain very much in the Fertile Crescent, and father away from the shores, the land was dry for much of the year.  So the farmers learned to dig canals from the rivers out into their fields.   That way, even if it did not rain, they could bring water to their crops. 

CHANGE 3:
The following sentence was added to the end of paragraph 10 of the Revised Verion (paragraph 7 of the original).
The tower was 35 feet high--taller than a two story house!

CHANGE 4 (Endnotes)

Original
Note to Parent:  Nomads roamed through the Fertile Crescent c. 6000 BC/BCE.
 Revised 
Note to Parent:  Nomads roamed through the Fertile Crescent c. 7000 BC/BCE.  The stone wall at Jericho dates to around 6800 BC/BCE. 

 Chapter 2 - Section 1:  Two Kingdoms Become One

Original - In Paragraph  5

...The Egyptians who lived in the Nile delta were called the "Lower Egyptians," and they were ruled by a king who wore a red crown.  The Egyptians who lived along the straight part of the river were called the "Upper Egyptians."  They were ruled by a king who wore a white crown.  The White Crown King and the Red Crown King fought with each other, and the Upper Egyptians and the Lower Egyptians sailed up and down the Nile and fought with each other too.

Revised - In Paragrph 5 -8

...The Egyptians who lived in the North, in the Nile Delta, were called the "Lower Egyptians." The Egyptians who lived along the straight part of the river, further south, were called the "Upper Egyptians."

When you look at a map, "north" is usually at the top and "south" is usually at the bottom.  So it might seem to you that the Nile Delta should be "Upper Egypt."  After all, it's on the upper part of your map.

But the ancient Egyptians didn't think about the world in that way.  The Nile River flowed from the mountains in the south, down to the delta in the north.  So the ancient Egyptians thought about the southern part of their country, Upper Egypt, as "up the river," and the northern part, Lower Egypt, as "down the river."  If you turn the map at the top of this page upside down, you'll see the world as the Egyptians did.

The Lower Egyptians were ruled by a king who wore a red crown, and the Upper Egyptians were ruled by a king who wore a white crown.  Both kings wanted to rule over all of Egypt.  So for years, the White Crown King and the Red Crown King fought with each other, and the Upper Egyptians and the Lower Egyptians sailed up and down the Nile and fought with each other too.


Chapter 3:  The First Writing

CHANGE 1:

Original - Paragraph 5

Because the Sumerians lived between two rivers, they had plenty of damp clay.  And instead of carving their pictures onto stone, they would mold this clay into a square tablet.  Then, while the clay was still wet, they would use a sharp knife or stick to carve their own picture-writing into the tablet.  After the message was carved into the clay, the Sumerians would bake the clay until it was hard.  The Sumerian picture-writing was called cuneiform.

Revised - Paragraph 8

The Sumerian picture-writing was called cuneiform.  Because the Sumerians lived between two rivers, they had plenty of damp clay.  Instead of carving their pictures onto stone, they would mold this clay into a square tablet.  Then, while the clay was still wet, they would use a sharp knife or stick to make the cuneiform marks.  After the message was carved into the clay, the Sumerians could either wipe it out and write another message (if the message were something unimportant, like a grocery list), or else bake the clay until it was hard.  Then the message would last for a very long time.

CHANGE 2:
The following section, which I've bolded,  was added to the end of the last sentence of paragraph 9 of the Revised Version (paragraph 6 of the original).

...you need a whole lot of space--whole buildings full of rooms for even a small library.


Chapter 4 - Part 1:  Making Mummies

Between Paragraphs 1 - 2  some dates were added as well as a long explanation of BC/BCE AD/CE dating structures.


Chapter 5
No substantive text changes.