Heart of Dakota BHFHG -Week 27 in Review

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Welcome to another Monarch Room week in review :) This week we enjoyed learning about the naturalist John Muir and about the Chisholm Trail We also learned what it was like to immigrate to America and a little about the Spanish-American War. That's a lot right? One great thing about learning at these young ages a small about is that someday when we cover these topics again they will have already heard of them when they're older. The extension readers have been really great in giving Aedan a greater understanding of the topics we've been studying.

While we are still enjoying our studies, I am really looking forward to spring break next week. I don't think we've had a break since Christmas, and my head is starting to feel a little mushy. I was hoping that waiting until the end of March would give us some warmer weather, but apparently yet another snow storm is on its way. Seriously....! We are going to take a full week off. I look forward to a few lazy days, and catching up around here.

We read about John Muir's great love for nature, and his 1000 mile nature walk. Now that's nature study! I'm thankful for his work with Roosevelt to establish a way to protect nature. I love visiting our country's national parks. We enjoy visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. I can't imagine how terrible it would be to see that land developed.

Our art project was to choose one of the states that John Muir walked through. The boys drew pictures of the animals that Muir saw along the way, and made a pop-up picture.

 It is sad to think of all the animals that have become extinct since the time Muir made his journey on foot. I would love to have lived in a time to see droves of passenger pigeons passing over. I have such a love of nature, and it saddens me to see us not taking care of our environment and natural resources. I think Muir was very fore-thinking to see the need to protect what we have.

We read about the Chisholm Trail, and how cowboys herded many many cattle from Texas to Wyoming Territory. Our history activity was to pretend to herd cattle.

We read in A Pioneer's Sampler about how letters were sent, and how costly it was to receive a letter.

We learned how pioneers folded one piece of paper, and sealed it with a wax seal.

We read how pioneers made their own ink. Unfortunately this experiment didn't work. I may not have followed the recipe exactly. The soot of the candle was supposed to mix with egg white and honey to make ink. Ah well.

This is the experiment page for the ink and wax seal.

We learned about pioneer stores and what you could purchase in those days. Our science notebooking activity was to compare a pioneer store, and a modern store. We no longer have to buy huge barrels of salt because we can get in our car to get only what we need. I'm always impressed with what it took to live day to day in that period of time.

Elemental Science at The Monarch Room

Silas is continuing his study of the planets. We added Uranus to our sky map.

We learned how a planet's color affects its temperature.

 This was Aedan's last week in his balance unit in ES Physics. We tried to find different objects around the house to balance. Some were easy, and some not so much. We look forward to our next unit where we get to build a newspaper stool. I'm wondering how that will go! Well, I'm off for some well needed rest for now :)

Heart of Dakota - BHFHG Week 26 in Review

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring has sprung around here! After all the snow, we've been enjoying the chance to get outside these days. It was hard to do school on Friday, but we got it done! I want to sail through these last weeks, so we can get to summer. I don't want to miss anything in school, but the end of school is just around the corner.

This week our studies focused on Abraham Lincoln and The Civil War. Lincoln was quite a man. I loved reading about his humble beginnings. I always admire people who determined that they would gain an education whether or not it was available to them. I can relate to Lincoln who could always be found carrying a book. I'm guessing my heavy book bags will lead to back problems, but it is a price worth paying :) The age of slavery in America was a sad portion of our country's history. I am thankful to a man who fought for what he believed in. I love that he said, "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper. My whole soul is in it." He wrote that after signing the Emancipation Proclamation. What a beautiful thing to believe with one's whole soul in a work.

This week's art project directed us to draw two cylinders. We turned one into a stovepipe hat, and one into a log. We chose to paint our pictures.

This week I added Abraham Lincoln, and Abe's Honest Words to our history readings. I highly recommend Abe's Honest Words. The artwork is beautiful and moving. Each page has a quote from Lincoln, so you get a better picture of who the man really was. My boys always love the D'Aulaire books as well. Aedan read Freedom Train for his extension readings. I love the addition of biographies and historical fiction in HOD. They really help give a better understanding of the people and place in time we are studying.

We read about The Civil War, and learned about the generals of both armies. We learned about the great cost of this war in human lives. What a terrible time in history.

Our poem this week was "God Bless Our Native Land." In a time, once again, of great division in our country this was a great reminder of how important it is to pray for our country and its leaders.

We learned how to tell directions by looking for the North Star. We read about how the slaves escaped to freedom by following the drinking gourd (The Big Dipper.)

These are our vocabulary pages for the week.

We read in A Pioneer Sampler how the pioneers harvested grain.

We learned how the pioneers had to predict the weather by watching the clouds. This week was kind of a bummer for cloud watching.

Our character trait was forgiveness. This was a great one to talk about when learning about The Civil War. I found myself convicted of holding grudges even this week.

Elemental Science at The Monarch Room

Silas and I continued our study of the solar system. We learned that Saturn is the lightest planet, and if you were to drop it in a planet sized swimming pool that it would float. Silas loved thinking of Saturn as a great big beach ball! We added Saturn to our sky map, and labeled the planets we've studied thus far. This map is supposed to be to scale. Obviously the sun is too small. We didn't have paper that was big enough. Jupiter ended up getting cut a little too small as well, but the rest are about right.

I found this image of just how big the sun is. Uh....WOW! So stinking cool!

Silas's experiment was to learn how we can see through the rings of Saturn. Can't you see the determination on his little face to spin those rings. Cutie pie :)

I love that the boys take part in each other's projects. They always want to try what the other one is doing.

This week we continue our unit on balance in ES Physics. This experiment was called "Wobble ball." We added a clay ball to the inside of the balloon and blew it up.

Because the balloon's center of gravity was off it wobbled everywhere, and was hard to catch :)

The boys were really surprised. I love the expression on my big boy's face. Even big kids still aren't too cool to have a little fun.

This is the experiment page for the above experiment.

We read about how our center of gravity helps keep us upright.

We did a few experiments to show what happens if our center of gravity is off. The first one was to keep your shoulder on the wall, and to lift your foot closest to the wall. Bam! They laughed and laughed :)

The next one was to try to pick up a book with your heels still resting against the wall. BAM again!

Our final experiment in balance was to have one person sit on a chair, and try to get up with just a finger pressed on your forehead. None of us could get up. So fun :)

The ongoing project for our balance unit was to build a gumdrop castle that could stand without falling.

 Aedan worked very hard on this one. I didn't think it would keep his interest as long as it did. He was really happy with his finished product, and it did indeed stand. Another weekend is here. Only 8 weeks left!

Heart of Dakota BHFHG - Week 25 in Review

Saturday, March 9, 2013

We had another great week with Heart of Dakota! It always feels like it's a Monday and then all of a sudden it's Friday. The weeks fly by. I love how homeschool gives our day structure. I remember days before homeschool dragging by, but our days feel more purposeful and fun now than those days. This week we studied The Gold Rush to California. We learned about Dame Shirley's journey around Cape Horn, and Marian Sloan's trek across the country in a prairie schooner. Both routes sounded incredibly difficult, and took more adventure and bravery than I could probably muster up. We also read about Kit Carson who was also very brave. We read our first passage about Abraham Lincoln. We will spend all of next week learning about Lincoln and the Civil War.

This week's art project centered on Kit Carson's encounter with a few hungry bears. We learned about how he saved himself by climbing a tree, and whacking those hungry bears in the nose. These were supposed to be bear masks, but I thought they looked cuter this way. I love these simple little projects. They help us to remember what we've learned.

In our geography lesson we added to our pile of state cards. We underlined the states that belonged to the union.

Our history notebooking page activity was to show the different routes people took to get to California.

We love our new read-aloud for Storytime. By The Great Horn Spoon is the perfect book to read during this unit. It is about a boy who runs away with his butler to California to find gold to help his beloved aunt who is about to lose her home. The take the route around Cape Horn. I love how HOD is so thoughtful in their book choices. These books really give such a great picture of the time period we are studying.

I visited a friend and saw how she hung up her maps (Hi Sara!) I had attached mine before to the wall with adhesive squares that destroy the wall, and make for a really wonky map. This little solution worked perfectly!

 Our timelines are filling in! I can't believe our year is almost over.

I have loved re-learning American history with my boys. Timelines really help give a great picture of history as a whole. I love learning about what people were contemporaries of one another. It is so much easier to understand when you can visually see it.

Our character trait this week was Hopefulness. I have loved the Godly character trait study. If my kids struggle, I usually have them go over and read on of the character trait cards and scripture verse. It helps me to be more patient. Rather than getting frustrated myself, sending them over to read it gives us both a break and attitude adjustment. I love learning these verses and virtues alongside them. I know I have so much to learn myself!

 We loved our poem this week. "The Railroad Cars are Coming" is such a fun poem to read out loud. The kids also have fun reading poems at the end of each week.

Our vocabulary words of the week.

We read about how pioneers and American Indians caught fish with their hands. This lesson taught us why it would be difficult to catch a fish even when you can see them in the water.

Our experiment page for the above lesson.

 We also learned about why fish can hear so well under water. The closer we hung the bag to our ear, the louder the sound.

Elemental Science at The Monarch Room

 We spend this week learning about the planet Jupiter. Our experiment taught us about the great red spot on Jupiter, and how it is constantly in motion like a vortex. Did you know the great red spot is a storm that has been raging for over 300 years? I'm having so much fun learning these things again :)

We added the monster planet Jupiter to our sky map. Did you know that a thousand earths can fit into Jupiter, and that the great red spot is as big as 3 earths? All of that blows my mind. God's creation is so fantastic!
Aedan is studying Balance in ES Physics. His brother enjoyed learning with him. We found lots of things to balance around the house.

We made a snake to balance on this pencil. It spun without falling.

 We made tightrope walkers to balance on our little tightrope.


 So much fun! The boys love these experiments :)

Sometimes I forget how much wonder there is to be had in the world :)

Last summer we went to Silver Dollar City, and saw The Flying Wallendas' high wire act. I was seriously scared the whole time that they were going to fall. This was a great memory of what balance really means :)

Our ongoing activity in ES Physics this unit is to build a gumdrop castle. This is Aedan's initial design. We will make several versions over the next few weeks.

  We started an artist study in our little co-op. We will be studying 6 artists over the next 6 weeks. This week we focused on Leonardo Da Vinci. Can you see our little cultural divide between girls and boys? We're working on that :)

I caught Aedan with a nature book trying to identify the woodpecker that has been visiting us a lot lately. I love seeing the fruit of homeschool that happens naturally sometimes. I am so thankful for the privilege to teach and learn with my boys :) See you next week!
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