Friday, 26 January 2018

weekly wrap up 1/26/18 Sweet Sixteen, ancient China, and loom knitting

Happy Sweet Sixteen to our amazing daughter!  Can't believe how fast time flies and the thought of you growing up is bitter sweet.  We adore you and love you tremendously.

My beautiful girl:)

This year Firedrake wanted to go to the Melting Pot for her Birthday dinner!  We don't have birthday parties (haven't since the kids were very little)  Instead the kids get to choose a family outing such as going to a fancy dinner, a play, a concert or other event.  We usually keep it to just family but this year we surprised Firedrake by inviting her friend and mother to join us for dinner.  Then the girls had a sleep over.

Don't worry she got a bigger cake at home:)--Red velvet her favorite!

MarioFan is working on Ancient China in our history lessons.  My parents went to China several years ago and were able to tour the great emperors tomb.  I brought out the items my parents gave us and we took a look at the various terra cotta soldiers .

tried to identify what was what based on the book we have

information provided in the box in Chinese and English

we read a tourist guide about the site and everything that was found on the site. 
Emperor Shi was great ruler in that he brought China into one empire and made many great changes to the country.  However he was a ruthless ruler and was quite cruel to the Chinese people.  MarioFan and I like to discuss these situations.  Should a person in history be remember only for the good they do or should people also remember that they were flawed individuals and sometimes cruel.  Most history books only discuss their greatness forgetting to mentioning the flawed characteristics.  We also found a great documentary on Nova about the terra cotta warriors that we watched:)  Next up to learn about the Great Wall and why that was built and how it was built.  If you know of a good documentary on this topic, let me know as I am looking for one now.

I have been learning how to loom knit and made my first mitten and learned how to pearl knit on a round loom.  Next up is to learn how to loom knit socks and then I will be a step closer to my goal of being able to knit hat, scarves, gloves and socks to donate to the homeless shelters.
There are a few mistakes but I am pleased with how it turned out and it is very warm.  Just need to keep practicing :)  the blue mitten shows pearl knitting whereas the red below is just your standard loom knit. 

I am still not great on gauging the thumb it is either too big or too small:)  

Seems like not much going on this week but I can assure you I am running around like crazy and we are all working hard on our lessons:)

Friday, 19 January 2018

Weekly Wrap UP -- 1/12/18 Genetics

MarioFan has wrapped up learning about Genetics.  Last week we learned about karyotyping and did a lab seeing if we were any good at it:)  It is much harder than it looks

using our Whiz Kids DNA kit we learned what Karyotyping is and how to do it

We got about half way though before we we hit a wall with recognizing matching chromosomes.  So we did have to peek at the answers 

Our finished work!
MarioFan has also been viewing videos and reading about gene mutations and that whole process.  We have mostly been working on worksheets on this as I haven't found any cool experiments for this area.  MarioFan has been very vocal about the lack of science experiments during this part of our science lessons:(

We also put together a poster on DNA, RNA and Genetics.  I really feel finding the sources online and discussing how to lay out the poster really brings home the learning for a topic:)

We also worked on understanding applied Genetics and completed the following lab.

I found this lab off the internet and it was free 

We took two strands of Plasmid DNA (e. Coli) and Human DNA and placed them in a bag to represent the Nucleus

Removing the DNA from the bag and then coloring in the piece we plan to remove from the E Coli and add it to the Human DNA

We did the same for the Human DNA (except colored it a different color) 

Next we added the Plasmid strand to the Human DNA to make a complete strand and returned it to the  Bag (nucleus)

We learned this process is used in labs to make insulin, human growth hormones  for medical needs of people.  We also discuss how this method is used to improve certain traits for food and animals.
The next lab we did to help understanding hybridization we examined fruit that has mutated naturally over time.  With a little research I found a new (to me) fruit called Tangelo (citrus fruit) which is a hybrid of a tangerine and red grapefruit.  However I looked everywhere for one in our area and could not find one.  Then a very sweet grocery employee told me that Cara Cara are hybrids of two different navel oranges.  I looked it up and sure enough he was correct and luckily those I could find in the store, only this time I couldn't find the two different navel oranges that made the Cara Cara hybrid so I did what any other Homeschool Mom does I improvised a little:) so to get the idea across to MarioFan:)

The middle one is the Cara Cara citrus fruit.  the left is a red grapefruit and the right is a California navel orange

Cutting open the fruit and comparing the peel, color, and taste of each item.  The Cara Cara is the bottom one.  Its fruit color on the inside closely resembles the red grapefruit

But it tastes closer to the Navel orange.  And we found a new fruit to eat as it was very good!
I am still looking for a Tangelo as they are suppose to be in the stores from Dec to March in the hopes of redoing this lab using the correct fruit that makes the hybrid but this was close enough and we discussed hybridization and still learned a great deal:)

This has wrapped up our Hereditary and Genetics unit.  Next in Science we are going to learn about Evolution!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Weekly wrap UP 1/19/18 -- Mid Term review and Mom projects

Thought I would show you a few projects I have been working on --  when not doing school with the kids.  I like to do a few fun things on my own:)  Beats doing house work lol

I made a few Christmas ornaments for our tree plus a made a few to give as teacher gifts this year. before the Christmas break

My latest stain glass piece that I completed over the Christmas break

I learned how to loom knit a fingerless glove over the Christmas break.  Next to try to make mittens and socks.  My goal is to be able to knit hat, scarf, gloves and socks and donate to the homeless shelter.  I have mastered the hat and scarf, just learning how to knit gloves and socks and then I can start making sets to give to the homeless shelter, hopefully by next year!

It is about that time of year when I look back and see where we started and where we are and note if we are behind, or if we need to make any adjustments to our school schedule, routine or curriculum.  We are only a few days away from the 100 day mark of our school year.

Firedrake -- 10th grade  earning 7.5 credits this year

Psychology class - attended at Public school she earned an A-.  This class was a half semester only so she has signed up for a Science Fiction class and it has only been a week but so far she likes it:)

Algebra 1 class - attended at Public school she earned an A- and is continuing with this course, but with a different teacher.  Keeping our fingers crossed that the next one is good.

Art -  Continuing with lessons at our Homeschooling coop

Japanese-  Continuing private lessons with a tutor

Piano -  Continuing with private lessons with a tutor

History -  We have completed reading the book Guns, Germs and Steel and watched the documentary.  We have discussed the book and have now moved on to Crash Course World History online.  We are in the middle of the second unit and making nice strides in this area.  I do not test in this area but I do have her do projects and papers to make sure she is understanding what we are discussing.  I do not see the point of testing for dates, names and times in history as you can always look it up.  I am more interested in her knowing the why's of history and be able to understand it.

Literature -  We are continuing with Lighting literature World Literature.  We are on the last unit of Part one of this course, so a little behind from where I wanted to be.  We may be working on this course over the summer for a little bit!   Again I do not test in this area.  Instead she is required to write papers and do projects a (often piggy backing on to our History lessons).  She is an excellent story writer so we are trying to expand her writing skills to other areas.   She is also working on Wordly Wise Vocabulary work book and is on target on completing this book.

Geoscience -  Firedrake is doing this topic with her Dad and she is doing well and on target in this subject.  In this subject Firedrake is tested and her Dad makes very hard tests so she is earning an A-

Firedrake is doing very well in all her subjects and is mostly on target for the school year (except for literature just a tad behind my goal)!  Also Firedrake took a practice ACT and PSAT test at the beginning of the school year in high school and she did amazing in the writing and critical reading sections  PSAT was 97% and ACT was 30/36.  We have a little ways to go on her Math skills but I am very confident we will get those scores up now that she is more confident in her Math class.  While it is tough to send her to public school part time I think we made the right decision based on how well she is doing now in Algebra since we struggled with that at home!

MarioFan is in 8th grade

Spanish - Taken at coop and he earned an A for this semester

Piano -  private lessons with a tutor

PE  - community gym class

Math -  We are using Teaching Textbooks pre algebra and are just over a third of the way though the book.  He doing much better with this program and seems to be retaining the information.  I am not too worried about where we are in this book as we can always do work in the summer and I am more concerned that he understands the math!  It was about this time that Firedrake began to despise Math and I pushed to hard, so I am trying to take a more relaxed, there is no hurry approach;)

Literature -  We are using Lightening Literature 1 and doing this work with a friend.  We ended exactly where we were supposed to according to the program before Christmas break.  We have quizzed the boys a few times but no tests.  Again we are working more on writing skills and reading skills.  We are also trying to teach note writing skills during our lectures.

Art/art History -  We are using Meet the Masters as a spine but we are adding much more to the program, again doing this with a friend.  We take about two weeks to work on an artist, learn about their life and their art.  Then the boys complete two art projects.  We have completed 7 out of the 15 artists in the group we bought so on target to get this done

History -  We are working on World history and for the first time we are using a text book.  We are very slowing working though the book as I find there is so much information that is missing that I need to fill in the gaps.  The one thing I do like about this program is the workbook that comes with it encourages note taking and looking at main points for each topic.  So I am using this topic to continue to develop note taking skills.  We have also been working on a history timeline and so far have managed to keep up with it.    I do not test in this topic as I feel it is more important to understand the why's of history then a bunch of names and dates.  This is a topic I feel quite passionate about.  So far we have covered the Fertile crescent, Mesopotamia, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Indus valley/ ancient India.  Since we have covered these topics in depth before we are able to move a little more quickly as MarioFan remembers previous lessons.  We have also done so many history projects when he was younger that I am not doing any so far this year.  I sort of miss it, not sure MarioFan does.  LOL We supplement the text books with other resources that I find such as books, videos and other historical resources that I think are important to discuss and enhance learning.

Science -  We have been working on heredity and genetics this past semester.  Now we are moving on to Evolution which I plan to spend as much time on it as it interests MarioFan.  If necessary I do have a Chemistry book we can delve into before the school year ends.  This year I have required MarioFan to take end of Chapter tests which I write up myself.  I am doing multiple choice, True or False and short answer questions.  We are working on our note taking and test taking skills in this subject. So far he has earned an A-.  He does very well with multiple choice and T/F questions but needs some work on short answer questions as he does the bare minimum there;)  Despite my best efforts  MarioFan is still not happy that aren't doing more experiments.  i think he doesn't feel our past science labs have been very exciting, lol.

Grammar -  continues to use the work book Growing with Grammar working on book 8-- on target

Spelling - continues to use All about Spelling book 7--on target

Geography -  using a workbook looking at the Eastern hemisphere (we did western hemisphere last year)--on target

Wordly Wise Vocabulary -  Continuing with the 8th grade book and almost done with it, so I may buy another book to continue as you can never have enough vocabulary skills:) -- on target

Computer -  Completed Visual basic class using Compuscholar (we started this in the summer).  Looking for another class for computer skills.  I am still undecided.  I would ideally like to find a in person class for this but just haven't been able to find one locally, so may look for another online program for us to try.

WOW it is always amazing to look back and see what we have accomplished.  For the first time in the 9 years we have been homeschooling I feel like we are at a good place at this point in the year.  Trust me that is not always the case.   The only thing that we are not doing as much of this year is field trips.  I kind of miss those but now that both kids are older there isn't much we haven't done and we are really concentrating on academic skills.   The kids and I are becoming really selective and choosy about what field trips we have time for, also with my oldest in High school part time it makes attending a field trip quite difficult!

Doing this wrap up helps me put our school year in perspective and start planning for the rest of the year.  I got to remind myself that we need to keep going and not slack off:) so we continue to make strides in our school year.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Weekly Wrap UP 1/5/18 -- DNA extraction, Paul Cezanne and Alice in Wonderland tea party

The holidays are over and I hope you had a wonderful season with your families.  We had a great week and a half off.  Kids played with their new Christmas items and I worked in my glass studio and did a little lesson planning.  But I also did a bit of nothing as well.  I am relaxed and ready for the new year!

Coop doesn't begin for another week and Firedrake's public school didn't start till Wednesday this week so we are slowly getting back into a routine.  We should be back to full throttle by Monday, at least I hope.

I am somehow a bit behind on posting our school activities due to various things that have come up over the last few weeks.  So this post is a catch up on things we have done before the holidays, that I haven't had time to post about:)

MarioFan has completed his lab on extracting his own DNA, and DNA from banana and split peas:)

We have been working with this kit to help with our DNA exploration.  However  it must have been an old kit when I bought it as most of the chemicals inside had either evaporated or magically disappeared as it didn't work:(  So I had to search the web for other options

Years ago the kids extracted DNA from strawberries (MarioFan was about 6-7 then) so I wanted to find another fruit that would work.  I found instructions for bananas and split peas on the web so we did both:)

mashing up our peas using a blender

straining the liquid  -- we did the same procedure with the  bananas

We tried the book version of Cheek DNA but it didn't work :( hence why you will see three test tubes  in the following pictures

slowing adding alcohol

we had excellent results from the split peas!  The bananas took about ten minutes but we saw a few thousand DNA strands eventually.  We got nothing on the cheek cells (blue test tube)  

Before Christmas break we have been learning about the artist Paul Cezanne and working on a couple of art projects.

First project was from Meet the Master art program--ion this lesson the kids are really learning about foreground and background placement and a little of shading

their first project completed
Next we watched a few videos on shading and tried a still life arrangement of fruit:)  And learned about Shading using pastels but many of these techniques can be used with other mediums.
I found several videos on line to help illustrate blending techniques and we attempted to follow along with the video and complete our own.  This example is mine

so is this one

MarioFan's version of the above techniques.

Next the boys chose three different fruits and arranged them in a way that at least one fruit was front of  another.  

We encouraged the boys to use as many blending techniques as they wanted while working on their still life drawings.

I thought they turned out pretty good, considering neither boy likes getting their hands dirty or ART!!;)  They both prefer science and computers to art, but they really did try and that is what is important!

The boys have also finished up reading about Alice in Wonderland and before Christmas break we had a Tea Party and played a few Alice in Wonderland Games to wrap up our story.

I had this guide on my shelf and while we are not using it for the questions it did have some recipes in it that are mentioned in the book, so we thought we would make them and bring them in for our tea party at coop

MarioFan making black currant cake

Which turned out wonderfully

However the comfit recipe was a disaster, lol and then when I looked up what a comfit is this was not what I found.  It is more of a candied covered nut or berry.  IN the study guide book I used it was more like a cinnamon doughnut.  Ours were a bit well done as you can see.

At coop the boys were able to eat their treats and then we played some games .  The first is a free game I found on the web which is a Alice in wonderland shoots and ladder game.  We had the boys answer questions from the book before they were able to move their piece.

Next the boys worked together on building a card house.

Our friend had a harry Potter card house so the boys worked on that.  I  must say MarioFan got a bit frustrated with this project so his friend did the majority of the work while he read the directions.
Lastly the boys watched the (old) version of the movie.  They weren't to crazy this version, lol but it was the closest to the book we Mom could find.

Firedrake has completed her first semester of Public High School, where she is taking 2 classes.  She did well in both class earning an A in Psychology and in Algebra.  While Algebra will continue on for the rest of the year, we found out that her teacher will not be teaching this class next semester at the same hour as he did this past semester.  I found that really strange.  So Firedrake will be having a new Algebra teacher, which is stressing Firedrake out as she likes this one and is worried the next one won't be as good.  Since she struggles in Math this is a great concern of hers.  We are all keeping our fingers crossed as she goes into school next week.

Firedrake decided to take Science Fiction this semester.  Once again for the third hour she is in school she will be taking a study hall so she can access the Math Act lab if she needs it for additional Math help.  We were hoping she could get a third class but with her only attending at the end of the day we were not able to find a third class that interested her enough or that didn't conflict with her current choices.

Lastly since Firedrake earned A's in both her classes the school allows students to drop one final exam for the semester.  She chose to drop the psychology final much to our surprise.  Her confidence in Math has really grown this year.