social studies

Diwali Oil Lanterns

Yesterday, as part of our study of Ancient India, we had a small Diwali celebration. We cleaned the house, cooked palak paneer and chicken tika masala for supper and made oil lanterns. The lanterns were easy and though this tutorial will be scantily papered with photographs, you can see that the end results was cute and, knock on wood, nothing exploded!

Use small jars with lids for the lanterns. Narrow jars hold less lantern fuel, which is a bonus, as the fuel comes in the smallest containers imaginable.
Gather your jars, hemp cord for wicking, lantern oil (can be bought from Michael’s or WalMart or your local, mom-and-pop hardware store), a hammer and either a long, narrow nail or small, thin screwdriver (for making holes in the lids).
The picnic table is the ideal place for most of this work if you don’t care if you make dents in the surface. Really, that is the important part: that you do this somewhere you can make dents in the surface. The ground will work in a pinch.
Place the jar lids, top down, on your work surface.
Using your hammer and screwdriver or nail, put a hole in the center of the lid by putting the point of your pointy implement in the center of the lid and hitting it sharply with your hammer. It is important that your holes are only marginally smaller than your hemp cording/wicking. If the holes are a lot larger, the wick will slide back into the jar. Not a good idea.
Pour lamp oil into your jars, filling the jars about 1/2 way. Cut your hemp cord so that you have about 1.5 inches more than the height of your jars. Ours were various sizes.
Put the cord up through the holes in the lids and press them into the sharp metal that’s going to be at the edge, on top. Be careful of your fingers and don’t get cut! Then feed the bottom of the wick into your jar/s and screw on the caps.
Let the jars sit for a little while, 15 minutes is good with the hemp. It is quite absorbent.
Then, light them! Voila! Cheap and easy. Just like you like it.

Categories: 5th grade, crafting, family fun, festivals, Fire, homeschool, social studies, Waldorf | 1 Comment

Some days…

Things do get gnarly sometimes

Some days, some weeks even, are supremely difficult for homeschoolers. Normal SAHMs have all day during which to clean, shop, cook, run errands, take their demented mothers to driving simulation tests and such. Homeschool moms have to do all of these things while concurrently trying to teach a 4th grader not to be so intimidated by the ‘N’ in that damned math problem. (An aside: Is being intimidated by the ‘N’ hardwired into some of us?)

We do manage to get more done in less time per student than schools do. We have fewer students to deal with, fewer distractions and fewer personalities, learning styles and issues. Still…it gets rough out here sometimes.

So world, yes, there are days when we are not at home tidily doing our times tables at the kitchen table. Days when lunch comes out of a greasy sack and the books are skidding around the floor of a van zooming from point A to point B (should that be point ‘N’?) and sometimes it sucks trying to hold it all together. Sometimes we don’t hold it all together and we just leave the books at home and zone out on the Smart Phone while attending to life’s little curve balls and segues. Whatever. I’ll take this over the big yellow bus any day.

Categories: homeschool, social studies, Tidewater | Leave a comment

A Picture’s Worth…

...a thousand words.
’nuff said.

Categories: 4th grade, field trips, social studies, travel with kids | Leave a comment

and Then There Was School Stuff

I’ve been MIA for a while, particularly from this blog. In fact, I was thinking I might be finished with blogging. It’s something you have to do because you enjoy it, at least that’s why I do it. It’s not about fame and fortune but about sharing what we’re up to in our homeschool and sometimes, our family life and I don’t care about becoming famous. What I do care about is recording a few things for my kids to look back on and hopefully sharing some useful tidbit here and there for those of you who are also parenting and/or swimming along in the homeschooling currents with us. Maybe I’m not quite done after all.

This year Martina (and yes, I called her Minerva for a while thanks to a few creepers but I just can’t do it anymore) will be in 4th grade. We are moving away from a Waldorf focus, though not completely. What’s working for us right now is doing a lot of reading aloud in the mornings, music after lunch, then math and science, then hand work while we listen to audiobooks. Our days are fuller than they were and that’s part of advancing through the grades. I try not to answer the telephone until we are finished and often ignore my needy husband when he shows up in the midst of read-aloud time. We really do need to stay on-task this year.

In short, I’m feeling the pressure! Martina does well on the annual standardized tests required by state law each year and I want her to have that back-pat each summer. Regardless of my lack of enthusiasm for hoop-jumping, it is what it is: validation.

What are we reading aloud? So far our topics to cover are these: Vikings; the Middle Ages; English; Math; Science; Handwork; History; Nature Study; Foreign Language; Poetry; Local Geography; Zoology; Norse Mythology. Sounds like a lot, eh? But I’m not finished! We have a co-op where I teach and the Martian attends classes. I will be teaching Beowulf for Middle Grades and Norse Mythology for little people. My child will be in: Beowulf!; Girl Scouts; Celtic Choir and; Creative Gaming. Then there are the extra-curriculars! Piano; Ukelele; Recorder; dance; horseback riding; 4H.

Whew! It sounds like an awful lot and I think parents with school kids have a gigantic load what with school, homework and then soccer and PTA? Why do I think that? Oh yeah, I did it for a long time…yes, Kindy through a UNC degree for my eldest. I can’t see that either way is easier, except in specific ways that are so different they don’t even merit addressing. Parenting and schooling a child are work and no matter how you it, it’s hard and rewarding and wonderful.

Links for specific tomes are in the sidebar, listed by Grade Level and Subject.

Categories: 4H, 4th grade, animals, livestock, hand writing, homeschool, language arts, math, Norse Myths, ObX, pony, social studies, Waldorf | 2 Comments

What ‘Style’ of Homeschooler Are You?

I’ve come to detest this question. The ones about how do you do it? What curriculum do you use? They don’t bug me. The one about what schooling style is an irritating one, I must admit.

Why? Because I prefer the enigmatic to the strictly defined. I prefer wavering boundaries to tall, firm fences. I want to use wet-on-wet watercolors to back up the living book we read, the movie we watched, the video game we played and the field trip we took to learn specific material. I don’t want to be defined by someone else’s idea of perfect.

Years ago I wrote a post about ‘Frankenstinian’ homeschoolers, joking about how we were a combination of many different styles. Surely we still are but I don’t even want to joke about it any more. Steiner, Mason, the SOLs and CATs can kiss my lily white you-know-what. From now on we’re just learning, the best, most interesting, hands-on way we can. How about you?

Categories: about us, extracurricular, family fun, homeschool, social studies | 1 Comment

Gwynyfar of Aquitaine

We had a blast making this little video. About $20 worth of thrift store clothing and a quilt, some of my time at the sewing machine and a speaker wire circlet and we had a Medieval princess. Homeschool history lesson. Next in line is a book about the Magna Charta.


Categories: family fun, homeschool, pony, social studies | 3 Comments

Addition Review

math books that we used for addition review

For week one of 3rd grade we did a basic review of addition. My main guide was from Marsha Johnson’s wonderful yahoo group but like I do with everything, I tweaked it here and there. We did addition review and then a brief overview of carrying numbers. Martina caught on to this quickly, which told me that our work learning place values was solidly done.

Lateen and 10's table

The story for the week was about an Egyptian boat, called a lateen, but instead of that we used the little story we have called The Egyptian Cinderella.

Books on Egypt

During the week we also dug into each of the books pictured above for information on Nile-going boats and we listened to SotW for it’s tale of the floods and how Upper and Lower Egypt came together. This was an enjoyable math and social studies unit together. We reviewed addition of various numbers with me calling out math problems and my dd answering while tossing the beanbag back and forth. We played with our jewels, on which I have written 1 digit numbers and the symbols for the processes. I would lay out an addition problem and she would answer it. If she struggled, I illustrated with more jewels or on the white board.

Khufu's funerary barge

Part of what made this interesting was that we got to see this boat, right next to the Great Pyramid of Giza, last summer. It made the questions about if there were 12 oars on Khufu’s barge and it passed another barge with 16 oars, how many altogether? So much more interesting and approachable. My father has spoiled us with the opportunity to travel quite a lot and as homeschoolers, the trips he takes us on are the coolest field trips ever!

Summer fun

These pics are from her MLB from the summer. We did play with math quite a lot over our sort-of break. Making math fun and interesting and relevant means that so far, my little one is engaged and loving it.

Categories: 3rd Grade, Egypt, homeschool, math, social studies | Leave a comment

Arabian Nights, Week 1

Our Arabian Nights scene

This was our first week of school and I was very excited about the fun things we would get to do. First off, following the Earthschooling 3rd grade guide, we are studying The 1,001 Arabian Nights. We do our Arabian Nights block after lunch each school day. We spend quite a bit of time in the mornings on math, and we finish our deep work after language arts with social studies, in this case the story of Sheherezade and Shahriar and Dinarzade.

Martina is enthralled with these stories and I make them fun and somewhat easy for her, focusing on the story and the art, more than writing or researching harems or ancient India.

I preread once or twice then tell her the story as we cuddle up on the sun porch sofa. She is completely in line with Shahriar–no way anything is happening to Sheherizade before the next story!

Thus far, we’ve done days 1-4 and I am including a few of our MLB pics below. I tell the story, then we go to the table and I draw the picture from the story while Martina watches. It is then her turn to put the crayon drawing into her MLB. Now, I have to say that we do have some BRAND NEW Lyra Ferby pencils, so you will probably also notice a pencil drawing or two. I’m not dogmatic. If she wants to use her pencils that’s fine. I am more comfortable with the forgiving nature of crayons.

The Genie and the dust storm

These stories are the perfect close to our main lesson work for each day. Above is her drawing from the story The Merchant and the Genie. The Genie comes out of a dust storm with a scimtar, which is what we were illustrating. Notice the date pits in the lower left corner? These are key to the story.

The Old Man and the Hind

The next story with the evil wife casting spells on the slave and her son, turning them into cattle.

The Man with the Two Black Dogs

The last one for now and my favorite for this week.

I love including our MLB drawings because I think it’s important to know that not all MLBs look like they were illustrated by a professional artist. This is our first year using a focused attempt at using almost entirely Waldorf materials and academic work. These are just a few examples of what our social studies look like this week.

Best wishes.

Categories: 3rd Grade, beeswax modeling, Crayoning, homeschool, social studies, Story, Waldorf | 2 Comments

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