Monthly Archives: November 2011

Island of the Blue Dolphins


The book Island of the Blue Dolphin, written by Scott O’Dell, was based on The Lost Woman of San Nicolas, a woman who was stranded on an island for twenty years. This book tells of a girl named Won-a-pa-lei, which means Girl With The Long Black Hair. Her family calls her Karana. A ship with red sails appeared on the sea, and the men on the ship have come for otter pelts. The sailors call themselves the Aleuts, and they try to hunt for otter on Karana’s tribe’s island, Ghalas-at, or Island of the blue Dolphins. The sailors and the tribe agree on a fair deal, and the Aleuts get to work. When it’s time for the Aleuts to pay the tribe, they offer only jewelry, which Karana’s family has no use for. The Aleuts and the Karana’s tribe fight, and the Aleuts leave the island. Karana’s tribe tries to flee the island when they see another ship, thinking it’s the Aleuts. The men on board the ship say that they have come to help the tribe leave the island to live on a far-away land. Karana is left behind. She tries her best to live on her island with only the company of her dog, but she still watches for a ship with red sails, the Aleuts. Will she survive alone? Will she ever find her tribe? Find out in Island of the Blue Dolphins.



-Grace ❤

Wolf Girl: Part 3


The Wolf Girl

Part Three

The man was foolish, talking to me like that. Didn’t he know that I could end him in a second? Really, humans are clueless. I followed the man. I wanted to see where the hunters stayed for future raids. He took me to his camp filled with the smell of roasting meat and coffee. Bards played their lutes and people sang as they worked. I hated it already.

So, you a hunter? What am I saying, of course not.” The man shook his head at himself. I was ready to blow.

What makes you think that I can’t hunt? Is it because I’m a girl?” I snapped. The man was speechless. I should have destroyed him right then, but I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself.

Let’s just start over,” he said. “My name’s Mark. You?” Mark. A lump started to form in my throat. How was the hunt going? Do they need me? Does Mark need me? I needed to get back…but how am I going to leave? name is Sythim.”

What a strange name! Where do you live, Sythim? In the woods? Or do you live in the town?” Town? What town? How far away? I needed to know!

I live… uh… can I talk to you privately?”


We walked into a little house that blocked out most of the sound.

I live with the wolves, and you are going to come with me to the pack.” He tried to run, but I learned about some pressure points by studying dead bodies, so I hit his shoulder with the side of my hand, and he fell to the ground, unconscious.

I don’t really remember how I got out of the camp, but I remember a lot of pressure points, and a lot of groaning. I dragged him to the hunting valley and howled my howl. It’s loud and it’s low, and it tells the wolves where I am. A short while later, Mark and Myla ran up to me, saw the body, and told me to take it to my cave. When I said it was a “him,” they glanced at each other and shook their heads. The human, Mark, woke up soon after, and he tried to scream, but his mouth was gagged. What? A red-eyed, white-haired, wolf girl can’t sit in a cave sharpening her weapons without somebody trying to scream?

Don’t try to scream, there’s no human anywhere close to here. Lets talk, shall we?” I pulled down his gag. “Where is the town, and how far away is it?”

I-I don’t know! I live in the camp, but I think it’s about a mile away, just don’t hurt me!” He closed his eyes in fear. A mile, huh? Doesn’t take long to run a mile. I decided that I would visit the town sometime and see if I like it.

How did it get to this? Let’s make a deal. You and your friends leave this valley, and I let you live. Sounds good, right? Yeah, it does. Come back soon! Or, you know what? How about you don’t.” I took off his ropes and grabbed his weapons off the table. He tried to run off as soon as I untied the ropes, but I held him back. “Oh, and don’t forget that you should be gone by sunrise tomorrow, got it? If not, you and your friends will be slaughtered. See ya tomorrow!” He nodded and ran off fearfully. Ah, the average day of a wolf girl. The sun went down shortly after so I laid down and went to sleep. Today was kinda boring, don’t you think? 😉


Related links:

Wolf Girl: Part 1

Wolf Girl: Part 2

Wolf Girl: Part 2


The Wolf Girl

Part Two

I ran up to the top of the biggest rock in the valley (which is bigger than you would think) to sound the alarm. I howled as loud as my voice would go, and I howled three times. That tells the other wolves that it is time to hunt. I ran back to my home and started to prepare myself for the long day ahead of me.

I tied up my hair so that it only reached my ankles (I had never cut my hair in my life, so you can imagine how long it is), put on my cape and belt, grabbed my weapons, and headed out to hunt for hunters. Mark and I are in charge of protecting the hunters. I have only lost three wolves in my life, so I am the boss. All hunters listen to me.

Myla, I thought that Mark told you to go with Kara and hunt for rabbits,” I asked my little sister. She looked down and hid her tail between her legs.

Aw, why do I have to hunt for rabbits? They’re too fast for Kara so I end up doing all of the work while she picks flowers and daydreams! Why can’t I work with you?” What she really wanted was to see the human hunters. She is annoying and she’s dangerously curious.

You have to work with Kara because you two make a great team. You are fast enough and quiet enough to catch them, and Kara has sharp enough teeth to eliminate them. I plan these things out, you know.” She whined but agreed to work with Kara.

I ran to the valley and called for Mark. He came to me from behind and got a nasty club on the head. Honestly, I would have thought that he would know better by now. He still has the scar from sneaking up on me while I was holding a knife.

I warned you not to sneak up on me like that! Besides, you deserved it.”

How did I deserve it? I caught twelve rabbits last hunt, and I took your place when you were helping the elders with the young pups, so it can’t be that!” He laughed at me and I growled. He’s my friend, but I still think that he should watch what he’s doing.

Let’s just keep moving,” I growled.

The hunt was good so far, no humans, but then, when it was just me, I heard a snap. I flung myself to the ground. It was too loud to be a rabbit, but it was too soft to be a bear. Human, I thought. I knew it. I could hear its breath, its every move. It was close. I heard a thumping and realized it was my heart beating. I wondered if the human could hear it too. I counted to three and jumped up, sword drawn.

The human was close, but not close enough. I felt like having some fun. I jumped up into a tree right before the man could turn his head. “Perfect,” I thought. I knew what I was going to do. I grabbed the nearest branch and snapped it. The man whirled his head toward my tree. I grinned. I jumped up as far as I could and landed in front of the man. He stumbled back and drew his sword. He looked at me closely, and his eyes grew wide. He sheathed his sword.

I’m sorry ma’am, I thought that you were a wolf,” he said. He looked at me and smiled a wide smile. He was a foolish human who didn’t know a threat when it was standing with its sword draw.

How do you know that I am not a wolf? Is it because I am in the form of a half human? Let me tell you now that the skin can be deceiving.” I was having too much fun. I held up my sword and brushed it off with my hand.

You are no wolf, I am certain of it. Come with me. This is no place for a lady.” This man was starting to anger me. As I said, the skin can be deceiving.

-Grace ❤

Skills and Topics – November 28 through December 2


After a nice 4 day break, I am ready to get back to school. 🙂  Here’s what we’ll be doing in the week ahead:

  • Math:  We will begin looking at geometry.  It’s angles, perimeter, and area for us for the next few days. 
  • Social Studies:  I don’t feel like we spent enough time studying the 1930s, so we’re going to start our week with some more resources on the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  Thursday and Friday will start our study of World War II.
  • Science:  Science is all about plants this week. 
  • Language Arts:  We will continue our focus on finding the main idea in a reading selection.  In writing, we are still concentrating on writing stories….Grace should have two stories to share with you in the upcoming week.  She wants to continue “The Wolf Girl,” and she’ll be writing a fantasy story for your reading enjoyment.  Grace will be reading Island of the Blue Dolphins (this one intrigued her while we were in the book store).  After finishing that one, she’ll be starting on I Have Lived A Thousand Years.
  • Mythology:  We will continue reading Tales of the Greek Heroes (which is quite a long book).  I hope to get this book finished in the next couple of weeks, so we can start working on our Greek and Roman Myth pockets after Christmas.
  • We only have one outing planned for this week, and it’s a “cultural” affair.  Grace has never been to tea, so we’re going to throw on some dresses and oh-so-stylish hats and head to tea on Friday.  🙂

The week after this promises to be much more exciting, if a bit hectic.  Stay tuned for those adventures.

Have a great week!


The Week in Pictures

The Week in Pictures

We had a short week, so we have fewer pictures than we normally do.  I’ll be adding a post tomorrow about a “failed” science experiment.  Our skills and topics for the upcoming week should magically appear on the blog sometime tonight or tomorrow. 😉

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This Table


In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m going to stray (a bit) from the “school” bit of homeschool.  Today I’m thinking more about the “home” part….a specific piece of furniture in our home, actually.  This table.  For an early nod to Thanksgiving, we each grabbed our chalk and wrote down the things that we are grateful for….so many things, important and silly, made our lists.  We quickly ran out of room and, instead, talked about the things that we love, cherish, and appreciate.  Oddly, “this table” came up for all three of us.  And I’ve been thinking about it ever since then.

This table is not fancy or expensive.  It is a plain, humble little table.  I’ve had it for years….a “hand me down” from a friend.  A few years ago, I dragged it out on the back porch and painted it with chalk board paint so we could use it not only for meals, but also to express ourselves.  It has become an even bigger part of our lives since then.

This table has been the setting for pumpkin-carvings and egg-dying.  This is where we leave cookies for Santa and cheese for Santa Mouse.  Children have played under this table on Goose Day (a holiday entirely created by my best friend and myself) to avoid the chatter of adults.  Birthday cupcakes and ice cream are eaten here.

This table has held countless meals for my little family….some prepared by me, some by my husband, and, now that Grace is 10, some prepared by her.  And with those meals?  More family discussions than the brain can hold.  Silly, serious, heated, educational, concerned, playful….sometimes all mixed into one conversation.

This table has hosted more than its fair share of science experiments and investigations.  Want to know about the properties of salt or how to suck an egg into a bottle?  The table knows.  (And that was before we started homeschooling!)

This table has become a big part of our little school.  Diagrams, data, and ideas are recorded and photographed.  Discussing something complex during dinner?  Grab some chalk and draw a picture.

This table has been there for our favorite people.  Our dearest friends and family have been served food from this table….be it goose or pizza.  Children who visit can’t resist drawing on it with chalk.  (Every piece of “artwork” is photographed and saved.)

So, this Thanksgiving, I am bubbling over with gratitude for this table.  For me, it symbolizes who we are as a family: the people who we cherish, the food we love, the experiences we’ve shared.

We’d love to know what you’re thankful for today.  What fills you up with gratitude till you feel like you’ll just pop?

Happy Thanksgiving!




Imagine living in the street, and when people walk by, you hide and pray that they don’t find you. A life where you had to change your name just to stay safe enough to live your life. That is the life of an escaped slave.

In the time of the Revolutionary War, slaves were just about everywhere. Forge, by Laurie Halse Anderson, was about two slaves, Curzon Smith and Isabel Gardener. This book is about their life. Curzon Smith is not what you would call a “normal” slave. He serves in the army, spies for the American troops, and he was even captured by the British. He nearly died, but Isabel rescued him. They run away, but split up due to…uh…difficulties. Curzon ends up in the army again. He encounters his old master, Bellingham, while he is still in the military. After a long episode, involving going to court, Curzon ends up serving as a slave again, but this time, he works with Isabel. A man who captured Isabel sold her to Bellingham. Curzon plans an escape, but, what if it doesn’t work? Anything can happen. Will things go wrong? Find out in Forge.

I love this book, and I think that my friends would like it too! Happy reading!


Related links: Chains and Fever 1793

The Wolf Girl: Part 1


Grace is enjoying writing stories so much that she started this one for fun.  Parts 2 and 3 will be on the blog next week. 🙂  -Emily

public domain wolf image



I”m not sure where I came from. All I know is that I’m here now. Some say that I was born here, with the wolves. The moon says that I was born with people, and that my father died in the war, and my mother died of disease. I know that you’ve heard stories of children growing up in the woods, but I feel that you have never heard a story like mine.


I woke up in the night, not sure where I was. I knew that I ran away from the fire, and that I was alone. Or I thought that I was alone. It was cold and dark, but the pile of fur I was lying on was warm and soft. Then I realized that the fur was moving. It was like a pulse, a rhythm. I felt no fear, though I knew that I should have. I liked the pulsing fur, it felt safe. I also liked the red eyes watching me, they seemed soft, caring. I knew that I was home. That was when I was about four years old, eleven years ago. I live with the wolves now. They are the only family I know that I have. I love the wolves. With me being the pack alpha, they love me as well. I have made an oath, an oath that I shall not break. That oath is to protect my pack, and I plan to do so.


The Wolf Girl: Part 1

It was sunrise, and I was supposed to sound the alarm. I wanted to keep sleeping. I wanted to wrap my body up with the blanket that covered my head. My white hair and pointed ears were the only things that my family could see. I dare not move.


Sythim! Wake up lazy bones! It’s hunting day!” My sister Myla was eager to get started.


Oh, Sythim! I think I see Mark! Is he looking for you? Well I geuss he’ll just have to wait. I’ll tell him you’re busy. Oh, Mark!”


My red eyes shot open as I flung away the blanket and sat up. “Mar – OW!!” I whacked my head against the top of the cave. Myla ran away in a fit of laughter. “I swear, I’ll gut you like I did the deer last night, Myla! Oww… my throbbing head. Grrrrrr…”


Mark is my hunting buddy. He’s the one who I was lying on when I first came here and the oldest wolf in the pack. It is my honor to hunt with him.


I crawled out of my home, a small cave that I’ve carved out to resemble a human house. The only reason I know what a house looks like is because a hunting party that I was in ran into an abandoned house in a valley. I liked the way it looked and made my home look like it. It has a bed, a table, chairs, a mirror (made of ice), a store room, a back study, a kitchen, and a Red Room. That’s where I prepare the hunted food into something we can eat.


I dressed in the fur outfit I wear all the time and grabbed my weapons. I have a bow, a quiver of arrows, two small poison swords, a shield, and a hidden dagger called a shiv. I had a secret room, but that’s for another time. I ran to catch up with Myla. Today was going to be a wonderful hunting day.




Alvor the Miner


I was told to write a tall tale about either a miner or a window washer, and I chose the miner.  Here it is!  Hope you like it!


January 3, 1820anvil: public domain

Dear Diary,                                                           

This is my first diary entry and I want to introduce myself.  My name is Diana. I was born on the day of the blue moon thirteen years ago, and I work at the forge with my Papa, Joe.  I help sharpen the picks, craft household items, fix broken tools, create new types of mining gear, and, if I’m lucky, I sometimes pick at the loose rock for leftover diamonds.  My favorite pastime is forging daggers and selling them to travelers who pass by our village.  ‘Tis nearly sunrise, so I mustn’t dally any longer.


Diana quickly got ready for the long day ahead of her.  She washes her face and teeth, goes to the privy, combs out her long black hair with her fingers, pulls on her dress and apron, makes the bed, fixes the breakfast of porridge, eggs, and coffee, slips on her shoes, wraps her shawl around her shoulders, and feeds the dogs some raw meat, all before the sunrise.  She walked over to the mines, carrying the newly sharpened picks in the basket that also held some wet cloth, dried buffalo meat, a canteen of spring water, and a letter from her mother.  Diana’s mother died many years ago, and she just loves that letter. 


“Good morning Mister Baxter, how’s the Missus?  Nice to see you, Lily! Is your father in the mines?  Mary!  I thought you and your father went out for the winter?  Why have you not gone yet?”  Diana was certain that she knew every miner who ever lived in the district in her lifetime, and some who are in other places. This morning she saw a new man, a lot bigger and taller than any other man in the mines.  She wondered if he was a new miner, and she was determined to find out who he was.  After all, she did know every miner here.

“Good morning stranger!  I’m Diana; I work at the forge with my father.   Do you mind telling me your name?”


“Oh, I’m sorry; I did not see you there.  My name is Alvor.  Do you know where I can find a job as a blacksmith or a miner?  There’s not much I can do besides use or make mining tools.”  The man had a strong Scottish accent, almost as strong as Diana’s.


“I think that my father could get you a job mining the tough rock in the south-west corner of the mine.  He’s most likely at the water pump, over there.” Diana walked the man over to the pump. 

“So you’re the only girl working at the forge?” Alvor asked. “I thought there would be more girls working with the newly forged tools.”


“Yes, I’m the only girl.  I know, it’s strange, but the girls here are made of nothing but sugar and spice.  My papa says that I’m the only girl he knows besides Mama who is made of molten metal and blacksmith hammers.  I think that there has to be more girls like that than just Mama and me.  I once knew a girl who forged a perfect axe…”  Diana talked the whole way over to the pump.  She was looking forward to working with this new miner.


Soon Diana saw that this new miner was stronger than all of the other miners put together.  He broke the tools he was given, but then Diana made bigger and stronger tools, the kind of tools she had seen in paintings of giants.  When he broke those, he started to just use his hands to break away the rock.  Once, a man who thought he was stronger than Alvor said that he bet all year’s pay that Alvor could not mine, in any shape or form, more than two pounds of diamond in three days.  Alvor took the bet, and he pulled the mountain out of the ground and shook it so hard that one hundred pounds of diamonds fell out of the rock.  Alvor was the strongest miner in the world, and after a while, he was the richest miner, too! 


December 25, 1820

Dear Diary,                                                                    

Alvor is really nice, and he shares his pay with me when I’m save’n up for something big, like a new dress or something that I only get on special occasions, like a block of steel to forge with.  Papa says that I spend too much time with Alvor and not enough time with the forge.  I think that that’s nonsense, ‘cause when I’m with him, I’m normally at the forge working as I talk.  Alvor’s my only friend, and I intend to keep it that way.

I got two Christmas presents this year, one from Alvor and one from Papa.  Alvor got me some steel blocks (Thank you Alvor), and Papa got me a new set of pens and pieces of parchment (Thank you Papa).  I just made three new daggers, a shield, a war axe, a few canteens, and a special blade that I’ll use as an example to show the other girls just what a girl can do.  I think that I’ll start teaching the girls around the town to use a forge; I could sure use the help!  I love my family! Merry Christmas!