Monthly Archives: August 2012

Mesopotamia “Lapbook”

Mesopotamia “Lapbook”

So, Grace and I have delved into the world of “lapbooks.”  That seems like a goofy term to me, so we’ve just been calling this first one a “history folder” or the “Mesopotamia folder.”  😉  Basically, it’s just a whole giggeldy-ton of activities that all get attached to one folder at the end…then you have tons of foldables and graphics and whatnot all in one nice, tidy spot.  Several people have asked me how these are going (we’re working on one in science too), so I thought I would share how this one turned out.  I purchased this set of activities from HERE.  (I think all of their items are on sale for half price through tomorrow.)  When we finish our “Foundations of Chemistry” folder, I’ll also share that one.

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Fighting Like Cats and Dogs


And the nonfiction writing continues!  Today Grace practiced her comparing and contrasting.  This is what she came up with:


Fighting Like Cats and Dogs

      Most people think of cats and dogs as being completely opposite, but really, they have a lot in common. For example, cats and dogs both are loved pets that can be trained. Obviously, they’re both animals and are descendants of carnivorous predators. But, they do have their differences. For example, cats are felines, while dogs are canines. Also, cats are known to be more agile than dogs and are more likely to be indoor pets. Dogs are less agile and can be both indoor and outdoor pets. One of my favorite things about cats is their retractable claws, while dogs’ claws are always out. But that’s OK, I love them both!


Kitchen Crystals

Kitchen Crystals

Last week, Grace and I had a great time making crystals in the kitchen.  We made two types…one with alum and one with Epsom salt.  The alum crystals turned out perfectly.  The Epsom salt crystals were not quite as perfect. 😉  This is a great way to talk about crystals, saturation, the effect of heat on saturation, and reversible and irreversible chemical reactions. 🙂

To make the alum crystals, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup alum (found in the spices section…I’ve actually spotted it in SuperTarget and Harris Teeter)
  • 1 cup water
  • pan
  • food coloring, if desired


  • add alum and water to pan (and food coloring if you’re using it)
  • heat to boiling while stirring frequently
  • when all alum has dissolved, remove from heat
  • let solution cool for a while
  • move to a clean container (we used jars)
  • leave it alone  (we waited two whole days before we removed our crystals)
  • dump off excess fluid and pull crystals out of container

Epsom salt crystals use the same process except you only need 1/4 cup of water.


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The Week in Pictures

The Week in Pictures

We did a ton of awesome stuff this week, so please forgive the number of pictures.  I’ll be giving more detail on some of our more recent activities in the next few days. 🙂

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Skills and Topics: August 28 – August 31


We have had a fantastic week this week…and next week looks almost as awesome. 🙂  (Though I don’t think our regular studies can stand up to the zoo trip we took today.)

We’ve been doing short days of school during the summer, but it is time for us to go back to regular schedule.  We have one pretty big change in the schedule this year.  We’re calling it “Grace’s Choice.”  Each day Grace will get to pick an hour’s worth of activities to do.  She’ll have a list of activities (at least the first few weeks) to choose from.  The list this week includes things like geocaching, a math documentary, extra science experiments, extra reading, hiking, and so on.

Here’s what we’ll be up to:

  • Language Arts:  Grace will continue working with writing nonfiction.  This week she’ll be tackling comparing and contrasting.  She’ll also be working on using context clues to identify the meaning of unknown words.  Of course, she’ll also continue reading Harry Potter (she’s currently tearing through the fifth book).
  • Math:  We will keep working with The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math.  Grace will be writing secret codes and rationing water to ensure the survival of her and her friends. 😉  We’ll also be taking on some math labs that involve code-writing and ice cream (yum!).  Grace will be reviewing some skills in the areas of exponents and square roots.
  • Science:  Grace is having so much fun with her Mesopotamia lapbook, she decided science lapbooks would be fun, too.  So, of course, we’ll be working on a “Foundations of Chemistry” lapbook.  (What’s a lapbook, you ask?  Well, it’s really just a folder with a bunch of nifty and focused activities attached to it.)
  • Social Studies:  We will be finishing up our unit on Mesopotamia in the next week.  Grace will complete her Mesopotamia lapbook, and we will be reading Gilgamesh together.
  • Grace’s Choice:  Who can say?!?!?  I can’t wait to see which activities she chooses!

I hope everyone has a fabulous week ahead!  Check back tomorrow for the week’s pictures (including our zoo trip). 🙂

Cooking London Broil


Grace has been working on “how to” paragraphs and sequence of events in her writing.  She thought sharing one of her favorite recipes would be a great sample for both.  Enjoy!



How to Prepare London Broil

You Will Need:

1 4 pound london broil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

What to Do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put meat (fat side up) in roasting pan. Mix salt, garlic, pepper, and onion in small bowl. Massage spices into both sides of meat. Place in oven and roast for about 1 ½ hours. Remove meat from oven and place on cutting board. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Cut into thick slices.

Hands on History: Mesopotamia

Hands on History: Mesopotamia

Last week Grace (with Kylie’s help!) created a new, Mesopotamian-like society. 🙂  Okay, she didn’t actually create a civilization…we don’t have millions of people wandering around the apartment looking for somewhere to farm or anything.  She did, however, go through a lot of steps required to have a Mesopotamian-like civilization.  She created a written language, traded with other “societies,” made a code of laws and punishments, invented weapons, and made “blueprints” for buildings.  Check out the pictures below:

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Coffee in America


Grace is continuing her practice of nonfiction writing.  Today she worked on a sample that involves writing to give information and doing a little bit of research.  She wrote about one of my all time favorite topics. 🙂

Coffee in America

Coffee originally came from the Ethiopian highlands, where it slowly spread across the globe through trade and exploration. America, which was once property of Britain, did not start drinking coffee daily at the start. We drank tea instead. Of course, coffee was in America, but it was not very popular. Slowly, tea became less and less popular. One reason was the Boston Tea Party. A group of colonists threw a shipload of tea into the Boston Harbor to boycott the British tax policy. Coffee quickly began to take the place of the popular drink. Now, over 50% of adults in America drink coffee on a daily basis, and that percentage is still growing.

These are the URLs that I used to get information. All credit is given to the authors of the articles.

Awww, We’re Blushing!


A great big thank you to Allison over at The Budget Maven for nominating us for The Liebster Blog Award!  Grace and I are both very flattered. 😀  Since Grace and I both contribute to this blog, I’ll try to answer all of the questions for both of us. 😉

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers by bloggers. It’s a way to acknowledge each other and say “you’re doing a great job”. It is for blogs with 200 or less followers, so it’s also a great way to spread the word about smaller blogs and get them more readers and followers! When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person(s) who nominated you. You pass the Award onto 11 other blogs (make sure you tell them you nominated them!) and ask them 11 questions. You’re not allowed to nominate the blog(s) who nominated you! (To get the button, right-click the picture on my page and save the picture to your computer. You can then upload to your blog.)

11 Random Facts About Us

1.  Everyone in this house is a devoted Weird Al fan…the very first concert Grace attended was a Weird Al show.

2.  We’re also raving, maniacal fans of Jonathan Coulton.

3.  We all like to play Dungeons and Dragons.  Grace spends strange amounts of time analyzing her character sheets.  (Yep, we’re those dorks.)

4.  We make our own chocolate syrup from fair trade cocoa…just one small thing we can do to stop slavery and horrible working conditions.

5.  Grace has already been taller than me for months…her shoes have been too big for me for a couple of years.

6.  Grace wanted me to share that I have a goofy dance for every occasion.

7.  We are currently watching season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  (This is actually my third time watching the series all the way through, but Grace’s first time.)

8.  Our family’s favorite restaurant is Lupie’s…a spiffy little joint with crazy decor, awesome music, and fabulous veggie burgers.

9.  Grace’s favorite subject is science…mine is math.

10.  Video games are like a religion in our house.  Skyrim is on our TV more than any show.

11.  We are fanatically devoted to our dog, Frank.

Allison’s 11 Questions for Us

1. What is your least favorite color?

Emily: Orange.

Grace: Orange.

2. What smell makes you the happiest?

Emily: Vanilla and Cinnamon.

Grace: Peppermint and Dark Chocolate.

3. What’s one thing from your bucket list that you’ve yet to do?

Emily:  Visit Ireland.

Grace:  Complete Skyrim.

4. Who would win in a fight between a hard shell taco and a grilled cheese sandwich?

Emily:  The hard shell taco because the sandwich would be in my belly.

Grace:  Hard shell taco because of the protective shell.

5. What’s your favorite dessert?

Emily:  Chocolate fondue.

Grace:  Chocolate mousse.

6. If you could trade wardrobes with a celebrity, whose closet would you raid?

Emily:  Honestly, no one.  I’m such a minimalist about clothes…I’d probably just donate most of anyone’s wardrobe.

Grace:  Early Avril Lavigne (before she started wearing so much pink).

7. What overused expression really gets on your nerves?

Emily:  I don’t know if it’s overused, but I can’t stand it when people say “I could care less” when they really mean “I couldn’t care less.”

Grace:  “I know, right?”

8. Vintage or Modern?

Emily:  Vintage.

Grace:  Vintage.

9. Coke or Pepsi?

Emily:  Pepsi.

Grace:  Pepsi.

10. If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

Emily:  Sabrina or Chloe or December.

Grace:  Alex.

11. If someone gave you a check for a million dollars, how would spend it?

Emily:  Quickly. 😉  (Okay, really, I would buy a house, pay off debts, make some big donations, and put the rest in savings.)

Grace:  Clothes, video games, comic books, donations, and “important” stuff.

Here are our nominations for the Liebster Award

(Some may have more than 200 followers…sometimes it’s hard to tell.)

1.  Mastering the Art of Living

2.  Turning Over a New Leaf

3.  Jenny’s Artsy Blog

4.  Green(ish) Monkeys

5.  iGameMom

6.  A Homeschool Mom

7.  Ramblings…Of A Dysfunctional Homeschooler

8.  You. Me. Us.

9.  gaskellreader

10.  Stirring the Pot

11.  Apocalypse Mama

And, Finally, Our Questions for Our Nominees

1.  What was the last thing you ate?  (Be honest!)

2.  What time did you wake up today?

3.  What’s your favorite book that you’ve ever read?

4.  How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

5.  What is your favorite number?

6.  If you were a dragon, would you rather breathe ice or fire?

7.  What was/is your favorite subject in school?

8.  Given unlimited legos, what would you build?

9.  What are your thoughts on your belly button?

10.  What is the nicest thing someone has done for you in the past week?

11.  What’s your favorite video game of all time?  (Don’t be afraid to bust out some Pong-era answers.)

The Power of Shadows

The Power of Shadows

I apologize for the great blog slackness last week.  I’m hoping to have things updated more frequently this week.  We did a lot of awesome stuff last week, so I’ve decided to skip the week in pictures and post individual activities instead.

One of our math activities last week involved going out into the world and using shadows to find the heights of objects that are too tall to be easily measured.  We headed to one of our favorite parks and measured Grace’s height and the length of her shadow.   We then measured the shadows of trees, light posts, and a dinosaur.  Using the lengths of shadows and Grace’s height, we were able to calculate the height of each object.  Oh, what fun proportions are! 🙂

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