Simple Machines : Screws

DSC_0107 copy

We are reading and doing the activities from this book that came with the Simple Machines Discovery Kit from our library.  We’ve used another book of the same series before, and we really liked it.

DSC_0104 copy DSC_0105 copy

This one is fun too.  It divides the studies in the simple machines, and we are reading chapter by chapter and doing the projects that look more fun.

DSC_0108 copy DSC_0111 copy DSC_0112 copy DSC_0113 copy DSC_0114 copy

When we got to the chapter in screws I thought I’d skip it, thinking I wasn’t sure I wanted to read 5-6 pages about screws and its history.  But the pages make it look pretty simple and with fun facts so I decided to go ahead and read a little.  And I am so glad we did.

It mentioned this American artist, Andrew Myers who does portraits using screws.

Taken this photo of Andrew Meyers work from this website.
Taken this photo of Andrew Meyers work from this website.

We read also that the largest drill bit (a type of screw) in the world was the one used to make the largest and deepest tunnel in the world that will cross the Swiss Alps.  Look at this Tunnel Boring Machine.  It is three stories long.
From this website.

Then of course we had to read and learn more about the tunnel.  The Gotthard Base Tunnel a train tunnel that will cross the Swiss Alps, to help congestion in the cities, because of its massive traffic issues, mostly due to trucks going through the country, which is in the middle of Europe, needing to go from one side to the next.  The project was passed in votes in Switzerland in 1992 and the construction began in 1996.  That is 20 years ago.

Of course we found a youtube video (there’s videos online for everything , right?  I love that.)  We first watched this one, of the breakthrough of the tunnel with the giant drill bit working.

But then we watched this one was the most entertaining and informative and I think made our travel juices flowing.

We really liked learning more about it and of course, there’s a great field trip idea for next year.  Wouldn’t it be a great idea to see that tunnel in person?  Not sure I’d like to ride it though… for someone claustrophobic like me, that’s more like a nightmare, but I’d go see it and be there for the news for the opening day.  Hmmm… now I just need to figure out how to make that field trip work into our budget.  Ha!

Native Americans Unit : The Southwest Tribes : Fiber work and resources

Last spring we finished studying the Native Americans of the US.  We’ve been studying them for a couple of years now, a cultural region at a time, with breaks in between of course.  Starting back up whenever they were ready to start back up.  You can find all the posts I’ve done of previous years in this search.

DSC_0298 copy

One of the things we focused on, was their amazing textile works.  Since we have so much wool (in all forms) here in the house, it was easy to decide to learn that handwork for us.  No going shopping for anything anywhere.  Just to our boxes and baskets laying around.

DSC_0014 copy DSC_0016 copy DSC_0018 copy DSC_0020 copy

Siena and Lucas learned to card wool, by hand with hand carders.  We had done it years ago, but this time it was more of them doing it than me.  And we also used our new carding machine that we bought last year. It was fun to get all the wool out (we have lots!) and get that carded and ready to spin.

DSC_0289 copy

Then they both learned to use the drop spindle, which Siena really enjoyed.  And Lucas rather use the spinning wheel and got really good at it too.  Spinning, weaving, carding all at the sounds of beautiful native american music.  It was a fun few weeks of learning.

DSC_0287 copyIt was a fun thing to do at night most days for a while.  I loved seeing them play with fibers.

DSC_0021 copy

Siena decided she wanted to use the wool she was spinning in her new loom she got from her aunt last year.

DSC_0022 copy DSC_0023 copy DSC_0025 copy

Siena’s piece did grow quite a bit, and she’s done all the weaving she wants, I think.  She just needs to get it off the loom and finish it.  We still haven’t done that part. (I’ll get that picture taken when and posted when she’s working on it again.)

Here’s my list of books and other resources we used for this unit:

Navajo Tribe:

Pueblo, Zuni, Apache and other tribes:

“May my children have all things to eat

and be happy;

May the people of the outlying villages all laugh

and be happy;

May the growing children all have things to eat

and be happy;

May we have all kinds of seeds

and all things good;

May we inhale the sacred breath of life;

May our fathers and our mothers

bring us happy days.”

— Louva Dahozy, Navajo.

summer flowers

DSC_0095 copy DSC_0094 copy DSC_0091 copy DSC_0090 copy

DSC_0093 copy

DSC_0089 copy

The Sun

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone—
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance—
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love—
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world—

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

Mary Oliver.


The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

I could listen that poem read by her, many times.   I have a little piece of Mary Oliver in my house, and the most beautiful words that touched me in a way that I wanted to make sure I, and my family, can think as we live our days.

Ancient Roman Ruins

We’ve been studying Ancient Rome this fall.  I’m making a list of all the resources we’ve used and will share next week.

We did an activity from this book.  It was fun.

DSC_0017 copy DSC_0014 copy

The recipe is for air drying clay, made with corn starch and salt.  It was easy to make.  The kids did all the measuring and cooking.

DSC_0020 copy DSC_0021 copyThen they put drops of black paint to make it look like marble.

DSC_0022 copyThey made shapes of architecture from that time. They had fun.

DSC_0107 copy


But even after a week it hasn’t dried very well.  It’s still soft.  So it doesn’t stand very well.  But it was fun. They talked about the decorative aspects of the pieces.  How to make it fit each other, how to make them in proportion… all in all a great activity.  But I think next time I’d try a different recipe for a clay.

World Unit : Ancient Rome

From this website.

The kids, after our trip to Europe this summer, they decided we wanted to study Ancient Rome.  Last year they decided to study Ancient Greece, without knowing much about it, and we ended up having a whole lot of fun with that unit. At that same time we learned about the Percy Jackson books, and since then it has been one book after another, reading and listening to them on CD.  They have learned a lot about the Greek gods and goddesses.  They always ask me “who was so and so’s parents and who was the god of this or that.”  They are doing it to quiz me because they know all of their gods and even though we studied them together I don’t remember much anymore.  That was a whole year ago!  They live it every day in their playing, in the books, in the jokes.  It is fun to listen to them.

So even talking about Ancient Rome it made Siena not want to study them.  She felt that Ancient Romans had just copied her most favorite civilization.  So when we went to Chester while in England for a tour with an Ancient Roman Soldier we knew we were going to get a chance at learning something knew in a much more fun way.  Very hands on, seeing it, hearing it from someone with great passion.  The best way to learn, in my opinion.  And as I wrote in that post few weeks ago, our guide convinced Siena to give the Romans a chance.

DSC_0010 copy

And we had a lot of fun the past few weeks.

As many other units in the past, we like the History Pockets books.  To study Ancient Rome I used both the 1-3 grade level and the 4+ grades and we did all the activities and projects from both of these books.

DSC_0002 copyThis game On the Appian Way was fun to play.

DSC_0011 copy

DSC_0006 copy

DSC_0020 copyAnd learning about the Emperors.

DSC_0007 copyI’m glad we brought these replicas of coins of the first twelve rulers.   From Julius Caesar (49 BC) to Domitian (96 AD.)

DSC_0079 copy DSC_0082 copy

DSC_0022 copyAnd of course, we talked and remembered everything our Roman Soldier in Chester (England) talked about.

DSC_1011 copy

DSC_0427 copy DSC_0424 copyThe shields.  His clothes.  How the soldier’s training was,  what they did on their days off, how the cities were laid, the amphitheaters, oh so much.DSC_0425 copy DSC_0430 copy DSC_0431 copyWe even made a Roman Soldier helmet, that I’ll share later.

These are the books and videos we used in no specific order.

Websites we used:

From this website.
From this website.

And of course, we sent a postcard.

DSC_0103 copyI feel so lucky we were able to have such a wonderful, hands on, fun Ancient Rome history introduction this summer.  It was a fun unit to start our homeschool year.

France, Paris : The Eiffel Tower


We read the Night of the New Magicians (#35 Magic Tree House series) when we started our studies of France.  This is why we studied Louis Pasteur, together with other scientists.


Here I’m sharing what we did to study the famous Eiffel Tower.


We drew it.


We read a few books about Gustave Eiffel.  We also found a lot of resources online.  We drew the tower, we talked about it, we figured out when they would be painting it again.  So many neat stories about it.

DSC_0027-small DSC_0025-small

And we cut one out from cardstock from an online resource.

DSC_0023-small DSC_0024-small DSC_0030-small DSC_0032-small DSC_0037-small DSC_0038-small DSC_0036-small

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see it in person?  I can’t imagine standing by it, or walking around the city and having this amazing ‘scultpure’ rising above the city. And think that they thought of it as an eye sore, back in 1890’s.  An incredible piece of engineer work.

These are the resources we used:

And at the end, we add it to our France book.



World Unit : France : World Wars


When we got to modern times in our reading of France’s history, we stopped a little.  I know I studied WWI and WWII when I was in high school (probably), but I hardly remember anything.  So, when we pick what to study next, I always have the kids pick what they really want to do, because I know we learn better that way.  

This time, I wanted to make sure we studied what we wanted to study about the World Wars.

But knowing we are going to visit France this summer, made all this history and geography and stories, and art so much more interesting, than if it was just reading and learning because someone else told us we should.  It made our studies so much easier and so much more fun.  I love it that we can do that.  It is much more relevant, and I know we’re learning better this way.


We focused more in WWII and here are the resources we used.


DSC_0120-small DSC_0117-small DSC_0119-small


On June 6th, it was the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and we read and watched online:

This summer we’ll be able to see some of the pictures and videos and monuments, I’m sure, of this celebration.  We’ll be arriving via ferry from England in Normandy beach.  It feels so lucky to be able to do this.  Study, learn, read books, watch videos, and then go see it in person.

making : peg dolls

Have you’ve seen the wooden peg dolls?  They are all over the internet and Pinterest.  I could spend hours looking on Pinterest to see what people make with them.


We have a quite a few ourselves.  We’ve been making them for quite a few years now and every time we come up with something else.  We always have a box with extra ones, new ones, so they are ready for becoming someone special.  



I got this book a while back.  It lays around in the house, here and there, always being looked at for inspiration.

DSC_0005-small DSC_0008-small


We use watercolors, Sharpies, acrylic paints, felt, fabric, paper, pipe cleaners, markers…  Anything goes!

DSC_0010-small DSC_0011-small

There’s sewing and glueing.  Sometimes lots of it!  More of one than the other, depending on what we want to make.  And everyone comes up with something fun every single time.

DSC_0013-small DSC_0015-small DSC_0018-small

From Zeus, to Percy Jackson, to Presidents or Harry Potter, to birds, to gnomes, to peas, or carrots.  You never know!  They are that fun to play with.

DSC_0017-small DSC_0021-small DSC_0024-small DSC_0044-small DSC_0037-small DSC_0036-small DSC_0023-small DSC_0022-small



For decorations sometimes, but mostly for playing.  Until new ideas come, and we sit out here again to create together, something new.

making : food

I found the link to this Martha Stewart applesauce cake recipe on Pinterest.  I’ve made it a couple of times, and it is so good!


For Christmas Mark and Lucas gave me a pizza stone.  I’ve never had one before, and I wasn’t sure how to use it.  I don’t really make pizzas at home either, I don’t have a good recipe I guess.  It’s always soggy, not cooked enough, or burnt, or too chewey… not sure I know how to cook it.  DSC_0039-small

But with this stone, I tried one recipe, and it was OK.  Not the best, but it looked pretty before baking it!  So I will keep trying.

But for now, we are using the stone for other baking.  Mark has been making calzones with different fillings that have turned out really good.

I found the best bread recipe ever.  It’s from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I’ve been making a big batch to keep in the fridge, then pull a baseball size dough from the jar, pop it in the oven, and voila! Warm, home made bread for dinner.  I am trying to make it more whole wheat, but maybe I need to find another recipe to try.


After getting my wonderful package from the craft swapping we did last month, we tried to make the toffee Tracey sent us.  And even though it’s good, I don’t think I waited long enough to raise the temperature high enough.  It wasn’t like the one Tracey made, we are going to have to try again.

DSC_0040-small DSC_0041-smallBecause it is so good!


Not sure where I got the link from or where the recipe is from for this cake.  Need to go back to my recipes and find out, because it’s either from Pinterest or it’s on a piece of paper in my kitchen.  Even though I made the meringue sheets smaller than they said in that recipe, it was too big of a cake for us.  We ended up leaving more than half, and by the next day it was too soggy and not many of us liked it any more.  It’s definitely a crowd cake.  Not a little something special for tonight kinda’ dessert.  Or maybe, even smaller sheets.  Yes.  That might be better.


Another night, we made dumplings, pot stickers.  Though we’ve done them before, we used this recipe this time.


We sauteed them in a little oil, but I didn’t want them that crunchy, so I added few tablespoons of water instead, put a lid and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes.  I think they turned out good.  The kids loved making them and eating them!  Always a good thing.DSC_0008-smallIt’s a fun dinner.  We’ll be making some more, I would like to find more recipes with different fillings.  I’ll see what else we can come up.

What are you cooking these days?