Clay Beads of Knowledge in the Big Woods

So week two is supposed to be wrapping up today but unfortunately and fortunately we had to take some detours in our schooling this week.  That’s ok, it just means we will school Saturday, also.  No big deal.  That’s another beauty of home education.

So Monday, we picked up our Little House in the Big Woods book at chapter 5.  That chapter talks about the difference between today’s practice of a Sunday Sabbath and how it was practiced back in the late 1800’s.  There’s definitely a big difference, especially where kids are concerned.  We spent time learning how to use a dictionary.  That seems maybe a bit easy, but they didn’t know what the following were, or maybe I should say they couldn’t point it out where to find these in the dictionary on any given word.  Let’s be fair, they could point out some but not all of them.

Guide words, entry words, forms of the word, dictionary respelling, parts of speech, definition and example sentence.

We practiced cause and effect scenarios based on one of the stories Pa told about his grandfather as a boy.  He got in trouble on a Sunday for taking his freshly made sled for a ride while his father was sleeping in the living room.  There were definitely effects the next day, for sure!

They were also asked to make a comic strip of the sledding event to practice recalling a story in sequence.

In our bible lesson, we talked about mercy.  During that activity the boys picked one form of poetry to explain the word.  We were also challenged to memorize Psalm 91 throughout the Big Woods book.  Today we memorized Psalm 91:1.

  • The person who rests in the shadow of the Most High GOd
    will be kept safe by the Might One.

We are going to recite what we have memorized each time we sit down to eat, before we pray.  That gives us three times to say it together.  They will have all the rest of the day to practice it on their own.

Along with the poem, we did another writing activity which involved the boys thinking about their favorite memory with one of their grandparents.  The did a sequence of events paper on what happened first, second, third, etc and then rewrote the event in paragraph form. We took that paragraph and used our proofreading skills to make sure everything looked like it was supposed to, then they turned it into a letter to the grandparent in the paragraph.  Included in the letter was their poem on mercy.  Now that I think about it, Gage still has to finish his.  Once he does, we will get those sent out in the mail.  Papa Lanny and Great Grandma Neva should be on the lookout for a special delivery next week.

As always the boys finished up their math for the day.

On Tuesday, we got started late and spent the next three days getting caught up on our core studies.  Throughout the day, Josh and I were working on fundraising donations for our India Mission Trip.  The boys were able to work on their independent work while we were doing that like math and silent reading, but they we didn’t get EVERYTHING done.  At the end of the day I was so overwhelmed by God’s provision that we simply rested the rest of the day.  We did manage to read chapters 6 and part of 7 as well as a few other things though.  We practiced our dictionary skills again and completed the review questions for the parts of the chapters we finished.

We did a demonstration experiment on how trees “drink” from the water in the ground.  First we took a soda of Gage’s choice (Fresca) and poured it into a glass.  I gave him one straw and asked him to drink some.  He did it with ease.  Over the course of the next 20 minutes we taped one straw at a time to the end of the previous straw.  He tried to take a drink again after each straw was added.  He found that as the straw got longer, it was harder to get any drink out of the straw.  We talked about how when a tree gets older and taller, it requires more fluids and more effort from the tree to get it’s nutrients up to the tip top of the tree to it’s leaves.

We talked about to composition of sap, what sap is and does for the tree, what “snow sugar” is, and how one goes about harvesting sap to make maple syrup.  We talked about osmosis also through an experiment with a potato.  It showed how vital the water in the ground is to a big tree and it’s ability to get that sap all the way up through the tree.  Here’s how we did it:

They each skinned a potato, cut it in half and then cut the rounded ends off also.  Next, they took a spoon and made a crater in each one.

IMG_20140808_174628_976 IMG_20140808_174605_428

In both sides of their potatoes, colored water was put in to about the half way mark.  Gage used green Jackson used blue.


Jackson’s potatoes in the 1/2 inch of water.

Haha I just realized those are the same colors they used for their frosting last week!  In one of each of their halves, they put 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Both pieces were put in a bowl with 1/2 inch of water then covered.  When we checked Gage’s the next day,  the side with the sugar had filled itself up while the other one was basically the same as we left it the day before.


Jackson did his at another time so it will need to be checked Saturday afternoon.

Because the maple trees can grow up to 150 feet tall, the sap inside helps to get the water up to the very top of the tree.  They were able to see that happen and understood the concept much better than when I just tried to explain it.

We had gone to Wal-Mart Wednesday morning to get paint supplies for a project and then fundraising called again.  We spent a couple of hours at a friend’s house taking pictures of items we  were given to  sell online. When we got home it was lunch time.  The boys did their independent work and that was about it.

Thursday we woke up early and went to the parsonage at the church to pick pears.  My friend, Jennifer, went with us.  She and Jackson were up in the tree so we could get some bigger pears up high.  I think they did a great job!IMG_20140807_090047_351

We gathered enough to make two quarts of pear sauce and a pan of baked pears.

pear collage

Oh my goodness our house smelled amazing.  I think we are going to go to Josh’s family’s land about 20 minutes away to pick some more this weekend.  I want to make cinnamon pears like we used to get at school, does anyone remember those?  With the Red Hots in them?  Mmmm!

When I got home, we blended art and English.  Last week you might remember we talked about using strong descriptive words to paint a picture of a scene in your reader’s mind.  Well this week, we took a passage off of page 117 in the Big Woods book where Laura is describing her father.  You could get a sense for how she felt about him and how he looked because of the words she used.  We studied composition painting and the making of Whistler’s Mother or as the artist James McNeill Whistler named it, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1.

We found out that, first, he came up with the emotion and idea that he wanted to convey and then created the painting around those ideas.  We talked about how color and the angle of the objects in a piece convey different things.  The all famous Mona Lisa is a painting which is said to be a close comparison on how realistic and “photo-like” they are.  The interesting thing with that is that the artist of Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 is an American born artist.  It is said that he is one of  the few American artists who has gotten that kind of notoriety.   Upon further study, we found out that this painting was completed in the same time period as the book we are reading, 1871.

Gage and Jackson were to close their eyes and think about their dad.  After a few minutes they wrote down three words each that described Josh.  With each of those words, they were asked to write a descriptive sentence describing him during a time he displayed the trait they wrote down.  They used that exercise as a spring board to start sketching out their portrait of their dad.  Then they were able to get the paints out and go to town.

Jackson sketching, Jackson starting to paint.

Gage sketching, Jackson starting to paint.

Jackson's is on the left, Gage's on the right.

Jackson’s is on the left, Gage’s on the right.


We talked about what the colors they picked might make people feel or think about him.  The finished up their pieces on Friday explaining why they did what they did in their piece of art.

He didn't want to be left out!  I got the watercolors out for him!

He didn’t want to be left out! I got the watercolors out for him!

On Friday, they spent time doing their independent work. I  guess I haven’t explained what they are reading for their silent reading.  It’s hard to find books on Jackson’s reading level, because he is so advanced, that are appropriate for him.  Right now he is reading Happy Happy Happy Phil Robertson.  He started to read it one other time but never finished.  That book will meet the requirement for his reading log.  Gage is reading book one of the Sugar Creek Gag called The Killer Bear by Paul Hutchens.

At 1:00, Josh took both boys to Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park for a program on tracking.  Originally, I thought they were going to be going out to the trails to try to find and identify the tracks, however it ended up being an inside program.  I was bummed but Josh seemed to be impressed.  Each participant was given the chance to pick an animal print they wanted to make.  Gage picked a mountain lion, or as he remembered from last year it’s also called a cougar and Jackson picked a beaver.


Jackson’s print is on the left, Gage’s is on the right.

The park ranger in charge of the program gave each of them a huge chunk of clay to press the paw print into.  Then they poured Plaster of Paris into the created print.  Instructions were given for them to wait a day before removing the print from the mold. They will be pulled out  of the clay tomorrow!

The last thing we did was to use real maple syrup on pancakes for dinner!


We were supposed to make Hasty Pudding this week too, but I only have cornmeal mix, not pure cornmeal so I wasn’t sure if it would turn out.  As to not waste ingredients, I opted out of that project.  No worries.  We will probably get to make it another time.

Saturday we went to back to Old Stone Fort Archeological Park and participated in their clay bead making workshop. The lady who is in charge of these programs for kids had to go home earlier in the day due to being sick so the ranger on duty got the supplies out for us and let us do our own thing.  There was a second part of the workshop two hours later where we could paint the beads that we made.  Unfortunately Peyton was past his naptime and wasn’t making the workshop enjoyable for those attending so we opted to take our beads home to paint them in our spare time.

Thanks for checking in on our second week of school.  My collage maker online isn’t working very well.  Sorry for the gaps in pictures.  I hope you enjoyed being a fly on the wall.  I hope you have a great week!



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