Friday, September 19, 2008

Pease Porridge Hot

...Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

It's amazing how much you can find about this lowly little rhyme if you google it! This one is my favorite for general overall historical information, but this one is my REAL favorite.

Our version of Pease Porridge came from a recipe (which we only adapted a little!) included as part of the Learning Adventures curriculum, A World of Adventures, the Middle Ages unit. Rather than celebrate in high style, we marked the completion of the unit with a more "common" meal - the very commonly consumed Pease Porridge, accompanied by Bannock, for dipping.

It was recommended that the bannock rest for at least six hours before being sliced, so the girls and I followed THAT recipe (also in the curriculum) the day before we made the pease porridge, which we planned to eat WAY before it was nine days old!

Cooperative cooking - Jelly added the buttermilk to the dry ingredients while Doodle did the kneading.

Jelly watches, glad it's not HER hands in the bowl, as the Doodle enjoys really getting into mixing the dough. The right child for the right job is critical!

"Hands-on" takes on a whole new meaning!

Doodle made sure to remove her ring before plunging whole-heartedly into the messy mass.

The toothpick hole in the center proved it was done.

Letting the completed loaf of bannock rest overnight was SO hard for both the girls - they were VERY anxious to taste the results of their labors!

It was even harder the next day... at first the cooking peas smelled, uh, like cooking peas. Our fire came from the gas stove rather than a stone fireplace, and our bubbling cauldron was stainless steel, but it still FELT like medieval times!

As the flavors melded, and the aroma filled the house, everyone was more than ready for dinner when the time finally came.
We gave the pot a final stir - this is a Day 1 image of our Pease Porridge, which we made with corned beef, because that's what we had on hand.

Doodle, dipping!

Jelly's ready for a medieval adventure in eating, too! (*Note: Daddy and the girls built the Harry Potter/Hogwarts Lego castle in the background and it worked well as the set for acting out some of the stories we read!)

Our pease porridge didn't last nine days, but we did get three meals out of it! Yummy! I'm sure we'll be using those recipes again in the future, just because.

Now let me back up a bit, though, and describe a bit of the adventures that took place during our study of the Middle Ages.

Because we were focusing on a fairly in-depth lapbook for the botany we learned during this unit, the girls added pages to their Books of the Centuries instead. As we notebooked, we listened to lots of Gregorian Chant - the only recordings of Middle Ages music that we could find. The girls can now identify that style no matter what the setting. :o)

We used Amy Pak's timeline figures, (we have the CDs - so excellent!) and then did notebook pages and minibooks which the girls put on cardstock pages. Doodle is a HUGE paperdoll fan (like her Grandma NanZ), so we also added a pocket page to store some Medieval Costume Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney that we got from Dover Publications.

The recommended books in this unit are The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite De Angeli, the story of a medieval boy who loses the use of his legs, but discovers a door in the wall, and Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray, a story of a father and son wandring minstrel team who are separated from one another during the Middle Ages. We enjoyed both the stories very much.

Because the main character in The Door in the Wall learns to whittle, so did the girls!

Their projects were done in Ivory Soap rather than wood. They first traced the soap to make sure their project would fit, then created a design, which they then outlined on the soap.

Doodle made a shining star - and hadn't had enough carving, so she also made a castle, which I don't have a picture of... yet.

Jelly's first creation was a lovely heart. She, too, hadn't had enough - she's still working to finish a carving of a jumping dolphin.

I highly recommend this project... it was a big hit!

Jelly (my voracious reader!)and I also read the Midwife's Apprentice and Matilda Bone, both by Karen Cushman, and from the Royal Diaries series - Eleanor, Crown Jewel of Aquitaine. Since the Adam book was from a boy's perspectice, Eleanor and the two Cushman books gave us the chance to "see" life from a girl's point of view.

Another extra book that the three of us read aloud together was a short, but fun, one from the the Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka called Knights of the Kitchen Table. Good general information in a light-hearted book appropriate for younger readers.

Our homeschool/family friends from Vancouver, WA, also studying the Middle Ages, recommended a series of videos from Schlessinger Media. Thanks, guys!! We were fortunate to find them at our local library - a series of six. The first, Life in the Middle Ages, is a good overview. The other five each focus on one type of person and their life - we learned about nobles, knights, serfs, monks, and doctors.

The "picture books" we read together and the other videos we watched are too numerous to mention, but they included most of what our library had (or could get for us!) on the Middle Ages, knights, castles, cathedrals, King Arthur, Camelot, the Prince and the Pauper, etc. A couple that really stood out were Kids in the Middle Ages, by Lisa A. Wroble, and A Medieval Feast, by Aliki.

A fantastic resource was a book we discovered called Knights and Castles, by Avery Hart and Paul Mantel. The subtitle is 50 Hands-On Activities to Experience the Middle Ages -- extremely cool! There is information presented in an easy-to-read-and-understand format and then corresponding projects and activities to go with many of the mini-articles - a winning combination.

The girls each designed and created a personal coat of arms, illustrated an "illuminated manuscript" with a huge letter of their first name, and did a comparison study of the armor of knights and the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

We jumped into our study of the Middle Ages from an intense focus on Cinderella Stories Around the World - so very "princess-y" - and I wasn't sure the girls would enjoy a time in history when the focus was so NOT on women. We learned a lot, and had castle-sized fun.

Truly, it was a wonderful Learning Adventure!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Botany, Herbology... A Rose by Any Other Name

We've officially wrapped up our study of botany/herbology, at least for this year. We started last spring during our "Cinderella Stories Around the World" unit study. (Ohmygosh! I still haven't posted about that -- soon!) Science was Herbology, focusing, naturally, on pumpkins. "Cinderella Stories" kind of morphed into our study of the Middle Ages, a la Learning Adventures, and we continued our study of botany, focusing more on herbs. So we began in April with an interactive experience in square-foot gardening and finished this month by making a fairly extensive lapbook.

Square-Foot Gardening is a passion of one of the families in our homeschool group. In April, they invited us all to invade their backyard and gave us our introduction to Mel's method for growing good things. The first step is to mix up a blend of three ingredients to use in place of regular old backyard variety soil. You can read all about it in Mel's book.

Because we're notoriously NOT green thumbs around here, we decided to start small. We took the soil blend, and the girls each planted two crops, in 1-foot-diameter pots.

Using the blended soil, the girls prepared the containers.

Then each girl planted two different kinds of seeds, one type in each container.

Jelly chose squash and cucumbers. Doodle chose tomatoes and carrots.

The girls faithfully watered, the sun shone, and the plants began to grow. You may need to look VERY carefully to see Doodle's tiny sprout.

The girls were thrilled!

In July, we went to the Orange County Fair. One of the highlights was attending a class and investigating the demonstration garden of Mr. Square-Foot-Gardening himself, Mel Bartholomew. The girls loved seeing the gardens.

The girls have "notebooked" most of their actual gardening experience as part of their "Cinderella Around the World" unit study. (I really will post about that sometime soon!) Their academic (as opposed to hands-on) study they lapbooked.

The Hands of a Child project pack, HOCPP 1116, Botany, was our main lapbook source. There is an Answer Key for this pack that outlines a complete lesson plan. Cool!

We also used a free sample module from Live and Learn Press that is part of their product that accompanies Jeannie Fulbright's excellent book, Exploring Creation with Botany. If you are looking for an awesome elementary science series, you should definitely investigate her books.

Our third source for minibooks was Homeschool Helper.

As always, we also added in miniaturized pages from miscellaneous sources that I've collected over the years. Some of them came from Evan-Moor's Theme Pockets - May Book. I'd like to list credits for all of them, but it's just not possible.

So, without further delay, here are the Botany Lapbooks that the girls put together after our four-month-plus study.

I especially love the tulips the girls drew on their covers, using a step-by-step how-to-draw-a-tulip page. I'm afraid I don't know it's source.

The folders for these lapbooks were originally intended to be used a minioffices, but we somehow ended up with too many. The colors were perfect for botany, so we appropriated them! The girls did their own layouts, so each book is unique. They do both use brass brads to add in their "notebook-style" pages and extensions.

Jelly's creative style usually involves adding in small drawings and her own humorous cartoons appropriate to the theme.

Doodle chose to label each page that begins a new section of her lapbook.

On the left side of this pic, you can see one of the EMC pages we reduced to 50% and printed two-to-a-page. Still big enough to see the details.

On the right side of this pic, you can see the sample minibooks from the Apologia Elementary Botany lapbook available from Live and Learn Press.

That's our botany study, from cover to cover.

From the beauties of the Earth, we're moving on to the heavens. Astronomy is our next science topic, because it is such a natural fit with our study of the Renaissance. We'll be admiring gorgeous art - both of the earthly and heavenly varieties.

Stay tuned for our adventures in star-gazing!

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Friday, September 12, 2008

A Passion for the Pacific

Our entire family, individually and collectively, has had a life-long love for the ocean. We are very aware, from the crowds that invariably compete for parking space, that we are not alone in our passion. Sharing the fascination with so many others can intensify the feelings - the good and the frustrating. We definitely prefer less-crowded, more peaceful ocean adventures. Even though we are at times required to join the masses, our passion just seems to build.

All this to say, we were not at all surprised when Jelly asked if we could study the ocean in school this year. Though we've visited lots of ocean-themed nature centers, aquariums - from tiny ones to Sea World, rescue centers, harbors, and even gone whale-watching twice, we have not yet made a focused/formal study of marine science. There was absolutely no hesitation before she received a resounding, "Of course we can!"

As I mentioned, being blessed to live so close to the coast, we have taken many field trips over the years relating to the ocean in lots of different ways. Simple beach trips can be amazing and provide an abundance of scientific opportunities - wading/swimming/body surfing, tidepool investigations, pier walks, nature "hikes", bird watching, people watching, sand-castle building, shell/driftwood/rock collecting, kite flying, dog/frisbee exhibitions, surfer/wind-surfer/sailboat observing, and so many other activities. Anyone who has ever experienced just relaxing and absorbing the mystical healing effects of the water and waves becomes an instant ocean fan!

How does that work? Something so huge makes you feel so small, but somehow NOT insignificant, rather a part of something completely wonderful.

So, in addition to the science studies we do in conjunction with our Learning Adventures curriculum this year, we will be learning more about our beloved ocean, and all things related. We're not putting a timeframe on this particular study - it will most likely NEVER end! :o)

We did give it an "official" beginning, however. We joined with many other homeschoolers for one of two days (The year they did just ONE day, they found out just how many homeschoolers there are in this area!) set aside just for us at the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, CA. In addition to their regular exhibits, on homeschool days they set up demonstrations and hands-on experiences and experiments that add to the learning opportunities and adventures.

Touch tanks, for example, and the famous "blubber" experiment (involving putting your hand into extremely cold water) to name just a couple. We found ALL the employees/volunteers to be extremely helpful and extra friendly. One kind lady, just because we were there, came out from "the back", and caught us as we were walking away from a tank to tell us that she was just about to feed the fish/eels in that particular tank. As we watched, fascinated, she told us more about the tank's inhabitants, including the fact that one of the new eels had been named after her, in honor of the 500 hours that she had volunteered. Just a little thing, but a nice personal touch.

And there is so much MORE available! The discount and benefits offered were too good to pass up, so we're now annual pass holders and will be going regularly to the Aquarium this year. Our plan is to make LOTS of visits and focus on a different section each time, though I'm sure we'll be regular guests of the seals and sea lions. The girls have a special friend there. :o)

It is just so incredible to experience the ocean's magic - it has caught us, hook, line, and sinker!

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