Monday, September 23, 2013

Ancient Egypt Unit Study

The breadth of this unit study lasted close to three weeks, so I will try to remember everything we did!


We learned about the geography of Egypt and created a simple map. We learned that the Nile River flows northward and splits off into a delta.

Painting the Red Sea

Painting Egypt

Finished piece


We learned about many different ancient Egyptian gods, and Aidyn created his own god: a half-tiger, half-man god.

We learned all about pyramids and what was stored in them.

For fun, we read Who's Your Mummy? by R.L. Stine

And Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola

And the hilarious Skippy Jon Jones in Mummy Trouble by Judy Schachner.

Aidyn also learned to read some Egyptian words.

Hands-on Learning/Art:

We made hieroglyph stamps using potatoes. 

We read about how the early Mesopotamians  made cuneiform tablets while the Egyptians made papyrus. We made both to see which was easier to make and which was most durable.

Mixing the batter for cuneiform tablets.

Rolling out the dough.

Carving messages.

Then we baked the tablets to harden them.

We read about ancient Egyptians who used reed to make papyrus. Without reed around, we substituted with strips of paper.
Dipping the paper strip in the flour-and-water mixture.

Laying the strips evenly.

He loved dunking his fingers in the goo.

Afterward we smashed blueberries to make blueberry ink.

I don't have pictures, but we waited for the papyrus to dry and wrote on it using the blueberry ink. The writing was very light at first, but once it dried it was a solid blue-red color. We noted that the papyrus seemed pretty fragile and the coloring could easily be washed away if it water got on it. Cuneiform tablets, though heavier and harder to make, were much more resistant to destruction.

We also constructed our own Nile River. We put dirt in a large pan and divided it down the middle for the river. We lay aluminum foil on the bottom and used rocks to keep it down.

We planted grass seeds along the banks, and Aidyn flooded the Nile.
Again, no pictures, but now our Nile has grass sprouted on either side of it!

World Religions/Mythologies

We read about Osiris and many other Egyptian gods. We also watched some Christian mythologies, The Prince of Egypt and Joseph, King of Dreams.

Prince of Egypt trailer

Joseph, King of Dreams trailer

He watched them both a few times and absolutely loved The Prince of Egypt.

(Gross) Science Experiment:

We peeled and carved seven apples to represent mummies and set them in different variations of preservatives to see which would last the longest. We got busy around this time, so the poor apple-heads were sitting pretty for two weeks.

Isn't he gorgeous?

Not so bad.

He's seen better days.

He was our most eligible apple--a 50/50 mix of epsom salt and table salt did wonders for his skin.

Speaks for itself.

Overall, this was a pretty gross but entertaining (and educational!) little experiment. (excuse the boxes in the background; we're in the process of moving.)

We had a blast learning about ancient Egypt!

We just started a Kindness Project unit study, so check back to see what we do!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why I Don't Homeschool...

Reasons Why I Do Not Homeschool:

1. I do not homeschool to impart my religious beliefs on my son, though many homeschoolers do (I'm looking at you, Duggars) and they should be free to do so; I homeschool to give my son a secular view, to help him find his own answers to the great question of the universe rather than burdening him with my own.

2. I do not homeschool to cripple his socialization (though so, so many people target that stereotype); I homeschool to socialize him well, to see beyond the exclusivity of his peers' approval and limited views, to converse with people of all ages, backgrounds, creeds, and beliefs. I do not think he "needs" to be surrounded by others who are EXACTLY the same age as he. Where else does that happen?

3. I do not homeschool because I hate teachers; I love teachers, but I feel like they are given too little power in their own classrooms. If they were given more freedom and resources, public school wouldn't be such a terrible option for us.

4. I do not homeschool because I believe everyone should homeschool; every involved parent "homeschools" to some degree. To wrest control from the government over a child's education is just not possible for many people. We have been raised to believe that public school is normal but disregard the downward spiral of academic achievement, school violence, overcrowdedness, and the suffocation of ridiculous peer pressure.

5. I do not homeschool to teach him the way I want him to be taught; I homeschool to discover how he learns best so that I might use this time wisely and help him learn effectively. I don't believe that he (or a great many people) learns by sitting passively, by jamming a bunch of information in his head on a week-by-week basis in order to pass some standardized test (that won't benefit him anyways), or by wasting his time pretending to be interested in whatever is going on in the classroom. I homeschool to have one-on-one Socratic discussions with him, to let him speak his own thoughts and wrangle out his own logic, to let him explore freely and find his own interests.

6. I do not homeschool to reenact some terrible, stereotypical Nurse Ratched role (the most ignorant and asinine comment I received was this lovely remark); I homeschool to continue a loving and supportive relationship with my child.

7. I do not homeschool to create some "weird-speaking" child; I homeschool to help him escape the mindless conformity of his peers, who to me can sound quite weird ("Omigawd, I LOVE Miley Cyrus, LOL, hahaha, omg."), if they fall victim to it. I want him to have an authentic interest in the things that appeal to him and to embrace his Nerdom (embrace of things he loves).

8. I do not homeschool to rebel; if he were enrolled in public school, my rebellions would be more apparent: fighting the bad influence of peers, fighting the bullying, fighting the treatment of my son as just another sheep in the flock, fighting the ridiculous rules and regulations (no gun gestures with your hands, or you're expelled!), fighting, fighting, fighting. If parents are involved with their public school kids, there would be a good deal of fighting with the school, and I am not up for that.

9. I do not homeschool because I am "better" than public school teachers; I homeschool because I know my child best and have the best intentions for his education. Public school teachers work their asses off, are underpaid and underappreciated. If they could, they would care about every single child, but sometimes there are too many students, too much acting out, and too little time to see that quiet child who might need more.

10. I do not homeschool to bogart my child or cover him in bubble-wrap: I homeschool to take him OUT into the world rather than keeping him all wrapped up in a brick-and-mortar facility in which they sometimes treat students as budding criminals. I push him to try new things out there, to hike up a mountain, spelunk in a cave, to talk to strangers (gasp!), to use a knife appropriately (instead of being disciplined in the principal's office for carrying fingernail clippers that JUST MIGHT BE A WEAPON). And though I love spending time with him, he isn't a perfect child by any means. Where we live, he plays outside for the majority of the day with kids of all ages and talks with the older ladies in the neighborhood who just love the heck out of him.

11. I do not homeschool because it's "easy" to "stay home in pajamas all day and eat bon-bons" all day; I homeschool because the work is worth it. It's never easy hearing snide comments, answering the socialization question for the bajillionth time, and suppressing the laughter from truly ridiculous comments (Ok, the last one is pretty fun). It's not easy pulling together curricula that best suits an individual person, teaching it in a way that reaches that individual person, and squelching all those old ideas about what schooling should look like. Parenting isn't easy, unless every aspect of it is outsourced.

13. I do not homeschool to hurt your feelings, put you down, or criticize the way you do things; every single friend I have who is a parent is doing exactly what they should for their children, and I am proud to have such friends. Some have harder roads than me to traverse, and they handle their specific circumstances with determination, resolve and the dedication to their children in primary view.

14. I do not homeschool because I am the Saint of Neverending Patience, though I wish she or he would gift me with extraordinary patience at times; I homeschool because I simply care about my child's education. I have just as much patience as the average parent, which is usually not much. It's a continuous reminder to breathe a little, relax, and let it be. I just try to remember that the days (and lessons) are long, but the years are oh, so short.

 15. I do not homeschool to displease you; I homeschool because it pleases us in the way we want to live, with freedom, fun and enjoyment of this one life we have.