Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chemistry Links

Chemistry Links:

Next year we'll be using Real Science 4 Kids for all 3 levels.  This will be our spine but we'll also use Montessori-style materials and other resources (I'm sure you'll read about them in detail later!).  I went through all of the websites I had tagged for Chemistry and separated them into the appropriate RS4K chapters.  Now I'm sharing them with you.  As of this post all are working links.  I can't vouch for the future, though.  Aren't you glad I don't have my cottage industry website up or organized?  You get the fruits of my looong labor for free :).  Even if you aren't using RS4K this should be helpful because you can find the topic in the chapter title and still use the links. 

The first page is mainly notes for myself and will probably make NO sense to anyone else!  That's okay - just ignore or ask me if you want to know about something.

I uploaded the document to the dc's computer so they can just click on links and get straight to it.  It's on their desktop. That way they can spend time with the links for chapter such-and-such while I burn something in the kitchen am engaged elsewhere.

Here is the link for the document and you know the rules: no selling or otherwise profiting from other people's work.  Below are the direct links to Amazon for these books.  The student books are so good that my olders didn't want me sell the Pre-Level 1 when they were done.  Good thing - Now I need it for youngest dd!

Here are the Student Textbooks:

Here are the Student Workbooks:

Here are the Teacher Manuals:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mangoes, Figs, and Whatchagot stew

What's Gardenin'?

Not much but at least I've discovered my problem.  Actually I have 2 reasons for my poor garden production.  The beds and plants are doing well; but, except for the cucumbers, strawberries, some tomatoes, and a couple of banana peppers, I'm getting hardly any yield.  I've only gotten 1 yellow squash and 2 zucchinis.  ZERO cantaloupes, even though the plants look great and the flowers are there, somewhat hidden.

As I sat in the yard swatting mosquitoes one early evening and looking around it dawned on me... I was so focused on the veggies I wanted that I forgot to plant enough flowers!  The lantana was slow coming back, the flowers up the teepee are slow growing, we skipped the sunflowers this year, and there are just a few marigolds in the raised beds (and only 1 really blooming).  We simply haven't had many pollinators and I haven't had the umph to hand pollinate.  Another thing is that we usually have tons and tons of honey bees - they love the white weed flower that generally proliferates in our back yard.  Hardly any bees this year, and much to dh's delight, no white weed flowers so far.  I finally started seeing bees several weeks ago and put a hanging basket of flowers between the beds.  That helped bring them to that area.

I went to two area gardening centers and ended up with just some low-growing flowers.  I wish I would have held out and gone to another place to get some zinnias or something tall.  Maybe it's not a lost effort as this pretty little butterfly kept following me around while I was transplanting them, panting, and dripping with sweat (me - not the butterfly nor the plants!).

So, if you are not getting produce and your plants look fine, consider adding flowers or hand pollinating.

What's Cookin'?

Mangoes!  We dried, canned, and ate mangoes until we were orange in the face (literally).  When I was canning I started doing them like the peaches and had them in the simmering sugar water when I went to check online for the canning time.  Much to my chagrin I read that you cold-pack mangoes.  I quickly spooned them out, sliced some more up, and cold-packed some.  Then I put them in the water bath for the required amount of time. 

I was then left with some 1/2 cooked mangoes.  What on Earth could I do with them?  I saw the recipe for mango salsa and it cooks the mango and ingredients so I decided on that recipe. (sigh) But I didn't read the recipe very closely before starting- it calls for a whole cup of sugar (gag!).  Since I don't know much about canning (obviously) and it was nearly midnight I decided to just go with the recipe in case the amount of sugar was necessary for safety/preservation reasons.  Note:  I do NOT have a sweet tooth. 

To me it was horrible but dh had a brilliant idea.  He said, "Why don't you use it for a glaze when cooking meat?"  Aha!  The next day I poured it on some chicken I was cooking and it really gave it a nice flavor.  Best of all, the sweetness disappeared :).  It would be even better with pork, if you eat pork (I quit eating pork except for occasional bacon since I don't have a good local source).

Here are some mangoes ready for the dehydrator:

Here are some in the freezer.  Freeze in a single layer and then put in your containers so they don't freeze together. You can see some frozen peaches underneath.

Figs:  I got some figs at the farmer's market yesterday.  Pathetically, I had to call a friend and ask, "How do I eat these things??" When I called my friend she was in the act of turning on her dehydrator to dry out some figs and mangoes.  After hanging up I dug into the figs and loved them!  They are a mix of kiwi and guayaba.  Mmmmm.  Other than eating them fresh I don't know what I'll do - I don't have that many.  Any favorite fig recipes?  I should check to see if Nourishing Traditions has figs in any recipes...

Whatchagot Stew:  Every time it is original and different.  This time I browned some stew meat and then added water to the pan and let it simmer about 20-30 minutes to cook.  Meanwhile I cooked noodles.  In a separate pan I sauteed the following in some coconut oil: zucchini, garlic, onion, and several types of peppers.  When it was almost done I ran outside and cut some thyme, oregano, and basil (only because that's when I thought of it!).  Since I know even less about herbs than I do canning I just put all of them in the veggie mix and cooked a little more.  I dumped the veggie mix into the pan with cooked meat and then lightly sauteed some chopped tomato from the farmer's market (mmm).  I added that to the meat/veggie mix and also poured in some white gravy - Can you believe I actually made that first so it would be ready??

I can't tell you how much that lightly cooked fresh tomato added to the flavor party.  When I bit into a piece it was a burst of sweetness and flavor but not mushy.

What's Schoolin'?

I'm almost done with aligning the Chemistry sources for next year and I finally finished sorting out Chemistry links by chapter for Real Science 4 Kids. 

The dc have been reading the Patricia Polacco books that I won't be using for the writing class.  The olders have also been reading her books that go along with our slavery/Civil War studies.  Their assignment is to read them whenever they want; write the title/author in their Reading Response Logs; and respond however they want (and I gave some examples) [Yes, I'm really tough!].  They have been devouring them and I can't get them to stop reading!

Dd's eyes were red as she read January's Sparrow so I told her that at the end he survived and they only pretended to bury him.  She immediately cheered up and wanted more details (which I refused to give so she'll want to read more, he, he, he).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Peachy Keen ~ Algebra Schedules

Peachy Keen:

We were blessed last week with the opportunity to pick peaches at a friend's house (thanks, T!).  I'm so excited.  Unfortunately I didn't have time right away to deal with them all the way through at one time.  We peeled a whole bunch that night but it wasn't until later that I read to put lemon juice on them so they don't brown.  The next go-round I dipped them in a lemon juice/water mixture as I peeled them.  They still browned again (but much, much less) before I actually canned/froze them.  Mainly I plan on canning them but I may also freeze some and make some preserves. [Update:  I'm freezing more than canning because I can't get it done fast enough.  Plus, I can use frozen to make preserves or cobbler later if we want]

I can't tell you how many times throughout the peaches I've thought, "How would Ma Ingalls do it?"  "Oh yeah, she would have actually set aside a whole day for this and not try to cram it in while driving back and forth to commitments and a whole slew of other things.  Cut yourself some slack and just do your best!"

[Another update:  We opened a can of the peaches last night at dinner and they tasted like...canned peaches :).  I was so relieved, lol]

Algebra Schedules:

As part of our eclectic homeschooling we use Montessori presentations and materials; but we also use Math curricula.  In the younger grades (K-6) we use Excel Math and then switch to Teaching Textbooks for Pre-Algebra on up through.... (we'll see how it goes!).  Next school year will be our 3rd year with TT.  I asked oldest dd if she wanted to take a break from Algebra and do a semester of Geometry, then Algebra, and go back and forth.  She said she would rather just go straight through the Algebra [See? Montessori philosophy at work with olders even though following a math curr - get the child's input within parameters].  That should work since we're s-l-o-w-l-y going through R&D's Geometry manual so they are not *just* getting Algebra.  She also (wisely) pointed out that once she's done with Algebra and moves into Geometry she'll still need to be doing some Algebra so she doesn't forget.  I'm so glad I talk to my dc about plans because they usually have insight that I need to hear.  Throughout next year I can be thinking about how to approach Algebra practice during her Geometry year.

Yesterday I was working on my Chemistry plans and going through previously tagged Chemistry links.  This wonderful site has schedules already made for several popular curricula.  I couldn't use those for this year but I was thrilled to use her blank schedule template to put in their Math lessons.  If they do 4 lessons a week they'll have just enough time to finish by the end of the year.  4/week lets them have a bit of slack for those more difficult lessons that may take longer plus the tests (which I forgot to include in the schedule but it worked out anyway, lol).  I have it put in our online planner but since that can change I also wanted a 'fixed' schedule to refer back to throughout the year to make sure we're on track.  That's where her template helps.  Since we're STILL trying to finish up Math from last school year this appeals to all of us! 

Here is our Teaching Textbook schedule for next year.  If you happen to start on Labor Day like we do it's all set for you :).  Otherwise, you can just scratch out and change the dates (I only put Monday dates for the week).  Algebra 1 only has 129 lessons but I left 130 so I could use the same form for both olders.  Below that is the link for her blank template (scroll down just a bit).  If you click on her math tab at the top you will find a wonderful schedule already done for TT as well.  I just wanted it 4x/week instead.

What's Cookin'?

Aside from the peaches, I am canning/freezing/dehydrating like crazy every second I can.  If you see someone wandering around mumbling "Mangoes, must peel more mangoes; how many cantaloupe can I fit in the freezer?  Must cut up more..." it's probably me (especially if she's having a bad hair day). 

I got 6 cantaloupes that were on sale for $1.00 this week.  Those freeze really well.  Last year I thought, "Hmm.... They sell frozen melon balls - Let's give it a shot."  We just finished the last of the frozen melon from last season and it was still good (unless there is a bag somewhere hidden in the freezer that I missed).

The same store (in a  small town) had mangoes on sale  3 for $1.  I got 30!!  That'll be another post :).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Current Sales

Garden of Francis:

Okay, I haven't even gotten my first order yet and I'm already in love with Garden of Francis!  Support this wonderful Montessori Homeschooler if you can.  My favorites that fit my current needs are the laundry soap, the dish soap, and the bar soap. 

I think I'll end up getting the world felt map to replace my old tattered map.  At some point I'll have to accept that it's time to put up the plastic animals that go with the felt map to help push my children into more upper level work (sigh) but for now even the oldest likes to handle the animals.  Gee, I never even got around to marking the bottoms of the animals for the control and it's already time to move forward.  I have to remember that the toy animals are probably not in the 6-9 classes (right???).  Here is mine - Asia always drives me crazy because the seams pop open (I used peel and stick felt for Asia and MUCH prefer the regular felt pieces stuck on with Tacky Glue).  I also wish that I had made Antarctica in the actual shape of the continent.  In the meantime (and if I get around to it) I could just re-do Asia/Antarctica and run it through the dryer to get the lint and such off of the back.

Take a few minutes to browse through their Montessori and Educational items.  While you're there, be sure to look through the homemaking items as well.  They quickly answered any questions that I had (and I had many!!).  To make life even better they have free shipping right now for all orders over $50.00.  I went in with a few people to order before that particular sale started and by the time we had all of our ducks in a row and I completed the order we had such a pleasant surprise with the free shipping!  So, whether you can get in an order before the sale ends, or order after the sale ends on your own or with others, consider ordering from Garden of Francis.  By the way, they *always* have free shipping on books :).  She also has primary and elementary Montessori homeschool guides for sale!  No, I'm not affiliated with them - I just think they are great and wanted to pass that along to you!

Parts of Wonder:

I don't have a need for these right now but they are so beautiful that I thought I'd post the link.  They are 'parts of' cards but not in 3-part card fashion.  Rather, they are the 'label the picture' type of activity.  I have one of this type (but not even 1/2 as beautiful) in my insect box and the dc did well with it.  If the sale hasn't started yet then check back after July 15th.  I'm posting a picture below (with permission); isn't it beautiful?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Patricia Polacco ~ The Perfect Bread

What's Schoolin'?
I spent a lot of time last weekend buried in picture books. I was selecting stories to use as mini-lessons for a writing class I started teaching this week. I have appreciated some of Patricia Polacco's books for some time now but I got totally engrossed with her books and read book after book after book. January's Sparrow literally made me cry. The Butterfly moved me beyond words. We'll be using Chicken Sunday for the class and I'll also be reading several book back flaps to the students showing how they are based on real life experiences. Since the gist of this class is personal narrative, Polacco's books are perfect. Betty Doll is amazing. It's a letter that her mother wrote to her and wrapped in a box with the doll for Polacco to read after her mother's death. Heart gripping. On a lighter note there are the books John Phillip Duck and The Bee Tree. I'm *not* endorsing all of her books, but she has a wealth of excellent, enriching books.  Here are some that fit with the personal narrative study (please preview for appropriateness for your dc's age/maturity/content):

The Perfect (Sandwich/Breadmaker) Bread:

I've been fiddling with a couple of recipes and this is what works for our family. In a few weeks I will probably mess with the flour ratio to get more wheat but when it was flip-flopped from what is posted below dh didn't like it (although the dc liked it fine). So, I want a happy medium of just enough whole wheat but not too much. I can't see us eating pure whole wheat at this time in life, but you never know.

The night before put the following in the bread machine and set it on dough cycle. Leave it in the breadmaker overnight. Alternative for those with no dough cycle: Mix the following in a bowl, leave soaking overnight, and put it in the breadmaker before the next step in the morning. The formatting on blogger doesn't always work the way I want so let's hope that this is readable:
-1 C water (does not have to be warm)
-1/4 C whey
[If I don't have whey I use about 3/4 C milk plus water to equal 1-1/4 C liquid; or water plus yogurt - it all depends on what I have in the house that particular day!]
-2-1/2 C unbleached white flour
-1 C whole wheat flour
-1 teaspoon rye flour
[The rye is to add more phytase to help break up the phytate in the wheat flour.]

The next morning add the following to the breadmaker:
-2 Tablespoons liquid oil or coconut oil (I'm low on coconut oil right now so I've done it half-and-half or all liquid oil; mine happens to be safflower right now - I don't recommend canola based on NT)
-1/2 Tablespoon demerara or rapadura (or honey or your preferred sweetener)
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
-1-1/2 teaspoon yeast

For my breadmaker the perfect setting is "2-3 Cup Basic Bread" and the color "normal."
Here is a picture of the last loaf.  I tried to get a close-up to show the texture so hopefully it won't be blurry.  Right now with my eyes everything always looks blurry so I would have no idea!