Welcome! I am using this blog to share our family's homeschooling thoughts and experiences.

THIS SCHOOL YEAR (2018-2019): Our oldest child, EL, finished her formal education in May 2017. She remains at home due to her special needs, and continues to learn with us when she is able. Our son, JJ, is in 10th grade this year. We plan to homeschool him through High School, and are using a variety of different curriculum choices to complete this goal.

Feel free to follow along!

Friday, December 14, 2018

FIELD TRIP: Candles Holocaust Museum

A uniform for a male prisoner at Auschwitz.

Yesterday, we traveled to Terre Haute, Indiana, to visit the CANDLES HOLOCAUST MUSEUM. It was really interesting. It was founded by EVA KOR, a Holocaust survivor. She, and her 8 year old twin sister, Miriam, were one of the Mengele Twins. 

Josef Menegle was a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz who planned and supervised experiments that were done on over 200 sets of twins. One twin acted as a "control" while the other one was injected with different substances to see how they reacted.

Josef Mengele

Eva and Miriam are pictured on the left as young girls. The other two photos are of their two older sisters.

The entire family was forced to ride in a crowded cattle car for 3 days with no provisions. They were lied to and not told where they were going. They ended up here. This is the entrance to the concentration camp. One track took all the twins and other "selected" Jews to one area. Another track took the remaining Jews to be put to death in the gas chambers.

A photo of several Mengele Twins. They were forced to sit naked while waiting to be experimented on. Eva and her sister were only 8 years old when they were brought there.

After the war, the 14 year old girls went to live with an aunt who also survived. The girls' parents and sisters had not survived.

The girls later immigrated to Israel and joined the Israeli army.

Both sisters found love, married, and started families of their own. Miriam stayed in Israel, while Eva ended up making her home in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Eva's sister had poor health for many years, due to the experiments that were done on her. She eventually needed a kidney transplant (which Eva provided for her), then ultimately died of progressive bladder cancer. Eva was devastated by Miriam's death, but wanted to do something positive in her memory. So, in 1995, she opened the CANDLES Museum and Education Center.

For the first part of our visit, we walked around the museum looking at the photos and displays.

Then, for the last part of our visit, we were privileged to sit and listen to Eva as she told her story. She is now 85 years old.

We were able to get our photo taken with Eva.

This last photo is a bit blurry, but we asked to see the tattoo on Eva's arm. Every prisoner who came into the camps was forced to have a number tattooed on their arm. The numbers on Eva's tattoo were hard to make out now, due to age and skin condition, but it was still evident that a tattoo was there. Eva knew those numbers by memory and told us what they were.

If you get a chance to stop in at this museum, I encourage you to do that. Eva is not only a Holocaust survivor, she is an advocate for FORGIVENESS, and is known to help people in finding their own path to self-healing. Her story is riveting and inspiring.

"Anger is a seed for war, forgiveness is a seed for peace."  ~ Eva Kor

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

BIOLOGY 101: Egg Experiments & An Owl Pellet Dissection

As we studied Flying Creatures with our Biology 101 DVD curriculum, we added activities from Kit #29 (Eggs), and Kit #30 (Owls) from The Young Scientist Series - Set 10

What happens to a raw egg when it is placed into a bowl of hot tap water? Bubbles begin to form, due to tiny spores in the egg shell. See the short video below for an example.

When you have a hard-boiled egg, and a raw egg, which one spins faster and longer? Take a look at this next video. The hard-boiled egg is white, and the raw egg is brown. 

In this photo, JJ is getting ready to dissect an owl pellet. In case you were wondering, an owl's stomach cannot digest the fur, bones, teeth, feathers, and insect shells that come from the critters it eats. So, these “extra” parts are formed into a tight PELLET inside the owl, and are later spit up. The pellet JJ is about to dissect has been disinfected and wrapped in aluminum foil until it is ready for dissection.

The unwrapped pellet. It is mostly dark brown, but you can see a small white spot, which is either feathers or fur.

He found this small skull inside of the pellet.

After he gathered all the bones, we put them in bleach water to clean them up, and JJ began to place them on this diagram of a rodent.

He was able to find about 90% of the bones that can be found in a rodent. He also found some very tiny skulls, which we think may have been unborn babies from inside the rodent's mother. It was interesting to see.

Now that we've finished the Flying Creatures section, we are moving on to learn about Land Animals. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

BIOLOGY 101: Aquatic Creatures & A Brine Shrimp Hatchery

In our Biology 101 course, we finished the section on Aquatic Creatures.

To supplement the video lesson, JJ also read the material in the Guidebook, and watched videos on You Tube about different aquatic animals, such as whales and sharks. We also took a virtual You Tube field trip to a pond and identified the living creatures in it, such as tadpoles, water bugs, and mosquito larvae.
For a LAB, we hatched some brine shrimp, using Kit #29 in The Young Scientist Series.

Here, JJ is cutting an empty sodapop bottle in half to use as the hatchery.

Following the directions, he added the tiny shrimp eggs to the prepared salt water.

We placed the hatchery on a kitchen counter under a light to help keep the water warmer.

In a few days, the shrimp hatched and began to grow. This is a photo of some of them a couple of weeks after they hatched. 

The shrimp are drawn to the light for some reason. Here is a short video of them swimming towards  a flashlight in a dark room . . .

That concluded our Aquatic animal study. We also just finished the section on Avian (flying) creatures, and will post about that soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Volunteering at LIFE Cafe

This school year, my daughter, EL (now age 20 - Wow!), was enrolled in a new therapeutic day program called LIMITLESS. It runs Monday-Thursday from 8:00-4:00. EL has been attending classes there in the mornings to gain some vocational, life, and social skills. She has been challenged at times to do new things that are fun for her, and to also do things she does NOT want to do. She has had happy moments, as well as moments with a few tears; but, no matter what her day has been like, she is still ready to return each morning. It has been a great learning experience for her.

Starting in October, LIFE CAFE' also opened up. (LIFE = Limitless Institute for Functional Education.) It is a small cafe that serves quality coffee, tea, pastries, and limited lunch items. The proceeds go to help support the students who are taking part in the Limitless day program.

One day each week, EL and I have been volunteering together at the LIFE Cafe. It has been fun working there with her, and being a part of this beneficial non-profit organization.

Here are a few photos of EL helping out in the Cafe. . . .

Fresh flowers are brought in each week and need to be watered.

EL is at the sink, adding new water to a vase.

She loves to draw, so here she is making note cards and thank you cards to give away to consumers.

She also made some Fall decorations to place on the tables.

EL and I plan to continue volunteering there in the coming months, and might even get her brother, JJ, to join us soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

FALL 2018 FIELD TRIPS: Apple Orchard & Monk's Mound

Our first field trip this Fall was on September 26th, our annual trip to a nearby apple orchard.

It was wet and muddy out there this year, but still a nice day to enjoy being outside.

Last May, you may remember we visited Cahokia Mounds. Here is the blog post I wrote about it:

On that trip, we wanted to climb the biggest mound, Monk's Mound, but it was too hot that day. So, we finally got the chance to go back in cooler weather. Here are a few photos we took when we went on October 20th. It was a windy day, but it was nice to have the sun shining.

There were 2 sets of stairs. Here is JJ on his way up the first set.
A view of the second set of stairs.
David's legs were hurting after climbing the first set of stairs, so he took a break. You can see him sitting on the bench.

JJ and I met David as he finally reached the top.

A view of the parking lot from the top of the mound. My mom and EL were waiting there.

I zoomed in a bit, and you can see Mom standing next to the van. We waved at her. 

A good view of St. Louis from the top of the mound.

David and me, sitting on a bench at the top. St. Louis is in the background.

The wind was really bothering my ears, so I went back down before the guys did.
Back at the van, I could see the guys standing at the top of the mound. You can barely see them in this picture. There are two dots to the left of the big tree.
I zoomed in again, and was able to see them better.

It was a fun little adventure, and definitely good exercise!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

BIOLOGY 101: Plant Life

For High School Biology, we are using the Biology 101 DVD curriculum as our core. It is a 4-DVD set which covers biology (a.k.a. the study of life) using the 6 days of Biblical creation as an outline. Each segment (a total of 9) runs from 20-45 minutes each, and include plant life, aquatic (water) creatures, avian (flying) creatures, land animals, mankind, and genetics. On the 4th disc, there is also a printable guidebook (reading material), quizzes, answer key, and an accreditation booklet (lesson plan.

This curriculum can be used in a variety of different ways, depending on your needs. I know of a couple families who watched the DVD segments, and then used them as a starting point for further research on a topic of interest. Others only use the DVD as a supplement to a textbook.

As for us, I have made my own lesson plans and we are doing the following:
  1. Watching each of the DVD segments (sometimes twice)
  2. Reading the included Guidebook (2-3 pages at a time)
  3. Taking the Quizzes (but doing them open-book)
  4. Using some of the recommended Labs in the lesson plans
  5. Additional Science kits (Labs) from The Young Scientists Club
  6. A frog dissection kit (coming in the mail from Home Science Tools)
  7. Watching videos on You Tube about topics mentioned on the DVD
  8. Doing some additional light reading from books on each topic
So far, it is going well. This week, we finished learning about Plant life and we worked on a plant lab about seeds, fruits, and other plant parts (Kit #28 from Set 10 of The Young Scientists Series)

We made a small "terrarium" with charcoal, soil, seeds, and water.
A few days later, you can see the condensation forming which waters the growing seeds.

We put celery stalks in water with food coloring.

A couple days later, you can see how the "veins" in the celery absorbed the colored water.

We put a garlic clove in a glass with wet cotton balls and observed it for a week. After several days, it started to grow little white roots.
A couple days after that, a green root was sprouting on the other end.

We also learned that cucumbers are not a vegetable, but a fruit. If it has seeds, it is a fruit. So, tomatoes and pumpkins are also fruits. A vegetable is a part of a plant that can be eaten, such as a stem (celery), leaves (lettuce), or roots (carrots).

Now that we are done with the PLANTS section, we are moving on to Aquatic animals.