Category Archives: curriculum

Ride along, CBI field trip



Rachel Carson – 1907-1964

When marine biologist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, she changed the way we think about the environment. Throughout her life, Carson showed talent in both writing and the sciences; Carson earned a master’s degree in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932 and began working as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. She earned a National Book Award for her 1951 book The Sea Around Us, but it was Silent Spring that launched her into a role as a literary celebrity and reformer.

Silent Spring exposed environmental issues to the U.S. public for the first time. Carson documented the adverse effects of synthetic pesticides for humans and wildlife, revealed that the chemical industry was spreading lies and misinformation, and accused U.S. officials of negligence in accepting the use of pesticides without fully examining the harmful effects. Carson’s book outraged the public and led to a nationwide ban on DDT, a cancer-causing insecticide. The Environmental Protection Agency also owes its existence to Carson’s influence, as her book caused citizens and the government to be more environmentally conscious.

School today – Practical math (combinations and permutations, also finished population regression models), Chemistry (periodic table), Forensics (footwear and tire marks), British Lit (writing to a prompt)

English (complex or flat characters), Algebra (functions), World history (China’s Song and Tang dynasties), Astronomy (inner planets), Earth science (Earth’s history), Criminal justice (evaluating justice ethics)

Hannah went for her afternoon ride along, Officer P had a good afternoon. They pulled over 2 cars, went to a 911 call, went to check on an abandoned car and responded to 2 hotel calls.

Hannah liked the officer and said the afternoon ride along was a lot better than the morning one. Jack and I went on a cold Harriet hike.

Thursday –


Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer

Ada Lovelace was the only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron, one of England’s most famous poets. Her parents separated shortly after Ada’s birth, and Byron left England. He died in Greece a few years later. Although she never knew her father, Byron’s legacy greatly influenced Ada’s upbringing. Her mother was paranoid that she would inherit her poet father’s erratic temperament, and made sure that she was tutored in mathematics and science.

At the age of 12, Lovelace conceptualized a flying machine.
After studying the anatomy of birds and the suitability of various materials, the young girl illustrated plans to construct a winged flying apparatus before moving on to think about powered flight. “I have got a scheme,” she wrote to her mother, “to make a thing in the form of a horse with a steam engine in the inside so contrived as to move an immense pair of wings, fixed on the outside of the horse, in such a manner as to carry it up into the air while a person sits on its back.”

When Ada was 17, her mentor Charles Babbage showed her the prototype for his ‘Difference Engine,’ the world’s first computer. In 1842, Babbage asked Lovelace to help translate an article about the plans for his newest machine, the ‘Analytical Engine.’ She appended a lengthy set of notes to her translation, in which she wrote an algorithm that the engine could use to compute Bernoulli numbers.

While the extent of her original contribution is disputed, her code is now considered the world’s first computer program. Lovelace foresaw the multi-purpose functionality of the modern computer. Although Babbage believed the use of his machines was confined to numerical calculations, she mused that any piece of content—including music, text, pictures and sounds—could be translated to digital form and manipulated by machine. Lovelace wrote that the analytical engine “might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations… Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of [mathematical] expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

After school we went to the CBI Forensic lab on a field trip with school (we use an on-line K12 school, Destinations Career Academy of Colorado.)

Jack and I went on a sunset Harriet hike.

Friday –


Sarojini Naidu 1879-1949

Sarojini Naidu, also known as Sarojini Chattopadhyaya, was a famous Indian poet and a major freedom fighter who went on becoming the first Indian woman to be appointed the president of the Indian National Congress and the Governor of any state in India. Most of all, she was a noted child prodigy and a master of children’s literature. Naidu was given a sobriquet Bharat Kokila (The Nightingale of India) on account of her beautiful poems and songs. Some of her best books that established her as a potent writer include The Golden Threshold, The Gift of India, and The Broken Wing.

An active participant of the Indian Independence movement, Naidu joined the national movement taking Gandhi’s call and joined him in the popular Salt March to Dandi. With the Indian Independence in 1947, Sarojini Naidu was made the Governor of the Uttar Pradesh in the wake of her contribution to the movement.

We did school and I went to the doc to get knee shots. Wow, it was a bit painful at first, but by the evening it was better. Jack and I went to Chatfield for a Harriet hike.

Then we went to see the horses around Highlands Ranch.



So, Not Back To School is something that homeschoolers say. Because if you go ‘back’ to school, then at some point you stopped, then started again. If you do school as life, then you never stop learning, so you never go back, you just are. Grades change, things get harder, but you don’t stop and start, you just flow from one thing to the next. So, my students for now are:

Captain Jack, Pirate Puppy Kindergarten. Sure, he’s cute, but he has to be watched like a hawk or he’ll get into trouble.

Hannah, grade 8, English, Math, Social studies, Joy Hakim’s science series, Life of Fred, Handbook of Nature Study, various other books and audiobooks, documentaries, lectures, library events, co-ops, and life.

Grace, 11th grade, English 3, Algebra 2, Biology, Digital arts, World history, AgriScience livestock and poultry, River Watch, Handbook of Nature Study, lectures, co-ops, library events, documentaries, other books and audiobooks, life.

I hate to perpetuate the stereotype, but they did school in their pajamas.

Our learning space changed a bit.

Jack is alert…..and not.

Some of our curriculum that isn’t on-line.

Day in the life {Monday}


I decided to do a day in the life for every day this week. Because picking one day just isn’t fair and it’s hard to pick which one – will it be the day we did school as planned, the day we didn’t? This way anything can happen.

Just so you know, I don’t plan our school days, I plan all the fun stuff and we fit learning in when and wherever.

So, this morning I rolled out of bed at 7am, a bit early for me. I made some S’more muffins, let the dog out, got a load of laundry started, cleaned the kitchen and got Grace’s CC session questions downloaded from last week. We are going through the book of Daniel in church and it would be a lie to say that I read my Bible this morning – so, no, I didn’t read it or color a verse (I have a coloring devotional Bible.) But, I had the intention of doing it. I did pray for a friend who was going into surgery and my friends and family in TX who are flooded or might be flooded (my Mom is on vacation in WI, so she’s waiting to come back.) I also prayed that the cat would not throw up today (it worked!)

Grace woke up first, she usually does, and she started with Geometry which was a lesson on transformations.

She checked into PE and did a fitness log, in Physical science there was reading and a quiz on the scientific process.

In Agriculture science she watched a video about Chesapeake bay and answered some lab questions about it.

There was a break day in English, so she did nothing in that class. In History there was a reading assignment and quiz on exploration and colonization.

Hannah woke up and came downstairs and started on English while I packed our lunch, made sure the water shoes, tubes and towels were in the car for park day and the chutes. Hannah only has 3 courses on-line through K12 and I do everything else. Which means that I don’t have her History book yet, but she does have a ukulele and music! For English she was reading about Robert Frost and then reading and summarizing one of his poems.

For Science she had to read about the challenges of life and in Pre-Algebra she freaked out when she saw letters and numbers mixed together!

I tried to calm her down, but she was yelling at Grace, “Did you see this? I can’t believe my math has letters in it now? Did you do this in 7th grade? Why did it start this year?!”


We headed to the park for park day, one other family came so the Mom and I talked and my girls read their books while her son engaged in our conversation. They didn’t want to get wet in Bear creek (we were headed to the chutes), they didn’t want to swing or walk to the turtle pond, so they just sat and read. After an hour we said bye and headed over to Golden to swim/tube in the chutes in Clear creek.

We have to take advantage of every warm day, at this point the temperature will start to go down and once it drops under 56…no more chutes for the year. There must have been some people diving for stuff already, all Grace found was a bent piece of metal and some fish.

We swam/tubed for 2.5 hours, then went to Starbucks to get a hot drink (well, Grace and I did, Hannah got a frappacino.)

Back at home we showered, I ran to the store to get some dinner stuff and flowers and dessert for a friend up the street (she goes in for surgery tomorrow, then chemo.) I figured people always give you stuff after surgery, but not before it. Dinner was pork chop suey and it was pretty good.

The co-op board opened up for people to sign up, the only one I was worried about was the sew a sampler, I know just what I’m sewing! I cleaned up after dinner, the girls gave Maisy a bath (and for some reason she looked worse after it.) Bethany is off house sitting so we won’t see her until the 5th, it’s weird not having her here. Grace and Hannah ended up practicing piano and ukulele, playing with their new LPS and trying to upload a video (without success.) James had to work late, computer upgrade problems at work, so I ended up writing this and reading my book.

That’s all for today!



Ahh, finally, my fractal co-op was today. We talked about why fractals are cool (because they are relatively new, Mandelbrot only named them ‘fractals’ in 1975.)


We went over the math for fractals:


The area is:


We talked about complex numbers and how you would graph them on a complex plane (care to do it by hand – go here to find out how.) We talked about how a fractal tree starts with one stem, breaks into 2, then 4 and so on, kind of like your family tree. I passed out some of my Mandelbrot set postcards, they are very cool. We watched this Vi Hart video to see binary trees, fractals and Sierpinski triangles.

If you want to try fraction fractals, watch this video.

Watching the binary video led us to the Sierpinski triangle, I printed out some 1/2″ triangle graph paper from here and we drew Pascal’s triangle onto it and then colored in sections and…voila!

You have Sierpinski’s triangle. (Pascal’s triangle has some amazing number qualities in itself besides the fact that you can doodle a fractal out of it, check out more about Pascal’s triangle here.)

We went here and looked at a Mandelbrot set fractal generator (it’s fractal generator number one.) I put it on the projection screen and the kids pointed to the area they wanted me to zoom into.

We did CD fractals with paint. Just get a CD case and take it apart (so that you can put 2 flat sides together.)

Put small amounts of paint on one side, slap the other side on, squish and pull apart.

We did the same thing with paper, place paint on one side, squish, pull apart.

The CD cases came out very cool, some looked like leaves, coral reefs, brains, trees, flowers. We ended with some examples of fractals, like these.








Fractals are fun, cool, interesting, amazing and you can find them all around!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (And…certifried!)


Today I had my Clay Chinese New Year creations co-op. Whew, long title.



What it meant is that we read a book about Chinese New Year, listened to Chinese music and created dragons (for good luck) or snakes (this is the Year of the Snake) or any other animal on the Chinese calendar.

Chinese dragons don’t have wings, but some of the books I got had regular winged dragons, so we had a few of those.

Here’s a horde of snakes that eventually became 1 snake and 1 dragon.

Monkeys, rabbits, and snakes..oh my!

The kids were very creative and took their time or smashed their clay and started over (and over again in Hannah’s case.)

This is not a Chinese calendar animal, I think it looks like Wilson from the Castaway movie.

I found these cool feathers and they were used on just about every clay creation.

We used the Crayola air dry clay and I really liked it. When it dried out, you just added a dab of water and went on. If it cracked you could smooth it over with a dab of water and if something fell off you reattached it with a dab of water. It takes 2-3 days to dry, the smaller pieces are almost dry now. Everyone took their pieces home and will paint them there, it was going to be difficult to transport pieces back to the library to paint.

After the co-op the Moms chatted for awhile and then I raced home. I dropped off the girls and got dressed for my educator’s evening at the Fed. It said business casual and I figured holey jeans would give me away as a homeschooler, so I put on some black pants, put on earrings, put my hair in a bun and grabbed my black sweater – teacher’s look out! The traffic was horrible, but I eventually made it downtown. We had a Chinese New Year dinner (funny, since I had just had a co-op about it) and I grabbed every free resource that was offered (typical homeschooler!) I sat and listened to a lady from the Fed give a talk about US and Colorado economics, GDP, FOMC, taxes, job creation, unemployment and more. When the evening was over I was ‘certifried!’ (It’s from a cartoon.) I now have 2.5 hours of ‘professional development training on economic education and the national and regional economy’ from the Federal Reserve Back of Kansas City (Denver branch.)


What we’re using for Latin


Bethany asked me the other day if we were going to be doing Latin again. We started with it last year, kind of tapered off and then had a break. So, we got back to the books with our main book:


And this book from the library:


The girls love this book and the songs that go with it. They were singing –

Here comes magistra,
Salve, salve!
Teach the discipuli!
Students, students!
Away goes magistra,
Vale, vale!
Goodbye, discipuli!
Goodbye, students.

You can see a sample of the chapters here. I’m working on matching vocabulary words (just index cards with English on one and Latin on the other) and I need to find their old Latin notebooks.

Sounds like fun, Vale!