Monday, September 30, 2013

Making Schnapps and Ponytails

One of the best things about living in a foreign country is learning about traditions. In Germany, at least in this area of Germany, making schnapps is an annual tradition.

When we first arrived, we helped make cherry schnapps and this year it was plum schnapps.

 Shaking the trees to get the fruit to fall onto tarps was the first step.

Next the good fruit was separated from the leaves, sticks and bad fruit.

Fruit most of us would consider very poor quality, such as split open plums most people wouldn't want to eat is good enough for schnapps. The only ones that are discarded are those with worms or mold.

These were all good.

Carrying a heavy load to be fermented.

Once the fruit is separated, it's placed into a big barrel to rot. Rotting takes about four months. The container is fitted with a lid that contains a water valve at the top which lets air escape, but does not let air in. Since the mirabelle plums ripened a few weeks before the purple plums they were well into the rotting process. The smell coming from the container was lovely. It's similar to the smell found under an apple tree in the falls after the apples have fallen to the ground. Lovely to me, but the kids didn't care for the smell.

In December the concoction will be processed. The distillery is only about 6 km from our house, so I'm hoping our landlord brings us along. My husband and I were given a few bottles from the cherry schnapps for Christmas. Unfortunately, the kids won't be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors for several years.

On another note, Jemma was thrilled this week when she discovered her hair was now long enough to hold ponytails again. She placed several all around her head. She is doing well. Her medicine dosage was slightly raised again and we will be visiting the hospital in one and a half weeks.

This post is linked to:
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Bloom Designs

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Human Body Unit - Week 12 - Kidneys and Bladder

Week 12: We built a model of the kidneys and bladder.

Urea arrives at the kidneys from the liver containing blood, waste and water. It is their job to filter it and send the waste onto the bladder for removal from the body. David Macaulay's The Way We Work was our reference book for this project.

First we made urea by mixing lentils to represent the blood, water and yellow food coloring.

We used a clothes rack to hold up the parts of our system. The kids tied two water bottles with the ends cut off to the frame to represent the arteries carrying urea from the liver to the two kidneys.
The three parts of the kidneys; Cortex, Medulla, and Pelvis were represented by the colander, yogurt container and funnel. Both the Cortex and Medulla filter blood. Holes were poked into the bottom of the yogurt container so it would also function as a sieve.

Waste exits the kidneys via the pelvis. In our model the pelvis was a funnel. A plastic bag was taped to the bottom of the funnel to function as the bladder. A straw was poked through the bottom of the plastic bag and taped into place to function as the urethra. The kids pinched the straw in two places to stop the flow of urine. They were the internal and external sphincters.

After the set-up was complete, urea was poured into the kidneys.

It collected in the bladder. The blood (lentils) was collected in the Cortex and Medulla (colander and yogurt sieve) for use elsewhere in the body.

Once the sphincters were relaxed the bladder let loose into the potty.

Our other human body projects are easy to find on the Science Page.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Xerses - Persia Unit Study - Weaving for Kids

Week 4: We wove Persian carpets.

Xerxes was the last great Persian king. His soldiers crossed from Asia into Europe across the Hellespont (Turkey) on a bridge of boats. When a storm broke up the first bridge, he had his soldiers whip the water to punish it. Unfortunately for Xerxes, his immortal soldiers, which were though invincible, were defeated by the Greeks. The brave 300 is one of the most famous Spartan stories from history.

After learning a bit about Xerxes, we read a legend about Persian carpets. In The Legend of the Persian Carpet the king is very sad after his prized diamond is stolen. He misses the beautiful rainbow patterns created when light was reflected through the diamond. Carpets were very important to the ancient Persians and are still very important today.

For our weaving project we managed to use five different style looms with six children. 

Here are two great videos for weaving on a simple cardboard loom.
Basic Weaving
Simple Patterns and Designs

The circular loom was created in a similar manner. There is a small hole in the center of the cardboard circle.

This wooden, store-bought loom is similar to the Harrisville Designs Pegloom.

This loom was created from a shoe box lid by adding slits in the top of the cardboard. It functions just as well as the wooden loom.

The Harrisville Designs Style A Easyweaver is a little more advanced. This loom can be used to create items such as scarves and table runners.

The completed weavings were used as doll blankets, wall hangings, and coin purses.

If you haven't signed up to follow Highhill Education by email now would be a great time. Ancient Rome is coming next. Look for the sign-up bar on the right-hand side of the blog.

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* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Grape Jam - Entertaining and Educational - Sept 27

Fall is in the air and many of us are keeping busy with fall crafts. We have finally had a successful jam making experience. Here's what has happened in the past:

Peach Jam - Edible, but very runny (2007?)
Currant Jam - Edible, but very runny - spoiled after a week in the refrigerator (June 2013)
Grape Jam - Success! (September 2013)

 The grape vines in our back yard are filled with both purple and green grapes. They are tiny and full of seeds, but very tasty.

 The grapes were washed and picked from the stem. They measured 5 cups.

Next, one-half cup of water was put in the steamer and they were steamed for about 20 minutes.

This is what was left in the steamer and discarded.

One packet of gelatin, two tablespoons of lemon juice and one-half cup of sugar was added to the liquid and boiled for about 12 minutes while being continuously stirred.

When the contents were poured into the jar (yes, we made one jar), they were very runny, and I thought we had another failed experiment............. but,

The next day it was actually gel and tasted great. The best part is, since there's only one jar it won't go bad.

Since that went well, today we tried making jam again. This time we made plum, and filled five jars. It isn't yet known if the plum will be a success.

What Entertaining and Education fall activities have been keeping you busy?

Last week Capri +3 linked up a cute craft that lets kids make their palm prints into pumpkins and other shapes.

Feel free to link-up any post that entertains kids while they learn.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Multiplying Fractions

My daughter has a riddle she loves to ask adults.

One time a mom made a pie for her four children. The first child came to her and asked for some pie. The mom said "you can have 1/4 of the pie." Then the second child came to her and asked for some pie. The mom said "of course, you can have 1/3 of the pie." Then the third child came to ask for some pie. The mom said "yes, you can have 1/2 of the pie." When the last child asked for some pie the mom said "you can have it all." Who got the most pie?

Answer: They all got the same amount.

Multiplying fractions can be a difficult mathematical concept to think of in terms of real life application. We multiply fractions when we want to take part of something. Here are a few examples.

One-half of a pizza is left over and three kids would like to share it. What portion of the pizza does child get? Answer: 1/2 x 1/3 = 1/6

It took 1 of a gallon of paint to paint a bedroom. A second bedroom of the same size needs to be painted, but 1/4 of it has already been painted. How much paint should be purchased? Answer: 1 gallon x 3/4 = 3/4 gallon

Here's the same problem with different numbers.

It took 2/3 of a gallon of paint to paint a bedroom. A second bedroom of the same size needs to be painted, but 1/4 of it has already been painted. How much paint should be purchased? Answer: 2/3 gallon x 3/4 = 6/12 gallon = 1/2 gallon

Here's one more example.
You want to make 1/2 of the cookie recipe which calls for 3 1/4 cups of flour. How many cups do you need? Answer: 1/2 x 13/4 = 13/8 = 1 5/8 cups

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Walking and Nordic Walking

Both walking and Nordic walking are favorite past times of many Germans. There are paths through the woods, through villages and along waterways all throughout Germany. It is quite common to see elderly people walking. Many of them schedule walking into their regular daily routine.

Often times on the trails elderly people can be seen alone, sitting on a bench, with a walker by their side. I wonder about how long they have been there, how often they visit and how they got that far away from home.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Math Curriculum Not Required

Is math a struggle? Why not ditch the curriculum and play some games?

It's my opinion that using a math curriculum with young children is not required. Learning addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is just more fun with games and real-life experiences and that's the majority of what's covered during the elementary school years.

Skills such as telling time, counting money, estimating, measuring and calendar skills are much easier to understand when they occur in the context of life. For the majority of kids, if they are involved in math related activities they will learn them. Kids are motivated to tell time once they realize that their friends will arrive at 3:00, or they will leave the house for dance class at 4:00. They learn to understand the calendar when looking forward to birthdays and holidays. Measuring is applied with a variety of crafts and they learn about money when they want to buy something from the store. As long as they are doing activities and an adult or sibling takes the time to help them understand time, money, measuring and other skills when questions arise, they will be learned without too much extra effort.

Therefore, just playing math games can go a long way for elementary level math. Once the basics are mastered, decimals and fractions can also be taught with games and experiences.

I've had similar conversations with two different friends recently. Basically I said something like what I wrote above and then listed a bunch of math games and activities. Actually it doesn't take a lot of games. Just a few basics will do. They cover the same skills and repetition is the key to basic math.

  • Uno Card Game
  • War - Divide a deck of cards between the players. Each player flips up a card and the player with the highest card takes them all. Repeat until one player has all the cards. If there is a tie when the cards are flipped up, three cards are placed face down and the fourth card is flipped up. The player with the highest card takes them all.


  • Multiplication War - Same as adding war, but with multiplication.
  • Speed!  
  • Lost Cities
 Check out my Math Page, and these great blog hops for more educational activities.

This post is part of the Homeschool Help series. For more math help check-out what the other bloggers had to say.

Learning Flexibility Via Math - Barefoot Hippie Girl
Math is a Problem - What Now? - Every Bed of Roses
When Math Brings Tears - One Magnificent Obsession
Math, Tears, Frustration, Perfect Arithmetic - Hammock Tracks
How to Make Your Child Fall in Love with Math - Navigating by Joy

Monday, September 23, 2013

German Living History Museum

We enjoyed the nice weather over the weekend and made a visit to the Freilichtmuesum in Bad Sobernheim. The living history museum has over forty structures spanning the last four centuries from the local German area.

The majority of the structures were wattle and daub half-timber construction.

Most of the windows were not as fancy as this stained glass window full of circles which resemble the bottoms of bottles.

The kids liked the high chair with the potty hole built in.

Seeing an oven which contained a place to build a fire from logs was an entirely new concept to the kids.

Our current schedule for visiting the hospital is every week or every second week on Wednesdays depending on whether Jemma's medication has been altered. In the week and a half since our last visit Jemma and the other kids have been doing well.

This post is linked to:
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Collage Friday 
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