Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nature Journaling

The very last lesson (Lesson 13) in Apologia's Exploring Creation with Botany (our new science text!) is about "Nature Journaling."  We chose to do it first, at the suggestion of a good friend who just finished this curriculum, because it would be helpful to know for the rest of our botany studies.  In other words, I'm not sure why they put this chapter at the very end.
In this lesson, we learned about the benefits of keeping nature journals, famous people who used them, and things to include in our journaling.  Throughout this course, we will be using Apologia's Junior Botany Notebooking Journal to record what we are learning.
After our reading and recording, it was time to make a nature journal!  We picked a large cereal box to start.
We got together some materials to make it, including pretty pieces of scrapbooking paper (Maggie picked them out), adhesive squares, tacky glue, a three-hole punch, a ruler, scissors, a pencil, some plain, white paper, and yarn.
She loved this activity!
Can you believe this was just a POPS cereal box?  It turned out so pretty!
Mags couldn't wait to use it!  We headed outdoors and she spotted a flowering plant (angiosperm) that she wanted to draw and later identify.  Here she is, busy at work!
 I giggled at the way she was holding her spare pencils ...
 And her entry was complete!  After she drew the plant and took notes, we went home and used her notes to look up what she had drawn - a spiderwort (Tradescania virginiana).
Botany's going to be lots of fun!  Our next post will be about Lesson 1 of this text ("What is Botany?")  Check back!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Maya

Lesson 16 of The Mystery of History, Volume II, is all about "The Maya."  I was excited about this lesson because the Maya have always fascinated me.  For such an advanced early civilization, their abrupt end is so mysterious.  They were one of the first peoples to develop the concept of zero and they were masters at astronomy.  They accurately determined the number of days in a year and had a written language of hieroglyphics.  (It's because of this language and their extensive records that have helped us to know about them.)  They also came up with my personal favorite, CHOCOLATE!  I was eager to teach Maggie this lesson.
After reading the lesson from the text, we read more about the Maya in The Usborne Encyclopedia of History (pages 180-181 and 280-281).
The following four pictures are from that book.

The Maya dressed lavishly.  This is an image of a Mayan warrior in jaguar skin and the feathers of a quetzal (they lived in the deepest parts of the Central American rainforest).
The quetzal's feathers were prized.  They were a high trade in the marketplace.  Also traded were pottery, tools made from obsidian (Maggie loved this fact since we just finished learning about extrusive igneous rocks in her Geology co-op), seashells, and incense.
 This image shows part of a Mayan calendar.  I was surprised at how well Mags was paying attention to this lesson when she pointed to the number that is second to right above the image of the warrior and said, "I think that's the number 13."  I don't ever remembering have that kind of attention span in history.  I just love homeschooling!
 From there, we dug into this National Geographic Wonders of the Ancient World publication, reading about the Maya on pages 68-71 and 100-101.
This image from that book shows the Maya temple at Tikal.  It was also the tomb of one of their rulers, Ah Cacao.  (I wonder if this name comes from the cacao tree where chocolate comes from?)  In his tomb, they found some of those jaguar skins aforementioned, among other things considered precious.
After our reading, we found this cute little video about the accomplished Maya at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3odJDGKPPTU (below).
We then watched another great video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og0cY1gGWG4 (below).
It was time for a couple of projects!  For the first project, at the suggestion of the text, we made a necklace of beads and shells, like the Maya would have worn.  (Their necklaces also bore the wings of insects, but we opted to omit that part!)  I found beads in our stash that looked the most like the hieroglyphics the Maya used, along with cowrie shells and little star beads since they were such great astronomers.
 Mags and I thought these were perfect!
 She loved this activity!
 All done and it looks great!
From there, we used this Hands-on Heritage: Mexico Activity Book to find a few more things to add to this study.
First, we colored (in bright colors like the Maya liked) this image of Quetzalcoatl (pages 18-19).  (Note the word "quetzal" in this name.)  According to Mayan legend, the god Quetzalcoatl once lived among the people.  They gave him credit for teaching them religion, art, culture, and agriculture.  He preferred gifts of butterflies.  Though he was loved, the legend says that he was driven out of Mexico by a rival god but promised to return.  He is represented as a feathered serpent and was considered the god of wisdom and knowledge.  Remember ... this was before the New World had been discovered so these people did not yet have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.
After Quetzalcoatl was filed away, we got to work on the Mayan calendar craft out of the book (pages 12-13).
 This is so neat.  The toothpicks were added to move the second dial so the two circles could meet like gears.  Even though the Mayan calendar contained an accurate 365 days, instead of 12 months, it had 18 months with 20 days in each.  Five days remained at the end of the year.  (The Maya thought these five days were extremely unlucky.)  When the wheels turn, each day fits into a number.  If you begin on 1 Rabbit, the next day would be 2 Water, and so on.  When you get back to the first image again, you start a new cycle.  This is how the Maya kept track of time.
 Fun stuff!
We saved one of the best parts of this lesson for last, snacking on a chocolate bar in honor of the Maya, who gave us chocolate!  Thank you, Maya!
This was a great lesson!  Hope you can use an idea or two in  your own study of the Maya!

Constantine I and the Edict of Milan

Lesson 14 of The Mystery of History, Volume II, is about "Constantine I and the Edict of Milan."  Mags and I have been studying the vast Roman empire that existed in the first few centuries after Christ's death and how the early Christians were severely persecuted by the emperors that ruled this empire.  But with Constantine I came change.  During his early reign, it is said that he saw a cross in the sky and a vision of Christ.  As a result of these experiences, he did something incredible for the Early Church.  He signed the Edict of Milan that ensured freedom from persecution for all Christians in the Roman empire.  Finally, they were free to worship!
It was also under Constantine's rule that disputes were settled in the church under the Nicene Creed, a statement of beliefs which states what Christians believe to be the truth about Jesus Christ.  We read and discussed the significance of this important creed and what it means for our faith.
Soon, Christian courts cropped up, and church leaders served in these courts.  Under Constantine, these leaders were required to wear long robes (like the Roman court officials did) which is why church leaders still wear long robes!  So, court robes came first!
We read some more about Constantine in The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (page 194).
(Here is an illustration from that page.)
Finally, we completed a couple of pages out of our Usborne Sticker Dressing: Long Ago sticker book, entitled, "The Byzantine Empire," (the same as Constantinople, named after Constantine, and also modern-day Istanbul, Turkey) pages 4-5.
Here is Constantine (in purple) with a bishop to his right.
 Note the bishop is wearing long robes.
This was a great lesson and learning about the survival of the Christian faith despite the persecution of the Early Church has further proven the faithfulness of our great God!  We ask that you please pray for persecuted Christians everywhere.

Other Interesting Aquatic Animals

Lesson 13 ("Other Interesting Aquatic Animals") is the very last lesson in Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day and writing this post is bittersweet ... bitter because we have loved this text so much and have enjoyed it thoroughly, but sweet because it's another text under our belts and we know so much more about this amazing world that God made for us to live in.  We have truly loved this curriculum.
This lesson also allowed us to finish up our work in our Junior Zoology 2 Notebooking Journal.  It is always such an accomplished feeling to page through our completed journals.  Maggie keeps them safely in one of her desk drawers, a drawer just for her completed Apologia notebooks.  I love seeing her take pride in her hard work.
We started this last lesson reading about how scientists define animals -- basically, organisms that are multicellular, mobile consumers (as opposed to unicellular, immobile producers).  Some of the animals in this lesson appear to be plantlike, but because they fall under the "multicelluar, mobile consumers" category, they are animals.  The first one we studied in depth was sponges.  Maggie had a lot to say about sponges in her notebook.  She wrote so much, we had to attach a page.
We found a really fun video on sea sponges at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8a0oNsDEx8 (below).  (I even subscribed to all of this guy's videos, I was that impressed.)
After watching, Mags filled out a video review sheet (which I make on the computer) and we attached it to her notebooking journal.
In our specimens box, we have a sea sponge.  (You can pick one up at a craft store in the painting department.)
This sponge does not contain the spicules that some species do.
Next, we did a Google image search on the common red sponge.  (Here is a good picture of one.)
I chose the common red sponge because Mags has a slide of that same species in her prepared slides her grandfather gave her.  (Thanks, Dad!)  We quickly set it up under her microscope.
Fascinating!
From there, we learned about sea squirts, water worms, bristle worms, flatworms, and microscopic water animals, like rotifers and tardigrades.  Microorganisms are so neat.  I knew Maggie would enjoy learning more about these little critters.  After our reading, we watched the "A Teeny Weeny Adventure" episode on this The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Surprise, Little Guys! DVD.
You can watch that same episode at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thf4dAA2aPM (below).
We recorded all we were learning about these creatures in our journal.
It was then time to find some microorganisms for ourselves!  I snatched up these awesome plastic test tubes at Dollar Tree not too long ago (I know!  I was so stoked!  A dollar!!) and we headed to a local pond to grab some water samples.
This was the place Maggie picked to get her samples.
My little scientist!
Sample #1!
We got our second sample from a different spot.
We were ready to see what we got!
Fists full of microorganisms?  We were soon to find out!
Back home, we were thrilled to see them swimming in our samples!  When I took this picture, the frame had three microorganisms swimming in view.
You can make out some of what we were seeing in the lens in this picture.
Once some microorganisms were spotted, I had her record her observations on this worksheet I made up for times when we use our microscope.
Here is her completed sheet, which we added to her journal.
We completed the rest of the activities in her journal for this lesson ...
... before I had her write a paragraph telling of her favorite thing we learned about from Zoology 2.  I put together this sheet for her to write it on.
Her favorite lesson was the one on crustaceans (Lesson 8).  She still can't get over the hilarious mating dance of the fiddler crab!
Finally, it was time to add the last few ocean creatures to our ocean box.  Here, Mags is making a sponge.
 Daddy made her a flatworm ...
 ... and these neat tubeworms.
 They went into the ocean box with everything else and then we were able to admire our completed project.
 Once done, we moved it to a high place on a bookshelf so it's not a temptation for our naughty kitties.  I think Mags did a great job!
And so that's a wrap!  Zoology 2 has been our favorite Apologia science to study so far.  As I write this, we have just today started the Botany text, so if you are following our Apologia posts, stay with us because these posts will continue.  Happy studying!