Sunday, February 27, 2011

Update on my wounded relative who is a Marine

The original post is here about my cousin's son who was wounded (in Feb. 2011): Just sending love to my family and other wounded Veterans.This was what I wrote two weeks ago:
I  have always been extremely close to my cousin.  We're three weeks apart in age and that made us have a very special bond/connection growing up and on into adulthood. She had her kids at a young age and I had the privilege of watching her kids grow up through the years.

My cousin's son, R, is in the military (Marines) and is stationed in Afghanistan.  We found out last night that R lost his leg below the knee when an IED exploded. He's in good spirits and has been in contact with his wife and his Mom/Dad/brother/sister. R and his wife have two young children (almost 2 and almost 3). He'll be transferred to Germany before returning to the US.

 Another quick update: R had surgery (one of many, many he's had in the past week) a couple days ago to attach the muscle to the bone. Apparently it was very painful.  That coupled with the fact that they found a blood clot in his lung, R is having a tough time.  My prayers, love and hugs to R.
I wrote a short post about my cousin's son who was wounded in Afghanistan two weeks ago today. He lost his leg below the knee when an IED exploded. His leg was amputated out in the field. In fact to make this story all the more impressive ...  when his medic froze, he actually helped guide the medic through the steps needed to cut off extra bits/tie off the wound, etc.  Fortunately no one else in his unit was wounded, but our heart still goes out to him for the recovery and adjustments he'll need to endure in the coming months. He was evacuated first to Germany and has been back in the US for about a week.  The kids, hubby and I were finally able to go visit him this weekend and are amazed at how good he looks.  He, his wife and his Mom (my cousin) have been very impressed by the care he has received.  He's fighting fungal infections (because conditions in Afghanistan are so poor), but is making good progress (though he's been in and out of surgery).  We are ever so proud of his courage and strength.

He was awarded the purple heart this past week and was honored to receive it directly from President Obama.  He has had the support of those in his unit, his friends and family -- but to know that his country truly honors his courage and sacrifice... is a comfort as well.

UPDATE: 2015
R is doing well, though suffers from PTSD.  His younger brother, C, graduated from high school and he decided to join the Marines in 2013.  In his first tour in Afghanistan, C was wounded. From what I understand, he was shot in the chest, but since he was wearing body armor the bullet did not penetrate.  He was thrown back, had serious internal injuries, and suffers from debilitating back problems.  He is on permanent disability.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Garden Science, Food in America & a Raisin Bar Recipe

I have been reading a lot of books about gardening and food.  Oh my, I've learned so much about our food sources...  I went on for so long, I pushed my thoughts/rants down to later in this post.

Anyway, I told LD that he could have his own plot in the garden and he could choose whatever seeds he wanted to plant. He is SO excited and wanted to start immediately.  We've been talking about how to get the garden ready, fertilizer and so forth.  We saw in a book from the library, Kids Garden, that we could create our own worm compost right in the (plastic bin in the) kitchen and LD was all for it. That was right up the kids' alley! So, we dug up a bunch of earth worms, put shredded newspaper down at the bottom of the bin, and mixed some kitchen scraps with dirt.

As you can imagine, we've then studied the earthworms, looked online as to how worms move, grow, and help the soil. Lots of earthworm learning!

One thing we learned is that earthworms are not native to America and that they take some of the nutrients deeper than some of the native plants can use (they showed a picture of ferns, but I don't know if they meant ferns specifically). It has altered the way native plants grow in the undergrowth. Since we live in the woods, I found this particularly interesting.

 Now back to what I've learned lately...  I was reading a number of books about gardening and organic gardening.  From there I learned about GMOs.  Having lived abroad, I didn't may the debate about genetically modified foods much mind. (That and I was busy with infants, you know how that goes!!)   If you haven't seen 1) The Future of Food, 2) Food Inc. and/or 3) Food Matters, they sure make compelling arguments as to why we should be concerned about why our food is not labeled as genetically modified. (These movies are available at Netflix and I watched them while running on the treadmill.)  Over in Australia (and also in Europe) food has to be labeled as Genetically Modified (GM), but here the large corporations have managed to avoid having to do that. That, despite the fact that these foods include slices of genetic material from viruses, bacteria, and other organisms (pigs, etc.). Now the majority of American corn and soy beans are GM (and that trickles down to mean that at least 60% of the products in our grocery stores were made with GM foods).  Did you know, the safety of these GMOs are tested by the companies that make and develop them (not our government or a government agency!!)??!!!   These movies also show how many government officials in FDA and Dept. of Agriculture posts have been taken straight from companies such as Monsanto which develop and produce these genetically modified seeds. As recently as couple weeks ago I saw in the New York Times that the government re-approved GM alphalfa despite calls for further study as to the safety of these seeds which had halted planting.

Anyway, that's what I've been doing -- trying to read up and be aware of what our family eats.  I mentioned some months back that I also have done some reading about the problems with high fructose corn syrup (I have a couple links to some videos here)... The thing that I remember most about that video was that drinking a can of coke is as toxic to your system and makes your liver work as hard as a can of beer.  Having had a close relative die of alcoholism -- and knowing that her liver was probably destroyed by alcohol it sent up huge warning bells for me.  YIKES! 

In an effort to know what ingredients are in the (junk) food my kids eat I've been trying new recipes.  These raisin bars are so good!! My kids absolutely loved them... even more than the Homemade Nutrigrain Bars that I've been making.

Raisin Bars:

Here's how I made them:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat (wholemeal) flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (I used the non-instant oatmeal I had on hand)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter (softened)

in a saucepan combine 3/4 cup water, 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 tsp. corn starch. Add 1 1/4 cup raisins. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. (I wasn't sure how long and I did mine for nearly 10 minutes.)

Press a little more than half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of a greased glass pan.  Spoon on the raisin filling. Then sprinkle more oatmeal mixture on top.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

Monday, February 21, 2011

2nd Grade Math: Clock Work & Other Math Work

I saw this wonderful clock idea for telling time at Suddenly 2nd Grade by Mrs. Nielson.

LD has been working on time in intervals of 5 minutes.  This idea is  great, isn't it?! It is perfect for learning to tell time on an analog clock.

I made sure that the kids were able to skip-count by fives. I made these skip counting by 5s mazes that you can download over at our new location,  Free Skip Counting by 5s Activity
This clock activity worked really well.  You cut out the clock face and snip the lines between each hour.  Then I had LD write the 5 minute intervals on the paper below.  When you lift the flap, he could tell what time it was: 3:50, in the picture below!

You can make telling time worksheets at

 You can print out our version of this activity over at our new location,  It is free to download: Free Clock Printable

You might be interested in this free telling time analog clock printable I made (some years after this post!) It is also free to download: 

 Someone asked me what workbook we use for math these day and whether we still use Right Start Math.  I love Right Start, but this year we veered away from it.  We only use it occasionally. Instead we went through Spectrum Math. He is just about done with the entire book, so as we finish that up he also works through a lot of worksheets that I have printed out from the Internet.

We continue to use the free Montessori based addition and subtraction worksheets (for adding or subtracting numbers up into the thousands) that I came across. See the picture below.

And we also use multiplication sheets that practice skills through the 6 times tables.
Here's a photo of what he works through most days:

We have some free Montessori-Style addition and subtraction pages over at our new location,

Free Montessori Style Addition Sheets

Free Montessori Style Addition Pages with Regrouping

Free Montessori Style Subtraction Pages with Borrowing

You might also be interested in some of our other math materials:

Pirate Pack and Place Value Activities

Math Fact Games

Math Worksheets and Games (Addition & Subtraction) - Dragon Theme

Multiplication Worksheet Generator from Soft Schools (pictured to the far right in the photo above)

See you again soon at or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :)
Happy Homeschooling, everyone!!  ~Liesl

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Skip Counting by 3s and 4s -- Active Math Game

LD continues to work on his first multiplication tables from 1s to 6s -- with lots of skip counting along the way.  Today I had him working on 4s mostly. It has been quite a long time since we've done active math games outside and we had a reprieve in the weather. So we set up a chalk math snail again. LD had to multiply each number by 4.  DD had to add 2 to each number. And I helped ED shout out each number as she jumped from square to square.
I got this idea from a very old book published in Australia called 100 Playground Markings and Games by Rhonda Farkota.  It was so old (c1986) and beat up that the library where we used to live in central Australia let me buy it for a dollar but it has great outdoor games!
I was just messing around with embedding a google document. This is just a simple skip-counting worksheet I had LD do today. I doubt anyone would much be interested because it's not especially sophisticated, but I've learned a bit trying to work this out. The numbers get all mashed together in this small window, but as you can see it just has him write the missing numbers. The simple skip counting worksheet is located here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just sending love to my family and other wounded Veterans

Goodness, I've been completely stumped on a title for this posting. Maybe I should have just left the title blank because that doesn't seem quite right.  

I  have always been extremely close to my cousin.  We're three weeks apart in age and that made us have a very special bond/connection growing up and on into adulthood. She had her kids at a young age and I had the privilege of watching her kids grow up through the years.

My cousin's son, R, is in the military (Marines) and is stationed in Afghanistan.  We found out last night that R lost his leg below the knee when an IED exploded. He's in good spirits and has been in contact with his wife and his Mom/Dad/brother/sister. R and his wife have two young children (almost 2 and almost 3). He'll be transferred to Germany before returning to the US.

You will find an update here: Update on My Wounded Relative Who is a Marine

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How Castle Walls Were Built

 We've been reading bits of Castle by David Macaulay aloud together.  It is a very detailed account about how a castle and the adjoining town were planned out and built.  One section talked about how the castle walls were built.  We tried to design our own walls to be as strong as possible.

The drawing from Castle shows how thick the castle walls were constructed. We tried to do the same...

The first time round, the rice made our wall buckle (and break). We learned the importance of mortar in binding the rocks together!!

LD and DD designed this wall.
And we reworked this wall with double rows of bricks and rice in the middle.
Both castle wall designs were destroyed equally as easily by our spoon catapults, but the kids really listened, looked and learned a lot about how castle walls were built. Not to mention that they had a blast destroying the walls!!  I could add in another 10 pictures of the new walls that were constructed and destroyed, but will leave it with this!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Four Alls (Learning about Feudalism in the Middle Ages)

A place for everyone and everyone in his place:

We have been studying the Middle Ages.  We've read lots of books or snippets of books about castles, knights, the Church, and feudalism.  This is an activity suggested in one of the books we checked out from the library.  It's called the four alls and talks about some of the roles people had in the Middle Ages. These roles were 'fixed by God.'  We did one diorama box for each of the four groups in this saying:

The peasant who worked for all
The knights who fought for all
The priests who prayed for all
The king who ruled all

ED loved making the stained glass windows for our Church scene.  She did the ones on the outside doors and then continued to make more Church windows daily! In the lower scene with the king's throne, DD decided she hated her tapestry and wouldn't hang it up, but we talked about how tapestries were not only made for their beauty, but also helped insulate and keep the castle room warm
Activity idea from: Knights & Castles: 50 Hands-on Activities to Experience the Middle Ages by Avery Hart & Paul Mantell

I'll be sharing a few more of our Middle Ages activities next week.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Earth Science: How Fold Mountains are Formed

The most common types of mountains are fold mountains. Some fold mountains include the Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, and Alps.

This activity showed how plate movement creates folded mountains.When the two continents collide, the plates wrinkle and fold.  Here's our activity to show this happening.  It's the same principle as the damp graham cracker we did a few days ago, but this shows the "layers" of the earth folding/wrinkling.

Here's an example of a fold mountain in the Alps in Switzerland (image from wikimedia commons)
Fold Mountains - Earth Science Activity #homeschoolden

This was one of the activities we did during our Earth Science unit as we talked about plate movement, earthquakes, faults and so forth!

Be sure to check out our 150+ page Earth Science Packet!

Learn how to make an earthquake shake table, more than a dozen hands-on activities on the layers of the earth, plate movement, convection currents, earthquakes, volcanoes, and more!

Topics include: Solar System, Layers of the Earth, Earth’s Axis and the Seasons, Latitude and Longitude, Plate Tectonics, Faults, Earthquakes, Earthquake Waves, Volcanoes, 4 Types of Mountains

Here is a Quick Preview of the Earth Science Packet.

Our Earth Science Unit covers the solar system, the layers of the Earth, plate tectonics, the ring of fire, faults, earthquakes, volcanoes and more.

It also includes instructions for more than a dozen hands-on activities we did with this unit. This includes activities about plate tectonics, convection currents, using a compass, earthquakes, volcanoes,  instructions on how to make a shake table and more!

Our packet is $9.99. It is well over 150 pages with the recent updates! You can purchase it below or over in Our Store over at our new location

We did this unit twice: My kids were in Grades 1, 4, and 6 when we did this unit the first time. They were in Grades 4, 7 and 9 when we covered it again (and added to the packet!).

Scroll down for more pictures and information!

When you click on the Buy Now button below, it will take you to Paypal. Upon receipt of payment you will immediately get a link to download this pdf in your browser. You will also receive an email from SendOwl Downloads to your PayPal email address which will give you a link to download.  Be sure to check your spam folder if that email doesn't appear.

Remember, you do not have to have a Paypal account to make a payment. Just click on the line that says, "Pay with a debit or credit card or PayPal credit." That gives you the option of paying with a credit card even if you don't have an actual Paypal account.
If you have any trouble with your order, please contact me (Liesl)  via email liesl at homeschoolden dot com or via our contact page or by replying to the email you receive from Sendowl.  ~Liesl

Note this packet can be bundled with the Layers of the Atmosphere Packet. See our store for details.


Don't forget to check your PayPal email address for the download link!

More pictures of what is included:

Layers of the Earth Activities

Pangaea and Plate Movement Activities  
Types of Plate Boundaries
Faults, The types of earthquake waves


Types of Volcanoes Activities

In this unit, we especially liked these resources. These are affiliate links:

Here is a glimpse at one of our latest packets, the Layers of the Atmosphere: 

Hope you visit our new location at (the links above take you there!) or come visit us at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. :) ~Liesl

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

P.S. We have lots of other units. Here are the links to check those out