Archive for February, 2008

Chocolate Unit Study

I am using the Educational Material available from The Field Museum as a base for this Unit Study. Of course, it is ONLY a starting point – – so there will be LOTS of other stuff I use (and will add on as I go along). 

NOTE: There are MANY, MANY more (and probably better) resources to use with this Unit Study – – I just found out that our Homeschool Group is going to a Chocolate Factory on February 15th – – so, I am putting this unit together quickly – – and with as many FREE resources as possible.

Lesson One : Where does the story of Chocolate begin?
PDF Lesson One from The Field Museum
Read the following Books (only ones related to the topics at my little, tiny library):  Max’s Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells Living on a Tropical Island, and At Home in the Rain Forest by Diane Willow
Watch Movie (from Netflix): Tropical Rain Forest: IMAX
Use Rain Forest Ecosystem PDF to answer any questions
Cut out the “Rain Forest Word Sort” (Field Museum)
Use Word Sort with the “Ecosystem Web Map” (Field Museum)
Tropical Rain Forests of the World Worksheet (Enchanted Learning)

Lesson Two: What is the Anatomy of the Cacao Tree?
PDF Lesson Two from The Field Museum
Watch Movie: Ferngully: The Last Rainforest
Read about The Cacao Tree
Worksheet: Label Tree Anatomy (Enchanted Learning)
Worksheet: Brazil (Enchanted Learning)
Worksheet: Indonesia (Enchanted Learning)
Worksheet: Growing Cacao in your Backyard (Field Museum)

Lesson Three: Cacao Ecosystem Threats?
PDF Lesson Four from The Field Museum
Worksheet: Peru (Enchanted Learning)
Discuss Cacao Ecosystem (Field Museum)
Worksheet/Project: Cacao Web Cards (Field Museum)

Lesson Four: What are other Natural products connected with Cacao?
PDF Lesson Three from The Field Museum
Read and Discuss: How to Read the Food Label Teacher Handout
Worksheet: Natural Ingredient Web (Field Museum)
Worksheet: Chocolate Bar Math (Fractions)

Worksheet: Chocolate Nutrition

Lesson Five: From Cacao Pod to Chocolate Bar
PDF Lesson Five and Six from The Field Museum
Read PDF: From Cacao Pod to Chocolate Bar
Read: “Dipped in Chocolate” (Article from March 2008 Highlights Magazine)
Watch Movie: Milton Hershey: The Chocolate King
Worksheet: Ecuador (Enchanted Learning)
Worksheet: Chocolate Fractions (Need a Hershey Bar)
Worksheet: Sensory Details (Use the Hershey Bar)
Watch: Online Slideshow


Lesson Six: Maya and Aztec Connection
PDF Lesson “How did the Maya and Aztec Use Chocolate” from The Field Museum:
Read: “Early History of Chocolate”
Watch Movie: Mayan and Aztec’s (from Netflix)
Reviewed the different Mayan Script
Decorated the PDF applicable script (for us)
Decorated a “Ceremonial Goblet” with the script
Make Aztec Chocolate Drink

Lesson Seven: European Influence
PDF Lesson “How did the Europeans use and Influence the Development of Chocolate?” from The Field Museum: http://www.fieldmuseum.org/chocolate/education.html
Read: “History of Chocolate in Europe
Read PDF about Cacao and Sugar Growing Conditions
Venn Diagram Number 1: Bitter vs. Sweet Chocolate
Venn Diagram Number 2: Cacao Bean vs. Sugar Cane/Beet

Lesson Eight: Chocolate as we Know It
Read: “The Quakers” and “Chocolate as we Know it”
Chocolate Word Search
Chocolate Copy Work and Picture: “All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt! – Lucy Van Pelt (From Charlie Brown)
Final Test
Make Chocolate Bar (Design Chocolate Bar with worksheet – – then make it with the generic {and SUPER easy recipe})
Super Easy PDF Recipe for “Candy Bar” (aka Fudge)

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Our normal science reading corresponded nicely with the groundhog day festivities a couple days before. Even thought we were a (couple) days late, it was really nice.

Science-Read about hibernating animals. Worksheet about the Groundhog.

Geography-Boo chose ten “famous Groundhog Celebration” locations – – she needed to find the coordinates and then locate the city using the aforementioned coordinates.

History-We read Chapter 4 from An Island Story and the history of Groundhog Day.

Literature/Language Arts-Boo read “The Travelers and the Plane Tree” from Aesop’s Fables, then did the copy work (title and moral). She also did a short Groundhog Word search.

Math-Groundhog Fractions

Quiz from Silent ReadingThe Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto and The Best Way to Play

Poetry-Read XV – “Auntie’s Skirts” from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Chocolate Unit Study-Watched the movie: Ferngully: The Last Rainforest



Today was REALLY hard and stressful – – so, after several attempts, we just called that her “day off.”

Brownie Patch-Watched Movie: 1940’s Movie – National Velvet

Geography/Unit Study-Brazil Worksheet

Language Arts-Started Painless Grammar: Nouns.

Quiz from Silent ReadingJunie B. Jones: Is Not a Crook and Junie B. Jones: and a Little Monkey Business

Science/Unit Study-Boo used a tree anatomy worksheet to draw what she imagined a Cacao Tree would look like. Then, we had a discussion and picture show of real Cacao Trees.



Brownie Patch-Watched Movie: 1940’s Movie – Dumbo

Geography/Unit Study-Studied Indonesia (specifically Java); then tasted chocolate specifically from the island of Java.

History-Read “The Story of Cincinnatus” from Fifty Famous Stories

Language ArtsPainless Grammar: Nouns. Copy work: “The Eagle and the Arrow” from Aesop’s Fables. Unit Study-Writing assignment:Grow a Cacao Tree in your backyard.

Literature-Read “The Eagle and the Arrow” from Aesop’s Fables.

MathMiquon Math

Poetry– Read XVI – ” The Land of Counterpane” from A Child’s Garden of Verses



Brownie Patch-Assemble the “Through the Years” Lapbook

Geography/Unit Study-Studied Peru with a follow the directions worksheet.

History-Read “King Alfred and the Beggar” from Fifty Famous Stories

Language ArtsPainless Grammar: Nouns. Copy work: “The Two Crabs” from Aesop’s Fables.

Literature-Read “The Two Crabs” from Aesop’s Fables.

MathMiquon Math pgs. M-1 and M-2

Poetry– Read XVII – “The Land of Nod” from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Science/Unit Study-Discussed the Cacao Ecosystem – – and how all things within it are important; then, did an ecosystem worksheet.



Brownie Patch-Play game on Girl Scout Website and Food Label Compairison

History-Read “Androclus and the Lion” from Fifty Famous Stories

Language Arts– Copy work: “The Fox and the Woodman” from Aesop’s Fables.

Literature-Read “The Fox and the Woodman” from Aesop’s Fables.

Math/Unit Study-Chocolate Bar Math (Fractions)

Poetry– Read XVIII – “My Shadow” from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Science/Unit Study-Discuss Food Labels; Chocolate Nutrition Page; Natural Ingredient Web

Here is our week in pictures…..


[rockyou id=101886264]

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My friend Becky, at Home Sweet Homeschool, alterted me to a freebie from the Simply Charlotte Mason website.

Three of Charlotte Mason’s key ideas are presented in this FREE e-book, called, “Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”  If you are at all interested in the CM method – – or just want to find out more…..run on over and check it out.

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Humans….we’re a funny creature…..

Something occurred to me today……actually, to be honest,quite a few somethings, occurred to me today. I am always amazed at how people react in certain situations. Are they more positive based – – more negative based – – or more realistic based? We are emotional creatures – – and no matter how hard we try, what drives us is our emotions. When we are emotionally attached to something or someone, logic is out the window. We can LEARN to be MORE logical – – but, ultimately, we are a prisoner to our emotions.

This is why, for those of you parents out there, we tend to act completely irrationally when it comes to our kids. And really, ANYTHING about our kids. Has someone ever asked you for advice on how to handle an issue with THEIR child – – because they had NO idea what to do next? Most of the time, you have a great answer. Then, not long after that, YOUR kid does a similar thing and now YOU are the one asking for help. Why? ‘Cause we just don’t think clearly when it comes to our kids……well, and anyone we have an emotional connection to.

We can learn to be more effective as parents (also friends, mates, workers, etc.) but, first we need to SEE ourselves for who we really are – – and admit that we can sometimes be wrong. Yeah, I know that was even hard for me to type……LOL! We humans, we NEVER think we are wrong – – even if the evidence is clearly presented to us……wrapped up in a pretty box with a lovely little bow. But, know what? Our BIGGEST emotional connection is NOT to our kids, our spouse, our friends….it is to OURSELVES. It should follow then, that our biggest obstacle in this emotional self-awareness….is our self. Can we make good decisions that concern ourselves when we are clearly driven by emotion FOR ourselves – – can we make a ‘logical’ decision when our very essence is on the line? How do we handle those times? Typically, we engage in the now familiar”Bush Tactic” – – the Preemptive Strike. We treat the person we are dealing with as we THINK they would treat us, IF WE WERE IN THEIR SHOES. So, if I ‘think’ you would tell me to jump off a building…..before I would even give you the chance to tell me, I tell you to jump off the building. And clearly, we know EXACTALLY how and what another person is going to say or do – – That pre-emptive strike thing sure seems to work out a lot, huh?

On to the wonderment of the human spirit: positive, negative or realistic?

An event occurred today that was handled so differently by all parties involved – – it was so interesting to see how everyone ‘took it.’ First we received a very hurtful email – – clearly, it was from the negative side of the house. I read and discussed it with my daughter who said, “Well, you are going to send something back right? ‘Cause maybe it will make it better.” Clearly, from the positive camp. Me? I was just gathering the occurrence coins along the way.

Coin Number 1: In order for people to justify certain things to themselves, they will need to change the facts, to suit their own needs. Kinda like the Asian concept of ‘saving face.’

Coin Number 2: Some people are just born a certain way…..happy, sad, mad, etc…….and your scale (or bell curve) is determined by your life experiences and (most importantly) your attitude. Can you change what you are born with – – no – – but, you CHOOSE to be at the high end or the low end of whatcha got.

Coin Number 3: Sometimes people come to the table with their answer already pre-determined – – any attempt to sway it, is really pointless.

Coin Number 4: We ALL have control issues – – some worse than others. Today I learned that control is a coveted item that people will sacrifice their morals, values and even integrity in order to gain (or re-gain, if they felt it was stripped from them).

I am so proud of Boo. She is one of these “Born Positives” – – so any event already has a positive tilt. She is learning that negative events, situations and people are out there – – and she is learning HOW to effectively deal with the issues as the come up. She is learning how to look at perspectives of others – – and how to ‘realistically’ work through the most likely scenarios (of course she is also learning that when there is an imbalance with someone, no matter what scenario you can imagine, the person will almost always surprise you.) She is learning how to deal with her emotions when something happens that she does not like – – regardless of whether or not she is allowed to have her say (with the offending person(s). And while I hope that she is able to continue with this new learned ability – – I sure hope it isn’t that often that she has to face such things.

And you know, this, this is what learning is truly about. I wish there was a category in my gradebook….she would get an “A.”

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I ran across another site that had this – – thought it was really cool – – and figured I would share. I will probably also have Boo do this – – will talk with her about it tomorrow. 

888 Book Challenge

Challenge Rules
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

1. Challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2008.2. Choose 8 categories of your own that you would like to read 8 books EACH in.3. You will be allowed 8 overlaps, for a total of 56 unique book titles.4. You may overlap these 56 titles with any other challenge.

5. You may change your list or your categories at any time.

6. Post a comment here that you are participating, and I will add a link to the sidebar. Request an invite including your e-mail address if you want to post your list to this blog. However, we will NOT be writing reviews here! You may update your lists by providing the link to books read. Please use your name as a label, along with the book categories you’re reading from.

7. Check back here to see who is participating and cheer others on.

8. Participants who complete all 56 books will be in the running for in-stock books from paperbackswap.com. (I have mucho credits.) Overseas is okay!

9. Have fun reading!

1) Physician Heal, Thyself (Self-Help, Self-Improvement, Spiritual)
1) Grief Recovery handbook – – Finished 1/24/2008
2) Older than Dirt (Classic’s, Western, Historical Era Setting, etc.)
1) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – – Finished 1/18/2008
3) For my Inner Child (Juvenile, children’s, young adult, etc.)
4) Walk in their Moccasins (memoirs, biography, autobiography, etc.)
1) Lucky by Alice Sebold – – Finished 1/26/2008
5) Play it again, Sam (Books I have already read…and want to read again!)

6) Tear Jerkers (any book that can make me cry)
1) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – – Finished 2/2/2008
7) What the Heck??? (Books that are not in my comfort zone, i.e.: Poetry, Vampires, Westerns, etc.)8) New to Me (Authors I have never read before) **Obviously the list is not complete…I will keep updating this list until it is done.  Don’t forget the wonderful bookswap resources out there: www.bookmooch.com, www.whatsonmybookshelf.com, www.frugalreader.com, and www.paperbackswap.com.  (If you know of others, leave me a note and let me know!!  : )  Thanks.)

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I was preparing our lessons for tomorrow.  We are studying animals that hybernate – – and since Groundhog Day was yesterday, I thought it all fit together nicely.  Here is the history I found, pertaining to this weather-predicting holiday.  Enjoy!

Since 1887, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club in western Pennsylvania have tried to note the first appearance of the rodent they call Punxsutawney Phil. If Phil comes out of his burrow into sunlight on February 2nd and spies his own shadow, he’s said to jump back down underground — dooming us all to six more weeks of winter. On the other hand, a cloudy Groundhog Day forecasts an early spring. Today Punxsutawney Phil lives in a climate-controlled habitat adjoining the Punxsutawney Library. A local celebrity, he gained national fame in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day (which was shot in scenic Woodstock, Illinois). The weather-watching rodent’s predictions are recorded in the Congressional Records of our National Archive. So far, Phil has seen his shadow about 85% of the time.
The groundhog’s reputation as a weather prophet came to the U.S. in the mid-18th century with German immigrants, known as Pennsylvania Dutch. They had regarded the badger as the winter-spring barometer, and reassigned the job to the groundhog after importing their Candlemas traditions to the U.S. Other Europeans used the bear or hedgehog — but in any case it belonged to a creature that hibernated. Its emergence symbolized the imminent arrival of spring.

But this is really a very old holiday — one that has its roots in astronomy. February 2nd is one of four cross-quarter days. It lies about halfway between a solstice and an equinox.

In Ireland, February 1st is the feast day of Saint Brigit, the spiritual protector of sheep and cattle. According to tradition, she was born at sunrise as her mother, a Druid’s slave, carried milk across the threshold of her master’s house. In the same way, her feast falls on a seasonal crossroads — between winter and spring. When winter is fading and the power of the spring sun is increasing. Prior to the conversion of the Irish Celts, Saint Brigit’s Day was known as Imbolc, one of four seasonal junctions in the pagan calendar of Ireland. It was the start of spring, and its name refers to “ewes’ milk” and to the birth of farm animals. Imbolc was dedicated to the Celtic goddess Brigit, who was associated with learning, poetry, crafts and healing. Many of her pagan characteristics were retained when she was made a saint.

Groundhog Day is also the secular incarnation of Candlemas celebrated in England, where it marked the beginning of spring. Candlemas is a traditional Christian festival that commemorates the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days after the birth of Jesus. It also marks the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple. Christians were observing this holiday in Jerusalem at least as early as the 4th century A.D. By the middle of the 5th century, candles were lit on this day to symbolize the association of light with Christ. Despite its place on the Christian calendar, Candlemas also has pagan roots. The ancient Romans observed the beginning of spring on February 5th — they tidied farm and field and closed the year with a purification festival. The Armenian Church held an ancient fire-god festival each February 2nd. Future weather was forecasted by the behavior of smoke blown from fires lit in church courtyards.

Try this old English rhyme — “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight. But if it be dark with clouds and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.”

Or here’s another old saying — “Half your wood and half your hay, You should have on Candlemas Day.”

In Germany it used to be said that “a shepherd would rather see a wolf enter his stable on Candlemas Day than see the sun shine.” A German badger was said to watch for his shadow. The National Geographic Society once studied the groundhog — and found him to be correct only one out of every three times. One final note. It’s supposed to be bad luck to leave your Christmas decorations up after today.

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Learning happens….even when you least expect it……..at the grocery store, Taco Bell, and Wal-Mart, for Pete’s Sake. Today Boo learned how to handle conflict, evaluate problems and make decisions.

That kind of learning is emotionally draining……so, in an attempt to cope, I turned to “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

Was I smoking crack? Seriously. Who in the hell picks up a ‘thinking’ book when they don’t wanna think?

Apparently, that would be me. Death/Dying……loss……and in the midst of all that…….Life Lessons…..Gratitude. Damn it.

I decide I need a break….my idea….take a bath. Hello, when will I learn to put the crack pipe down? When I enter the tub, I get all think-y and feel-y. UUGGHH!!

FINE!! I suppose what I really need to do is pull out the Grats Bag.


  1. I am grateful for my husband. He works SO hard so that I can stay home and hang with my young one. He is my rock and my lifesaver. One of the few people who has always believed in me…..even in the darkest hours. He saves me from myself. He loves me, it seems, unconditionally. Plus, he’s hot….. 😉

  2. I am grateful for the generosity of others……30 pounds of bologna, 3 pounds of sausage and two boxes of canned goods. Anyone have ideas for bologna? (Yeah, not a typo……THIRTY pounds.)

  3. I am grateful for Boo. She is my other lifesaver. Before she was born, I was convinced that I had the Midas Touch….the last two babies I touched, stopped breathing. Not the ideal “Touch.” She was patient with me – – and never gave up. She loved me through all of my stumbling……all of my re-learning ‘how’ to care for an infant. She keeps it real…..all the time. In a ten minute time span, she can have me laughing and crying. For example, today she said these wing-dingers: In line at Aldi’s, “Is it me or are you getting creepier?” – – Driving down the road, “Her heart may be full of meanness, but my heart is full of love.” – – Me: “Why do you want to do that?” Her: “Love. It’s all about Love.” – – “I am warming up your heart with Joy, ain’t I?”

  4. I am SO grateful that I get to homeschool. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!! Today was one of those days when all of the anxiety of homeschooling is shadowed by the pure knowledge that this is the right thing for us.

  5. I’m grateful for my Book Swap sites….they have given me “gods in Alabama,” “For One More Day,” “The Five People you Meet in Heaven,” and “Tuesdays with Morrie.” Can you tell I am diggin’ Mitch Albom?

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