Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The map

Latest update:
My new blog is: Lapaz Farm Home Learning

Ok, This may be my last post to this blog because I am getting very tired of all the technical difficulties I have been having lately. Pages not loading properly, inability to post pictures. Toolbars missing. What a pain.

Update:I have been trying for 3 days to post a picture of the treasure map and have not been able to. Therefore I will now officially move my blog to homeschoolblogger.
here is the new blog address:


see...I can't even make this into a link because the toolbar is missing!
Anyway, at the new blog I am going to post the map and re-post Scurvy Dog's Journal from beginning to end (so far), plus our other Piratey stuff (Articles of conduct and scurvy report).

Monday, January 30, 2006

The treasure hunt begins

20th of May,
We sailed many days North West toward the island of Cuba with many stops at islands along the way. Me crew is getting restless wonderin where be this treasure of Blackbeard’s. I cannot tell the men that I do not yet know where the island lies, for they would mutiny for sure. But it is on no charts that I can see. I have decided me crew and I are going to take the fine Brigand that lies in port at Havana. This should distract the men for awhile and give me more time to puzzle over the strange clues Blackbeard left upon his map. When we got to Havana it was mid-day. The brig was in port so we went to the Dancing Bear Inn and while we were there I found out that the ship was to set sail tomorrow. What luck! I gave the men their liberty for the night to spend their money on drink. All except Josh Wright who I took back to the Cutlass with me. There I showed him the map and the clues which were left on it, in hopes that he would be able to help me figure it out, clever fellow that he is.
I showed him the scriptures written on the edges.
Here they be:
Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want.
Psalm 42 As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for You, oh God.
Psalm46 God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.

Why would Blackbeard have written psalms on the map?

And here is the poem- it seems to warn against a shipwreck off the island:
80 sailors lost their lives,
On the 24th of May,
29 fathoms depth, says I,
Are the graves where they lay.

I only hope Josh and I can figure out the clues and the location of the island before the men mutiny and I lose it all.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Writing Process

Did the shredder attack one of Superboy's assignments? No, it's actually an integral part of our writing process. Read on!

We had a very successful day writing a report on scurvy. It wasn't always so easy. Report writing used to be a dreaded chore, a monster to be battled, rather than the exercise in research and organization that it should be. Thanks to Julie Bogart at Bravewriter, the monster has been slain in our home school. I wanted to share our process with others who might be struggling with this.
  1. Choose a topic that is interesting to the student: We are studying pirates and needed a science topic, so we chose scurvy. Why? Superboy wanted to know what his pirate name, Scurvy Dog, meant.
  2. Read all about it: We went on the internet and just read and explored the topic to get a feel for what it was all about.
  3. Take notes: I asked Superboy to make a list of 10-12 interesting or important facts about what he read. I had him leave plenty of room between the facts and made sure he wrote them in his own words (paraphrasing).
  4. Organize: We cut the sheets of facts into strips and put them on the floor. Then we rearranged them several times until they fell naturally into an order that made sense to Superboy. Then we taped them together (see picture).
  5. Polish it up: We read through the facts out loud and he added connecting words (transitions) to make it sound better. Then he typed it up on the computer and we did a spelling and grammar check.
  6. The hook: He added an introduction and conclusion that related to why we were interested in the topic to begin with-pirates. This is the easiest place for him to get creative and let his voice ring through.

Not including the reading, all this took maybe an hour or less. No fuss and a wonderful finished product. Is it a masterpiece? No, but that wasn't the point. The goal I have for Superboy at his age is just to become familiar with the process. To understand that elementary report writing is about gathering information and organizing it in a way that makes sense. I think he is well on his way.

Here is the finished product:

Scurvy: Plague of the Sea

Important things for pirates aren’t just guns and ammunition, gunpowder and swords, silver and gold. They are also fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit to prevent scurvy.
Scurvy is a disease that has affected travelers and solders for centuries. Scurvy limited boat trips because it would kill many passengers. In fact, Magellan lost 80% of his men because of scurvy while crossing the Pacific. Not until 1932 was it discovered that scurvy was caused by not enough vitamin C. In fact it only takes 3 months of vitamin C deficiency to cause the symptoms of scurvy. Theses symptoms are corkscrew hair, bleeding under the skin, joint pain, and gum disease. Untreated scurvy can be fatal, but luckily it is easy to treat. Scurvy is treated by normal vitamin C intake like eating oranges, lemons, and limes. Scurvy grass got it name by its ability to cure scurvy. Captain Cook, the famous explorer, kept his men free of scurvy by feeding them sour-kraut and portable soup. The use of limes by the British Royal Navy gave the nickname “limey” for a British sailor. In modern times scurvy is not common except for in very poor places where the people don’t get much nutrition.
So, if you want to be a successful pirate, bring fresh fruit and vegetables on long voyages. That way you won’t end up a scurvy dog.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Adventure Continues...

Here is the Captain's account of his next battle:
(for those who have not been following along and would like to start at the beginning, go to weds, jan 18)
5th of May,
We are now in Barbados. Me crew and I sailed from Dragon Bay in search of a merchant ship to plunder. Crewman Josh Wright spotted a sail out of St. Georges and we saw that the vessel was a Spanish Galleon, loaded down heavy. We thought it might be gold so I told powder keg to make for the ship. We raised a Spanish flag until we were within firing range, then we surprised them by raising the Jolly Roger. They put up a very tough fight and blew one large hole in our mainsail. Our Bowsprit was nearly snapped in half. We took out their cannons and I ordered the chain- shot loaded. Once the masts were down we boarded her, saw the crew to Davy Jones and searched her hold. We were mad as the devil hisself when we didn’t find gold, but glad were we to find a cargo hold full of valuable spices. They also had weapons, the best of which was a fine Blunderbuss which I presented to Josh Wright as his reward for his sharp eye. We loaded the guns and spices up onto the Cutlass, backed off and blew the boat to pieces. We then took off for Barbados where we could sell the spices. We got a good price for the spices and we bought lots of fruit and meat, plenty of ammunition and powder, and kegs and kegs of rum. We also were able to pay a sail maker and carpenter to fix the Cutlass. When the Carpenter heard I was a pirate he demanded twice his agreed price, so I slit his throat. I won’t be hornswaggled by a landlubber! Now we are ready to hunt down Blackbeard’s treasure.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What's going on here?

What's going on here? Where are my lesson plans? The workbooks? The spelling lists and writing prompts? The "activity sheets"?
Where did our school go?
And where did all this writing come from? Just gobs of it,and well-written, creative, too! I didn't hear the complaining that is supposed to accompany any writing task-I must have missed it somehow.
And why is he reading so much? I didn't require that book. Surely he didn't just decide to read it on his own?
And what is up with math these days? How come he doesn't roll his eyes and dawdle and sigh? Why did he do that extra lesson today and say "This math is fun!" even though I know he had to really think hard to figure out a couple of those questions. Does he have a fever?
Something seems suspicious.
School isn't supposed to spill over into his free time. Why is he making up games to go along with his history studies? He is even involving his sister in those games, and is she enjoying it, too? Doesn't he know when he's done for the day? Where did all this enthusiasm come from?
How could he possibly be learning?
Where did our school go?
I don't know, but I hope it stays there. We are much happier here without it!

Scurvy Dog Tells a Tale

Here be the latest from the Cap'n:

15th of April,
Yesterday we had a bit of rest. As we sat about the bonfire I told the men of me days with Blackbeard.
I was serving as his quartermaster on the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge when she ran aground in Beaufort Harbor. I felt like the luckiest man alive when he chose me amongst the best of his crew to continue with him. I felt bad for those poor devils that he marooned, but was glad not to be amongst them. We sailed on for six more glorious months when the terrible day arrived. Maynard attacked with his two Naval sloops and Blackbeard fell, but only after taking 5 musket balls and more than twenty cutlass wounds. That no-good, rotten, low-down black devil, may-he-be-cursed, scoundrel Maynard had my Captains head removed and mounted to his bowsprit. I never saw such a horrible sight. Most of the men were killed and I was wounded. I was fighting three soldiers with only me cutlass to save me, when I killed two of them, but the last one cut me leg and I go tumbling down into the drink. I thought I was a dead man, but somehow I managed to grab hold of a plank of driftwood, which carried m to the shore of Ocracoke. I waited there until nightfall and cursed my fate until I remembered the map. Before he died, Blackbeard had entrusted me with the only copy of a map which showed where he had buried his treasure. Was the map still hidden in me boot? Yes! I vowed to make way somehow to Grenada, gather some men, and begin the hunt for Blackbeard’s Gold.
After me story the men were more eager than ever to join in the hunt, and pledged their undying loyalty to me. I thinks to meself that I can trust these men. But can they trust me? Only the devil knows for sure.

More to come...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Articles of Conduct

The Captain wanted me to share his Articles of Conduct. All who serve under his command must sign on.

Articles of Conduct
For Those Sailing Under the Command of
Captain Scurvy Dog

Article no. 1
If a man strikes another he be flogged. If a man kills another he will be wrapped in chains then made to walk the plank.
Article no. 2
If a man steals from one another then he shall be marooned or shot
Article no. 3
If one man dares to steal from the Captain he will be shot in the head
Article no. 4
If a man loses a joint he will get 500 extra pieces of eight and if he loses a limb he be rewarded 1000 pieces of eight
Article no. 5
There will be no gambling, smoking. Drinking will only be allowed if we win a battle or while on shore.
Article no. 6
Every man gets an equal share of gold. The Captain and the quartermaster will get twice as much as the men.
Article no. 7
Keep ye powder dry, your guns clean, and your cutlass sharp or ye be marooned.
Article no. 8
Any man to run away from an engagement will be shot.
Article no. 9
The first man to spot a sail will be rewarded the best pistol or small arm upon her.

Until next time...Keep to the code.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Scurvy Dog's Journal, cont.

Here is the next entry:

12th day of April,
After outfitting The Cutlass with what provisions the gold could gain us, we decided we be needing more cannons. Ten is not enough for my tastes. My crew and I have been planning the attack on another sloop that we saw off the coast of Grenada near Victoria. We set sail tonight.

13th of April,
It was a night black as the powder in me gun. That was a good thing because they never saw us comin’. We blew them poor devils out of the water before they knew what had hit ‘em. We had aimed our cannons at their mast and knocked it down, and blew their rudder to bits. They were then dead in the water and we overtook them easily. Away went the ropes and grapplin’ hooks as we boarded the doomed vessel. They put up a tough fight and Spicy Bart took a musket ball in the leg, but my crew managed to send them devils to Davy Jones Locker. All but a few who wished to join our crew of cutthroats. Wise decision on their part, I tell ye. After removing the ships cannons and moving them aboard The Cutlass, we searched the ship for any booty we could find. Lucky us- we found live chickens and a suckling pig, plus many kegs of most excellent rum. The crew rejoiced to that. We also happened upon some fine jewelry that the quartermaster had stowed. Looks like they must have been doing some pirating theirselves, the scallywags! Then it was back to Dragon Bay for a well-earned rest. Patchy the surgeon attended to Spicy Bart and tells me he will be fine once the musket ball is out. I thinks to meself, “There goes a good bit of rum wasted to ease his pain, curse him.”

The adventure continues tomorrow...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Journal of Captain Scurvy Dog

Here are some excerpts from Superboy's (AKA Captain Scurvy Dog) log of our pirate adventures. More to come.

In the Year of Our Lord 1718:

7th day of April,
I am in St Georges, Grenada looking for a crew. I went to the local tavern and met up with my old friends, Powderkeg, and Black-Haired Jenny. They are to serve as my quartermaster and first mate as soon as I find a boat for the taking. The rest of the crew we hope to find in the tavern and around town within three days. I have spotted a sloop called the North Star that I would rather much like to steal. It is a small boat, but looks dependable and seaworthy. Best of all it should be easy to take because all the crew are drunks, even the captain. My plan is for myself and my crew to board the ship at midnight on the 10th while most of the crew are sleeping drunk at the Inn, and overpower the guards, take the boat and head for Dragon Bay.

8th Day of April,
I have found some of my crew I got Spicy Bart: one heck of a cook. I also got Aimer: the gunner. I got Patchy: the surgeon. Jim, John, Jake, and Joe: all brothers and all musicians along with some scallywags who offer to serve as crew. I still am in search of a good carpenter, and a dependable bos’n, along with some more crew.

9th Day of April,
Today was my lucky day to come across peg leg mike: the finest carpenter in the town, and Lucky, who used to be in the royal navy but he be retired. I think he will make a great bos’n and his son needed a job so he got powder monkey, and I also got some more crew.

11th day of April,
The raid was a success. We easily boarded the sloop but we were wrong about the number of guards. The whole crew was on board getting ready for their departure the next day. My crew was scared, but still fought bravely and we were able to defeat them with no losses to my crew. Luck was with us as we found some gold hidden in the captain’s quarters. We are now in Dragon bay where we will stay for awhile, outfitting the ship and preparing for our first ship raid. I have renamed the sloop, The Cutlass.

Next week the adventure continues...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Set Sails and Make Way!

We have begun our Pirates unit! What fun we are having! Superboy is now Cap'n Scurvy Dog and his first mate Jbug is Black-Haired Jenny. I am the Quartermaster, Powderkeg.
We are setting sail in the year 1719 aboard the pirate ship "Hangman's Noose" for a raid around the Caribbean. Our secret home Port is Dragon Bay, Grenada. We wont tell you where we've decided to bury our loot!
Here is a picture of Cap'n Scurvy Dog copying over a map of the Caribbean onto parchment paper using an old-fashioned glass pen and ink. Yesterday we practiced our piratey skills by throwing a weighted rope out Scurvy Dog's window to measure depth in fathoms. Next we will be learning the bowline and sheetbend knots!

This promises to be an exciting voyage! Ahoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Piratey things

So last night Superboy was watching Pirates of the Carribean, yet again, and has declared that he wants to learn all about pirates for his next history study.
AARRGG! I could use a little help in the planning of this one, so here is what I have thought of so far...tell me what you think and PLEASE offer suggestions! I am thinking of maybe 2 weeks MAX. Short attention span, you know...
Here are my ideas:
We already have the Book How to be a Pirate and can use that as a jumping off point. He has already read it, but we will re-read it together and make a list of questions to follow-up more in depth. I am trying to think of other areas we can rabbit trail onto without yet another major bookstore purchase.
We have the book Ship, by David Macaulay, so we could learn lots about ships, ship-building and sunken vessel recovery.
I thought perhaps a little geography of the Carribean Isles might also be in order.
We could learn about some famous pirates-Blackbeard springs to mind, being sort of close to home. Maybe we could read Treasure Island? or would that be too much? We LOVE Muppet Treasure Island, so the story line is familiar.
I was also thinking of trying our hand at some knot-tying. We have some boy scout books that could help us there.
I'd like to figure out where exactly the phrase "Davy Jones' Locker" came from...
We've already done alot of mapping and latitude/longitude stuff, so that's out, but we could do a treasure map just for fun. We've also done compass stuff, but that could be fun to include in the map directions..."fifty paces south by southwest..."
I've found a few websites, here, here, and here, but none that I am thrilled to death by.
And that's all, folks. I am really short on ideas for this one.
So, me hearties, I be needin' some assistance.

Again, I don't want to make another trip to the bookstore, so what I'm really looking for are ideas for fun activities related to pirates, piratey websites, piratey crafts, etc. You know, fun and educational... easy, right?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

more christmas notebook

This shows on the left a page Superboy did on the Miraculous staircase of Loretto Chapel, which some claim was built by St. Joseph himself. On the right is the Wild Christmas Reindeer page. It has a pocket made from a Jan Brett graphic containing an accordian book with facts on reindeer as well as a cut-out of a reindeer with the scientific name written on the back. Here you can see the accordian book partway unfolded (it has about 8-10 pages) and the reindeer cut-out. Although we read alot about reindeer form several books, the reindeer facts shown here were just printed up from the internet and glued onto the book.
The Polar Bear study was one of our favorites. We read Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve?, observed Polar bears from a webcam and researched and experimented. On the left are some photos of and Superboy's science report on the experiment he did on insulating properties of blubber. He included a purpose, methods, results and discussion in his lab report. On the right is the front of a pretty Christmas card we received with an appropriate picture, and underneath is Superboy's Polar Bear poem.
Here is the flap opened up to show Superboy's poem inside. He used the facts he learned about Polar bears to write the poem imitating the format from a children's book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You see? by Eric Carle? I think. Anyway, his was Polar Bear, Polar Bear. He typed it up and after much deliberation chose the perfect font himself.

I'm not sure if you can read the text from the photo, but I was quite proud of his thoughtful wording in the poem. So here is the text again...

Polar Bear, Polar Bear

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you see?
I see a seal popping up to meet me
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear?
I hear a thundering herd of reindeer
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you smell?
I smell my dinner, but where I can’t tell
Polar bear Polar Bear, what do you taste?
I taste a walrus that won’t go to waste
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you feel?
I feel the snow crunching under my heel
Polar Bear, Polar Bear what do you love?
I love the colorful lights up above
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you fear?
I fear an Eskimo with a sharp spear
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you know?
I know the ocean and all about snow

More pics next time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Christmas notebook

I will try to post some pics of Superboy's Christmas notebook. Since we are on dial-up it takes forever, so I may only do a few at a time. Here goes...

This picture shows on the left our story wheel for Gingerbread Baby. You can see the pie-shaped cut-out through which the story scenes are viewed as the wheel turns. All graphics are photocopied from the book.On the right is a mini book with directions for making a gingerbread house. The top Graphic is from the Jan Brett Website, where you can decorate your own gingerbread house.

Here you can see the mini book open showing on one side the direction from the gingerbread house kit, and on the other side is Superboy illustrating the step. About 8 pages in the book with the last page being the final product.

These two pictures are graphics we put together comparing the north and south poles. Superboy watched an Eyewitness video and took notes. From the notes he listed 8-10 facts for each pole, typed them up and glued them to the back of the "ornaments". The right hand picture shows the flaps lifted and you can see the facts on the backs, along with some maps.

This unit was just alot of fun, and there is alot more to the notebook, but loading these 4 pictures took about a half hour, so I will add more over the next few days.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

crazy, crazy, crazy

That's about the only way to describe this holiday season. Although it was alot of fun, I am SOOOOO looking forward to things settling down and getting back to semi-normal around here.
We did get most of our Christmas unit done and it was enjoyable. Superboy did a bunch of neat activities, and we still need to get it all together into notebook form. Once that happens I will post some pics.
We are spending the next few days doing some evaluating of last semester's activities (what worked, what didn't), and planning for this semester.
One thing we know for sure is that Superboy wants and needs more challenge in math. He really enjoys math now, and I don't want him to get bored, so we have begun Harold Jacob's Mathematics, A Human Endeavor. We will take it slowly and work through it at whatever pace Superboy sets. So far he really likes it. We will also continue with our other math activities like the Marcy Cook math, The Man Who Counted (will we ever finish this? Oh, well, we both love it!), G is for Googol, etc.
Bravewriter is working beautifully for language arts, so we will be sticking with that, for sure. Superboy is still happily plugging away at his novel. He got a book on authentic Medieval combat methods to research, so he can add some authenticity to his writing.
Our next science will be cooking science. We will make bread, wine, cheese, root beer, marshmallows, gummy bears, and bubble gum, to name a few, and learn the science behind all the processes. Superboy got an apron and chef's hat for Christmas so watch out for pictures including those!
I'll post more on other subjects as we work them out in the next few days.