Monday, December 13, 2010

Dickens December

This year, as one last unit study "hurrah" with all the kids before Rebecca leaves our homeschool for college, we are doing a study based on "A Christmas Carol." I bought this annotated version which has a wealth of extra info:

For our advent devotions, we are also reading "The Life of Our Lord" which is an abridged version of the gospel that Dickens wrote for his own children (he had ten of them) and read every year during advent.

We also read two stories that inspired "A Christmas Carol" - Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Dicken's own "The Story of The Goblin Who Stole a Sexton" (from "The Pickwick Papers"). We are reading abridged versions (or watching movies if available )of Dicken's other novels (just to know the plots) and are watching both a short bio and a long (10 episode) bio of Dickens that we found on Netflix. We are also studying a huge amount of new vocabulary words and "Humbug Grammar."

Our literature studies are going well. Our science studies are going poorly so far. I read on the internet that you could make a great pH indicator from poinsettia leaves. I planned to buy a poinsettia to do double duty as a decoration and a science experiment. However, the boys didn't see the plant in the car when they unloaded the groceries, and it ended up spending the night in the backseat.

Well, one thing the kids learned is that the poinsettia is a tropical plant and as such cannot survive temperatures below freezing. We chopped up the leaves and steeped them:

The mixture smelled pretty bad.

We used different acids and bases to test our indicator (I know, usually you use indicators to test acids and bases, not the other way around). Anyway, the poinsettia indicator was an "epic fail" as my boys like to say. The only thing we had fun with was mixing our acids and bases to make it foamy, and we could have done that with food coloring.

So the lesson we learned from this experiment is that you can't trust everything you read on the internet. Poinsettias are valuable as a decoration only.


Janette Gaines said...

Love the Dickens Study.
My favorite quote from A Christmas Carol:
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."
~Charles Dickens

Susan Seaman said...

Great quote, Janette!

Ann said...

Boil red cabbage to make an indicator. It works great, although it will stink up your kitchen! I make it every year for using in my science classes.

Susan Seaman said...

We've done the cabbage one several times (and also one using turmeric). The poinsettia lesson made it sound like it would work similarly to red cabbage. NOT!