Friday, February 22, 2019

SIU Day!

Completely by coincidence, we met with three different SIU professors all on Friday. We visited Dr. Karla Gage and Dr. Sedonia Sipes in Life Science II from 9:30 - 11:30 am for our lessons on hemp and indigo, and then Dr. Scott Hamilton-Brehm came to us from Life Science III as a Science Club guest from 4 - 5:30 pm for our lesson on the origins of life on planet Earth.

Thank you to all of these SIU professors who gave freely of their time and energy to help our small group of students go more deeply into topics which interested them. We are so fortunate to have this wonderful resource!!!

You can find my notes from Friday morning at my Fibers & Clothing Week 3 post. Here are my notes from Science Club, and some pictures from our day.

Shibori Dyeing with Indigo - AM


the "bloom" is the name for the top of the indigo vat

Arashi Shibori
this is the one which uses a pole

Dr. Gage lends a helping hand

Itajime Shibori
this is the style that Zac and I tried

Kanoko Shibori
this is the one which inspired American tie-dye

Dr. Sipes begins the dyeing process

items are a yellowish-green when they first come out of the dye

as they react with the oxygen in the air, they turn blue

now comes the excitement of washing the pieces

untying to reveal the final design

Zac's clamp design was so simple but it turned out great!

everyone is in love with the results of their project

Science Club - PM

First we "blasted off" to explore our third planet, the oh-so-speedy Mercury!

The two snow days which have interfered with our Science Club meetings in January and February have thrown off my timing a bit and we will have to look at the remaining planets after Spring Break. We are looking first at, and comparing, the 4 planets which are blueish and greyish. After Spring Break we will look at and compare the 4 planets which are reddish and yellowish.

To "visit" the planet of Mercury, we followed the same procedure as we did for Neptune and Uranus.

For our home planet, Earth, we followed a bit of a different procedure. We had Dr. Scott Hamilton-Brehm as our tour guide and I introduced him by laying out only the lowest branch of the Tree of Life and only leaf #1. This is the most ancient life, the Archaea. I believe that the thing that makes Earth remarkable among the planets is not that it is a "blue marble," for we have seen that several planets share its coloring. It is actually the GREEN on our Earth, the LIFE found here, that makes it stand out.

Dr. Hamilton-Brehm is a microbiologist who specializes in archaea and extremophiles, hunting for answers about earliest life and how it evolved (and he complimented me on our Tree of Life puzzle and how beautiful it was). He led us through many topics -- blending Astronomy, Chemistry, and Microbiology -- to explore the question of the origins of life on Earth as well as whether it may be found on other planets. He stayed afterwards to answer student and parent questions, and then to meet with me about the book we are collaborating on writing together. He and I are hoping to create new curriculum resources presenting more up-to-date scientific information which can be used for the Second Great Lesson in Montessori classrooms.

charcoal drawings of Mercury

calculating Mercury's distance from the Sun on our Solar System String

we're all supposed to call it the Great Inflation instead of the Big Bang now

Dr. Hamilton-Brehm staying late to talk one-on-one with a student
he went back through every single slide and answered additional questions

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Fibers & Clothing Week 3

This block has been so much fun! Here are some notes from Week 3.

Week 1: Wool Experiments, Washing Molly's Raw Wool, Carding & Spinning, Wet Felting

Week 2: Natural Dyes, Mohair & Cashmere, Yarn Store Field Trip, Silk, Crochet Special Guest

Week 3: Weaving, Angora, Camel, Spinning Special Guest, Flax & Hemp, Hemp & Indigo Field Trip

Monday, February 18

Tuesday, February 19

Thursday, February 21

Friday, February 22


  • field trip to SIU to learn about hemp planting & research questions from Dr. Karla Gage and dyeing with indigo from Dr. Sedonia Sipes, use shibori dyeing techniques (Arashi Shibori, Kanoko Shibori, Itajime Shibori) to indigo dye a piece of cotton fabric for each child to keep


  • start germinating our hemp and flax seeds in the classroom
  • look at and feel examples of linen: linen rug warp, shirt, dishtowel, vintage handkerchief, vintage bedsheet, cotton/linen blend washcloth
  • draft and get edits for MLB two-page spreads as needed, add final versions and illustrations to MLB

    Note: Not all children will have the same contents in their main lesson books. There have been a lot of absences for travel and sickness and holidays during this month. In addition, children get to use their individual discretion regarding how much content they want to add in from our field trips and special guests. Here is a list of possible two-page spreads they could have in their books so far:

      Wool Experiments

      Washing Raw Wool

      Carding & Spinning

      Wet Felting

      Natural Dyes



      Exotic Fibers (Angora & Camel)

      Flax & Hemp


    Please remember that you can schedule a student-led parent conference at any time to see the Main Lesson Books which your child has completed. Students can also use this opportunity to give you lessons on the Montessori Math & Language Arts materials with which they are working during their individual morning Choice Time.

  • read "Cotton," chapter XVII of The Story Book of Science, look at cotton bolls and seeds, review Dr. Gage's research questions for hemp and consider our own questions about growing cotton and flax

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!