Learning about the Borgia family – for fans of Horrible Histories

Brogia Family - portraits as well as a picture from the Horrible Histories Borgia Family song.

We enjoy watching Horrible Histories, and sometimes I use episodes as the basis of a history lesson. Here are some of my notes (and at the bottom, a list of resources, including a link to related math worksheets): Watch the vignette on Pope Alexander VI on Horrible Histories (season 4, episode 9) and the song Borgia Family in the same episode. Note that Alexander VI is the name Rodrigo Borgia Continue reading

quick and simple electrolysis demonstration


My husband has been doing some science demonstrations with the kids recently. Here’s a picture from one of them. He used a 9 volt battery to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. All that was required was adding a bit of magnesium sulfate (Epson salt) to the water and then dropping the battery in. He positioned two test tubes above the electrodes to collect the separated elements. Can you guess Continue reading

Tell your city council that you care about the homeless.

Coun. @dakilgour says lame duck council or not, he won't talk like a "dead duck"... says he gets more emails on animals than on homeless

I saw this tweet today while watching my city council meeting being live-tweeted by various reporters: There’s something horribly sad about it. I have no doubt it is true. There is a very active facebook group ranting about problems with the local animal shelter. I have no clue whether any of their accusations are true or not, and that isn’t my point right now. My point is that more people Continue reading

Superman Grounded: a comic book about despair and hope

Superman Grounded

I’ve read two good blog posts recently on using children’s books to help counter the despair people feel about the world today. One is a post over at Steam Powered Classroom, where Gwyn speaks about how children’s books embody the best parts of humanity.  She writes that children’s books “serve as the proverbial angel on the shoulder, whispering in young ears stories of kindness, of struggle, of the human condition.” Continue reading

thoughts inspired by a children’s book about friendship.

Noras chicks

I had it happen again, where a children’s picture book leaves me thinking about all different things. Yesterday I read the book Nora’s Chicks to my younger kids. The story tells of a young Russian girl moving to the prairies of North America, feeling lonely and becoming a friend. What fascinates me about the story is that Nora meets another girl about her own age fairly early on in the Continue reading

a picture post – flowers.


I’ve been meaning for a month or so to make a post with some of the nature pictures my six year old took this summer. He’s been roaming the street with a camera and then we’ve been looking up the names of the plants he’s taken pictures of. Most of these are from earlier in the summer. If you look close enough, there are a lot of plants that look Continue reading

planning history curriculum based on pirates

a collection of books about pirates or tangentally related to pirates

I am planning my history curriculum for my kids this year. We are going to focus on world history from the starting point of learning about pirates.  What were the different eras of pirates? How did pirates relate with the various nations? What economic or social situations helped encourage piracy? Reading about the topic got a bit overwhelming for me, as I wanted to know enough to pull everything together Continue reading

the importance of “paid journalism” or my response to Sudbury wikileaks.

Something made me very angry today. I read an editorial in one of my local newspapers (The Northern Life). The editorial is defending one of the reporters against accusations made on an anonymous website that calls itself “wikileaks Sudbury.” Wikileaks Sudbury makes me very, very angry. The Wikileaks article lacks anything convincing. Does it say anything beyond that we should take the anonymous person’s interpretation (what the blog wants to Continue reading

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Rose Revere, Engineer

My six year old and I sat down the other day to read Rosie Revere, Engineer together. The story tells of a second grader who likes to gather up trash which she takes up into her hideaway to use in her inventions. She keeps her creations a secret because she’s been laughed at before, but when her great-great-aunt Rose (the Riveter) comes to visit she risks letting her aunt into Continue reading

building community and “homeschool mommy wars”

I watch a number of homeschool Facebook groups and there’s one recently that has had a number of hot debates on topics like curriculum choices, so it made sense to me when I saw someone posted a link to an article called “Homeschool Mommy Wars.” The article was structured with “5 lies” and then “5 strategies to fight the battle” and it portrays homeschooling mommy wars as a set of Continue reading