Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Carnival of Homeschooling - Learning About the Autumnal Equinox

When I or my kids get really interested in a subject, we easily find ourselves taking rabbit trails and seeing where they lead. This is how this carnival developed. I was looking for a few pictures and links about the autumnal equinox, taking place today – September 22nd – at 5:18pm EST. I was thinking something along the lines of this:

And a cool informational link.

But Google can be a dangerous thing, and before I knew it (about 6 hours later - including having to break to teach and eat and stuff), I had three pages of links, and my kids had heard pretty much everything they'd ever want to hear about the autumnal equinox and autumn in general. To redeem my "virtual wanderlust," here is an entire school day's worth - from science to recess - of anything and everything you would ever possibly want to know about autumn, the autumnal equinox, and homeschooling.


Scientifically speaking, an equinox is "either of two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect."We common folk just refer to it as the "first day of fall" (or spring) or the two days a year when the lengths of the day and night are roughly equal. Today is the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. Men have been fascinated by the movements of the sun, moon, and stars for thousands of years. They developed myths to explain the whys of what they observed. Now we know that these changes are caused by the Plane of the Elliptic and the Earth's Precession.

Rachel, over at quirkymomma.com, has some great hyperbolic pressure experiments designed as Bubble Art.

Don't forget to enter your latest science project in the science fair! Sprittibee discovered that science fairs aren't all that scary... especially if your kids do all the work.

Did you know that hanging out outside and stargazing is good for the soul? The Juggling Paynes know that being out in nature makes you Naturally Nice.

No one is quite sure what is causing the Japanese "jellyfish invasion", but Mia is concerned that people are going to have to resort to peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches if it keeps up.

Maybe at your house, like at mine, it's been too cloudy to study the moon and stars. Well, Amy at Hope is the Word is here to help with some fiction and non-fiction books to guide you in your study of the clouds.

Take your science studies from macroscopic to microscopic and learn what's behind mitochondrial disease and how to encourage research for treatment and/ or a cure at Special Needs Homeschooling.

Don't forget the field trip! Stephanie and her family took their Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood all the way to Carter Caves for some exploring. (And don't forget to follow the rabbit trail to discover why some of the caves were closed... white nose disease.)

And bring your nature journals with you on your excursions. Lara, the Texas Homesteader, can give you some nature journal tips.

Stephanie, from All About Homeschool, loves the flexibility that homeschooling provides to follow rabbit trails. It's a wonderful way to learn about the world's great inventions, like telescopes and chocolate.

Stephanie and I aren't the only ones thankful for homeschooling flexibility. Check out what Jacque and her family are thankful for learning - and they didn't plan a bit!

One can be too flexible, however, and let life completely derail schooling. The Mrs. Multivitamin offers some practical steps to keep us from submarining our education efforts.


Equinoxes aren't just an excuse to study science. There's a lot of history to be uncovered, as well. For example, on this day, September 22nd, in:

1692 - the last 8 victims of the Salem Witchcraft Trials were hung

1776 - patriot Nathan Hale uttered his famous last words, just before being hung as a spy by the British: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

1862 - Abraham Lincoln issues the first executive order of the Emancipation Proclamation

1964 - Fiddler on the Roof opens on Broadway

1973 - Henry Kissinger is sworn in at Nixon's Secretary of State

You could also head on over to the Daily Planet and learn about the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.

Are there still Navajo in the US? Where? Check out the interactive US History Map over at The Choosy Homeschooler.

Want to springboard from the interactive history map and learn more about the pioneers? Heather's got you covered (for free) over at The Mac Rak.

What states were formed from the land bought in the Louisianna Purchase? Find out with these online state history lessons offered up by the Dixon family.

Did you celebrate Constitution Day on September 16th? It's not too late. You'll find some great resources over at Praiseworthy Things.

Grab your passport and head to Mexico with Jennifer and her brood at For Such A Time As This using My Father's World.


"So, what exactly determines the precession of the equinoxes?"you ask. Have you really been wondering that since science class? Fortunately for you, just a few simple math problems will answer that question.

Too easy? Maybe you should be getting ready for the AP exam. Susan, at Online Colleges, has some resources so you can prepare (not that you need it).

The AP exams can help you get into college, but they can't help you pay for them. Barbara Frank explains how teaching delayed gratifaction when children are young is a must for helping them learn the value of saving and spending wisely as they grow into financial independence.

With these multi-page math problems and studying for AP exams, your middle and secondary student's school days are getting longer. School can't be done by lunchtime anymore. You, like Katherine at No Fighting, No Biting!, may need an attitude adjustment to survive.


Whew! Time for a break. We've been working hard! Let's have some fun and games, shall we? But before we begin, let's try a few of Party Games For Girls' icebreakers so we can get to know each other better.

Alright, time for some games. Apparently Britain is the place to be if you want to play equinox games. First, let's play the Earth, Sun, and Moon Game. How did you do? Are you ready to tackle the BBC Sun and Moon Game? Yes? Then let's go!

No fights broke out on the playground, I hope. Oops. Looks like something was going on over at The Learning Curve. Good thing the teacher unable to prevent the fight schooled this homeschooling family in the benefits of traditional school socialization. The Homeschooling Physicist makes some observations on the desire of American culture to have independent children (like those just observed on the play ground) vs. the desire of Chinese parents to have dependent children who become independent adults. Where do homeschoolers fit in with these opposing mindsets?

Sometimes the playground battles are internal... like when girls start to compare themselves to other girls. Do I have too many pimples? Am I too fat? Too thin? Becca provides some Inspiration for Mothers on helping our girls develop a positive (realistic) body image.

It was a bit of a rough day on the playground, but Chirstin is ready to calm us all down with some stick puzzles for preschoolers.


Back to our studies with a little English. First, some etymology:

The word "equinox" comes from the Latin æquinoctium or æquus (equal) + nox (night). The origins of the words "autumn" and "fall," at least the way we use them, aren't as clear-cut. We get the word "fall" (the season) not from the Old English fyll (which means "to fall from a great height") but from the Old Norse fall, which also means "to fall from a great height," but apparently in Old English speakers decided to adopt the differently spelled and pronounced fall to mean "the

falling of leaves" and maintained fyll to maintain its original meaning. Eventually, we adopted fall to cover both meanings. The term "autumn" is easier to nail down in terms of first usage, but is less clear in terms of original meaning. It is first seen in English usage as autompne by Chaucer in his translation of Boethius' De Consolanione Philosophiae. Although the original work is written in Latin, Chaucer appears to have borrowed the term from a French translation. He understood the term to mean "the last days of summer." (I found this information to be particularly fascinating and tried reading Chaucer's translation myself. Why don't you give it a try?)

My teaching tip of the week: look up the origin of words you use everyday and encourage your children to do the same. Want some more great teaching tips? Have one you'd like to share? Go to I Want To Teach Forever and check out or contribute to the 52 Teachers, 52 Lessons Project.

When you are done delving into the past work of others, spend some time creating your own. Nikki shares her family's Joy in the Journey of writing and producing their own play.

Now that you've written your own play, would you like to learn some more about writing? Maybe even write an entire novel in a month?! Tristan at Our Busy Homeschool has the info you need to participate in NaNoWriMo's Young Writer's Program this year. November is coming up fast. Hope to see you over at NaNoWriMo.


The obvious transience of Autumn has long inspired poets. Robert Louis Stevenson' Autumn Fires has been included in A Child's Garden of Verses and would make a wonderful memorization project. Or discuss the symbolism of the autumnal images in Mary Howitt's Cornfields.

Most homeschoolers have large personal libraries and make frequent trips to the local library. Now, The Suburban Wife adds to our library addiction with a free trial to an online library.

If you finish reading the carnival today and find yourself longing for more information about homeschooling, check out these suggestions by Debbie at Debbie's Digest. Or read about a veteran homeschooler, Carolyn of Guilt-Free Homeschooling, over at The Frugal Homeschooling Mom.

Do you have a child at home who would love to read books about autumn or anything and everything else but just can't quite overcome the transition from non-reader to reader? Aimee encourages you to hang-in-there. She knows what you are going through; she's been there before and wants you to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Stephanie Meyer's Twilight has been a hit for many looking for a fun, casual read. Being a typical homeschooler, however, the self-proclaimed Weird, Unsocialized Homeschooler knows there is a unit study in there somewhere.

When you finish reading Twilight, Carol at Online College has a list of the 100 Best Book Review Blogs to get you started in your search for your next great read.

Did you know that the Precession of the Equinox will move through all twelve signs of the Zodiac... of course, it will take 26,000 years. It won't take us nearly that long to read some of the myths associated with the constellations of the zodiac. And if you find that interesting, here are the myths behind all 88 constellations.

Want to have your child write a summary of one of the myths but her handwriting isn't up to snuff? Just have her draw a picture... or let her write a summary anyway. You may be cringing at her handwriting today, but tomorrow that summary with the backwards "e" and the word "constantations" could become one of your most prized possessions. It's true; Susan told me.


Hungry yet? Now that autumn is here, the bounty of the harvest will be evident everywhere. Today's lunch (last night's leftovers) includes pork chops with Honey-Fried Pears, Pumpkin Soup (that was cooked in it's shell), and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fried Apples and Onions. Mmmmm.

Wonder what will be for lunch tomorrow? Maybe have breakfast for lunch! Who wouldn't like pancakes for lunch? I wonder how many different ways there are to make pancakes? Jolanthe of Homeschool Creations points out

that not everyone makes pancakes the same way, and homeschooling is a lot like making pancakes.

Today, you have my permission to play with your food. Can you balance an egg on end? Many people think that the presence of the equinox makes this trick easy as cracking a few eggs. Click on the picture to learn the science behind this phenomenon... if there is any.

Art & Music

Not all learning comes directly. Here at the carnival, I have hung three well-known paintings which share a common autumnal theme. (Alright, I confess, one does not have an obvious autumnal theme, but it is my favorite painting and always makes me think of looking for constellations for a school project in late fall when I was a kid... it was really cold; definitely not a "shirts-off" affair.) You can either just enjoy their aesthetic and search the mind of the artists through personal observation of each piece, or click on the images to learn more about the artists and even find some discussion questions and learn a little art history.

Ready to make a creation of your own? Head on over to Ms. Julie's Place for some art lessons featuring Greek vases.

Music is easily added to the background while doing other work. This fall, play Autumn from Vivaldi' Four Seasons. Jazz is also wonderful background music. It is also fun to contrast different jazz artists' interpretations of the same piece. Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis have a beautiful rendition of Autumn Leaves. It seeps into the soul. Compare their version to this one featuring Wynton Marsalis and Sarah Vaughn:

I can never get enough Sarah Vaughn. If you want to hear some more (with more singing and

less scatting... although she is the queen of scat), take a listen to her singing September Song (also featuring Wynton Marsalis).


Okay, I am revealing my age a bit here, but let's end our day with a filmstrip. I have to admit that when I think of fall and movies, this image comes immediately to mind:

That's not exactly an educational or child-appropriate movie, however. Maybe we can find a good movie to watch over at the Online Degree Hub where Alvina has listed the Top 100 Film Study Blogs.

Here are some other films to get you in a fall mood: Arsenic and Old Lace (not rated), Autumne (French - not rated), Autumn in New York (PG-13), and The Four Seasons (PG).


There's the bell. (It's probably the UPS guy at the door with another shipment of books.) It's time to go, but before you scatter, here are some papers to take home. First, your portfolio. This was much easier to compile than last time thanks to The Thinking Mother's new method of keeping homeschool records.(Wanna know her secret? She let's the kids do it. She's my new hero.)

You'll also need this list of additional resources on studying the autumnal equinox from Lisa at Houston Homeschooling. And here is an evaluation of the ACE curriculum from HomeGrownMommy.

Wendy at Athena Academy knows that sometimes homeschoolers need some encouragement. So here is a thank you and hats off to homeschool parents from Shawnee.

Do you have a favorite homeschool blog? Maybe it was included in today's carnival. If so, go over to Alasandra's Homeschool Blog and nominate it for this year's Homeschool Blog Awards!

Do you like writing about homeschooling and want to be a part of a grassroots effort to educate others on the benefits of homeschooling and protect homeschooling freedom? Consider contributing to the new American Association Homeschool Citizen's Journal. Susan at Corn and Oil has all of the information you'll need.

You are all free to go out and play in the leaves and celebrate this change of seasons. See you next week over at Heart of the Matter Online for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling.

Carnival of Homeschooling

ETA: Sorry about the sudden jump in font sizes. It looks fine in editing view. Not sure what's going on. Just think of it as a vacation for your reading glasses. Or maybe read the carnival while you cook supper (two rooms away).


Alasandra said...

Thanks for including my post. I am looking forward to reading all the other post you have included.

Mental multivitamin (M-mv) said...

You've done a wonderful job assembling the Carnival. Thank you for including my entry.

Best regards,


Wendy Hawksley said...

This Carnival looks fabulous. Thanks for including me! I look forward to reading the entries.

Katya said...

Minor quibble... Chaucer falls squarely into Middle English not Old English... Middle English is 1150-1500.

I lost 2 years of my life working at the Middle English Dictionary. LOL.

Jacque said...

Thanks for hosting and including our posts! Looking forward to reading the links!

Have a great week!

Becky @ BoysRuleMyLife said...

I love how you tied everything together. GOOD JOB!! Looking forward to clicking and reading!

TheTutor said...


Thanks for pointing that out. I had intended to write "English usage" sans the "Old." Note to self: never work on etymologies at 1am.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this elegantly composed carnival and for including my post.


Loving learning at Home said...

WOW. Amazing carnival. It will take me a month to look at all of these great articles.

Nikki said...

Great carnival!
You did a wonderful and creative job organizing all the posts!

Suburban Wife said...

Thank you for including me.

christinemm said...

Sorry I flaked on linking, doing it now on my blog & Twitter. Thanks for including my post & hosting. I know it is a lot of work.

The kids keeping the records is working great so far!

Anonymous said...

Wow! That was all inclusive! Great job.

Heather said...

You always post the best, most creative Carnivals. Awesome job!


gbknox said...

nice blog! I suggest you teach the little ones about money, conflict resolution, magic, etc, all that stuff we had to learn late in life....Gord (I'm not a teacher and am a student of life)

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