Archive for December, 2014

Year 4, Unit 2 Celebration

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

We love unit celebrations.

They are a fabulous way to bring closure to a period of history. Tapestry of Grace is a very comprehensive curriculum, but there is always more that can be done. Weeks may go by with no crafts accomplished. Perhaps we didn’t get to all of the discussions. We may have omitted an excellent read-aloud,  one we’d like to eventually enjoy. Maybe we skipped geography a few weeks or didn’t have that enrichment movie night. Several reports are still on the to-do list. We moms are so good at focusing on what we don’t do. “Analysis paralysis” may strike; an ailment causing us to get stuck, and we fail to move ahead in the curriculum.

Unit celebrations are fun for our children, but they are profitable for moms because they give us opportunity to focus on what we have accomplished. Our children will not remember every book they read or project they make or report they write. However, they will remember dressing up like their favorite character, spending a day in the kitchen with mom or playing a fun game with families. They’ll remember the field trips. They’ll remember the parties. Unit celebrations are a time when we moms, with our children, can smile and say, “Hey! We did a lot and we learned a lot… and we will celebrate our accomplishments and move on.” And the great thing about Tapestry is we will visit the time period again. There is time for the read-aloud that sat unopened or the map transparency project. At unit celebrations, however, we can be thankful for what we accomplished, celebrate, and make memories with our children.

Our local co-op does not meet for classes in December. We finish up unit 2 the week before Thanksgiving so that our families can have a long break between semesters. The holiday season is busy, but we’ve found a covered dish dinner and group game lends itself well to a celebratory December event. Families have little to prepare – just some food to contribute to the dinner. This December celebration consisted of an Axis dinner and Jeopardy game. I’ll highlight some fun tips for any who’d like to recreate our time of celebrating Year 4, Unit 2.


My cake decorators... they spent several hours creating the perfect battle scene

My cake decorators… they spent several hours creating the perfect battle scene










The Cake:

I have five daughters and we have made many cakes, but this one is probably the most boy-friendly one we have ever attempted. We used a very large round pan (14 X 3) for the base of the cake as well as a jumbo muffin pan. We simply made a one-layer cake (huge!) and then placed the 12 jumbo cake muffins around the large circle and on top to vary the “landscape.”

I had army men, but I purchased these pullback tanks from Amazon. The grammar students spent the last half hour of our celebration racing their little tanks, and they later happily took them home for their souvenirs. The flags were downloaded and printed from Enchanted Learning and taped onto toothpicks.

A cake this large took three cake mixes, but making my homemade chocolate- mocha icing made it seem “from scratch” through and through.

Chocolate-Mocha Icing:

1 stick Butter (minus 1 tablespoon) 
1 tablespoon Oil 
4 tablespoons Cocoa 
1/2 cup Decaf. coffee or 1 t. instant coffee mixed in 1/2 c. water
4 cups Powdered sugar (maybe a little more or less… till desired consistency)
2 tablespoons Flour 
pinch Salt 
1 teaspoon Vanilla 

Combine sugar, salt, cocoa and flour. Cream butter with oil. Alternate adding the sugar mixture with the coffee. Add vanilla.

When icing this cake, keep in mind that the goal is to create texture. This is one cake that does not need to be smooth, and yes, my girls enjoyed creating “mud” out of icing with their fingers. They cut off some of the tops of the muffins so that the hills had flat surfaces. Some they left rounded. There were no pictures to meticulously follow; this cake evolved creatively!

You can make dirt/mud using crushed Oreos or crumbled chocolate cake. We also used crumbled Vanilla Wafers for light colored rock and sand. This cake was very fun to make, de-militarize, and eat!

The Food:

Families brought in food from Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. We discussed having US, French and British food as well. However, we felt we were more familiar with these foods and our kids like to try new things. So, we enjoyed lasagna (Italy), sushi (Japan), stroganoff (Russia) and potatoes and sauerkraut (Germany). We had a variety of breads as well as Russian tea cookies. The food was delicious!

 The Fellowship:

For most of the evening, our only agenda was enjoying one another’s company. We are blessed with a wonderful group of homeschooling families!


 And finally, The Game:

We played a very fun game of Jeopardy. So that all students, no matter their age, could play, we prepared questions for each level: lower grammar, upper grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and parent. Questions were written on index cards and placed inside colorful library pockets mounted on the game board. We divided into two teams, the Axis and Allies, of course! Points were determined by rolling a dice. The team that rolled decided what level question and what category they wanted, and only students of the level selected could answer. If the team could not answer, the other team received a chance to do so and win the points. If that team couldn’t answer, the turn returned to the original team and at that point, they could ask another level of students to help them. We asked that the children of each level take turns being the spokesperson for their team because all of the children wanted a chance to answer the questions. Some questions received double points. We did not allow a team to keep answering questions if they got the correct answer. This was a game of luck (rolling dice and double point questions ensured the “luck” part), but it was fun because it moved fairly quickly, and both teams and all levels experienced success in getting correct answers and stealing points.

Here is a picture of the game board –


The library pockets were purchased here and attached to a tri-fold styrofoam board with rubber cement. As you can see, each level (parent, rhetoric, dialectic, upper grammar and lower grammar) is color-coded. The questions came from the homework thinking questions and evaluations.


Hubby kept score. He also timed each team once the question was asked. They only had 30 seconds to consult with their team mates and answer the question. I think the Axis powers won, but to the Allies defense, they received no “double-score” bonus points. Speaking of the double points, if we play this game again, I will make the double-point cards a different color. I marked them with a little star, but I’m afraid that as I led the game, I may have missed a few.

I had fun being Vanna White

I had fun being Vanna White

This was a fun evening! It was encouraging for the students to realize that they could answer questions designated for the parents. Nothing was more precious than seeing the little lower grammars jumping up and down in anticipation of answering their special questions.

Again, there is always more to learn and always more to do, but at the end of the night, we walked away feeling pretty smart! What a fun way to end the second unit of Year 4!

Esther helps me prepare Russian stroganoff

Esther helps me prepare Russian stroganoff, and yes, this was a homeschool pajama day.

De-militarizing the cake!

De-militarizing the cake!