October: Frankenstein, Women in Science, Field Trips, Core Subjects, Health and Food Safety.



By Mary Shelley


The Abridged Version by Bendon Junior Classics


Student read aloud two to five chapters a day, then completed a Cereal Box Book Report – where she covered a regular cereal box in brown paper, drew illustrations on the front and back, and included key details on the “labels” on the sides.  She also made a “prize” to be found inside.  Since all Frankestein wanted was someone else like him, she made a little finger-puppet.  I also have a video of her describing her project. From what I remember she had a bit of an attitude that day.


The front of the box includes the title, the author, and an illustration.  On the top of the box the student rates the book out of five stars and gives additional information like the number of pages.  The left panel is the characters and setting, and the opposite panel is a summary of the book.  Inside of the box is a “prize” that pertains to the story.

We then watched a very dry documentary on Mary Shelley. There was a second option, which was the BBC’s more dramatic retelling. But at the time I judged to be a bit too scandalous for our student’s age group.

If you have the time and energy, I recommend reading about her biographically as well, as she lived a very interesting life and after all, created one of the most famous and long-living fictional characters in human history.  I’ll likely revisit her again in upcoming Halloweens.

Here is the presentation:

Cereal Box Book Report: Frankenstein


BOO!  Guess Who: Women in Science

{As part of our school Halloween celebrations, and general feminist commentary on the absence of acknowledgement for the great contributions important women have made in history, I used this “trick or treat, smell my feet – can you guess who is under the sheet” template to create “Boo! Guess Who.  Women in Science”

Read the clues and see if you can guess which of the accomplished women dimmed by male-centric history (and/or likely not properly acknowledged and undervalued during their lifetime) is hidden underneath!}

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I used this template for the assignment.

And this book.  

(Which I had picked up from a trip to the Fingerprints Museum in Hemet, CA)

We read about the physicists Marie Curie, Lise Meitner, Dr. Chien Shiung Wu, and Gertrude Belle Elion.  

We also typed their names into YouTube after reading about them, and watched the movie clips/presentations people had made.  

In addition, we watched the “Meet the Scientists” playlist from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

The student took notes on each physicist, and typed the most important facts onto a document which we printed and pasted onto construction paper, along with the paper ghosts and coloring pages of each woman scientist.  

When Tegan slept over at her cousin’s house, she showerd her this presentation on Marie Curie, and was able to accurately idenify each physicist when quizzed with the clues.  


Here are the ghosts and the document for each woman that our student typed up:

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Dr. Chien Shiung Wu


I lived (1912-1997)


I was one of the world’s best experimental and nuclear physicists.


During World War II I was asked to work on the secret “Manhattan Project” to create the

atomic bomb.


My research helped to disprove an important law of physics – the law of parity.


I earned many awards and honors, was the seventh woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and was inducted into the American National Women’s Hall of Fame.


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Gertrude Belle Elion


I lived (1918-1999)


I have more than 45 patents of new drugs and developed drugs that help with organ transplants, fighting leukemia, & more.  


I was the first women in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


I won the Nobel Prize in medicine.


I wrote more than 280 scientific papers about my drug discoveries.


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Lise Meitner


I lived (1878-1968)


I was inspired by Marie Curie to become a physicist.


I discovered a new element, Protactinium.


I was one of the first women to get a Doctorate in physics at the University of Vienna.


I was the first person to understand that when an atom is split it can release over 200 million electron volts of energy, called “nuclear fission.”

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Marie Sklodowska Curie


I lived (1867-1934)


I discovered two new elements – radium polonium


I studied uranium and discovered radioactivity.


I was the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes.


I worked hard on all my work and never and I mean never gave up.




On a Friday we used our new year-long Balboa Park explorer passes.  We had a great time viewing the collection at the San Diego Museum of Art, and interacted with the educational installations to learn about craquelure, and how these cracks in the paint that occur over time are used to date and identify a painting’s place of origin, and how to “read” traditional European portraits. We viewed classic Spanish artists’ pieces from 1,500 years ago, a few rooms of modern art, and carved statues and Shinto temple guardians from 400 BC Japan. The nice thing about classical art is that it’s generally child safe, as we learned after a quick trip around the small but fun San Diego Museum of Art, which currently housed a vortex of halloween contemporary horror.  We took a walk amongst the giant depictions of huge and long-ago creatures at the San Diego Natural History Museum, and then went to “play” at the interactive and super kid-friendly Fleet Science Center.  We hung out by the plaza fountain and sat in the Alcazar Garden, where I taught Tegan what I knew about sketching, and she sketched her first scene. She really loved it, and penned her signature with surefooted pride, it was quite adorable.  She was so pleased with her results that she offered me the opportunity to photograph her masterpiece with my phone, to “use it for my background.”

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We also did our standards: Grade 5 Math, Grade 5 Language Arts, General Reading Worksheets, Piano Practice, and this month 2x week Waldorf School.

Because it was the month of October, I wanted to keep with the Halloween theme and learn about blood.  But the book I ordered never shipped, so instead we read about antibiotics on KhanAcademy.com and I took a Food Handlers Certification Course Online and Tegan sat and watched the entire thing with me, and excitedly answered the exercise questions and helped me take the quiz at the end (we passed 😉 ).  So at least it was germ-related.  THIS TURNED OUT TO BE AWESOME. Now homeslice always puts the meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge and understands first-hand the importance of being bacteria-safe in the kitchen. The whole thing was (poorly) animated and (mildly) interactive so she loved it. I would definitely have done this again. 



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