Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

History Plans for 2013-2014: US History “Year 2” August 1, 2013

Filed under: Curriculum,History — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:25 am
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This past year we studied the “first half” of United States History using my own literature-and-library-book based plans.  We started at the beginning with Native Americans, and I originally thought we would only study up until 1850, or just before the Civil War.

As the year went on, I saw that I had over-estimated how long some of the units were going HTTA-TTto take, and we also were able to get a nice early start on our history studies last year (starting in July).   After we completed my original plans through 1850, we did a unit on Slavery and the Underground Railroad and a unit on the Civil War (I never managed to write blog posts about those units though…maybe I should still go back and do that!).

We’re going to finish our US History studies this year, starting with the post Civil War Reconstruction era, and making our way up to the present, or at least somewhat recent events.  I realized the other day that events I remember (like the political changes in Eastern Europe in the 1990s and the terrorist attacks of 9/11) are history for my kids!

I’m still making my own book-based plans for read-aloud literature, read-alone lit for Miss M, and a “book basket” of picture book and short non-fiction selections for Miss M to read alone or me to read to the boys.

I’m also adding in at least one “History Through the Ages: Time Travelers” study for Miss M.  I’ve already purchased the Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression title.   There’s one more on WWII, then if all is going well, we also might use the 20th Century Lap-Pak.  That title has only the lapbook component, and not the short readings and other projects that come along with the Time Travelers…but it would give us some written component to take us to the present day.

I’m excited to have the short reading sections form a bit of a spine for Miss M, since I don’t have another spine text in mind.  I’m also hoping that since the lapbook pieces and other projects are assigned lesson-by-lesson, it will help us stay on track with having some written aspect to our history studies (something we failed to do last year).

I’m still refining my reading lists (and I may not get them all done before the school year starts), but here is my overall plan for the year…subject to change, of course, if some time periods take more or less time to cover than I am expecting!

 

 

Unit: # Weeks Lessons from HTTA Time Travelers Approximate Dates
1865 – 1899 7 Lessons 1-10, except 6 Sept 3 – Oct 18
1900 – 1914 5 Lessons 6 & 11 through 16 Oct 21 – Nov 22
World War I 3 17-18 Dec 2 – Dec 20
1920s 2 19 – 20 Jan 6 – 17
1930s (Great Depression) 2 21-25 Jan 20 – 31
WWII/1940s 6 WWII study — all Feb 3 – Mar 21 (incl. a winter break)
1950s-1970s 4 20th Century Lap-Pak March 24 – April 18
1980s to Present 3 20th Century Lap-Pak April 21 – May 9

 

 

I’m hoping to find the time to post by book lists and unit wrap-ups throughout the year!

Linking up with…Curriculum Planning at Highhill Education and History/Geography Link-Up at All Things Beautiful!

Speed!

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A trip to the Oliver H. Kelley Historic Farm July 28, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras,History — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:03 pm
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This past week we spent a few hours at the Oliver H. Kelley farm near Elk River, Minnesota:

 

 

Oliver H. Kelley Farm

This Minnesota Historical Society site is a working 1860s farm.  Costumed farmers dress as they would have in that time period, and crops and livestock are raised as it was done in the 19th century.  This is a great “hands on” place for kids to visit.   Visitors are encouraged to jump in and pitch hay, pull weeds, work alongside the women cooking in the kitchen, and even help in the fields or feed the animals (when the farmers give the okay).

I had heard that this historic farm was a fun field trip from friends who had visited before (and it’s only about a 45 minute drive from our house!).   What I didn’t know until our visit was that Oliver H. Kelley was a person of historical significance.  Besides being the original owner of this farm, Mr. Kelley was the founder of a farming organization called the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, or “Grange” as it is commonly known.  The Grange is a fraternal organization for farmers that is still in existence today.  Grange causes over the years have included regulation of railroads and grain warehouses, rural free mail delivery, temperance, direct election of senators and women’s suffrage.

Linking up to Fantastic Foto Field Trips!

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

 

Book Discoveries this Week: You Wouldn’t Want to Be in the First Submarine April 11, 2013

Filed under: Books,History — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:06 pm
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Providing kids the time and resources to pursue their interests is truly one of the joys of homeschooling.  Sure, there is a lot of time spent practicing math facts and spelling words and the like.  We read stacks of books and the kids find some more interesting than others.  But I just love it when something ignites a spark of true desire to learn all about the topic.

Sometimes, this spark of interest is on a topic I would have never picked or guessed that my kids would get excited about.

A couple weeks ago, knowing that we were getting close to starting a unit on the Civil War, Ifirst submarine grabbed You Wouldn’t Want to be in the First Submarine from the library.  The boys (Mr E, age 6 and Mr K, age 4) have really enjoyed titles from this series in the past.  The You Wouldn’t Want to… series has cartoonish illustrations and the text is written addressed to the reader, as though he or she might really be considering participating in whatever the book is being written about (emphasizing the downsides of these events or time periods, of course!).  I think they have the format down to a “T” in terms of what would appeal to young boys reading historical non-fiction.

You Wouldn’t Want to Be in the First Submarine isn’t really about the very first submarine ever invented.  Rather, it is about one of the first successful submarines — the Hunley, a confederate submarine that was the first submarine to sink another vessel.   Prior to reading this book, I had never even heard of the Hunley.  This book gave a pretty good introduction to the history of this sub.

As I expected, the boys enjoyed it quite a bit.  I didn’t wait for the official start of our Civil War unit to pull it out — they wanted to read it as soon as they saw me grab it at the library. But then what did surprise me was that Miss M (age 8.5) read it soon after I brought it home from the library as well.  She was fascinated by it! I guess I just didn’t peg early submarines as a topic that my doll-and-horse-loving 3rd grader would jump on. (Though maybe early transportation history is her thing — she did request a unit on the history of aviation last year!)

All three kids said they wanted to get more books about the Hunley.  I said, “ok” and promptly forgot about it.  I honestly wasn’t sure this was a topic that we would find much about!  Then this past Sunday we took a trip downtown to the “big library” as the kids like to call it.  🙂  While browsing for other books for our Civil War unit, I discovered they had several books about the Hunley!

I brought them home, and submarine mania ensued.  😉 Miss M has read several of the books already, and asked if we could look up the answers on the internet to several questions we had.  Where is the Hunley now?  (Answer: In a museum in South Carolina.) Can we read a list of all the artifacts found on the Hunley? (No, I haven’t found one single list yet of all the artifacts.)  Do they know yet exactly why it sank? (No, they have theories but still no concrete answers.) The boys wanted coloring pages of early submarines (That was surprisingly hard to find!).

This morning we enjoyed browsing a lot of pictures of the museum where the Hunley is kept.  The kids asked if we could go there…I had to say, “Sorry, not this year!” It’s about a 24 hour drive to South Carolina from here and our vacation this summer takes us in the opposite direction.  It was hard to cut off the submarine research, but I did eventually have to keep our school day moving along.

I’m still just a bit amazed at how one book from a prolific series of history titles could be so inspiring to an unexpected audience!

I’m linking up to Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!

 

C is for Chronological April 1, 2013

Filed under: History — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:00 pm

I decided pretty early on in my research about homeschooling that a chronological study of history was sensible and appealing.  After all, history has a clear path to it — it begins at creation and moves steadily toward the present day.  Why not study it that way?

Like most of us, I didn’t study history chronologically when I was in school.  In fact, other than a brief study of state history in sixth grade, I don’t remember studying history very much at all in school until I had US History from the Civil War to the present in 8th grade.  After 8th grade we moved to a different school district, and I took a year of Ancient History in 10th grade, and another year of US History from the Civil War to the present in 11th grade.  Lucky me to get the same thing twice! I guess if we wouldn’t have moved, I might have gotten the first part of American History sometime after having gotten the second part.

Despite my lack of history study at school, I grew up in a family that loved and appreciated history, and we watched many historical movies and documentaries at home.  My mom passed on to me her love for European history (especially the history of England), so in college I selected the History of Western Medieval Europe and The History of England as humanities electives.

While I did enjoy all this exposure to history, it was very disjointed.  I knew a lot about a few time periods, while knowing next to nothing about other important time periods (like the Revolutionary War or other early American history).

With Miss M, after dabbling in a bit of light US History and World Geography in her Kindergarten year, we embarked on what I planned to be a 4 year history cycle when she was in 1st grade.  We covered world history from creation to about 1600 using Mystery of History, then switched to US History, which I plan to cover over two years.  Then we’ll go back to Ancient History.

All of that is a backdrop to a recent conversation I had with Miss M:

Me:  Mrs. B___ told me that this book [a book about the underground railroad] was her daughter M___’s favorite about that topic.

Miss M:  Oh, is the B____ family studying American History this year too?

Me: No, they study history a little bit differently than we do.  They study different picture books, and use those to inspire their studies of different topics in history and geography.  I prefer a chronological study of history, so that’s what I planned for our family.

Miss M:  Oh, so what does chronological mean again?

Me: It means studying history in time order, from the beginning until now

Miss M:  That makes sense.  Like we started this year at the beginning of American history, and we are moving closer and closer to now.

Me: Right, but we started a couple years ago, way back at the beginning of time.  Do you remember that?

Miss M: Oh, you mean those books we used to read?

Me:  Yes, Mystery of History

Miss M: Yeah, those seemed kind of like a bunch of random stories.  You mean they were chronological too?

Me: (wanting to smack my forehead).  Yes, they were definitely chronological.  I guess we should have kept up on our timeline.  Maybe then it would have been a bit more obvious that it was chronological!

——

Do I regret using Mystery of History (volume 1 through the first half of volume 3) in first and second grade? No, but I now can look back on it and see that we could have done “something else” and her overall memory and understanding of history from Creation to 1600 might not be all that different.  She definitely enjoyed it most of the time while we were reading MOH those two years, and she always looked forward to our history time together.

Will I continue with a chronological study of history? Yes, if nothing else because it does make sense and seem easier to me as far as planning goes.  We may even repeat Mystery of History again, since Miss M will get a lot more out of it as a 5th-6th grader (and Mr. E will be a 2nd-3rd grader when we wrap back around to ancient history!).   But maybe we’ll also take more time for tangents or “out of timeline” topical studies.  After all, there is so much history to learn that a person can easily spend a lifetime learning about it!

I’m linking up with Blogging through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me!

Blogging Through the Alphabet

 

Book Discoveries this Week: A Pioneer Sampler March 7, 2013

Filed under: Books,History — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:59 pm

When I made my spreadsheet of books for our US History studies this year,  I originally stuck A Pioneer Sampler by Barbara Greenwood in the “activities and crafts” category.  So when it arrived from the library a bit after we started our most recent history unit (focusing on the pioneers from 1815-1860), I just put it in the book basket and didn’t look at it very closely.

As our unit progressed I finally took the time to look at it.  I discovered that A Pioneer Sampler does have some crafts and activities in it, but it has quite a bit of other content besides that.

A Pioneer Sampler follows the life of a fictional pioneer family (The Robertsons) on a backwoods farm in 1840.  pioneer samplerEach of the nineteen chapters in this fairly lengthy book (240 pages) tells a short story – a vignette if you will — about the life of the Robertson family over the course of the year.   Following each story are one or more short informational sections discussing everything from weaving fabric to making fires to getting lost in the woods.   Intermixed with these factual sections are directions for trying some of these activities at home — like growing a potato plant, making butter or painting with stencils.

In some ways this book made a great read aloud for a unit on the pioneers.  Short chapters broken down into sections make it easy to read a portion each day.  Since we started this book late in our unit, we felt a bit rushed to try and finish it all.    By the time we were about three-fourths of the way through the book, Miss M and I mutually decided not to finish it as a read-aloud.  We had already moved on to our next history topic, and we have too many other interesting books beckoning to us from the book basket.  We’ll hang on to it for a bit in case Miss M wants to read a little bit more on her own.

As interesting and thorough as this book is about pioneer life, I did feel it was a bit redundant for us.  Between the many book basket fiction and non-fiction selections we had for our pioneers unit and our previous reading about pioneer families (including the Little House on the Prairie Series, the Little House on Rocky Ridge series, Caddie Woodlawn, and Bound for Oregon, a book we recently read) I think I had already picked up many of the tidbits of information this book was presenting.

I would probably recommend A Pioneer Sampler for readers less familiar with 19th century pioneer life who don’t plan on reading an extensive list of books on this topic.  You could read this book and call the general topic of pioneer living pretty well covered.   An independent reader who is highly interested in pioneer times might also find this an interesting read.  I’m sure it’s within Miss M’s ability to read on her own if she finds herself interested and motivated to do so.

I’m linking up with Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!

 

US History Unit 5 Recap: 1815-1860 – Pioneers March 5, 2013

Filed under: History — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:24 pm

We’ve pretty much finished up the 5th unit/topic in our US History studies for this year, looking at the years 1815-1860 with a focus on the pioneers.  Unlike previous units, I’m trying to get this written up before it gets too foggy in my mind.  😉 We still have one or two books to finish up that fit more into this topic, but since there is overlap timeline-wise between this unit and our next unit (focusing on slavery and the underground railroad during approximately the same time period), I feel like this unit is “done enough” to wrap up.

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I had a hard time finding just the right “spine” or key text for this unit.  I really wish that the Maestros had continued their American Story series beyond the “New Nation” book, which ends with the War of 1812.  Those books give such a good overview of the time periods they cover, without giving too much detail.  Other books I considered were too detailed or lengthy for the ages of my kids.

I was hoping for something that would give a bit of a socio-political overview of the time period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War.  Westward migration and slavery are certainly two key topics, but other things were going on as well.

We tried out a few chapters of a vintage book, “This Country of Ours” by H. E. Marshall.  It was okay, but the kids weren’t “into” it enough for me to feel it was worth our time to continue.  I decided that since this is just 3rd grade/Kindergarten US History, I would just forgo finding that big picture “overview” and trust that our assortment of book basket books would be enough.  After all, up until recently I don’t think I really knew exactly what else was going on between 1815-1860 (other than the pioneers, the gold rush and the slavery issues) anyway!

One book I did discover toward the end of this unit was “A Pioneer Sampler.”  I had requested it from the library but didn’t look at it very closely until it had been in the basket for a while.  I had been under the impression it was mostly an activity book, but that’s not really the case.  Look for a post about it coming soon (maybe later this week).

Read-Alouds (linked to my blog posts about the book):

Birchbark House

The Game of Silence

The Porcupine Year

Bound for Oregon

Of the three Louise Erdrich books, only Birchbark House originally appeared on my read aloud list for this unit.  But we loved it so much that we went ahead to the next two books in the series.  Doing this meant we dropped a couple of more traditionally pioneer-oriented read alouds I had scheduled.  I am really okay with that, however, since I feel like our reading of the entire Little House on the Prairie series a year or two ago (even though it falls in a bit later time period) gave us a good background on the pioneer life in general.

A book I wanted to read aloud that belongs in this time period that we didn’t read yet is “By the Great Horn Spoon.”  We’ll reading that one sometime soon.  🙂

Longer Books Read Independently by Miss M (age 8, 3rd grade):

Carolina’s Courage by Elizabeth Yates — A story about a young girl traveling west in a covered wagon and a challenging sacrifice she is asked to make in giving up a cherished possession along the way.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan — I realized after including this book in this unit that it probably takes place later than the time period we were trying to study.  Miss M read it and enjoyed it anyway.  🙂

Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan — Sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall

Three sets of the “American Girl” books are set during this time period — Kirsten, Josefina, and Mary Grace/Cecile.  Miss M has read the Kirsten books several times in the past (they’re her favorite of the American Girl books) and she did not re-read them at this time. She did read all the Josefina books for the first time and re-read 5 of the 6 Mary Grace and Cecile books.  She also read the “Welcome to Kirsten’s World” and “Welcome to Josefina’s World” non-fiction companion books that go along with those series.

Book Basket:

I filled our book basket with over two dozen books for this time period.  You can see a list of most them in my US History Year 1 spreadsheet. Miss M read many of them independently, with the boys only asking me to read a couple of them out loud.  The boys love the “You wouldn’t want to be…” series, and “You Wouldn’t Want to Be an American Pioneer” was no exception.

I read aloud to all the kids “Young Abe Lincoln: The Frontier Days” (We read this story about Lincoln’s early years on Abe’s birthday, no less!),  “Who Let Muddy Boots into the White House?” (a humorous book about Andrew Jackson), and parts of “Day that Changed America: The Alamo” (a very, long and detailed picture book that I tried to squeeze into far too few minutes before a trip to the library on the day the book was due and couldn’t be renewed!).

 

US History Unit 4 Recap: New Nation/War of 1812 February 20, 2013

Filed under: Books,History — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:05 am

Yesterday and today I’m catching up on recapping our US History studies.  We finished studying the Revolutionary war back in November, but I just wrote about that yesterday.  We just finished our unit on the post-Revolutionary war years in mid-January, so it’s still a bit fresher in my my mind.   🙂

This unit in our American history studies covered the years from 1783-1815.  There are several major topics in this time period, including the forming of our nation’s government, the writing of the constitution, the Louisiana purchase, the explorations of Lewis and Clark and the War of 1812.

As in our earlier units we used a book by the Maestros (A New Nation) to give us an overview of this time period.  I also read aloud Year of the Horseless Carriage 1801 by Genevieve Foster.  You can read my thoughts on that book here.  While some of it was overlap with A New Nation, most of it was pretty complementary.

Not including Christmas break, we spent six weeks on this unit.   This was the first unit for IMG_20121207_160446which I actually under-estimated the time it would take us.  When I did my planning for the year I thought there would not be very many topics to cover and I only planned four weeks.

Longer Read-Alouds (Linked to blog posts about these books):

Carry on Mr. Bowditch

Justin Morgan Had a Horse

Bears on Hemlock Mountain (not really all that long, but read aloud to all the kids)

Sarah Witcher’s Story

Naya Nuki

Longer Fiction Books Miss M read independently:

The “Caroline” American Girl books — Caroline is the newest historical American Girl, and she lives during the time of the War of 1812.  Miss M got the first book in the Caroline series for Christmas, and read all six books in the series of her own volition over Christmas break.

The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz — I think this was Miss M’s favorite of her assigned fiction reading for this time period.

Away Goes Sally and its sequel Five Bushel Farm by Elizabeth Coatsworth — Miss liked these well enough…but not enough to ask me to get her the remaining books in the series (I think there are three more books about Sally) for her to read on her own

The Story of Eli Whitney by Jean Lee Latham — I thought Miss M would like this because she generally likes stories about inventors…but this one, not so much.  It was a challenge for her to get through this assigned reading.  While I normally don’t really push her to read things she doesn’t care for, I do it every now and then just because I think it’s a good discipline for her to learn for the future.

Book Basket:

IMG_20121215_104153

Our book basket of picture book fiction and and non-fiction was a bit lighter for this unit than for some previous units.  My US History Year One spreadsheet lists a number of the titles — at least the ones I planned on getting ahead of time.  🙂  I also found a number of picture books for this time period on the shelves at the library — including more titles about the constitution, our country’s early presidents, and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Unfortunately I didn’t write down all these titles! One that stands out among the titles I found on the shelf at the library is Unite or Die: How 13 States Became a Nation by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Jef Czekaj.   The story of the problems faced as a new government was formed after the Revolutionary War is framed as group of kids putting on a play about the states (dressed in state-shaped costumes!).  A little bit of humor goes a long way to make the details of this topic more interesting.  🙂