3/3/15

Westward Expansion































We have been having such an interesting year, studying
Early American History. It is hard to believe that we are in the last three months of the school year already! It is flying by. I often wonder if I am doing enough schoolwork, but seeing my children excited about what they are learning, reassures me that we are on the right track.

We recently got together with friends to celebrate our studies of the pioneers and westward expansion. These get togethers are one of the highlights of our history studies. While at home, I read lots of great books to the children, we do map work, and also journaling, but the monthly co-op meetings are when we can delve into hands on projects that require more preparation.



At this months get together we made butter! This was actually incredibly easy and group friendly. We simply poured cream into clean mason jars, screwed the lids on tight and let the kids go crazy shaking them until a nice lump of butter had formed. I took a picture of our butter after we made it, but then when I was going back through the photos, I couldn't figure out what it was and deleted. It was yummy, if not photogenic. 

The butter was spread on fresh baked bread, the best of pioneer treats, and eaten along with tortillas, and cattail tubers which we had harvested from our pond. A good study of the pioneers and westward expansion wouldn't be complete without talking about some of the foraged foods that they ate to survive.

We also drank tea made from nettles. Not the tastiest of drinks, but super healthy and according to research, a good traditional remedy for all manner of illnesses, including allergies and anemia.



Another thing we do at our co-op meetings are oral presentations. I feel that being able to give a report is an important part of homeschooling. It is also a helpful motivator for my children to do well on their journaling projects so that they have something good to share with the group. We have been alternating Draw Write Now books with fine art postcards from Mommy It's A Renoir for art journaling prompts. These go nicely with narration exercises, and if we are not feeling creative enough to come up with an original narration, we simply copy the sentences from Draw Write Now as well. These journaling pages then become oral reports for the younger students.

Draw Write Now, Book 5: The United States, from Sea to Sea, Moving Forward (Draw-Write-Now) Mommy, It's a Renoir!

The oldest of my four students still in my homeschool prepared a report on health care, or the lack thereof, during the time period we were studying. My 12 year old created a stop motion Lego movie about Civil War Sea Battles. I love seeing them use various technologies and mediums to prepare their presentations.




For map work, we looked at where the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled, as well as what area the Louisiana Purchase encompassed. Later, we traced U.S. maps and labeled them with the route which the Lewis and Clark Expedition took, so many years ago.



Back at home, I read to the children from "Sacajawea" by Della Rowland, while they made a tent and pretend fire which they roasted pretend marshmallows over. Or maybe it was bear meat on a stick?
Stories are great at providing prompts for imaginative play. They also do so much to expand your children's vocabulary, these are a few of many reasons why we make a high priority of reading aloud. I also have a basket of books based on the period we are studying, which my children are encouraged to read from as we work our way through the year. If possible, I give my older children books which include source documents. I want them to be aware of what the thought process of historical figures was, and not just hear their stories through a modernist filter. 

The Story of Sacajawea: Guide to Lewis and Clark (Dell Yearling Biography) The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition)
Little House Nine-Book Box Set

American History is full of fascinating people, and I am studying it again, with some of the most fascinating people that I know. I hope that your children, and your studies, bring much joy and inspiration to your life as well.

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7 comments:

  1. You are so good at teaching! I know you might feel like you aren't all the time, but like you said the proof is with engaged children with curious minds that being filled. We have that same puzzle and my son loves it so much that my mom got him one with all of the continents.

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    1. You are such a good encourager! I hope your day was wonderful!

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  2. What a gift to teach your children with such a spirit of adventure and hands on activities! Surely - they will remember these lessons and truths for years and years to come (rather than simply cramming for a test from a book!) Great post!

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    1. Thanks so much Karrilee. I do believe that hands on learning is so much more memorable than simply cramming facts.
      Blessings!

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  3. I wish I could find my picture of my boys making butter last year. I really loved that unit of study. So many sweet books to read together. We are starting over again in Ancient History now. Love following along with your journey here.

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    1. That sounds like a good picture! This is definitely one of my favorite time periods to study. We will do Ancients next year and I hope we can incorporate some good projects then as well.
      Blessings!

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  4. I haven't had to think about if we are going to homeschool yet, but this looks like so much fun it makes me think it isn't as scary as I think it is in my mind.

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