Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Lost Colony of Roanoke

An interesting story.  The girls heard the story of Roanoke from The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History.  Then they had a mini-book to complete where they got to fill in what might have happened to the lost colony, and the whole thing was made up into a scroll.  We got the activity from Easy Make and Learn Projects: Colonial America.


Today's pictures are from guest student, AJ, who is spending the night with Daisy since it is her public school spring break.  Our homeschool is not on spring break this week.  So AJ got to homeschool with us.  A bright little button she is.  I'd keep her with us every day, if I could!


"The colonists were starving so the Croatans (Indians) said 'Come live with us.' And they did.One of the colonists wrote "Croatan" (on the tree) to let John White know where they went.


We also made interesting things from our maple syrup.  Mr. GT collects and boil sap each spring and he and the kids make maple syrup.  Yum!  We found some recipes for other things the colonists did with maple syrup in the book Colonial Days so we made Jack Wax (boil the syrup to 230 degrees and pour over, um, ice cream)  We also made Maple Cream (boil the syrup to 239 degrees, beat (oops, a step we forgot) and pour into a buttered container.  Supposed to be like fudge.)  It turned out like homemade caramels.


Mr. GT's syrup


Next adventure....looking for new dandelion leaves to try in a salad.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Columbus, de Gama, Magellan, Oh My!

Well, we've whizzed through the explorers.  I'd have like to have spent more time here, but sometimes you have to weigh their age and abilities against the fun of the cool resources out there.  Pepper is only in first grade, so I'm not requiring as much from her.  That she knows Christopher Columbus's name, country of origin, some of his story and what he was famous for, as well as the fact that he did both some good and some bad things is good enough for me.


Daisy also learned about Vasco de Gama, who was the first guy to make it all the way to India by sea (that's where Columbus thought he was going!)  And then we all read some about the rest of the explorers:   Magellan, Cortez, Ponce de Leon, Cabot, etc.

Slideshow of the girls' Explorer work

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A field trip

Yesterday, we took a field trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum to wrap up our study of the American Indians.  MPM has a great Native American exhibit and it's so much more interesting to view it when you know what you are looking at!  I've been there about 40 times (it was a yearly trek with my Grandma when we spent a summer's week with her) and I've seen the exhibits all those times.  But to look at them with my kids, through their eyes was so much fun!

I never noticed the cool totem poles they have, nor how the Northwest exhibit is housed in a cedar plankhouse.  They even have some actual cedar planks from the Northwest, over a hundred years old.  They have mini dioramas of life scenes of many different tribes.  Daisy is particularly fascinated by these.  Often, they will have actual artifacts displayed nearby as depicted in the diorama.  The girls loved to read the desriptions of the items and shout, "Mom!  look at this!  We read this in...." 


There is even a real Haida canoe hanging from the ceiling in the lobby!  How cool is that!  In all the times we were there, we never saw it!


We examined the inside of a Pueblo, saw an impressive Kachina collection, found Blackfeet artifacts, looked inside a teepee and saw a recreated, life-size Iroquois encampment.


The very best part, for every child who visits the museum, however is the Buffalo Hunt!  It is a life-size diorama with 5 or 6 real bison, 2 real horses with Indians on horseback, in a hunt.    There is something awesome about seeing real bison up close and personal, even if they are dusty.  There is a small swatch of buffalo hide to pet and feel.  Then there is a small diorama of a chase-the-buffalo-over-the-cliff hunt which always fascinates the kids.  They love to look at death and destruction.


It was a very fun day.  Sunshine stayed with my mom, so it was relaxing, too.  It was good to have some time with just the three middles.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Leif the Lucky

This week we've been reading about Leif the Lucky and the Vikings.  Did you know Leif Ericson  actually landed in North America (present-day Newfoundland) around 1000 AD?  That was 500 years before Columbus!



Here are some very cute online games and resources about Vikings for the younger set.  Vikings for K-3


And here you can write your name in runes.


Next week:  Columbus!



Monday, March 3, 2008

Further Adventures of my Unschooler

The best way to motivate Pepper, I'm finding, is to assign something to Daisy.   Suddenly Pepper is all interested in the project and takes off on her own, doing way more than I would have asked of her or she would have done for me had I asked.


Daisy and I have been exploring colors in art.  We've moved on to the secondary colors and our first project was a symmetrical string painting.  The idea was to dip two strings in two different primary colors, lay them in a sheet of paper, fold the paper in half and pull the strings out.  The two primary colors would mix together, creating a secondary color.  And we could talk about symmetry as the halves were mirror images.


Of course, as soon as the paint came out, so did every kid in the house from Rosebud on down to Sunshine.  So everyone did the project.  Unfortunately, the red and the blue did NOT make a lovely shade of purple, but rather an ugly blackish color, so Daisy and Rose Bud will not get their paintings displayed here.


However, here are Pepper (yellow and blue make green) and Banana Boy's (yellow and red make orange) paintings:


Over the weekend, Pepper took it upon herself to do further work with secondaries after she found 3 primary paint pens in the paint drawer.  Here are her results (of which she was very proud!)

As I said, had I set before her the task of mixing and painting a picture using the secondary colors, it would have been like pulling teeth.  "I can't!  It's too hard.  I can't think of anything to paint!"  Left to her own devices, she did a beautiful job!  (That's an orange and a bunch of grapes near the top there)



Northwest Indians

In the Northwest, we studied two completely different tribes.  The Tlingit are actually considered Northwest Coast Indians and lived in plank houses with totem poles.  The Nez Perce were actually Plateau Indians, living much further from the coast and a much different lifestyle similar to the Plains Indians.


We studied the Nez Perce because we had access to such great resources about Kaya, one of the American Girl history dolls.  In addition to her storybooks, there is also Kaya's World, which tells many more details about the Nez Perce life, the toys (we have the Kaya doll), and other resources.  The girls loved the Kaya stories, about half of which I read aloud and the other have which they read themselves.  It was Pepper's first time reading an American Girl book and she found she liked it!  She read the entire book 2 in one evening!


I'm just going to give you some pictures of our projects, rather than of the folders this time.  If you want to see the folders, you'll have to come visit us!

Daisy's Totem Pole




Pepper's Totem Pole and the Dover Northwest Indians Punch-Out House the girls built


The plank house and totem poles (LOVE Dover books!)

Daisy's cradleboard (holding Mimi, pretending to be Native American)

Pepper's Cradleboard (holding Katie)

Sunshine's Cradleboard holding a toilet paper tube Indian the girls made for him


So now we are done with the Indians, at least as our main focus of study.  We will, of course, revisit them throughout our adventure through American History.


On to Leif the Lucky and the Vikings!