Sunday, March 26, 2017

U.S. Geography: Woodland Indians, Mound Builders

We are spending our next three week block on U.S. Geography, framed around first looking at the Native American shelter building that took place in each region, which was based on the natural resources, and then the region's biome map, and finally the region's current political map of U.S. States and their Capitals. We are also going to learn about the Territories.

ALL of my detailed notes are on my U.S. Geography page on the website.

I had originally recommended Bonnie Shemie's series of Native Dwellings books for third grade Housebuilding, but in seeing how well they work for this fifth grade block, I'm thinking of changing my grade 3 notes. There are so many great examples of shelters that it is impossible to get to them all, and I like the idea of doing Mongolian yurts and the tree houses of Papua New Guinea and so many other fun ones... and doing a project building with cob (and maybe even a cob oven) in third grade... and I wouldn't want to rush through the houses of other continents in order to get back to the Native American ones... especially when doing the Native American ones in North American Geography in fifth grade provides such a nice assessible way to divide up the regions.

But, regardless of when you choose to use them, Bonnie's books are great. My friend Robin turned me on to her work many years ago!

Houses of bark - Woodland Indians

Mounds of earth and shell - the Southeast

Houses of hide and earth - Plains Indians

Houses of adobe - the Southwest

Houses of wood - the Northwest Coast

Houses of snow, skin and bones - the Far North

To be honest, I also use a lot of Montessori Geography materials because I find they are so well organized. (I do use Montessori materials for Math, Grammar, and Geography because I find them superior to all others.) The two resources below are not incompatible with Waldorf in any way.

The biome maps created by Waseca are extremely intuitive for kids to use.

And I love the U.S.A. Location/Color map made by Nienhuis for hands-on practice in identifying the states by their shapes.

I've also got some links to FREE Teachers Pay Teachers games and activities (such as a word find with all 50 state capitals in it) for further review.

So browse the webpage and enjoy!

This week at the homeschool co-op we have done the following:

had a great Structured Word Inquiry lesson on "heart"

enjoyed Farm Day!

learned a blessing for lunchtime

    To sun and rain
    To grass and grain
    To all who toil
    On sea and soil
    That we may eat
    This daily food
    We give our loving
    Thanks to you

math skills practice

    GREAT FREE daily skills practice for grades 6, 7, and 8:
    set 1, set 2, and set 3 combine to give you a full year!

math homework

Fractions Quilt Bingo and Madame Periwinkle's Halloween Brew for emergency sub plans on Friday morning

Dewey Decimal System lesson

a field trip to the library on Tuesday, plus a stop by Toddler Story Time

a field trip to the High School Science Fair on Thursday

set up the window bird feeder and moved the window nest box to a quieter window, with the curtains closed so as not to scare off any nesting birds

Article of the Day

made homemade yogurt in the crockpot

started our new U.S. Geography read aloud story: the Newbery honor book Minn of the Mississippi by Holling Clancy Holling

assessed prior knowledge of U.S. Geography with Elimination Game (in pairs or small groups) -- students alternate turns identifying states; teacher answers disputes -- and States and Capitals pp.15-16 (individually)

began our new U.S. Geography main lesson block with the Woodland Indians and Mound Builders - using Bonnie Shemie's books Houses of Bark: Tipi, Wigwam, and Longhouse and Mounds of Earth and Shell

my chalkboard drawing inspired by this one of a Wampanoag Shelter

plus tracing and coloring the biome maps by Waseca (my web page also has a set of links where you can download and color your own instead of buying theirs) and the political maps from Ready-to-Use Outline Maps of the U.S. States and Regions: 159 Different Copyright-Free Maps Printed One Side by Phillip Runquist

list of "plates" below refers to the pages in this book

my choice of states for the Northeast Region
(New England and the Mid-Atlantic)

13 states (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, WV, VA)

    outline map of the Northeast on plate 21
    except Ohio

    States & Capitals List
    Maine - Augusta - plates 18, 28
    New Hampshire - Concord - plates 18, 28
    Vermont - Montpelier - plates 18, 28
    Massachusetts - Boston - plates 15, 28
    Rhode Island - Providence - plates 15, 28
    Connecticut - Hartford - plates 14, 28
    New York - Albany - plates 15, 28
    New Jersey - Trenton - plates 14, 28
    Pennsylvania - Harrisburg - plates 14, 28
    Delaware - Dover - plates 14, 28
    Maryland - Annapolis - plates 14, 28
    West Virginia - Charleston - plates 11, 27
    Virginia - Richmond - plates 11, 27

my choices of states for the Southeast Region
(Southeast and the Mississippi & Ohio Valleys)

15 states (NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MI, LA, AR, TN, KY, OH, IN, MI, WI, IL)

    outline map of the Southeast on plate 20
    plus Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois (plate 20)

    States & Capitals List
    North Carolina - Raleigh - plates 13, 27
    South Carolina - Columbia - plates 13, 27
    Georgia - Atlanta - plates 13, 27
    Florida - Tallahassee - plates 12, 27
    Alabama - Montgomery - plates 12, 27
    Mississippi - Jackson - plates 12, 27
    Louisiana - Baton Rouge - plates 12, 26
    Arkansas - Little Rock - plates 7, 26
    Tennessee - Nashville - plates 11, 27
    Kentucky - Frankfort - plates 11, 27
    Ohio - Columbus - plates 11, 26
    Indiana - Indianapolis - plates 10, 26
    Michigan - Lansing - plates 10, 26
    Wisconsin - Madison - plates 10, 26
    Illinois - Springfield - plates 10, 26

researched a field trip to Cahokia Mounds

for fun: Word Search - U.S. Capitals

Outside of the homeschool co-op, Becca also had her poetry workshop at the library on Thursday afternoon, attended her sister's History Fair presentation on Saturday (Leah's drama performance meant that her team tied for Best in Show and they will be competing at the State level in Illinois - yay!), and volunteered at Flyover Gardens.

Last year Becca made a lovely backboard about the Mound Builders, featuring the Great Serpent Mound rendered using a raised textured paint. We got the textured paint recipe here; here are some pictures of her work:

We tried many different ways of doing the title but she didn't want anything to detract from the sheer visual impact of her painting, so we went with something discreet.

Upcoming purchases:
I'm excited to get a Decimal Stamp Game because the daily math skills practice is showing me that we do still need a concrete material for carrying and borrowing with decimals. I also need a really good bird guide to place by the window bird feeder for easy reference.

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Sonlight Question

If you've ever considered the historical-literature based Sonlight Curriculum, now is the time to act.

I am looking into it RIGHT NOW for my daughter's ninth grade year, since her return to public school has knocked most of the self-motivation and intrinsic joy in learning out of her and I'm thinking of pulling her out immediately before the damage continues. Her GPA is a 3.17 and she just brought home a report card with a D in English, having gotten an F on her past three essays (which she didn't bother to write because she didn't think she would do well on them).

I'm looking now at repeating her ninth grade year, given that she just turned 15 on March 10th, and saying that her birthday is the start of her school year. I would love to do Oak Meadow because it would give her a transcript and a high school diploma but it is incredibly expensive at $2000 a course.

At the end of last year, Natalie told me that the Renaissance & Reformation Main Lesson Block was her favorite because of all of the historical fiction. So I think Sonlight is a reasonable option. I'm looking at

This comes to $1328.63 and from now until March 29th they have an offer where you pay just 25% as a down payment and pay off the rest in installments over twelve months. This is a great time to jump ahead and get next year's curriculum! Or, if you are like me, change curriculum options and give Sonlight a shot.

They recommend Rosetta Stone for foreign language (she's already taking German) and our public library has it for free. We also have the Craft Studio at the university, the activities that my homeschool co-op already does (including Structured Word Inquiry on Friday mornings and Farm Day on Wednesdays), plus the many community resources for enrichment that come from living in a college town.

Honestly, I don't really care what she learns as long as she is organized, self-motivated, enthusiastic, well-rounded, and gets to know herself as a learner as well as how to work well in a community with others. That does NOT appear to be the result of her public school experience, even though our local high school is rated highly. She did skip a grade when she was younger and I'm wondering if she just started high school too immature (I had her start first grade late, as Waldorf does, and a later school jumped her a grade to put her where they thought she should be). I wish I had listened to my gut and given her a "gap year" before high school instead of trying to figure out in March how to deal with this!!!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Song of the Swallows - Leo Politi

This morning I decided to do a story and some activities just for our family!

Yes... I just woke up today and realized that sometimes I give so much attention to the other students who come to do school with us that I forget to plan special family activities for just my four kids!

Today is St. Joseph's Day and the day the swallows come back to Capistrano. We started our Bird Activity Day with the 1948 Caldecott winning Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi.

We read the story (I need to update my list of picture books that have lyrics and sheet music in them... because this is a beautiful one) and got to work.

We brought in the lengths of twine hanging in the trees that no longer had Cheerios on them and the pinecones that no longer had peanut butter and birdseed on them. We brought in the hummingbird feeders and the bird bath and the bird feeders and got all the extra feeders from the garage and the window nest box from the Science Curriculum shelf and we sat down and cleaned everything.

We discarded the two feeders that were old and broken and plastic and not worth repairing. We went to the store and bought replacement suet feeders (the raccoons took ours) and fresh birdseed and a squirrel bungee feeder.... because I love to watch squirrels! And of course we spent some time at Rural King visiting with the baby chicks and ducklings and turkey poults.

We set up new pinecones with peanut butter and birdseed.

We refilled and set the bird feeders and suet cages back out.

We refilled and set the bird bath (an old pot which we fill to the very brim with water... they can hold onto the edge and drink merrily) back out.

We set up the Squirrel Kob Bungee and the Window Nest Box.

And since Zac adores watching the birds in the yard, I splurged and purchased a new bird feeder. It's a clear window bird feeder which attaches with a suction cup. It has a tray for feed and a protective overhang. We had one in my last classroom and the children just loved to watch the birds come right up to the window. We had a shelf nearby with a basket of bird guides plus clipboards and blank paper and colored pencils so the children could sketch and take notes and identify the birds they were watching.

Lastly, Zac helped me fill one extra suet feeder with pieces of colorful wool and cotton yarn for nesting material. I got this pretty idea from Pinterest and just loved it; an old metal ball whisk from your kitchen works too.

National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America


How do you like to make your yard welcoming to birds? If you have a great idea, please take a second and write a comment!

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Photos from Fables Camp

Grocery shopping today for some new dinner recipes:

Photos from our week-long Animal Fables Camp:

getting ready for felting

our favorite felting soap is Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap

a raw egg!

finished felted eggs

getting ready to act out "The Fox and the Stork" with a pair of chopsticks as the stork's beak

potato printing for "Foolish Words: A Jataka Tale"

using Live Education's Drawing Simple Animal Forms

wool felt finger puppets (including the red fox for "The Fox and the Grapes") from the patterns in Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals

dyeing silks for "The North Wind and the Sun"

100% silk scarves from Dharma Trading Company
+ iDye for Natural Fibers + white vinegar

watercolor painting of "The Lion and the Mouse" from Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach

quilling for "The Peacock and Juno"
(this is a more advanced project and would NOT be suitable for 2nd grade)

partially complete

Leah's (age 13) finished work is gorgeous

setting up the shadow puppetry for "The Crow and the Pitcher"

the underside of the chalkboard as a set

supplies for the multimedia collage for "The Great and Little Fishes"

watercolor pencils

experimenting with salt on wet watercolor paint

drawing backgrounds for movable pictures of "The Tortoise and the Hare"

a midground and a foreground, allowing for two race tracks

the midground and foreground come from one piece of paper which was torn lengthwise into two pieces

layering the pieces on top of one another, decorating them, and glueing them together (down the sides ONLY and not across the bottom), then making the animals and adding long strips of paper for handles

the finished picture, ready for the race to begin

mouse puppets from wooden spoons

a simple "Country Mouse and Town Mouse" set drawn on the chalkboard

weighing dry sponges for "The Salt Pedder and the Donkey"

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!