Weeks Nineteen and Twenty of Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

This is the week of Candlemas, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and I find us just turning past the halfway point of our total number of school weeks this year.  If you want to know what we were doing in weeks seventeen and eighteen, try this back post https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/01/21/weeks-seventeen-and-eighteen-of-homeschooling-eighth-grade-fifth-grade-and-kindy/.

Kindergarten –  I really cracked down on our rhythm in week nineteen and we have worked hard to stay on task with meaningful work and festival preparations for Candlemas.  One of our favorite activities for this week’s Candlemas festival was making little beeswax walnut boats with candles.  We also made earth candles at our homeschool classes, and rolled beeswax sheet candles at home.    This week was the beginning of our two day a week forest kindergarten program and our kindergartener was very happy to spend time with friends and be in the woods.  We feel extremely fortunate to have such a program available in our area.

Fifth Grade – Last week we finished up Ancient Africa.  I mainly focused on Nubia, Kush, Meroe, the Mbuti and the San, with more to come in sixth and seventh grades.   Our fifth grader did a beautiful pastel picture of the African pharaohs that ruled Egypt and we talked about how there are actually more pyramids in Sudan than there are in Egypt.  Ancient African history is so fascinating!   We then  moved into Ancient China and talked about the geography of the land, and extensively about the Gobi Desert and the Bactrian camel  and camel caravans.   Our fifth grader wrote a little piece from the first person perspective about being a camel puller on a caravan and also modeled a camel in clay.  We reviewed some Chinese legends and learned about the biographies of  Confucius and Lao Tzu, and the Great Wall of China.  My original plan was to move into math and the Ancient Americas this week but my fifth grader is begging to start Greek Mythology, so we started at the end of this week with the land of Greece and introducing Mount Olympus and the battle of the Titans.  I don’t mind moving blocks around at all.  This year has just been like that, so I am just going with the flow of it.

We finished reading “The Golden Goblet”  for our Egyptian studies and now we are reading “Understood Betsy”, which to me is a rather regional New England book that was one of my favorites when I was a child.  A lot of the read-alouds I have chosen for this second half of the school year have to do with regions in the United States in preparation for our final block which will be North American Geography.  We are still working hard on math – all four processes, fractions, a little bit with decimals.  We are also working with spelling and spelling rules.  Our fifth grader is also doing some handwork in a class that meets the same time as our kindergartener is in forest kindergarten, and working hard in choir and for the church’s spring musical.  Our fifth grader will also be taking part in a play some homeschoolers are putting on for studies in Greek Mythology, and of course, the beloved barn shows are starting back this month as well.

Eighth Grade  – We wrapped up physics with making flying objects and learning about gravity, lift, thrust and drag, and about wings and rotors.  Great fun!  We studied many, many biographies of aviators, as I mentioned in the last post in this series, and our eighth grader completed a pencil drawing of Amelia Earhart that turned out well.

We started our Geography of Asia block with a review of the geography and some of the history of China, along with a pencil drawing;  then we mainly focused on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and a comparison and contrast of  Mao Zedong/Tse-Tung and Chiang Kai -Shek.  After that,  we moved into Korea and a discussion of the geography and history of Ancient Korea and more modern history including the division of North and South Korea, the DMZ,  and what life may be like in North Korea.  We are now talking about Japan and Japanese history.  We will have Vietnam, and Borneo to talk about and then we will move into Oceania.  After this block, we will jump into Oceanography, which my inner marine lover is heartily looking forward to!

We finished our read aloud, “The Brooklyn Bridge” by Karen Hesse (please, please pre-read for your eighth grader as it is a wonderful book but has some more mature themes and may not be wonderful for very sensitive children) and we are now reading “Water Buffalo Days:Growing Up in Vietnam” , obviously about Vietnam, which we will cover next week.  I also have the books “Red Scarf Girl” and “The Good Earth” tapped to read for this block.

We are also working hard on ratios, direct and inverse proportions for math, and high school Spanish.  Choir and preparing for the  church musical and now a fortunate turn to have a class in doll-making for our eighth grader, is  also keeping us busy.  Horse shows are starting up again this month, so we are also busy at the barn.

I would love to hear what you are working on.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Weeks Seventeen and Eighteen of Homeschooling Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade and Kindy

We are still here in January, awaiting snow or ice or some combination.  For the Deep South, even a tiny amount of precipitation shuts things down ( mainly due to ice), so it will be interesting to see what happens.  This weekend I planned to gather with some fellow homeschoolers to talk about our experiences in  homeschooling grades 5-9, so I hope that still can happen!

We have been busy the past few weeks – hiking a lot, horses, and two new choir ribbons earned!  Very exciting indeed.  We have been reading a lot, and drawing and building by the fire and just enjoying this month.

Kindergarten – So the past two weeks have really seen us trying to step up “work of the day”.  Lisa’s e-courses are always great at getting me back on track when I feel things are sliding a bit  and I am so appreciative.  This month is on play (plus rhythm as always) and it has been very in-depth and enjoyable learning.  We have been vacuuming, baking bread, dusting, cleaning windows, filling birdfeeders, painting, modeling, finger knitting (and yes, our kindergartener really wants to knit on needles like his big sisters), and making winter crafts like little suncatchers to freeze overnight and then hang up in our (sadly, one and only) tree.  We have been hiking a lot as well.  Our circle is still a Winter circle, and our story has been “Shingebiss”, which is one of my absolute favorites.

Fifth Grade – Ancient Egypt has been great fun.  We ended up with a wet on wet painting of the Land of Egypt and a summary, a painting of a Pharaoh, a drawing of a pyramid, a beautiful drawing of a man gathering papyrus and we have modeled pyramids .  We have listened to  all the tales of Isis, Osiris, Horus and Set; read the book “Pyramid”; played with hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone,  and we are now finishing up “The Golden Goblet”.  This week we moved into Ancient Africa, mainly the land of Nubia and also the Mbuti and the San.  Next year we will pick up with Hatshepsut, Aksum, Great Zimbabwe and more.  Right now my main goal was to point out that Africa was the cradle of civilization.  and  that there were many things happening on the African continent.  I just love Africa and look forward to covering more and more in these grades 5-8.

Lastly, we started at the very end of this week to cover just a bit about the Phoenicians.  Sixth Grade Rome makes more sense if you have just a tiny bit of background about the Phoenicians, I think.    Next week we will start a little math block involving the Ancient Americas and chocolate that I wanted to do in fall and it just didn’t happen.  So,  looking forward to that.

We have been working hard on spelling and math, and drawing and painting.  I hope during our math block we will do some more writing about the Ancient Americas as well.    We are also doing some handwork and reading aloud as a family.    That is nice for winter!

Eighth Grade – We are wrapping up physics. We did many experiments regarding the nature of air, the use of a clinometer, and made many flying objects and experimented with those.    We looked at the biographies of our children’s great-grandfather, who was a test pilot; Amelia Earhart; Ruth Elder; Bessie Coleman and the Tuskegee Airmen.  We got many books out of the library and have been having fun discussing everything from parachutes to hang gliders to jet planes.  We have learned the aviator alphabet and worked on portrait drawing as well in this block.

In World Geography, we are wrapping up Latin America.  We reviewed all the political and geographic features of Latin America,  a little about NAFTA, and our eighth grader chose a country to make a travel brochure.  We also are reading about the Panama Canal and a summary on that will go in our Main Lesson book.

Our next block is actually Geography of Asia, so that will count toward World Geography credit hours for high school credit.  We are relieved to have a little reprieve of doing geography on top of a Main Lesson!

We are still working on math daily and on Spanish I for our outside teacher.  4-H is starting to get busy again, but we are unfortunately going to miss poultry judging this year due to a time conflict, but there are plenty of things to work on.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen of Homeschooling Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade and Kindergarten

It has been good to get back into a more normal routine after the holidays.  Normally we take a break until Epiphany, but this year we lost quite a bit of time in the fall, so we started back on Monday.  I made a revised schedule of blocks for both eighth and fifth grade, and whilst we will finish later than usual for us for the school, I feel that in light of the fall we are doing the best we can do. If you would like to look back and see what we were doing in weeks twelve through fourteen, please see this article

This week has been a beautiful celebration of Epiphany, culminating today and tomorrow in lots of time at church for our Epiphany Celebration where the children put on a scripted musical.  We are looking forward to it!  We also spent a lot of time hiking the past few weeks, including several times up a local mountain, which our kinder really enjoyed.

Kindergarten – Kindergarten in Week Fifteen (the week before we took off for the holidays) and Week Sixteen (this week) was spent hiking, ice skating, baking and cooking, wet on wet watercolor painting and modeling.  This week we moved into a Winter Circle, and the story “The Holy Nights” from the WECAN book, “Tell Me A Story”.  This week also centered around things for our Epiphany Celebration at home, including baking an Epiphany Cake.  Lots of fun!  Our kinder has been walking around adding and subtracting out loud, copying letters that others have written, and overall just appearing ready for what will come in the fall.  I am grateful he has this extra time to just be before he embarks on first grade.

Fifth Grade -This week we moved on from Ancient Mesopotamia and the land of Gilgamesh into Ancient Egypt.  We finished up Ancient Mesopotamia with three paintings and summaries of: the land itself, the  ziggurat and its role, and Gilgamesh.  Gilgamesh was one of the favorite stories of the whole year so far.  I am partial to the Geraldine McCreaghean version.  For Egypt, I pulled from various sources to describe the land of Egypt and the Nile River Valley, the life of the Egyptians and yes, pyramids and mummification. At the very end of the week we began the story of Osiris and Isis.  I hope to wrap Egypt up next week and move into Ancient Africa, something not typically covered in a Waldorf School curriculum, but one I wanted to cover this year so seventh grade Africa is not such a huge block with no background.  Then we will cover Ancient China, and of course, before the year is through, Ancient Greece.  We will be covering the Ancient Americas as tied in with a math block as well.

We are working hard on spelling and math daily.  We finished reading about John Muir and are starting to read “The Golden Goblet” as a read aloud to tie into Egypt.  Other than that, for drama, our fifth grader is Mary in our church’s Epiphany Celebration,so that has been rehearsals.  We are still riding horses as well through the winter months and lots of choir practice for the Spring Musical and ribbon practice for choir.

Eighth Grade – We finished Chemistry.  Everything this year has been at the pace of a snail, so I feel as if it has taken us awhile!  We made it through carbohydrates, and what ended up in our Main Lesson Books was a page about the three classes of carbohydrates, a comparison of the solubility of sugar and salt, and the breakdown of starch with hydrochloric acid and the use of  Benedict’s Solution to test for simple sugars.  We did quite a few other projects and demonstrations for carbohydrates, including making an iodine solution and testing for the presence of starch and many baking projects.  With proteins, we looked carefully at the special role of proteins in the body,  enzymes (which was also in seventh grade chemistry too), we burned proteins,  and looked at the coagulation of casein.  One of our major experiments was testing proteins using the biuret reaction, and more cooking.  We especially looked at bone broths and the role of protein in healing bone broths and went through the best way to make bone broths, the benefits of broth and recipes for broth.  Lastly, we looked at fats and oils – their role in the body, what  makes a fat saturated or unsaturated, what essential fatty acids the body cannot produce,  testing for fats, the use of coconut oil, extracting an essential oil from lemon peel (and did a black and white charcoal drawing of lemons), looked at common oils, and emulsions.  It was a full block, and now we are moving into physics.

I pared physics down due to running low on time so we are going to do mainly aerodynamics.  Our eighth grader’s great-grandfather was a test pilot, so I started with his biography and we looked at the aviator’s alphabet and the nature of air through several experiments. One of the main sources I am using for this is actually not a Waldorf resource, but the book “The Sky’s The Limit!” by Adair, Ivans, Shennan, et al in conjunction with “Physics Is Fun!” (a Waldorf resource).  Also, there are many wonderful biographies to look at – Amelia Earhart, the Wright Brothers, Bessie Coleman, and the Tuskegee Airmen.

We are still reading “The Brooklyn Bridge” aloud and will next read about Woodrow Wilson in preparation for our upcoming World History block.  Our eighth grader is reading Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” independently now and is answering questions about these stories and themes twice a week.  We are reviewing decimals, percentages and ratios as well.  Our eighth grader has also been working hard on Spanish as a mid-semester project was due with an outside teacher, and also her 4H Portfolio was due as well.  Horses, choir and ribbon and piano practice and more 4H have kept everyone busy!

I would love to hear what you are working on.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Preparing the First Block of First Grade

Some of you are already thinking of planning your first block of first grade.  I have just planned our first block.  This is my third time teaching first grade, and while each child is so different, I think there are some general tips that can be helpful to any parents planning a block.

If you have looked at the festivals of the year, your school year calendar, observed your child, and planned what blocks when plus gathered resources, you are ready to start planning your first block in detail.  If you are NEW to Waldorf homeschooling, you really need to understand the “why” and “how”. WHY do we do form drawing as the first block and HOW is it typically done?    Steiner’s educational lectures are the cornerstone in this regard, along with secondary pedagogical resources.

Many parents look at each block in terms of setting a goal for artistic work, soul development, and academic capabilities.  First grade is especially about getting children into their bodies, so to me this is an especially logical place to start.  I like to come up with an outline for each day and week. So, in our case, I have our day started with movement,  using the movement block rotation listed at the Movement for Childhood website. I also like to plan “movement breaks”  from this website as I know I will need them during the time spent with my child.

Then I look at establishing a daily order:  for example, after movement our order may be  our opening verse and active circle, active math, what the main lesson (in this case, form drawing) actually will be each day , and the ending of our day.  In our case, our first grader will also spend time each day working with his older sisters, so that will be listed as well – what they will be doing with him each day, whether that is cooking or handwork or reading to him or playing games.

Once you have this order of what happens during the time you are together,  and what happens each day of the week outside of the “main lesson time”, it is easy to make a template and start to plug things in from your resources or to make up what you need from your own creative and authentic self.  What will your movement, opening verse, active circle, active math, main lesson work be each day?   Look things up and create your own things!  You can write your own poetry or verses or songs and make up your own poetry!  Steiner outlined the first several days of first grade in his lectures, so looking at his indications is also an essential first step to planning the main lesson part of your template.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to draw from your child’s interests when it is developmentally appropriate.  For one child, when we did form drawing, I drew a lot from a story I made up about pond life and the movement of the animals, wind and things around the ponds in our local area.  For another child, I did form drawing based upon the stories and characters of Brambly Hedge.  You will find the right thing for your child if you just sit with it all for a little bit.  It will come. Trust the inspiration that comes to you!  It will be the right thing for your child.

Many blessings, and thank you for letting me share,

Carrie

 

January Homeschool Planning

Sometimes I find this quiet, post-Holiday time when the weather is not always as nice a good time to think ahead for the next school year. I have written many back posts about planning, but I will keep writing new ones because I want mothers new to homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling to know that homeschooling is really possible, and that if you want to homeschool using the pedagogy laid forth by Rudolf Steiner, that is possible too.  In the same breath, however, the world is full of possibilities, but it takes work and follow-through to make it come to fruition.  You have to have the will to plan, and also the ability to follow-through on any given day with the plans you have made.  This is what makes homeschooling a successful endeavor.

Despite the bad press that buying “curriculum” gets in the Waldorf homeschooling world (because Waldorf Education is a living, breathing art that flows between a particular teacher and a particular student in a particular time and place), I do believe there can be a place for curriculum, Maybe you are trying to get your feet under you or maybe it is a particularly bad year due to personal  illness or other circumstances.  I don’t think we should feel guilt about that.  Resources in Waldorf homeschooling are important, whatever “resources” might mean to you, and I want mothers to know that you can put your year together yourself.  It is not hard, and if you work at it, it gets easier each year.

One way I like to start for those working from scratch is to look at the year as an entirety – the cycle of festivals – and sketch that out with ideas for celebrating with music,food, crafts or activities.  That is a good place to begin.

Then, I like to look at a calendar and look at when we might start school and end school for the school year 2015-16.  When might our vacations be?  Things change over time as well – when my older two children were smaller we took a lot of time off in December, and now we have more of a break somewhere toward the end of September and we take less time over December.  If you know your state laws and know how many days you have to school, then that will help you figure out how many weeks of school that you need and how many days a week.

Those under the age of 7 are really just in the rhythm of life and the family and that is a constant, nourishing presence.  Know what ages you need to start reporting to your state for “school hours” – many states do not have reporting requirements for those under a certain age.  Grades 1-4 or 5 can probably get school done in 4 days a week, sometimes grade 6 as well, depending upon how long your days are.  Grades 6 and 7 and up often really need all five days.

Then spend some time thinking, really thinking,  about your child or children. What do they really need this upcoming year?  What can you plan out ahead of time or are there areas that are changing so rapidly you cannot predict what this child will need so far ahead?  That is valid too.  What could you do now to lessen your summer planning?  What might be most important for balancing your child, addressing strengths, weaknesses, capacities?  What academic, artistic, and soul content material would you like to develop?

With this in mind and knowing the number of weeks you will have in the school year, you can see what blocks you want to include.  Blocks can run as short as two weeks to six or eight weeks.  Only you and your experience as a teacher, and looking at the child IN FRONT OF YOU, can figure that out.    This is something that absolutely NO curriculum can tell you, and this is part of being a homeschool teacher!  What I advise is to  leave space in the rhythm of the school year – so if you have 36 weeks of school planned, DON’T plan blocks to cover all 36 weeks. Leave some wiggle room in there and plan maybe 33 or 34 weeks of block material.  It probably will take you 36 weeks!

Lastly, start gathering lists of books and supplies. A good place for new Waldorf homeschoolers to start is to look at places such as Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore and Waldorf Library On-Line and see what  things are listed by grade.  More experienced Waldorf homeschoolers seem to gather many books, Waldorf and not Waldorf, by topic,  and can “make it Waldorf”.  That is something that also comes with experience.

Anyway, this is food for thought for this month of new beginnings.  I recently planned the first block of first grade for our third child, and I am planning on writing a post on that so you can see one mother’s experience (mine) of putting a block together.

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Eighth Grade American History Block One

I put together an outline for eighth grade American History and decided to share it in hopes it will help other mothers.  History can be some of the hardest blocks to put together for several reasons:  because there is so much, because we are trying to teach through themes and biographies which is different than the way we were taught in school, and because we are trying to bring in  light in the darkness of some of these time periods for our children in the upper grades of six through eight.

We did Colonial history and American independence in seventh grade, so I picked up with Native Americans in the opening of this block.  I wanted to paint a picture of our country with its First Nations, and how these changes were affecting these nations.  Since we live in an area of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears, I wanted to use a different Native American group to show that what happened in our area was not isolated. I chose the Navajo and the Long Walk.  We began with Navajo poetry and the book “Sing Down the Moon” by Scott O’Dell.  We really worked with this book from a literary analysis kind of perspective.  From there, we went to the biography of Thomas Jefferson – what did he look like? what did his contemporaries say about him? what was important to him?  what were his interests?  We studied the Louisiana Purchase, and the journey of Lewis and Clark and the biographies of Lewis, Clark, York and Sacajawea.  Our main read aloud was Burchac’s “Sacajawea”.

From there we moved into Westward Expansion, the Erie Canal and the Golden Age of Canals (the Erie Canal was not the only canal!!), the steamboat.  From there we looked at Texas – how did Texas form as an independent Republic, biographies of famous Texans of this time period, The Mexican –American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe and why this was important.

We reviewed the ideas of Manifest Destiny and how the brief Pony Express still captures the minds of Americans.  Wae looked at Sutter’s Mill and the California Gold Rush (the first major gold rush in the US actually was here in the Southeast and not too far north of where we live so we have been there to look at things), how this impacted the Native American population and we looked at how this lead to things like the race for faster ships and then the growth of the clipper ships and whaling industry in the Northeast.  Then we looked at general technological advances, mainly through the biography of Eli Whitney and the cotton gin and how this only increased and entrenched slavery in the south and led to immigration in the North (although we also talked about the telegraph, John Deere, the vulcanization of rubber, etc)   I talked about some of the resources and things we are doing in our Civil War studies in the back posts where I recap every few weeks what we have done in eighth grade.

So we are essentially looking at all the events leading up to the Civil War, the biography of Abraham Lincoln and some of the famous Africans who struggled for freedom,  the Underground Railroad, and then specifically at the battles and course of the war through the biographies of Lee, Grant and Sherman.  Then to reconstruction, the 13th and 14th Amendments, and biographies to compare and contrast Booker T. Washington and WEB DuBois.  We will talk specifically about the rebuilding of Atlanta and the beginning of the historical black colleges in our area.  We will then look at Custer, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull and I hope to talk about the Lakota Waldorf School and the Pine Ridge Reservation today.  The last things we are going to talk about will include Joseph McCoy and the rise of the Cattle Industry, and the Transcontinental Railroad with a special and close look at the Chinese laborers who made the building of this railroad possible.

We will pick up History again in February and cover The Gilded Age right through the War on Terrorism, Israel-Palestine, the Information Age/Digitality (nanotechnology), and the the third millenium – what are the challenges, what is our responsibility or role?  Just planting seeds for high school!

Later in the spring, we  also will  have a Peacemakers block where we will cover the important biographies of Harriet Tubman and Sojurner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr, (and compare and contrast Martin Luther King Jr to Malcolm X; I read a biography of Malcolm X this summer that was very interesting), Andrew Young and John Lewis from our own state.  We will also talk about Women’s Rights with Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B Anthony, Wangari Maathai and Malala Yousafzai.  Lastly, we will end with a look at nationalist Peace Movements with Ghandi, a look at Sierra Leone and Liberia, along with Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah, and Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the fight against apartheid.    Other figures may be covered during read-alouds or assigned independent reading – some many great figures to be covered.  Other areas will be covered in our World Geography track and our Asian Geography block (the Dalai Lama will certainly be included in our Asian Geography block).

Our eighth grader will be over fourteen and a half by the time we hit the last parts of this, and is pretty ready for these topics. This outline could be completely different based upon the child in front of you!  So, don’t take my word and run with it – look at your child, dig around in your history books and on websites and see what you would like to bring in when.

Blessings,
Carrie

Week Eight of Homeschooling Eighth and Fifth Grade: The Civil War and More

Last week we were on vacation, so here we are at Week Eight of school!  You can see what we did in weeks three through seven in this post.

Six Year Old Kindergarten: This week we have been working on an Orchard Circle to tie in with the apple picking we did before Michaelmas.  We also are working with the Feast Days of Saint Francis of Assisi  (October 4th) and St. Teresa of Avila (October 15th).  This week we have also taken long walks in the fall leaves, played outside, baked apples in varying forms, learned about the frogs along the creek in our area, and made little wet felted shooting stars to go with our story  “Hugin and the Shooting Stars” and Michaelmas.

This is also the week of the stomach virus (no fun) and also birthday week, so we have had fun getting ready for a little celebration at the park!

Fifth Grade – Botany, the block that never ends!  This is right up there with our Third Grade Native Americans block for length!  We are done this week with botany, despite a brief fight with a stomach virus and a day of taking our dog to the doggie hospital for follow-up appointments.  We started the week by recapping conifers and the ecology of the longleaf pine habitat in our state.  We moved into trees and visited our local arboretum.  Lastly, we explored the flowering plants through the Lily and the Rose and will end with a brief discussion about biomes.  I would like to get in a visit to either our State Botanical Garden or the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, so guess I will just see what will work out in our schedule. 

We have also been working hard on spelling, cursive writing, and math. We are currently reading “Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter” by Astrid Lindgren.  This week also was beautiful horses, choir, swimming and a horse show.

Eighth Grade – This week was working on typing, high school Spanish, and math.  In our geography track that we are working on all year, we worked on Main Lesson Book pages for Antarctica and North America and some supplemental reading.  In our review of the United States, we talked about an article that was originally published stating Houston would overcome Chicago as the third most populous city – and why this ended up being inaccurate.  We used news articles to look at population demographics and things that affect whether a city or town is booming or not, is a bigger city better, etc.  It was an interesting discussion!

Our block right now is American History. We started this week with the Gold Rush, and looked at how this affected the Native American population of California (and we also tied this into current events looking at the canonization of Junipero Serra by Pope Francis).  We also studied the life of a “49’er” – did they really get rich? and sang music from this time period.  We also  looked at the general increase of  technological inventions  in the beginning  of the nineteenth century and how this affected Americans (particularly how the cotton gin led to the entrenchment of slavery).  For more about the devastating effects of the cotton gin and African American historical figures from this time period, I highly recommend the PBS Series “Africans in America” (the hyperlink has the teacher resources) and you can find the videos themselves on YouTube.

We looked carefully at how  African- Americans were faring in the North and South as our prelude to the Civil War.  How were the lives of our African brothers and sisters the same or different?   We also opened our look at the Civil War with poetry about the Civil War, and quotes in general by Civil War Generals.  We started looking at the cause/s of the Civil War.

For this part of the block in general, I made a list of things we were going to cover and a list of “How To Become a Civil War Scholar” with the requirements for our Civil War Studies.  For example,  I made a reading list of books from the library regarding the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Underground Railroad, medical care of soldiers during the Civil War and the role of women in the Civil War and  am requiring a half hour of reading a day from this stack in addition to what I am presenting when we are together. Mainly I am presenting through biographies, which has been quite a bit of research for me, but also a lot of fun.

We  picked several hands- on projects to do associated with this time period (my eighth grader picked making a pinhole camera and a telegraph).  We have also used the attainment of our Civil War Badge and Underground Railroad Badge through the National Parks service as part of this block’s experiential learning. We have several Civil War field trips planned and have already visited Manassas Battlefield this summer in preparation for this block as we were in that area.  The discussion about the Civil War will move us into Civil Rights in the spring and has already brought us into present day current events – notably, South Carolina’s decision to remove the confederate flag in July of this year.  The other things I am requiring in this Civil War section is the learning of several Civil War era songs, the completion of our Main Lesson book pages, and several lengthier essay length questions.  We are also making a glossary of Civil War terms and memorizing the Gettysburg Address.

There will be a test at the end of this American History block.  The only other block I have ever given a test on was Africa, because I loved that block so in seventh grade.  So, this will be new and interesting for my student. Ha.  I haven’t written the test yet, but will let you know!

We are finishing reading “Sacajawea” by Bruchac this week and moving into “Elijah of Buxton” and then the life of Harriet Tubman.  Independent reading assigned right now is “Rider of the Pony Express” by Ralph Moody and then Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” which actually ties into Westward Expansion, interestingly enough.

This week was also Wildlife Judging for 4-H, choir and youth group (a whole lot of youth group, which I am also volunteering in in various capacities), horses and a horse show.

Would love to hear what you are up to this week!

Blessings,
Carrie