Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh the History at Jamestown

I have always been very interested in early American History, even as a child. I remember I had a friend who came over a few times to play and we would make pilgrim hats out of paper and play pilgrims. Our visit to Jamestown last week was fabulous (albeit a bit warm, but what am I complaining about right? It's been 52 degrees in Michigan this week!) Jamestown was the 2nd historical place we visited on our trip. This was the place that is a recreation of the actual fort which has been discovered just down the beach at an archaeological dig (we visited that later in the day).

We were lucky enough to take advantage of all that "Home School Days" were providing, which included a 2 hour guided tour of Jamestown. The first stop was out to see the route that the English settlers took to get here. It fit perfectly with our studies of maps this year. The girls seemed very interested in seeing the map and the voyage itself.

After looking at the map and talking about how long it took the settlers to reach what would be the colonies (just over 4 months!), the girls were shown various implements the sailors would use while sailing. Here Peanut is looking at a compass which floated in a box so that the compass could spin allowing it to follow north.

After discussing how the sailors were able to know where they were going and follow their maps, we were able to board the 3 recreated ships that were sitting in the harbor. WONDERFUL ships that really gave us a feel for what it must have been like to have 100 men stuck in the ship for all those months!

After visiting the fort itself we were escorted to the Powhatan Indian Village that was outside the fort. The girls were able to see how the Indians made canoe's out of a tree. I always assumed they chopped the insides right out, not true. They actually slowly burned the insides out and used very large shells as tools to scrape out the burned log. The girls LOVED being able to scrape the log out and felt like they really helped in making this canoe.

And of course, when you work hard, it is nice to enjoy your reward....

I'll share some more Indian village pictures tomorrow. I think that Peanut really enjoyed Jamestown the most. Today for English we began talking about Word Webs and rough drafts and she needed to write about something we have experienced together. She chose to write about the trip to the Indian Village at Jamestown!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Homeschool Days in Virginia

We just arrived home from a trip to Virginia. We were lucky enough to spend nearly a week in the Williamsburg area and we enjoyed Home School Days at Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. After 3 days of tours of historical areas we ventured down the coast a bit and enjoyed 2 nights at the First Landing State Park and enjoyed swimming in the Chesapeake Bay and making memories with some dear friends of ours.
Our first day was spent at Williamsburg. It was a wonderful place full of colonial history. Since we had spent the first 6 weeks of school last year discussing colonial America, the two older girls had a grasp on what was happening in the colonies during that time. When we first arrived they had this amazing "map" of the town for us to look at. Since we are studying maps this year, the girls all enjoyed looking at the map. Sweet Baby even recognized the compass rose on this one.

During Home School weeks all three historical areas had extra hands on activities and guided tours for home school families. Almost as soon as we entered Williamsburg the girls were able to dip their own bees wax candles. They really enjoyed that!

We really enjoyed visiting the Governor's Palace. It was a beautiful stately residence that we were able to walk through. It was amazing to think that something so lavishly decorated was here in the colonies with the knowledge that so many of the colonists were living in terrible conditions.

Here is a shot of the foyer in the Palace. See all those muskets and swords around the fireplace and lining the wall? They are ALL over the foyer, even on the ceiling, and they were all removable so that the residents of the Palace could quickly remove them if they were in danger and needed protection.

Here is a final shot of our day at Williamsburg...Sissy and Peanut in the stocks. I love the fact that Sissy was fully aware that sitting in the stocks would not have been an enjoyable experience (look at her expression). Then there is our ever smiling Peanut who would have been able to find joy and happiness...even in the stockades!
More from our trip tomorrow. My personal favorite place - Jamestown.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Class Pet

I GUESS we have a class pet. This is "Coral" and "she" was named by her new owner, Sweet Baby. I've been pretty sick with a sinus infection and skipped going to church last night so I could rest some more. When everyone came home I heard Sweet Baby yell, "Mom, I got a fish!" Of course I assumed she meant that she crafted some fish in class. But she said, "Quick, get her out, her bag is leaking!" I knew this was no paper fish! Sure enough, inside the leaking bag was "Coral". The teachers were nice enough to include the bowl and a ziploc of fish food as well. They are teaching about the days of creation and just last night they talked about God creating fish, so it made sense to send a fish home with the kids...right? Sweet Baby is in love! We'll be going to the library to get books about goldfish so we can read all about Coral. One of the exciting things was when Peanut said, "Mom, aren't goldfish cold blooded?" Made me giddy inside since we talked about that last winter. She remembered!!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sweet Way to End the Week

The first two weeks of school had us learning about maps and globes. We talked about things like latitude and longitude, the equator, the continents and the hemispheres. We ended our week by making a world cake. I baked a round cake and then mixed the blue "ocean". Sissy spread the ocean. I went ahead and drew the outlines of the continents (don't laugh at the terrible job I did!) and was shocked when I finished the outline of Greenland and the girls shouted, "That's Greenland!" After I drew the outlines the girls filled them in.

Because we spent some time talking about physical maps and the types of information that can be found there, we decided to use chocolate chips to show where mountains can be found.

I also mixed up some different colored frosting and had Peanut draw the equator. She knew that it went right across the middle of the earth but since Mom didn't do the best job drawing the continents, I didn't want Florida to be in the southern hemisphere so we made the equator a bit lower than it actually is. Daddy said it is the "quarter-quater".
I think the best part about this cake is that we shared it with people we love. We went to the home of some home schooling friends to celebrate the end of the first couple weeks of school. We had snacks like a world cake, popcorn and played the Wii till the wee hours of the evening.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Children Around the World

These first 2 weeks of My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures has us exploring the use of maps and globes. We have been talking about the fact that there are people all over the world that have different religious beliefs from ours. The older girls each have 20 minutes of "Book Basket" time. The book basket is filled with books that relate to what we are studying. Right now we have several geography books, story books about traveling the world and some wonderful books that show children from various countries in their traditional dress and providing various information about them.

Today for art the girls created paper dolls that are holding hands. (Mom did the folding of the paper and cutting of the dolls since they were afraid they would mess them up). After the dolls were cut out the girls dressed the dolls like various children from around the world - in their traditional dress. Sissy created a girl from Sweden in her St. Lucia dress, a girl from China and a monk. Peanut did a child from Hong Kong, a child from China in her Kimono and a boy from Ethiopia. We now have them hung near our world map. It was a project that took them about and hour and allowed mom to get a bit of laundry done and dishes put away!

New Friend Was Visiting

Yesterday Sissy went out to get the mail and came running back inside yelling, "Come see what is in the driveway!" Since she is very skittish of animals and bugs, she wasn't about to touch it and stood way back, but Peanut was intrigued and was checking it out..

...she really liked watching it bring its head in and out of its shell. The girls were able to see the claws and the tail and when we go to the library today, I think we'll look for some books on turtles to add to their book basket. We kept it in a bucket for the day so they could run out and check on it (Peanut named him Fire because of the pretty red stripes on his underside.) We did let him go after dinner and if it weren't for the mosquitos eating us alive, we would have watched him run off till we couldn't see him anymore. Peanut delighted in picking him up, but she was the only one of the girls brave enough to do that!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Learning to Read

This is only our 2nd year homeschooling (after having the two oldest in public school) and so I have never had a kindergartner to teach. I have really been struggling with the prospect of being responsible for this responsibility. Peanut came out of kindergarten reading at least a grade level above her and of course I wonder if I'll cause Sweet Baby to be behind by the time we are done with this year.

We are using Sing, Spell, Read and Write and Sweet Baby is really enjoying it. So far we have been able to do one letter a day and we are starting "G" today. She enjoys the song and she sings along to as she uses her pointer finger and points to the letter and the picture of the sound the letter makes at the same time.

Sweet Baby has about 12 small sight words that she knows and one of them includes the word "at". I realized that we had done enough letters for her to be able to start putting them together to make words like "dad", "cab", etc. So we talked about how to squish the sounds together to make words. I pulled out a book that has short "a" words and she was able to sound out 4 words with only a small amount of help - "cat, rat, sat, bat"! I was so excited for both of us that I nearly cried!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day's 2 and 3

We took a "mental health day" on the 2nd day of school. So how crazy is that? Dear family friends moved early Tuesday night and we were saying our good-bye's the evening before. There was very little sleep at our house that evening and then as we were finishing our Bible and went into prayer, Sissy was really struggling to get through without falling apart. The principal decided to declare a "mental heath day".

Here the girls are creating their John 3:16 poster. Because I wanted them to be able to store part of the poster in their notebooks when we are done with it, I had each girl create their own 8x10 poster that was then glued onto the larger poster board. One section has John 3:16 typed nice and large as well. We are hanging this above our world map so that we can be mindful of all of the people in the world that we need to remember in our prayers. To get the kids thinking of how lucky we are to have access to Bibles, we also read God Speaks Nummangang twice and my kids love it. It is a small book that was produced by our curriculum company - My Father's World. Sissy was amazed to learn that there are 700 languages in Paupa New Guinea alone and Sweet Baby just likes saying "Nummangang".

We decided on an impromptu nature walk at a local nature area with a couple friends. In science we are studying various habitats and in 2 weeks will be talking about forests. The crazy thing is that the mosquito's are so bad here right now that they were driving us out of the forest!

Today we discussed the equator and the hemispheres that are created by the equator. In addition the girls colored the 7 continents, drew the equator and labeled the hemispheres.

Hopefully I'll get a chance this weekend to share how we are organizing our day and let you know how the first week went! Until then, have a great day!