This week was a productive school week despite our whole crew getting reinfected and having another sick week! Daddy had to go in early all this week and that always allows us to get more schooling done. (Daddy is very distracting for momma in the best sort of ways!)
Between bleaching everything, boiling toothbrushes, cleaning puke bowls, double hot-washing sheets, and cleaning carpet, we amazingly started a new unit study on how our government works. And I’m so excited to share with you the books we found.
First, let me just say I will be putting together a post soon on all our resources for others to share so come back and visit us again!
I’ve been wondering when to do the whole government study thing for a while now. How do you fit that into a history schedule that you’ve got going that is rather chronological in order? But then Gabe casually walked up to me one day and asked what a President’s cabinet was if it wasn’t the kind in your kitchen. And Pop came up to me and casually asked if very soon he could take the kiddos down to the state capitol for a field trip. So I guess now would be as good as time as any to get started.
Then we read through this sweet little series by Peter and Cheryl Barnes that explores the three branches of our government. Why hasn’t anyone told me about these books? May I just rave for a minute about how well done they are!!! It is about a group of mice that go through the government process just as we people do. It is told in lyrical rhyme and just flows beautifully. And the attention to detail is amazing. It is a true living book that captures my youngest non-readers, who get a great introduction to concepts, and gives a great overview to my emerging readers, and provides great detail (architectural and historical) to an older child who is ready to dig in for a bit of research. It provides more complete information then I ever received in elementary social studies and it pulls everything together into a neat little package about why these things get done.
Woodrow for President takes us through the voting process including campaigning, primary versus general elections, parties, qualifications, virtues of good citizenship and so forth.
Woodrow, the White House Mouse takes us on a journey through the jobs of our President as well as an introduction to the White House and it’s different rooms and purposes. There is more information here then I ever learned in elementary school!
House Mouse, Senate Mouse teaches what the Legislative branch does and how the senate and house of represantives works together to pass a bill into a law. It also gives us an introduction into the workings of Washington D.C. and where all this takes place.
Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse introduces them to the Supreme Court and how that works. It also takes us inside the Supreme Court and compares to a courthouse that might appear in your town.
You can get the teacher guide to go with (which I did) and it is a wonderful resource full of discussion ideas, prompts for activities and research projects, how to get involved (through correspondance ~ complete with addresses they will need!), additional reading and kid-friendly websites for additional research. It also has a few coloring pages for the littles to feel involved and some copy-friendly templates for activity worksheets.
My kids LOVED reading these. I’m glad I sprung for them since my library didn’t carry them. We received used copies in good condition and the kids were tickled that all of our copies were autographed by the authors. One even had a typo in the book that the author had fixed and signed “Oops!” with her name underneath.
Gabe also read How the U.S. Government Works which is a bit dry but concisely explains concepts that he will need to know more about being the oldest. Mainly I wanted him to see why the three branches of government were started and this book does a good job of explaining in simplistic, yet detailed terms. He did an oral narration to me on the book and we went over how to say each of the branch names. I laugh everytime I think of how he was pronouncing legislative!
The older two worked on their math, of course, and Lily was excited to have finished her Kumon: Counting Coins book and her Kumon: Telling Time book. And I reread all the Moncure vowel books to the littles as well as Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosuars which rekindled Luc’s first love and spurred on a conversation about the tools needed for digging up real bones. (I love this book. It is perfect for homeschoolers who are trying to teach creation-based science even though this book is secular.)
That was all we did “formally” (due to the sick thing and all). But there was a lot of unschooling going on as well.
Lily was wondering about day and night and how God didn’t create the sun and moon till after the first days of creation so how could there be day and night yet and when did the first day actually start? Man, does she have some deep thinking in there! My husband and I were just discussing this the other night concerning our version of day compared to God’s in relation to the whole young earth-old earth theories. I had her flip through What Makes Day and Night after our discussion and set up a little hands-on experiment for her to observe for herself how the sun is connected to us counting days.
Gabe decided to get creative this week. He spent days working on this project of writing his own story. (Could be that his Mario game was taken away in a discipline decision. Imagine that…imagination blooms!) He was very serious about his work and frustrated when he finally put it all together and then couldn’t read it right beacause he had no idea what a margin was. We discussed the importance of margins and he went back and took the time to redo the whole booklet in order to get it just right. I was pretty impressed at how well he did with the quotes and comma usage.
Gabe was also seen carrying around his Painless Grammar book wherever he went…the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, to bed. That boy cracks me up. Who reads grammar?
Lily’s new Highlights magazine came in the mail and she just discovered the Table of Contents. I explained to her what this was, why it is used, and how to use it. She excitedly spent the next hour looking things up in her magazine.
Gabe also found this Word Processing book in my pile of library books to go through (you know, that pile of books you have going that need a decision on whether to write this title down for future use.) I noticed him reading it on quite a few different occasions and finally said, as casually as I could, that he could use the computer if he actually wanted to try any of the exercises. He jumped on the chance and learned how to open and save a document, create a folder, store documents in his folder, and write a letter.