The Pony Express Unit Study

We had a good first week back to school. The week was unbearably hot and humid (as in so humid my glasses fog up everytime I step outside) that it made me once again glad that I made the decision to homeschool in the summer and take a much needed spring break. It was a little harder for the kids to get back into the swing of things. Gabe, who’s nine, is very aware now that other kids have a long summer break and made sure I knew he wanted one too. Needless to say, we did a lot of retraining on habits and character heart training.

That said, we used our afternoons to do more formal workbox schooling and the mornings to work together on a particular subject. This week was the Pony Express. I must admit I had been putting this study off for a while. I just couldn’t get my head around what I wanted to do. Then I found some great activities (see below) that helped shape things up for me. The only thing I couldn’t find that I wanted was a mapping activity and copywork so I made my own (see below).

Pony Express Living Books we read:

The Sweetwater Run: The Story of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Pony Express by Andrew Glass – This tells the story of a young 13 year old boy who wants to join the Pony Express but is slightly too young. Through a series of events he ends up on the trail with important news of a new president.  This one is fun to read with the right voices.

Wanted: A Few Bold Riders by Darice Bailer ~ This is the story they liked the best. Gabe did one of his best narrations ever remembering more small details then he ever has. The story line is a group of kids who visit a museum and one of the boys ends up imagining himself as one of the displays. Is very relatable and grabs the kids attention right away.

Black Storm Comin’ by Diane Lee Wilson ~ This story is about a 12 year old boy who ends up on the trail. It is a completely engaging story from the very first chapter and I aim to borrow the book from Gabe when he is done. Good novel for junior high age.

Hoofbeats of Danger (An American Girl History Mystery) – Lily loves the American Girl stories. This is her first History Mystery. A good starter chapter book for mid-upper elementary.

Postal History Picture Books:

The Post Office Book: Mail and How it Moves by Gail Gibbons – What’s more to say? It’s Gail Gibbons!

In My Neigborhood: Postal Workers by Paulette Bourgois ~ Littles favorite mail book. A little boy makes a birthday card to grandma. The card makes its trip through the postal system. Quite detailed while maintaining audience attention!

Literature ~ read historical fiction of this time period

Grammar ~ learn formal letter writing skills

Copywork ~ use the Pony Express Oath as handwriting practice

Georaphy ~ mapping the Pony Express

Math ~ learn about money (cent sign), counting money, and how math relates to the postal system through stamps and weighing mail, littles reinforced number recognition

Pony Express Free Printables and Games:

Now for the play!!! It wouldn’t be a week of authentic school without some playing. Bags were donned, mail made, horses found (and then some to reduce quarreling) and our riders were off!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Prairie Flora

As I drive around town in the cool of my air-conditioned van running errands I can’t help but notice the beauty by the side of the road. This colorful summer treat has been dear to my heart since I was a little girl picking dandelions. There is a soft spot in me for prairie flora…what others would consider roadside weeds that fade into the background of their life. I couldn’t let another season pass without capturing their beauty.

{Yellow Coneflower. Ratibida pinnata}


{Purple Coneflower. Echinacea purpurea}

I braved the hot, humid steamy weather and took a walk with my littles and my camera. We drank lots of water and I filled my soul with pictures while my littles chased turkeys in the prairie grass. Ahh…it feels good to live in the country!

{Black-eyed Susan. Rudbeckia hirta}

{Indian BlanketGailardia pulchella}

How can you not look at this detail…this perfect artistry and not shout out to the Creator in praise? Man is good and we can create some marvelous things. I can make art with the careful cropping and composition of my photography. Another, much more talented person, can take this to another level and capture the tiniest details in breathtaking clarity through paint and other mediums. But NEVER can we create this.

{Partridge-Pea. Chamaecrista nictitans}

Oh, we may be able to drop a seed into the ground. We may nurture and help along the unfolding of life. We may partake alongside the miracle. But it is not our creation. We did not set gene maps to unfold at precise moments. Never can we do that.

{Blue Vervain. Verbena hastata}

All Praise and Honor and Glory be His forever and ever Amen!

Joining Walking with Him Wednesday.

Crockpot Peach Butter {and my favorite canning book}

I’m a bit sad to see strawberry season pass us by yet peaches are here and I am enjoying sweet juice dripping down the chin summer eating! Seasonal sales of 98 cents a pound beckon. But with so many peaches in house, ripe only lasts so long. What’s a girl to do? Make peach butter. I wanted to last year and decided to give it a go this year.

I used my favorite (ever!) canning book ~ Preserving

This is a Timelife classic…one of those buried-in-the-library kind of books that no one ever thinks to check out. And then you do and a gem is found. I am a visual learner and this book has literally every kind of preserving technique with step-by-step color photographs detailing everything you ever wanted to know. And the back is filled with a plethora of recipes from all kinds of old-time random sources.

Here is the recipe I adapted:

  • 3lb ripe peaches (8-10)
  • 1/2 C water (I used just enough to cover the bottom of my pot…about 1 cup)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
Put the peaches in an enameled, tinned or stainless-steel pan and pour in the water. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Put aside to cool. Lift the peaches out of liquid, do not discard liquid. Slip off peach skins and remove pits. Puree pulp and measure (should be about 5 cups). For every 1 cup puree add 1/2 cup sugar. Add sugar and 1/2 cup cooking liquid back into puree.

Now comes the part where I adapt the recipe to fit my needs. Who has time to sit at the stove for 2 hours and watch peach puree simmer down? I discovered with apple butter that the crockpot is your friend in times like these…especially in the heat of the summer. I barely just had time enough to simmer the suckers and quick puree. Time to dump them in with the delectable seasonings and let it go till morning on low.

After you wake up in the morning wondering what that funny smell is and quickly run to your crockpot opening the lid to uncover a gooey dark mess that looks like you’ve completely burnt and screwed up the recipe…

Take a deep breath, stir it and scrape the sides. Relax and realize everything is okay. Fill 3 pint jars or 6 1/2 pints and water bath or freeze or, if you’re like me and are planning on using this stuff in yogurt and yogurt pops and oatmeal and PB&J and toast and biscuits, just refrigerate and gift a pint. It will be used up in no time anyway! 🙂

BEAUTIFUL!

Spontaneously Captured

My blessings this week dwell on the spontaneity of the moment.

There have been several random “hurry-and-grab-the-camera” moments that don’t really fit anywhere photo category-wise yet are precious enough to save! Blessings that one day I will look back upon and smile at a memory that could’ve easily slipped away!

Blessings # 591 ~ 600

Rainbow before a summer storm.

Sweet Mike stopping by to show us.

Little girl wanting picture taken.

Turkey family visiting our front lawn.

First banana finger foods.

Happy boy smiling.

Plethora of summer produce.

No room in the fridge…using school book baskets.

Little boy bug surprises.

Haircut-of-necessity from Little-Girl-Cuts-Alot

Camp Wrap Up

With counselors Dan and Anna.

Yep, I know…you are all very sad that these are the last of the 100’s of camp pictures posted!

My turn at camp with Lilah Jane came.  Our time together was sweet, short and long all at the same time. Two days without my baby and I was sore and needing to nurse ever so badly and missing the rest of my babies at home. But, oh how I never get to have one-on-one time with just one child! It was a blessing to just dote on her.

I did learn something though. I thought our little miss was always getting into mischief because of a desire to have more time with mommy. I always thought that if I could give her undivided one-on-one time then she would be content to be still and there would be less chaos in my house. But I was wrong. There is nothing like spending a large amount of quality time individually with a child to really see their true personality shine through. And this little girl does not have it in her to sit still. Oh, she would try. We would worship and sing and she would try so hard to sit on my lap or the grass but she literally didn’t have it in her. She had to move. I mean had to. I watched her with fascination. She literally could not help herself. And she would lose focus easily and instantly. This went way beyond mere age development of a three year old. My two year old has no problem focusing on something or sitting with mommy when it is pleasurable to her. This girl…well, she would want to sit with mommy…she would want to listen and dance to the music…she would want to participate in the activity but still she was losing focus and constantly needing to move. It was a blessing from above because it made me very aware that some things I was disciplining her for weren’t about discipline at all. And that when I do discipline, it will need to be done with that in mind. I will have to bend down to her level, gently guide her face to me and repeat many times the command of what needs to be done. Even when she was dog-tired at 9:30 at night and wanting a story and asking to go to sleep and go home, she was still moving. It did not stop until she finally just gave into sleep. I think knowing this will also come in handy when teaching her formally at home. A kinesthetic learner maybe?

Our time together ~

~ At the Barnyard ~

~ In the Chapel ~

~ Hayrack Ride ~

Lake View

Tipi Village

~ Trying to sit still for evening worship. ~

~ Canoeing and Paddle Boating ~

~ Petting a Tree Frog ~

~ Swimming ~

~ Smores ~

~ Making Friend Bracelets ~


~ Worship and Bible Study ~


~ Camp Shirt, Cuppie, and a New Friend! ~

“Cuppie” came everywhere with us. It was our life line to water (which also went everywhere with us) during 100 degree weather with a heat index of 115!!! And if you think that’s hot, try bearing it while cooking out hotdogs and marshies over a fire!!!!!!!
The Homeschool Mother's Journal

More Camp Pictures

Here are my babies ready to take off for camp. I forgot to post them the other day. In fact, I forgot I even took them until sifting through my pictures.

Gabe and Lily both used allowance money to buy cameras at the Camp Store. Unfortunately, what you are seeing are not those pics because we still need to take them to the store for developing. Lily started crying when she realized that what she bought was not an actual camera but a one-time use disposable. I think I know what she may be getting for her birthday!

The kids wanted to go out and take some pics of where they stayed on the camp site. Since we so conveniently live on the property, this was pretty easy to do. But man was it hot out! We did this as quick as you can with six kids and then quickly rested in the cool air conditioning the rest of the day. Oh how I thank the Lord for that! Then I caught up on 4 loads of camp laundry. I thank the Lord for automatic washers and dryers as well!

We ran into Lily’s counselor, Kacea. So I was able to meet her and get a picture of her with Lily. I love moments that just work out that way.

~ The Camp ~

Low Ropes Course

Outside Worship Areas

~ Where the Kids Slept ~

Grand Camp at the Sjogren Center.

Trailhead - Locust Site

Trailhead - Honeysuckle Site

I head off for camp with Delilah Jane this afternoon. I’m excited to see what small adventures we will take the next two days. I am a bit nervous to leave Eli (who still nurses) with daddy, but we shall see how it goes. I will be back on Tuesday or Wednesday with the last batch of pictures!

Beauty

“Mooommmmm….Lilah has your lipstick!!!” I hear shouted from the other room.

“Lilah, come here baby…let momma see.”

“Oh Lilah. Can you show mommy what you used for your lips?”

She runs out and comes back with my mascara.

“Oh baby, this is for your eyes not your lips!”

“But momma, can you put some on my eyes then? I want to be beautiful.”

“You are too young to put some on your eyes.”

She starts to cry.

“Please don’t cry, baby, your mascara will run!”