More Little House on the Prairie!

More Little House Title Pic

Can you believe it’s been five years since I wrote my first Little House on the Prairie post? I read it and am taken back to the simpler days of only having my first two kids to homeschool where we practiced a more relaxed homeschool approach. Now my oldest will be entering high school next year and the next is fully immersed in the world of junior high. How time flies. I’ve added four more kids to the mix of homeschooling with one more still to fit in the next couple of years. Gone are the relaxed, take-your-time days of yore. Now we are fully immersed in a heavy classical school load for the older two and, while the younger ones still have fun and are covering a lot of the same material as the first two, my schedule is much more structured with this next group of younger kids as I have to make sure there is enough mommy teacher time to go around to meet all the needs. Hence the sound of crickets on this here blog!

We are on round two of our history cycle wrapping up modern history this year. We began the year just post Civil War and started right in on Pioneers and the Homestead Act with my younger children. This, of course, is a perfect time to introduce another generation to my love of all things Little House of the Prairie! Oh how I wish I had more time to spend and camp out here. Even though I only had a week to fill, I made the best of it with my very kinetic learners with two great hands-on projects I wanted to share with you all.

Sometimes with homeschooling I get caught up in the wants that cost money. I would’ve loved to have had a big set of Lincoln Logs for my preschooler through fourth grader to play with. This would’ve been great to keep little hands busy while mommy was reading our literature Little House on the Prairie or our living history book selections. This was not in our budget this year. Instead, I decided to concentrate on using what I already had that also keeps little hands busy. Play dough. I decided the best way to help my hands-on learners remember what the Homestead Act meant was to immerse them in the world of sod house making. They absolutely loved this and all decided, at least the first week of school, that history was definitely their favorite subject. Score for mom! We used this play dough recipe that I had used before for a Valentine’s Day party because it smells like heavenly chocolate.

And don’t let the blog pictures deceive you. My first batch turned out horrible. I thought I could get buy without the cream of tartar and it was a disaster. So while my kids were busily, and happily, playing in the sticky muddy mess on the table, it wasn’t the right consistency to make our sod bricks out of and mommy had to do a quick run to the store in order to redo the recipe the right way. But it turned out all right in the end and they were very happy with their sod houses. Note to moms: try to gently encourage your students to stack the bricks in the staggered pattern that real builders use. Otherwise, when this project dries it will fall apart! My kids had to learn this the hard way. As their houses dried they looked great but immediately collapsed in a heap of dried sod bricks when they did not heed my warning.

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We also played this fun game online that shows if you have what it takes to make it on the prairie and build a sod house properly. Both my third and fourth grader failed their first two attempts but finally got it right on attempt number three!

Our next project this week was to build this cute little pioneer peg family to live in their built sod houses. My children love to play what they learn. When we studied cowboys they played cowboys. When we studied Indians they played Indians. When we studied women’s suffrage they played making signs and voting. I love watching them play what they learn. It makes my house always chaotic and a bit on the messier side – an uphill battle I struggle with already just having seven kids living here with me all day long – but the extra effort at cleaning is worth it when I hear them ask if we can study something again because they want to play it again.

Now the crafty, OCD mommy part of me had to forcibly take a back seat on the peg project people. I modeled the project for them. I made wonderful suggestions to them. I used scrap material and yarn I already had on hand and only had to buy the peg clothespins – $2 for a bag at Michaels. But my children are nothing if not consistent and hard-headed. They had there own way of doing their dolls and mommy had to let that be okay. They had a lot of fun with this project. And, if they had listened to me with their sod houses, the houses would’ve been built high enough to use and play with the peg people. We will probably revisit making these dolls again this winter while reading “The Long Winter” for literature. Maybe I’ll teach them how to make some snow candy like Laura and Mary did if we get a dumping of good sticky snow. While this experiment didn’t quite turn out how I wanted it to with my oldest kids, it was still very yummy!

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For more fun activities to pair with your Little House on the Prairie study or any history study pertaining to the early pioneers, check out my previous Little House on the Prairie Unit Study.  Also, if you wanted to expand on the activities that I listed here today, you could also try your hand at these. I wanted to get to all of them but a week is such a short time and flies by too fast.

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We also read a great new book that I’m adding to our list of Pioneer book must-haves. Dandelions by Eve Bunting is a picture story about two girls who move with their parents out to the prairie. I choose this particular book for several reasons. First, it was set in Nebraska – where we live. I love making history personal. It seems to stick more. Second, they build a sod house and talk about the Homestead Act, which went well with our project and notebooking for the week. Third, dandelions are my favorite under-appreciated flower! So many uses and benefits – I have a whole Pinterest Board dedicated to them – and such a bright yellow sign of hope in the spring when the winter blues have seem to permanently set in. In fact, this is kind of the point of the story. Many pioneer wives of that time, while hard and persevering women, experienced depression. While they did set out to try their hand at a new life, they also left everything behind. Being in this harsh new world without shade and trees and the beauty of flowers, without the comfort of their extended family or even neighbors and community, without their furniture (not much could fit on the wagon ride out) and heirlooms, even without wood to build a comfortable house, living in this world of dirt and nothingness must have been so hard for so many women. This story touches on that very hardship and the young girl ends up saving and planting some dandelions on her sod roof for her mother. It is a beautiful story that touches on that hope that so many prairie wives needed. I just loved it.

     

Books I would add to my first list for this time period:

Another thing I’m excited to do this winter with the kids is work through watching the first season of Little House on the Prairie. They really don’t make shows like this anymore and I mourn the loss of wholesome family values that this show teaches. This will make a perfect wintertime activity to binge on in evenings of our cozy house with the outside world shut out to us. But we will kick it off with this documentary The Legacy of Laura Ingalls WilderI may be a bit of a nerd but I’m so excited about watching this. You must visit the blog Little House of the Prairie and watch the trailer. It looks just divine! While your at their site stay and look around a while. It is chock full of wonderful activities to pair with a Little House study!

They are also offering a one time savings to you homeschool moms in order to add it to your living history library as well. Just click on their Amazon link to buy the documentary and put in the coupon code (LHSCHOOL) to receive an additional 20% off!

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Back to School {The First Week}

In my Back to School – Planning post I talked a little about what we were doing for the year and how we were fitting it all in. In this post I’d like to just recap our week. I’m not always good about doing this weekly but the first week is always important to me, even if I’m finally finished writing about it 3 weeks later! It is my way of scrapbooking digitally our year and there is just something indescribably special about the first week. The kids are excited for what’s to come. I’m excited for what’s to come. Everything is ripe with possibility even as we stumble through getting the daily rhythm down.

So how was our first week?

Math and Art were our biggest hits for the week.

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For math we’ve switched to Khan Academy this year for our oldest son. His dad started using it to sharpen his own Algebra skills over the summer and Gabe started sitting down beside him and helping him work out problems. He absolutely loves it. Khan is self-paced, independent, and FREE! We had already been using Khan for history, science, art, and math supplementation (they have great videos and now they’ve teamed up with the guys who do Crash Course whom my kids LOVE and we use for history and science) so this was a natural carryover for him. Since Gabe is already a year ahead in math, using Khan will give him the independence to move ahead at his own pace. He may end up doing two years in one this year and be into Algebra by year’s end. We also allowed the other kids to try it since Khan does have math all the way down to an early elementary level, but we found after a few days of trying that they still preferred their Teaching Textbooks for math.

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Although Teaching Textbooks is very pricey, I LOVE their program. It is set up tutorial-style so each kid is completely 100% taught on the computer without me. It is great for auditory and visual learners or for those that need someone to sit with them step by step through each problem. It does automatic grading and my kids love it. That is enough for me to spend the hefty price tag. Plus, we discovered that the book is actually just a repeat of what they are already doing during the lessons and a needless piece so we’ve eliminated that this year and gave each kid their own spiral notebook to use for working out math problems. That saves us $30 for each program. And you can use them with more than one child so we are only buying one year at a time and by next year won’t have to buy any. While the 2nd and 3rd grader are doing their math independently on the computer, it frees me up to work with Ivy and Eli with their Pre-K math and phonics.

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Art was also well received this week. Mainly, because we actually did it! Every year I have these great intentions for art and music and every year life gets in the way and then they get bumped for the more “important” subjects that are required. So this year I decided no more. Creativity is a must for me to flourish and it is extremely important for my ten year old girl as well. This year we bought everyone their own sketch pad and we labeled them all pretty and are keeping them organized in an inexpensive tote from Michael’s. For the two littles, I used a primary composition notebook and  covered it in pretty scrapbook paper and then laminated the covers to keep them sturdy for the whole year. This allowed them to be cheaper (twenty five cents back to school sale!) and keeps them accessible for their age range.

Our first week of art we read the Drawing Rules in Drawing in Color and talked about how their is no wrong way to draw. We read ish and Dot, which the littles especially loved and imitated immediately in their notebooks. Our first assignment was to draw whatever we liked. Each child shared their picture and everyone said one thing they really liked about each picture as well as one thing they would like to improve upon for the year. The kids did not want the afternoon to end and it has inspired Lily to check out several drawing books at the library and she has been practicing every night. This year we will be focused on learning to draw animals in pencil using a combination of youtube tutorials and Drawing Animals in Nature with Lee Hammond . This will mesh very well with our zoology science course.

Zoology, unfortunately, started off a little rocky. I was so excited to start the lesson with a great hands-on, visible way for them to understand the concept of classification through classifying legos. This ended up with mostly fighting over said legos and Norah ended up teething and crying for a huge chunk of our time. It was a bit of a letdown for me because I have such huge expectations for this year’s zoology lineup. Our second week fared way better after a trip to Fontenelle Forest to pick up our Vertebrate/Invertebrate Educator’s Trunk and the kids got to handle and feel all kinds of bones and animal skins. My favorite was the owl skull and bobcat skull. After examining everything, the older two got to dip into their first experiment and the littles played an online classification game, all was right again in our science world.

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We kicked off our first week of history by diving into Columbus and the Age of Exploration. The younger ones listened to me read from A Child’s History of the World, which I just adore, while they happily constructed ships out of our magformers. They colored and notebooked and then finished off their time playing an online game about Christopher Columbus.

The older two are doing history with daddy again this year. He is a huge history buff and has a wonderful conversational Socratic method style of teaching that our kids just love. They are watching the Crash Course World History and US History videos in conjunction with their reading and then join me on another day of the week for fun history where we get to watch the Horrible History videos, watch fun songs and do map work. Favorite song of the week: Fifty Nifty United States. I learned this song in fifth grade and it has stayed with me to this day. I am giddy passing it on to my children. They are song nerds in the same way I am. Okay, maybe I’m a bit more of a song nerd but they really do love this song. This has been our constant car-schooling anthem for the past couple of weeks to go with our geography study for the year.

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I’ve been most impressed with Ivy this week. Being 5 and “officially” starting kindergarten, I wasn’t sure how involved she’d be for the multi-age taught subjects like history, science, and geography. We always have stuff planned for the littles but beyond their basic 3 R’s in the morning, we don’t require them to do school. They are free to play or watch an educational video. But she’s stuck with us through much more then I thought she would. She played the Columbus history game like her older siblings, she’s colored history sheets while listening to the stories and she’s even picked up on the Latin we’ve been studying. And her coloring has taken a dramatic turn for the better since school has started. I perceive that she will show the most overall growth this year.

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Latin was by far the most unexpected successful subject of the week. We discovered Classical Academic Press by accident last year through their sister site HeadAdventureland.com which is full of fun, free latin videos!!! (Check out our fave…The Three Little Pigs!) The older two have totally resonated with the DVD chants in the Latin for Children, Primer A. They love doing the activities and discussing everything with their dad over coffee. And the younger 2-4, depending on if the two littles join us, are throughougly enjoying SongSchool Latin. It is SO kid-friendly and fun that the kids can’t wait to do Latin and have told all their friends they should too. Even I have awoken in the middle of the night with a catchy Latin song stuck in my head. Makes me want to check out their SongSchool Latin Spanish.

I also enjoyed doing Bible with the littles this week. We read out of Vos’s Child’s Story Bible starting again at the beginning. And I was once again captivated by the way she conversationally draws the little ones into the story while simultaneously weaving Christ’s redemption story in from the very beginning pages of Genesis. This is by far the BEST story Bible I’ve ever read. The children sat and listened spellbound and asked for more when I was done. Can’t ask for more than that!

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Some other fun highlights of our first week…

The girls temporarily dying their hair purple and pink.

Enjoying playing golf during recess time.

Building nanoblocks during free time.

Watching caterpillars emerge as butterflies!

Taking care of pet toads.

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I’m so excited to see how the rest of our year unfolds.

How was your first week of school?

Fall Break ~ Caterpillars and Remembering 9/11

We’ve been on fall break around here. For me that entails LOTS of extra cleaning and organizing around the house. (Have you noticed it’s been kind of quiet around here?) For the kids it has entailed caterpillars. You may remember our post about our monarch caterpillars? Well, after several died due to Tachinid fly parasites, only one survived and turned into that beautiful Monarch butterfly.

It was a poignant moment. The morning of 9/11 we had read several stories dealing with the tragedy. The kids decided to make their own drawings based on the illustrations of Andrea Patel in On That Day While processing tragedy through art, our caterpillar died and broke free as a creature new, transformed, and utterly beautiful and full of hope. It was a glorious analogy for the hope that came out of that day for the still living. I’d show you a picture (I took beautiful ones of the butterfly with the kids while they were drawing) but, somehow, those pictures got accidentally deleted before I had a chance to post.

Since then, fall has dried the meadow grasses and we have had a caterpillar bonanza as woolly bears are flocking to the warmth of the concrete street. Everyday my kids are caterpillar hunting and coming home with hundreds of soft little fuzzies. And if you think I am exaggerating, proof is in the pictures. EVER DAY they hunt, EVERY DAY buckets and cups and bowls (even shoes) fill our porch with soft little pets to play with. I never knew there could be so many in one area! I think it is beginning to drive my husband crazy. Every night he dumps them out to escape to the wild or be eaten by birds and every night he finds more bucketfuls to empty. I love it. My kids are outside enjoying fresh air, playing, using imagination, and NOT playing video games. (I literally had to ban them the first week of fall break to even get them out the door.)

For more 9/11 inspiration (never too early to plan for next year…or pin it to visually remember), visit Elizabeth Foss at In The Heart of the Home.

~ 9/11 Stories for Kids ~

On That Day: A Book of Hope For Children

Fireboat

The Day America Cried

America Is Under Attack: The Day the Towers Fell

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

New York’s Bravest

I Was Born on 9/11

September 11 2001: A Simple Account for Children

The Little Chapel That Stood

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

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

Play Learning in the Summer

What do you do with leftover strawberry tops after making strawberry jam?

Well, the sensible thing to do would be compost them.

That is, unless you have a three and five year old in your home. Then it seems much more sensible to play with them!

Pretend gardening anyone?

Harvesting with your “tractor”.

I see the kids emulating us…playing Adam and I as we embark on this journey to grow all our own food and buy only local, in-season food.

Sometimes, especially after watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid, I long for my children to take a school lesson and run outside to “play” it, allowing the learning to sink to that deeper long-term memory center of their brain. Occasionally a history figure will capture them like Sacagawea and they do play what they learn, but mostly not. That’s not to say that they don’t use the concrete in play…like letters and numbers and reading…they most certainly do…just not those stories of history and science and art and music that I had hoped would captivate them. While they enjoyed their history, no one was outside “playing” Statue of Liberty last week!

That said...playing is an integral part of learning and it reaches us in a way no other learning can. Do you know what a three and five year old play? They play what seems of value…what is important…what they want to do and try when they grow up. Why do you think dolls never go out of style?  They see and sense what is really of value to us as an adult. We can say one thing with our lips but they are much more intent on watching our actions.

This is the secret that the unschoolers embrace and are not afraid of. This is the truth that us homeschool listmakers who want to track progress usually fail to grasp. And even if we know it we are mostly afraid to allow our children to live it. I know for myself there is comfort in the checking off of the yearly school list.

But if playing gardening and composting is where they are at, I think of what their futures hold and I smile and relax. I am teaching the important things even if they weren’t in a school lesson! Maybe my kids won’t remember everything I taught them about history…okay…most definitely. But maybe they will be a part of history, changing it for the better and passing that down to their own kids. That is a lesson worth teaching!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Statue of Liberty Mini Unit Study

This week’s wrap up takes us up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty. We shall soon be traversing the waters of the World Wars and the Great Depression. I figured the Statue of Liberty and immigration would be a good segue from late 1800’s homesteading into a more industrial world full of people and problems.

I really planned this week on the fly. I knew which book from our home library I wanted to use and I requested some from the library that looked promising. Other then that, I did a quick google search the night before our study and found some cool free notebooking pages. During our reading we had a question come up about the patina so we did a spontaneous search and found a really cool (cool for me = easy to do, nothing to buy) science experiment. It was that kind of study that just came together in a nice way during the middle of our very busy week. I like those days!

This study covered literature, history, copywork, science, and a little math.

Books we loved ~

Liberty by Allan Drummond~ This was a fun book. You have to read the author’s note in the beginning. This is where the bulk of the historical fact is at but, more importantly, it is where he sets up his stage of awe-inspiring imagination with the kids. Usually my kids hate author’s notes. Not this time!

The other interesting thing about this book is the reference to the only two females allowed at the opening ceremony. It is mentioned enough times that it caught Lily’s attention. And she repeatedly interrupted me to find out why only 2 girls could go. It was a wonderful intro to discuss the women’s suffrage movement and I think it will be the next thing we study for history. It segues nicely from this study.

A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting ~ This was a book even my nine year old boy enjoyed. It is told by a boy about that same age as his family takes their yearly traditional Lady Liberty picnic. His grandparents were immigrants so this statue is very important to them. The thing that makes this book stand out is the realism. The boy deals with his own why-do-we-have-to-do-this boredom of tradition. It made my kids laugh and will probably be the book they remember best.

Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen ~ This was interesting in that it was a dual story. One side of the page told an immigrants story of coming to America and receiving a new name. The other page told the story of how Bartholdi came upon his idea for building the statue and his journey in bringing that vision to fruition. Yolen does a good job at interweaving the two stories together that doesn’t lose young readers along the way.

Books the older two read independently ~

Lily and Miss Liberty by Carla Stevens ~ Perfect for our Lily. This is a starter chapter book about a young french girl in school who is helping to raise money for the Statue of Liberty. A great story for my girl who is interested in French! This was Lily’s first time doing independent history reading. She did very well with her narrations.

Building Liberty: A Statue is Born by Serge Hochain~ Gabe wasn’t thrilled with the idea of independent historical reading…he rarely is. Yet he ended up reading this book two times. It is a picture book put out by National Geographic with fabulous detailed pictures of how Lady Liberty was put together piece by piece. This story is told from different perspectives by four different boys who each had a hand in building. Although this is a picture book it is definitely geared toward an older student. You could use it as a read aloud if it was your only read aloud for that day.

Free Statue of Liberty Resources ~

Turning Pennies Green ~

The Copper Caper

We found this ultra cool experiment on how copper reacts with acid. This is a perfect instant gratification experiment that costs nothing and is a perfect demonstration of that beautiful sea green patina covering Lady Liberty. One of my favorite experiments that we’ve done thus far. We did the first part of the experiment that only involved the pennies.

How I incorporated Math ~ Since they already had to measure for the experiment, I capitilized on Lily’s learning fractions this past week and purposefully pulled out the wrong measuring cups and spoons. I gave her the chance to figure out how she could multiply or divide to get the right measurement. Real Math. We like that around here!

And I’ll leave you with this food for thought…

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to be free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Joining Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

The Learning Room ~ of Mice and Men

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.

We read Vote! and We Are Citizens to start the week. These were both very helpful in getting a foundation of understanding about why all this government stuff even matters.

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.

Language Arts…check!

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.