Week 23 – Wagons, Ho!!

Sorry for the late update; I went to a Women’s Retreat Friday afternoon!  What a great weekend.  Too short, so we extended it by crashing a surprise birthday party!  Anyway, here I am, back “at the grindstone”.

Last week we started our Westward Expansion unit.  Since I already bought it, I am using the MBTP unit as a jumping off point, but pulling in a bunch of my own stuff.  I’ve been pinning ideas away like crazy!

L has already learned quite a bit about certain aspects of Western Expansion.  I assessed his prior knowledge before starting my plans.

We started by reading “How We Crossed the West” by Rosalyn Schanzer.  Then L wrote a short journal entry as if he were on the expedition.  He must have been hungry because he focused on the different game they’d hunted and cooked!  After that, I had L check out some links about the Gold Rush, and then he assembled a timeline from the MBTP unit.

On Tuesday he read “If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon” by Ellen Levine.  MBTP had a neat activity where he determined criteria for picking a plot of land, and then assessed our own neighborhood based on those criteria.  I think we scored 18/25.  We did some map work by adding two of the common trails west onto a blank map.

Wednesday T & I had our tax prep appointment, so L worked on his own.  He read a book about Sacagawea with gorgeous illustrations [I think it was this one by Liselotte Erdrich, but it’s not handy to check], and reread a simple book about the Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac.  Then he wrote a 1 paragraph summary of why people migrated west based on what we’d studied so far.  We quickly reviewed good paragraph construction before I left, but I was still pleasantly surprised how well the paragraph turned out.  That afternoon, since the weather was ok–sunny if cold, we went out to our little stream and “panned for gold”.  I gave each boy a foil pie pan and a plastic spoon and showed them how to scoop some material from the bottom of the stream,

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A “real” 49-er woulda just stepped into the stream, but we’re big wusses!

add water, and swirl.

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It takes practice to get the motion down.

All we found were some flecks of shiny rock and cold hands, so that didn’t last long.

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No gold, but lots of cold.

On the way in, L & I talked about how we would like to stand in a cold stream all day and do that; we both decided we wouldn’t like that one bit.

On Friday, I had to go grocery shopping, so L again worked a lot on his own.  He began reading “By the Great Horn Spoon” by Sid Fleischman.  He had some other non-unit assignments to do while I was gone, but when I got back we located the Horn of South America on a map and discussed the pros and cons of the sea route vs. the overland route.  I also prepared him to look for racial stereotypes which are unfortunately abundant in the book.  Finally, we read a bit about Manifest Destiny in our Hakim set [I'm SOOOOO glad I was able to get this; we are using it a lot even though I didn't pint them out above].

I want to include C as much as possible to see how that would work.  Most days when he’s home during school time he’s content to play downstairs.  He did do the gold-panning with us.  I’ve also been having him sit with us while I read aloud “Little House on the Prairie”.  Racial stereotyping there too, so I’m taking it slow and talking a lot as we go through.  I have some simpler books set aside that I’d like to read with him too; I guess I’m going to have to “invite” him.

Of course, there were other things to get done as well.  L has been learning about angles in Beast Academy, naming and measuring them.  I also signed him up for Khan Academy so he could have some new and different practice with these math concepts.  After a rocky start thanks to “the area of a triangle”, L is a bit excited to earn points and badges.  I also started him a Mind Benders book on logic puzzles.  He seemed to enjoy this, and did one more than I assigned.  He also did two pages in Practice Town analyzing sentences on the four levels we’ve learned about.

I would really like to start MCT’s Caesar’s English; perhaps I’ll look at doing that soon to some degree.  And spelling.  We haven’t been doing much spelling.  I got Spelling Power from a homeschooler who was done with it.  I need to place L and then get started.  Supposedly it can be done in 15 minutes a day once you know how to start.

C did a cool weather book at school, and had a good time at Spanish class on Friday.


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