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