Search Results for: label/American History

American History: The Underground Railroad

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In our American History studies we have gotten to the time period of slavery. This has been difficult…to read about, to remember, to teach my children the way people were treated, to hear their innocent questions. But, it’s necessary. It’s a part of our history. As hard as it’s been, I’m thankful for the opportunity to teach my children about the history of our country.
We have used many resources in teaching about slavery, the underground railroad and the abolitionist movement.
One of my favorite books we’ve read is Follow the Drinking Gourd, a Five in a Row title. We also watched the Reading Rainbow episode about this book which was wonderful!!

Another great title that Linda shared at our weekly group time was called Henry’s Box. Get your kleenex ready for this one. :) What a great story!!

This summer we will be continuing our history journey by spending the summer reading Little House on the Prairie books and learning about “going west” a little bit. We will start our new year in the fall with our little co-op with the Civil War.

American History: Ben Franklin

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I need to catch up on sharing our american history happenings. :)
In December, for our group time together, we focused on Benjamin Franklin. (We meet with 2 other families weekly for science and history.)
First, we brainstormed on the white board: what do you know/remember about Ben Franklin? I was impressed with how much these kids knew!

Then, we got to work on our own almanacs.

poor richard almanac lesson plan

I let the kids have a little bit of “creative freedom” with this project. After we listed the items on the board that they remembered, I told them to choose a few to illustrate in their almanacs! They did a great job with this!
I just put out colored paper, markers, scissors, glue and tape and let them get to work!
**disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post

Gratitude: a small thing?

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Why is it when we discuss having a thankful heart people’s eyes glaze over? It seems like such a simple thing. And maybe the beauty of gratitude is that it is simple. Maybe the fact that such a simple thing can completely change our lives is why we miss it so often. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it. The small joys. The everyday moments. But, so often…I admit, I do!!

So, for today, another week…I’m counting these small gifts, these everyday joys…and giving thanks to the ONE who gives so freely.

a new pastor for our church ~ so, so many answered prayers in this short statement!!

an awesome sermon

such a sweet time of worship for the last week in our “old” sanctuary

a beautiful new building to be moving into next week

small group discussions

american history – I have learned SO much with my kids these past 2 years. I’m a little sad to see it end!!

the end of a long week (hey! i found a reason to be thankful for last week! ha!)

getting VERY excited about Teach Them Diligently, Nashville, in a few weeks!!

our chickens ~ I just love having them!!

SPRING is here!!

blooming, everywhere

freshly mowed grass

lots of kids jumping on the trampoline

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Abraham’s Journey {book review}

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I was happy to receive a book that we could use in our American History studies this year! We received the book, Abraham’s Journey, from a company called Inspiring the American Dream. As you may remember, we are in our 2nd year of American History in our regular school schedule, so this came at the perfect time for us!!


You can purchase this book here for $14.99, which I happen to think is a bit steep for a soft cover, children’s book.  But, many people might find the cost worth it for a story of this nature. I don’t think there are many books for elementary aged children that are like this book, it’s very unique and some might be very interested in having their children read it! My kids are in elementary grades and this book seemed appropriate for each of them.

Book Summary: 
This story begins with a young boy, named Abraham, whose parents have lost their jobs. They are telling him that he won’t be receiving many gifts for Christmas…so little Abraham decides to do something on his own to help his family have Christmas! 

The boy begins texting friends looking for odd jobs when an “old man” appears on his screen…it’s Abraham Lincoln, inspiring him to find his special talents – that we all have – and work his way to the American Dream. Along his journey, he meets other famous Americans such as Martin Luther King Jr, Amelia Earhart, Bill Gates and more. 

The book encourages Abraham by helping him to find his gifts – which happen to be painting for this boy. They help him to learn how to market his artwork and sell it, thus providing the American Dream for he and his family. 

My Thoughts: 
I think this story could be very inspirational for children in that I believe God has created EACH of us with special GIFTS and TALENTS in this life! I want (and pray) often that as a parent I can help my children and inspire them to find their gifts.

However, where I disagree with this story a bit is the goal of finding our gifts and talents for earning money and living the American Dream. I do want my children to be responsible and hard workers and earn a living someday. However, I want them to use their gifts and talents to bring glory to the Lord and not learn/use them for the sole purpose of the “American Dream.”

I also have such a heart for missions, having traveled to several 3rd world countries and I can’t help but be a little uneasy about teaching my children to live the American Dream. I am a little uneasy with that title to begin with.  As believers we are called to be in this world but not of it. I know that our country is a wonderful place to live, but I don’t believe we can live our lives for the betterment of only our families…seeking to have MORE, make MORE, earn MORE, accumulate MORE…which seems to be how most of our country lives.

This book does end with the family doing a service act together, which I was very thankful for.

I want my kids to grow up with a heart for others, with a heart for the needy around us and around the world, I want my kids to grow up with a genuine love for being generous. We all, as parents, have to search out ways to teach these things to our kids. Ultimately, I believe we have to live a life of generosity in front of our kids and that will be what teaches them the most.

Please click over to the TOS crew blog to read more reviews on this book!

Thomas Edison

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The next character in our american history course that we are learning about is Thomas Edison!! He is quite a remarkable man to study! I have learned so much!! I have also realized that we haven’t learned much about electricity and would like to study that further with the kids also! Learning always leads to more learning…

Our main “text” for this is the biography of him from the Childhood of Famous Americans set, Thomas Edison: Young Inventor . We have loved these books and own a lot of them! They are perfect reading for my girls this past year and this year in our American History studies, but also in their level of reading and the amount of information given in each book.

We did lots and lots of copy work from this time period. Thomas Edison had SO many great quotes! What a wise man he was!

Here are some of our favorite Edison quotes:

  • What seems impossible today, may not be tomorrow.
  • To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
  • Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.
  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
  • I have not failed yet. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
  • If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.
  • Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always just try one more time.

While we were together for our co-op time we did a few things to learn more about Mr. Edison. We got several ideas for these activities from this book, Thomas Edison for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities.

Other books & videos on Thomas Edison we enjoyed:

A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison
Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives
A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison
Edison: The Wizard of Light (DVD)

Our little co-op this year!

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You may remember that last year, our little co-op of 3 families, met weekly and did American History together, Apologia’s Astronomy and a little bit of Spanish!

Well, I am thrilled to have this opportunity again because honestly, this has probably been one of the best, if not the best thing about our homeschooling year the past few years! This will be the third year we have done this together. One of our families, sadly, moved to GA this school year (hi, Jenn!!) and so we “adopted” a new family into our co-op and have met 2x already for this school year.

I wanted to share what curriculum and programs we are doing this year, because it’s a little different…

For American History year 2, we are lightly following Biblioplan‘s guide, which is their YEAR 4 in the classical history cycle. Last year we didn’t really use a guide and I wanted something to help me out this year. So, Biblioplan has a great book list and other things to go along with it and I think it will be great!

Right now we are learning about the civil war! :)

LMU field trip
{our field trip to the Lincoln Museum at LMU campus}

For science this year, we are still using Apologia but are learning about Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day together!! I think the kids will love learning about ocean animals!

For Spanish, we had to find something different and are trying out Spanish for Children. This is quite a leap in ability and difficulty level, but I am excited and hoping we retain some spanish this year!

Finally, we are adding ART this year!! My kids were SO excited!! We are using Atelier Level 4 and so far so good. :)

color wheel art project
{our first week of art we mixed colors and made a color wheel!}

I hope to blog, as I did last year, with ideas we find for teaching history and science!! Stay tuned for all our co-op fun!!

A look back at the school year…

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I think I say this every year…but wow. I cannot believe another school year is coming to an end for us!! Since we school year round, we finish up the 2011-2012 year in May and then in June we just start right into our next school year.  I can’t believe my kids will have completed 4th, 3rd and 1st grades!!

March2012b 296

The past few years I have taken a a few moments to write up a blog post reflecting on our school year and I want to encourage each of you to do the same! Even if you don’t blog, look back over your child’s work, look at pictures from field trips, look at all the memories and hard work you have accomplished!

I know for me, personally, it helps to look back and see that YES, we DID accomplish a lot!! It helps me not to feel like we haven’t made it very far and it helps me to focus on the positive!

Here is the post where I shared what we were going to be using this year.

A few highlights:

  • Teaching Textbooks continues to be going well for us! And, Caleb has just begun using the 3rd grade level for math and will continue that into next year! Some say that TT is about a year behind, and he started the 3rd grade level with no problems! So far, so good!
  • Halfway through our year we gave up Rod and Staff English and picked up Easy Grammar and Daily Grams. The girls are about halfway through levels 3 and 4 right now. This is going SO MUCH better for us…and we will continue this on into next year. The Daily Grams especially are GREAT. I was able to get both levels for used, so I didn’t have to pay much for it at all!
  • With our little co-op of 3 families we completed a year full of Astronomy fun and we LOVED our science this year!! Caleb, especially. I am looking for ways to continue to help him learn in this area of interest. And next year we will be continuing with a different Apologia text.
  • Also with our little co-op we finished year 1 (out of 2) with American History and again, we had a GREAT time with history!! I think I learned even more than my children did!! We will continue with American History year 2 next year and I will share more about what we are doing with that in the next post.
  • Our little co-op also continued on with a little bit of Spanish and La Clase Divertida level 2. We got most of the way through this level but ended up giving up on it after the new year pretty much. While this program is fun, our kids weren’t retaining much and the workbooks are not very good, in my opinion. We have almost picked out a Spanish program for next year and I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes…we are ready to bump it up a bit for our kids in this area.
  • The girls continue to do well with Spelling Wisdom and we will continue this into next year also.
  • Caleb has done well with his Explode the Code books and is finishing up book 3 this month. We will move on to book 4 and continue his reading instruction.
  • Writing programs: a bit of a challenge. My girls do copywork, spelling, and sometimes I will have them write a paragraph about a biography or subject we are learning about in history. But, I feel very inadequate to teach writing for some reason. I just need someone to hold my hand. We started IEW and have done fairly well with it. But, I also purchased The Writer’s Jungle (when the HSBC had a deal on the pdf version.) to read myself and get some more ideas. I am hoping to really make some good strides in this area next year.
  • I will include a quick word about piano lessons. We continue to be blessed with a wonderful teacher and all 3 children did wonderfully at their recital!! Caleb started taking after the new year and I’m so proud of them for their hard work and consistent practice!! They will all continue lessons starting at the end of July.
Memory Work:: We are *this close* to finishing up memorizing James CHAPTER 1!! A whole chapter with my kids!! I am so proud of them and in awe that God would bless me in this way. I just cannot tell you how it blesses my heart to hear my children reciting scripture.
We also memorize quite a few poems each year using Andrea Pudewa’s Linguistic Development which I continue to love! I just love the poem selection and that the choosing is already done for me. :)
Soon I will be back with a post sharing all the links to curriculum we will be using for the 2012-2013 school year! :)