Sunday, March 31, 2013

Family Vacation (Field Trip) to Virginia's Historic Triangle - photo heavy post

(Catch - up post and follow-up to our American History studies part 1 post)

December 2012 - our family made the trek to Williamsburg, Virginia to spend a week vacationing and touring the historic triangle of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown.  Our final day was spent touring George Washington's Mount Vernon. This was a perfect way to end our studies on the American Revolution.  Seeing things through new eyes, and then also witnessing the light of understanding turn on for the boys was incredible.  :) I feel so fortunate to have the privilege to homeschool my children, and then to be able to take trips such as this one where we could help make learning come to life.  
Watching the cooper in Colonial Williamsburg
David and Aidan enjoyed getting to drill as new recruits in the Virginia militia.

The boys' senior officer - teaching the steps for preparing an 18th century firearm

David and Aidan were allowed to help out in the kitchen at the Powell House in Colonial Williamsburg.

More helping out in the kitchen at the Powell House

Having a race with the wooden hoop in the courtyard area at the Powell House in Colonial Williamsburg

David wanted me to take a picture of the powder kegs in the magazine at Colonial Williamsburg

The boys had to spend some time in the stocks for poor behavior ;) (just teasing!)

Aidan was learning how to play battledore and shuttlecock 

The back of the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg - I was very excited to get to tour the palace on this trip!

Our family out in front of the Governor's Palace

This was one happy 10-year-old at the Yorktown National Battlefield - he wanted his photograph taken with almost every piece of field artillery we came across!

Fog hanging lightly over the field at Yorktown 

That musket was HEAVY! I think that my purse accessorizes it nicely though. :)

All 3 of my guys were part of the gun crew at the Yorktown Victory Center - each one learned their role and did a practice run or two before they actually fired the piece.

Another one of the gun crew--very fun!

The glassblowers between the old Jamestowne Settlement and the new Jamestown Settlement and visitors center. The boys loved watching the artisans at work. David said that he would consider apprenticing as a glassblower, a blacksmith or as a gunsmith. I think it has something to do with the fact that they all work with fire.

Boys wearing 17th century style armor at the Jamestown Settlement

David and Aidan - holding Pocahontas' hands at Jamestown

The boys with one of our interpreters at the Jamestown Settlement

David and Aidan on the replica of the Susan Constant

The Susan Constant (from the dock) 
Mount Vernon

The Christmas camel at Mount Vernon
Aidan led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and David read George Washington's prayer for our country during the wreathlaying ceremony at George Washington's tomb

The boys after they did the wreath laying ceremony at George Washington's tomb (the wreath is one they made with some of their friends in their Cub Scout pack here in MS - it traveled all the way to VA with no mishaps!)
The magnolia, holly and evergreen shrub wreath positioned between Martha and George Washington's sarcophagi 

 Overall, this was a very fun, albeit exhausting trip. My head hurt at times from all of the information I was learning.  :) Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown Battlefield were probably my 2 favorite stops on this particular trip, although I did truly enjoy it all. I think I can honestly say that the others enjoyed this trip as well.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Studying American History (part 1)

American Revolution Lapbook Cover
This month marks our 2-year anniversary of delving into American history for our homeschool.  Yes, you read that correctly--2 YEARS! What we started out with in Sonlight Core 3 (now called Core D) stretched into unit studies on Native Americans, Aztecs/Incas/Mayas, and early colonial history, namely Jamestown and Plymouth.  I should have some grace on myself for having taken a year to get to Jamestown and Plymouth--we did move from deep south Texas to north central Mississippi during this time which brought so many adjustments (first preparing our home to go on the market and be sold, packing and moving, adjustments to living in a new town, trying to establish a new routine, adjustments to living in a new house with all of the unpacking and settling that needed to get the gist!). The boys and I really seemed to start hitting a rhythm last fall when we were in the thick of the American Revolution, but I digress. :)
Aidan holding his 3-D model of the Jamestown Settlement
David holding his 3-D model of the Jamestown Settlement

While we were studying the Jamestown settlement and Pocahontas last spring, I stumbled across the Time Travelers History Study Series by Homeschool in the Woods Publishing. Oh my, I was in heaven!  Seriously, it was love at first sight. [sigh] :) Here was something that corresponded to our Sonlight studies that included projects.  The materials were so thoughtfully put together and beautifully done that I took the plunge and purchased the American Revolution CD.  The boys and I all love Sonlight; however, I find that I'm constantly scouring the Internet for project ideas to enrich our studies, so my discovery of Homeschool in the Woods was truly a blessing!

We took the first part of our studies fairly slowly, reading various stories about Jamestown, Plymouth and then the French and Indian War. We also spent a lot of time in Boston reading about the initial conflicts that occurred there, and read quite a few biographies and other stories about Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, The Boston Tea Party, John Hancock, etc. During this time, Homeschool Freebie of the Day offered two vintage radio programs about Paul Revere as a MP3 download.  The boys and I all enjoyed listening to those programs while discussing the events that were transpiring in the stories. 

The boys and I were still in Boston on October 19.  Yes, that would be just over 6 months after we "arrived" there in our studies.  You can now see that we do take things a little slow.  By this time, Rob and I knew that we wanted to take a family trip to Williamsburg, Virginia during Christmas break, so the push was on to get through the rest of the American Revolution unit before December 12. I created lesson plans (I will write a post about this process soon, especially since I will be going through the process again for post Civil War-WWII within the next month or two) to hold myself accountable, and so the boys could see what to expect each day.  The lesson plans also included books I needed to check out from the library, which was really helpful to keep myself organized! I think I can honestly speak for all three of us when I say that we really enjoyed studying this era in American history.  I know that I learned more about the history of my country going through this unit than I did in all my years of formal schooling (this includes college American history!). That being said, I am still thankful for my teachers and professors who invested their time, insight and passion when teaching me. Some of the information they shared in their classes ended up getting shared with David and Aidan. 

Below are a few photos of projects and one of the games we did while working through this unit, courtesy of Homeschool in the Woods. You might be thinking, "Did they ever finish studying the American Revolution?" Yes, we January 2013 when we wrapped things up with the writing of the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. We are now in the midst of the early 19th century. More to come on that later! 

The boys playing "Taxation Frustration"
Close-up view of the "Taxation Frustration" game - Aidan had the BEST quotes when we played this game! Let's just say that he was not overly fond of Parliament by the time this game was finished. ;)
Aidan posing with his haversack he helped make.
David - hand sewing the buttonhole on his canvas haversack he made when we studied the soldiers of the American Revolution.
Winter at Valley Forge dioramas

Inside view of the lapbook (sorry about not rotating the photo) 
Another inside view of the lapbook.
American flag "floorcloth" placemats--this might be my favorite project, even if David almost stitched over my fingers when sewing the hem on his!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Meet Quincy. He is my sweet golden retriever puppy my guys gave me for my birthday.  Ironically, however, he was brought home on the D-man's birthday 2.5 weeks before my actual birthday.  I'm pretty smitten with this cute little chunky-monkey, ball of fur. :) The following photos were taken a few weeks ago--he has nearly doubled in size since then.  When we tried to weigh him last night, the hubs and I figure that he weighs nearly 15 lb. That is 11 lb. more than he weighed at his first vet appointment. They tell me that he is going to be a big boy, but I'm hoping that they are a wee bit wrong on that.  Quincy was the runt of his litter.  

 Quincy sitting pretty for the camera.

The boys like to remind me (often) that I am severely outnumbered in this house now.  At least when Sydney was still alive we had another girl to help bring the ratio a little closer.  ;) Oh well. I love my 4 guys and wouldn't trade a single one of them. 

Having a puppy in the house has changed our school routine to some extent. I will be working with one on a lesson, then Quincy will wake up from a nap.  I send the one I'm not working with at the moment outside with the puppy to play with him and to make sure that Quincy actually goes potty while outside so they don't have to help clean up any accidents in the house. When the child I'm instructing has finished his lesson, he goes out to relieve his brother, if necessary, then I work with the other one. I call these lessons in responsibility and cooperation. :)  If the weather is cooperative, we will bring books out in the backyard and read or do math from the comfort of a lounge chair (or a tree stump, as was the case yesterday) so we can all be outside with Quincy.  We have had to learn that one may not avoid school or other responsibilities by taking on "Quincy duty." Doesn't that cute face just beg one to throw everything else to the wind in order to spend time with him?

 Not the most flattering self portrait of myself and the littlest man of our house, but alas, here we are sitting in the middle of the kitchen.

Running around on the drill field at Mississippi State University. He had a blast!

We are all learning so much and are having fun in the process.  It is nice having a puppy again with the boys both being old enough to help.  Sometimes I question my sanity at getting a high-energy golden retriever puppy when D-man was 20 months old while pregnant with the blue-eyed boy.  Not to mention, we were also in the midst of an extensive kitchen remodel at the time! :)  This time around is definitely different.