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!

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