Friday, September 26, 2014

Little House in the Big Woods: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The Long RIFLE

Day 1:
In our time together in the 'Big Woods' we were to read about how Pa: 1) made bullets and 2) cleaned his rifle. Creating the vocabulary list was easy, but understanding all the words not so easy- even for me. I looked to You Tube, funny enough! I searched for videos that would show a rifle from the 1800's, describe the different parts of it, and even how to fire it. I found it!

Before reading the few pages for the morning we watched this video clip from You Tube.
Testing the Accuracy of the 1800 Pattern Infantry (Baker) Rifle.
In the book, Laura speaks of a "Patch box, Cow-horn..., ramrod, etc. There were no pictures or true explanantion of what these items were used for. Watching the video allowed us to not only see each item, but to understand their use.

This video was a great help too! Loading and firing an 1800's Baker Rifle

After we watched our videos, read about Pa's chores with his rifle, discussed it all, we went to our seats and wrote out the steps to making bullets and then we listed together how to clean a gun. (I found the below templates from HomeSchoolShare).

Then we listed together how to clean a gun.

Day 2:

Today we read about a story of Pa when he was a little boy. He was out, late in the woods at night and heard an OWL.

We discussed the story and then waiting for them back at the table were OWL PELLETS! At first they were excited, then grossed out, then excited again as they began unearthing all the bones!

 These two found a vole skeleton! 

We think we found a lizard!

Next we learned how to draw owls!
I have the set of Art Books called, "Draw Write Now." 
These little guys loved it!


Day 3:

Today we reread, "The Story of Pa and the Voice in the Woods" but this time we focused not on the owl, but on Pa's disobedience as a young boy. We opened up the Bible and read different Scriptures on what it means to obey the Lord and our parents. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

She Didn't Even Write

My eldest, mentally disabled, brother wrote me an actual paper letter where he said how much he misses me. He also wrote to express his love and of course, to ask for a present. He is fifty-seven years old, but at the mental age of a nine year old-he's really cute. He is able to read and write, but not able to address an envelope, stamp it and send it out to me, and this is where, "she" comes in. As I spied the envelope again, I noticed that the hand that wrote my name and address was not of my brothers, but my mother's.

My mother wrote my name.
Did she take a moment when she heard him say, "I want to write a letter to Ellie" and sigh?
Did she tear up when she wrote out my name and realized that she hasn't seen me in eight years?
I don't think so.

Did she think, "Maybe I'll slip in a note to Ellie in his envelope to her."

I have to think, not.

She had a chance.
A secret chance to write to me.
No one had to know. Not even my brother.
As she sealed his letter into the package, she could have passed along a note too.

She didn't.

How does a mother do that?
How does a mother forget her own child?
How does she loose all hope of being reconciled?
How does a mother write out an envelope to her lost daughter and not even write a note on the envelope itself and say, "I miss you." or "Love you too, Mom."

I have no idea.

My mother has forgotten me, again.
How many times does it have to happen before the hurt stops?
I give you my mom.
I pray that you will fill her with your love to overflowing and heal her heart.
Bless my mom, Lord.
Let her know, I still love her.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Little House in the Big Woods: Chapter 2

Chapter 2:

Chapter two is only twenty pages long and yet it kept us learning and researching, making crafts and creating in the kitchen all week long! We've had great fun.

This week in our Prairie time we read how Ma allowed the girls to use her thimble and make drawings on their frosted windows. We don't have frosted winters in September, so I gave them blue construction paper, white paint and my thimble.

We read all about Laura and Mary's chores. They made their beds every morning and helped Ma clean and dry the breakfast dishes.  Ma also had a special chore for each day:

"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday."

We discussed our daily and weekly jobs and compared them to Laura's.
The templates I got from HomeSchoolShare

(This was my five-year-old's list of chores).

Next we read how Ma and the girls churned the milk into butter.
We made butter too! 
Each child had their own butter container to "churn." 
We wrote about it and entitled it, "I Made Butter!"

This is a little book listing all the steps Laura took in order to make butter.
(We discovered that it was more difficult to make butter in Laura's day then ours!)

Now, it says that when all their work was done that Ma allowed the girls to play with their paper dolls- so, when we were finished with all our work, I let them play with paper dolls too!

 Here's the paper 'little house"- I had it laminated.

Then we sat down and cut out Pa, Ma, and Laura paper dolls!

And there were times when all the work was done, that Laura and Mary played with their real dolls. Laura had a corn-cob doll, but we made corn-husk dolls and played with them!

At the end of the day, when Pa came home at night from trapping, he would play the fiddle. I rented this CD from the local library and as my children worked on their next project for their Lapbook, we listened to fiddle music.

The little guys made Pa's fiddle and my older children wrote a reflection or journal entry comparing how Laura felt when her Pa played the fiddle as to how they feel when their daddy plays the guitar.

The chapter ends with Pa telling a story about how a panther chased his grandfather. 
We checked out books on wild cats, researched, and then wrote up all we discovered on the panther.

 I can not believe how much the children and I are learning! It feels like with every word Laura Ingals Wilder writes there is something new for the children to engage in. I am so grateful for the time together to learn so much!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Home Schooling and Lap Books!

This year I have decided to break away from my norm in the way I home-school. My norm has been to use the same curriculum. Yes, the same curriculum each year, for the past ten years. I now know the teacher's guides very well, the student books, the projects and all book reports required. And honestly, that makes me feel comfortable and safe. For instance, when I don't feel well or life throws me a curve ball, my home-school life does not go down the winding path with it. My children and I can keep going because we know what is expected. (Remember, I can't call in sick and hire a substitute teacher when I'm too sick to make it in to work. School life must go on). I have used the curriculum for each of my six children and have little to complain about, but this year I finally decided to find out what was really in my heart to teach my children and just go for it.

Back in January, I sat back and thought about what I loved to teach, that is, when I taught in the New York City Public Schools. Yes, I loved being an elementary school teacher and teaching all the basics, but what I spent hours upon hours creating were my Centers. I would come up with a theme, or subject, that they needed to learn about or what I thought would interest my students and then begin to create math, science, reading, art, and listening centers around that theme. I created butterfly and Dinosaur units. Seasonal units like, Thanksgiving and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. units. Nursery Rhymes unit to Dental Care units. I loved taking something the children needed to learn and making it fun.

As a homeschooling mom of six, I have never created Centers for my own kids. It was hard enough to grasp five different grades, make lesson plans and teach each day. My heart fluttered a little too wildly at the thought of adding Centers into the mix. But for years I couldn't deny the ache in my heart to do what made my heart soar so many years ago. Then I came across the, Prairie Primer. I wanted to use the "Prairie Primer" or "Little House" Book series as the backbone to teach my children not only great literature, but history, geography, science, handwriting, vocabulary, faith, and art, but was too afraid of the change it would bring to our home-school life. Each year before ordering the curriculum, I'd ponder, "Is this the year?" and inevitably I would decide, "No."  (I don't jump into major change easily). But I spent this past year researching ways to teach the Little House series as a curriculum that would be challenging to my young and older children and have found I am not the only one who thinks the book series is a great venue for learning.

 I could not abandon my orginial curriculum completely. We are still using the Language and Math curriculum appropriate for each of their age levels, but the other subjects will be covered through the Prairie Primer. I have gathered so many wonderful books to help me in this new venture of teaching. One fantastic idea I came across was using Lapbooks. (A wonderful resource is, Homeschool Share).

Each child will create their very own lap book on, The Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingals Wilder. We will read one chapter a week and in that week add the lessons learned to our Lap Books. At the end of the week they can present their Lap book or lessons to the family at dinner time, giving them an opportunity to express what they have learned in a public speaking forum.

Here we are working hard on our lapbooks.

On the first day we learned how Pa hunted deer, smoked it in the smoke house, and preserved it for the winter. So, I surprised them with the closest thing I could find...beef jerky! They loved snack time!

The next day we learned how Pa slaughtered their pig and how Ma made, "Cracklings." I had to do something, right? I bought Pork Rinds! They thought snack was a hit!

Pa had given Laura and Mary the pig's bladder to play with...ummm I mean, Pa blew up the pig's bladder like a balloon, tied a string around the top to seal it closed and then allowed the girls to play with it. I, on the other hand, did not want to deal with a pig's bladder, so, we made origami balloons instead!

"Pa caught a fish a big as Laura!"
My two youngest drew, and painted a fish as big as my daughter.

Here is one of the Lapbooks that we are working on.

Here is the smoke-house that Pa used to smoke the venison.
We used, as Pa did, real leather for the hinges.

And cut pieces of leather, to resemble the meat, 
and 'hung' it in the smoke house.

Mary had a doll named Nettie and Laura a corn-cob doll named Susan. My older children wrote a reflection about it and my younger ones drew pictures of the two dolls.

We added more animals to the animal flap book we found on-line. We added: muskrat, otter and mink.

Here we made a collection of leaves as our Vocabulary center, a pocket for our 'pig's bladder' balloon, and log house using pop sickle sticks. (The house was painted gray because Laura said that the log house looked gray after they coated all the logs with mud. Also, we cut the roof opened and placed pictures of all the harvest foods that were stored in the attic).

And lastly, a map of the United States of America. We found where we live and where Laura lives. I hope to color in more states as we read about all the places Laura traveled to.

Each of my oldest three children chose a topic to research. One studied different types of traps Pa used and how they worked. One studied how to catch fish with a net and finally one child studied harvest season. They each had to write a report on their findings and present it to the family.

Our first week done! We learned A-LOT! 
My older children have a reflection writing time, research reports, vocabulary lists to study, and crafts to work on. My younger children are learning right along side the older ones. And we are all studying the Word of God together. This week we looked up Scriptures on family and the Ten Commandments. I am feeling at peace and excited about this year of learning!

I am hoping to complete one book a semester and possibly opening my home up for friend's to join us! I'll add more photos as we create new things!