Monday, April 9, 2012

From London to Jamestown in 1609: Colonial History Lit class: A Lion to Guard Us

I taught a fun colonial history/lit class at our homeschool learning cooperative last trimester on the short historical fiction novel, "A Lion to Guard Us," by Clyde Robert Bulla. The kids all followed the book at home and then on Fridays during my class we did hands-on projects and discussion of the book.
The book follows 3 children who live in London and travel to the New World to find their father in Jamestown, Virginia on the Sea Venture in 1609 through the Virginia Company, so along with various literature elements such as similes, cliff-hangers, mood and symbolism, we were also able to cover a good deal of historical events.
Throughout the 10 weeks we examined numerous "Then and Now" comparisons while doing fun hands-on activities, including making soap, making butter, quill feather pens, oil lanterns and making small candles, and the kids had a blast packing their own travel chests and bringing them in to show and tell what essentials they would bring with them to the "New World."
The Lion's Head door knocker is a vital center to the story, and I was blessed to get an identical one (the fact that it was brass was also central to the story) from a friend in Grand Rapids who picked it up for me from an antique store for $7.

Mid-trimester I had set-up a field trip for our homeschool group to a nature center's sugar bush tour and it worked out great as they went over the history of how Native Americans and the early pioneers made maple syrup.

On the last day, we also played some games like Tic Tac Toe with ships and lion heads, which the kids enjoyed, and I gave them journal pages called "The Starving Time" with a girl's picture on it that they could continue the story from the lead character, Amanda's point of view on their own after the novel ended.

It was a great trimester and a fun unit. I drew many ideas from Laurie Carlson's Colonial Kids Activity book, too. Here are some more extremely helpful links:
On The Trail of Captain John Smith: A Jamestown Adventure from NGK
A Lion to Guard Us unit study from the Homeschool Share

And here is an awesome short video on the exact ship from the story, the Sea Venture!

Seeds, Thneeds, and Planting Things

It's that time of year again! We started our Sunflower Project today, where the kids plant giant sunflowers from seed and chart their growth week by week through the spring and summer in a journal. The last time we did this was 2 years ago, and my daughter was only 3, which is how old my son is now. My, how time flies! (Check it out! Sunflower Project 2010) This year each of the kids have their own tray and their own journals, which I just stapled together with quartered construction paper. The fun begins!

We also did this adorable flower part craft I found on Pinterest. It fit in perfectly with our science book on seeds and plant parts, and I had all the materials on hand, just a coffee filter, muffin cup with raisins for the seeds, a straw for the stem, paper for the leaves and shredded paper for the roots. Simple and so cute!

Another short tie-in we enjoyed today was reading Dr. Seuss' The Lorax again with some quick coloring pages. We did activities from The Homeschool Share's Lorax Unit last month on Dr. Seuss' birthday for the opening day of the new movie, The Lorax, which we went to see in the theater with friends. It was a cute movie. The unit study is definitely worth the download, plus it is free, which is always a bonus! This is a good way to incorporate some activism into your studies and give the kids reason to care about planting things and carrying on the cycles of growth. We touched on this some last year as well, with our Earth Day activities with our homeschool group where we planted trees and visited the recycling center. (Earth Day Tree Plant Post)
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." -The Lorax

We've been discussing and comparing different types of seeds for several weeks now, as we examine pumpkin seeds, pea pods, flower seeds, etc. and of course, what would a study on seeds be without Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed book? :) It is a favorite in our house. Here's a great set of activities to go with it! The Tiny Seed Activities and also great ideas at Tiny Seed Math Activities for K-1.

Happy Planting!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Kare Greenup: A soul we treasure; A time of need

If you've ever met Kare Greenup, you know. She is a soul to be treasured. You know those people? The ones who are walking kindness. She is one of them. Funny, sweet, and kind. Kind to animals, kind to plants, kind to children. And that kindness has, many times over, been showered on my children. She is my daughter's favorite teacher at our local nature center. Aside from field trips, my daughter has been blessed by numerous one-on-one days with Kare as they spend hours exploring everything from rocks to constellations.
Just two months ago, when my husband and I took the kids out to spend a winter fun day at the nature center and enjoy chili and snow-shoeing, this is a woman who, without a second thought or hesitation, took her own gloves off and put them on my daughter's hands, with insistence, simply because my daughter's mittens were uncomfortable, and then, insisted we keep them before we journeyed home. We met her husband, Scott, that day, and as my husband and her husband chatted by the nature center's fireplace, trying to keep the fire going, I remember thinking, "what an awesome couple, volunteering their time and just enjoying life, as it should be." Scott had been running some of the snow games out back that day for the nature center and he had to leave early because he had hurt his back.

We just found out Scott has cancer.

It's moving fast, through his liver and kidneys. He is getting a port in today to start chemotherapy.

We are praying. We ask that you pray, too.

Cindy at the nature center is working with Robinette's, the orchard Kare works at, to run a benefit at HCNC on May 6 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. with 100% of the proceeds going to Kare and Scott's medical bills. This is a couple who, may not "have much" in the form of fancy cars and piles of money... but in a non-money sense they are rich beyond words BECAUSE THEY LIVED LIFE THE WAY IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIVED. Not with a focus on gaining material things, but with a focus on people, on relationships, on connections, on giving to others--whether it's the shirt off their back, or the gloves off their hands in the snow for a child--and caring for nature and loving the gift of God's planet. They put others first.

They've been a blessing to many, including my family.

They've been a blessing to many. It's time to bless them in return. My husband and I inked it on the calendar to cook the day of the benefit and donate what we can, but we're also collecting items for the benefit's silent auction. If you or your business have items you can donate to the cause, please let me know and I'll make arrangements to get them from you. You can also contact Cindy directly at HCNC to find out more ways to help, or to send money, or if you know a business that can donate goods for the auction, please call her at 616-675-3158.

Most of all, pray for Kare and Scott during this difficult time. Pray for healing, pray for peace, pray for comfort and God's hand.