Monday, November 05, 2012

Crafting our Way Through the West

We did it!!  Just before I left for California, we finally finished our Westward Expansion Unit, which was very in depth, and...well...pretty darned cool.  Some folks have asked if we use a textbook, or a specific curriculum when we homeschool.  My answer to that question is, "YES", we use that and more.  I pulled this one together myself, and we read three or four short novels, we used three different lapbooks for The Gold Rush, The Louisiana Purchase, and Lewis and Clark.  We did not make lapbooks with them, we created binders filled with activities...but not all of them because frankly, some were good and some kind of lame :-)  We used a teacher's resource curriculum with text and an abundance of worksheets on Westward Expansion. We watched two Ken Burns series on The West, and Lewis and Clark.  We wrote 4 or 5 short papers, a biography, short worksheet biographies of 4 Western Heroes.  We read 3 long texts, researched on Google, created maps of forts, trails, and tribes...and much more.  Here are a couple of pics of the completed notebooks:

Last week, it was time to play and create!  We capped it all off with a variety of crafts, including a couple that are still in progress.  The kids all agreed we had a lot of fun, take a look at what we did:

This is the resource we used for a couple of ideas.  Angela decided to recreate a Mandan Indian home, complete with popsicle sticks and real live adobe mud,which we have around our area. 

We teased her that it looks at first glance like Stonehenge.

Not looking authentic...yet.

Now it's starting to take shape!

We actually went about a mile from our house with a 5 gallon bucket and dug up some adobe dirt, came back and crushed it up into a fine powder because it was very lumpy, then added water and PRESTO, instant mud!

Here is the finished product, she did a wonderful job!

Next, we have...Josh and Kenny!

Here they are debating which Indians and cowboys to use, and how to take the cowboy and make them more "pioneerish".

Kenny is making his infamous animal pen.  Seriously, this kid spent 2 hours...and had TWO sides of his pen made with popsicle sticks.  I told him that at that rate, his animals would have already been slaughtered and eaten!

Joshua paints the scene.

Then Josh hot glues the Kenny Pens to the board.  They DID look good, but it took 3 hours for those four fences!

Kenny created a log pile, as if his pioneers were in mid-build of their new log cabin on the frontier.

Hurray!!  Finally done!  Lookin' good boys :-)  And am I the only one who sees a more mature Kenny in this picture?  Just looked at it and had to shake my head, he looks different!

Next was Olesya, and she made a true diorama.  Shouldn't EVERY kid make a diorama at least once in their school career?

Wagons, and horses and tipis...oh my!

I loved her background painting!

Then Olesya worked on another project, which she preferred...

Now this is more like Olesya!

She really enjoyed this one.

So did Matthew! His feet were the only ones who fit them well, so he was a happy man :-)

Joshua did a little leatherwork himself, making a wallet.

First we had to stamp patterns into the outside cover.  We stamped the name using a screwdriver and hammer.

Joshie's funny faces as he works on this, I am sure it helped! Haha!

Sewing the parts together.

"Really Mom?"

Tada!!  A completed wallet!

Kenny trying his hand at cross stitching.

Everyone had the opportunity to write with a real feather pen that we created!  

Matthew ended up fully engrossed in a single project, which is not yet complete.  He decided to make a fort.

Looks easy enough, grab a few sticks from the back yard and get to work.

Uh oh...he has decided to "strip" his "logs", so they'll look more authentic.

In between, Matt helps the other kids with their projects.

Looking messier. And yes, it ended up all over the floor as well.  This past week was NOT for those whose houses are "perfectly clean".

First section of fence, and he likes the look.

A tower takes shape.


Trimming them.

Here he is helping Angela finish a leather pouch she made.

Our Twins :-)

This is serious work!

This is the last I saw of it, a corner tower completed, as well as some walls.  I told him this would end up taking him weeks, not the few hours I had in mind for our Unit end projects.  Matt looked at me and said..."And the problem with that is...??"  So I decided to hush up and let him work on it as much as he likes around his school work. I have to admit, we are all anxious to see the final version.

So, we will be moving on once I return from California.  Science will be our focus for the next couple of months.  We seem to naturally be drifting into "block learning" for science and history, which is working well for us so we can focus strongly on something.

And when I return home, I sure hope I don't see a whole bunch of pretend logs all over my floor!! Haha!


Unknown said...

Love Matt's fort! Can't wait to see a picture of it completed. I could use Kenny's help cross stitching, I'm making a stocking for my neice, as my Grandmother use to do, and need some help.

Robert Ferrari said...

I don't even know if I could make that stuff and I'm a fully grown adult!

Anonymous said...

Every schoolkid in America just burst into tears because they didn't get to do that...