Homeschool History: Our Plan for 2012/2013

We are taking a little side trip for history this year.  I love the chronological order of classical history and we thoroughly enjoyed studying ancient history for the past year.  However, one question continued to crop up from Firefly, now age 8.  “But, Mom,” he asked, “what was happening here?  In the United States?”

Well, I couldn’t really answer him, beyond the fact that there were Native Americans here when Columbus arrived, but what about before that?  A few vague facts swam around in my head about Ponce de Leon, but that was it. That is either a reflection of a poor memory on my part or evidence that our educational system missed the boat, so to speak, when I was in school.  Either way, I was curious, too. What did happen, in ancient times, in what we now call The United States?

So, we are taking a step in the child-led direction and we are going to learn all about very early American history, starting with pre-historic times.

We are going to use Joy Hakim’s books, A History of US, to begin our journey.  What I love about Hakim’s books, is that they read like a story. And that is just what we will do. We’ll read the stories. And we will add in a craft or activity here and there, a field trip or two or more.

And, even more of a change, the Creekside Dad is going to step into the role of teacher for Firefly. He loves U.S. history and volunteered for this assignment.  I can use all the help I can get around here, with a third grader, a first grader and preschooler this year.  And besides, I am really thrilled that he will be taking more of a role in our homeschooling journey.

Creekside Dad and Firefly will start with Volume 1 of Hakim’s 11 book series:  The First Americans: Prehistory-1600 A History of US Book 1.  I love the quote on the cover:

This book begins in the Ice Age with some people who hiked and canoed from Asia to a New Land and, thousands of years later, got called Indians by Christopher Columbus, who didn’t know where he was.

The plan is to cover this text in 20 weeks, from August to December.  Then we hope to start the next volume, Making Thirteen Colonies: 1600-1740 A History of US Book 2
so that by Spring we can take advantage of the wonderful historical places our state (Virginia) has to offer (Williamsburg, Jamestown, etc.).

What about The Queen Bee, my first grader, you ask? She’ll be doing some of this along with us, but probably not so in-depth as her older brother. We’ll use more storybooks from the library and do some more crafts with her.  She will love the field trips, too.

Do you have any resources for early American history that you could share? An activity, a great go-along book, a Pinterest board? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what made this part of history exciting for your family.

Catapult Project

Popsicle stick catapult. Lego Star Wars figures, optional.

This is a great project with a really simple design, for those of you with kiddos out there who like to build things. This catapult is made with popsicle sticks and thin ribbon, plus a bottle cap to put the objects you will be flinging. The bottle cap is attached with an adhesive strip, but hot glue would work just as well.

The Creekside Dad tasked Firefly, age 8, with designing his own catapult. First, they looked at pictures of catapults in our history book, and discussed the basics of the design:  a base, a flexible or tension-filled arm, a container to hold what you are trying to send flying. Used to designing things with Legos, this proved a bit challenging for Firefly. Legos are not flexible. He tried Kinex. A very good choice, as they can bend, but our limited Kinex collection didn’t have what was needed for the base.
 Finally, they found a little inspiration, proving that Pinterest is useful to men as well as women. (I knew this, of course, but my husband doesn’t get the whole Pinterest thing.)

I like how this was a whole process. Even thought the first two building mechanisms, Legos and Kinex, didn’t work, Firefly stuck it out, through his frustrations, and the end result was something fun and functional.
 We did this as part of our ancient history studies of Rome.

Linking up at these linky parties. 


Learning About Roman Numerals

Story time and crafts for math? Yes, please!

We learned about Roman numerals by reading Fun with Roman Numerals and making clay coins.  We wrote Roman numerals on one side of the coins and regular digits on the other side.
 We had fun playing a game with the coins. We “charged” each other for things throughout the day, such as snack ($6), t.v. time ($13), and completing chores ($24).  Yes, I know, prices are expensive around here.  ;-)

My son tried to figure out how much to pay in Roman “money”. He did quite well, but the few times he got stuck, he could flip the coins over and see the regular numbers to help figure it out.

We made the coins using air-dry clay and a circle cutter from our collection of play dough accessories. We used a pencil to carve the numbers. Since it was a rainy day, we couldn’t let the coins dry out in the sun so we put them in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes on each side. The time may vary, depending on the thickness of the coin, but the clay turns a lighter color when dry.


We did this as part of our ancient history studies of Rome.

Linky parties I know and love. 

Ancient Rome: Togas and More

Roman laurel wreath crown project, from History Pockets.

We’ve been learning about ancient Rome and doing some fun projects.

This week we made laurel wreath crowns and a toga, then the kids dressed up like the Roman emperors we’ve been studying.  This would also be a great go-along project for learning about the Olympic games.

The laurel wreath crown was inspired by History Pockets.  We took a paper plate and cut the middle out and a slit for the back.  We made a simple leaf template and traced it onto two shades of green paper.  The kids cut the leaves out and then we glued them to the paper plate.  We added a red ribbon, just like the ancient laurel crowns had.

“Toga! Toga! Toga!”

The toga is one long piece of fabric leftover from a party decorating box my relatives left in my basement (score!). So we borrowed it to make an easy and perfect toga. Here’s what we did: Tuck one end of the fabric into your waistband, wrap the material one and a half times around your waist, then sling it across your chest and over your shoulder. Tuck into the back of your waistband. Instant toga!

In between these fun activities, we’ve been reading our go-along resources about Rome. We have a large collection of books about Rome. For some reason I kept scooping them up at bookstores, homeschool conferences and such. But here are our very favorites:

More to come about ancient Rome. We’ll be studying it all month. Next up, catapults!

For more fun history projects, be sure to follow my collaborative Hands-On History  Pin Board and my Ancients Board on Pinterest.

Follow Creekside Learning on Facebook.

Linky parties: Get inspired. Play with your kids. Get your craft on. 

Make a Cardboard Hobby Horse

Inspired by a story we read about Alexander the Great and his horse, a huge, wild black stallion that only Alexander could ride, Firefly and I decided to make a horse that he could ride. Perfect for a 7 year old.

Naturally, The Queen Bee and Love Bug (ages 6 and 3) wanted one, too, so now we have a small herd of horses and lots of wonderful pretending, including ancient Greek warriors, modern day local farmers and cowboys, too.  “Howdy, ma’am.”
 We made a template of a horse’s head, then traced six pieces onto cardboard.  I drew in an ear, eye and nostril, then the kids colored the horses to their liking.
 We taped a stick (any straight stick will do, we used a variety, including a piece of dried bamboo and a yard stick) onto of the inner sides of a horse head, then put loops of packing tape all over the inside and pressed the two sides together.
 Then they were ready to ride!
 The story of Alexander the Great, and his horse, Bucephelus, is in Chapter 25 of The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times.  There is a horse-head template that can be enlarged for this project in the accompanying Activity Book.

For more Ancient History projects and ideas, visit my Story of the World page and the Hands-On History Collaborative Pinterest board.

Linking up with these great Linky Parties.