united states geography

December 7, 2011

After her introduction to geography, she studied the geography of the United States.

To bring everything together before we set sail further out into the world we did a me-on-the-map activity by making nesting paper boxes (there are instructions on how to make the boxes from Family Fun) with satellite images of the boundaries we live within (starting with Earth down to our town) on each. She wrote the labels on each box. And we pasted a little picture of her in the smallest box.



geography introduction

December 7, 2011

For L’s lessons of geography I decided we are going to focus more on getting a taste of the world outside our neck of the woods and not a comprehensive study.  I don’t think it is necessarily helpful for her at this age to memorize rote facts, but she should be aware that there is diversity and common themes across the globe.

But before we stepped foot out of our own door, I wanted to make sure she had a foundation that would help her take the most out of our lessons. The first thing we did was the map study awhile back. Then she made a poster of the differences between wants and needs (and I am going to make a point during our study to compare how these are met throughout the world). We also went into focus on how we meet our needs. Some examples of what we did– she made a paper model of our house after we had a discussion on what makes a house and she helped me plan meals for a week. I also introduced physical geography beyond what we discussed in her map study by reading The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth and by making a play dough model of the earth (idea from Meet the Dubiens).

thanksgiving lesson plan

November 23, 2011

It makes more sense to tell you about our Thanksgiving lesson plans now rather than after, like I usually do, just in case something piques your interest. Even if you are not looking for formal lessons, some of these can be fun to do on turkey day with the kiddos.

We are going to make and play these games—Wampanoag Toss and Catch and Pilgrim Fox and Geese (from plimoth.org). We are going to choose two traditional recipes from plimoth.org for our dinner tomorrow. If I can get it to load (we have dial up), we will explore this interactive also from Plimoth (it is my favorite source for all things Thanksgiving). We are going to read some historical fiction letters from Scholastic. (If you want more I would suggest exploring the Plimoth and/or Scholastic pages further.)  We are also going to read Squanto’s Journey: the Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac, and because art is her favorite, she will make these crafts that I found through Pinterest—

Also, because we are trying to be more mindful and it is really what the day is for, we will take the time to think about what we are thankful for. I think we will make the sunflower plant from Rebecca Calagna Blog becasue doing is much more fun than me talking.

Happy early Thanksgiving Day to you and yours!

“history of me”

August 30, 2011

Today was the last day of her history study with Bring Histoy Home, “History of Me.”  The unit introduces children to the kinds of sources that can be used in history and how they can used, which moves the chidlren’s grasp beyond rote understanding. With “History of Me” she actually did history, which is a concept that I was not exposed to until the university–that history is more than information presented in a textbook, you can study and interpret it, too.

Some examples of sources she looked at include, her birth record, photographs, postcards, toys, food, music, and maps. Each example had hands-on activities and thought provoking questions that helped her to expand her understanding of history. The final activity was my favorite, which was an exhibit of sorts based on a timeline of her life using artifacts and photographs.


Since we did this as part of our homeschool and not a traditional classroom (which is what the curr. was designed for) we had the advantage of using many sources based on her and our family, but she did not get the opprotunity to see other children’s sources. If you use this unit I would suggest using this for a hs co-op or you could even create a community space on-line. (Maybe I should do this?)

cultural cookbook

August 19, 2011

Today for her history study she is learning about traditional food. While today we are just going to focus on the traditional recipes of our family, I would like to eventually extend the activity to follow our other social studies lessons–when we study geography and when we study further into history. I think making a cultural cookbook would be a great way to tie it all together and hold onto what she learned this year.  (Btw–the basis for my idea comes from the lesson plan, “Recipes for Tradition” for the exhibit, “Key Ingredients” by the Smithsonian.)

Want to share your recipes?

We’d like ones that have an association with your cultural heritage, where your family’s preparation differs from the way other families make it, because of the context in which the food is served, or because there’s a story or event associated with the dish : ) Besides the actual recipe, be sure to include what makes your recipe traditional, too.

kindergarten map study

August 11, 2011

Our first venture into social studies started with one of her favorite things–maps!

The map study went something like this

She did the activites in  EDSITEment, “Mapping our Worlds.”  I added the books Maps and Globes by Jack Knowlton and Mapping a Changing World by Yvette Lapierre . I also added the lesson  Montessori for Everyone, “Longitude and Latitude”(except part of it didn’t make sense so mostly I just told her about the imaginary lines of latitude and longitude and showed them on the globe) and Microsoft, “Making and Reading Maps in the 21st Century”, without their discussion on tradtional versus digital mapping and without the reflection questions (I think they had potential to loose her focus). I really wish that we did not have dial-up internet because she could have done so much more with the latter lesson–mostly we just looked for some of our favorite places and faraway relatives. Also, as a treat and to put maps in action she used a simple map I made to navigate trails in our local park, with the destination being a geocache–so she got to follow a map to real life treasure : )  

Our next study in social studies will be an introduction to history.