Monday, March 31, 2014

Extending the Study of Literature....

It's no secret that we love great living books here on Drywood Creek.  We read and discuss literature daily.  It's the base of our education.  This is easy with early elementary kids because I read everything aloud and we're all on the same page.  However, as the kids progress and begin to read on their own, it becomes impossible to keep up with each and every book they read.  I believe this is where study guides can come into play.

I just found this awesome site with free literature study guides.  I printed the guide for Johnny Tremain and The Scarlet Letter since these are both books I'm currently readingBoth guides are 22 pages long and offer an author biography, introduction to the novel, historic background information, pre-reading activities, vocabulary previews, story maps, personal response questions, analytical questions, writing prompts, and ideas for extending the study.  Though they are secular in nature, I did not find anything offensive in either guide that I printed.  Actually, I found questions that could easily tie into scripture or Biblical response.

As noted, I'm currently reading aloud Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.  Today, we also started America's Paul Revere by Esther Forbes.  Printing this study guide was very timely.  I read Esther Forbes' bio aloud as a spin off of Johnny Tremain and an introduction to America's Paul Revere.  The kids and I found the information regarding her life very interesting.  We also reviewed the vocabulary presented in the guide and I used a couple of the questions as prompts for discussion.

I would not recommend giving these guides to elementary age children to complete on their own.  I feel the guides are aimed for an upper middle or high school level.  I also feel it's not necessary to use a guide for every book read.  Completing 2-4 guides per school year at a high school level is enough.  It's OK to read some books just for pleasure.  I also think daily written narration is very important at the high school level and a study guide should not be a substitute for this.

I am reading The Scarlet Letter on the side as part of my attempt at "mother culture".  I plan to utilize this study guide to promote thought and understanding as I read.  May I encourage you to give it a try :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Struggle for a Continent....

While studying The French and Indian Wars, I read aloud Struggle for a Continent by Betsy and Guilio Maestro. The French and Indian Wars took place from 1689-1763.  We learned that the wars were not in fact between the French and the Indians, but between the English and the French, who allied with the Indians and the Spanish.

I love Guilio Maestro's illustrations!  They are in depth, rich, and realistic.  Struggle for a Continent is one book in "The American Story Series" by the Maestros.  We have several others in the series, but have not read them yet.  However, based on our reading of Struggle for a Continent, I recommend the Maestro series.

Since the book covers four wars over a seventy year period, I spread the reading over several days.  After finishing the book, the kids each completed a notebooking page regarding The French and Indian Wars.  Ruben was still working on his when I took the photo.  He went on to write, "The French people joined forces with the Indians to fight the English for land in the New World.  The English won."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursdays of Thanks....

After much thought, I've decided this will be my last regularly scheduled Thursdays of Thanks post.   I initially started this series as a way of holding myself accountable to keeping a gratitude list after beginning to read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  I now have a list of over 500 things to be thankful for :) ....but I feel keeping these posts has become a chore.  I have grown weary in my thankfulness.  Therefore, I have decided to continue my gratitude list personally and not scheduled publicly. I pray my thankfulness will be for the Glory or God and not for man. 

Thank you for your understanding....

Ruben reading road side signs; Psalm 119; Long distance friends; 500 things to be thankful for; The thought of spring; Riley's excitement seeing her favorite nightgown clean; Farmers coming together.....

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Charlie's House.....

Charlie's House by Clyde Robert Bulla is a great read while studying indentured servant hood.  Charlie is a poor, homeless English boy, who is sold as an indentured servant in the New World.  Originally, he gets a nice master.  Unfortunately, his original master sells Charlie to pay off a debt.  After spending a short time with his new cruel master, Charlie runs away. I won't give away the ending, but, I will say it leaves you hanging.  We have read several of Bulla's books and enjoyed them all so far. 

You can read about Amos Fortune, Free Man here.  We read this book at the same time as Charlie's House.  Then the kids completed a notebooking page about slavery and indentured servant hood back in the 1700's as part of our Colonial History study.

Charlie's House is a fairly easy read that one may assign for student reading.  As follow up, a possible  language arts assignment may be to rewrite the ending of the story.  We recommend Charlie's House.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursdays of Thanks....

Studying the life of Daniel and Rebecca Boone; Caledonia; Invite to church; Physics field trip; Dinner out with Riley and Ruben; Beautiful March day; A daughter asking me to go for a walk....

Monday, March 17, 2014

Amos Fortune, Free Man....

If the world could be like Amos Fortune, it would surely be a better place!  Elizabeth Yates' 1951 Newbery Medal winner, Amos Fortune, Free Man tells an amazing true story of a fifteen year old African Prince captured by slave traders and taken to Massachusetts Colony.  Although, Amos worked as a slave for forty-five years, he never gave up his dignity or hope.  His first owners were a Christian family that taught Amos to read the Bible.  Here he gained an unwavering faith and held an air of self-governance that carried him throughout his life into freedom and death.  Once free, he went on to help others gain their freedom.  He established himself as the best in his trade and became a respected business man.  Amos Fortune, Free Man tells of a man who persevered.  You will be inspired!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Riley's Reviews - The Courage of Sarah Noble....

The Courage of Sarah Noble takes place in 1707.  It's about a young girl who is traveling with her father through the wilderness of the New World.  They are going to build a homestead on the land her father bought in Connecticut.  Before she leaves, Sarah's mother tells her to "Keep up your courage Sarah Noble".  But, Sarah has a hard time being brave on this new frontier.  The dark woods are filled with Indians and Sarah is afraid of them despite her father telling her they are friendly.  Along the way, Sarah learns that being brave even when you're afraid is really being courageous.  The Courage of Sarah Noble is a true story.

I read this book with my book club.  After discussion, we illustrated scenes from the story on butcher paper.  It was fun.  I recommend this book when you study American History or anytime you're looking for a good read! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursdays of Thanks....

Brunch with a friend; Human touch; Ruben's cardboard armor; Car wash; A ray of sun; Moving to Level 2; A nice day.....

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.    

--Ephesians 6:11

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pirate Diary....

Pirate Diary The Journal of Jake Carpenter by Richard Platt is an excellent adventure story about life on board a pirate ship during the golden age of piracy in the eighteenth century. Young Jake Carpenter joins his uncle aboard a merchant vessel, the Greyhound, bound for the Caribbean.  But, when the Greyhound is taken over by pirates, Jake is forced to live the life of an outlaw.  Pirate Diary gives the account of the daily activities in the life of pirate.  The story is written in the form of a diary by 9-year old Jake Carpenter. 

Don't let the idea of pirate adventure give you an image for boys only.   The adventurous story line and lively illustrations will appeal to girls as well.  Pirate Diary gives an excellent account of piracy with historical accuracy.  It's historical fiction at its best!

While I was reading Pirate Diary, the kids worked on a notebooking page that I printed from New World Explorers Time Traveler CD-Rom by Homeschool in the Woods.  It's a little hard to tell from the photo, but each piece of pirate clothing and gear can be lifted to see the layers underneath.  The kids had fun with this and they turned out really well!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Riley's Reviews - Sarah Whitcher's Story....

Sarah Whitcher's Story is about a little girl who gets lost in the New Hampshire wilderness.  Her family are pioneers in the New World.  When little Sarah disappears, her family is very worried and starts to search for her with the help of settlers, neighbors, and friends.  Her father's trust in the Lord keeps her family steadfast in their search.  I don't want to give the ending away so I'll stop there.  Sarah Whitcher's Story is a New Hampshire folktale that holds truth about America's past.  It is a VERY GOOD book and I highly recommend it!  You'll be on the edge of your seat!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Riley's Reviews - William Penn Friendly Boy....

William Penn is the story of a young boy, who later in life becomes a Quaker and founds Pennsylvania in the New World.  His father was an Admiral in the English Navy and he won a great battle against the Dutch.  The Admiral was hailed a hero and there were banquets in his honor.  But when he went back to sea after the celebration, he lost a battle and was put in prison.  It reminded me that pride goeth before a fall.

When William was growing up, a Quaker came to speak at his house.  When William got older, he met this man again and became a Quaker.  He gave up his finery to become a Friend of the Society.

After a while, the Quakers were persecuted  for their religious beliefs and they wanted to flee England.  The King owed William money.  It was decided to repay the debt, he would grant William a piece of land in the New World for the Quakers to have a safe haven.  Against William's wishes, the King insisted the land be called "Penn's Wood".  It later become know as Pennsylvania.

William believed all people were created equal.  He formed a peace treaty with the Indians in Pennsylvania and he founded Philadelphia.  It was called the "City of Brotherly Love" due to the Quakers love for all.

I recommend William Penn Friendly Boy by Miriam E. Mason.  It's one of the Childhood of Famous Americans books, which is an excellent series for young readers to study history. 

After studying William Penn, Ruben and I made wampum belts for our notebook.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thursdays of Thanks....

Pure white; Fuzzy pajamas; Pileated Woodpeckers; Surprise apple pie; Dinner with dad on his anniversary; Patterns in the snow; An adoption story.....

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Exploration & Early American History Term 1 Book List...

We've just begun the last term of our 2013-2014 school year and I've been looking back, reflecting on the good, bad, and ugly, as I look ahead to next school year.  We all love great living books and history is our favorite subject here so I will continue as usual with what we've been using.   You can read more about that here.  For now, I thought I'd share our entire Term 1 book list with you.  I read these books to our 3rd and 4th grader.  The books with asterisks (**) indicate books we did not read fully, rather we referenced or read sections from them. 

Brendan the Navigator by Jean Fritz
Leif the Lucky by D' Aulaire
The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway (Landmark)
**America's Providential History by Beliles and McDowell
Marco Polo: Around the World Library by Webster-McGraw Hill
Columbus by D' Aulaire
**The Light and the Glory by Marshall & Manuel
Amerigo Vespucci, Scientist and Sailor by Ronald Syme
Discoverers & Explorers by Edward R. Shaw
Exploring the World: De Soto by Ann Heinrichs
Famous Explorers: Francisco de Coronado by Claude Hurwicz
**America's Story for American Children by Mara Pratt
**The Story of the Thirteen Colonies by H. A. Guerber
Virginia Dare by Augusta Stevenson (Childhood of Famous Americans)
Jamestown: The Beginning by Elizabeth Campbell
Blue Feather's Vision by James E. Knight
Exploring the World: John Smith and the Settlement of Jamestown by Robin Doak
This Dear Bought Land by Jean Lee Latham
With Pen & Sword: Adventures of Captain John Smith by Bradford Smith
A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla
Pocahontas by D' Aulaire
**American Indian Prayer Guide (Sonlight)
Jamestown: New World Adventure by James E. Knight
Henry Hudson by Ruth Harley
Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla