What We’re Reading–Westward Expansion and Pioneers

We may have just finished the 2016-17 school year this week, but I’m already thinking about summer school! This year’s theme is westward expansion (focusing especially on the journey of Lewis and Clark), and pioneers. Now, we’ve learned about these topics before, but I wanted to go in-depth, especially since we live in the “Gateway to the West!” I have some fun (and new!) field trips planned for later in our vacation, but for now, here’s the reading list I have prepared…I may add on to it as we begin our studies, but this is a good start!

Thanksgiving Unit

We began our Thanksgiving studies on Monday, although the bulk of our unit will be done next week, Monday-Wednesday.  We began with the book, If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620.  I love this book.  I remember reading it as a child (and I’m pretty sure I got it from one of my prized Scholastic book orders).  I had mostly forgotten about it, but when I stumbled across it again this fall, I knew we had to read it.  I have not been disappointed.  The Q&A format makes it very easy for Turkey and Bunny to follow, and it’s in keeping with their attention spans.

If You Were at the First Thanksgiving is another title in the same series of books.  Like the Mayflower book, it has proven very interesting to both Turkey and Bunny, is easy for them to understand, and is just an enjoyable book for all three of us.

This Friday, we also did the first of our Thanksgiving crafts–a thankfulness wreath.  It was very interesting to see the things Turkey and Bunny are thankful for–and not all of them were toys!

Next week, the real fun starts!  We’ll be reading five more books (it’s a good thing my children like reading so much!).  The first is Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration.  This is a nice, Christian telling of the first Thanksgiving, with an emphasis on God as our Provider, especially when He provided His Son to be our Savior.

We’ll also be reading two books that go hand-in-hand.  Sarah Morton’s Day and Samuel Eaton’s Day are books about real children that lived at Plymouth, and while I’m sure they must be fictionalized accounts, they are excellent stories that give a real feeling for what it was like to be a Pilgrim child.  The best part is the pictures–color photographs of the lives of Sarah and Samuel, from their clothing to their chores, and the town in which they lived.  I’m hoping these books really help history come alive for Turkey and Bunny, and help them imagine themselves residents of Plymouth around the time of the first Thanksgiving.

Another look at Thanksgiving of days gone by (but not so far gone), is Milly and the Macy’s Parade.  This is a story about the first Macy’s Parade in 1924.  It’s a work of fiction, but like the others, has it’s basis in fact. It’s a really touching story, and the illustrations are quite whimsical, and quite unusual for what you often find in children’s books.

And, just for fun, we’re also going to read The Night Before Thanksgiving.  A cute take-off on The NIght Before Christmas, it hits on current Thanksgiving traditions of cooking, baking, family gatherings, parades, turkey, and, of course, leftovers (but not one of *my* favorite traditions, the watching of Friends Thanksgiving episodes–not really child-appropriate, though, still, it’s something *I* look forward to every year!).  Surprisingly, there’s no mention of football, although the children in the story do go out and play dodge ball.  A game of football, and the family actually praying before dinner would have made it a much better book in my opinion, but it’s still cute, and let’s face it, I tend to overthink things a bit.

We also have a few craft activities planned for next week, including hand and foot turkeys, which I think will become an annual activity.  It will be a really cool way to see how the children have grown each year, if I can remember to do them every year.  I’m hoping to get even Moose and Ladybug in on that one (if I can get them to stand still long enough to trace their hands and feet!).

Turkey and Bunny are also going to make turkey hats, which they are already planning on wearing on Thanksgiving.  They’re also trying to convince me that Moose and Ladybug need those, too, but I have visions of Ladybug just eating hers, and besides, she gets to wear the famous “I’m a little turkey” shirt.  But maybe we’ll make a hat for Moose–he’s really into hats right now (although, it appears he may have made some kind of Indian headdress in school, so if he gets to bring it home, he can wear that!).

And, if we have time, we’re going to make Pilgrim hat cookies, which are way easier than they sound, and will be a great activity for little hands.  I’m going to have to substitute chocolate filled Oreos for the chocolate wafers, because I can’t find those anywhere around here, but I’m sure they’ll still be delicious.

Yep, the next week is going to be super busy, not to mention the shopping and cooking and cleaning and baking that need to get done.  I just love the holidays!

Defeated Again

Blast!  Turkey has once again used logic to best me.  As if Bunny and her “carrots are roots” comment wasn’t enough…

I was trying to explain what “Pioneers” are to them tonight.  We’ve been reading the “Little House” series, so I didn’t think it would be too hard.  People like the Ingalls family are pioneers, right?  Well, they required more detail than that (I should have seen that one coming!).  They wanted to know what exactly made them pioneers.  So, I thought of what I thought was a good, easy to understand, age-appropriate explanation for them.  Pioneers are the people who went west before most other people did.  They were adventurers who lived out there first.

That all sounded good in my head (and really, it still does), until Turkey kindly pointed out that “actually, Indians lived there first, not the pioneers.”  OK, then.  Once again, I ask, can I hand in my resignation?

At least they were listening a few months ago when I tried to explain who the American Indians were, and why they kept popping up in “Little House on the Prairie.”  Sometimes, though, I think they may listen a little too much!

Our First Field Trip

On Saturday, we took our first homeschooling “field trip.”  I found out about a “Prairie Day” taking place not too terribly far from us.  In addition to our Sonlight curriculum, we’re also reading the Little House series, so this was a perfect opportunity for us to get some hands on experience with things we’ve been reading about.

I really had no idea what to expect.  Even though this is apparently a regular event, I’d never heard of it before, and I’d also never heard of the location at which it was being held.  But our family of six (plus Uncle Ken, who was brave enough to join us for the day), decided to head out and see what it was all about.

I was not disappointed (and neither were the children!)  First of all, when we got there, we had to park and take a shuttle, which turned out to be a full-size yellow school bus.  OK, not very pioneer-y, but Turkey and Bunny were so excited for their first ride on a bus, and Moose and Ladybug were equally thrilled with the ride.

When we got there, the children were given workbooks, into which they could place five stickers that they were to collect from the different demonstrators (and we did get all five!).  They also got to collect wooden nickels along the way to spend at the Trading Post, which was really cute, and a great way for them to get a little souvenir without spending any actual money.

There were so many different displays there, I couldn’t remember them all if I tried.  Candle-making, soap carving, quilting, churning, and archery to name a few.  Plus the tents featuring different kinds of wildlife and native plants and seeds (both Turkey and Bunny are as tall as a purple coneflower, in case you were wondering).  There were pioneer games, a hayride (which we didn’t go on), pony rides (which Turkey and Bunny loved–Daddy, not so much, as a pony decided to kick him!), a sod house and covered wagon, a teepee, sheep to pet (I think Turkey and Bunny were very surprised as to what they felt like!), and bison burgers, which, for the record, were delicious!

It was an awesome day, and I’m really glad we could go and learn more about Pioneer times.  There was also some wonderfully beautiful scenery (which will be even more so in a few weeks when the leaves change!), and it was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and learn a little something in the process.  Hopefully, this was just the first of many fun, family field trips!