Archive for March, 2010

Lewis and Clark

We spent the last two weeks beginning our westward journey with Lewis and Clark. We had jumped ahead the previous week and looked at the War of 1812 because that seemed to fit better with our study of the Revolution we had just finished and this seems to fit better with the Oregon Trail and such that we are beginning now.

All the links you find in this blog post can be found on the Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers blog, specifically on the American History page.

Exploring the fauna and flora of the West and our local park

In this collection there is a to-scale map of a section of our local park (bottom left). We took a 10 meter measuring tape with us to the park. You could use your yard, but we live in a big city. My daughter did some drawings of some of the flora at the park (the tree on the right). My son drew a bird and wrote a description of it (top left). The colorful printout is from the 25-page book my daughter made about the different plants found out West, especially if they were edible and how they could be used. At our local park she picked dandelions and cooked them for dinner for us. Hey, anything tastes good with enough butter and salt, right? She was really interested in learning about the plants, so I gave her two full school days to work on that book. The rest she did in her free time.

mapping stops along the trail

Each day we read about a stop along their trail and part of their journal entries for that stop. Then the kids marked the stop on their map (they each chose a different type of map to use) and on the backs they wrote something about that point on their trail. (I took the picture before we had finished doing this. We just did one stop a day. Using this site.)

My daughter made pretend journal entries like she was on there. She purposely spelled things crazy, like Lewis.

We also explored several websites and played some online games. My four-year-old liked playing the games for the lower elementary kids. We also watched the video on Sacagawea.  What’s below I copied from the Links blog. L means like 5-8 year olds and M is 9-12.  (U is teenagers)

Read-Aloud Overview of Their Journey L/M

Video about Sacagawea less than 5 minutes  On TeacherTube

Pictures and Info M   for younger students L   Both are about what they found along the way (National Geographic)

Online Game M  Reads like a choose your own adventure book–you choose on each page what to do and then Lewis and Clark agree or disagree with you (National Geographic)

Online Game L  Short games along the way as you learn about the animals, plants and places out West

My oldest son made this flatboat craft (we just used construction paper) and my daughter made this weaving craft (we just used regular paper and glued it into an envelope pocket.) We did this once we got out to Nez Perce territory.

Activities for studying these indigenous groups  (scroll down) –from the Links blog

And all the while we worked on this lapbook from


March 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

Moccasin Trail/Book Reports

My daughter did an extra special job for me to convince me to give her a new book to read. She knows they are there on the shelf waiting for the time to come to study each topic. So I caved in and gave her Moccasin Trail to read a little ahead of schedule.

She could read a novel a day, or two (books not days). I can’t keep up with her. I preread books that go with our school but not always the extra books. (She’s reading The Bobbsey Twins and Rover Boys series online at the moment.) I read Moccasin Trail when we got it last summer. I made up these questions for her back then and we’re just getting to it now.


vocab--she had to write in definitions; I had typed the sentence from the book

The Bourgeways--what did Jim think of them, how did his attitude change, and a comprehension question


John 10:10 and relating it to the book and to the story of Joseph

Here’s the download link for these pages: Moccasin Trail

I don’t read books aloud to my daughter. She can’t stand waiting that long to finish a book. She sits down to start a book and if she can help it, doesn’t get up until she’s finished the book. She’s the quiet type so I like giving her something to write to respond to a book to help start a discussion about it.

Here’s my plain old book report form I give her when I don’t have anything else. She reads too many books to do bigger things for each one. This would work for any novel.

Here’s the plain book report download link: Book report form

Sometimes we do lapbook type book reports you can see those at the following links:

Because of Winn Dixie

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The Tale of Despereaux

All of those downloads can be found on the Free Stuff! page

March 13, 2010 at 3:42 pm 2 comments

I Have a Question

As I’m working on organizing links so we can all homeschool for “free” 🙂 I am realizing how interconnected science is. I’m sometimes wondering where to put things. It’s studying stars but it’s using physics to do it. It’s studying the ocean but it’s about chemical elements. I’ve only done elementary science stuff with my kids, but as I’m thinking more “middle” I’m wondering how well it works to segregate the sciences. In high school we had them segregated. I don’t remember it as being a problem 🙂 Not that I really remember much.

So, seriously, I’m asking. Do you segregate your sciences? Do you go topic by topic and let it take you into all the branches of science if need be? How does one organize that?

March 12, 2010 at 12:17 am 2 comments

The Cube Solved!

I forgot to put this in the last post. Did you know you can learn to solve the Rubik’s Cube? It was a lot harder than I thought it would be since there are people who can do it in about 10 seconds! But my son and I have learned. It takes persistence, but you can solve it and learn it so that you can do it any time. I had the fun of sitting at a neighbor’s  house and playing with their’s as we talked–and handing it back completed.

I think this counts as “thinking school” as we call it. It’s spacial reasoning. You see what is not in its place and how to maneuver the right piece into its place.

Here’s the official How To.  (where sends you)

Here’s the video I learned from.  (not youtube)

March 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

Great Finds!

We’ve done a bit of this and a bit of that this past week.  NOTE: all the links in this post can be found on the Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers blog (  These specifically can be found on the American History page.

We watched this reading of The Declaration of Independence.  It’s a fifteen minute video narrated by Morgan Freedman, but then the Declaration is read by a number of famous actors and actresses. I thought it was really interesting to hear it read and made it easier for me to help my elementary school students understand what it said and why.

As an encore to the Revolution we did a week on the War of 1812. My 2nd and 4th graders each made a power point slide show answer the five W questions. They added pictures and sound effects. It was a fun, easy project. They had never used power point before, but I was familiar with it so I could show them quickly to get started.

We didn’t study this war in detail like we did the Revolution, but we did take the time to learn more about when the British set fire to Washington. We watched this presentation about it. On that links blog you can find the link to learn about other battles of this war.

My kids (with me as narrator) acted out this skit on Fort McHenry (and the story behind the National Anthem). This is from

the directions for making this hat are in the download

We also put together this lapbook about the Native Americans in the plains from  This is in preparation for beginning our expedition out west 🙂

I almost always have my two older  kids work together on one lapbook. I only occasionally have them do separate ones, but I have never yet had them do identical separate ones. I printed out the tepee pattern twice and the jewelry pattern twice so they each could color their own. There are some more things available than we used. We used our own print out of America for the cover. You can find the link to print out a map here.  We read “If You Lived with the Sioux Indians” to go along with this.

March 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment


While Homeschool Freebie of the Day is stopping in to see the Revolution stuff, I wanted to give you something else since you’ve already seen that stuff. I’ve been working on making a writing-reference notebook for my daughter. I’ve printed out a bunch of materials, but I didn’t want to just print out a list of rules for punctuation or capitalization, so I’ve made up a few activities that can be used to learn and to practice the rules. They are available to you for download here: Capitalization and Punctuation. Maybe I should say I’ve been using these with my fourth grader.

This mini-book has 10 rules of comma usage. I had my daughter write an example of each inside. Then she used this worksheet to practice. The number of the sentence matches the number of the rule. (There are no commas on this page. My daughter put in the ones you see.) You can learn about these rules and see examples at the website address below. This link is in the materials.

Here is a minibook about the capitalization rules. There are flaps on both sides that mirror each other: common nouns/proper nouns, titles/titles with names,… Your child is to write an example of each under the flap. There is a notebook page with the rules listed where you can attach the minibook if you like.

This activity goes with the dialog grammar pages. There are two pages that talk about the rules of dialog grammar with examples and a dialog to practice punctuating yourself. This activity is to practice some more. You can piece the dialog together in several ways. You need to choose upper or lowercase letters (I left off the W from wait so you could see that easily) and you need to choose the punctuation marks.  There’s an envelope that you can cut out and assemble to hold these pieces. And the envelope can be attached to the lesson page if you like.

There are several links in the materials. They can all also be found on the new “Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers” blog. Look for capitalization and punctuation under Grammar on the English page.


I’ll also put here a little two-page file about types of sentences. You can download it here: Types of Sentences

These are just pretty plain pages. They have definitions, examples and room to write in examples. One is declarative, interrogative…and the one pictured is simple, compound, complex.  There are links in the file about where you can learn about and practice compound/complex online.

You can find the links on the Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers blog. Go HERE and look under Types of Sentences. You can also find here links to online games for capitalization and commas. All the links are also in the file.


I’ve put these things into a binder along with other writing resources to keep as a reference tool. One place I got many printables for this binder is here.  I found them on Jimmi’s blog about their mini-office. Jimmie’s poetic devices book came from there.

I printed out the parts of speech I-pods. I had my daughter write a story on the back of each emphasizing the part of speech. She wrote the same story on each one which turned out to be a good idea. It was very clear by her story (just 4 or 5 sentences about a boy finding a dog) which part of speech was on the back of it. It was kind of neat seeing it change each day.

The I-pods are in color, but I printed them in black and white. If you wanted to make it a mini-book, it would still be pretty big but you could cut out the I-pod shape. There would still be plenty of room for a story on the back 🙂

March 2, 2010 at 7:29 am 2 comments

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