Archive for April, 2010

Civil War

I’ve decided this is where we are going to stop in our studies of Early American history. We’re not ending our school year. We’re going to be studying government now. Since I do no specific planning for my school year, I like to leave for the end a topic we could spend a little time on or a lot of time on depending on how the rest of the year goes. And often we get anxious and start early on next year’s topics.

We will be starting with the new developing technology when we study 20th century in a couple of years. I don’t go straight through history as a timeline. I want to have focused study of American history but I want to focus on the world too.

Okay…civil war.

We again used a lapbook from Dynamic2Moms. We improvised a little with the accordian timeline and the Emancipation Proclamation piece in the two corners. We just used blank pieces we had lying around from other things.

I had my kids read through this website on their own.

We focused only on one battle, the battle of Gettysburg. Our home state is Pennsylvania. I’m just not really into studying the war part of wars.

We listened to the Gettysburg Address. It’s a video. My four-year-old gave the Gettysburg Address. My daughter dressed him up and prompted him line by line.

On the Links blog you can find a link to a site that has the battles listed by state so you can find information on what happened in your state.

We did play this Civil War game. I chickened out of doing paper soldiers when I read the “play” took two hours. I didn’t want to spend days on it. The paper soldiers would have taken days to make and most likely would be destroyed by the toddler or preschooler by the time we got around to even starting. (How many of you have 3 little boys at home) ūüôā ¬†But on the same site, Junior General, there was this Civil War “matrix” game. Here’s the game board.

You just print this out then all you need are two tokens and a die. It is made for a classroom with seven teams. We played with two kids–one was Robert E. Lee, one was Sherman. The game gives a starting score for each side. Each side has so many points for strength, fighting spirit and supplies. The North is trying to capture Richmond. The South is trying to capture Washington.

On your turn you move one square then make an argument. “We burned down a bridge keeping the rebels from getting their supplies.” Then we rolled the die to see if it happened. We decided a 5 or 6 meant it didn’t happen. (If they came up with something that was impossible, I made them come up with something else. Like my daughter tried “Their whole army died of cholera.”) If their argument “happens”, then either they gain a point or their opponent loses a point. For instance in the example I gave, the opponent would lose one supply point. You can say something positive for yourself like “We have stayed in place and rested.” Then you could gain one strength point. When opponents meet in the same square you roll the die and add that to the score you already have. Highest score wins the battle. (You can read this in the directions.)

Also on the Links blog (scroll down to the Civil War–it’s in timeline order) you can find different worksheets to do. There are coloring pages here as well. My son did the Civil War alphabetization worksheet.

On the site where I downloaded the lapbook pieces there are several other pictures. I printed out these pictures of confederate money and this pie graph of soldier’s occupations. My daughter made that into a bar graph.

And here’s my daughter’s picture she drew from one of the other pictures on the lapbook site.

I’ve also started an experiment in our homeschool. My children both recently finished their math texts. Not only are they ahead of schedule, my son is really ahead. So, I decided there wasn’t a need to keep moving at this pace. I have figured they can do just two lessons a week in their book and finish by the end of next school year. In their extra time (an hour a day basically) they are allowed to pursue other interests. My son has taken up engineering, my daughter, Canadian history.

The Links blog has come in handy. I let them on there to explore and to find things they are interested in studying. As usual all the links in this post are on that blog. You can always find it in the sidebar: Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers.

AND…I’ve had a publisher interested in my novel. If you haven’t yet, take a look at The King Will Make a Way page (click on the button at the top) and use the link on that page to go to my blog about the book. You can read more about me, chapter one, and more reviews of the book. I still have decisions to make, but I will let you know when it’s going to be published. (And will of course have a lapbook for you to go along with the book.)


April 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm 1 comment


We’re moving on from studying slavery now and are about to enter the Civil War.

The kids had lots of books to read this time so I actually gave them a couple of days to just read during school time.

We had a short picture book on Harriet Tubman and the novels: Dear Austin Letters from the Underground Railroad, Amos Fortune Free Man, Sojourner Truth In Their Own Words. These are the books my son read. My daughter read those plus two from the diaries series, I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly, and Picture of Freedom. She also read online Up From Slavery which is Booker T. Washington’s autobiography. She’s currently still reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She begged me to let her read it. She’s reading that online as well which is why it is taking longer. There is only so much time the computer is available for her to sit and read with 5 computer users and one computer.

Another thing she asked for repeatedly was the chance to do a notebooking page on Harriet Tubman.

She was concerned she wouldn’t get a chance to draw this picture of Harriet Tubman. I had had the kids do a web quest about Harriet Tubman and she wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to move on without letting her do a notebooking page! I’ve started giving her only blank notebooking pages like this since she loves doing the drawings herself, but we’ve come to an agreement that the drawing comes last in school time. My kids just get a stack of papers and books next to them and they can do them in the order they like, usually.

We again have used the links on the  Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers blog.  The links here are from the American History page under Slavery. For school we worked our way through this site daily for one week.

One day for his response to what he learned that day, my son made a digital lapbook. You can see it here. He’s a second grader.

That’s basically what we do. We learn one thing each day and respond with a notebooking page, a lapbook piece or something else. “Narration” is the Charlotte Mason word for it, but I’ve never claimed to follow Charlotte Mason’s methods. In fact I went into homeschool very confident and wanting to do it my own way. I’ve never bought curriculum, unless you count the math texts. Anyway, you can find¬†“narration” ideas here.

My children each basically have an hour on the computer each day. There is no TV or video games in our house so this is their only screen time and it’s all for school (or emailing grandma). I have bookmarked for them (I use an online activity everyday. Each day of the week is assigned to something so I don’t have to think of what to do: like Monday is art. They do online links for art, music, language arts, math and thinking. Then they often have a second bookmarked page about whatever they are doing in school for history or science. For instance for slavery they got to do this activity. ¬†My son sometimes does logic games if there is more time or he reads online. My daughter mostly reads online or makes worksheets for her preschool-aged brother. All the links I use, and the books they read online, are all found on the Links blog.

My personal current projects include making an ocean lapbook. Thanks to Jimmie I made the coolest lapbook piece last night. Jimmie pointed out a free ebook online by Dinah Zike about mathematics foldables. You can find the link here right under the “supplements” section.

Last night I designed a 3-D bar graph piece showing the depths of the different oceans. Don’t worry. I’m doing it on the computer so it will be available for sharing. Here’s a preliminary picture. The bars could be colored in and it will have backing attached to it.

Another of my projects is a language arts curriculum using the links from the Links blog and hopefully it will be ready soon. It will be free of course.

That’s all for now. Thanks for hanging with me to the end of the post!

April 13, 2010 at 7:28 am 6 comments

Digital Lapbooks

Have you seen this yet?

DigiLapbook Designer

Although it’s being updated now, it’s also free right now. Who knows how long that will last? This is too cool to pass up. There is also free unlimited hosting right now. That means you just click on the button and they will put your lapbook online for you.

The tutorial videos were not working for me (my guess it has to do with my computer and not the program). But I figured it out in a few minutes. Here’s my creation in five minutes of playing around.

Cool huh? My 8 year old son will love this and will be able to do it easily.

You can’t do anything you want with it, but it’s something I couldn’t possibly create myself and something my doesn’t-like-to-cut-or-write-but-can-type-and-loves-the-computer son of mine will enjoy doing!

By the way, here is the site’s sample of a digital lapbook.

There are things to be worked out, but his mom says he’s currently upgrading it. Yeah, his mom. It was done by a homeschool boy! Get it while it’s free and upgrade later–that’s what I’m thinking.

April 6, 2010 at 11:49 pm Leave a comment

Accidental Blogger and Battle Scene

I was uploading pictures to put on my family blog and finally got a few pictures of some our westward expansion stuff for you. I inserted them in the post below if you’d like to see.

Forgive my laziness in not doing it for you before, but did you know I’m an accidental blogger? Some of you can verify this, but this used to be my family blog. I put up pictures of my kids and special things they did for school for their grandparents and other family and friends.

Then I started doing lapbooks.¬†People started leaving comments that I wasn’t related to. I found out they found me through google alerts. At that time I had been putting pictures up on the web for YEARS and I had never started a following so it hadn’t occurred to me there would be a need to make my blog private.

Anyway, Erna (from Simply Lapbooks) asked me if she could link to my blog. I politely turned her down saying it was for family. But I offered her my country lapbooks as a condolence. I had made them with the intention of selling them, but the Lord convicted me I wasn’t to do that. But I had no one to give them to, so I was happy to share them with her.

Well, one thing led to another and now I’m the “owner” of simply lapbooks and my family pictures have moved elsewhere (I still don’t have it as private but no one finds us as long as I don’t talk about lapbooks!), and here I blog about lapbooks and homeschool and have been able to share lots of stuff! Thank you, God, for leading us where we never expected to go!

Oh! The Battle Scene. ¬†I just posted about the Alamo (below), but tonight I found a new resource. It’s Alamo, the game. This says it’s for 6th-8th grade. I have not tried it. But it’s from a site that is for reenacting battles with paper soldiers. I’m working on putting up the battles in their specific locations on the world and American history pages of the Links blog.

My son (8 yrs old) saw me looking at the site and wants to try it. He’s small motor skills aren’t the best, so I don’t know if this will be good practice or frustrating. But he really wants to do it, so we will try it when we get to the Civil War soon. (We are currently doing slavery.)

Here’s the Alamo link. ¬†The site is called Junior Generals. ¬†Most of the things are descriptions to “act out” the battle with your paper figures. The Alamo is different. It is set up as a game. If someone tries it, let us know how it works. And I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes if we try a Civil War battle.

April 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm 1 comment

Westward Expantion

We have just finished up travailing the Oregon Trail.

My kids did lapbook pieces from dynamic2moms. We didn’t do everything. You can see the complete lapbook and download it here. Also, my kids drew in pictures sometimes where pictures were provided if you wanted them. And sometimes we used the prewritten info when we couldn’t written it ourselves.

We mostly used this site for learning about the trail. Each day we gathered around the computer and clicked on the next link and read together. Then I would give them a related lapbook piece or a notebooking page.

My daughter just used blank pages and drew the pictures herself.  She loves doing her own pictures, but sometimes she spends too much time on drawing and not enough time on writing.

Both of my kids used this online tool to create an ad to encourage people to join their wagon train and head out west.

We learned about the Gold Rush at this site.

We even visited the Alamo–mostly because all I knew about it was “remember the Alamo” but I didn’t know what I was supposed to remember about. Now I know.

My kids really enjoyed doing these quizzes about the lives of different children.

All of these links can be found on the American History page of the “Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers”

There are other websites linked there for other ages, notebooking pages, diagram of a wagon, writing idea, Oregon Trail math and more. You can find on there a book called Letters of a Woman Homesteader for a 5th/6th grade reading level.

In working on the link blog I was excited to come across the autobiography of Davy Crockett (it’s on the Robinson page in level 7). I have him listed on the American history page up by the French and Indian war. The book is full of stories as you might imagine. Here are a couple of sentences:

“The next day it rained rip-roriously, and the river rose pretty considerable, but not enough yet. And so I got the boatsmen all to go out with me to where I was going to settle, and we slap’d up a cabin in little or no time.”

Another thing I found was a short story about Davy Crockett and how he realized the Constitution doesn’t give the government the right to tax and use the money however it pleases. He votes against giving money for charity. (He was in the House of Representatives.) I found this very interesting for one because I recently received an email making this same claim. You can read the story for yourself (it’s short). It’s link is on the blog, but here is the link as well. There is a debate over whether or not this really happened, but a bill like the one mentioned did come up at that time.

Here’s another reading on the topic, The Law, which says that the greatest threat to liberty is government, especially as they legalize plunder.

Both are on the Robinson page in level 7. There is an audio book for The Law linked there as well.  (The Law is a pdf. The other,  Not Yours to Give, you can download or read online.)

April 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

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