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Month: April 2020

History Resources for Grades K, 2, 4, and 6

I wanted to write about what I plan on using for resources once I get our homeschool up and running. Feel free to use what I’m using. Please cite my blog as a source if you choose to blog or somehow share this online. Finally, all links to Amazon are affiliate links. Thank you. 🙂

For all the kids, I’m utilizing selections from Home Learning Year By Year by Rebecca Rupp. This book is awesome. It has everything laid out grade level by grade level, and each grade is broken down by subject and then each subject has a general idea of what SHOULD be taught at that grade. And then you get suggested resources for each subject! Glorious! I don’t use it religiously but like to keep it on hand to make sure we are hitting things that need to be hit in order to make conversations with medical professionals more smooth. And it gives me some much needed peace of mind.

In my state we just have to have hit a specific number of education hours, so I have spent a lot of our corona quarantine analyzing (deeply) what works and what doesn’t work and am changing up resources to better suit each individual child.

Blossom and Root Kindergarten has history included, focusing first on the history of the child in that we get to take a trip down memory lane and revisit all sorts of fun things like what movies and songs were popular, who was the President, and whatnot when the child was born. From there it expands to learning about the child’s family, and then local, state, national, and world heroes, and even has a nice section on the future. Love it.

We’ll add in some well-written biographies about interesting people, and watch shows like Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum on PBS.

Second Grade
My second grader isn’t totally into history, she’s much more into arts and crafts. She also prefers to bounce around like Tigger as opposed to sitting and listening to a story. History for her should be hands on as opposed to strict Charlotte Mason.

We are covering the War of 1812 right now with her, so we are using books like Dolley Madison Saves George Washington, Mr. Madison’s War, plus several books we own about the American flag. Curiousity Stream has a four-part series about the War of 1812 that she may be interested in, so we will add that in as well. Her narrations will still be oral, but also drawn and will employ liberal use of Playmobil and Lego as needed.

Are the books considered “living” books? Probably not. But, I know they will hook and engage her, and will be enough to get her interested in the War and may lead to more stories down the line. Also do I care they’re not living? Nope.

Fourth Grade
If we did nothing BUT history for my fourth-grader, he’d be in hog heaven. Despite his love of history, I’ve had some problems finding books that hook him. He particularly loves military history and of course there aren’t many military history books that are appropriate for a fourth-grader.

We’re giving Joy Hakim’s “A History of US” a spin. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews on it, but I found some cheap copies of the volumes I need on Thriftbooks so if they don’t work for us, I’m not out much. We’ll spend some time on the French and Indian War and read Calico Captive and The Matchlock Gun.

For World History, we’ll focus on the Scientific Revolution with The Human Odyssey volume 2, and biographies of the great minds of that time – Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, and wherever else we end up. We’ll add in shows like

  • Curious Minds: Science in Society: How Did Newton Change World History (Curiousity Stream)
  • Once Upon a Time – Discoverers (Amazon Prime Video) (has Galileo, Newton, and more)
  • The Who Was Show (Netflix) (has Franklin, Einstein, Newton, and Galileo)

Narration is still oral, and will also include props and Minecraft as well.

Sixth Grade
My sixth grader is rather ambivalent towards history. She likes to read, she likes to watch shows. She’s also sensitive so I do have to be careful for what we talk about. We will start talking about immigration to the United States, always fun as my mom is an immigrant. I’m hoping we can get some excellent oral history from her, but with the coronavirus we can’t get together and my parents don’t have internet. Phone calls may have to work but they aren’t always the clearest.

Books we’ll use: Joy Hakim’s A History of US: Age of Extremes, Dragonwings, Inside Out and Back Again, A Different Mirror for Young People.

For world history, we’ll be hitting up the Dark Ages. I couldn’t find books that I thought would work for my sixth-grader, so I decided to give History Odyssey a try. We’ll use The Middle Ages at Level 2 and see how that works for us.

She will be doing both written and oral narrations. She is a strong oral narrator and typically doesn’t rely on props, but we may bring them in to help organize her thoughts for written narration. She also loves Minecraft narrations so we’ll throw some of those in there as well.

Once all the kids have finished these books in however long it takes (paced for sure), we’ll move on to the next chronological thing for them to study in history. Get more books, wash rinse and repeat. I’ll share the topics and book selections once we get there.

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An Open Letter to Elon Musk

Dear Elon,

You are a risk-taker. You didn’t get to where you currently are without taking risks – a lot of them. Risks to build SpaceX, to build SolarCity, Zip2, Paypal, Tesla, Ad Astra, and everything else – all risks. You risk reputation, capital, and more to further your dream for humanity to become an interplanetary species.

Risks are great and we need to take them.

However, what isn’t great is taking risks with the population of America. It’s clear that while you are rather intelligent in some things, you’re clearly not in others. Take the coronavirus, for example. I don’t know what information you’re reading but it’s like it’s by-passing the critical thinking part of your brain. It’s almost if you’ve built an echo chamber of sycophants and bootlickers. Take the risk and talk to epidemiologists, virologists, and other people who spend their lives working in this stuff. I have zero doubt you could get a conversation going with Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx. Imagine if I, a lowly B.Sci (Geology) holding gal came up and started telling you how to run Tesla and SpaceX. It’s not my place, it’s not my job, I have no great ideas.

(But I do have a ton for education, so hit me up if you want to hear them.)

I know you have some vested interest in China, Texas, California, and Florida. I’m sure you have a crapton of debt and that you can only keep your stuff going for so long. And I’m sure, deep down; you’re scared shitless for your kids and your mom. But America is so large and diverse that we can’t just open up all at once. And when we do reopen, most people won’t follow PPE guidelines and whatnot. I’m seeing it locally – and my state IS reopening. So come on Elon, let’s be real here.

Here’s hoping you got hacked, you need sleep, you’re high, you’re messing with us, or some thing else that can be explained; but looking at your last month of tweets relating to the ‘Rona it appears that you have some serious Dunning-Kruger going on. Get some sleep, keep making ventilators, and engage your brain and cite real sources, not Wall Street Journal opinion pieces. You have a Physics degree, you know what a primary source is.

You’re a smart guy, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for you. Starman forever changed my life – it broke me out of the echo chamber I had built. So destroy yours, know the limits of your expertise, and take some deep breaths. We are all in this together, and we will be OK. We will all be different after this, true. But, you of all people can innovate amazing stuff from this. So get off Twitter, and go innovate your brains out and wow us when we are on the other side of this and need it.

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Homeschooling During the Time of Coronavirus

I like that I thought the concussion + surgery combo meant that our homeschool year was a dumpster fire. That seems like smooth sailing compared to what we currently are doing: homeschooling during the time of coronavirus.

As most of us, we are homeschooling through the coronavirus. Unlike most people, we are homeschooling by choice and thus when my governor closed the schools, it didn’t directly impact us. What did impact us was

  • having Dad working from home (has been since mid-March)
  • closure of activities like 4H and nature walks with local homeschoolers
  • any kind of activities or events that may have been scheduled (my sixth grader did a frog dissection in February, for example)
  • all of our autism and most medical appointments moved to telehealth
  • hit-and-miss in the grocery stores (although that has gotten better for the time being)
  • not being able to play with friends, go to parks, and so on

However, we understand and respect why we are inside and know that we will return to a new normal.

As soon as we went to sheltering-in-place, I gave us time off from everything to allow for us to adjust to staying inside a lot, to having Dad home around the clock, dealing with technological woes as we worked out the kinks with telehealth, and importantly – grieving about what was happening. I don’t mean crying – although some of the kids did that – but just allowing us all to feel the feels of shock, anger, confusion, uncertainty, and whatever else cropped up. It took us about 2 weeks to really work through it all. The kids did well but eventually hit a wall and fell apart, but I think giving them that space of no pressure to allow them to do so really helped us immensely.

After about two weeks, once they started acting nutty again from lack of structure and routine, we resumed schooling. Rather than unload them with a plethora of subjects, I decided to reintroduce them to the Feast, one subject at a time. We started with math. Two weeks spent on math – and only math. If we just did math each day, we were great. After two weeks, I added in phonics for those we needed phonics work and reading for those who are beyond phonics. We’re still in the “add in phonics/reading” stage, honestly. When we are stable with math and phonics/reading; I’ll add in history. And keep going until we have all of our subjects back in.

During these times of unparalleled uncertainty and change, I’ve had to essentially shelf any and all expectations I may have had for my kids. When they are upset, stressed, or overwhelmed; no amount of learning will happen. Sometimes we just need to stop what we are doing and play Plague, Inc for a while to let those feelings of “this is happening to me and I can’t control it” be worked out in a way that is a little macabre but still rather applicable to our current situation.

I’m planning on (hopefully) writing more here, about how we’ve been homeschooling lately and what we’ve been using and all that fun stuff. I’ve had to make my Instagram private but I still want to share what I can, and I like to think that I express myself better in writing than in picture format so ideally I’d like to maintain both. Stay tuned!

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