Thursday, October 29, 2009

American Heritage Education Foundation

The American Heritage Education Foundation believes that “Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility are ideals that are rapidly declining or disappearing in their [our children’s] teaching and learning not only in our K-12 public and private schools but also in our colleges and universities of higher education. A nation built on these ideas and theories cannot possibly survive if those same philosophical and historical principles are not studied, taught, learned, practiced, and reinforced in our schools and institutions attended by the next generation of young people.”

To counteract the lack of knowledge regarding the foundation our country is built upon, American Heritage Education Foundation developed a supplemental curriculum that is designed to address these very issues. The purpose for the lessons are not simply to offer the students basic information; but to provide activities and projects which emphasize the significance of the events that led to the formation of our country’s early beginning, and the major documents that set the United States apart from any other nation.

The AHEF resources are divided into three levels; which touch upon all, or some of the four themes (Freedom, Unity, Progress and Responsibility) vital to this curriculum:

Originally designed for the public school classroom, homeschooling families can easily adapt the material to fit their needs. Each level provides an ample selection of lessons to choose from. For those families with a wide range in ages, the units can be used in conjunction with each other. They have enough similar content, but with slightly more difficult material for older children; so that the whole family can easily study it at the same time.

The AHEF had made this material free for all to use. You can download right from their site as needed, if you have good internet access. You may also request their free CD (good for those with dial-up) which contains all 3 levels, or their printed version for a fee of $19.50 [per level]. There is a wealth of information provided in these lessons, which are presented in an orderly, and easy to follow fashion.

I ordered the free CD (which I just received in the mail today) and am excited to see how I can incorporate these lessons into our history studies.

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Unit 2

Looking ahead to Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Unit 2 - I'm compiling a list of additional books and resources that I'm considering using to help round out our studies.

Time Travelers: The Early 19th Century ~ The first part of this would be a review of Unit 1 and the rest seems to line up pretty well with Unit 2. We used the American Revolution study last spring, and it was a lot of fun. So, I think this will add a lot of interest to our studies.

Other Resource books:

Out of Darkness, The Story of Louis Braille, Russell Freedman
Amazing Impossible Erie Canal, Cheryl Harness
Their Off! The Story of the Pony Express, Cheryl Harness
The Trailblazing Life of Daniel Boone, Cheryl Harness
A Day That Changed America: The Alamo, Shelley Tanaka & David Craig
The Trail of Tears, Deborah Kent
A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840
Great Pioneer Projects, Rachel Dickinson
Hands-On History Pioneers, Michael Gravios
The Oregon Trail, Blashfield & Jean F.
Samuel Morse and the Telegraph, David Seidman
Gold Fever!: Tales from the California Gold Rush, Rosalyn Schanzer

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Birmingham Museum of Art ~ History Exhibit

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery offers an unprecedented opportunity to experience American history through more than 230 masterpieces from one of the finest and oldest collections of American art in the world. From the arrival of the first European settlers to the Gilded Age, this major exhibition tells America’s story through paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, furniture, silver, and ceramics from Yale University’s renowned collection.

At the heart of the exhibition is a group of early American portraits and history paintings by John Trumbull, including the original version of the iconic The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, which has graced the pages of nearly every American history textbook and the $2 bill. This is the first time these paintings have traveled as a group since the artist presented them to Yale in 1832.

Among the exhibition's painted treasures are two versions of Edward Hicks's "Peaceable Kingdom;" rare portraits by John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, and Thomas Eakins; stunning landscapes by Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church; and captivating scenes of American life by Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, and many others. Decorative arts highlights include silver crafted by Paul Revere, the earliest pair of American silver candlesticks, a gold sword owned by 19th-century naval hero Stephen Decatur, and flamboyant silver objects made by Tiffany & Company. Superb examples of 18th- and 19th-century furniture add to this rich survey of the history of American artistry and craftsmanship.

I'm hoping our local homeschool Co-op will get a field trip together for this exhibit. We discussed it briefly this week, but don't have any dates or details nailed down yet.

Field Trip ~ Burritt on the Mountain

Our field trip to Burritt on the Mountain revolved around the theme "Mining on the Mountain." We learned about mining (past and present), hiked to an abandoned coal mine, picked up pieces of coal (that had washed out of the mine) and had fun sluice panning for rocks and minerals. We also learned about the use of our natural resources and how those resources impact our lives.

It was a little cool this morning, but overall the weather was pleasant for our hike {at least it wasn't raining}. I think Nathan and Ryan enjoyed this more than they thought they would. They even spent some of their money to purchase additional sand with minerals/gemstones to sluice at home.

All in all, it was a great field trip. Although, I forgot my camera - again.

Co-Op, Week 10

This week, my 7th and 8th graders are completing module 5. They will be taking the quiz and test for this module in our online classroom (virtualhomeschoolgroup).

My 5th and 6th graders are continuing to work through module 3. They are finishing up the On Your Own Questions and starting on the module review.

Both classes completed the same experiment:
  • Cotton Ball Catapult: measuring the distance of a cotton ball, using a plastic spoon as a catapult. Then we added experimental variables of rubber bands and tape. Needless to say the kids enjoyed this one!

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera this week, so I don't have any pictures :(

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 9

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 9: Monroe and the American Hemisphere

Key Facts:

1. South American Geography
a. Brazil
b. Suriname
c. Guyana

2. James Monroe
a. Last American President of the "Virginia Dynasty"
b. Era of Good Feelings/ Panic of 1819
c. The Missouri Compromise
d. One political party transitioning to two political parties

3. Monroe Doctrine
a. Pressured Spain into selling Florida to the United States
b. America would resist European intervention in the Western Hemisphere
c. Cornerstone of American foreign policy

Activities: Make a clay pot

Geography: Finish map of South America

Unit Projects: Add information on James Monroe to unit display board

Digging Deeper:

  • Adoniram Judson
  • Democracy in America



  • Frankenstein
  • Simon Bolivar: Statesman and Liberator
  • In the Land of the Jaguar: South America and It's People
  • Adoniram Judson: Bound for Burma
  • Our Country's Presidents

Week 12 Review

Our week in review:

Language Arts: We wrapped up another week of the usual grammar, vocabulary, spelling, handwriting, writing and reading lessons for the week. Ryan is finalizing his story/novel outlined for next month (Young Writers Program). Nathan will write a short story next month, and he is busy outlining his ideas. David took his PSAT test last week, but continues to practice for the ACT test he will take later this year.

Literature: This week they read/covered: Frankenstein, Simon Bolivar: Statesman and Liberator, In the Land of the Jaguar: South America and It's People, Adoniram Judson: Bound for Burma, Young Abe Lincoln and we are still slowly reading (savoring) Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire. David is finishing up The Last of the Mohicans.

History: I blog about our weekly history lessons in detail at the beginning of each week. This week we covered South America in Transition.

Science: Nathan and Ryan attended Co-op this week. You can see what they did here. At home this week, they took the quiz and test for Module 2 and started Module 3. David is continuing with his chemistry lessons and working with his weekly lab group.

Math: Nathan and Ryan are still working through a unit study on fractions. I am still getting them ramped up for a larger cooking with fractions project. We will also be adding other projects and games in the upcoming weeks, because we will be changing to a project based schedule for a few weeks. David is continuing to work through his Algebra II lessons.

Other: We worked through a couple of logic worksheets, a Latin and french lesson this week. Things are still moving slow in this department. I'm not sure how much we will accomplish in these areas this year, but we will continue to plod through it ever so slowly.

4-H projects: Nathan and Ryan are working on a farm city poster project and a woodworking project that are both due in November.

Outdoor Pursuits: The weather has been cold and rainy lately, so the boys have been hanging out around the house and playing with their neighborhood friends. David spent all day Monday at True Adventure Sports going through an official "try-out" process to see if he is ready to be a paid part time contract worker. Up until now, all of the work he has done for them has been done on a volunteer basis. Although he would continue to do volunteer work with them, he would like to have a few paying jobs once in awhile as well.

We will be finishing up a few things this coming week and then switching to a project style schedule. I'm looking forward to the change up. I think it is just what we need to spice up our studies.

Chemistry Labs, Week 8

This week, the kids performed experiment 4.1: Separating a Mixture of Sand and Salt

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Co-Op, Week 9

This week, my 7th and 8th graders started module 5. I gave out grades for the Module 4 test and spent time lecturing on the first half of the module 5. No experiments are scheduled for this module.

My 5th and 6th graders are starting module 3. I gave out grades for the Module 2 test and spent time lecturing on the first half of Module 3. We also performed two experiments:
  • Color Splash: comparing what happens to food coloring when added to water, oil, and a combination of oil and water.
  • Cauldron Bubbles: making bubbles out of water, oil and salt

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 8

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 8: South America in Transition

Key Facts:

1. South American Geography
a. Peru
b. Bolivia
c. Chile
d. Argentina
e. Uruguay
f. Paraguay

2. Simon Bolivar
a. Review from last week

3. Abraham Lincoln - Early years
a. Youth/family/ upbringing
b. Abraham's military career
c. Careers before Presidency

4. Robert E. Lee - Early years
a. Youth/ family/ upbringing
b. United States Military Academy
c. Commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers

5. Slavery in America
a. Indentured servants replaced by slaves
b. Slavery: one of the largest forced migrations in history
c. Transatlatlantic slave trade - triangle of trade

Activities: Cooking with apples

Geography: Continue map of South America - see above

Unit Projects: Add information about slavery to the unit display board

Digging Deeper:
  • Adoniram Judson
  • McCulloch vs. Maryland



  • Frankenstein
  • Simon Bolivar: Statesman and Liberator
  • In the Land of the Jaguar: South America and It's People
  • Adoniram Judson: Bound for Burma
  • Young Abe Lincoln

Week 11 Review

I should have known that after getting so much done last week, it wouldn't last...

This week looked like this:

Monday - Columbus Day: Covered short Columbus day activity and the basics (reading, writing, math, science, and history). Nathan and Ryan had music lessons then played with their friends.

Tuesday - Co-op and 4-H meeting (with photography contest)

Wednesday - David had PSAT testing all morning. Nathan and Ryan got school done early and played that afternoon.

Thursday - Field Trip to Birmingham Children's Theatre with Nathan and Ryan. David stayed home to get his work done.

Friday - Boys got the basics covered and David had a music lesson. I cancelled the chemistry lab group for the week, because I had a migraine.

Saturday - Woke up to cold weather (probably the reason for my migraine the day before) and dh starts a fire in the wood burning stove. Next thing I know, there was apparently a down draft which caused a smokey haze to fill the house. By the time the boys alert me (I had gone back to bed), the smoke was enough to set off the smoke detector - which, of course is tied in with our alarm system. This happened once last year, so I knew I had to get a fan in the hallway to clear the haze because it is the only way to get the alarm to stop blaring. The boys opened all of the windows and doors. Dh went to check on the fireplace but didn't pick up the phone when the security center called. He came upstairs and asked if I picked it up. Huh? I couldn't hear anything over the alarm. Ugh, now I have to call the company so that the fire department doesn't come blaring up to the house looking for a fire. We called in time for the fire trucks to be called off (they were on the way - oops), but the Fire Marshall did stop by to make sure everything was alright. Well, after all that excitement the rest of the day was spent with a much safer activity - watching college football.

Sunday - Quiet day, thankfully - church, chores and looking over lesson plans for next week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chemistry Labs, Week 7

We took a break this week from our chemistry labs. {I was suffering from a migraine} So, the kids will double up next week to stay on track with the lab schedule.

Field Trip

Thursday, I took Nathan and Ryan to the Birmingham Children's Theatre to see the production the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Of course to get the story told within an hour, it was highly edited. But, it was still quite good and the boys both enjoyed it.

I would have taken pictures, but flash photography was forbidden and it was quite dark inside the theatre. I was afraid the pictures would not turn out without a flash, so I didn't bother with it.

They also provide free study guides for teachers/parents for each stage production. Here is the one for this production.

I asked the boys if they would like to go back in December to see Scrooge, and they both said yes... {grin}.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4-H Photography Contest

Nathan and Ryan turned in their pictures today for the 4-H photography contest. Nathan entered in one category - The World I Imagine (altered photo) and Ryan entered in two categories - The World I Imagine (altered photo) and The World I See (non-altered photo).

Ryan won first place in The World I See category.

Ryan's photo:

Nathan won first place in The World I Imagine category and Ryan placed second.

I've tried to upload their altered pictures, but for some reason I just can't get it to work :(
Oh well, they were thrilled that they placed in the contest.

Co-Op, Week 8

This week my 7th and 8th graders completed two experiments and one demonstration.
  • Experiment 4.1: The Lever
  • Experiment 4.2: A Simulation of Using Multiple Pulleys

We also completed a demonstration using metal pulleys. This gave the kids an actual feel for mechanical advantage. We tried several combinations varying from one to four pulleys to lift our load (backpack).

The kids will be finishing Module 4 this week and taking the test. They will also begin on Module 5.

My 5th and 6th graders completed one experiment and two demonstrations.
  • Experiment 3.1: A Floating Egg?

We also completed two demonstrations about surface tension. For the first one, I filled a glass to the brim with water and asked the kids to guess how many pennies it would take to spill the water. Most of the initial guesses were in the 8-20 range. It actually took 47 pennies before the water started to spill over the edge.

For the second demonstration, I added pepper to a bowl of water until it covered the surface of the water. Then I added a drop of hand soap to my finger and put it in the water. The kids were amazed at the reaction of the pepper... the way the pepper immediately repelled from the soap.

The kids are also finishing up Module 2, taking the test (if they haven't already) and starting on Module 3.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

I ran across this website when I was looking for a quick activity related to Columbus day, Very neat site! I've added it to my list of resources at the bottom of my blog. By the way, they also have a short article with discussion questions related to Christopher Columbus, which is what I was looking for.

This looks like a yummy recipe:
Columbus Day Spiced Apple Cheese Raisin Nut Lasagna Recipe in the Style of 1492 Cooking

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Boys will be boys...

While I was finishing up some chores earlier today, DH and the boys played a quick game of dodge ball (or some variation of the game).

I took these pictures while standing on the screened porch. Because, if I stepped outside, I just knew that I would instantly become a target :)

God created boys, full of spirit and fun to explore and conquer, to romp and run. ~ Author Unknown