Finishing Strong- Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years Week 34

Finishing Strong ~ Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Welcome to another week of Finishing Strong!

Finishing Strong is the place where parents can come together and share their thoughts and ideas for homeschooling middle & high school students. It’s hosted by Aspired Living, Blog She Wrote, Education Possible, EvaVarga, Starts at Eight, and Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus.

Below are three of the most popular posts from last week. Have you read them yet?

Teaching Literature – Helping Teens Form Relationships with Books by 7Sisters Homeschool

Exploring Narrative in Art by The Art Curator for Kids

3 Reasons to Continue the All About Spelling Journey by The Sunny Patch

We hope you’ll take some time to read all of the wonderful posts that people have shared below.

Bloggers, by linking up, you may be featured on our co-hosts’ social media pages or our Pinterest board. We may even select you to be featured in a future post!

Guidelines for the hop:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 6 sites. If you were featured, make sure you add an “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

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History Quest: Civil War Uniforms

History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

This Quest’s topic is near and dear to Rebecca’s fashion designing heart. What did soldiers on both sides wear? Did they wear pajamas? What kinds of guns did they carry and how? Get ready for today’s History Quest: Civil War Uniforms.

Union Uniforms

Let’s see if you can find out some information about uniforms for the Union Army.

  • What itchy fabric made up most of the uniforms?
  • Cotton from home was preferred. Why was it rare during the war?
  • Standard Union uniforms featured a dark blue shirt with how many brass buttons?
  • Early in the war Union soldiers’ standard issue pants were dark blue. In 1862 this was changed to what?
  • They wore leather shoes which laced up around their ankles. These had a very specific name. What were they called?
  • What kind of hat was most common? What did the symbol on the front of the hat mean?
  • What kind of guns did infantrymen carry and use?
  • How much did an average soldier’s gear weigh?
  • What was the standard issue gear for a Union soldier?

If you could pick a few things to add to your pack, what would you take?

History Quest- Civil War UniformsConfederate Uniforms

How about the Confederate uniforms? Were they similar? How were they different?

  • Most Confederates wore gray, right? Wrong! What color did the majority of Confederate soldiers actually wear?
  • What nickname did the collar of their uniforms earn them?
  • The south had plenty of cotton, but what did the north have that prevented them from making many shoes?
  • Did you know that denim was around during The Civil War? What part of a typical Confederate uniform was made of cotton denim?
  • Why were Confederate uniforms heavily influenced by Union uniforms?

Making Your Own Civil War Uniform

History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

Each year our homeschool group hosts a Civil War Ball in the spring. What began as the culmination to one family’s unit on the war, has developed into an annual event for our group. Part of the process is preparing the gown and the uniforms. In the past Ethan has dressed as a civilian just like Dan (my husband), but this year he was a Union soldier like his younger brother. Rebecca, as you may have guessed, makes a new gown each year.

We used the directions from Time Travelers Civil War by Homeschool in the Woods to turn a navy blue sport coat into a Union jacket. You can do the same with the Confederate uniforms. We have even had brothers show up wearing uniforms from opposing sides!

What did we need?

  • Navy blue sport coat- acquired from the thrift store. I couldn’t find a boys’ size that I needed so I looked for small women’s coats instead. It was kinda hard to partially disassemble a Talbot’s wool jacket! You have to be strong.
  • Brass buttons- I hit a second hand sewing shop for this one and came up strong. I also used the buttons from the sleeves.
  • Gold ribbon- for the collar
  • Yellow fabric- to make the sash for the soldier’s uniform

It wasn’t hard to do at all, but aligning the buttons took some time. We were in a hurry so we could also use a better fastener at the top of the jacket. Next year!


History Quest- Civil War Uniforms

I promise a post on How to Host a Civil War Ball very soon! For now, enjoy learning more about what the uniforms were like so you are ready to make your own!

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Teaching Geography with Earth Science

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Geography with Earth Science

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Not only will our high schoolers earn a high school credit in geography, but they will also have their earth science high school credit. We can get a lot of mileage out of the content and videos in the earth science text when we are doing physical geography, but there are also beginning concepts which compliment one other. Here’s a look at How We Teach Geography with Earth Science.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Geography with Earth Science

High School Earth Science Topics which Go along with NorthStar Geography

There is some amount of overlap between geography and earth science. Physical geography includes discussions on earth science. While physical geography teaches the various features of the earth, earth science will not only name them and describe them, but will tell us how they were formed. In looking at both resources, I made a list of the shared concepts.

  • Maps & Direction- Types of maps and how to use them. For example, topographical maps (including contour maps), geologic maps, bathymetric maps.
  • Navigation- Subtopic of maps & direction. Lines of longitude and latitude, tropics zones, prime meridian, etc.
  • Structure of the Earth- Plates & continents. Earth Science will talk about composition of the earth while geography will touch on the people and their boundaries.
  • Topography- Bodies of water, man-made features, the lay of the land so to speak
  • Lithosphere- Mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
  • Hydrosphere- Oceanography, freshwater systems
  • Atmosphere- Climate, weather, weather maps and interpreting weather data

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Geography with Earth Science

How We Use Ck-12 Earth Science for High School with NorthStar Geography

CK-12 is an open source text book out of California which offers courses in science and math for free. The open source nature of the site means you can enjoy lots of content folks share including quizzes, tests, labs & activities. This particular course (Earth Science) has quite a lot of front matter, so we skipped it having met those topics in our science courses many times. We began with the Earth Science content.

Here are a few ways we have found to work these two courses together so far this year:

  • Read the chapters in both the NorthStar Geography text & the Earth Science text- the matching concept chapters compliment one another and come at a topic from a different perspective.
  • Watch the embedded video from the Earth Science text- For example, after doing the chapter on maps, we watched a video on latitude.
  • Activities & labs from Earth Science work well with geography and vice versa. We did the mapping activities with NorthStar Geography as our work for Earth Science.
  • NorthStar Geography Activities- Can add hands on fun to the Earth Science sections which are the same.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Geography with Earth Science

Flexible Technology Allows us to Use Both NorthStar Geography & High School Earth Science

Part of working with both of these resource tools together is to make use of technology when we can.

  • We use the ebook & print version of NorthStar Geography- The student reader is available in either the print version or the digital version. If you purchase the printed version, it comes with a CD which includes the digital edition.
  • The earth science text and NorthStar Geography were put onto my students’ kindles- They can watch embedded videos right from the text and read anywhere without sharing the resources with each other. The earth science text is offered in a mobi file for Kindles and the geography was loaded as a pdf.
  • If they want to compare resources they can read off the computer while viewing their NorthStar ebook or text book. With two kids taking the courses at the same time that’s handy. They will be busy with assignment and not necessarily work at the same rate or in the same way, so having options with no extra expense is a bonus.
  • Using a Kindle in Your Homeschool- Do you use a Kindle in your homeshcooling? Our student Kindles have been invaluable to our studies as our children have gotten older. Reading, research, and organization tools are used every day by our students. Amazon has a new Kindle- the Kindle Fire HD6 is $99 and offers the same excellent features as the one we use (with the bonus of a camera) with a slightly smaller screen. That’s a cost effective way to enter the world of tablets!

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Geography with Earth Science

Benefits of Choosing NorthStar Geography for High School Credit

So far, the course has been enjoyable. We love geography at our house and even our high school junior, who considers himself a geography buff, could stand to brush up on his knowledge- especially in the area of human geography. What makes this one credit course right for us?

  • It’s easy to follow and very thorough- I think it’s especially easy when you have WonderMaps because the directions tell you what features to choose in the map before you print it.
  • There are several schedules you can use depending on how often you want to study geography in a particular year.
  • Hands on activities for every chapter- There are activity directions for each chapter which are easy to access and print for your students.
  • Build your own student atlas using WonderMaps printables or the ones included in the resource disc.
  • Hands off kids can work on memorizing the maps- They can choose to make an atlas or concentrate on memorizing only. There are a variety of ways for students to approach the course by choosing options along the way.
  • Customize to your needs and abilities- With so many components and the clear directions not to use them all, you can easily customize the course to your student’s strengths and your goal with the geography course.
  • Purchase alone or as a bundle with WonderMaps- If you already own WonderMaps you can go right for NorthStar. If not, you can purchase them together. The maps you need are included with NorthStar, but I love to make custom maps for our work and for any other of our map needs!

My plan is flawless except for the Lyme Disease which my high school junior is fighting. Whenever you are working with multiple ages and coordinating curriculum, something is bound to go wrong- in case you might think the world is perfectly aligned with such a great plan! So, our high school freshman must work ahead at this point. Ethan will have to catch up later or they will continue separately or mixed and matched with labs and activities. It’s important to remain flexible and keep forging ahead with circumstances as best you can. The plan is still there to keep on us track and let us know where we are headed!

We are delighted that earth science and NorthStar Geography are part of the plan this year!

North Star Geography & WonderMaps Combo

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