Welcome to Finishing Strong!
Today is all about history, so we’re highlighting some of the best history posts that have been shared with us over the past few weeks. There are plenty of unique ideas to get you thinking as you consider how you’ll be studying this important subject during the coming year.
History can be a boring subject for some students, especially if they think it’s all about memorizing dates. Hopefully you’ll take some of these hands-on ideas and strive to bring history to life in your home school.
Let’s Have Fun with History
Teaching About Independence Day in Your Homeschool from 7Sisters Homeschool
The Angelicscalliwag Homeschool : Why History? from Angelicscalliwag
Project: Middle Ages History & Fashion from Blog She Wrote
History of the Ancient World and Tapestry of Grace Year 1 from Classically Homeschooling
The Liberty Bell: Timeline & Trivia – FREE Printable from Education Possible
How To Help Your Kids Love History and Save Money on History Curriculum from Family, Home, Health
3 Homeschool Co-op History Resources Worth Exploring from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus
Next week we’re going to look at some exciting ideas for learning about science. Hopefully you’ll join us!
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This year our 8th grader, Rebecca, has been working through history with an emphasis on fashion. She researches the history of fashion during that time period and then designs her own garments. During her study of the Middle Ages, Rebecca worked on two separate fashions- one from the early Middle Ages and another from later in the same period.
Research on Middle Ages History & Fashion
I’ve had fun looking for resources on the fashion of different time periods of history. Rebecca loves to explore and construct the most authentic garments.
- Medieval Costume in England and France: The 13th, 14th, 15th Centuries- She read this one cover to cover and found great diagrams and pattern piece drawings for costuming.
- What People Wore When: A Complete History of Costume from Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century for Every Level of Society- A lovely visual resource on costume throughout history
- Medieval Fashions Coloring Book- by Dover, an easy reference for costume design and great for using as a sketch
- Medieval Costumes Paper Dolls- by Dover, another resource for seeing the costuming detail
The Pattern Drafting Process
How does she go about making a dress from an idea?
- Using her research, Rebecca comes up with an overall vision for a garment.
- She sketches the dress starting with the basic shape and adding details.
- As she chooses her design, she considers construction techniques and does more research and/or watches tutorials
- Then it’s time to measure the doll and begin drawing the patterns.
Need help on learning to draft patterns? I shared our resources in Rebecca’s Steampunk Project post.
Constructing the Garment
I admire her bravery! Her skills are confident and she’ll try something new with no hesitation.
- Use authentic fabric if possible- though I have to say she did not enjoy working with the wool.
- Use a serger- If you have a serger, you can use it to finish the seams before putting the pieces together. If not, then be sure to finish the seams carefully.
- Frequently read tutorials- Rebecca spends a lot of time learning by reading sewing blogger tutorials. It’s free and it’s a great way to learn on your own! Her Kindle Fire is usually by her side when she is working on something so she can refer back to the tutorial easily.
Facts on Middle Ages Fashion
Rebecca uncovered some interesting details in her research of Middle Ages Fashion. Here are a few:
- During the 13th century tunics were the base of all outfits.
- Cloaks were a staple of the Middle Ages and worn over the tunic.
- Children wore the same basic style in smaller sizes.
- The longer your garments and cloaks, the more money you had. Peasants wore short length garments.
- During the 14th century waist lines rose and women’s clothing became more fitted – some sleeves were so tight they had to be stitched together once on!
- The 15th century showed the empire waist being popular.
- Men’s garment length was shortening while lady’s lengths were increasing.
Rebecca chose to make a gown in keeping with 15th century fashion. The collar is made of “fur” and forms a V that goes to the waist and it has a thick belt which was popular at the time.
Reading List for the Middle Ages
Along with her research in fashion, she spent time immersed in both fiction and non-fiction titles about the same time period. A brief list of the titles she’s read include:
Some of these titles chronicle the end of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that followed.
Studying fashion and learning how these garments were made and put together is a great way to focus on one aspect of history. Rebecca has had a very focused year and it’s been great for building her sewing project portfolio. She’s learned a lot of techniques which are useful for full sized fashions.
I’m looking forward to sharing two of her latest projects with you soon. She has a fashion due this week for a local contest. Rebecca is hoping to do well enough to make it into the fashion show. Stay tuned!
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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I couldn’t let this day go by without a look at the patron saint of Ireland. Enjoy this Geography Quest which takes us to Ireland and the British Isles.
Who Was St. Patrick?
If your family celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, then you probably know all about this patron Saint of Ireland. If not, take some time to explore the legends and culture around the holiday.
- Where is St. Patrick from?
- What was his life’s mission?
- Was he successful in his mission?
- What is a patron Saint and how did Patrick become one?
Follow the Life of St. Patrick on The Map
You’ll need a map of Great Britain and Europe to complete this portion of the assignment.
- Map Patrick’s birthplace
- Map his first appearance in Ireland- do you know how he ended up there?
- Locate the place he went to be educated (for his mission).
Patrick returned to Ireland prepared to convert the Irish to Christianity. Can you find how many churches he established there?
Learn More about Ireland
Visit Time for Kids Around the World website and enjoy a tour of Ireland & Great Britain.
- Fact Page- Lists some statistics for Ireland and has pictures
- Sight Seeing Guide- Lets you click around the map to see pictures of the locations and hear more facts
- History Timeline- You can click on the timeline to see when Patrick arrived in Ireland and other events in the country’s history.
- Challenge- Quizzes your student on what they’ve explored
- Day in the Life- Introduces a young person from the country and takes you through their day
St. Patrick’s Day Art
There’s still time to pull out your chalks and paint some shamrocks. Tricia at Hodgepodge has a new spring chalk pastel book out and I’m pleased to share our results with you.
St. Patrick used the shamrock as an illustration of the Trinity as he ministered to the people of Ireland. It’s easy to explain that there are three distinct parts to one compound leaf.
If you’ve never used Hodgepodge chalk painting tutorials before, you are in for a treat! I use them with all of our kids for art lessons and I let my artsy daughter try out the lessons that appeal to her the most on her own. Either way, they are a delight to behold when they are complete.
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It’s time to report on the wrap up of our Literature, History, & Fashion unit on Jules Verne and Steampunk. Rebecca had been working on reading Jules Verne and learning more about Steampunk origins and fashion. In the first post I shared the content of our unit and the beginning of the dress making process. Today, I’m following up on that post with the conclusion to the project- at least this time period for the ongoing history & fashion project.
Jules Verne Project Review
The main elements of the project included:
- Reading Jules Verne books
- Learning about the life of Jules Verne
- Writing an author profile & some analysis essays on Jules Verne and his work (these came from Excellence in Literature)
- Steampunk Fashion- learning about what it is and where it came from
- Fashion Design- Steampunk style
You can see the original post by clicking on the link above or the picture below. There are more details on the books and assignments there.
I interviewed Rebecca to find out what she thought of this project and if she had any tips or advise for you all. In the first post, you can see how the pieces of the pattern came together in the bodice and below you can see the first fitting.
What Is Your Favorite Part about Drafting Patterns?
- Drawing the designs
- Choosing fabrics best suited for the fashion
- Drafting the patterns from my sketches
By far her favorite is the drafting which is curious considering it requires effort and math! Rebecca is always up for a crafty math challenge. What better way to apply skills?
Why Do You Prefer to Draft Your Own Patterns?
Rebecca has always preferred to make her own patterns rather than follow store bought ones. What makes pattern drafting so appealing? She has some very specific opinions on this:
- Makes you more familiar with the pattern
- I will know how all the pieces fit together
- I know how the garment deconstructs in my mind.
- Gives me independence- I don’t have to stick with the pattern I’m given. It can be my pattern, my way.
- Shows me why something needs to be done in a certain order
What Would You do Differently?
She learned a few important things from this project. Even mistakes lead to better understanding and she did have to take the garment apart at least once during the process.
- Make sure the sleeves have the proper seam allowance and make sure they do not taper but stay straight. Dolls cannot cup a hand to squeeze an arm into a sleeve! You can see how she chose to modify the design so she would not have to recut and sew the fabric.
- Whatever you do to the front of the dress, you must do to the back. In this case she had four or more pattern pieces that made up the bodice and she had to make sure they lined up well once they were put together.
- Make the lining from the same fabric or a similar color so that if the fabric peeks out from the seam it is less noticeable! Rebecca made a fabulous lining to the bodice, but it easy to see when it’s out of place.
Tools for Drafting Patterns
Here are some basic items to have on hand for pattern making:
- bendable ruler- helpful for tracing curves for the armscye (armhole in the sleeve) and necklines
- large pieces of paper (larger than printer paper)
- doll (or a person if you are sewing for people)
- tape measure
- pins- for fittings
- fabric marking pencil or pen
- dress form
Some Helpful Drafting Tutorial Sites
Rebecca has learned a lot from books and websites on how to draft her own patterns. Here are a few of her favorite sites.
- ikat Bag- This lovely blog has a lot of tips on making patterns
- Semptress- Costume and pattern geekery
- How to Make Sewing Patterns- Tips and instructions on pattern drafting
How Do You Go from Sewing Tidbits to Drafting Patterns and Putting Together Garments?
Rebecca has been sewing since she was 8 years old. At three months shy of 14, she’s been sewing for 6 years and I’ve watched a lot of growth in that time. My sewing skills are fairly basic, so how did she go from sewing simple projects to drafting her own designs from sketches and successfully sewing a garment that is tailored? I know what I’ve done to mentor her and she had some ideas to share as well.
- Build up endurance for longer projects! How? Sew a lot and get better at it. It doesn’t matter if they are small projects at first just as long as you keep at it.
- Try new techniques- once you have the hang of the basics, challenge yourself to keep trying new skills. Build your skills slowly and steadily.
- Use a visually pleasing tutorial- so it’s easy to understand and use the books and tutorials to tackle the drafting. Rebecca’s Kindle Fire has proven to be very helpful in following the tutorials right where she is working. I can’t recommend this homeschool tool enough! See all the ways we use this economical tablet in our homeschool, 10 Reasons to Use a Kindle Part 2- Kindle Fire
- Provide materials for the work- make sure your sewing student has the tools of the trade that allow her to learn the new skills.
- Provide space for the work- I can’t emphasize enough how much this helps the learning process. Rebecca would not get nearly the work in that she does if she had to make a big deal about getting started every time she wanted to work.
- Give them the time- Time to work is a huge part of the success of Rebecca’s skill acquisition. She is given long blocks of uninterrupted time to work out the drafting process and fix mistakes without distractions.
This project area has spurred a lot of interest in costume design. The dress that Rebecca put together is all her own idea based on some steampunk influences including a dress that was made for me and the Steampunk Pinterest Board I created for her.
She adored the process of envisioning a dress and making it come alive. The last piece to the puzzle was in all the details of this dress. We scoured the craft stores for the hardware to add to the steampunk design. We found the perfect accessories and doodads! Steampunk is all about late 1800s style with futuristic capabilities all made from steam power and gears that do work.
She is already thinking about how this work could be a part of her future.
This history and fashion project for the year has been very successful. Rebecca is building quite a portfolio with the next step being the county fair. She has read books on period clothing and learned a great deal about culture at the same time – whether it’s the steampunk genre or life in the middle ages.
She is about to take her skills to the next level by constructing her own gown for this year’s Civil War Ball. I can hardly wait to see the finished product.
The last great race on earth begins on March 1, 2014. Are you ready? Let’s map this race course and learn a little history at the same time. You’ll be surprised at the people who participate including teachers and the quintessential adolescent survival author, Gary Paulsen.
Learn Alaska History & Geography by Following the Iditarod
- Learn the origin of the Iditarod and its importance to the state of Alaska.
- Where is the race?
- Follow the race route, what obstacles to the mushers face?
- How long has Alaska sponsored this race?
Create a Map of the Race
- Print a map of Alaska and enlarge it.
- Map of the race route for reference- note how the trail changes depending on whether or not it’s an even or an odd year.
- Educator tips on mapping and using the map during the race.
Follow the Progress of the Mushers
Using the maps, read about the mushers entered in this year’s race and follow along with them. You can read about how the race is going and check in with your favorites. You can even get creative about mapping progress.
This year there have been concerns about trail conditions. Did you know it’s been fairly mild this winter in Alaska? Lack of snow and the prevalence of ice and unfrozen water are some of this year’s anticipated trail conditions.
I printed a map of Alaska by using the poster printing option with our WonderMaps edition of Alaska. Before I printed, I chose to enlarge by 200% so it would print on six different sheets of paper. Then I did the same for the trail map. Now we can mark where the mushers on the trail each day.
Resources for Following the Iditarod
- Iditarod : The Last Great Race on Earth- The official site of the Iditarod with countless resources for educators.
- Videos- A page of videos from the trail. They have feature stories along with news from the checkpoints and race analysis.
- Education Portal- There are loads of resources here for teachers including literature connections. Enjoy a look through all efforts from many folks who work to make this a fun time of year for students.