Thanksgiving Audio Freebie & An Announcement from GHC

As a partner with GHC, I am compensated for my time in sharing news with you for the upcoming 2014 conventions season. Enjoy today’s freebie!


Thanksgiving Audio Freebie

Great Homeschool Conventions has announced a new speaker: Michael Medved, a popular radio personality, homeschool advocate and historian. Not only will he be at all three GHC conventions in 2014, but he’s also giving away The First Thanksgiving- Pilgrims, Puritans, and the Founding of America to subscribers. The offer expires on November 30th, so sign up today and try out this fun resource.

Early Registration Discount Extended

Great news! If you are planning to attend the SC or OH conventions, the early bird registration price has been extended until the end of November. On December 1st, prices for all conventions increases (check out the convention pricing).

Another GHC Newsy Tidbit

Chances are you’ve seen this post from Matt Walsh cross your path in recent weeks. Matt is a popular radio host and blogger and lucky for us he will be at all three GHC locations in 2014. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Matt Walsh and I appreciate his point of view more than ever after having my own incident recently of answering the critics (blog post forthcoming with details).

Which GHC location are you hoping to attend? Maybe I’ll see you there!

Geography Quest: Corn Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Corn Edition

As the growing season ends and the harvest is complete, we start to look toward Thanksgiving. What a better way to prepare than taking a look at a common crop, corn. Yesterday R13 and I learned a lot about this crop and I thought it would be a great Thanksgiving themed Geography Quest.

Identify & Map Where Corn is Grown around the World

  • Corn is grown all around the world, can you find out which country is the largest corn producer? (hint: Corn Facts)
  • Color a map to show where the most corn is grown in the United States.
  • Label the corn belt on your map.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Corn Edition

Types of Corn

Each type of corn is grown and bred for its purpose. Each type has varieties to choose from which give the corn its distinctive taste and texture. If you can get some varieties of dried corn, take a look at a cross section of each kernel to see the differences. Sweet corn, for example, is bred to be very sugary and has little nutrition to offer compared to corn used for flour or feed.

  • Identify the four main types of corn grown in the US.
  • Map the distribution of these types of corn- you can hit the majors here. Most of the time when you pass a field of corn, it’s one particular type of corn used for feeding livestock.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Corn Edition

How Do We Use Corn?

  • Feed livestock- 99% of the corn we grow is for feeding cows, pigs, chickens.
  • starch sweeteners
  • corn oil
  • industrial alcohol
  • fuel ethanol
  • silage- find out what this is and how it’s made
  • food source for humans

How Was Corn Used in the Past?

Native Americans perfected the use of corn in their culture and taught the Pilgrims how to use it. I’ve been reading Traditional Iroquois Corn: Its History, Cultivation, and Use which is a really thorough look at the history of corn in the Iroquois culture and its influence on NY State agriculture.

  • corn cob pipes
  • beads
  • husks were used to make dolls and flowers (you must soak the husk first)
  • food source- popcorn and veggie
  • Do you know about The Three Sisters? Try and research to find out the importance of corn in Native American agriculture.

Resources for Learning More about Corn

Thanks for joining me for this week’s Geography Quest. Stay tuned for another Thanksgiving themed Geography Quest next week.

Survey of the American Girls II- Kaya

We are rolling right along in our American Girl co-op class. Only three more Mondays left now. We spent the last two weeks studying Kaya- a Native American girl from the Nez Perce tribe in the northwest. We learned a little about the tribe using a story from the Native American History Pocket from Evan Moor and we did a map of course! Since Kaya and the women in her tribe were weavers, we did a weaving project. R10 has been making these really cool bookmarks from yarn. She is really creative with all the craft books she has and this project came from one she picked up at the library book sale. With her being the expert, I let her teach the girls how to make the loom and do the weaving. It’s really a clever project.

This is a great book with some fun ideas for kids. R10 does a lot of projects from here.

R10 has been really into yarn so I made sure to pick up lots of different yarn for the girls. They paid a $6 fee to take the class so I have some leeway.

These are the looms. We made them from thin cardboard and we reinforced them with another piece glued on in the middle. The key here is to mark the looms with quarter inch marks on the top and bottom then to notch out the ends for the yard to catch. Being careful here is important or you can see that you won’t have enough strings or there will be an uneven number of notches between the top and bottom. Basically this means a funky bookmark!

The girls used another small piece of cardboard as a bobbin for their yarn to wrap around. You actually weave in and out with the whole bobbin not just the yarn. The other piece of cardboard under her hand is the treadle. I forgot to get a picture of them using the treadle! You weave the treadle in and out and stand it up to make it easier to weave your bobbin through. Very useful.

It’s starting to take shape now. This is a bit time consuming if you’ve never done it before, but if they enjoyed doing it, they can make more. I like the variegated yarn because it makes a colorful bookmark.

Kaya approves of her new “mat”- we did observe of course that she would not have weaved a bookmark but mats and baskets, etc.

This class has been loads of fun! For new readers, we had a class in the fall as well. I typically spend two class periods on each girl and we do maps and learn about the US in her time. We talk about the culture of the day and we do a craft project. Last semester I did some cooking as well, but crafts are easier! Our next girl is going to be Rebecca or Julie…not sure which one yet. I have a few days to decide. I’m waiting for the Pleasant Company to come out with the 1984 girl. I am envisioning what she’ll be wearing- maybe leg warmers and jelly bracelets? Or will she be a preppie ’84 girl? She’s bound to show up just to freak us all out- a 1980s HISTORICAL doll.

Rockwell Museum Part 2

In addition to the art work at the museum, there were some artifacts from The Old West as well. You know, of course, that my boys were all about the guns. Rifles, revolvers, pistols…they really enjoyed them all. You must know that I8 asked Dan if he could carve him a gun from The American Boy’s Handy Book. That book is a post all its own! He even thought he saw a Peace Medal that Thomas Jefferson gave to Lewis and Clark to hand out to the Indians on their Expedition. I8 is really becoming an expert on all things west!

Blurry rifles- sorry, but I8 would not stand for them to be left out of this post! We had a great conversation about rifles…how they work and the parts. He even explained them to me based on descriptions of Pa’s guns in the Little House series. And people think those books are just for girls…

Revolvers- and the boys loved that there were drawers they could pull out to see more. Whoever cleans fingerprints there might have some extra work this week. Ahem.

Didn’t we all have a cap gun like this once? The engraving designs on the barrels were really quite nice. These, of course, are all guns from long ago that would have been used when cowboys roamed the west and earlier too.

There were displays of artifacts made and used by the Native Americans in the southwest. The American Girl Josefina would have used a pots just like these. R10 might enjoy seeing them.

You can’t study westward expansion and not talk about The Pony Express! I8 read a book on that too (he’s been reading non-stop) and really loved the stories of the riders and their harrowing adventures delivering the mail on time.

There were a few places where there were items the children could handle. Normally, there is a whole room full of dress up, but it was under construction.

We almost missed this guy jumping out of the wall! The front of the exterior of the building has a buffalo bursting out of the brick wall- very clever.
This enormous painting was on the third floor and I8 explained to me all about how the Indians hunted buffalo. Then we had fun sitting on those art museum benches acting out shooting an arrow from a bow. Good all around boy things for an art museum visit!

I8 has had a thoroughly grand time studying this time in American History. This week we are making a coon skin cap and making plans for a chuck wagon meal. This field trip was a fantastic opportunity.

As Hannibel from the A-Team would say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

The Museum of the American Indian

While we visited family in Maryland, we made sure to take the time and visit The Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Seems like it was a while ago, but it was only last week!

One of the first exhibits we visited was a picture book written by an American Indian. It was a series of books, the first two of which were on display. The most interesting part was probably the original paintings all around the area which were used in the printing of the book. That was neat just from the perspective of paintings being turned into prints in the books.

There were displays of beadwork and other artifacts. The drawers underneath the displays showed off even more of the collections. There were also cases full of pointed projections- aka arrowheads.

How cool is this cradle board?

We thought one of the best displays was on Indians today and there was a whole section just for the Inuit. I-6 claims this tribe as his favorite.

The cafeteria features native foods to the different regions of the US. The fry bread below is in the southwest section. I had a great buffalo taco!

Dan went with the northwest region and had mushroom and seaweed salad, salmon, and mashed potatoes with beet juice. Mmmmm…(I actually tasted the salad though)

The architecture of the building is pretty wild. In this atrium like spot there were prisms on the far wall that would shine the rainbows on the other parts of the room. When we left J3 said, “It was fun in the wiggling building!” The outer walls have wiggles in them for sure. He’s a natural.

The view out of the museum next to the statue below. You can see more of the Smithsonian out there. I so wanted to get down to the Museum of American History- one of my favorites of all time! It has just reopened after a two year renovation. Where else can you see Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Fonzi’s jacket, and the first ladies’ gowns/presidential collections?

This sculpture depicts the help the colonists received during the Revolutionary War. The kids had a wonderful time looking all around the bottom to find the weapons buried beneath the tree.

All in all a fantastic trip! The highlight was probably taking the train into the city. I haven’t been on the metro in years and the kids loved it. Visiting the Smithsonian is always a treat. Living inside of two hours from the city my whole life, it is hard to get used to not living so close anymore. It was always right there! As a teacher, we’d take our kids every year to the Smithsonian. What a joy to take 170 students downtown and sit in shifts at the first aid blanket on the mall in May! Then when we weren’t on duty at the blanket we were free to explore the buildings ourselves.

If you are a reader who has never been, it is so worth your time! Another favorite of mine is the National Archives where you can see actual documents like The Declaration of Independence. The last time I was there, the Magna Carta was on display! Of course there’s Air and Space, Natural History, National Muesum of Art…oh you just have to go there!!

This trip was the perfect icing on our Native American unit. I’m so glad we were able to go!