Friday, 2 May 2014

Panning for Gold and Navajo Flat Bread

Having introduced the children to the stories of the European settlers, The Louisiana Purchase and the resulting westward expansion, we spent an hour or so learning about the Gold Rush and the 49ers (those that arrived in California in search of riches in 1849).  I used gold beads and bells hidden in water, sand and stones and the kiddies collected what they could find...

...and traded in their gold for supplies and shelter.

Because of the sudden rush of towns being built around the main gold sites, there were often fights and robberies, turning the towns into the lawless places we often associate with the 'Wild West' today.

Monkey Girl's wanted poster

The Boy's wanted poster 

The youngest two made Navajo flat bread.

It was "heavenly" according to Monkey Girl.  This Boy was pretty impressed with himself too! 

He made some mini ones for everyone.

The eldest two followed a design to make ankle bells.

I love them!

And we finished off our morning learning about totem poles.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Ice Cream Cone Tee-Pees

We started the day on a light-hearted note: ice cream cone tee-pees.

Eating = joy

Many moons ago when the two eldest were tiny weeny, they made a picture book about the Pilgrim Fathers.  We still have it so we used it for reference and discussed the impact of the European settlers and the towns that inevitably followed  

We talked in some depth about Daniel Boone being the first European to cross the Appalachian Mountains and the explorers and trappers that followed in his footsteps.

We had our first look at the Louisiana Purchase which was made by Thomas Jefferson and as such opened up the whole country for exploration.

The kiddies donned their explorer gear and went hunting for wild game, shallow access across rivers and suitable glades for resting.

But the Native Americans won over my kiddies and they changed back into their attire for lunch over a fire. 

The weather looks cold for tomorrow and as the sun is shining today I have left the kiddies outside to soak up the Vitamin D and continue their role-playing.

They discovered that grinding down a brick and mixing the powder with water makes a paste for painting.

They made these awesome pictures.  I love my imaginative kiddies

They made a spit for fish...

..canoed and kayaked down white water rapids...

...and protected their land from enemy tribes.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Native Americans

I am aware that this unit can be a particularly sensitive one in many aspects so I wanted to ensure that many of the stereotypical beliefs that go with anything to do with this subject did not creep in to our learnings.  If I have in any way made a mistake with regards to this, I apologise.

Firstly I set up a 'learning table' as a rough reference to the many climates and landscapes across North America.

No horses to begin with to correctly replicate the Native Americans living side by side with nature and with no European influence for thousands of years.

We discussed how the Native Americans first arrived on foot by crossing a bridge of land and ice between what we now know as Russia and Alaska; the bridge since disappearing following the end of the ice age, thus ensuring no contact between the two continents until (possibly the Vikings in 800AD) the 'discovery' of the New World in 1492.

The children each created a map of North America to better understand the differences between the tribes and the way of life of each group depending on abundance of food and the climate.

The North  - Nomads in the frozen north, following caribou.  The latest arrivals before the 'bridge' disappeared.
The North East - using the forests for food, wood for their long-houses, and farming the fertile land.
The South East - living in round-houses made of logs and grass, also known as wig-wams.
The Great Plains - living in tee-pees and hunting buffalo
The South West - living in clay houses.
The North West - with an abundant supply of food in the forests, these tribes had more time for craft.  They lived in plank houses and built totem poles.

We made the various types of homes and added them to our Native American landscape.


Clay-houses for the desert.  Cool in the day and warm at night.

A long-house in the fertile farm-land of the North East

I made The Boy some worksheets.  Units can be so cross-curricular.  This is why I base our mornings on thematic units.

Vocabulary work for the older girls.

Most learning comes from playing.  

We chatted about the Sioux tribe and had a look at some of their buffalo hide paintings.

And then we made our own!

Books about Native Americans

We explored some ruins for fun this afternoon (and also to wear this Boy out!)

Someone has uniform inspection at Sea Cadets tonight.