Lewis and Clark explore the park

Hey, I rhymed.  I’ll pretend that was on purpose.

We read about Lewis and Clark ages ago and we’ve had a field trip planned to explore and map out a new playground since that time, but we kept having things get in the way of our ability to do it, illness, inclement weather, you name it.
Map your park
Finally we made it there.  I turned them loose in the park with the instructions of younger kids had to draw 10 things in the park to make their map and label them.  Older kids (which was the other family) had to draw 20 items, label them and create a map key.
Of course the boys had to bring their guns, because they remembered that Lewis and Clark both had guns to protect themselves and to hunt thanks to a video recommendation from Phyllis over at All Things Beautiful (Lewis and Clark part 4 post).

Map your park

I loved the variety of maps they came up with.  The younger girls had smiley faces and pictures of people playing at the different parts of the park.

While the boys……..

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They did the assignment.  Exactly, they did draw some parts of it.  But as they got to thinking more and more about playing in the park it became more and more of ……

well, squares with letters in it.

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Oh those cries of outrage as I made them draw more.  You’d think I announced the end of desert with my requirements.

In the end they got quite a lot of playtime, so I don’t know what they were complaining about.

Collages
Oh, and if you’re in the Austin area and you haven’t been to the “Play for All Abilities Park,” then you NEED to get there!

The Battle of the Alamo

Battle of the Alamo ScenarioWe did this a week or two ago, but I hadn’t downloaded the pictures and my friend I did this with has anxiously been watching for this to be posted, so here it is:
To start go to Junior General and look up their Alamo scenario.  From there you can print off their figures, or you can use the massive number of ones you have.  Or maybe that’s just me.  With 3 men in my house who love to act out battles, and one or two others in the house who have at least a cough cough mild cough cough interest………..  There’s a lot.

Battle of the Alamo defenders
In our version the Mexicans had about 65 soldiers divided into 7 groups.  Each group had a lieutenant who was in charge of moral (that determines if they can move forward).

The seventh group was held in reserve and didn’t have a cannon.  The first 6 groups did.
I won’t go into big detail about how each round went because the scenario did a good job of doing that on the site.  Our modifications:  Each figure could move 6 hexes if they were able to move, and there were 30 Texans at the Alamo (that is not the right proportions).
Battle of the Alamo Texans winning?

At first things looked good for the Texans.  They had several successful canon shots, and they were able to take down most of the Mexican lieutenants.  But, then both sides were out of canon fire, several of their canons had been destroyed and there was a breach in their walls.

Battle of the Alamo Texans losing?
But then, the Mexicans were able to start scaling the walls and the sheer numbers started to overwhelm the Texans.

If the enemies are able to fire 6 shots for every one you are able to fire it does not bode well for you.
(This shot is actually from earlier in the scenario, but it does have one of the kids playing the Mexicans looking mighty pleased with herself)
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And then their heroes died.  Davy Crockett, Colonel William Travis, Jim Bowie.  One by one each of the heroes died to Mexican bullets.

The boys lost it.  They couldn’t handle the heroes they had fought with dying.  Which led to a great lesson.

We talked about how the Texans must have felt when they heard the Alamo had fallen and how only a few survivors escaped.  No quarter was given to wounded or sick.  This was a huge mistake on the part of Santanna because it becamse a rallying cry for all Texans.

At the final battle of the Texas the Texans yelled “Remember the Alamo!”  That cry led them to victory.  It’s amazing how much morale can be changed by a small thing.  Martyrs are a powerful thing.

War of 1812

One thing that amused me when we were studying the states on the East Coast were the number of books I was able to find set during this war, and they all had amusing stories that the “family swore was true.”

It’s an interesting war, not many people remember it, because it didn’t change a whole lot.  It didn’t end because we were such amazing tacticians.  It ended more because some of the causes ended.

Causes:
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1.  Impressement of American soldiers onto British ships.  This also was happening with French, but the British were also causing other problems.

2.  Blockade of American shipping.

3.  British encouraging Natives to attack Americans.

Many of these were the result of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe.
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We fought many battles, both at land and on sea.  At sea the American ships often did better against bigger and better armed forces because the ships were more maneuverable.

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We did end up winning many impressive battles, but it was mostly because Britain was engaged fighting off Napoleon in France.  Come 1815, after Napoleon had been defeated we knew we had to end the war.

A peace treaty was signed and agreed to, basically leaving things as they were before the war started.

2 WEEKS AFTER THE TREATY
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A British fleet came to attack New Orleans, they vastly outnumbered and outgunned the small American army led by General Jackson.

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General Jackson assessed the situation and told the governor he was pardoning Jean Laffitte, a notorious pirate in the area and drafting him for the battle.  Next he armed the freed blacks in the city and they joined the army, and finally he drafted all of the Natives who were not with the British into the army, and gained a miraculous victory.

Shortly afterwards the British general sent him a letter congratulating him on the war they had already won.  Jackson opted to continue to “monitor” the general until they remembered they were not in their own waters.

Well, I have now covered this battle and another post about it (tangentially) all the times I’m planning on covering it.  I wasn’t going to go into such detail again with the kids, but they really like acting out battles.

Our next war to cover in a week or so: The Mexican American War, can you guess who fought in it and when?  True trivia here……..  And the Battle of the Alamo!
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway of Mom Connection!
I’m gonna link up to these fun parties:
learning laboratory at mama smiles

Alabama: Last Mule of Gee Bend

 

I learned something with this particular book, actually there are a couple of books about Gee’s Bend by this author/illustrator, but still I learned from them.

 

I learned there were many ways people were affected by the Civil Rights movements and how they worked to change how life was.

 

In Gee’s Bend they sewed quilts to support themselves after they lost their jobs for participating in the Civil Right movement.  That was the first book in the series, but I knew my mostly boys group wouldn’t want to hear about sewing.

 

022So, we went with the mules from there, they became known for standing up and being stubborn and when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, those mules pulled his coffin for the funeral procession.

 

I wanted something 3-D, since I saw Glittering Muffins’ Sweden craft, this had been on my mind.

 

I did a Google search and found a picture of a donkey I liked, then mirror imaged it.  The kids happily colored it and then cut it out and glued them onto clothes pins to be able to stand, or that was the theory……..

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The only one that actually happened with was the one I glued for Princess, otherwise…..

Alabama: Helen Keller

When I was growing up I was absolutely fascinated by Helen Keller.  She showed such amazing strength of character and will power.  I can probably trace my fascination with sign language back to then.  I read a biography about her in 4th grade and taught myself how to finger spell.  In high school I read her autobiography, fascinating book.

 

But I digress

 

We read the picture book of Helen Keller, which like other books in the series, gives a nice concise timeline of her life and why she is important.

 

Afterwards we talked about the challenges of being blind and having to have someone lead you around, and how hard it must have been to not be able to tell what you want for so long.

 

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Then we wrote our names out in Braille, which took tremendous concentration.

 

One of the things that tickled me about this lesson was during our trip the kids kept trying to imitate Helen Keller and the signs she used for her parents and for bread during the trip.  I guess it made a fairly deep impact.

Colonial games and pasttimes

We got together a few weeks ago and played some of the games that colonists played, but since I had a migraine and the other Mom had two million things going on that day our GRAND AND OVERARCHING PLANS failed……

Instead we did two easy to reenact games, especially if you’re a former teacher who did the old “marble in the jar trick” for every time you caught someone being good.  Seriously I have a big huge box of marbles……..
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We discovered that it was super easy on our paved concrete driveway with a slight tilt downhill to get marbles out of the circle.  Not so easy on the not completely level and bumpy mud that the colonists probably played on.  The kids all agreed they did not like playing it like this.

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They all enjoyed playing hopscotch, which we couldn’t agree on what the rules are, which led to a discussion on variations on rules in different areas.

Then I challenged them to come up with a game of their own involving chalk and marbles.

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The first group with a lot of eye rolling and “Do we have to’s” came up with a sort of pictionary with marbles.

The second group came up with a combination of hopscotch and marbles.  You rolled the marble and got that many points for the number your marble stopped in.

Yorktown Victory Center

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Whereas yesterday was little girl heaven with the carriage ride, today was little big boy heaven, with lots of pretending to be soldiers and firing of weapons.

The boys even got to participate in the “firing of a cannon.”
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1.  The Sergeant (the man with the clipboard) gives the order to prepare to fire.

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2.  Add in your carefully measured scoop of powder and then add in the cannon ball or in this case bomb.

3.  Set the range using what looked rather similar to an astrolabe (no picture because of poor angle).

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4.  Clear the cannon and set the fuse.

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5.  Light the fuse.

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6.  BOOM!  (this shot is of course from the actual trained people firing it)

I’ll write a more concise and what we learned type post on another day.  For now I’m going to read a little bit and then go to sleep……..  Maybe even before midnight, what a novel concept.