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)

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.

Archeology Dig

Our first history lesson together this year for US history started with learning about how we learn about the past.  Hmmmm, there really is no way to make that sentence less awkward is there?
So, we conducted an archeological dig.  First I saved a couple of 3 liter bottles (I almost think this would work better with a big flat tub, but that’s up for debate).

Then we gathered lots and lots of small items to go into two different dig sites.  The first had all sorts of small toys and little things, and the second had lots of kitchen utensils, silverware and the like.


Then we had the kids dig through the layers and find what was in the  different layers.  If my kids were just a little bit older I would have forced them to document the layers, but they were struggling enough with drawing what was in the bottle I didn’t want to totally ruin the experience.

My thought was if we used a big flat tub, we could lay it out in a grid pattern instead of observing layers, we could observe the grid.

After pulling it all out they drew what they found.

The older kids after a very short discussion all agreed their dig site was a toy shop.

My kids argued for a while.  One of them thought it was a restaurant, another thought it was a kitchen, and the last one thought it was a home.  Finally they each (with some help) wrote the place they thought they had found.

All in all they really enjoyed this dig site.

And, did you notice!  I actually remembered to do a messy project OUTSIDE!!!!!  I was so proud of myself.

You have to take the little victories.

Now head on over to All Things Beautiful to see some more posts about history.  Then head over and check out Journey to Excellence for Study America Saturday.

History: The second Persian invasion



I mentioned briefly last week that I found a cool new site thanks to All Things Beautiful, well this week we really got to make use of it.


And I also mentioned Jeff thought I was spending too much time there.  He mumbled something about way too much time looking at the different army figures.


008And then I spent way too much time cutting out a lot of figures.  Seriously, they’re way too cool!  WAY TOO COOL!


We set up the armies.  Xerxes decided to avenge his father’s failure and head over to conquer those uppity Greeks, but he wasn’t going to repeat the same mistake.


009Oh no, he was going to make all new mistakes.  Mainly long supply lines, think the Napoleon when he fought the Russians in 1812, which Natalie so nicely pointed out was the REAL big battle going on at the time in the world.


And, so he ran off to conquer the Greeks, and it was going well for him, mostly.


Like most would-be conquerors he forgot that a man fighting for his home fights much harder than a man fighting for treasure and glory.


That, and it’s very easy to defend a small pass against a large army and cause the large army huge amounts of casualties.


Of course the coolest part for me was when Jeff came home that night and the boys excitedly showed Jeff the battle, and how it went.  Mind, every battle has to have a good guy and a bad guy, so that can get complicated.


Who would you say is the bad guy in this battle?  My boys definitely picked sides.

History: War of 1812

Now how many of you went “what war?”  Honestly, now?  And then how many of you thought of this song?

Or maybe I’m the only one who actually knows this song.  But, it came up within the first two hits on my search.
Actually, this is going to be one of those history type of weeks.  I’ve got at least two posts I can think of about history. 
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This was a surprisingly cute book about a small town in Delaware during the War of 1812, and how they scared off the British army.


After reading this I thought it would be fun to make our own little soldiers.  The kids agreed too.

It’s a very simple craft.  I took some old-fashioned clothespins, and pre-painted them skin tone, though you could easily leave them wood colored.

Then they kids had fun drawing their soldier on.  Superman, happily drew a happy side and a sad side.  He also drew some other things which I had to talk to him about.  Boys!

If you can find a copy of this book, I highly recommend it.  It’s not scary, it provides a good amount of detail about what’s going on without getting into too much detail for little kids.

Now head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn to see what everyone else is doing in history and geography.

history: Battle of Marathon



Did you know that the term marathon actually comes from an ancient battle?


Okay, so I did, but that’s partially because I watched “The First Olympics,” and partially because I’m a history nerd, and know these mostly useless facts.


The Battle of Marathon was one of those battles that you go into it expecting to lose.  After all, the Persians under Darius 1 had a lot more men, and were more battle hardened, but the Athenians had an advantage.


You know that home court advantage, where they really don’t want to lose their home.


So, they won.


Yep, they beat the army that was more than double their size, but the battle took place 26 miles from Athens, and they were afraid the Persian army would just sail off to Athens and say, “We won, give us all your money,” and the Athenians wouldn’t know otherwise.


You’re listening to all of this and going, “Okay, Ticia what does this have to do with anything?”  I’m getting there.


So, the commander sent one of his messengers, who had already run over to Sparta and back that day, but it was his best messenger.  And sent him to run back to Athens and beat the ships.


He did, and delivered his message, and collapsed dead after delivering it.  Thus setting a precedent for all movies with a messenger to die dramatically after delivering his crucial message.


Oh, wait was that rather sarcastic?  Oops.


So, to truly understand how that man felt I had the kids run a mini-marathon.  Okay, it was to the mailbox and back.  But still, I didn’t let them stop until they started crying.


I know, I’m a mean Mom.  I made my daughter cry.


But, they did understand how hard the run was.


And then, after I read this I thought, “I think over at All Things Beautiful she has some great Ancient Greece lessons, I’m going to see what she did.”  So, I headed over there and she did have a great activity for this lesson, and I’m so going to use her suggestions for some future lessons.  Actually I already did, I used it today on the day I’m writing this, which will be yesterday from when you’re writing it.


Sooooo…….  Jeff has said I really shouldn’t spend more time drooling over the site I discovered from her lesson, I think he’s tired of hearing about all the cool soldier miniatures I found.

Ancient Greeks


We read about Sparta and Athens and did a Venn diagram about the cities.  Honestly the kids didn’t get much about this, but after a lot of repeating and reminding they got the gist of the two cities.


It simplified down to Sparta fights a lot, and everyone fought in their town, everyone learns how to be a soldier.


Athens is the city of art and democracy.  That simplified down to art.  All the discussion of how their government was just flew over their heads.


021And they were the same because they were both city-states.


But that’s boring.  We finished up by taking the same pots from our earlier sunflower game and made them into greek pots.


And the boys pots were very greek showing fantastic battle scenes.  I’m not sure what Princess’ was.



Now head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn to see what other people are doing for history or geography.

History: The first Olympics



Okay, I pretty much am just putting this in here because the picture cracks me up.  Batman and I went to dinner on Saturday as part of our annual “Shop for your siblings Christmas present,” and he was excitedly explaining something to me.


He really cracked me up spending a good 5-10 minutes searching for a present for his brother that would have 2 guys so they both could play.

So, Olympics.  Over at All Things Beautiful she did a very cool post on the Ancient Olympics.  I remembered it when we got to this point in history and staged our very own mini-ancient Olympics.



Toothpick javelin throw.  The kids were very disappointed they didn’t get to keep throwing these.


They also wanted to use them as swords.






Racing, we opted for the hands and knees version since we were doing it inside.







Long jump, and I’m really wondering what the heck that is in the bottom corner there.


Either way the kids were all cheaters and wouldn’t jump just once.






We tried a discus throw, but it became complicated by the dog “helping.”  Really, it was helpful for some because their discus got much further.


Now head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn to see what others did for their history or geography this week.