American History: Lexington and Concord

The militias had been warned in time, and were ready and waiting for the approaching British soldiers.
The British soldiers approached eagerly.  They were sure the colonists would surrender at the first sign of a soldier, no shots would be fired and their victory was assured.

Meanwhile, the colonists had been joined by a medieval knight, who was armed with a crossbow and was twice as tall as everyone else.
The soldiers kept approaching and the colonists realized this was a moment that would make history, but they were ordered not to fire, maybe it could be talked out if everyone remained calm.
But someone didn’t listen.  No one knows for sure who fired the first shot, but shots were fired and there was casualties on both sides.  The British and Americans left the battle with no clear winner, but obviously at war.
The British troops continued on to Concord, this time the Colonists were aided by a zombie spearman.  He is formidable in battle.
Again the hope was for no shots to be exchanged, and again hopes were dashed as colonists and soldiers exchanged shots.

I was really impressed at how well my kids remembered all of this lesson, some of it was from reading it, but most of it was from watching Liberty Kids.  If you haven’t seen the show, it’s currently available on Netflix streaming or you can buy the DVDs (which we have done).  It gives a very accurate and unbiased (there is a main character who represents the British side) view of the whole thing from the Boston Tea Party all the way to the signing of Constitution.

Jeff and I have watched pretty much all of them with the kids and have gotten into arguments about whether it was accurate, and then looked it up and discovered they were right and we were wrong.
So, I’m gonna link up to: All Things Beautiful, and Journey to Excellence.
Favorite Resource This Week

American History: Troubles in Boston

So far this year I’ve been feeling uninspired by our history.  I couldn’t figure it out, and then a light bulb went on.  Most of what we’ve done has been paper and pencil stuff, and that’s not my kids.  They need to move and do stuff.  So I give you “Troubles in Boston,” as acted out by our American Revolution soldiers set and a few random zombies.
The British soldiers were guarding the town from rowdy colonists.
The colonists didn’t like all of the extra soldiers, so a mob of them came and started crowding the soldiers.
The soldiers panicked and shot into the crowd wounding and killing several people.  This led to more anger in the colonies, particularly after the famous wood cutting made by Paul Revere.
In response to other things as well as this (which I won’t go into here) the British government raised taxes on several different things, including tea. 
The colonists (accidentally played here by Redcoats) were infuriated and boycotted tea, and one night protested by storming one of the ships in the harbor and throwing all of the tea overboard.

Well, Britain couldn’t let this stand, so they imposed the Intolerable Acts which was yet more taxes and more things to make everyone angry.
The British were tired of all of this American rabble-rousing, so they planned to secretly go out at night and arrest several of the leaders of this crowd and take away the guns of suspected rebel towns.  Paul Revere and others heard about this plan and rode off to warn the people.
Paul Revere was arrested by the British soldiers and was forced to stop for the night, but not before word got out.  His friend, who did not get a poem written about him and therefore is not a household name, was able to warn everyone else about the British plans.

Stay Tuned for the ensuing battle……..  While you’re waiting head on over to All Things Beautiful for more history/geography posts.

Massachusetts: Mayflower and the Pilgrims

There are a whole slew of great books about the Pilgrims, but I wanted to do something a little different, so we watched, drumroll please: Widgets

I remember seeing this as a little kid and my Mom recording it, as well as the other historical specials (which I think I’m the only one who remembers these), and then watching it over and over and over again.


Ahhhh……  Good times!

painting the Mayflower

And what else do you do when learning about the Pilgrims, but make a Mayflower?


So, I saved a whole slew of milk cartons and orange juice cartons, much to Jeff’s chagrin, cut a hole in them, and then let the kids happily paint their own Mayflowers.

And now about a week later, while they’re resting I’ve set them up along with two of the lighthouses to be a fun playscape when they come down from “resting.”


What do you think, will this get me a few minutes of time alone?


Looks like the answer is yes.

Massachusetts: Pennies for Elephant

Photobucket Widgets

If you haven’t read this book, go find a copy.  It is WAY TOO cute!  The story, the illustrations, the team work.

Quick Synopsis: A circus owner is retiring and has offered to give his 3 elephants to the Boston zoo if the city can pay $6000 (and this takes place in 1914, or somewhere close to that).  The city can’t pay it, so they throw it out to the children of the city to raise $6000 in 3 months.  The story follows two kids raising money and how they follow the newspaper articles of how kids raise money and how much.



Not particularly thinking of anything super cute for them to do, instead they acted as teams and had to come up with as many ideas as they could to raise money, pricing it for the time period.  I gave them an idea of how much other things cost, and the value of a dollar at that time.



Then after they’d brainstormed each team got to share how they were going to earn money.  They were quite the little entrepreneurs, and older girl wanted to keep her cards for ideas for earning money this summer.


Some of their ideas: wash people’s cars, rake leaves, throw a tea party for little girls and charge entrance.


And who won the boys vs. girls competition?  It was a tie.  The girls had more ideas, but their prices were not correct for the time period.  The boys had the right prices, but less ideas.  So each team got one piece of chocolate.  Probably the best outcome of all.

Math monday: Green Eggs and Ham

learning laboratory at mama smiles

Interesting fact I learned as I researched Massachusetts, not only does it have a state children’s book, it also has a state children’s author: Dr. Seuss.


I had found an interesting book about Dr. Seuss, but it was way too long to hold everyone’s interest.  When I read it to my kids I, we divided it into two nights reading.  But, for everyone getting together I wanted some kind of activity, and everything I could think of was either too involved or too simple for the entire group.



After some thinking, I remembered that “Green Eggs and Ham” had been written as a challenge to write a book using only 50 words.  So, I picked 10 random words from the book and we graphed 20 pages of it.





What intrigued me was watching the two teams (boys against girls) defend their answers.  There was one instance for each team where someone had the wrong number.  It was great for my kids to see everyone defend and come up with their answers.


All in all, a great exercise for everyone.


I’ll try and get the printable I made up, it’s just a simple table, but right now Scribd is being annoying.

Make Way for Ducklings

I was trying to come up with a great activity to do with “Make Way for Ducklings,” it’s the ‘Official State Picture book’ of Massachusetts, thanks to a third grade class lobbying for its inclusion.  I was really struggling with what to do that was age appropriate for little kids and older kids.  Then I found this idea. 




I don’t have a lot of pictures of this activity because they did it while I was reading the story.  Okay, I have one, taken afterwards.  I went to this page and printed off one of their map pages.  As I named the places in the story they found it and drew how they got there.


This was great because it was a struggle for my kids to figure it out, and a great review for the older kids.  My kids really loved it!



Here’s some additional links I found:

Homeschool Share unit on Make Way for Ducklings

pictures of the statues

Boston and the early Revolution



We’ve started into Massachusetts.  I thought for a state with so much history and that was such a center for the start of the American Revolution it’d be great to start off with some history.


We talked through some of the events that happened there and why they were so upset, and while we talked about it they put together this map (from Time Travelers American Revolution).  It helped the kids get a bit of an idea what was happening and where.



We ran out of time that first week, so we continued the next week.  I talked about the Boston Massacre and how Paul Revere made a  Boston Massacre wood engraving that enraged many people.  I talked about how in some ways it was propaganda because he changed some of the details to make it look more one-sided than it really was (see link below). 

Description of details and finer points about Paul Revere’s engraving.


Afterwards they each got to make their own “wood carving”


Supplies: foam from a take out container or a clean meat tray  (HEB was kind enough to give me 6 clean unused trays to cut up); a bamboo skewer or toothpick (something sharp, you could use a pencil), tempera paint, paintbrush (preferably foam)



Draw your design into the foam.  It takes a bit of work to find just the right way.  My kids mainly poked holes to make a pattern, but the older kids mastered actually drawing with it.

When you’re satisfied with your design paint a THIN layer of paint over it.  Emphasis on thin.



So, they got to make an attempt at woodcarving and discovered it’s harder than it looks. Widgets

While the paint dried we read “Paul Revere’s Ride,” a poem that I love for it’s cadence.  I remember at one point seeing a copy with the illustrations done in the style of woodcarving (it may have been woodcarvings), but I couldn’t find that one.


And just for fun here’s some fun videos I found on You Tube.  After seeing the first one my kids want me to make a Lego movie of their stories……..

Massachusetts: Sisters of Scituate Light Widgets

I got lucky when looking for books for Massachusetts and found this delightful little tale about 2 sisters who live at the lighthouse outside of Boston during the War of 1812.  Their family had gone on a trip and left them in charge of the lighthouse.  While everyone is gone they see soldiers from a British warship coming in to raid the town.  They hurry out and trick the soldiers.


I’ll leave it to you to read the story and see how they tricked them and what the end result was.  To me this was a great example of how the smallest thing can turn the tide of a battle.


supplies: empty water bottle, blue tape, acrylic paint (white, yellow, and another bright color), paint brush




1.  Paint most of your water bottle white.  I did this as prep work for all of the kids, but if you’re just doing this with your family you could do this step, and paint the top yellow, then read the book and it should be pretty much dry at that point……




2.  Tape your pattern onto the water bottle.  Lighthouses had different patterns on them so the sailors could know where they were on the coast line.  Because I had rather wide tape I carefully cut it in half using an exacto knife and then taped it on.




3.  Paint the top yellow.  Now go read the book and wait for the paint to dry.


No really, go read it.  It’s a cute story.




4.  Paint the bottom with your chosen color.  While you wait for it to dry go out and have fun playing!


Maybe swing a few times or chase the dog.



5.  When it’s dry peel the tape off.  If you’re so inclined cut a door at the bottom for your toys to go in and out of.


And of course it can always act as a rocket……..