History: Valley Forge


I have no idea who gave me the idea of Valley Forge.  I think it was a comment I saw, but one of the places in New Jersey is Valley Forge.  During the Revolutionary War George Washington spent one very cold winter there and lost a lot of soldiers to frostbite and other problems.

EDITED TO ADD: So, I didn’t do as through a research as I thought, Valley Forge was definitely not in New Jersey, sigh.  I swear when I was doing all that looking up it was.  Oh well, now I know, better fix that.  It’s still a cool book.

But, I found what was the coolest book ever…….  Or, so I thought.  My kids didn’t get quite as much from it as I was hoping, but it was a little old for them.

It’s an interesting concept, and is based somewhat in history, or close enough.  As General Washington is walking the camp he sees a soldier lighting a candle one cold winter night and chanting something he doesn’t understand.  The soldier goes on to explain to him the story of Hanukkah and the two of them draw parallels between the Maccabees battle and their own struggle against the British government.

Like I said, I LOVED this book.  The older kids really enjoyed it and were able to get so much more from it.
After reading it I pulled out a simple Venn Diagram and had the kids each draw or write one thing that was different about the two wars, and one thing that was the same.

My kids drawings all prominently featured pictures of people missing toes, fingers and whole limbs from frostbite.  That’s about what they got from it.  And then they spent the rest of the day telling me about how they were going to lose body parts from the “bitter bitter cold.”

Ummmm, not so much guys, it was 80 something then.  Not anywhere near cold enough, but good imagination.

So, they may not retain much, but I’m sure it was an interesting study.

Pennsylvania, a summary, and some other ideas or some such

Hmmm, chocolate is starting to get to me.  I can feel the sugar coming in, or maybe that’s my body starting to de-stress and calm down.  Take your pick.

Going around from left to rightish, on the left hand side:
Pennsylvania picture from Musings of Me
envelope with Union and Confederate soldiers
Berenstein Bears picture
State Symbols page (link to printable will be below click on the picture)
F is for Firefly drawing
Right hand page:
Ben Franklin inventions
Chocolate activity
Not in yet: firefly book (click on the picture to go to the printable)
pennyslvania state symbols
Other activities that didn’t have a printable:
Hershey fraction math
Liberty Bell
Amish/handkerchief doll

And sigh of accomplishment, Pennyslvania is done.  There was a lot there and we barely even scratched the surface even with 2 weeks on it.

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Other things you could study that we didn’t even get to: more on the Amish, Crayola, there’s a couple of books on repeating Ben Franklin’s experiments, Gettysburg Address (there is an awesome picture book of this but I couldn’t find it and I don’t know the illustrator, but it’s pen and ink drawings, LOVE it), and I’m sure a whole LOT more.


Shibley Smiles

stART: Chocolate and how it gets from the tree to my mouth

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I bet you’re hungry already……  I know I am.


Actually, I’m thirsty, so I’m going to get a drink of water, take a few pictures of the end product, because I don’t have any of the process, and then come back and finish writing…….


So, I’m now eating some ridiculously healthy and delicious homemade chocolate that my friend made for the parents.  The kids ate chocolate chip cookies, the state cookie of Pennsylvania, and we got YUMMY homemade dark chocolate.

I took the little kid activity from All About Chocolate from Reading A to Z.  I printed an extra copy of the book and cut out the pictures for the kids to glue onto the sheets in order.  The older kids answered the worksheet that did the same thing.


073And that’s what the first 52 pictures on my camera looked like.  I’d watermark them, but I really doubt anyone is going to steal that.  I mean really.  FIFTY TWO pictures of Diego?  Okay, so as a kid I took a whole roll of my Cabbage Patch Kids, but at least I was posing them and trying to tell a story.


So, that’s what the first page looks like.  As you can tell, it’s fairly simple, especially since this one was numbered.  That’s what it looks like in the factory process.


Now, the farm to factory looks a bit different.






Okay, so picture quality isn’t all that great, but that’s partially because I saved on ink by not printing it in the best quality.


If you print as much as I do you need to save on ink somewhere, and this is where I choose to do that.


So, that’s the last activity I have for Pennsylvania.

All in all, it was a great state study.  I’m learning more and more of how to structure this co-op, so it’s getting better and better each week.

Geography/History: Battle of Gettysburg

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You ever find one of those perfect books?  Well, I just did.  This one was a perfect introduction to the Civil War and gave a little bit of history without going into too much detail.

And, the main character was a little boy who joined up because his brothers were doing it and he’s worried about his brothers.
We read this with our geography group, and afterwards all the kids got some figures from <a href=”http://www.juniorgeneral.org/index.html” target=”_blank”>Junior General</a> and went to the <a href=”http://www.juniorgeneral.org/load.php?Period=5##” target=”_blank”>Civil War category</a>.  There I printed off several different groupings for both the Confederate and Union soldiers.  And then I noticed there were the actual generals for this battle, and got all these grand plans.
 So, blogger is deleting half of my post.  It looks like it’s showing up in Google Reader, but not on my blog itself, that makes no sense……  Sigh.  Now, to try copying it in.  It’s one of those days.

It just won’t admit it’s there, now to rewrite it.

Try 3 or 55 or so.  It’s one of those days.  I may have solved the whole blogger not recognizing my post is there thing, maybe.

You ever find one of those perfect books?  Well, I just did.  This one was a perfect introduction to the Civil War and gave a little bit of history without going into too much detail.
<a href=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/_RGDYPnAIl_U/TYpvjkgcQBI/AAAAAAAAEOs/-kTEVVJmfQI/s1600-h/006%5B7%5D.jpg”><img align=”left” alt=”006″ border=”0″ height=”175″ src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/_RGDYPnAIl_U/TYpvj5P7JqI/AAAAAAAAEOw/A0-4u1lR68o/006_thumb%5B7%5D.jpg?imgmax=800″ style=”background-image: none; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-top: 0px;” title=”006″ width=”244″ /></a>I show common sense sometimes.  It does happen.

Then we looked at the confederate soldiers.  That’s them in the picture, and we talked about their uniforms, which if Livewriter had worked properly would be all nicely cropped……

See, the Confederate army didn’t have all of it’s soldiers in one uniform.  There were uniforms by state, by different groups, and an official uniform.  So we talked about how hard it might be to know if the person coming at you was a friend or a foe.

And then all of the boys started their little guys shooting, and I figured that was enough for one day.

And on a totally unrelated note, have you ever notice where you have weeks and days where nothing is happening, and then you have a day where it all happens at once, and you can’t keep up with it all?

stART: Homespun Sarah

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This is a nice simple book about an Amish girl in the 1700s. I suppose it could have been any girl, but for the sake of our study it was an Amish girl.  Afterwards we made handkerchief dolls using this tutorial, and then they decorated them.

It was rather common for the little girls to be given a doll like this to play with at church because it makes no noise if it falls, and you have the supplies to make it on hand.


The big surprise for me was how popular this craft was for everyone.

All of the kids loved it, including the 4th grade boys (who made superhero dolls).  My boys made ghosts.


See how Superman’s ghost is so scary.  Batman’s was an Iron Man ghost.

I’m worried what killed Iron Man.

Geography: Liberty Bell

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Okay, so it’s history too.  Especially when you add in this cool book.  I got very lucky and found an intriguing book about how a farmer and his son saved the Liberty Bell when the British were fixin’ to invade Phliadelphia during the Revolutionary War.

So after reading the story, and very nearly being stumped a couple of times by questions from one of the kids.  As soon as I was asked why the Liberty Bell was so important it totally flew out of my brain.
To go with this book we made our own Liberty Bell.

Supplies: Egg carton cut into individual cups, yarn, mini popsicle stick, acrylic paint (it stays on the foam egg carton better, but I guess you could use tempera).


1.  Poke a hole in two sides to string yarn through later.

2.  Paint the bell, then put it down and wait for the paint to dry (this is when we read the story).


3.  String the yarn through the bell.  Now tie the yarn onto the stick close to the bell.

4.  I wrapped all of the excess string around the stick so look like leather ties, but you could just cut it off short.

5.  Bonus step all of the older kids wanted to do: draw on the crack.

Science Sunday: Ben Franklin

Science Sunday
What study of Pennsylvania would be complete without something about Ben Franklin inventor extroidanairre (bother, apparently I’m so far off on the spelling of this word spell check doesn’t even have a clue, anyone know what I did wrong, or did I invent a word?)?

Okay, admittedly there are many other famous people in Pennsylvania, but this is one of the people our library had a book on that was checked in.  After a couple of tries.

There’s one I’m gonna want to get about actually doing some of his experiments, but I digress.
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As I read the book, the kids found the corresponding invention and would either draw or write the corresponding invention that Ben Franklin had made (the page was cut with flaps on the lines between each picture).

Some of the pictures are less self explanatory than others (the second from the bottom is a heater), but overall the kids had no real problem with completing it as I read it.

Now, can I interpret what the pictures are my kids drew?  Not really.

Click on picture to go to download of the page.
But, it was still fun.

Preschool Corner: What to do with those sticker books

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When I mentioned to my lovely contact over at Zonderkidz that we were studying Pennsylvania, she said we should read some of their most famous exports, the Berenstain Bears.


Well, what could I say but, HECK YEAH!  My kids love these books.  The instant I opened the box they disappeared upstairs.

After much searching I found one of them again.  I’m going to assume the other is awesome because seriously, I haven’t been able to recover it form the kiddos.



Summary of book: Sister Bear and her friends enjoy gossiping together, and Sister thinks nothing of it until she hears her friends talking about her.  Then she starts to realize why it’s bad with some judicious help from her family.



This particular book came with about 12 or so stickers in the back with pictures from the book.



So, after reading the book and discussing how gossip makes us feel, I sent the mob of kids off to choose a sticker from the included stickers and put it on the front of the folded booklet.





On the inside (you have to look very carefully, because Superman opted to use only pencil), they drew a picture of another scene from the book.  The older kids had to write what was happening in the sticker they chose.



Final thoughts on the books:  Would I recommend, yes.  I don’t think I’ve found a Berenstain Bears book yet my kids haven’t liked.  I still remember the effects of reading “The Messy Room” book as a kid, so I’m rather partial to them anyways.  I love their books for a non-instrusive way to teach some nice virtues.


Legal stuff: I was given a copy of these books to give my honest opinion.  I did not get any money, and I probably would have have eventually gotten them anyways.  Seriously, we have like 10 or so books at least.

stART: F is for Fireflies

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I received this awesome box full of books to review from Zonderkidz, and this was one of the books.  I chose this because the firefly is the state insect of Pennsylvania, and I thought this would be a fun way to read about them.


And I wasn’t wrong.  It’s very cute.  The book goes through the alphabet picking different summertime activities and relating many of them back to God.


And that was when inspiration struck.  Our geography group has a wide range of kids, Princess being the youngest at 4, and we’ve have two 6th grade girls in the group at the oldest.

Supplies: pastels or crayons (I gave them a box of cheap pastels, which were all too similar to crayons), paper, the book for reference



Each kid got a small square of paper folded in half.  For the older kids on the outside they drew a picture and inside they wrote how that summertime activity made them think about God.


Younger kids drew a picture of a summertime activity and the letter it started with (in theory, when we actually got to the activity mass chaos happened and I don’t think any little guy did the letter writing).


My thoughts on the book:  It’s a great book for mixed age families.  The alphabet part is great for the little guys and the older kids got a bit of theology in the book.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review, I was not paid for it in any way.  The thoughts are my own, bad grammar and all.

Math Monday: fractions



This week we started studying about Pennsylvania.  One of the things I learned about it while I was researching the state is Hershey chocolates are from there.



Hello, yummy math time, right?



So, we went through and followed the directions in the book and learned about the different fractions in a chocolate bar. 


It amused the heck out of me to see Batman (I’m kind of assuming this is him, it certainly looks like him, but……) take the directions run with it, and create artwork in his fractions.



It was also amusing to me to watch as the chocolate pieces slowly got smaller and smaller as little kids licked their fingers.


The book was a little long for Princess’ attention span, towards the end she was really staring at the chocolate with complete fascination.  But, overall they did really well.


And then there was some very happy kiddos as they happily devoured lots and lots of chocolate.

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