The Parthenon, it’s not just in Greece



We’re off on our trip and we’ve traveled through two states by the time you read this.


I was going to put this up last night, but the internet at the hotel was……. nonexistent for all intents and purposes.



We stopped at the Arkansas Welcome center, and then drove for hours and hours and stopped at the Memphis Welcome Center.  I of course had to get a picture of the statue of Elvis.


But, our stop the next day was what I was really excited about.  THE PARTHENON in Tennessee!



The city of Nashville created a fabulous park in 1897 to celebrate their centennial.  The designer of the park felt they should encourage a love of arts and culture, so he created a full size duplicate of the Parthenon.  His was a temporary structure, and over the next 50 years the city and county worked to make a more permanent structure.


Sadly, it was closed, so we only got pictures outside.



Jeff was quite kind and accommodating, and got several pictures for me as I was busy eating a sno cone.


So, I now present you with picture overload, and a little bit of text.



We really enjoyed our break from driving, and though I was sad the museum was closed, it was a lot of fun to wander around such a lovely park.  I’ve got a whole slew of pictures to write our next story.

I’ll leave you my favorite shot from the day.


It just seemed so in character for all of them, and the day was so gorgeous.

50 State Study: Tennessee

Tennessee was one of those states where I had lots of ideas, but none of them worked quite right……..  Sigh.


What all is in here:

Swamp Angel (Tarnation hit the stars and looked like this)- This is a super cute tall tale, and I’m always a sucker for tall tales.  I look forward to Montana when we get to read about her further adventures.


Sequoyah– The man who brought writing to the Cherokee people.  You can see our plan for this on the lower left hand side.  This activity was really a bit over my kids, but it was a good stretch for them.


Andrew Jackson– I still find this president amusing.  I don’t know why.  I got to bring him up again when we got to Louisiana, that was fun.


Luck with Potatoes– Another Tennessee tall tale, or maybe this author just made it up, either way it’s a fun story about a farmer who has some bad luck until he plants potatoes.  I highly recommend this book if your kid likes silly books.


Tennessee State Symbols– Princess was happy because they have a state horse.


Casey Jones– This was one I knew the name, but didn’t know too much about this real life hero.  That’s always a fun surprise for me to discover something I didn’t know too much about.


Done, but not included in the lapbook, which I guess is really more of a notebook.

Davy Crockett peg dolls–  I found a great book for this, and I really wanted to make coon skin caps, but wasn’t sure how to do that in a way that made sense with 6 other kids there, and that could be completed in a timely manner.


So the Davy Crockett peg doll was born.  He’s kinda disturbing.



Banjo Granny– the world’s cutest book, and each time we looked at the illustrations we found more in it.


Afterwards we made a banjo for our dolls with a popsicle stick and some brown card stock.  Very fun and very popular. Widgets


So any suggestions of things I could have added?  Or ways to do this better?  I always like to add in people’s suggestions for when I write about this over at ABC & 123.  There were a few things I didn’t have the right books for, but over all it was a fun idea.

I’m gonna link this over at All Things Beautiful and her geography/history link up.

Tennessee: Andrew Jackson

IAndrew Jackson is one of those presidents that I’ve always found amusing and interesting.  Partially because he’s a bit rough and tumble, and partially because one of the big things he was famous for happened after the War of 1812 was over.

I love this song, it totally cracks me up, the sound quality on this particular version isn’t great, but there is some truth to it.  Andrew Jackson fought a superior army with superior armament, and his army was composed of every person he could force or trick into his army, but he won in the end.  TWO months after the war was over.


Jackson was also known for his long time spent feuding with congress and other members of the government.  At one point he became so frustrated with his official cabinet, he created an unofficial cabinet called the “Kitchen Cabinet.”  This very much amused me as an 8th grader learning about this.


A lot of things amuse me.



Well, after talking for a while there was nothing to do but figure out who we would include in our “kitchen cabinet” if we were ever in the presidency.


And I was SO incredibly sad, NONE of my kids chose me to advise them.  They chose their Dad, their Granddad, their Nana, their Mimi, friends, but NOT ME!


One of the other kids said “the former president, because he knows what I’m going through.”  I thought that was insightful.


Poor me, nobody likes me.


Go check out other history posts over at All Things Beautiful.

Tennessee: Banjo Granny


You ever run into one of those books that is just a perfect bedtime book?  This is one of them.  It’s so sweet and soothing, and the kids all loved it. Widgets

Banjo Granny is about a grandma who knows her little grandson loves bluegrass music so she gets her banjo and heads off to play him so bluegrass music.


This is beyond easy, so I don’t have a step by step.

Supplies: brown cardstock, popsicle stick, glue, markers, square or round punch (optional, I happened to have one which made cutting it out super easy)


Here ya go, punch out your square or circle, glue it on the popsicle stick.  When the glue is dry, or if you’re impatient go ahead right away and draw your lines on.


Now play with it.


The photo shoot was going well until Superman’s Snakey (yes that is the toy’s name) attacked the poor Moosey (can you see a naming trend?).  Poor Moosey passed out in terror…

Luck with Potatoes

“Luck With Potatoes” is a fun book about a farmer in Tennessee who has the worst luck until one day it turns around.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how.

Well, after reading the book there was nothing to do, but to draw what was going to be found in our potatoes.
Apparently there were a lot of animals found in our potatoes.  Not to mention entire worlds.  If we were potato farmers we would have been able to make a mint off the things found in there.

I had originally planned on having the kiddos make something out of potatoes, but it didn’t come to pass, much sadness.  Maybe I’ll save that for the 20th rereading of the book.

Tennessee: Casey Jones

One of the local Tennessee heroes is Casey Jones, he was a train engineer in the 1800s who was known for never being late, and who sacrificed himself but saved everyone else on his train from a crash.

He was originally made famous by a song written a few years after his death, and then became famous again when Disney made a cartoon short about him.

For our study we read about Casey Jones with a very well written rhyming book, then we watched the movie.


Afterwards we compared the book and the movie.  In this instance we did a simple same and different T-chart, but this is a favorite activity of mine with books that have been made into movies.  What was changed?

Casey Jones Tennessee

In case you can’t read what that says, in both he crashed, but he did not paddle through water in the book.


There were a few significant differences between the book and the movie, and if you’re interested I’d highly recommend the wikipedia article about Casey Jones, it gives some interesting facts there.


What is your favorite book to movie transition?  Do you like any picture books that have been made into movies.  I have very mixed feelings on those movies.

Tennessee: Davy Crockett

Okay, be honest, how many of you as soon as you read that got “Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier” stuck in your head?

Now, who has it stuck in their head? Widgets


I found about 6 books at our library about him, and this was my favorite.  All of the others were more factual, but this one had humor, and Davy Crockett has humor in him I think.  And it’s a tall tale.  Who doesn’t like a tall tale?


I certainly do, they’re like American mythology.  Of course our modern mythology is comic books, but that’s a different subject.

After reading it we grabbed a peg doll, some pipe cleaners and made us our own Davy Crockett doll.


Or that’s what it is in theory.  In reality……  The hats never quite fit right, and kept covering their heads.  Princess objected she wanted to make a girl, so she made Swamp Angel.  Then the boys decided they were making Captain America and proceeded to make pipe cleaner shields and add arms……….


Yeah………  So this did not go as planned.  I really want to make some coon skin hats, but it wasn’t going to happen on that day.  Concentration was NIL.

Tennessee: Sequoyah

Hey!  I spelled it right!  I was so sure I was going to spell that wrong.

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Every now and then you find a book that just works completely.  It presents the information well, the pictures are interesting, and it’s something you didn’t know before.

This was one of those books.

I’ve heard of Sequoyah trees, and now I know I’m spelling something wrong because his name is spelled differently than the trees.  I knew the name of the person, but not much beyond that.

I learned Sequoyah created the Cherokee alphabet and persevered through people burning his house down to stop him and other hardships.  Isn’t that cool.

I’ll be back.  I promised to teach the kids how to use the “hot glue gun.”  Can it really be called that if it’s a low temp one?

I’m back.  The kids are now happily gluing away.  I foresee another trip to buy lots of wooden supplies.
This is what really intrigued me about this book.  It includes the story written in Cherokee.

After reading it I challenged the kids to create their own version of the alphabet.

Which they happily set to.

My boys created various blobs.  Older friend made a rather ingenious alphabet based off of musical symbols and other symbols he knew.

Princess just recopied the alphabet.  She was not getting it.  Younger friend again happily scribbled.
Tennessee Sequoyah(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

Okay, so they’re not going to invent alphabets, but they did learn about a cool man who stood up for what he believed in.

Linking this up over at All Things Beautiful.

Tennessee: Swamp Angel

learning laboratory at mama smiles

Little did I know, but Tennessee has almost as many tall tales and what not as Texas does.  I’ve been having a blast previewing the books we’re going to use, and I’m thinking of having my kids take a stab at writing their own tall tale.

Maybe, I’m sure there would be an uproar if I did.
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Swamp Angel is the story of a girl who grew up in Tennessee and saved it from the biggest bear ever to plague the state.

At one point while she and that bear wrestled she threw him up into the sky and he hit the stars (thus creating Ursa Major).  Well, we had to make our own versions.  I had grand dreams of much more complicated versions, but I knew for the sake of the kids I needed to “Keep It Simple Stupid.”  So, I did.
Swamp Angel Tennessee


As always they took it and ran.  Little friend happily scribbled away.  Big friend, drew a picture of a bear with a very small earth below.  My boys drew the entire fight with both sides growing appendages all over.  Princess happily drew a smushed bear up in the sky.