History/Social Studies

Where in the World?

I picked up a geography game – Where in the World, A World Awareness Game – at a yard sale recently for $1.  I love yard sale finds!  It has 6 different levels, ranging from getting familiar with which region of the world a country belongs to, to relating geographic knowledge to current events.  B and I played it twice last week and had fun.  In fact, he’s asked me if we can play it again, but we didn’t have time.  I need to schedule in game time for the educational games we have!  The game was originally published in 1986 and there have been a lot of country changes since then!  However, when we came upon an “outdated” issue, such as Germany being divided into two separate countries on the board, it became a learning opportunity.  I spoke to B about why Germany was divided into East and West and how they came to be united.
Here’s B rolling back and forth on his stability ball as we play.  We played level 1, finding which of the 6 regions – Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania – each country card we were dealt belonged to.  Each card has a picture of the country’s flag as well as the following information: capital; population; monetary unit; literacy rate; major languages; major religions; major export; major import; major seacoasts; it’s size ranking in that region.  And although details such as population and monetary unit may have significantly changed in the last 26 years, it’s still a great way to learn basics (especially for my cost) and I recommend it.
I looked the game up on both Amazon’s and Toys R Us’ websites to see if they offer the game and how up-to-date it is.  I didn’t find date information on Amazon, but the description on Toys R Us referenced the games introduction 16 years ago, so it sound like their copy was last updated in 1996.  But if you find it at a yard sale, give it a try and let me know how you like it!

The Story of the World – Our History Curriculum for 4th Grade

Last year, based on feedback from other homeschoolers, we used Sonlight curriculum for Social Studies, Geography, Language Arts and Science.  Regardless of how good or bad a curriculum sounds, it’s always good to get the feedback of someone you know who has used it, as well as what learning and personality style worked best with it.  We loved the literature-based approach of Sonlight, but with me working full-time outside of the home this past year, it was way too much to keep up with and I felt it lacked review to ensure retention of information.  This year, we are using The Story of the World, Volume II for History.  We received a number of thumbs-up from homeschoolers we know regarding these curricula.  And by “this year” let me explain our “school” year.  We take the month of June and around the 2nd week of December through the Epiphany off.  The rest of the time, we are learning in some form or another.

This is our 3rd year homeschooling.  B went to public school for kindergarten and 1st grade, but we made the decision to homeschool him for 2nd grade, and have reevaluated that decision in the 2 years since then.  At this time, the hubs and I have decided to homeschool B through elementary school and see if he wants to go back to public school when he reaches middle school age.  In my estimation, that gives me 4 years in which to teach him all he needs to know according to the state standards.  Although we are using a different timeline, we hope to arrive at the same destination within the same ETA.  ;o)

I was excited about the Activity book that SOTW offered but didn’t have an opportunity to see what those activities were until it arrived.  So far, there are great craft ideas but they involve supplies we don’t have on hand and buying them can really add up.  There are also role playing activities which can be challenging with an only child.  But we are creative and we really enjoy this curriculum.

The hubs and B have visited my SIL at the beach a couple of weekends this Summer and I’ve stayed home to have a nice break.  So last month, B and I went to my parents for the weekend to give the hubs a nice break at home by himself.  My brother came over and I enlisted his help in a Celtic reenactment.  My brother and B made Celtic double-headed war axes and then proceeded to have a battle.  I thought for sure my mom would have some blue eyeshadow left over from the 60s for me to paint their faces like warriors, but I was disappointed.  My brother has no hair so we could not use gel or crisco to spike his hair out and B’s hair is wild most of the time anyway, so we just let them at each other, as is.

Today we are reading our first chapter on Islam.  While B was doing his map work and some other activity pages related to this chapter, the two of us were singing Carpenters songs complete with harmony.  We are quite a pair when left alone together all day!  ;o)  We have so much fun.  In a couple of hours we’ll be heading to the sprayground with some other homeschool families.  I love our life!


Watching the Space Shuttle Discovery Land on April 17, 2012

Can you see the flag? The pilot of the carrier plane opened the far cockpit window and hung up a flag!
(If you click on this picture, it will open in a bigger screen and you can click through all pictures in one space.)

The hubs called and woke us up at 7am to tell us we should get dressed, grab some breakfast and head out to the Udvar-Hazy Center.  I won’t share with you the language I used to express my, “No“.  He then proceeded to call every 10 minutes to tell us to go outside with the camera and make sure to take pictures.  His last call, around 10am, was to tell me how excited he was that Discovery had flown over his office building and he got to see it out the window.  He also told me to put on a local news channel that was tracking the route.  I did that and found that it was flying over The Capitol building in DC.  “You have to get outside now so you don’t miss it,” he exclaimed.  “Uhm, it’s not even in our state and it’s cold out.  Stop calling,” I replied.

B was upstairs, having just gotten out of the bath after spilling a bowl of cereal and milk in his lap.  *sigh*  I called for him to come down and watch the Discovery coverage with me.  According to the news, the trip was ahead of schedule and Discovery would land at Dulles at 10:30am instead of 11am.  At 10:25am, B says, “Let’s go see it, Mama!”  Thoughts that went through my head:

  1. It’s supposed to land in 5 minutes and we’ll never get there in time
  2. I have not showered
  3. I’m still in my PJs
  4. I still haven’t dealt with the spilled cereal and milk that had, by now, soaked into the couch
  5. Traffic is stopped on all major roads and bridges and we’ll never get through
I hopped up, ran upstairs, grabbed some socks, a zip-up and a hat, ran back downstairs and yelled, “Let’s go!”  Luckily, B was already dressed appropriately.  We back out of the garage at 10:28am and I just knew it was too late.  But, he wanted to try and I said yes.  He couldn’t ask me for anything more than that.  I had planned to get as far as traffic would allow on the main road leading to Udvar-Hazy, but at the last minute decided to head into the airport.  I figured I would pay to park in the hourly lot in front of the terminal and stand outside the car.
As we drove up, there were cars lining the roads.  It was amazing to see so many people out there.  On my way to the hourly lot, there was a lighted sign directing traffic to a designated Discovery viewing spot.  It was a parking garage to the right of the main terminal.  We parked on the top level and walked over to the designated viewing end that was blocked off to cars.  People are talking with their friends, kids are running around and most spots at the railing are taken.  I see a plane in the distance, directly in front of us, coming toward the airport.  I asked B to come over and the gentleman in front of us told B to go up to the railing in front of him.  “I can see over him,” he said and I thanked him profusely.  It turned out to be the shuttle!  It flew over the terminal and the hourly parking lot next to us and then turned around and flew over Loudoun County, Virginia.
Then it came back toward the airport at the same angle, straight at us, and landed on a runway on the far side of the terminal from us.

Then it turned around, went back behind the main terminal and stopped on the other side, where the pilot hung the flag out the window, and we got cool, closeup shots.

This is the little plane that accompanied the shuttle.  When it was in the air, we thought it was a fighter jet escort.

On the move again, heading over to the cranes which will lift the shuttle off the carrier plane.

Now it is parked in front of the cranes.
People movers showed up.  Who was in them?
Wheeling the stairs over.
Told you he was dressed appropriately. Just gotta find him the leather helmet…
Another mom was kind enough to take this with the shuttle in the background, behind the huge UPS plane close in.
The excitement was tangible and the adults were more excited than the kids.  I saw goosebumps on many arms besides mine.  The animation in our voices as we talked to perfect strangers and the consideration shown to get out of the way after one person got their pictures to make way for others was amazing.  Why can’t we all treat each other that every day?
I am so glad B asked to go and that I didn’t listen to all my reasons why we shouldn’t.
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