Friday, September 21, 2018

Jamestown Settlement Field Trip

Part of our desire as homeschool parents is to offer a variety of experiences for our children.  The husband and I are careful about not doing the same thing every year for vacation.  Sure, we've repeated favorites over the years, but we also look for new experiences.  There's just so much out there - so many museums, so many parks, so many beaches, so many famous attractions and hidden gems - our goal is to just expose them to as much as possible over the years, and hope they find a sense of wonder in the world.  This year, we took our vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Husband loves history, and it was close enough to some beaches and museums that we could do quite a variety of things throughout the week.

The dates of our trip were carefully planned so that we would not miss any co-op days.  I don't like for the kids to miss unnecessarily, and as a teacher, I don't want to inconvenience others.  Initially, even though we intended to spend a day at Colonial Williamsburg, we changed our minds.  Their homeschool days began on our last full day in town, and tickets must be purchased ahead of time.  Since it was the first day, the actual homeschool events were limited, and nothing that especially appealed to us, and we didn't think a full day excursion in 90+ temps would go well with our younger crew.  Thus, we opted to focus on some other historical field trips, which could be done in half days and spread out a little more.

We chose Jamestown Settlement as our first historical field trip of the week.  They also offer special homeschool days during the same time as Colonial Williamsburg, but we took advantage of their regular homeschool discount and combo ticket (with the American Revolution Museum of Yorktown) earlier in the week.

They offer a nice museum, with a neat timeline feature, a film, artifacts and paintings and such.  (No photography allowed.)  Outdoors is a living history museum with three different areas.  We went outdoors thinking we would do that before it got too hot, but by the time we got indoors, the littles were drained, so we just kind of walked through the exhibits quickly.

Powhatan Village
The Powhatan Village showed us what the homes and daily life of the local tribe might have been like, based on archeological evidence and written records from the colonists.  There were only a couple of people milling about, one doing reenactments - making arrowheads, which Emory and Eleanor thought was cool.  It was mostly shaded, so a nice reprieve from the heat.

These were part of a ceremonial circle of carved posts.

There were several reed-covered houses for us to walk through.

Each was full of tools, hides, baskets, natural resources in baskets, and more!  Emory was fascinated.  

Outside, the kids could see other parts of everyday life.  They could grind corn . . .

 Or look at a burnt-out canoe. . .

We learned we should not have worn sandals here, because the the gravel and dirt got into our shoes of course.

Jamestown Settlement Ships 
Walking over to the pier, we could board recreations of the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, the three ships that brought the colonists over.

They each had one or more employees in period costume on board talking about the ships, the journey and the passengers.  It's interesting, if you like history.

You could go under on one of the ships and see even more of what their four month journey would have entailed!

You could sit on their beds, which were full of straw.

Or learn how they steered the ship.  This guy was very knowledgeable and patient with the kids!

We learned how they kept time on the boats too.

The pier offered pretty views too, but I'm not going to lie . . . the 3 year old peering over the edges made me nervous, because she's the type that would just dive over.

This was probably my favorite part, but Eleanor said "Mommy, did you expect me to like walking over a bridge with water where I could fall in?  I liked it [referring to Jamestown Settlement], but I didn't like the boats!"  She didn't like going up the ramp!

James Fort
James Fort is a recreation of the 1610-1614 fort.  We learned about the wattle and daub buildings and about their everyday life.

One of the first buildings we went in was ridiculously warm, with the fire on top of the 90 degree heat.  He was preparing foods as they would have been prepared then.  There was fish, I think some salted meats, maybe a pie?  I can't remember now what he had covered.

The church . . .

 She wanted a picture on the tree stump.  Can you see how hot we were already?  There wasn't much shade here.

Sleeping quarters . . .

And "feed me" faces!

 Momma, take my picture!

This gentleman also did a demonstration with a matchlock musket.  We stood back, because I knew the girls wouldn't like the sound.  

You can hear them in the video "cover your ears!" but here's part of his demonstration.  

From Jamestown Settlement, you could drive over to Historic Jamestowne, which is the site of the original Jamestowne Fort, with archeological discoveries and excavations, but we were already hot and tired and hungry.  (It was already 91 when we left at lunchtime!)

So we finished our morning with lunch at a little pizza and pie place, and enjoyed a quiet picnic in the shade, before going back to the resort to rest and swim.

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Picta Dicta Latin Review

Roman Roads Media is known for their classical education materials, but the good thing about homeschooling is that you don't have to specifically identify with a certain educational method to utilize a facet of it, and I was intrigued when offered the opportunity to review their Latin program, Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder.  We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, another philosophy that encourages the study of Latin, though I've held off as we've gotten our footing and reestablished our Charlotte Mason lifestyle.  When this review came up, I thought this year, middle school, would be a good time to introduce Latin, so I was excited to learn more about the program.

Roman Roads Media Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder

Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is an online Latin program for middle school, high school and college students, with a focus on reading proficiency.  It uses a multi-demensional approach with pictures, audio, definitions, and more, in order for students to gain a deeper understanding of the words.

There are different tracks with different difficulty levels, which allows all students to be both challenged and fulfilled with what is achievable and realistic for their skill and ability level.  Since this is our first foray into Latin, and we're on the young end of the intended grade range (I've been using with my 6th grader) I chose the Easy track. For an older student, especially one using this towards a credit, I would choose the Normal track, because it goes more in-depth.

The program is self-paced, so students can work as fast or slow as is appropriate for them.  We found about 15 minutes every day, or at least every other day, to be appropriate.  Each chapter focuses on one theme, and has three units to learn and review the material in different ways.  Following the first two chapters, cumulative reviews are worked in after every chapter.

Learn is where students learn new words and how they are used in context.  You see the definition, a corresponding picture, and you should be saying the word along with the program.  Choose is where the student can review and "test" their knowledge - you read/listen to the word, then choose the corresponding image from about half a dozen pictures.  Spell is just that, where you must recall the word from the picture, and spell it.

This is a straightforward program, but that makes it predictable and familiar, thus easy to use.  Essentially, this is a great way to learn Latin vocabulary, and understand English by default.  I have never studied Latin but as I sat in with my middle schooler, I'd catch myself going "Oh, I can remember that!" because I was seeing the connections to the English language so easily.  

I feel like this is the type of program that needs to be done a little every day, instead of large chunks once or twice a week.  I noticed a difference in performance if we took a day off or tried to start a new section after a weekend break.  (You can see the drop in stars at the beginning when we took a day off between sessions.)  It is hard to remember the words when you're not practicing or seeing/hearing/speaking them every day.  This is a multi-sensory program in that respect, because we see pictures, read definitions, speak the words, listen to them with the correct pronunciation and learn to spell them.  

For a student who doesn't like written work, an online program may be a good option.  It eliminates extra bookwork and allows the student to "break up" their bookwork by inserting the computer/tablet work - computers allow for audio assistance (pronunciation) that a textbook alone cannot provide, and engages the brain differently.  My middle schooler doesn't love the spelling section, but overall he sees the connection between Latin and English, so that's a good stepping stone to building appreciation.  I feel like this is a good introductory program for casual learning, but could really enhance another full curriculum.

Recently the Homeschool Review Crew also had the opportunity to review Picta Dicta Natural World for younger students, and Fitting Words - a rhetoric program for high schoolers.  I suggest checking out more reviews to get an even broader perspective of what Romans Roads Media has to offer!

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Kingdom Files Book Reviews

As a homeschooling mom, I am always on the lookout for engaging and wholesome books for my kids to read.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to review two books by Barbour Publishing that are part of the Kingdom Files series.  The Kingdom Files are a series of Bible-based biographies for 8-12 year olds written by Matt Koceich.

These books explore the life of a person from the Bible through "files" that show the person's life and how they apply to our lives today. Each book has three files:
  • FACT FILE - This is key information, such their their name, occupation, hometown, and other key facts about their work for the Kingdom
  • ACTION FILE - This is a retelling of the Biblical account of the person's life
  • POWER FILE - The main lessons of the person's life are discussed as we learn how even ancient lessons can apply to our lives today.  These are approximately two pages of discussion along with a memory verse.

Who Was Mary, Mother of God?
Emory (9) chose to read this book first.  This book starts with Mary as a young teenager, learning that she has been chosen by God to give birth to His Son.  We learn how confused and scared she must have been.  We also learn about the time that Mary lived, with small explanations given about things like the census, a young Jewish boy's preparations for a religious life, or interesting facts about different rituals and ceremonies of the time.  The Power Files includes Power-Ups like "God Gives You His Mercy" or "God is Helpful" and these are designed to show us how these truths are applicable to our own lives.

Who Was Jonah?
In this book, we learn about Jonah, the prophet who was to preach to the people of Nineveh.  We learn how Jonah was asked to step out of his comfort zone in order to obey God, but tried to choose his own path.  Of course we read about the time Jonah spent in the belly of a fish and his praying, and of his time when he finally reaches Nineveh.  Again, the author explains little tidbits of information, like the meaning of tempest or casting lots.  These are things that some children may just not know, so I like that small explanations are worked into the texts.  The Power-Up section of this book gives us lessons on obedience, not being afraid, prayer, and God's grace, among other lessons.

What did we think?
These, and the other stories in the series, are familiar stories to children who have grown up in church and learning the Bible, but familiar stories also make comforting and easy independent reads.  For children new to church and the Bible's teachings, these are a good introduction to some of the most well-known figures in Biblical history.  I also think, because of the target age range, the language and sentence structure is a bit simplistic.  Again, this makes it an easier read.  Emory could easily read through a chapter or more in a sitting.  It is almost conversational, but to me it felt a bit choppy and awkward as a read aloud.  That being said, the books are informational and interesting, and I like how they focus on real people, doing real things, living real lives for God.  I appreciate how Bible verses and references are included for support.  I also really appreciate how the author clarifies when the Bible does and doesn't specify something; he states simply "The Bible doesn't say..." and then goes on to what we do know directly from the Bible.  If you use the Power-Up sections as Bible studies, these books can go a long way for family or small group devotions.

Currently there are six books, and the others focus on Jesus, Daniel, David and Esther.  To find out more about what other crew members thought of the books about Jonah and Mary, be sure to read more reviews!

Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.