Monday, October 31, 2016

52 Lists {playing catch-up}

Sooo, I got a little behind!  There was a "grace week," and since I was caught up, I didn't need to write a list.  Then the last week has been busy with church functions, Emory's baptism, dinner with new friends, plus co-op and regular life . . . so now I really am playing catch up.  Isn't that how it always works?

The week I missed was Things We Do When We Are Sick, which is easy, because it's pretty simple, but I've made it this far, so I'm including this list!
   ~ Prepare a sick zone for the sick kiddo(s) to rest
   ~ Stock up on any necessary supplies (tissues, safe foods, etc)
   ~ Clean, sanitize and try to keep up with extra laundry
   ~ Wait it out and pray for illness to quickly run it's course and not spread through the family

Now, the current list is quite interesting.  Conversational Favorites!


Favorite Color ~ Blues
Favorite Season ~ Autumn.  The cooler weather, the changing leaves . . . perfection!
Favorite Holiday ~ Christmas
Favorite Bible verse ~ Romans 5:8 
Favorite Flower ~ nothing particular

Either / Or

Bath or Shower - shower! 
Coffee, Tea or Cocoa - sweet tea
Mountains or Beach - Mountains for vacation; the beach is just okay for me
Vintage or Modern - I think that depends??
Movie or Book - books, then the movie
Store Bought or Handmade - I like handmade, but I'm not crafty 
Meats or Veggies or both - both
Homebody or Social Butterfly - Homebody.  I don't mind outings, but I'm an introvert and need my downtime
Creature of Habit or Spur of the Moment - Creature of Habit!
Picnic or Restaurant - picnic with kids so they can run and play!

What are YOUR favorites?

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 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, October 18, 2016

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury {TOS Review}

One perk of being on the Homeschool Review Crew is that I get to review for companies I might not find on my own.  The Familyan is one such company.  Todd Wilson is a homeschool father of eight, author, speaker, and former pastor.  He started Familyman Ministries as a way to reach out to fathers and remind them of what is most important.  Even though the mission targets fathers, The Familyman still has encouragement and products for everyone.  Recently we were given the opportunity to review The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection.  These are original Christmas stories that are engaging, without confusing truths with myths.  They also come in book form.
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
The audio collection includes six CDs with one story each, but as part of the review we received the Digital Downloads of all eight stories, and I received one of the stories on CD as well!  Even though it wasn't quite the Christmas season when these arrived, my family loves audio books and it was a fun little way to get us in the Christmas spirit.

Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster
Cootie McKay's Nativity
The Stranger
The Bishop's Dream
Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
Gladys Remembers Christmas
The Secret of the Snow Village
It's Called Christmas

The stories are all written by Todd Wilson.  The audio versions are read by Jim Hodges, who is a master storyteller in his own right, and one we've enjoyed in the past.

We received The Bishop's Dream on CD, so the kids listened to that one first while I was busy downloading the digital files and taking care of the toddler.  We've been listening to the others during lunch.  Food {usually} keep little mouths quiet so everyone can hear, and a story {usually} keeps little bodies still so they can concentrate, so this works well for us when we don't want to wait for the next car trip to listen to a story.

Though I have four kids, it was mostly the 7 and 9 year old boys that I targeted with these stories, since the girls are only 1 and 3.  Overall, I found the stories acceptable for all ages.  We found the stories interesting and engaging.  They are rather short, ranging anywhere from about 13 minutes to about 30 minutes.  I find this ideal for their ages.

The stories have a wide range of depth to them, and the story lines are vastly different from one book to the next, with very different approaches.  While some stories are silly, and some are more serious, they all explore the truth of Christmas.  For instance, The Bishop's Dream was about St. Nicholas, and had a very traditional ("Christmas play") feel to it.  However, when we listened to Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest, you have this image of a grumpy old man and walk through his transformation, and it kind of had that sentimental Hallmark movie feeling.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Captain Chaos the toy blasting away the manger and eliminating Christmas altogether, and a story like It's Called Christmas, which talks about colonizing Mars and sending messages from the future.  What boy wouldn't be immediately drawn into stories like these?  I feel like Todd Wilson has done a superb job writing to different audiences, capturing a range of emotions for both the young and young at heart.

It's hard to find new Christmas stories that aren't twaddle, but these are well written, and the audio versions are engaging.  Overall, we liked the stories, and I like that we have new Christmas stories to add to our collection.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Make Tasty Dinners Quickly with MyFreezEasy {Review}

Confession . . .

I'm a terrible meal planner.  I'm that person, that at least once a week, becomes frantic about half an hour before it's time to start cooking dinner, because I realize I don't have anything planned for dinner.  Truth is, I usually have a general plan in my head, but there's always that day I forget to defrost meat, or we have to hurry out the door for church, or we get home from co-op and I'm exhuasted and don't want to cook.  You know . . . there's always something.  It's hard to balance homeschooling, a clean house and healthy meals all in one day, so when I was given a Freezer Meal Plan Subscription, I didn't know if I should be worried or optimistic.  Erin Chase, creator of $5Dinners, created MyFreezEasy as a way to provide a freezer cooking strategy for busy parents to get delicious meals in the freezer and ready for those busy days! Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

Another truth?  I don't particularly love to cook.  My husband finds baking a stress reliever.  Not me.  I love trying new recipes, but I cook because I have a family to feed, not particularly because I enjoy it.  I was already familiar with freezer cooking, and had dabbled in it minimally (usually right before a baby was born), but the idea of MyFreezEasy was a little intimidating.  It basically meant I'd have to go through recipes, and lists, and prep TEN meals at one time.  Yet . . I liked the idea of prepping several meals in nearly the same time that it would normally take me to make just one.  I got especially dreamy-eyed thinking about busy nights, and having the ability to just whip out a no-prep, minimal clean-up meal, and still being able to get out the door on time.  Wednesdays, I'm looking at you.

MyFreezEasy can be used in multiple ways with the Premium Annual Membership, which is what I am reviewing.  The quickest, easiest way to use it is to download the new monthly meal plans each month, do your shopping and prep your meals.  Each month there are eight (8) different meal plans to choose from:
  • Traditional Meal Plan
  • Gluten-Free Meal Plan
  • Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Clean Eats Meal Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan
  • All Chicken Meal Plan
  • All Ground Beef Meal Plan
  • All Pork Chops Meal Plan
Most of the meal plans are designed to create 5 recipes, twice each, for a total of 10 prepared meals.  The "all meat" plans are available if you are taking advantage of a great sale on a specific meat and want to combine the sale with these time saving techniques.  The 20 meal plan contains 10 recipes, which gives you a total of 20 prepared meals.

You can also choose to Swap a Meal.  So if you like most of the recipes in a meal plan, but perhaps one won't work for your family, you can choose the Swap option, follow the step-by-step directions, and it will allow you to substitute in another recipe that better suits your needs.  

The third major way to use this website is the Build a Menu option.  You can create a completely customized meal plan for your family from all available recipes.  This is a drag-and-drop template, so not too difficult to use.

The supplies needed are simple.  You'll either need freezer bags or the disposable trays, but everything is listed out in the meal plan.  If you don't want to print the labels, I'd suggest a fine point sharpie for writing the date and cooking instructions on the baggie.

When I first got access to the subscription, we had already done our grocery shopping, so I decided to do the Build Your Own Meal Plan, so that I could choose recipes that utilized the ingredients we already had on hand.  It generated a custom meal plan for me.

Now, here's what makes MyFreezEasy awesome.  Once you choose (or create) a meal plan, you'll have a full PDF file of recipes, various styles of shopping lists, and assembly instructions.  The instructions are designed to help you move through the prep time as quickly and efficiently as possible.  So perhaps you'll start browning meat for one recipe, then chop veggies, drain the ground beef, brown/season more meat, open any canned products, chop more veggies, etc . . .

 I did make sure to organize all my ingredients and supplies in stations, as suggested.  I left the instructions pulled up on the computer on the far counter.  (I don't like papers everywhere, so if you're like me, you might consider pulling up the shopping lists on a mobile device too.)

The prep and assembly instructions tell you exact how much of each ingredient to put in each freezer bag or disposable baking dish.  There are printable labels that give any final cooking instructions, and if you print them on address labels, you just peel and stick to the baggies.  Just another user-friendly element!  Visual learners will probably appreciate that there are videos online for the meal plans.

So . . . what do we think?
I noticed there are a lot of versions of traditional meals, especially chili and tacos/nachos.  I don't think this is a problem though, because having a variation of a base meal can be good for families with "picky eaters," or in my case, it would have been great to have a few alternatives for Taco Tuesdays when my kids were still in that phase.

I really like that most recipes don't require any real work to cook.  You defrost, and then put it in the slow cooker, a large pot or bake it off in the oven.  Most of the work is preparing a side/accompanying dish, or the toppings for some meals.   There are side dish suggestions--usually fruit, rolls, salad or a generic "vegetables" so you can do whatever you like.  I just do whatever works for us with that meal that night.  I've even cooked some of the slow cooker recipes in the pressure cooker when I don't defrost a recipe until late in the day.  We did the slow cooker taco soup this way, and it turned out just fine!  If you're hesitant about making duplicates of a recipe before trying it, you can see the single meal option and try it out first before using it in a freezer meal plan.  We've done this a few times too.

So far we have liked most of the recipes.  The slow cooker chicken cacciatore reminded me of a recipe my aunt used to make me all the time, and the husband and I really liked it.  The kids thought Frito Pie sounded neat, so we decided to try it out.  It was easy to tweak for our preferences based on what I had on hand, since I prepared it on a whim one night, and although I won't use chips in dinner often, it was a fun treat for them.

Taco Soup, Chicken Cacciatore, Frito Pie

Overall, I really feel like MyFreezEasy delivers on its promise.  The meal plans are easy to follow, the meals are good, and the work involved for actually cooking and cleaning up after dinner is very minimal.  I also love that the recipes are regular foods that regular families eat, with normal ingredients that most families probably already use.  Only occasionally did I see something something "extra" that I wouldn't normally have on hand or buy.  Nothing too fancy, exotic or crazy.  I said I like trying new recipes, but that's just for variety--my family falls squarely between picky and adventurous eaters, with my 9 year old being the most willing to try new things, so I like to slowly branch out with new recipes to get them eating a lot of variety.  My plan, hopefully, is to start taking one Saturday morning a month and prepping 10 recipes at a time, giving me 20 meals in the freezer--unless I save one out for dinner that night, but 19 meals is still nearly a month of easy meals!

Having a stocked freezer saves on "pick up a pizza" phone calls, or the last minute rush for a quick dinner.  If you have a membership and know a new mom, or maybe someone who's had surgery or an elderly person who doesn't get around the kitchen well anymore, or someone who's lost a loved one recently, preparing some of these freezer meals may be just the blessing they need.  I was also thinking it would be great for part of a home economics or cooking class for teenagers.  For my family, it's a great way to fill that "What's for dinner!?" void on a weekly basis! Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

52 Lists: Our Daily Routine

This week's list was Our Daily Routine.  It's interesting, because although we have a good routine when we're home, our days are drastically different on days we leave the house.  Obviously, weekends don't follow this routine since husband's home, there's no school and Sundays are completely different.  Wednesday evenings are different and bedtimes harder since we get home late, and now that we've started co-op, we'll have another day that doesn't follow routine either since we're out of the house most of the day.

These times are all estimates:  

7:30 AM- Cry internally as my early birds wake me up.  I'm not a morning person, and one of those early birds still doesn't sleep through the night, so I don't set an alarm unless we have to be somewhere relatively early.

8:00 AM - Husband is off to work by now, so it's on to my morning routine and making breakfast.

9:00 AM - Kids back upstairs to make beds, get dressed, brush teeth . . . then they have free time while I clean breakfast dishes, work on laundry, check emails, and just kind of mentally prep for anything that needs to be done for the day.

10-12ish - Quick snack, then this is the bulk of our school time.  The order of our subjects may change depending on the toddler's nap schedule, because some subjects are easier to do when she's asleep. On co-op days, we'll be heading out the door right before 10:00 and will be gone until close to 3:00 PM.  

12:30ish - 1:30 PM- Lunch Hour.  I often read something out loud.  Then I tidy the kitchen and eat a quick lunch, while they have a little free time.

2:00 PM - We finish up any school work leftover from the morning block, and then study for AWANA, do poetry memorization, sometimes a project.  It varies.  Sometimes one, or both, of the girls will take an afternoon nap.

3:00 PM - We're usually finished with school by now, so we clean downstairs, then have quiet and/or free time.

5:00 PM - I usually head into the kitchen to start preparing dinner.  As long as the house is tidied up, the kids have free time while I cook.  After dinner is dishes, tidying up, then some downtime.  We might watch a show together, go for a walk or to the park . . . just depends.  Except Wednesdays, where I'm mad dashing to get everyone fed, dressed and out the door for AWANA.

7:00 PM - Start winding down for bath/bed time

8:00 PM - Kiddos in bed, though the boys are allowed to have quiet time before lights out.  Wednesday bedtimes run a little late.  The husband and I usually talk, do laundry, or watch TV until we go to bed.

9:00 PM - Husband and I talk, do laundry, clean if necessary, watch television or a movie, until we go to bed.  Wednesdays are exhausting, and we usually just binge watch TV for awhile.

Obviously, those times are estimates.  You can't really schedule diaper changes, walking the dogs, cranky toddler meltdowns, or the other everyday happenings.  However, it gives you a general idea as to our routine on a "regular" day.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 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, October 5, 2016

Journey through History with Children's Books {review}

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience.  

It's no secret that I'm a fan of utilizing quality books in our homeschool.  We are a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool after all, so we incorporate living books full time around here.  Recently we were given the opportunity to review a new history series brought to you by Carole P. Roman and  Her series offers children the perfect opportunity to see what their life would would be like if they lived in another time in history.

This history series is an Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time, and highlights one major time period per book.  These are the four titles we received:

This was a fun review, because we were given the opportunity to request two titles, and we would be sent two "surprise" titles.  I specifically requested Colonial America, because we're studying Early American History this year, and both boys requested Middle Ages.  The other two were our surprise titles.  Other time periods in the series include Renaissance Italy, Ancient China: The Han Dynasty, The American West, and Viking Europe.

The premise of these books is that children are introduced to a different civilization in history by a child close in age.  The books open with a picture of the location in present day compared to what it might have looked like during the time period in focus, and asks the reader to compare them.  Then the narrator takes the reader back in time, teaching them about life and culture from the perspective of a child by describing their house, the occupations of family members, famous people of the time, education and more.  The helps children to almost see the time period through their own eyes and better identify with how their life would have looked if they had lived then.

As soon I read the title, Elliott stopped me and asked, "Wait, like the If You Were Me . . . books from around the world?"  I realized that I hadn't mentioned the actual titles of the books when we were selecting the time periods, I just asked for their preference.  He made the connection immediately though.  We have previously reviewed Mexico, France, South Korea and Norway, as well as Australia, Russia and Portugal.  We love, love, loved those geography books, and have bought some on our own, so I was really excited about adding this new series to our history collection!

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

I decided to start with If You Were Me and Lived in . . . The Middle Ages because both boys requested it, and we haven't formally studied this time period in-depth yet.  I knew it would make a great read-aloud for lunch time.  This book starts us out in the year 1072, learning what our life would be like as a girl named Aalis.  Our father came into England as part of William of Normandy's army, and was given land.  We learned how this land was used, how the house (a mott and bailey castle) was built, and how the different rooms were used.  My boys were a little grossed out by the description of the garter robe and how it emptied into the moat!  We read about the food we would have eaten and the clothes worn.  I really appreciated how all of these things were compared between "our" family who was considered wealthy, and that of the farmers or peasants.  We learned about the process of becoming a knight, the classes of society and the importance of religion, as well as money, education/schooling and entertainment.  My boys were shocked to learn that only priests were allowed to read the Bible, and that only boys were educated.

This book, at 97 pages, is fairly long compared to the others.  The primary part of the book actually ends at page 79, but continues with a section called Famous People of the Middle Ages, where it gives very short snippets of information about people like William the Conqueror-William I, Joan of Arc, Bede, Charlemagne, and others.  It ends with a Glossary.

I usually read several pages a day during lunch over a couple weeks.  You better believe it was jam-packed with information, because that's just such a dynamic time period to try to fit into a children's book.  There were so many facts, I know the children were missing things here and there, but honestly, we are reading this for exposure right now.  We've read other books about castles and knights and such, but since we aren't actually studying this time period right now, I don't expect them to master the material yet.  We'll definitely be using this book again though when we study Medieval History in depth.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

I decided that our second book in the series would actually be Elizabethan England.  Even though it was a "surprise" title, it would make a good bridge between the Middle Ages and the Colonial America book.  I somehow managed to time it perfectly to go along with the very beginning of our history study on Pilgrims, as it would help show the life of people leading up to this time period, and because it ends with a discussion of how the people of England were expected to follow the religious preferences of the ruling monarch, which is where our study was starting.  The book, like others in the series, takes you through England as a child, exploring the occupations of your family members, names of children and siblings, the clothing they would wear, and the recreational activities they enjoyed.  Famous leaders and cultural influences like Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare were discussed.

This book was considerably shorter, about half the size of the Middle Ages, so it didn't take us as long to finish.  It was still full of interesting information, and the boys were again grossed out by the habit of throwing trash and waste out of windows.  Even though she is presenting facts, Roman knows how to appeal to the humor of boys, that's for sure!

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
This book was requested because we are studying Early American History this year.  It begins with an explanation as to why the colonists left England, the hardships they faced, (pleasant) interactions with Native Americans, the feast that became Thanksgiving, and ended with the life of children in the colony.  The book is 53 pages, with a few additional pages of famous people from the eastern colonies and a glossary.  I really appreciate that even though Roman included Pocahontas, she didn't call her a "princess," and she stated that the story of her saving John Smith is debated.  Most children's books include these things as absolute fact, but the author presented it with a more neutral position.

We just started studying the Pilgrims, but we're still in the years of Holland, and this book focuses on their time in America, so I decided we're going to use this book as a summary towards the end of our study.  It will make a great review for us, and because of her format of exploring history through a child's life, it will probably include interesting tidbits we won't cover in our curriculum.  However, it would also make a great introduction to colonial life too.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

The final book we received follows the same basic pattern as the others.  Ancient Greece starts with a two page illustration of current Greece, followed by what Greece might have looked like in 350 B.C, and we're asked to find the differences.  We still learn about common names, how the houses were built, what your diet would have been, how girls and boys were educated differently, the clothing people wore, the importance of a man's beard, and other interesting facts about traditional lifestyles.  This book is slightly different though, because it gets to talk about how Ancient Greece helped form the foundation for much of western society, and we learn a little about the history of democracies and the origin of the Olympics.  It still has a glossary, but instead of a section about famous people, it has a section of gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece.  They're also mentioned throughout the book whenever they influenced a way of life.


All of the books in this series are longer and meatier than the original geography series.  Sometimes there is a lot of text on one page, and it looks crowded for a children's picture book, but the information is interesting.  It's understandable that facts have to be packed in, when trying to condense an entire time period into a children's book.

The books have various illustrators.  Two of ours were illustrated by Marteya Arkova, one by Paula Tabor, and one by Sarah Wright.  So even though they are part of a series, the illustrations vary greatly and you may find preference for one style over another.  Some of the books had black text on white backgrounds, which I preferred to the colored backgrounds, because it's visually "cleaner" to me.

Overall, my family really enjoys these books.  My boys are 7 and 9 and both have learned a lot so far!  I think they're great for elementary into early middle school to either introduce or review a time period.  You could even use them as the basis for a unit study.  They are funny and factual, and interesting to read together as a family, and I do recommend them.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
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©2011-2016 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, October 4, 2016

52 Lists: Family Traditions & Wist Lists

I got a little behind!  Things have been busy with school, visiting family and we just joined a new co-op!  So much fun, but I'll share more on that stuff later.  On to the two most recent lists!

Family Traditions

When it comes to traditions, we don't have a lot, but I do hope we're passing on special memories.  Here are a few that come to mind.

  • Birthdays ~ Birthday person gets to choose the meals on their special day. If the party is on the weekend after the actual birthday, we still do a small batch of cupcakes on their actual birthday.  (Or husband does cheesecake or pumpkin roll for my birthday!  :)
  • Friday Night Fun ~ The kids love staying up "late" and having movie night.  We don't do it every single week, but it's still fun to do a picnic in the living room floor or pop popcorn for a family movie.
  • Christmas Pajamas ~  I love to take a picture in front of the tree with the kids in their Christmas jammies.  
  • Christmas Books ~ I must read Christmas books all season long.  I do a mix of classic (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) and newer stories that look appealing.
  • Hayride ~ Every fall, the extended family gets together for a bonfire and hayride, and there's chili and potato soup and s'mores and lots of fun!
  • Seasonal/Holiday Decorating ~ My husband loves to decorate for fall and Christmas, and always makes a big deal out of this to get the kids involved.
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center  ~ We've done this just about every time we've visited Georgia since it opened, so the kids have decided among themselves that this must become a tradition.

My Wish List

It feels strange to write out a wishlist.  There's not much I really need, and I'm that person that just shrugs if you ask me what I want.  I've always felt selfish saying "I want this," and as an adult, I would rather the money be put to a more practical use.  However, if I had to make a list.  
  • Gift cards to favorite clothing stores ~ then I could buy clothes here and there as I want
  • Amazon gift cards ~ I already mentioned they're one of my favorite places to shop.  
  • Family Gifts ~ The practical side of me would love "family" gifts like a membership to a museum or science center or zoo.  Experiences, rather than more stuff.  
  • A trusted babysitter ~ We don't have any close family around right now, so Date Nights are non-existent
  • More time with my family ~ I live 10 hours from most of my family, so I'd love more trips to see them or for them to be able to visit me more often

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 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.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Beautiful Feet Books: Pocahontas and Jamestown

This post contains affiliate links.

After studying explorers, we moved on to the early settlements with Beautiful Feet Books.  I'm a little behind with sharing this unit, but we've just been busy with school and life.  I did mention Roanoke briefly, but our curriculum focused on Jamestown for this portion of our study.

Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire

This book is used in both the Primary and Intermediate curriculum, and Beautiful Feet Books lists it as 1st-6th grade reading level.  The D'Aulaire biographies seem to be very popular among homeschoolers, though this curriculum has been our first real experience with them.

The boys seemed to like the book.  I did point out that Pocahontas was not a "princess" as we know the term.  I brought this up because it's basically presented as fact, and I didn't want to mislead the kids.  This wasn't something I was taught in schools, nor could I find any children's books that avoided the princess myth in a cursory search to go along with our study, so I just kind of summarized what I'd learned.  My minimal research from Native American sources online show that Native Americans were primarily egalitarian or democratic, yet the English assigned their familiar social structure of royal hierarchy to the tribes. So if they recognized Powhatan as a great leader (Chief/King) that would have made his daughter a "princess" to the Europeans.

In their notebooks, the boys chose not to write that she was a princess.  Emory just labeled the picture for that exercise with their names.  Elliott wrote that she was the daughter of Chief Powhatan, and about how her name means Play, which is what the book said.  (I've found various translations for her nickname, and shared these with the boys:  naughty one, spoiled child, little wanton and playful one.)

We also talked about the alleged saving of John Smith, and how this story is debated.  I told them it's hard to know much about Pocahontas and what is true, embellished or false, because we do not have her story in her own words.  I reminded the kids that it is important to look at history from different perspectives and to draw conclusions based on as much information as possible.  Elliott seems really interested in learning about these discrepancies, so I'm trying to stay one step ahead of the kids when I plan and research.

Instead of the map activity in the guide, we added John Smith's map of Virginia, along with pictures of the etchings of Pocahontas and John Smith.  I didn't want them stuck with only cartoon images in their mind.  In hindsight, I don't know why we didn't include John Rolfe as well.

Interesting Links
Indian Chiefs
The True Story of Pocahontas as NOT told by Disney
The Pocahontas Myth {Statement from the Powhatan Renape Nation}

James E. Knight

This historical fiction book presents the founding of Jamestown from the perspective of a settler, through his personal journal, which is being read aloud by his daughter to his grandchildren.  My boys have seemed to enjoy all of the books so far, but I was actually glad to switch to a book by a different author.  It was just refreshing to read a book with a different tone and pace, and I also really liked the simple illustrations.

The book was spread out over four short readings, so it didn't take us long to get through it.  This is listed as a K-3 reading level on Beautiful Feet Books, but it was great for both boys (2nd/4th) and they both found it very interesting, particularly the part about the starving year and how they ate non-food items.  {For reference, it did not go into cannibalism, though the Columbus book from the last unit very briefly mentions it in passing.  I know different children have different sensitivity levels--this book does, however, mention deaths from starvation, disease and conflicts with Natives.}

When I saw that John Smith's coat of arms was discussed in the manual, I printed a small version of it for the boys to add to their notebooks.  Of course, that lead to "Why did he have a coat of arms?" questions for us to research.  Then we did this Make Your Coat of Arms app, which the kids enjoyed.  I printed them for their notebooks, and the printed versions included information about the images/virtues they chose.

Yes, one kid got a little silly with his.

After we finished reading the book, the boys took turns recreating their own Jamestown Settlement at History Globe (I found this link courtesy of A Story in Time, who also has a great series on this curriculum) and the boys loved this activity.

You make decisions on where to settle, how to interact with the Natives, what crops to plant, and so on.  At the end, you'll get your results and see how your colony fared.  Elliott went first and did Fair overall.  Emory went second and did Good, and was even promoted to Governor of Virginia.  Elliott went again just to see how the different choices would affect his colony, and managed to kill off most of his colony and get fired!  Emory finally got an "Excellent" rating on one of his.  I only printed the first results for their notebooks.  It was actually a really neat activity.

One day during lunch/break we watched some Discovering Jamestown Videos.

At this point, there was a lesson that asked us to have the students write a report about the leading figures in Jamestown, the importance of the colony, etc. and then immediately went into the next book about pilgrims.  I decided to break that last lesson up and save the Pilgrims book for the beginning of our next unit.  We spent two days working on our reports.  On the first day, I had Elliott type his rough draft up on the computer.  The next day I helped him edit for spelling, grammar and clarity.  I let Emory dictate his to me.  Elliott's report focused mostly on John Smith, while Emory's was a mixture of Smith and Pocahontas.  We haven't worked on narration as much as I would like in the past, but I'm hoping to use these books, the discussion questions, and the occasional "report" prompts to really move forward in this area.


I've been slowly listening to the Read Aloud Revival podcast from the beginning, and let me tell you...she has wonderful speakers and educators on there, and it's been so enriching.  I finally decided to just skip ahead and listen to the episode Reading Aloud for History, Rea Berg.  It was so interesting to hear how the curriculum started and what influenced her has a homeschool parent, and how we can nurture our children.  It was just very encouraging!

More Early American History on the blog
Early American History Explorers
Early American History - Gathering Resources
Early American History the Planning Stages

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