Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier

Davy Crockett unit study

Davy Crockett’s birthday is August 17 and to prepare for it we decided to learn as much as we could about him.

We started off by reading some fun books about him.  First a biography that gave the factual information.  Davy Crockett (History Maker Bios (Lerner))is a nice little book that did the job rather well, sadly our library didn’t have the David Adler book, but this one is just as much fun.


Did you know that Davy Crockett didn’t go by Davy during his lifetime?  That didn’t start until all those tall tales were printed in the 1850s.  I also was shocked to learn his father rented him out for a year as a hired hand at 12 years old.  I’m trying to imagine the 12 year olds I know doing that, YIKES.


Next we got to my favorite part of the study, the tall tales.  I checked out from our library 3 books:


Davy Crockett Saves the World, I’ve written about before, and we’ve checked out many times.  Davy Crockett saves the world from Halley’s Comet and impresses the girl, Sally Ann Thunder.


Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett, try saying that three times fast, or multiple times throughout while reading the book, I guarantee your tongue will be tied.  Is all about how SHE saved Davy Crockett and married him.


Davy Crockett Gets Hitched is how Davy met and married his wife by outdancing her.  This had Princess bouncing up and down on my lap as we read it.


practicing "somebody wanted but so"After reading the books we used a technique I learned in college called “Somebody wanted, but, so” (follow link for printable).

Here’s the one we did for “Davy Crockett Saves the World.”

Davy Crockett wanted to marry the girl, but the comet was going to destroy the world, so he beat the comet up.


It’s a great chance to review summary skills without too much writing.

hiking the great outdoors

Of course you can’t study the King of the Wild Frontier without experiencing some wildlife, so we headed off to the canyon and hiked through the woods.  We all agreed that Davy must be incredibly brave to hike through all of that land without knowing where he was going and carrying all of his gear with him.  It’s hard work hiking through a forest with a trail, just imagine without one!  I also can’t imagine hiking through a forest in leather or wool clothes.  It was hot in our shorts and t-shirts.


exploring for footprints

We tried to track animals like Davy Crockett did, but were unsuccessful.  Instead we found lots of evidence of human habitation.  It was amazing to see how much trash people had left on this trail, and we all agreed to come back with trash bags and pick it up.


I also want to come back with plaster of paris to try making molds again.


After we had treated all the bug bites and rehydrated ourselves, it was time to see if we could be as successful as Davy Crockett was with marksmanship.

Davy Crockett sharpshooting practice

Of course we’re not going to use real guns, Nerf weapons work quite well for us.


In case you’re wondering, we are not crack shots like Davy Crockett, quite the opposite.  We spent fully half out time hunting for our shots.  It’s a little hard to get pictures when you’re on your hands and knees looking for Nerf ammo.


We had a re-enactment of how Davy Crockett died at the Alamo (pictures from our earlier enactment).  Three months later the kids still talk about the terrible tragedy of the Alamo, which shows me they learned that lesson very well.



And what would a unit study on Davy Crockett be without watching the Disney movie Davy Crockett, who doesn’t want to watch that?051


We cuddled up on the couch and stayed up past their bedtime watching the movie.  The kids were quite happy.  I’ve no spent the past few days with the song stuck in my head, and Princess has been singing the three words she knows over and over again.


I would highly recommend studying Davy Crockett, it’s a fun study and a great one for young boys.




But to warn you, you might discover your child playing Davy Crockett and telling you about varmints and rascals after studying him.


It could happen to you too.


Bible: Raising of Lazarus game

All you need are a few energetic kids and some toilet paper rolls
gospel Lazarus Bible game
Oh, and a “willing” volunteer or two.  The teens at our church are such good sports.
And at the end you can cry out “Lazarus Come forth,” just like Jesus did and Lazarus can:
Lazarus emerge from the grave
Emerge from the grave!
As you can imagine this was wildly popular!
pop on over to Kids in the Word Wednesdays to see more ideas.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Science Sunday: Identifying footprints in the mud

how to identify the footprint in the mud

A few weeks ago when the kids were playing in the mud we found some footprints, or something odd in the mud.

Which led to the discussion of who could have left that.  That’s when I came up with my brilliant idea, which might or might not of ruined one of my plastic bowls.  I made a small batch of plaster of paris and poured it over the print.

plaster of paris footprint mold

But, I’d made too much, so I wandered around the yard pouring it into anything that vaguely looked like a footprint.  About 10 minutes later, thanks to the Texas heat, they were all dried up.

identifying plaster foot prints

After much discussion about the different molds we had, we decided one was Mac’s footprint, that mystery was solved.  Another was from a child’s tennis shoe, next one solved.  A third was the impression from digging in the mud with fingers.  The others we could never successfully identify.

Do you ever find unidentified footprints in your yard?  Later I found an alphabet animal footprint chart which would have been helpful at the time.




Let’s see what others did this week:

Each week I’m spotlighting a few posts that were shared previously.  Many posts get linked up later in the week and they don’t always get as many clicks as they deserve, so I’m trying to spotlight a few posts every week.


I love Homegrown Learners incorporation of music and science into one to make a water xylophone

All Things Beautiful shared part 3 of their homemade terrarium, I’m storing this away for when we study botany.

My Joy Filled Life shared their homemade rockets to go with their astronomy studies.


Kathy’s Cluttered Mind shared their bug specimen board (no bugs were harmed in the making of it).



Science Sunday button

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Games: Lego Hogwarts game

Lego Hogwarts review

Last year for my birthday one of the kids gave me “ ,” and they were very proud of it.  The set up is relatively simple if you’re used to putting together Lego sets, it’s the play that can get complicated.

Lego Hogwarts game for young kids

When it is your turn you roll the dice and then either slide parts of the board, rotate, or use the Marauders map to move through walls.

Your goal?  To be the first person to gather all of the homework that you’ve left around the castle and get back home.


Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts game review

Once the game is set up the play is about 30-45 minutes long.  Which means it can be a little long for the attention span of Princess, but the boys enjoy playing it.

013 (3)

It’s a lot of fun to gather the supplies and try to figure out how to best manipulate the board to suit your goals.


That being said, it’s also frustrating to almost be to a room, and then have the board completely change on you.


On the scale of chance versus strategy, this game is further towards strategy.  You also need to be good with spatial awareness and thinking through a few steps ahead.  All good skills to be learning.


If you like the idea of Lego games, but this seems a little long for your kids’ attention span, then I’d suggest some of their smaller games, we really enjoyed the Monster one, it’s a variation on tic tac toe.  That has very quick game play, and I’m sure I’ll be writing more detail about it later.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bible craft: David and Jonathan

popsicle stick bow and arrows
One of my favorite stories of friendship in the Bible is the story of David and Jonathan.  Jonathan’s father, King Saul, started off treating David as a son, but as he became more jealous he chose to try and kill him.
In the story, Jonathan promises to find out his father’s plans and then let David know by firing arrows into a field.  They set up a code, and Jonathan goes to get the news from his Dad.  Sadly, he finds out that David needs to run.  After reading the story, we decided to make our own bows and arrows.
On my 1 and 2 Samuel pinterest board, I have a link to make a bow out of a popsicle stick.  I followed the directions pretty closely, with one major adaptation.
supplies for popsicle stick bow
The instructions are well described on the original blog post, so I’m not going to say too much here.

The main thing I would add is to carefully and slowly bend the sticks.  It doesn’t take much to make a “good bow,” but it is very easy to splinter them even after soaking for hours.
popsicle stick bow
** I categorized this as a Mommy craft because my kids do not yet have the dexterity/fine motor control to make this.  Upper elementary kids might be able to do this.
linking up to Kids in the Word Wednesdays

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Craft Fail: Make a castle

It's about the process not the product

I could have sworn I’d seen this at Almost Unschoolers, but after searching for along time, I can definitely say it’s not there.

SUPPLIES: empty oatmeal carton or lemonade carton, contact paper, cardboard, sharp knife

oatmeal carton castle step 1

1.  Trace the bottom of the can to make a floor.  You know, so it can be a two-story tower……



2.  Trace out the circle on your stone patterned contact paper.



2b.  Stop and make a pipe cleaner mustache.


decorating outmeal castle

3.  And then here’s where it went horribly wrong.  Why?


A.  I didn’t clean out the inside of the silly container.  Yes, stupid I know.  So there was a fine layer of lemonade dust, so the contact paper didn’t stick.  Second, contact paper doesn’t stick super well on smooth surfaces.

B.  Poor measuring and application of the contact paper.

C.  Bad planning to put the floor inside.  I thought it would just stay up with contact paper, it did, kind of.  Not at all.


reuse oatmeal containers as castles

But the girls had fun decorating it, and that’s what counts right?


oatmeal container castle

I still have a few more left, so I think that will be my entry for the Craft Wars challenge the kids and I have going on.


Why am I sharing this?  Because I want to make sure everyone knows, not everything turns out the way you want.  And that’s okay, it’s the experience that matters sometimes.  At the end of the craft, I had two happy girls who played with these things.  They didn’t care that it wasn’t a super cute craft.


linking up over at All Things Beautiful’s Summer Learning.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Childhood to do list: play in the mud

Childhood to do list play in the mud

I’m sure it doesn’t surprise any of you that we’ve had some mud recently.  Not after our flooding last week.  Actually my kids have managed to find mud for a while, there’s a little bit after the sprinklers are done.


insect mud homesinsect homes

They started off making mud homes for the various insects and worms they’d found.  Apparently insects like to live in mud structures attached to stone walls.


mud castleshowing off his Star Wars mud sculputres

It progressed to mud sculptures on our outside table.  Featured here are Princess’ mud castle, and Batman’s (though, it’s Superman’s shirt) mud creation.  I may be wrong on that being Batman.  Maybe.


Can you guess which Star Wars Clone Wars characters are modeled here?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Science Sunday: making a dam


As I mentioned earlier this week, we had a lot of rain, and our backyard flooded.  Jeff and I took that as an opportunity to teach the boys some engineering.  We challenged them to create a dam to stop some of the water.
045white waters in the flood
Some of the challenges were the white waters in the stream, and the water flow was rapid enough to take away many of the building materials they could create.

problem solving how to build a dam
They started by weighing down the big bucket with some rocks, then they remembered the huge pile of bricks in our backyard, but transporting them one by one is tedious and boring.

problem solving how to move heavy things
But a wagon……..  That’s easy and you get the amusement of pulling it through the water.
Eventually this is what they came up with.  It’s an odd combination of bricks, buckets, watering cans, and what have you, but it raised the water level on the upstream side about 6 inches, and the downstream side was significantly lower.

All in all a good spur of the moment engineering lesson.
Let’s see what others did this week:
Each week I’m spotlighting a few posts that were shared previously.  Many posts get linked up later in the week and they don’t always get as many clicks as they deserve, so I’m trying to spotlight a few every week.
Over at All Things Beautiful Phyllis shared how to make a terrarium.  I can’t wait to see updates on it and what happened to it.
Homeschool Discoveries shared why sodas explode in the freezer, it was a fun read and I know I’ve left a soda or two in too long while trying to instantly freeze it, and SUPER kudos for using Dr Pepper.

I loved how Teaching Stars used bubbles to explain nuclear fusion.  BRILLIANT

Science Sunday button
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