Monday, 30 September 2013

Canadian craft project

The kids and I are studying Canada this month and are completing the Amanda Bennett's Canada unit.  We are learning lots about our neighbors to the North and one day hope to cross the border to visit in person.  My husband and I have both travelled to Canada but not with the children so it is on our must do list.

While browsing around looking up craft activities, which were mostly of the Maple leaf or of animals of Canada we read about the Inukshuk stone statues and thought that would be a perfect craft for our studies.  I have since looked on the web and there are tons of pictures of these unique art forms.   We got to work to learn more about them and how to create some for our school room.

Inukshuk,  traditional meanings means "Someone was here" or "you are on the right path."  The arrangement of the stones determines the meaning or purpose of the marker.  A stone work with arms or legs could mean the direction for navigation, or a passageway.  An Inukshuk without arms or with antlers can mean a cache of food is nearby for wary travelers. Still others can represent places of power or higher spiritual beings.

We took an hour one afternoon to go hunting for  rocks.  Actually we were able to get some science in here as well as the kids were very interested in the type of rocks we were finding.  After dinner that night the kids excitedly showed Daddy their finds and tried to identify whether they were igneous, metaphoric or sedimentary rocks.

We thoroughly washed our stones and set them out to dry.

It was a bit difficult to stack them without the stones falling so I got out my trusty glue gun and we glued the rocks in place.

MarioFan's creation which he said represented a place for  a cache of food in the arctic.

Firedrake's turn

She said hers represents a higher being or spiritual omen

Mine attempt which is a human form called a inunnguaq.  I had trouble keeping it upright so I  put a couple of little stones behind it to prop it out. 
I found an old tile in our basement that I thought had a slate look to it and glue all three statues to it and it is now in a place of honor in our classroom.

While making these the kids remember the Vancouver winter Olympics 2010 mascot was a Inukshuk.  Both announced they want to see a real one someday.  I thought this was a great craft for older children to make:)

Friday, 27 September 2013

Learning about Missouri

While camping we visited the city of Cape Girardeau and learned a few things about the state of Missouri just by taking a walk along the river:)  No matter where you are you can always learn something.  It was a gorgeous day and I hope these simple memories stay with my children as they grow.

On an overlook on the Missouri side of the river looking across  to the state of Illinois and watching the barges going down the river.  Some of them were huge and it made us wonder how you steer something so big:)

flood gates to the city of Cape Girardeau
The river has flooded many times and we saw just how how it can get 

Along the river wall were murals of Missouri history -- picture of  the Trail of Tears, the Indians had to stop near here to rest over the cold winter until it was safe to cross the river.  Many Indians died.  

President Taft's Visit to the area in 1909.  There was history plaques along the wall so we could read about each of the pictures.  It reminded me of a giant time line of the state of Missouri's history.

There have been several major flood in the area, if I recalled correctly the largest being in the 1920's which was when the idea of building dikes and the wall began although not officially completed until the late 1960's

Also along the wall were pictures and stories of  Missouri famous people like Samuel Clemens, Yogi Bear and Calamity Jane just to name a few.   It was fun to read about them, and some I didn't know came from the Missouri area

Learning about the state animal which is the mule and during WWI provided the troops with over 80% of the mules  needed.

state bird and flower
We learned tons just by walking and reading the informational plaques about the state we are living in.  It was a beautiful day and the kids got a tiny bit of education as well without even realizing it:)  Plus the murals were so pretty to look at.

My husband had heard of a Missouri landmark restaurant that wasn't too far away.  We took a leisurely driveand found a great restaurant that my kids have now declared their favorite!

At this restaurant they are known for throwing their bread rolls at customers to catch and then eat:)  Kids loved it!!!!

Waiters also walked around serving things like apple butter , fried okra and southern black eyed peas, which we all tried and like.  

It is always fun at the end of a busy day to sit by the fire and roast s'mores:) and relax and talk as a family.

Firedrake finding her first live cicada, which we had been hearing all weekend.
If you want to see a cool picture of a cicada coming out of its shell visit my friend Tracy's blog here!  So neat to have capture that moment.  What a wonderful learning moment with her kids.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Trail of Tears

I just have to say we are loving our RV.  We went camping this past weekend and as a family we all commented on how nice it is to hit the road and go see new things without worrying about finding hotels.  We stop at a camp site in Cape Girardeau and visited the Trail of Tears center, there are several different centers along the trail in several states.  I must admit I have little little knowledge of this period of US history so we learned a great deal.  The center had an excellent movie that we watch giving us the basic history.  I will be researching this part of our history and presenting it to the children.

We are really enjoying camping at Missouri state parks, lots of space and not too crowded.

Watching the 20 minute film at the center -- we learned that during this period many Cherokee were considered Christian and living like Europeans in farm houses, attending schools and there were even very affluent families that owned slaves.

Learning about Sequoyah who created the 86 letter alphabet for the Cherokee nation

we read that it was very easy to learn and once the alphabet was created the Cherokee had their own newspaper called the Phoenix rising and the Cherokee even had their own constitution!

There were many reasons why the mass exodus happened, finding gold didn't help.   I was most surprised to find out that the Cherokees won a supreme court battle to remain on their lands only to have President Andrew Jackson refused to uphold the law and that he willingly went against the Supreme court.

16000 Indians were forcibly removed from their homes and forced to relocate.  They weren't paid for their homes or any of the possessions that they left behind.  It is shameful that there were "white" people" just waiting outside the Indians homes ready to move in.  Many died along the trail and we heard many horror stories of the conditions of the trail and the cruelness of the army.  But we also heard several stories of people trying to help the indians as not everyone was in favor of what was being done to the Cherokee Indians.  At one point the Cherokees realizing they could not stop what was happening, they decided to lead the the mass exodus themselves, with the army's approval.  Thus improving the conditions of the move only slightly.

What a family might of had along the route.  

A map of the various routes taken to get to their final destination. 

Once the Indians arrived the US govt had promised to supply them with food and supplies to build homes and communities only to provide food that was spoilt and wood that was rotten.  Despite this the Indians were able to build up their communities and survive and even thrive in their new home.  

This story particularly hit Firedrake hard and we had a great discussion with the kids on this period of history.
While at the visitor center I purchased this book about this and plan to read it and gather more insights on this horrendous part of our American history.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Making a coil pot like the ancient Indians

We are studying ancient people of the America's.  We have been to a museum which showed how they made clay pots and we have read about them in our books.  I decided for our craft the kids would try making one, up to now we have only made pinch pots with clay.

First I had the kids watch this you tube video to get us started:

Kids decided to make a single pot.  I bought a dry white modeling clay to use as I couldn't find wet clay in our area but I probably haven't found the right location yet as I am still getting my bearings.

We used pieces of flint to make the markings in the clay as this is the tool the ancient peoples would have used.

Kids rolling out their clay

Making their marking into the clay and adding the rings

our finished pot.  this clay doesn't smooth as well as wet clay would have but it gave the children the idea

Letting it dry for 24 hours before the kids paint it using old indian markings

Just by chance later in the week,  we toured the City Museum they had an art booth and it had the proper wet clay that I needed to make a coil pot, so I got to work on it while the kids made their own creations.  I tried to enticed the kids to make another coil pot but that was a no go,  since we had already done it earlier in the week.   So I made it myself and showed the kids each step.
The wet clay smooths a lot better than the modeling clays we had used days before

Showing part coils and part smooth sides, but the kids wanted the pot to be taller

so I added a few more coils to get the proper height

The dried version, I only had time to smooth the outside of the pot.  However this process  showed the kids  how the indians would have made a coil pot which was my goal.

We waited for the pots to dried and then filled both pots up with water.  The white clay pot leaked water everywhere while the smooth wet clay pot did not leak water.  This helped the kids to see why it was important that the clay be smoothed out before firing.

Next step is for the children to paint their pots and display them in our new classroom!

Well being kids they decided they didn't want to paint their pots they had other ideas in mind.  I printed out a few Mississippian art work patterns and re discussed various themes that we saw in them.  MarioFan decided he wanted to use markers to draw on his designs and he struck with circles, dots and lines which was easier to do on this pot.

Firedrake got out a piece of flint stone and rewet her pot and etched several animals into her pot

end result for MarioFan

And for Firedrake
We are taking a slightly different turn in our next history lesson in the next few weeks,  moving on to learn about the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas.