USS Midway

USS Midway (CVB-41) after commissioning

Photo Credit: By US Navy Employee (Naval Historical Center)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the very interesting museums that we visited last week was the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. We ended up spending five hours touring that massive ship. I have no idea how the crew kept from being lost on that ship. I’m afraid I would have gotten lost and never figured out how to see the sun. Just gone in circles in a maze that never ended. We learned that 4500 crew members were aboard that ship when it was in service. Talk about a small town. They had their own dental office, post office, surgery ward, barber shops, jail, laundry (and I mean laundry–if I could have some of those tools, I would only have to do one or two loads a week, but I don’t know where they would fit in my house.) and the list goes on. It was impressive!

Here are some pictures of our day there.

First up is a young lady dreaming of being an Air Force pilot.

Future Pilot

Next is a young lady behind bars, who seems to know how to really act the part.

Baby in the Midway Jail

Just posing by one of many beautiful planes.

Three Junior Pilots on Midway

The USS Midway has a Junior Pilot program, somewhat similar to the Junior Ranger programs offered by the National Park Service. As we toured the ship, the three older kids worked on earning their Junior Pilots. At the entrance to the ship, you are given an audio device that you wear for the whole tour and then as you enter each section, you just dial in the appropriate number and you get an interesting narration about what takes place there. They also had a kids version, which happens to be what I listened to mostly, because my kids kept asking questions about the things they were supposed to fill out on their papers. But, I have to say, the kids version was very interesting and I learned more than I can store anyway, so that worked out great.

Here are photos of the swearing in and pinning as Junior Pilots.

Taking the oathThe pinning

As I said, we spent five hours in/on this ship. They figure that the normal time is three hours. There’s a reason we took five. You can see that we had our stroller with us, but strollers do not go up and down hatch ladders. I carried the baby up and down so many ladders that day, it was unbelievable. That’s the reason for the extra two, I just went a little slower than most and I made sure to enjoy all exhibits that included chairs. I was still glad for the stroller when Baby fell asleep, as you can see in the above photo. But I’m telling you, I figure that I knew what it was like to be one of the package handlers on that ship, hauling packages all over the place–it’s exhausting.

The Baby Carriage on Midway

Native American Unit Study & Lapbooks

Our study of Native Americans was, of course, not comprehensive, but it was pretty broad. We went to one of our local libraries and just picked up a book on every tribe that we could find. Then we figured out that there was one particular series that we liked best, so we got the rest in that series on interlibrary loan. This the series called A First Americans Book by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve.

Native American Book Series

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a book about Indians from our area of the world, so we purchased If You Lived With Indians of the Northwest Coast. That was a great little book. We enjoyed so much learning about Northwest Indians and enjoyed looking at photos on the internet of totem poles too.

As usual, the kids made lapbooks about the things they learned. This is the first time that my little preschooler has made a lapbook to go along with what the others were studying. He’s growing up so fast. So here’s his first. His favorite elements were the eagle that had wings that he could flap and the dot-to-dot dream catcher.

(These lapbooks are all in slideshows. If you mouse over them in the bottom quarter, you will see the thumbnails and click on the first one to start them over, if you weren’t able to see the whole set.)

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

JD Boy designed and drew the stuff on his cover. There is a totem pole for the Northwest Indians and a tipi for the Plains Indians. He also made a lot of the elements inside his lapbook completely by himself: the tipi, the shield and he changed around how the birch bark canoe was supposed to work. He narrated to me what he wanted written about each group of Indians inside the appropriate mini books. Other elements were either taken from pictures from the internet, Dover coloring books and the book History Pockets, Native Americans.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Zippy has become quite a writer. She loves to write. She did lots of writing in this lapbook. She designed most of her mini books, using pictures that she found on the internet and then wrote on the inside about the different Indian tribes and traditions. For her cover she cut out the back cover of one of our Dover coloring books.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

I hope my kids learned a lot from this unit. I was surprised at how much I learned about the North American Indians. I was often saddened by how they were treated in some of the stories that we read. We had plenty of opportunity to discuss the difference between Christians and real Christians while reading how the Native Americans were treated.

Native American Crafts

We spent a long time studying about Native Americans. JD Boy wanted to learn about all of the Indians. Whew! That would take a life time, but we briefly covered all of the tribes that we could find at our library.

In this post, I’m just going to share pictures of the crafts that the kids made for this unit. They had lots of fun with these crafts. Crafts and hands-on-activities really do help to make learning more fun, even though sometimes you wonder what to do with them afterwards. (That’s why I’m posting these pictures on my blog, so that I can get rid of some of them!!)

They each made a clay pot. Aren’t they pretty?

Clay Pot by Zippy (age 10)

Clay Pot by Zippy (age 10)

Indian Clay Pot by Gtums (age 4)

Indian Clay Pot by JD Boy (age 7)

Indian Clay Pot by JD Boy (age 7)

They each made a Talking Stick that we got out of the Early American History Kit from Hands and Hearts.

Talking Stick

They also worked together to build these Indian villages that they cut out of books by Dover Publications.

Pacific Northwest Indian Lodge

Pueblo House

Indian Village

Our two favorite books that we read about Indians were Spotted Boy and the Comanches and Swift Arrow. They were books that I had kept around from my childhood. These boys of mine have lived those stories over and over. They built forts and Indian villages in the brush behind our house and constructed, I don’t know how many, bow and arrow sets out of sticks. They definitely either wish that they could be Indians or could be kidnapped by Indians so they could escape. Either way, they would be thrilled with the adventure. Well, at least as long as it was pretend.

Colonial Life Unit

Whew! We spent so long studying about the Thirteen Colonies and Colonial life. We started this study when I was pregnant, and it kind of came to a hault when I was so sick. But we finally finished it. We decided that we wanted to finish it with a Colonial meal, then we realized that we were awfully close to Thanksgiving, so the kids agreed that that would make for a great Colonial meal. It did! We had a great feast–vegetarian style!

Thanksgiving Feast

The kids dressed up in their Colonial clothes for the event. They’ve had so much fun with these clothes. It’s a little sad that they are going to grow out of them. The cousins that were here for Thanksgiving, also dressed up in Pilgrim and Indian costumes. What fun!

Colonial Costumes

Now for what we’ve studied for the last long while on the subject. We read some really good books on the Thirteen Colonies. We continued to enjoy This Country of Ours. We really do enjoy that book. The kids enjoy listening to the audiobook version while they work on their lapbooks. We also enjoyed some other books about different people and experiences of the Colonial time period. Some of our favorites were Roger Williams by Mark Ammerman, Tattered Sails (this one for it’s illustrations rather than the writing), Old Silver Leg Takes Over (Kids loved that book!), The Carving Tree (about Roanoake). We read several others, but these were the ones that we really, really enjoyed.

Of course, we did lapbooks on Colonial America too. Here are some pictures.

Lapbook covers by Zippy and JD Boy respectively

Colonial Lapbook Cover Colonial Lapbook Cover

Slideshow of Zippy’s (age 10) Colonial Lapbook

Slideshow of JD Boy’s (age 7) Colonial Lapbook

Composer Unit Study

We recently finished a unit on classical composers. We decided to just do an overview of them. We gathered up resources from a few places and really enjoyed every single one of them.
We listened to every CD in the “Story of Composers” series. (Here is a link to the one on Bach. You can scroll down to find the rest of them.) We listened to two CD’s a week and the ones we enjoyed most, we listened to several times. Now if I name nearly any one of the composers that we studied, JD Boy will be able to start humming the melody of one of the pieces from that composer. Have I ever mentioned that he is my auditory learner? It’s amazing!

This is a really enjoyable set of CD’s. We plan to listen to them many more times. I would recommend them to anybody. A couple of pluses on this set, besides the fact that they are just excellent, is that they provide a great way to do homeschooling in the car or, as in my case, do some homeschooling while the mama is sick. The other plus is that they are really inexpensive, which is always nice.

While we listened to those CD’s, G’tums colored pictures of composers that were printed off from the History Through the Ages Timeline Figures and JD Boy and Zippy made a timeline of the composers from the History of Classical Music Timeline by Beautiful Feet. (Both of these timelines are scrollable so please mouse over them and then start scrolling to see the whole timeline.)

Zippy's Timeline

Zippy’s Timeline

JDBoy's Composer Timeline

JD Boy’s Timeline

We also enjoyed reading the book The Story of the Orchestra and listening to the accompanying CD. From this book we were able to learn better how to distinguish the different instruments in the orchestra. This is a really nice book for a wide age span of children. All of my kids enjoyed it from the preschooler to the fourth grader.

Zippy also worked diligently on making a lapbook about music as we learned about the composers and about the orchestra. Here are a few pictures from her lapbook. If you’d like to see the rest, you can visit my Composer Lapbook set on Flickr. Most of the components for this lapbook were taken from the Composers Activity Pak by Homeschool in the Woods.

Composer Lapbook Cover

The Cover (Unfortunately water was spilled on it before we got any pictures, but Zippy has decided that it makes it look more artistic this way.)

Inside Composer Lapbook

The inside showing the book on periods of music, which describes each of the major periods of music; music definitions, which gives the definitions of each of the words printed on the piano keys; and the “Pieces with a Purpose” pocket, which has several little booklets that tell that different music was written for different purposes, i.e. some as hymns, some as patriotic music, etc.

Composer Lapbook Fully Opened

This is what you see if you flip up the center panel from the previous picture. In this picture is a map showing the birth cities of all of the European born composers; a bunch of little booklets with biography information about the composers; a booklet defining godly music; and a booklet with the five main types of instruments. There are also some stickers used for decoration.

Godly Music Book Cover

Godly Music Book Inside

This is the booklet on godly music. I just thought this was such a great quote about heavenly music that I had her copy it and add it to her lapbook. During this study we also took the time to discuss what music is appropriate for Christians to listen to and what is not.

Beethoven Inside

This is the inside of the little booklet on Beethoven, showing what type of information she found about each composer that we studied.

We all really enjoyed this unit study. It helped all of us to learn to appreciate some of the lesser known composers as well as the famous composers. We also were able to identify a few composers, whose pieces we didn’t enjoy. Now we are going to go back and study our favorite ones deeper and see if the kids can learn a piece on the violin or piano as we study them a little deeper.

One of the benefits of this unit is that it worked well while I was feeling ill. I just made sure everybody had the right stuff that went with the CD that we were to listen to and then I pushed play and laid back and listened.

Old Fashioned Money–Beads

We recently had lots of fun tying math in with our history lesson. It came at just the right time for us too, because two oldest kids were tired of their math books and I was looking for some ways to use some things around the house to teach math concepts and give them a bit of a break from the pencil and paper math books. Then while we were going through our Hands and Hearts kit on early American life, we found a whole section in the manual about how beads were used for trading with the Indians. It told which colors were more valuable. So we set out to do some monetary math with beads.

JD Boy just separated his according to color and counted how many of each color that he had. It was actually quite a tedious job.

JD Boy sorting beads

Zippy sorted hers according to color, then wrote down how many she had of each color and then looked in the guide that was in our kit for how to calculate the value of her beads. I can’t remember what each bead was worth. I just remember that blue beads were the most valuable.

Zippy Counting & Sorting Beeds

Even G’tums wanted to join in, so we pulled out some plastic beads out of our craft box and let him sort by colors. But unfortunately I don’t have a picture of that.

What fun we had! As you can see, we were also enjoying our math/history lesson outside. Ah, bliss! Wish we could do that everyday.

Eventually we’ll turn these beads into crafts, but it couldn’t have been more fun to turn a history lesson into a math lesson. For once my daughter thought math was actually fun. Now I’m off to find some more fun ways of teaching math.

Dipped Candles

One of the fun ways of learning something is doing it! I guess that’s obvious. We’ve been learning about Colonial life and the establishment of the Thirteen Colonies. And we just finished a fun project the way that the Colonists did it. We made dipped candles with beeswax. Fun! Fun!

Finished Beeswax dipped candles

I purchased a kit of fun activities to do a long with our studies of early American life last fall, but we only recently got into the box and did one of the projects. This box was from Hands and Hearts. Unfortunately, they are not currently selling these kits, but hopefully sometime soon they’ll be able to sell them again. However, this project isn’t so hard to do yourself, if you can get the supplies needed. All that was needed was beeswax and a long candle wick and everything else is readily available in your home.

You just take an empty can and fill it about half full with warm water and then finish filling with beeswax. Then place the can in water in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer (not a hard boil).

Melting Beeswax

Then you dip the wicks in the melted wax and then in a can of ice water and just keep going back and forth until you have candles.

Dipping Candles in ice water

Dipping Candles in Wax

This was a very fun project, but we all agreed that turning on a switch and even changing light bulbs periodically was a bit easier than this!

Thanksgiving Lapbooks

I’m finally getting our Thanksgiving Lapbooks posted on here. Thanksgiving came at the right time this year! We had just finished studying Jamestown so studying about the Pilgrims was the next chronological thing.

The books we read on this subject were Squanto And The Miracle Of Thanksgiving, Stories of the Pilgrims, The Thanksgiving Story and we continued reading This Country of Ours.

The books we got most of our printouts from for our lapbooks were History Pockets, Life in Plymouth Colony and Easy Make and Learn Projects: The Pilgrims, the Mayflower and More. We got one printout from and we used some of the timeline figures from Amy Pak. We also used some stickers that we picked up at Michael’s in the scrapbook section.

Here is Zippy and her Thanksgiving Lapbook:

Be sure to check out her whole set of pictures on Flickr as she has some really neat pop-ups in this lapbook that she did a really great job on. You can see her set by clicking here.

Now here is John Deere Boy and his Thanksgiving Lapbook:

We hope that you will be able to take the time to see his pictures, at least his interactive map on Flickr. You can do that by clicking here.  He is very fortunate to have had his lapbook displayed on the Thanksgiving Lapbook lens on Squidoo by Jimmie.

And because I know somebody is dying to know what his shirt says, since it shows out from under his lapbook, I will tell you. It says: "When it comes to education, there’s no school like home." We got it at our homeschool convention last summer.

Pocahontas & John Smith Lapbook

These lapbooks were simple, but they were especially fun because the children came up with what they wanted in them themselves. I, of course, had to help, but I let them design them and choose everything themselves. We just searched in Google images for most of the clipart and we had fun. (Unless noted artwork was from Google images.)

The books that we read on the subject were This Is Our Country, Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire, What If You’d Been at Jamestown? and The Double Life of Pocahontas by Jean Fritz.

Here is the cover of John Deere Boy’s (age 5) lapbook. It is a picture that he colored out of the Pocahontas coloring book by Dover Publications.

The inside:

His map: (from

Jamestown book cover: (from US History Little Books: Famous Places)

The inside of his Jamestown book is a photo of him holding the 3-D model that he made of Jamestown. (From Homeschool in the Woods. I can’t promise that link will always work as it was for the Jamestown anniversary.)

All of the rest of his mini-books were accordion style. Here is the one on John Smith. (The pictures in this were taken from the Pocahontas coloring book by Dover Publications.)

His book on Chief Powhatan:

His book on the Powhatan Indians:

Last but not least, is his book on Pocahontas. It is long. (I hope it fits on the screen.) He found several pictures to put in it. He carefully put them all in chronological order.

This is a drawing that he did on the back of his lapbook. It is a whole story, so it doesn’t mean so much if you can’t hear him explain it. Zippy says that he draws like he tells stories. You’d just have to hear him tell you the story of what is going on in this picture. He’s only five, but he’s a consummate story teller. It is the story of Pocahontas saving John Smith’s life.

If you’d like to see his whole set on Flickr! click here.
Now for my 8-year old’s: I wanted to make sure that she had some copywork in hers, so she designed it knowing that prerequisite. If you’d rather see the set on Flickr! click here.

Her cover: (She drew the pictures herself of Pocahontas rescuing John Smith.)

  Her lapbook layed open:

Her shaped book on the starving time. (Sorry it is hard to read those glitter pens that she likes so much. It says, "When Jamestown was starving, Pocahontas brought food and corn. She saved them from starving to death." )

Her book about John Smith: (The cover and the piece pasted on the inside were from the History Pockets, Colonial America.)

Her map showing where Jamestown is located:

Her Jamestown book (from US History Little Books: Famous Places) and her note on the bottom explaining why she put beads all over her lapbook.

Inside of the Jamestown book with picture of her holding the craft she made from Homeschool in the Woods.

Her book on "Pocahontas, the Indian Princess": (The inside picture is from the Pocahontas coloring book by Dover Publications.)

Her book about Pocahontas’ wedding: (Picture on the inside is again from the Pocahontas coloring book by Dover Publications.)

Thanks for looking!