Archive for the ‘
American History ’ Category
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
As many of you know, we have been studying Africa this year in our homeschool. As we finished up our studies of West Africa, we spent about a week learning about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and about slavery in general. My kids had not yet studied this in history.
We read a number of books… most of them had an incredible impact on the kids. You’ll need to read these and decide for yourself if they are appropriate for your own children.
From Slave Ship to Freedom Road by Julius Lester — incredible paintings, thought provoking text.
Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family by Dolores Johnson wonderful story that traces a family from Africa to slavery in the USA and forced separation.
The Old African by Julius Lester a very haunting tale that expresses the horrors of slavery.
The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano Adapted By Ann Cameron — This is the true story of an African boy who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The descriptions of the middle passage and of slavery are powerful. We read this aloud in our homeschool and it is one of the most powerful books we’ve read together!
Story of the Civil War Coloring Book by Peter Copeland
Story of the Underground Railroad by Peter Copeland
It took us nearly a week to read The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano, but it was well worth it. This autobiography was incredibly powerful and had images that we talked about in great depth. Equiano truly had an amazing life.
I also made some notebooking pages for the kids to add to their history notebooks. I left blanks for them to fill in their own text, though I included a bit more information if anyone else is interested.
We used these pages at the end of our unit. I gave the pack to the kids and had them write about what they learned. I was pretty impressed with what they came up with.
You can download these Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery Pages here:
I hope someone else finds these useful! If you use these, I’d love to hear from you either here or at my Homeschool Den Facebook Page. Over at my Facebook page I keep a running log of all my posts if you’re interested at seeing some posts you may have missed.
You might be interested in these related posts:
Friday, September 28th, 2012
Over the course of the week we met families from Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio and New York who had come Colonial Williamsburg for the homeschool experience. During homeschool week they had lots (and lots) of children’s activities. Every activity we went to was absolutely terrific and educational. Here are some of the things we attended during the week:
We did both the normal orientation walk as well as the children’s orientation.
Life of a Soldier:
The kids got to experience life as a revolutionary war soldier. They saw the tents that soldiers lived in, practiced some of the drills soldiers had to do with their guns and LD got to light the gunpowder on the canon. There’s no actual picture of that because I was standing right behind him and jumped almost out of my skin!!
Just look how the ‘soldiers’ flinched later in the day. Now imagine my reaction as my son created such an explosion!! Well, actually they used a lot less gunpowder for the shot LD fired, but still… what a bang!!
Bits and Bridles:
The kids learned all about the use of horses during revolutionary war times. The guide not only explained how horseshoes were put on the horses, but passed around an example horse’s leg to show the structure of the horse.
Then we got to see the carriages and (most importantly for the kids) the horses in the stalls!
We attended two evening programs.
Mama Said, Papa Said — was a program that focuses on the oral tradition of the African American community. It showed how stories were used to teach morals and values. One person stood up at a time on stage telling riveting stories. Do you know what ED (age 4) said after the hour program was over? ”Mama, why is it over so soon?” Listen to these stories on the Colonial Williamsburg podcast, Mama Said, Papa Said.
Ghost Walk — Our guide led around the streets of Colonial Williamsburg sharing eerie stories and strange happenings. We learned that there are tunnels that run underground so supplies can be brought in to the restaurants… Strange sightings have even been seen down there!
The programs at the museum were exceptional as well!!
We attended Tikki Tikki Tembo where they read the children’s book and looked closely at and talked about the illustrations. The guide then sent the kids on a scavenger hunt to find examples of revolutionary period pieces that had Chinese art in the same style as the illustrations in the book. Then they brought the kids into a special room where they could examine more art and create their own revolutionary war period dishes!
Scherenschnitte – The German art of scissor cutting brought over the America in the 18th and 19th centuries. They had designs that we could cut our or we could design our own. Everyone had fun at this activity!
Lucy Locket Lost Her Pocket:
What was carried in the revolutionary war period pocket? coins, bills, keys, combs, mementos, personal correspondence, inspirational verse, etc. While the girls and moms really enjoyed this program, though LD wasn’t as excited about the clothes, petticoats and lady’s pocket. What was neat was that the guide opened the locked display drawers and showed us some of the things tucked away. In the picture below, the guide pointed out how the lady in the blue dress had a bulge (which is where her pocket would have been). The cartoon shows a thrifty (or perhaps stingy) woman, and then there are a couple examples of a pocket. The shoes — well I included those just because they’re so fashionable!
Secret Codes, Spy Craft: There were two programs about codes and ciphering the kids attended at the museum.
Crack the Code: The kids spent time figuring out secret messages such as the one below.
Spy Craft: The kids learned about the book codes and the cipher wheel. When Thomas Jefferson served as Washington’s secretary of State he devised a secure method for enciphering and deciphering messages called the Cipher Wheel. At the end of the week our family and our friends’ family bought cipher wheels so the kids could continue creating and deciphering secret messages to one another!
From the picture below can you figure out what this says?
While the older kids were busy deciphering their secret messages with their friends, I took ED off to the garden maze behind the Governor’s Palace. She loved that as much as the older kids loved their spy classes! She made a little friend from Georgia and they spent a long time exploring the maze and running around together.
On our final day we took a carriage ride through the city and watched the show behind the courthouse. It was an amazing end to an amazing week!
The General Reviews the Troops:
Here is a link to the Colonial Williamsburg Homeschool Experience Itinerary if you’re interested for next year! Here’s a link to their daily calendar of events just so you get a feel for how much is on offer. There is SO much we didn’t do (the Rev. Quest, the witch trials, the blacksmith’s apprentice, etc.) — and yet our week was absolutely packed full! We highly recommend taking a trip down to Williamsburg if you ever get the chance!
Thursday, September 27th, 2012
We’ve heard wonderful things about the homeschool programs in Colonial Williamsburg in some of the yahoo groups. For two weeks in September, there are programs especially for homeschoolers. They offered discount tickets for homeschoolers and their families and have lots of programs and experiences geared specifically for kids. This year we decided to go with some close friends of ours to check things out.
You can spend lots of time seeing how different members of society would have spent their days in the Revolutionary War days. What was neat was not only were people ‘at work’ in their shops and homes, but there were also people dressed up and roaming the streets — either in carriages or walking along. They kept in character as they spoke to others and interacted with the tourists.
The kids enjoyed getting to see people working in their shops at their various trades:
The Printer and Book Binder
Making a Wagon Wheel
Archaeology in Colonial Williamsburg:
We also saw some archaeologists at work. The woman there said that in the course of their work they came across the graves of two people (the blue tarp area in the back). They determined that these were the remains of slaves. There were several reasons for this. First the orientation of the graves were North-South whereas most burials were East-West. Also they could tell by the muscle attachments that these were people who had done hard labor. Finally, the teeth were in very poor condition indicating a poor diet. They told us that the remains are to be relocated and reburied in a new location.
The Governor’s Palace
And all this is not even close to everything on offer!
The week was amazing! These displays were wonderful and the tradesmen and women all spent time talking with the kids (in character, of course) about what they were doing. But the thing that made the week AWESOME were all the amazing programs they had specifically for kids. I’ll talk more about those tomorrow.
Monday, July 30th, 2012
I’ve been bursting at the seams to write this post, but wanted to wait til I had more information before sharing our excitement! Can you believe, we found an arrowhead on our property?! Okay, so technically it’s not an arrowhead, more about that in a second.
The first thing we did was start googling to find out more information. I really didn’t know too much about arrowheads. I was only familiar with obsidian arrowheads of the west — and the metal ones a friend gave us years ago. It turns out arrowheads can be made of argillite, chalcedony, chert/flint, diorite, hematite, jasper, rhyolite, siltstone, crystal quartz, quartz, and quartzite.
We have a huge set of quartz boulders up at the top of the hill on our property so it makes sense to find one like this. Below is a picture of “Quartz Castle.” That’s what the kids named it when we first moved in. You can see part of LD’s “shelter” there on the right! We found the arrowhead just at the bottom of the hill.
The next morning I went out to take pictures of exactly where the arrowhead (the white one) was found. I noticed a couple of other pieces that also looked like they had been worked on by humans (pictured in the top pictures above and below right, lying on the moss before I picked it up).
We decided we should contact an expert to see a) what it was that we had found and b) to see if anyone records information like this and wants to know about people’s finds. I wrote the state archaeologist responsible for our region. I sent him pictures of the arrowhead we found as well as a couple of picture collages to show exactly where we found them.
The state archaeologist wrote back almost immediately and said that it did indeed look like a prehistoric artifact and was most likely a hafted knife. As for the other two pieces he said it was not possible to tell what they were but they may be debris from knapping stone tools. He then put me in contact with the archaeologist for our county. He’ll be coming out in the next week or so to complete an archaeological survey.
This week the kids have been really intrigued by archaeology so in addition to pulling out the books we had on hand, we also pulled out the collection a friend gave us a number of years ago to compare them to our find.
A few things we learned from this experience: If you make a discovery, you can contact your state archaeologist. Make sure you know exactly where you found the artifact. Don’t dig to hunt for artifacts because you could destroy valuable archaeological evidence. If you were to dig and mix the layers, no one would be able to assess the data accurately. Also be aware that it is almost always illegal to remove arrowheads or other artifacts from public lands.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
We actually stumbled across this museum, but what a FABULOUS place to visit. Just had to shout that out, it was *that* good! From the time Arkansas became a state in 1836 to the mid 1940s cotton production was common in the Arkansas River lowlands. Men, women and children could be seen picking and stuffing cotton into long sacks in the fall.
Tractors were not used for the preparation, planting, maintaining and picking of cotton until the mid-1940s after WWII. Instead the work was done by hand or with the aid of draft animals.
Cotton was stored in cotton pens or cotton houses by sharecroppers and tenant farmers until it was taken to the gin. The pens were built with skids and were pulled by mules to the fields.
Removing the seeds from the cotton was a quite a process. They had to pick between 1,300-1,500 pounds of seed cotton to make one bale of cotton because of that 750 pounds of seeds were removed and about 100 pounds were trash (stems, leaves, dirt,etc.) An average person picked 100-150 pounds from sun up to sunset.
First the stems and leaves had to be removed. Within the white, fluffy cotton balls were seeds (see the bottom right photo in the collage below that LD is holding) that had to be removed. The ranger showed us how the seeds were removed with the hand-cranked machine below. Although more complex and efficient cotton gins were developed, they basically used the same process as the original invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney.
Beginning around 1900 they found uses for the left over cotton seed (pictured bottom right above). The cottonseed was used in a number of products including explosives, women’s cosmetics, oil, and livestock feed. Some of the seeds were saved for planting the next crop.
Below is a picture of another cotton gin.
I’ve always heard the term, a “bale of cotton,” but to be honest I had no concept of how big that really is. Here’s a picture. How heavy would you guess that bale is?
I know, I know, it’s not really fair to ask that from a photo, without much to compare the size to. That bale (plus the straps and bagging) usually weighed about 500 pounds. And what could this one bale make?
We enjoyed the outside exhibits as much as the ones inside. The tractors were impressive in size!
In the picture above, the cotton would have been collected into the big mesh are at the back of the machine (bottom left photo above).
The kids enjoyed helping the ranger pick peas in the sharecropper’s garden. The picture on the right just shows the pretty oxbow lake of the Arkansas River.
You know what’s amazing? There were a number of outdoor exhibits we didn’t have time for. There was a building that had a fully restored ginning system, a seed warehouse, and more.
A huge thank you to the two wonderful park rangers who gave us our tour when we visited!
Categories: American History, American West Unit, Homeschool Den, Must Read, Trips We've Taken | Tags: Arkansas plantations, cotton plantations, how cotton seeds are removed, how is cotton processed?, Plantation Agriculture Museum, plantations, sharecroppers