Friday, February 26, 2021

WWII Part 1: Pearl Harbor - A Homeschool Study

Unlike other unit studies that we have done, there is an overabundance of books and information on World War II. The problem was not finding resources, but rather narrowing it down. I also planned this unit study during the great Arkansas Snowpocalypse, so I had some extra time to search the web and click through Amazon. It will take us a while to get through everything, so I will be breaking the posts up into smaller topics.

We began this week with Pearl Harbor. As with almost all of our history studies, we began with reading a chapter from America's Story, our history curriculum from Masterbooks. We discussed Roosevelt and the tough decisions he was faced in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. 


Critical Thinking: What role do you think the government should have in world affairs? When is it our duty to intervene in injustices around the world? Do you think FDR should have entered the war sooner?

Creative Writing: Pretend you were a short-tailed albatross flying across the Pacific. You spotted the approaching enemy ships and caught wind of their plan. You try to warn the sailors at Pearl Harbor but they just won't listen to you.

This Roosevelt Rap from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum was a fun, rhythmic bridging point between the Great Depression and World War II. Had I found this resource earlier I probably would have first introduced it when we studied the Great Depression and then revisited it throughout WWII to reinforce it. Lots of facts hidden in this rap. You can print the lyrics to follow along and watch the video with historical footage. Alternatively, you could assign it at the end of your study of Roosevelt's reign and ask your little learners to write a song about Roosevelt and then play this rap.

We also read What Was Pearl Harbor and Chapter 23 from Great Events in American History. The latter book contains FDR's Declaration of War.  In it, FDR lists other sites the Japanese forces attacked.

Because our focus for the last few years has been mainly on American History, we took out the globe to reacquaint ourselves with the location of these attacks as well as some of the key countries involved in World War II. The kids then drew a map in their notebooks of Japan, the Hawaiian Islands, and North America. I used to shy away from drawing maps because map making is not one of my strengths, but the children enjoy doing them and learn much more by drawing them than they do just by printing one out.

We added a page to our notebook of some of the key leaders in Japan at the time. We will be adding a page for each of the major countries involved in the war as we study them.

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is full of educational resources! We watched "The Attack on Pearl Harbor Webinar Part 1" together and then each of the girls were assigned a video to watch independently and then share what they learned with the family. They were so interested in the videos that I caught them listening to more of the videos while they were cleaning their room. 

We had actually visited the site of the Gordon Hirabayaski Japanese Internment Camp in 2018, and some of the older children remembered learning about Japanese Internment Camps then. PBS has an awesome interactive learning experience called "Prisoner in my Homeland" that our 5th and 6th graders did independently.

When we study history and science, all of our kiddos from K through 6th study the same topic, but I try to find some age appropriate activities. Again, there is no lack of resources for World War II. I printed out an Aircraft Carrier Coloring Page for our preschooler and kindergartener, and this Connect-the-Dots of Famous Aircraft for out other boys.

One of the things I have noticed over the years is that when I interest myself in something, some of the kids will get curious and interested as well. A few of our kids love to draw and I have been working on improving my drawing skills. I sat down to try to draw a Japanese "Zero" and several of the children wanted to draw one too. They have been asking what other aircraft we can learn to draw, so I will be included more military drawings in our assignments next week.

While not originally planned, one of our boys asked about torpedoes and how they work. We found an interesting video of a man crawling down a torpedo tube. The video did a wonderful job of explaining how the torpedoes are loaded and launched.

Stay tuned... lots more on World War II to come!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Top 5 Books to Refresh your Homeschool

 I have always wanted to homeschool my children. I grew up going to public school, but one of my best friends was homeschooled, as were my cousins. I loved how they spent so much time with their family. They were also able to explore their own interests. I was one of those "smart" kids that never had to pay attention in class or study to get straight As, but I was bored out of my mind in school. I wanted to give my children a childhood of wonder, excitement, and learning without boundaries. I realize that not everyone has that same excitement about getting started. For some, the thought of homeschooling is completely overwhelming. I can't even tell you how many times I have heard, "I could never homeschool my kids!" And then 2020 hit and most of my friends that said they could never do it, found themselves doing it whether they wanted to or not. But even though I have always wanted to homeschool, I have still gone through seasons when homeschooling has been weary, difficult, and seemingly impossible. I have doubted, questioned, and threated to send my kids to school. So whether you are just trying to get started (and struggling with diving in), or are a seasoned homeschool mom looking for some encouragement, here are some of my favorite books:


This book covers just about everything about homeschooling and would be a great resource for someone just starting out. At 336 pages, it is not a quick read. In fact, I gave up on trying to read it and listened to it on Audible. The book is split into four main sections: The Mission, The Myth, The Manner, and The Method. She covers all the various forms of home education, so if you have heard terms thrown about like Classical, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, etc., and you have no idea what those are or what kind you are, then this is the book for you. However, I listened to this book after seven years of homeschooling and still found very practical advice and a lot of encouragement. 


This book is a quick read, and highly recommended for the weary mom or for someone going through a season when they are questioning whether they are able to homeschool. I first read this book years ago when I was battling Lyme and had a bunch of little ones, and have read it many times since. We had not been homeschooling for long and already my mind was filling with fear and anxiety. I was trying to force "school" but was too tired to put any kind of energy or enthusiasm into it. In attempting to do too much, we were accomplishing nothing at all. When you feel like you are suffocating and drowning in all of life, take a deep breath and read this book.


Written by the same author as Teaching From Rest, Sarah Mackenzie, this book gives practical how-to advice and will make you fall in love with books. This book and her podcast (Read-Aloud Revival) is why I add so many books to every unit we do in our homeschool. Even in seasons when we are not accomplishing very much book work, we can read together, which leads to lasting connections, meaning conversations, and ultimately learning.


This book is not as "pep-talky" as some of the other books, as she does take a bold approach in calling her readers to homeschool bravely, but it is thought-provoking, convicting, and helped get this weary momma back on track. It is all about examining why you homeschool and remembering your calling. She calls us to lean on God and stop comparing ourselves to others on Social Media.


Our homeschool used to be full of lots of travel, field trips, play dates, and adventures, but when the shutdowns happened in 2020, we started to fall into a dull, monotonous routine. Sure, we accomplished a ton of book work, but I began to see the spark and love of learning leave our children. (It also probably did not help that we had a newborn and I was exhuasted). This book reignited the spark and gave us practical ways to find everyday magic in our homeschool (even without leaving the home). It encourages you to say "yes" more, to pick up new hobbies, try new things, and break from the "mold". This book is great for anyone who has found their homeschool to be someone dull. I also believe this would be a great book for parents whose kids are home doing virtual school (or who have decided to pull their kids from school this year and are homeschool for the first time), to add some adventure, curiosity, and excitement to learning. This book is a little bit longer than the some of the others (320 pages), so if you are a busy momma like me you may prefer to listen on Audible.

Check out the Homeschool Tab at the top of my page for more ideas and inspiration, and follow me on Instagram @pocketful_of_treasures.

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Homeschool History Spotlight: The Great Depression Unit Study

As we travel through MasterBooks American History 3, we have come to the time period of The Great Depression. If you have been following me for a while on here or Instagram, then you know I like to add use the textbook as a starting point and add a bunch of activities and books. Here's a look at our study of the Great Depression.
To summarize this time period for the children I wrote a little ballad:

Great Depression Ballad
I'm just an Okie
Heading West 'cuz I'm brokie
The stocks went bust
My fields turned to dust
I'm looking for a job
Need to feed my hungry mob
Six kids and a wife
Life's so full of strife

I assigned the older children to make up a tune to the ballad on their musical instrument (and/or they could write their own lyrics summarizing the time period if they wanted)

After reading the corresponding chapters in American History 3, we read What Was the Great Depression. I love the "What Was" books because they are such fast reads and really keep the children engaged.

We then read Chapter 22 on the Stock Market Crash from Great Events in American History. I love how this book shows God at work throughout American History. It shared James Cash Penney's story of loss and his journey back to believing and eventually his success with J.C. Penney Department Stores. 
Some questions for discussion and/or writing prompts:
1. How did the era of the Roaring 20s and the idea of instant gratification through consumption fuel the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression?
2. How does panic make a bad situation worse?
3. What lessons can be learned about buying things on "easy credit" from the Great Depression?
4. Would it be more challenging to face poverty during the Great Depression or today? Why?
5. Should we be concerned with poverty and unemployment today? Why?
6. What role should the government play in poverty and unemployment? Why?

In A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt, Margo never thought the falling dominos of the Great Depression would reach her small town of Johnstown, PA, but one day she comes home to find a "Sheriff Sale" sign on her door. Bravely, she writes a letter to Mrs. Roosevelt asking for help.
One of the lines in the book says, "'Margo, do you ever think about what you would take if you had to leave your room? What if the sheriff posted a sign on your front door and forced you to leave? What would you take?'"

I had our children answer this question and pack a bag and head out to the woods where they made their "hobo" camp. I commended them for some of their choices (like their musical instruments and bibles), but their lack of footwear made me go hmmmm?...

PBS has an extensive gallery of photos and videos on the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  After looking at the Photo Gallery and other photographs taken by Dorothea Lange, the children each printed some of the photos and wrote a fictional back story about the person in one of the photos.  

They were asked to answer these questions in their story:
1. What was their life like before the Great Depression.
2. How did the Dust Bowl affect their life?
3. Did they have to move as a result of the Great Depression or Dust Bowl? Why?
4. Where were they living now? What was their life like at the time of the photo?

The girls listened on Audible to the complete book collection of Kit, an American Girl during the Great Depression.

 Bud, Not Buddy is recommended for ages 10-12, I decided to assign this book as an independent reading book for our 6th grader. Set during the Great Depression, it tells the tale of a boy that hits the road to find his father that he has never known. A great book to help explore the theme of survival and hope during the Great Depression.

I chose Esperanza Rising as a family read aloud to explore the themes of family, hope, and survival during the Great Depression. The book touches on the Mexican Revolution and the struggles in the labor farms in California. We used this book as a opportunity to build on our Spanish vocabulary book.

We also made rag dolls and talked about some of the simple pleasures of life.

Did you know that Monopoly was popularized during the great depression? We read up on the history of the game. For discussion: How could this game give people hope? Why do you think it gained popularity so quickly during the Great Depression.

We made a "Great Depression Cake" using this delicious recipe from The Spruce Eats. Despite not having eggs, milk, or butter, it was quite tasty!

Discussion: What are some ways you could save money or stretch what you have?

We'd love to hear how your family studied the Great Depression. Please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram if you enjoyed any of these activities. 

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Our Homeschool Library: 10 Books on the Civil War

 We use America's Story by Masterbooks as the backbone of our homeschool curriculum, but we LOVE adding other historical fiction, nonfiction, and picture books to our units. Here were some of our favorites during our study of the Civil War.


 A sweet book about using your talents to help others. A young slave girl using her quilting talent and conversations she overhears about the Underground Railroad to create a quilt to freedom with a map that her master will never recognize.


 A powerful book based on the true story of two boys who fought in the Civil War. It celebrates the shared humanity of people and showing kindness to others.


 A true tale of a dog's loyalty, dedication, and bravery during the Civil War.


 The "If You Lived" series are a great introduction to the time period. Colorful illustrations and engaging questions make our children eager to learn more.


 The Magic Treehouse whisks Jack and Annie back to the Civil War days. Magic Treehouse books keep the attention of our boys and are great to assign to our younger readers.


 I love the What Was series of books because they are quick reads and give an overview of historical events. I like to read these books aloud to give a background reference of the time period before reading other historical fiction novels. There are also many Who Was books to go with this time period.

 We listened to this book on Audible. A biography of Clara Barton and his courage to press on and save lives on the front lines.


 Recommended for ages 8-12, I read this book as a read-aloud. A story of a boy who wrestles with the views of his uncle. He sees him as a traitor for his beliefs, but grows in his understanding of the war, the Union, the Confederacy, and redefines his definition of courage.


 Recommended for ages 8-12 years old, I assigned this book to our 5th grader to read independently. Set during the final days of the Civil War, Hannalee is sent north from Goergia to work in one of the Yankee mills. 


 Recommended for ages 8-12, I also read this book as a read-aloud. Jethro is just 9 years old when the war breaks out. Follow him and his struggles as he comes to age during the Civil War. 

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Snow School

 It has practically been a snowpocalypse here in Arkansas, but school must go on (just not how you may think of school)! There are many ways to learn and so many things to learn about, so why not adjust our homeschool days to the current events? If you find yourself snowed in, here are some videos and activities to jumpstart your day of learning!

We started by learning about snowflakes:

How do Snowflakes form?

Did you know that the largest snowflake was 15 inches (YES, INCHES)? Make a paper snowflake that measures 15 inches if you have paper that big. We could only make 11 inch snowflakes. 

Can you imagine that falling from the sky? Learn more fun facts on Snowflakes.

1 septillion ice crystals fall from the sky each year in the US alone. Write that number out. It is a 1 with 24 zeros! 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

How does the volume of snow compare to rain? The first snowstorm dropped 7" of snow, so we filled a glass cylinder with 7' of snow and allowed it to melt. The kids wrote their hypothesis (best guesses) in their nature journal. Most of the kids though it would equal about 3.5" of water. 

They were shocked to discover that 7" of snow was equivalent to only 1 3/8" of water (or rain).

We also discussed the density of snow. A warning was issued that snow could collapse the roofs of industrial buildings. Most residential roofs can hold up to 20lbs of weight per square foot, while flat commercial roofs may collapse at a lower weight. We used the following parameters on this snow weight calculator to calculate how much weight per square foot could be on roofs in our area.

Snow Weight Calculator

1/2 inch ice (~2 pounds)
1" slush (~4 pounds)
4" settled snow (~6 pounds)
6" fresh snow (~2 pounds)

Total weight on roofs: approximately 14 pounds per square foot
That means that a 2,000 square foot commercial building could have 14 TONS of added weight on its roof. We could certainly see how that could stress a structure!

Speaking of buildings, we also did some research on igloos. There are so many great videos on YouTube, but here are a few we watched:

How to build a real Inuit igloo:

We didn't build an igloo, but we did build a few snow forts.

Not enough snow to build an igloo? You can draw one!


We even turned our igloo drawings into a short “i” phonics game. The eskimos had to “purchase” a snow block to build their igloo by reading the word.

Most of our tablework was done while sipping hot chocolate and eating a snow treat!

NingXia Red Snow Cones (Mix NingXia Red and fresh snow)

Snow Ice Cream (Mix large bowl of snow with 1 can sweetened condensed milk and 1 tsp. vanilla)

Maple Snow Candy (Heat maple syrup until it is in a soft ball stage and pour over packed snow)

I debated reading The Long Winter or The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe since it has been a few years since we have, but we were already in the middle of Esperanza Rising for our Great Depression unit study. We did pull out a bunch of winter books for the little ones.

Here are our favorite Snow Day Books:
Curious George in the Snow
Over and Under the Snow

And of course there was plenty of time spent outside getting plenty of physical education in nature's sensory bin!

Safety first! Before they bundled up and headed into the wilderness, we taught them some life skills. This is a great series on frostbite. Lots of big vocabulary words in this series, but our little ones got the basics (and our big kids learned some new words). We caught our five year old out there windmilling his arms to warm up.

While outside the kids noticed the birds and were concerned for them. This led to a discussion on how birds can survive winter.

We did not have any bird seed, but we put some oats in our window feeder. What fun it has been to watch all the birds visit. We studied Flying Creatures last year so it was a delightful review of the birds in our area. 

And then of course we had to draw some chickadees in our nature journal.

Curious minds wanted to know how other animals can survive such cold temperatures, so I pulled out some books on Alaska.

Then, because we are studying trees in Science right now, we drew some Birch trees in the snow.

Oh, and remember to love thy neighbor! They saw us lead by example as we checked in with our neighbors and we had our kids make some snow ice cream to bring to some other kids in our neighborhood.

Yes, we sure do go on a lot of rabbit trails and strayed from our usual curriculum this week, but it has been a fun week of learning and play. Now I’m ready for Spring 🤣. The next time I go sledding I hope it is at White Sands in warm, sunny weather!

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