Monday, October 18, 2010

The Less Reluctant Homeschooler (LRH): Frontier House

I am teaching my children a bit of history this week.  I hope that it also results in some character building, satisfaction with what we have and an appreciation for hard work!

When PBS did their Frontier House series in 2002, I watched each week like it was a soap opera!  My husband was amazed, he had probably never watched public TV in his life!  He wasn't as thrilled with it as I was, but thought it was pretty neat.

We recently turned off our Direct TV service and subscribed to Netflix.  The very first discs I ordered?  Frontier House!  I was excited to see that PBS also offered a lesson plan to go along with the series!  Some of the links do not work anymore, so be sure to test them out before hand so you know what to avoid/substitute!  The plans are geared toward 5-8th graders (primarily), but they are working well with my 4th & 6th grade equivalent ages.

If you have younger students, there is a good lesson plan on Westward Expansion at Megan Cato's site.  It is much more comprehensive.

I am wondering if "lesson plan" and unschooling are mutually exclusive, and if using one means I'm not the other.  Hmm, things to ponder.  I guess just like the rest of my life, this area does not fit into a neatly labeled bucket!  I do know that my children learn best when watching a video (visual & auditory stimulation) and discussing the lessons (auditory).  I am trying to think of an easy way to integrate a kinetic experience, perhaps cooking or making something? 

One thing that I have been doing that I think falls into the kinetic slot is posting the links to their Facebook pages, so they have to go click them and read the info online (which we do all together, each on our own computers!  LOL)

I'll try to update this entry with our timeline of how it worked for us.  :)

Day One:
  • "Introductory Activity" from "Free Land" lesson
  • Post Become a Billionaire Sheet to their Facebook pages (caution - internal link to "worksheet" is broken)
  • Have them read, discuss according to steps 1-4
  • Post "Uncle Sam is Rich Enough to Give Us All a Farm" to their Facebook pages
  • Have them read as directed in steps 5 & 6, discuss according to step 7
  • Begin "Class One", Post "Timemap-US Borders" on their Facebook pages
  • Discuss, complete steps 1-7 (this was probably our favorite part - we loved the interactive timeline!)
  • "Class Two", we really didn't do.  The link to a quiz is broken, and we don't need an "assessment" essay :)
  • Watch episode one of Frontier House, discuss
Day Two: (We based on some of the activities in the "Extensions" section)
  • Wood Use: How big is an acre?  I used this worksheet for myself, to figure out the measurements, then we discussed.  I felt it was too advanced for my 4th and 6th graders.
  • We looked at the Homestead Act of 1862 (from the National Archives), then read from Homestead Act of 1862 (text). 
  • I printed a map of our neighborhood and overlayed the measurements for 160 acres.  This gave the kids a practical understanding of the actual size of a homestead (as well as reinforcing map-reading skills)
  • We watched episode 2 of Frontier House

Day 3:
  • We reviewed by discussing the Homestead Act
  • We watched episode 3 of Frontier House (The wedding episode - it's my favorite!)
Day 4:
  • Daddy was home!  We showed off our knowledge of The Homestead Act, sharing all of it with Daddy and letting him ask questions, fill in details, etc.
  • We had a marathon and watched episodes 4-6 of Frontier House.
  • In episode 6 we paused and had a discussion about godly roles for husbands and wives.  The Glenn family had a lot of conflict, due in part to poor communication skills, but owing largely to the husband/wife relationship.  We took time to share the Biblical mandate for husbands to love their wives and put their needs first, as Christ did for the church, and for wives to be supportive and encouraging of their husbands, submitting to them as Christians are to submit to the will of Christ.

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

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