Nimitz, Fleet Admiral in the United States Navy

Fleet Admiral Nimitz

Happy Birthday to Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz, who was born on February 24, 1885.

My children love history! After spending last school year in American history studying the last 100 years, I felt a little depressed. It seemed we went from one war to another war.

I have found a great way to battle my war fatigue is by focusing on the people.

You can follow Chester Nimitz through his service in the Navy for both World War I and World War II. He is noted for his gift of being a leader. Nimitz was awarded 30 medals over his 42 years of service. Do you know how many times he received the Naval Distinguished Service Medal? I was amazed that he left high school to join the Naval Academy. Do you know when he finally was awarded his high school diploma? He spoke German. This ability gave him the opportunity to study a new motor in Germany. Do you know what it is? [Read more…]

USA License Plate Game with Extra Ideas

Most of us have played the USA License Plate Game. Moms and Dads for years have needed plenty of ideas to keep kids entertained on long road trips.

Last week while shopping at out local thrift store my boys found a Melissa and Doug USA License Plate Game for a $1. I knew we didn’t have any road trips planned but who could turn down such a great educational deal!

After a few days, my kids and I started inventing extra ideas on playing with our new game.

USA License Plate Game

USA License Plate Game Interview Friends and Family:

My youngest son came up with 2 questions and used the game board as a way to document the answers.
Have you traveled through the state? He would flip the license plate to show.
Do you want to visit the state? He chose red for a “no” answer and blue for a “yes” answer.
Then he photographed the game board when he was done. It has been a great hands-on and visual way for him to document an interview.

We now plan on questioning friends and family over the holidays and seeing who has done the most traveling. After the holidays I might use the photos for some writing prompts. [Read more…]

The Great Depression Hands On Activities

Hands On Activities

The Great Depression hands on activities: photographing our life, building Hoovervilles, and eating spam for lunch.

It’s interesting when your history studies get closer to time periods you remember your grandparents talking about. I am sure in a few weeks it will get stranger teaching them about the 1980’s.

After our friendly competition in the stock market game in our last All American History JR lesson it was interesting to see how this one event affected the economy. [Read more…]

The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band Movie
We just finished lesson 9 in All American History Jr Volume 2. The lessons plans suggested we watch The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band.

I had never heard of this movie but am so glad we rented it from Netflix. Especially after this past presidential election, it provided a humorous look at politics.

The setting of the movie is 1888 and Grover Cleveland is running against Benjamin Harrison for president.

Here are some tips to use when watching it.

Play I Spy Musical Instruments
In the opening act the family is rehearsing, try to identify the instruments that each member is playing.
These are the instruments we identified:
drum, cymbals, piccolo, tuba, trumpet, recorder, trombone, banjo, flute, and shakers. If some of these instruments are new to your student try researching them before watching the movie.

Government Review
Make sure your students understand the Electoral College and popular vote. This will help to understand how Cleveland received the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College.

In many of the songs the family sings about a lot of historical events: Valley Forge, Lincoln and the Civil War,
Patrick Henry’s famous speech, Nathan Hale, and Paul Revere. It was a great review of what we have learned in American history up to this point.

Only 38 states were in the Union when the election happened. Identify those states. These states were NOT states yet: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

Locate the Black Hills of South Dakota on a map. This is the area that Joe Carder wanted Republicans to move to.

Do you know what soft shoe tapping is? The father does a nice skit of soft shoe tapping. Maybe you would like to try a dance skit of your own.

Discussion Questions
1) Does music really cross all boundaries? The father explains that even through he is a Republican he feels he can sing a song about electing a Democrat.

2) Should a Republican sing at the Democratic Convention?

3) Would you move your family to a new area for political reasons?

4) Do you think a president should win the popular vote and the Electoral College to become president?

*Warning a feisty brawl breaks out when Harrison is elected by the Electoral College after losing the popular vote. There are men drinking beer at the party.
The One and Only
I added this post as a PDF The-One-and-Only

If you stop by 7sistershomeschool they have a post on making White Christmas into a fun study. I have never seen it so on the list it goes.

Ivory Soap Mini Unit
History/Civil War
In 1837 Mr. Proctor and Mr. Gamble began making and selling soap and candles. During the Civil War government contracts to provide the Union Army with soap and candles kept the factory busy. In 1879 Mr. Gamble’s son developed Ivory Soap. Proctor and Gamble has a great PDF that outlines the history of their company.
•Fill up the bathtub with some warm water. Allow your Civil War soldiers to hand wash their shirts with Ivory Soap. Did they notice that the soap floats? If you have some other kinds of soap, see if they can float.

Half of a bar of soap                                   After two minutes in the microwave

Science/Chemistry (Ivory Soap Experiment) 
Soap is a form of matter because it takes up space. Describe its physical properties: size, shape, smell and color.
•Using a bar of Ivory Soap and another kind of soap, have your students fill out this lab sheet for the Ivory Soap experiment ivory-soap-exp ivory-soap
Steven Spangler shares information about Ivory Soap on his web site.

•Explain how when Ivory Soap was first made it didn’t float. About 3 years into the manufacturing the gentleman who was running the machine forgot to turn it off and went to lunch. This whipped a lot of air into the soap. He didn’t say anything to his employer but packaged the soap and sent it the stores. Later mail started coming in asking for more soap that floated.

Do you think the gentleman should have told his boss about his mistake?
What does the bible say about God turning bad things into good? Or confessing your mistakes?
•Read Proverbs 21, verse 2 states: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.


Sewing Buttons with Boys
We are studying the civil war this marking period. My boys are engrossed with anything soldier and army. I brought them to the table to discuss the necessary skills a soldier needs. The boys were quick to mention marching, battle strategies, and necessary weapons.

I interrupted my boys and asked them, “Did mothers follow their boys to war? Did wives go with their husbands?”
“No” they replied. They were only aware of women nurses and spies.

Well, what happened when a soldier’s button fell off, or he got a hole in his pants? That soldier had to know how to sew a button and mend a hole.

I have now convinced my boys that to further their learning on becoming a good soldier, they must learn to sew on buttons. They were eager to try.


All American History Jr. Government Lesson

All American History Jr.
After a quick trip to the library to gather books on the three branches of government, I printed out the folderbook figures and notebook pages from the mini government lessons in All American History Jr.


All American History Jr Warm-up Lesson:

  • To introduce our government lesson I placed 12 items on a cookie sheet. I chose items that related to different kinds of government. Some of the items I found were: courthouse building, dagger, dart gun, queen figure, a ruler, pencil of the presidents, army men, and a crown.
  • Then I covered the items with a towel, putting 1 minute on a timer, I allowed my boys to study the items. When the timer went off I covered the items back up. Then they had a few minutes to write down everything they could remember.
  • First I uncovered the ruler and asked what it had in common with government. We discussed how government makes “the rules” we follow. Next I uncovered the crown and queen figure to discuss monarchy and followed by the dagger and dart gun to discuss dictatorship. The pencil and courthouse helped to discuss a republic and democracy.

Now that their brains were warmed up, we read a book on the three branches of government.

Instead of doing another folderbook, I chose to use the figures on a posterboard. I sketched out a 3-branch tree and we taped the folderbook figures on the poster. They cut out leaves and on each leaf they wrote a description on each branch of government. We hung the poster up on the wall to review for the next few days.

I really liked the larger visual of the posterboard and plan to complete a few more this year.

We did go ahead and add the figures for veto, how a bill becomes a law, and Electoral College. Now they are ready for tomorrow’s lessons.


All American History JR Planning Session

Today I am spending some much needed planning time on All American History JR. Volume 2.

I am a planner, I love to have things done ahead of time, because the littlest thing can throw me off track, like no tape or printer ink ☺
First I printed out the color pages, notebook pages, maps and puzzles for the first semester. Then scanning through the lesson plans to know which map and puzzle go in which lesson, I put together their notebooks. I use the color page as the beginning of the lesson, since my boys like to color while I read to them. Then I added the notebook pages, followed by the map and the puzzles. Any other additional work and activities can be added as we complete the lessons.
Notebook cover


I did design a fun cover sheet for their notebooks, later they will color in some of the images and add some stickers. (OH I am sharing that cover sheet here: Blank-AAH-cover

Last year cutting out figures, taking notes and assembling the folderbooks really slowed us down. This year we have assembled the books in advance. With a pencil, I labeled the back of the information inserts and placed them in a plastic bag. This way they can just tape in the information and decorate the figures as they read the lessons. My son finds it difficult to pull out the important information from the lesson, I am going to use the folderbook as a guide for that information, and then have him fill in the notebook pages.

I printed out the challenge cards and timeline figures and hired my teenager to cut them out and place them in a plastic bag. Now they are in my teacher bin waiting for school to start.

The week before we actually start school, I am going to spend that time completing the Mini-Government lesson. This should be a great way to ease back into school and get ready for this coming election year!

Are you planning for All American History this school year? Have any ideas you want to share? Please leave it in the comments!

 All American History Jr


Revolutionary War Battles with Green Army Men

Green Army Men
We are gearing up for quarter 3 in All American History Jr. on the Revolutionary War. My youngest son loves to set up battles with green army men. On our last field trip to a battle field my son discovered in the gift store themed army men. He does not forget these kind of finds.

I knew I was going to need to come up with game plan to change the look of the green army men. A quick trip to the Dollar Store landed me a pack of light green army men and a pack of dark green army men.

A quick decision was made for the pack of dark green army men to become the minutemen.

Now the pack of the light green army men really needed to be red to represent the red coats. Hmm how to make this work….

Changing Green Army Men Into Red Coats:

  • First we covered the table with paper.
  • Using a bottle of red finger nail polish we painted the coats of each soldier.

I allowed him to paint each one. He was happy to have both sides of the armies ready to reenact battles from the Revolutionary War. I can’t wait to see my son use these soldiers to display the battle tactics of each army.

Next week we are going to look at a new DVD series, Soldiering Through History: Revolutionary War.

A great collection of army men.

Design Your Own Colony

Design Your Own Colony

A creative writing wrap-up to our colonial studies using All American History Jr  vol. 1

Design Your Own Colony Supplies:

  • Map of 13 colonies
  • Notebook paper for answering questions
  • Blank white paper for designing a flag
  • Crayons or markers for designing the flag

We talked about what we learned or remembered about Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay Colonies. I gave the boys a list of questions for them to answer about their colony.

Questions to Answer to Design Your Own Colony:

1. What will you name your colony?

2. Will your colony be founded for money or religious freedom?

3. Where will you build your colony?

4. How will you handle relations with the local Native Americans?

5. What type of government will you have? A democracy? A monarchy?

6. How will you get people to settle in your colony?

7. Write 10 laws that colonist should follow in living in your colony.

My boys were excited to share their choices with everyone. Now picking names required a little extra brainstorming, but soon we had names and locations decided.

The real laughs came from the laws written for their colonies.

Here are the ones that made us laugh:

1. All stores will close at 6pm.  Why? Well Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a men healthy, wealthy and wise.” So stores need to close so people can go to bed.

2. There will be no adultery. Do you know what that word means? “No, but it says in the bible not to do it.”

3. There will be no guns in town limits. Why? I don’t want my brother to shoot me.

After answering questions the boys went on to design a flag for their colonies.  Now we are ready to move onto the Revolutionary War, I am sure the boys will love my next hands-on idea. It will include army men and red fingernail polish.