This week’s discussion question…

This week’s discussion: Would you allow your high schooler to play an M rated video game that is history based (like Assassins Creed III)? Click the link if you aren’t familiar with the game. It’s set during the American Revolution and is fairly well-researched history-wise.

https://www.cnn.com/2012/10/19/tech/gaming-gadgets/assassins-creed-3-history/index.html

Our family had policies that varied over the years with different children. We had games we would not allow in the house and others we didn’t mind (example: our daughter enjoyed playing Age of Empires). We never forbid games outright (unless one of our kids “needed” a break from technology *cough* or was grounded, lol). I enjoy gaming and sometimes would play with the kids (or would hog a game on my own PC, lol).

This conversation isn’t to judge anyone, but to get a discussion going. ūüėČ What is your family’s policy about video games? What exceptions do you make (if any)?

This post is also cross-posted on the Guest Hollow Facebook page, the Guest Hollow High School Curriculum group and the Guest Hollow High School History Group. ūüôā Feel free to comment here (via the comments) or one the above linked FB pages.

History Timeline Schedule Update

Homeschool History Curriculum

It was recently brought to my attention that some visitors to my site couldn’t access the entire right-hand side of the online Awesome History Timeline Schedule pages. I’ve fixed the html and now you should be able to see ALL of the assignments, even if you have a smaller monitor screen. Just scroll back and forth horizontally using the bottom of your browser bar.

For those of you unfamiliar with this FREE homeschool history curriculum, it’s completely based on WHEN things happened and covers both American and world history at the same time. It’s set up so that you can study American history by itself, world history by itself or both together (my preference). It’s totally flexible and can work as a stand-alone curriculum or can be used to supplement any other history program.

I designed it because I got sick and tired of history curriculums jumping from one event to the next going back and forth in time. How confusing! ¬†It was always difficult to keep track of what was happening in the context of time. It was also nearly impossible to see how so many events in history are interrelated!¬†With the History Timeline Schedule, a student can immediately see in a VISUAL context things like how the French Revolution followed the American Revolution, what was happening in the Americas during Henry the VIII’s reign, and that Victoria became Queen of England right after Texans lost the Battle of the Alamo.

As with all my other homeschool programs, I’ve scheduled in lots of goodies like “living books”, colorful non-fiction, hands-on activities, video suggestions, map assignments, art & music studies. It’s probably best used as-is for 6th graders and up, but you can easily adapt it for 1st grade to adult learners.

The History Timeline Schedule is totally flexible! Don’t like a book I scheduled in or can’t access it at your local library for free? Replace it with ANY other suitable book. Just plug your book (or activity or video) into the correct time slot. It’s that easy! Want even more book and video suggestions? Visit my free History Shelf that follows the same timeline format but has hundreds and hundreds more book and video suggestions for an even greater variety of ages.

Happy homeschooling!

State Test Results Show Otter’s Curriculum Works

…for us anyway! ūüėČstar test

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I recently received Otter’s results from the California state STAR test he took last spring and I’m very happy with the results. Otter did quite well in all the tested subjects, but he scored ADVANCED in science and would have also scored advanced in history except for one category of history on the test we hadn’t studied yet. That one category brought his history score down a little bit,¬†just below¬†the advanced cut-off.

A sample of Otter’s science scores (chemistry and a variety of other science topics):

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Despite not reaching the advanced score for history, Otter got top results in the other history categories we’ve covered in our homeschool (like Ancient Civilizations, Middle Ages, Renaissance & Reformation, etc.), even in history topics we haven’t studied for years!

I don’t like the STAR tests, but they do allow me to see how Otter compares to other students in the state. To see he’s scoring advanced in the areas where *I* designed his curriculum is really a payoff for all the untold hours of hard work creating¬†Otter’s science and history programs.

The bottom line is that I know what works for my son. It’s so encouraging to see him scoring¬†so¬†well despite some learning struggles we are working very hard to overcome.¬†I can’t guarantee these kinds of results from my curriculum for anyone else, but it’s satisfying to see it’s working for Otter, since he’s who I designed it for, after all! ūüôā

If you are teaching a student who is struggling,¬†DON’T get discouraged. Keep on going and hang in there. It’s taken us¬†years¬†to get to where Otter is currently in regards to academics and there is still a lot of hard work to be done before he graduates and heads off for college. Some students are slow to blossom, but when they do…the reward is somehow so much sweeter for all the trying.

A Walk-through of Otter’s Timeline

As promised in an earlier post where I featured the free timeline printables available on my website, here is a¬†walk-through¬†of Otter’s timeline.

I’ve had Otter work on a timeline ever since Kindergarten. He filled up his first timeline and is currently working on the one I feature below. This second one will last him through high school. It’s not the timeline I offer on my site (my own personal timeline actually uses those printables – yes, I’ve made one too over the years with the kids!). Otter’s current timeline is¬†one I purchased from WinterPromise years ago. I actually don’t like the WinterPromise timeline very much because the background isn’t clean and uncluttered. Also, the pages face each other, so in between each timeline spread you have blank pages. I believe WinterPromise designed their timeline this way so you can insert maps and other items in between the timeline pages in the appropriate time period. We don’t use it like that though since I put those types of papers in Otter’s history notebook, so it makes flipping through the timeline a little more difficult. I do like that the pages are sturdy card stock.

Timelines are a great way to SEE history unfolding and to be able to better understand the march of events and people through time. Our timelines are a scrapbook of memories of all the things we’ve studied and also a great way to visually review our history lessons. Otter really enjoys flipping through the pages. We usually play a little “game” when we pull it out where we verbally pick our favorite image or item studied on each page.

First I’ll show you some of Otter’s timeline pages and then I’ll dissect an individual page and point out some of the different items on it. His timeline is in a THICK notebook with really sturdy binder rings. I chose this type of timeline because it’s easier to handle, store and doesn’t take up space on the wall, etc. I’ve used wall timelines with the big kids, in the past, but found that eventually they have to come down off the wall (even if you leave it up for years) and then they aren’t really practical to store. I wanted more of a scrapbook style BOOK that could be kept and shown to Otter’s kids someday. A wall timeline, while neat for awhile, is just junk when you are finished with it.

Click on each picture to see it larger (my apologies to those of you reading this post in an RSS feed where the pictures may be featured full size). I’m not showing ALL the pages, just several examples from different time periods.

1200-1000 B.C.

As you can see on this page spread, there are a variety of items pasted in: books we’ve read, people and events we’ve studied and even pictures of “things” from that time period like Solomon’s temple and a picture of Canaan merchants. Other¬†timeline¬†pages from this era (not pictured) show an Egyptian home and other similar things that show not just an event or person, but how people lived.

Homeschool timeline page

600-400 B.C.

Besides people and events, we also sometimes put in inventions (such as the Chinese kite) or discoveries and advancements in science, math (Pythagorean theorem as seen below) and even art and/or artists.

Timeline example

 

500-700 A.D.

Even though we are Christians, I’ve always felt it important to cover major people and events from other religions. In the page spread below, you can see Otter’s timeline entry for¬†Muhammad as well as the cover of a book about him that we checked out from the library.

Timeline example

700-900 A.D.

On the¬†left-hand¬†page on the entry for King Egbert I’ve placed a small¬†genealogy¬†symbol to show that we directly descended from him. Otter has enjoyed learning about famous people in our family tree and we make sure to mark them in his timeline for an extra bit of fun.

Homeschool timeline

1500-1550 A.D.

There are a lot of WinterPromise timeline figures (created by Homeschool in the Woods) on this page spread. They are the black and white ones with a bunch of text underneath. Later on I decided I liked my homemade timeline figures better as they were more customized and colorful so we switched to them after we left off using the WinterPromise curriculum.

Homeschool timeline example

 

1550-1600 A.D.

As you can see from the pages below, some parts of Otter’s timeline are not as full as others.

Homeschool timeline

 

Timeline page

Here I’ve dissected a timeline page in a bit more detail so you can see specific things we’ve entered in. You can see how we incorporate the covers of various books we read as we move through our history studies (we use the custom made GuestHollow history curriculum I created which is available for free on my website). I get the pictures we use in our timeline from the Internet and then I paste them into a timeline template page via either Photoshop or Microsoft Word (I have templates created for both programs). You can download a ¬†free timeline figure¬†template from the timeline section of my website.

Timeline page

 

So there you have it! We really love our timelines! I think they are really helpful for seeing the big picture and for remembering things we studied in our history lessons. If you haven’t started a timeline with your kids, I highly recommend it. They are a fun and colorful addition to any history curriculum that your kids can look back on and remember their lessons in the years to come.

Siege Tower

I like to include a variety of projects and extras for most of our school subjects. As one mom who recently wrote me put it…it’s the “whipped cream and cherry on top” of our studies! Here’s a recent project Otter made for history:

 

It’s one thing to read about a siege tower. It’s quite another to actually construct one and see how it works first hand. That’s some major whipped cream and cherry action right there.

You can order your own siege tower from Pathfinders here.

We are moving out of the middle ages now and heading into the Renaissance. My Awesome Timeline History Schedule has been a great success and I look forward to continuing with it. If you’d like a copy, send me an email.

Learning about Egypt

In history we are finally wrapping up ancient Egypt! Here are some pictures of some recent projects:

This papyrus kit was a big hit. You get real bundles of papyrus, a plain sheet of papyrus paper and another sheet with a printed outline on it of an Egyptian scene you can color or paint. The kit comes with instructions on how to make your own sheet of papyrus paper. We ordered ours from Rainbow Resource.
We never did successfully create a piece of paper from the plant fibers, but the kit was still worthwhile to get to look at/feel a sheet of real papyrus paper (which is quite rough and sturdy!) and to see the plant material that makes it.

Papyrus kit

Here’s a map of Egyptian sites on the Nile from Remembering God’s Awesome Acts. I didn’t schedule this book into Otter’s ancient history schedule even though I think it makes a good supplement. We just didn’t have the time or interest to use all of it. If your student really wants to dig into early Biblical history and Egypt, you might want to check it out.

map

This Lift The Lid On Mummies kit comes with lots of mummy making “stuff”. I bought it years ago to use with the “big kids. Now it was Otter’s turn, but he didn’t like it as much as the others had.

Lift the Lid on Mummies

This is a lift the flap Rosetta Stone with a hieroglyphic translation exercise:

Rosetta stone

I’ve been working with Otter on narrating summaries. After I read a selection from our history to him, I ask him questions about it (to help him pick out the “main” facts). Then I have him narrate out loud. After that he writes his narrations down on notebooking pages and files them in his history notebook:

Notebooking pages

For a great article on narration, click here to go to Jimmie’s Squidoo page.

Here is Moses from Famous Figures of Ancient Times: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble:

Moses

Otter also painted King Tut. We used a simple lesson from the Art Projects For Kids website. I love some of the art lessons on Kathy’s site and plan to visit again soon for some lesson ideas!

The paint container in the pictures was made from the bottom of a plastic milk jug. It’s perfect- it even has raised areas inside to keep the colors of the paint separate.

How to Draw King Tut

Otter also colored a map of the 12 tribes of Israel instead of the scheduled map lesson in Mystery of History. You can download it for free from Bible History Online.

map

History Pocket Projects

Here are some more pics of Otter’s recent projects for ancient history from History Pockets.

A pop-up Egyptian courtyard :

Pop up

A cut & paste tomb:

Egyptian tomb

A flip-flap booklet of Egyptian gods and goddesses:

Egyptian gods

A pyramid shape book:

pyramid

An ancient Egyptian person
(with sheer “cloth” *cough* -toilet paper- clothing overlay)

egyptian

Otter usually does his History Pocket projects during our read-alouds. It keeps his hands busy and his mind focused on the stories or information that is being read.

After I read to him, I usually ask him questions about what we read and he also often provides a narration that summarizes the material.

One of the books we finished last week is:

A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun

This adventure story is about Senmut, a boy in ancient Egypt. After his father is bitten by a Cobra, Senmut attempts to carve a statue of the healer goddess Sekhmet with the hopes it will cure his father. While working, he thoughtlessly tosses a tool and accidentally kills a sacred dove. Senmut is sent to the mines for his crime. Will he survive his harsh sentence? Will he ever see his father alive again?

Read the first chapters at Google Books.

I scheduled this book as a reader, although I actually did it as a read-aloud due to the Egyptian spirituality that is woven throughout the story. I wanted to be on hand to edit out or explain/discuss portions because I didn’t feel comfortable with a lot of it. It’s a worthwhile story though, because it gives a realistic picture of ancient Egyptian beliefs, how lives were ruled by these beliefs, and makes this ancient culture more accessible to young readers.

Otter’s rating: 5 stars

Ancient History Projects

We’ve been really busy lately. Here are some pictures of Otter’s most recent projects:

This project was from the Story of the World Activity book. Otter worked on it while we did one of our read-alouds.

A Mohenjo-Daro house made of “bricks”

Mohenjo-Daro house

You can see some pictures of this ancient city here.

Another thing we did was learn the ancient Egyptian game of Senet. Here is the game board from History Pockets. We also played versions of the game online. Guess who won? It wasn’t me!

Learn how to play Senet

Play senet against a computer

Senet

Here’s a project Otter REALLY loved: making an “ancient” map. We took one of our Mystery of History maps, crumpled it up, dabbed it with wet tea bags and then burned the edges. Just a note for the future: outline the edges of the map areas in permanent marker! Ours “washed” away with the application of the tea bags (duh).

map

I also dug out some pages and lessons from Remembering God’s Awesome Acts. I purchased it in the past for the “big” kids and they completed about half of the workbook. It’s been sitting on the shelf ever since and the last half fits perfectly with what we’re currently studying. The program mixes Bible lessons with history, art, logic, geography, culture and more. One of the lessons was about Egyptian art. Here’s Otter’s picture he drew after looking over the different art elements:

Egyptian art

As far as website news, I designed the “art” for the ancient history section. You can see it here on my rough working page for ancient history books.

Apple Mummy Project

Today Otter started an apple mummy project! I considered making a chicken mummy, but that seemed so wasteful… so we settled on making apple mummies instead.

Otter set up the supplies:

  • 1 cup Epsom salt
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 4 containers (we used disposable cups)
  • Something to label the cups with (we used a permanent marker)
  • One apple
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

Apple Mummy

Otter cut the apple into quarters (4 pieces).

Apple mummy experiment

We then labeled the cups with the following labels: control, salt, baking soda, and Epsom salts.

After that, each individual piece of apple was weighed and its weight was recorded on the cup that it went into.

Apple mummy project

Otter poured the substances into the cups over the apples. The cup labeled control didn’t have anything added to it (other than the apple slice).

Apple mummy

So now the apple slices are ready to be put in a place where they won’t be disturbed for 2-3 weeks! When we pull them out, we’ll instantly weigh each piece and compare it to its original weight. We’ll determine which substance did the best job of drying the apple.

How to make an apple mummy

 

Famous Figures of Ancient Times

Famous figures

I ordered this book: Famous Figures of Ancient Times: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble, because I wanted to help Otter remember some of the people we are studying this year. I wasn’t sure if it would really be worthwhile to make the figures in the book, but after making two of them (Narmer and Sargon the Great), I’m really glad I scheduled this in.

The book has figures of famous people throughout ancient history to cut out and assemble. You have a choice of cutting out figures that are already colored, or ones that are black and white that you can color yourself. I really like having that option! Each figure has moveable joints and the name of the figure on the back. The front of the book has a short summary of each person and his accomplishments.

Otter cut out the figures while I did our read-alouds. Afterwards, he acted out little bits of our history lesson. We put each figure into a plastic sheet protector in his history notebook when he was done playing with them.

Otter remembers who each person is SO MUCH better than if we had just read about each one of them. Each figure is a concrete reminder of what he’s been learning about.

Here’s a blurry picture of King Narmer hanging out in Otter’s History Pocket:

King Narmer

Here’s Sargon the Great (who was accosted by King Narmer’s flail as he traipsed across Otter’s desk, lol):

Sargon the Great

I’ve scheduled in the remaining figures to complement our studies from Mystery of History and Story of the World as we go along through the year.

The author is coming out with more books in the future and I plan on getting them! Check out her website to see more figures, an example of the biographies from the front of the book and some additional titles that are coming soon.