Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pioneer Week

A couple of weeks ago, we had a homeschooling Pioneer Week. It was so fun!

My favorite project of the week was making applesauce...only it wasn't actual applesauce, it was pearsauce! I'd gotten a box of apple pears (a.k.a. Asian pears) for a fantastic price from Bountiful Baskets. I used ten of them to make pearsauce and wish I'd used more--it was a big hit! (I used this slow cooker recipe, and have also used it for a bunch of applesauce recently. It's delicious, though I do reduce the amount of water; I use a little more than half the amount the recipe calls for.)

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The reason I loved this project so much was because I used it to teach every major subject! I started by having Chickie predict what would happen to the pears when we cooked them, and how long it would take them to soften (Science). She wrote down her predictions (English/Language Arts). We talked about pioneers and why they had to make their own applesauce (Social Studies). Before we put the pears in the slow cooker, we counted them by tens, as shown in the photo above (Math). I even talked about healthy vs. unhealthy foods (Health), and I had the kids play outside while I peeled and cut pears, which is practically P.E., right?!

This was the type of project I really looked forward to when we started homeschooling!

We did one other cooking-related project. We made our own butter using these instructions (though, since we were using the butter immediately, we did not rinse it.)

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It was delicious, and, once again, I had Chickie predict how long the process would take. (With both the pearsauce and the butter, she was very close!)

As a math activity, I set up "Beth's General Store" (an idea I got from this pioneer lesson plan--the same source for the applesauce idea.)

The kids had fun choosing what items they wanted to purchase. We then counted up their totals, and I helped them use play money to pay. Chickie and Zoodle love this type of role-playing, and it makes learning fun for all of us.

The cutest activity we did was making cornhusk dolls, using these instructions.  They turned out adorable! (I'll admit, I had to do the bulk of the work on this project; it requires some advanced fine motor skills. But the kids helped!)

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Ann and I have been coordinating our themed homeschooling weeks--you can read about her Pioneer Week here. We then gather together to do activities related to the theme. Our kids had fun playing marbles and Hoops and Sticks (another idea from this lesson plan.)

Coqui and Chickie both quickly figured out how to use their "sticks" (wooden spoons) to push their "hoops" (offbrand Hula Hoops from the dollar store!)

The next week, we enjoyed the main event--the field trip that inspired our Pioneer Week. Ann and I took our kids (along with others from a homeschool group to which we belong) to a nearby museum made up of all sorts of pioneer-era structures. The kids got to see how people in that day lived, even observing a longhorn bull and a real blacksmith! (Click photos to enlarge.)

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(In that bottom-left picture I was comparing my comfy toeshoes to the narrow, painful-looking boots women of that day wore!)

It really was such a fun week. We did other projects I didn't take pictures of. Most of those activities (as well as many we didn't do) are in these Pioneer links on my Delicious bookmarking site. If you're planning a Pioneer Week, I hope you find my links helpful.

Pioneer Week was a lot of fun...and a lot of work! We don't always do such involved theme weeks, but I do like having a theme (complex or simple!) around which to base our lessons each week. It gives me direction as I plan, and it makes things a lot more fun for the kids!


SurvivorBlessing said...

I had so much fun with the kids, and I am learning alot right alongside with them. It gets the kids involved and learning fun - the way it should be.

Amanda said...

This is fantastic, Beth! It looks like the kids had a great time and learned a lot! Kudos to you (and them :)!

Unknown said...

It looks like your homeschool adventure is going great. I'm a little jealous, I want to go to school with your kids. ;)

Call Me Cate said...

I love all of the projects you're doing! I remember loving themed learning at that age so I bet the kids are having a blast too. And spider math is perfect - every kid should be able to learn math using something else that interests them. Down with boring fruit subtraction (unless real, yummy fruit is involved)!