We are having so much fun homeschooling, no wonder some people think it should be illegal, LOL. In all seriousness, I'm grateful to be able to think outside the box and really learn so many different topics through the Prairie Primer unit study. AND our family is experiencing some extra socialization this year due to our involvement with a Prairie Primer co-op. It is allowing us to be even more creative in how we learn and learn from others as well.
The month of October found us studying the book "Little House On the Prairie". We do 4 daily assignments on our own each week and then get together twice a month with 4 other families to do joint activities and listen to each family's presentation. It was my month to be organize our co-op time and I had a blast. As a group we memorized "Psalm 8" and learned two songs together (The Blue Juniata and Old Dan Tucker). We leaned heavily on the Native American theme. I found the most incredible craft book called, "More Than Moccasins". It was perfect a craft-challenged person such as myself. Each craft was easy AND best of all, very educational about Native American life.
The first week we got together, the kids made tepees out of card stock, toothpicks and tape. This was so easy! Hailey made her outfit out at home using a brown paper bag, tape and water colors.
Each family made tepees and then we arranged them by "Clan", with the opening of the tepees to the east so that the sun would greet the families as the dawn broke. The large one in the center is the council tepee. Loved the designs everyone came up with. We even had a few tiny ones for the dogs to live in. Apparently, the dogs would drag their own tepees behind them when they moved from place to place. That was new to me!
Josiah wearing the headdress he made at home and showing off his tepees. He made a coyote at the opening of one of them.
The other craft was decorated darts we made out of card stock. They taped paper "feathers" to them and everything. The kids and I made hoops out of red osier dogwood sticks and then hung them at various lengths from a doorway at the church we use for our co-op meetings. The kids tried to throw their darts through the hoops. This was good practice for hunting (Indians would use spears). The Indian children would also see how far they could slide these darts across the ice in the winter. Whoever got the furthest won. Kind of like how we do paper airplane contests today.
I asked each child and mom to pick out an Indian name and sign it using the Plains Indian Sign Language Dictionary. It was more fun than charades! Josiah was "Red Eagle". He made his breech cloth out of some old capris I had laying around.
Two weeks later we all met again. Since then, my husband and Josiah killed and butchered a rabbit and naturally tanned the rabbit skin Josiah is wearing over his breech cloth. It was the first time they ever attempted to tan anything and I have to admit they did a really good job. Michael is going to try a deerskin tonight and sheep skins later this fall. Each family did a presentation. We did ours on the Minnesota Massacre. I had no idea this had taken place. We researched how and why the Indians went on the warpath in 1862 and what the results were. It was tragic on all accounts (around 800 white settlers and soldiers killed or wounded), leading to the largest mass execution in history (38 Indians were executed).
Another family did a presentation about forts and stockades - what their functions were and how they were constructed. We still have many in Oregon as I'm sure other states do.
Many times Indians would use edible items to make necklaces like corn and seeds. We used tri-colored penne pasta. We used hemp cord., keeping with the all natural theme. Hint:: If you tape one end of the hemp cord to the table, it is way less frustrating for children, because otherwise they just slide off the other end if they forget and accidentally knock it off the table.
It worked great and was really easy. Each child could create whatever pattern they wanted. Josiah's newly tanned rabbit skin is spread out on the table.
Our other craft for the second meeting in Oct was paper weaving. This was so fun, easy and great for the little ones as it taught them about how opposites work. The older kids loved it, too. We squared our mats up and taped along the edges. Another craft idea from the "More Than Moccasins" book.
We always have a potluck during our second meeting of the month. We try to use recipes from the book we are studying that month and using the "Little House Cookbook". I think this has been my favorite part of the co-op.
Got a picture of the kids showing off their Indian necklaces and paper woven mats. I love that most of the kids dress up, and even some of the moms (who me, naaahh ;). It makes it really fun.
So we've already started "On the Banks of Plum Creek" and continue to have a great time. I'm really enjoying all the bible and character lessons in this book. It is generating some really good discussions around here.