Wednesday, May 13, 2020

An Inclusive American History Curriculum

When I began homeschooling, I was starstruck by all the classic children's books. I grew up in the public school system with parents who weren't readers themselves. I continued on to college to get a degree in English, mostly because I loved grammar... but of course, soon I found myself reading many classics. So I learned the classic adult books. But I had never been welcomed into the world of classic children's literature. Until I started homeschooling.

I hopped full on the train. Found all the best book lists. Borrowed them all from the library. Bought even more of them. And I started Sophie's first year of homeschool, checking off every single book on the list of classics for kindergarteners.

But I never really stop researching. And as I continued to research, I would see snippets here and there of people pointing out issues with classics. "This book is so good, but you have to edit while you read because it calls Native Americans 'savages.'" Or, "This book talks about Christopher Columbus like he's a hero and doesn't give an accurate portrayal of the way he treated Natives." 

I was not educated enough. So I had to read all the comments, click on the links, read the articles. I followed every rabbit trail laid out before me, and soon I found myself in a heap of wreckage. I wouldn't say my history education was very strong, but I certainly thought I knew my stuff. But enough rabbit trails, enough listening, enough reading made me realize that I was given a biased history education. My history was from a white westerner's point of view, and it left out the side of the Native American and people of color. 

So I left the classics' train. And I jumped on the enlightenment train. Sometimes it still includes classics. But it's a train that is inclusive and seeks to give a full picture of history. Sometimes the train charges full force ahead, and sometimes it has to stop, refuel, backtrack, and correct its path. But I am fully on this train, committed to giving my children an education that is not white-washed or westernized but rather inclusive, diverse, and honest.

I am constantly learning and constantly updating my shelves, but I wanted to share my favorite books. At the end of this post, I will share my favorite sources. Don't miss that part! I am only relaying information to you that I got from others, whom I'm so thankful for. If we want to include indigenous people and black people in our history curriculum, we must listen to them. Most of my book ideas were a direct result of listening to them and their recommendations.

These are three incredible spines. They are so important. Each book comes in an adult format if you'd like to read those for yourself, but honestly, you could start with these young people versions and learn a shocking amount. All of these focus on different matters and are all important in their own way. If I had to recommend one to start with, though, I'd go with Zinn's.

I'm really big on having a spine for history, and then supplementing with biographies and historical fiction. It's hard to find a history spine for young children that isn't white-washed. Betsy Maestro's books are my favorite I have found, though. The spines mentioned above (Zinn, Dunbar-Ortiz, and Takaki) are better to start around 4th grade, I think, so Maestro's books would be good for before that.

These books are all just so excellent for learning about the Native Americans before contact. For most of us, and for many curriculums today, America starts when the white settlers came. But that's a false narrative. This land has been here for an incredibly long time with people walking it. And those people (Native Americans) are still amongst us today! The top two books are good for a parent/teacher's own education, and the bottom three books are good to use for a curriculum with children.

Picture books are a lovely way to learn about Native Americans - both historical figures as well as legends. Below are some of our favorites. These are a great supplement to a curriculum. Biographies and legends make a curriculum come to life!

It's fun and important to know how people live. We not only are better able to understand the people but also the land we live on, if we live in the Americas. These are some of my favorite books for learning about the types of homes Native Americans lived in. We personally don't live far from mounds, and it's a really neat place to visit.
Bobbie Kalman - Native Homes
Bobbie Kalman - Life in a Longhouse Village
Bobbie Kalman - Native Nations of the Western Great Lakes

A few more books about Native American historical figures and legends that we love, and a book to understand that Native people still live amongst us today!
Tehanetorens - Legends of the Iroquois (this is a really fun one!)

Basically anything by Joseph Bruchac is wonderful. He's a good name to know. Both of these books are good ones. Once your children are older, continuing to read biographies and historical fiction is important, but the books will get longer.

Historical fiction is one of our very favorites in our house. Louise Erdrich and Joseph Bruchac are simply the best when it comes to historical fiction about Native Americans. The Birchbark House series is a great series if you're looking for one with a Little House on the Prairie feel but that covers the Native's perspective.

I consider all of these good spines to cover black history. James Haskins is an author I like, and his books are the top four, but he has many more as well. These books all cover a time period or different slave accounts rather than one person.
Doreen Rappaport is an author I really love, and she has some books not pictured that I would also recommend:

There are a lot of great picture books about different movements of black history, from slavery to emancipation to the civil rights movement. Here are some we love.

Picture book biographies are simply one of our favorite!

I truly find that there's nothing like historical fiction to make history come to life! (Thank you Amber from Heritage Mom for so many of these recommendations!)

Don't forget to introduce your children to other voices in other subject areas as well!
Poetry - Consider Phyllis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Joseph Bruchac, Louise Erdrich, and Effie Lee Newsome
Artists - Consider Jacob Lawrence, Horace Pippin, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Helen Hardin, and Pablita Velarde
Music - Consider Scott Joplin, Elizabeth Cotten, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Duke Ellington, and Robbie Robertson

Some of my favorite sources:

* Heritage Mom - Amber is simply amazing. As a black mama raising black children, she provides a world of wisdom on giving children a black perspective in history as well as other subjects (composers, artists, fiction, field trips).
* The Parallel Narrative - I've gotten a lot of book ideas from this site. She breaks it down by time period and subject area.
* Living Books of all People Facebook group - If you're on Facebook, be sure to join this group. People are continually posting new books and resources, and the search bar is great when you need to find information on a specific area.
* Oyate - This site has been really informative about Native Americans. They review books and also have a shop with books they recommend broken into different categories.
* American Indians in Children's Literature - So many great reviews on this site!
* Woke Homeschooling - This is a curriculum thoughtfully put together by homeschooling mama Delina Prcye McPhaull.
* A Broken Flute- This is a pricey book. I borrowed a copy from the library, but I will say it's worth every penny should you choose to buy. Doris Seale and her companions go through hundreds of books on Native Americans, reviewing them thoroughly. It gave me a lot of ideas for books to buy but also after reading through it, I began to have a clearer idea of what to look for and what to avoid when looking for books on indigenous people.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Homeschool: Grade 3, Term 2 (2019-2020)

In the Charlotte Mason world, I call the "grade" Sophie is in "Form 1A." But in trusty American talk, she is in third grade. This was our second term for third grade.

As mentioned in this post, these are the subjects we cover in a term:

Natural History
Physical Education
Music Appreciation
Art Appreciation

We use the scheduling cards from A Delectable Education to schedule each of these subjects into our week, some being just once a week, and some being every day, some being 10 minutes, and some being 20.

Here is what we feasted on in Term 2:

Bible: We read from the actual Bible text, and we are reading through Joshua/Judges and Luke this year. We covered Judges 2-7 and Luke 7-12. We read roughly 10-20 verses a day, seeking to cover one whole "episode" but not (typically) an entire chapter in a day. We alternated days between Judges and Luke, and we didn't read all passages in Judges.

Poetry: We choose one poet to focus on each term, and for term three, we focused on Langston Hughes. We read Langston Hughes' Poetry for Young People. Reading black poetry was new for us, and it brought up a lot of good discussions. We read poetry every day, so we read poems by Langston Hughes 3 times a week, and on the other days, we read from A Child’s Book of Poems and Mother Goose by Gyo Fujikawa. 

Math: We continued to us Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic Book 2. This book can easily be used for 2nd and 3rd grade, though it's always most important to go at a child's pace and be where they actually are at in understanding. There are plans for the rest of this series to come out in the next couple years. We finished this book this term- before the next book is out, unfortunately. We just continued on with multiplication tables and problems. We covered multiplication from numbers 7-10 this term, as well as 10s, 100s, and 1000s. We also began short division.

Reading: We no longer have a specific time for this in our school day. She reads on her own time, though. 

Copywork: For copywork, Sophie typically copies two lines of poetry or from a book. The goal is to visualize each word before writing it so that she can write the whole word from memory. This helps her learn to not only be a good writer but also a good speller! Sophie also has started dictation- where she looks at a short passage for a few minutes, to make sure she knows all of the words, and then I read it and she writes it out, ensuring to have correct spelling and punctuation. 

History: This year, we are covering American history from 1700-1800. I used Liberty or Death by Betsy Maestro as our spine for the term. For biography supplements, we used the following books:
- Remember the Ladies: A Story about Abigail Adams by Jeri Chase Ferris
- They Called her Molly Pitcher by Anne Rockwell
- Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (historical fiction)

Geography: We have two days that we do geography. One day is more for learning about physical geography and the general workings of the world (this is like "pre-map" work, because a child needs to understand these things before grasping a map or globe). The other day we have begun learning about specific areas of geography. We are learning this year about different countries around the world. 
Day 1 BookElementary Geography by Charlotte Mason. We only did Lessons 34 and 35 from this book this term.
Day 2 Books: - Our Big World by Barrows, Parker, and Sorensen. This term, we studied different countries in Asia as well as the South Pacific islands with the book Getting to Know the South Pacific by Charles Joy. This is an old textbook, so I've had to update a few things, but not too much. I love how it covers details about the land, resources, and people. They just don't make geography textbooks like this anymore.

Natural History: For Natural History, I choose two books that we will spend the whole term using, and then we have a special studies topic for the term (and sometimes two special studies), and I choose several books to cover that topic.
Book 1: Wildlife in the Arctic by Mary Adrian (*my girls loved this one!)
Book 2: A Walk in the Boreal Forest by Rebecca Johnson
Special Studies Books: 
Our special study was seasons and the arctic animals, and we used these books:
Crinkleroot's Nature Almanac by Jim Arnsoky
Frozen Wild by Jim Arnosky

Literature: We sure do love literature! We have two days of literature.
Day 1: We are reading Pilgrim's Progress (which is spread out over two years) (We finished this book this term.)
Day 2: Mythology- currently reading Tales of Troy and Greece by Andrew Lang. This is a retelling of The OdysseySophie loves it, but I don't believe I will use this book as early with my other daughters. It would be for the advanced student or the child who loves any and every book.

Physical Education (Drill/Dance/Play): We did some swedish drill, some exercises, and a lot of free play.

Music Appreciation: We studied Mozart this term. We read Mozart, The Wonder Boy by Opal Wheeler. We listened to String Serenade No. 13, Requiem Fantastic, Piano Sonata No. 11, Rondo Alla Turca, Clarinet Quintet in A Major, Symphony No. 31 in C, 12 variation of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Piano Sonata No. 16, Fantasia in d minor, Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, Wiegenlied, Overture. (My girls especially love Rousseau's piano performances.)

Art Appreciation: We studied Raphael. We again used the artist packets from Simply Charlotte Mason... they are great! The picture quality is incredible, and I love that they come with information on the artist and each picture. We studied Sistine Madonna, School of Athens, St. George and the Dragon, Small Cowper Madonna, An Allegory ("Vision of a Knight"), Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Ezekiel's Vision, and La Donna Valeta.

Spanish: We use took a complete break from Spanish this term. It wasn't intentional, but as I am not fluent, I needed the break this term.

Singing: We learned and sang the following songs over the term:
- Patriotic Song: "Waltzing Matilda"
- Hymn: "Simple Gifts" (Quaker hymn)
- Folksong: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
- Solfa: We used Solfa Sofa and went through Unit 2. We really like how she has her lessons set up, and my girls enjoy doing the printables that she has available each week.

Recitation: We do recitation three times a week. The purpose of recitation is not memorization (though, that often happens over the term!); the purpose is to be able to read something beautifully. Sometimes we each read a line and share the recitation, and sometimes Sophie does it all on her own. This term, we did the following:
- Religious: Brother Sun and Sister Moon
- Verses: Psalm 34:1-9, Luke 8:22-25, Luke 9:23-27
- Poems: Langston Hughes' "In Time of Silver Rain" and "I Dream a World" (Brielle, Grade 1, did "Poor Rover" and "Dreams")

Drawing: This term, we mostly veered away from using this time as Charlotte Mason would have. I was influenced by Waldorf pedagogy this year and began keeping a book for each of them where they can color and paint the things they are learning in literature. Sophie has one for Tales of Troy and Greece and Narnia and Brielle has one for fables and fairy tales.

Handicrafts/Work: The girls worked on Christmas gifts this term, and then we did clay modeling. 

Brielle is in first grade this year. While we didn't do everything the same as we did with big sister Sophie, we have a general same outline. As I learn and grow as both a person and as an educator, I find better books or different ways of teaching things... sometimes because of a better grasp on the way Charlotte Mason actually taught the subject and sometimes because I'm dipping into other pedagogies that have beautiful insight as well. Brielle is a different person than her big sister too, and I keep that in mind. However, I'm not going to write out all that we did since I have already blogged before about year 1. You can look at the pictures below to see what books we used (sometimes only parts of the books... it looks like a huge stack, I know!). And you can click on this link to read the full posts of what I have done in past years/terms with Sophie: Homeschool Archives.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Christmas Gift Guide: For Children Under 10

I had a few friends request that I make a gift guide or recommend gift ideas to them. I had great intentions of publishing this list in the middle of November, and I started it then, but alas, I am only just finally finishing it. I apologize to all of those early shoppers like myself, but if you need a last minute gift idea or want ideas for the future, here is a list of some of our very favorites. Click on the name of each item, and it will link you to the item.

Schleich Animals
Schleich makes the best animal toys... from farm animals to aquatic animals to wild animals to dragons and unicorns- they have everything!

Waytoplay Tracks
We love these tracks. They're versatile and easy to move around, and they invite imaginative play!

Calico Critters
My girls spend many hours playing with Calico Critters- definitely a beloved gift in our household!

 Play silks
I always saw play silks on "gift lists" that I looked at when my girls were younger, and while I admired them, I always wondered if the price was worth it. My girls really do enjoy them though! They use them for dress up, to carry things in, as blankets, to hang between two chairs, and many other imaginative uses. I love the open ended-ness of them.

Art Supplies
My girls love art supplies of all types. There is a large range of art supplies - from Crayola Silly Scents to Beeswax crayons to watercolor paints to Foxy Casa earth paints... and of course many others! My girls love having just a plain piece of white computer paper best, but they also enjoy coloring books, construction paper, and artist journals.

Probably my favorite gift of all- books! My girls enjoy books and being read to, and we add to our home library often. If you click on the "Books" title above, it will take you to an amazon list I have with book ideas we love for younger children. There are many great book lists out there, though!

Magnetic Tiles
We have had magnetic tiles for a few years now, and they are a much loved toy. We have several sets now so that several girls can play at once and so that we can build bigger things!

Kinetic Sand
Kinetic sand is such a great creation - sand that isn't messy! My girls enjoy playing with it just for fun, and sometimes we also use it for schoolwork.

Electronic Drawing Pad
These boards allow for children to draw and then erase and make a new drawing. My girls have played with them at other children's houses. I think they'd make a great car toy or a toy for when children have to sit quietly for an extended amount of time.

Musical Instruments
We've had musical instruments since my girls were young. We invested in a nicer set a couple years ago. Music is so good for children, and these toys get lots of use.

Flyer Pogo Pals
My sister put one of these on her son's wish list, and I thought they looked like a brilliant toy for an active young child!

Stacking Dolls
I have bought unfinished stacking dolls and painted each of my girl's a set. They play with them so often! You can buy finished ones on amazon as well, if you aren't crafty, like the one below.

Bow and Arrow
My girls have bow and arrows, and they have a lot of fun with them. We love all the things from Treasures from Jennifer- it's a great shop, and the owner is sweet and gifted!

Geoboards are fun and also a great challenge for the brain to think mathematically.

ClickityClack Wooden Toys
This etsy shop makes unfinished wooden toys. I love to buy them, paint them, and give them as gifts. My girls play with these often, and they're really reasonably priced gifts. It's fun that I am able to personalize them when I finish them as well. I paint with cheap acrylic paints from Walmart and then put a sealer on them so the paint doesn't chip.