Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Master's Coming!

        This morning our house was dark with a thunderstorm moving through the area.  The boys had all been playing upstairs in the bedrooms with the curtains shut using flashlights playing different games and I was struck with an idea.  I had checked out several books about the underground railroad and slaves trying to escape to freedom this week at the library.  I wanted to at least start teaching some history this week but aside from reading the books I didn't have much planned.  If we're going to really focus on a subject each day I have to make it more exciting than just reading; the boys aren't going to sit there for an hour while I read.  Unfortunately I didn't have any hands- on lessons planned to go with this introduction.  That's where inspiration struck.   I wanted the boys to understand what the slaves felt like and how dangerous the journey was for all the people involved, abolitionists too.  I decided to turn each of their rooms into a stop on the underground railroad.  We kept them nice and dark and used some big blankets to make a fort in each room (some were barns, some were holes under the floorboards, and some were shacks.   In each fort we read one of the books and discussed it before using the north star to run to the next room.  We occasionally had to stop reading and turn off our flashlights when we heard master coming or the trackers and their dogs at the door.  One time we even heard someone asking about us to the abolitionist whose house we were staying in (This was all prompted by the boys!).  They had so much fun and we read three wonderful books:  Freedom's a- Callin Me by Ntozake Shange, Minty- A story of young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder, and Sojourner Truth's Step- Stomp Stride.  I'm sure this is one lesson they'll remember for a while.  After we were "free" in the north Evan went back with his laser gun to help free more slaves and kill the bad guys in true 4 year old fashion while Ian and Alec played an on- line freedom train game that you can find here on the National Geographic site.
Our 2nd stop.  It was pitch black without the flash!   
         I set Ian and Alec up with a new card game for math this morning.  It's a version of war with face cards and 10's removed (Ace is worth one).   The boys each flip over the top three cards to make a three digit number.  They are allowed to move those three cards around in any way they wish then read out the number they made.  The one with the highest three digit number wins! You could use multiple decks and even use four or five digit numbers but I wasn't sure how challenging three digit numbers would be for them.  It was a quick, fun, simple lesson on place value, number recognition, order and sequencing.
                Next I asked them each to choose one page in their cursive books and practice some cursive.  I was totally shocked when Alec started crying and claimed he doesn't want to learn cursive now.  I could have strangled him since I wasn't planning on teaching him this year but he insisted he wanted to know.  I actually bought him two workbooks since I figured he breeze right through the books with all his interest and focus.  Now all I can think is "what a waste of money!"  Ian happily wrote one lowercase letter of the whole alphabet in his best work and was done within minutes.  This was a quick review of the letters he'd learned last year before we jump into learning uppercase letters.  He did a great job too; I don't ever remember seeing such good penmanship from him!  Alec finally admitted as much as he wanted to learn cursive he doesn't want to learn letters.  That stumped me for a minute but then I told him he could try jumping into writing words if he wanted to but that it might be a little harder.  We'll see how that goes, though I'm pushing for him to at least write each letter once! 

I only needed to review a few letters with Ian

Alec did a good job on  half of the uppercase letters- first time EVER!
Alec had a hard time with "b"

1 comment :

  1. Perfect and awesome lesson on the underground railroad! Love it!