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.
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.
|Our 2nd stop. It was pitch black without the flash!|
|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"|