January 15, 2013

The Great Civil War Wrap Up

I think we've pretty much exhausted our Civil War studies now.  I tried to drag it out a bit so that we don't wrap it up too soon before Culture Club, but honestly, we're done.  There's no getting around it.  We have worn this subject out and enjoyed every last second of it!  A couple of you have requested a list of books and activities that we've worked on for this unit of study, so here ya go!  Here's how the Christisons do the Civil War!

Our daily history work has included adding to our lapbooks a bit each day.  We'll spend the next couple of days reading through what's in there and prettying it up a bit, but all of the major content is in there now.   We pulled most of the lapbooking elements from the amazing Dynamic2Moms website.  They are my heroes!  There's a ton of great stuff on that site and along with the lapbooking templates, there are links to other useful resources.  And then I made a few supplementary lapbook elements for topics that we felt particularly drawn to.  If you see any of mine below that you would like copies of, e-mail me and I'll be happy to send you any files that I have.

The covers were just a coloring sheet that I made in Power Point, cute to fit the front center seam.

cicil war lapbook

This is the opening view.  Guided art of the war between brother, a graph of soldier's occupations, and the sides, which stay visible through all of the other pages, are mostly about cotton and how it related to slavery.  They learned about how the cotton gin worked and discussed how it changed the course of the south and impacted slavery.  They learned the stages of the cotton plant's grown and development, they read Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt and designed their own quilt-maps.   And in case you're not familiar with lapbooking, all of those little pictures open up and the kids have written notes related to the topic inside.  
Famous People page is entirely from Dynamic 2 Moms.  Inside each picture book is a little biography written.

There were a few things that we wanted in our lapbooks that weren't on the Dynamic 2 Moms site, so I used power point to make some additional templates or the kids just made them out of construction paper.  We made a page for escaping slavery,although there are elements of this on other pages as well.  We listened to an audio recording of Follow the Drinking Gourd and the kids made these little mini books, all decked with rhinestone drinking gourds.  And I made a mini book to help us investigate the pivotal role of the Quakers in helping free slaves, both legally and illegally and how their religion influenced several countries as they abolished slavery.  The kids drew maps to freedom around those 2 mini books.

Inside the Drinking Gourd mini book, they copied the first verse of the song and decorated with stars.

The boys became particularly interested in drummer boys, no doubt thanks to the story of John Clem.  Hannah Jane hasn't finished her drawing in the blank spaces because she is currently a little obsessed with drawing in perspective and so she appears to be planning to spend epic amounts of time on this particular drawing.  Anyway, I made a drum book and the kids wrote about the role of the drummer boy inside.  And then I made a John Clem book with pictures of him as a child and at retirement age and the kids wrote little factoids about him in there.

Each of the kids wrote journal entries as their chosen figure in the Civil War for a week's worth of writing classes.  Hannah Jane was a Quaker on the UNderground Rail Road, Hunter was a drummer boy, and Haven was a farm boy caught in the cross fire.  They coffee stained their covers and they are attached with a brad so you can spin open the pages to read the entries.  This was a fascinating project because I could see so much of their little personalities in their writing, even as they imagined being someone else.  Hannah Jane's was very empathetic and she connected so fully with being a Quaker on a mission.  Hunter wrote about witnessing all sorts of atrocities and almost every single day's entry includes the phrase, "That could have been me!"  And Haven's is all about his parents maneuvering to keep him safe even though he wants the adventure of seeing the action.

Beside that are just some random factoids.

Then there's more from Dynamic 2 Moms.  We did their Lincoln pages as we read through various Lincoln books that I'll list below.

And that's our last Dynamic2Moms page with some more general items of war discussion.  We were all a little surprised at where the line was across the map and how awkward it must have been for the states that somehow ended up on the wrong side of the line.  We talked a lot about how Lincoln didn't run on an anti-slavery platform, but on the idea that slavery wouldn't be expanded to new territories and how he had to waffle on that a bit in the early days.  The kids talked about the economic factors of the war.  In Hunter's book on that, he wrote, "The South had a crap based economy," instead of crop based.  I died laughing and didn't have  him correct it because someday he will read that and laugh out loud at himself.

On the back of the lapbook is a very well worn out copy of our newspaper.  The kids wrote articles, copied or created advertisements and illustrated them.  Sadly, the hand drawn illustrations got sort of faded out by the coffee staining process.

The boys (ages 5 and 6) both read the following books:
Phoebe the Spy
Magic Tree House Civil War on Sunday
Bull Run by Paul Fleischman (I highly recommend this book!)
Who Stole Abraham Lincoln's Thumb

Hannah Jane (age 9) read the following books:
Behind Rebel Lines
Freedom Train
Caddie Woodlawn

Books we read as a family:
Across Five Aprils
Freedom Train
Lincoln: A Pictobiography (this one was AWESOME!)
The Story of Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad
Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (we listened to this while we did other things.  It's             kind of heavy)
The Gettysburg Address
And several others that I forgot to keep record of

Other Activities:

The kids learned When Johnny Comes Marching Home on their instruments and it became their first ever ensemble piece.  Granted, it sounds very much like kid music, but it's great to hear them dealing with how to play with others and accommodate the mistakes of others in their timing.

A little warning before you click play on the video, it's minus 13 degrees outside here and it is impossible to tune those high pitched instruments in these temperatures.  Sure, they're not playing outside, but where the piano is gets pretty cold.  So, turn down your speakers a little because the high notes, when out of tune, make this crazy chirping sound that anyone who has ever been in a band knows about.  And that chirping will scream full tilt out of your computer speakers.  Haha!  Ever heard that joke, "How do you get 2 piccolos in tune?  Shoot one?"  Yeah, that holds true for a cold flute and recorder too.  They cannot be tuned in this weather!  But the chirp is how I know that Hunter was actually playing and not just moving his fingers, so I very much appreciate hearing it.  Just turn the speakers down.

If you're interested in adding music to your unit, we used this sheet music for the flute and recorder and I made up a chord progression for Haven on piano.  He just played white key only triads (making it all minor key and creepy) on the beat as follows:  A A A A G G G G A A A A C C C C C C G G A A G G C G A G A A A A  There ya have it!

We watched about half of Ken Burn's the Civil War.  I LOVE this documentary and have watched it countless times with my dad.  There is simply no better movie for the Civil War than his.  The sound track is killer as well and is a great supplement to your studies.  When we worked on lapbooks, we'd play some of the tracks in the background to set the tone.  Jacob's Ladder was great during slavery talk.  The brass band version of Dixie was fantastic during battle field victory discussions.

The letter by Sullivan Ballou's is also from that movie, but it needs its own special mention.  I used this back when I was in the public schools with  my 8th grade language arts class.  I've never seen such a reaction from Middle Schoolers during an English class.  Girls and boys both got tears in their eyes.  They asked, "Why don't we talk like that anymore?  Where have the average men gone who know how to write with such feeling?  Did everyone write like that?"  and everyone wanted to learn how to write words that move the reader, that paint a picture, that might have a chance of making someone cry.  It was an emotionally charged classroom every single period that I taught that lesson and everyone left quiet and thoughtful.  And let me tell you, that letter has a similar effect on little ones.  The kids ate it up, they physically responded to the tone, to the words, to the imagery.  And to know that Sullivan died, as he somehow knew he would, after writing those words really clenched it for them.  So if there's one thing I think you just really can't miss if you want to touch on the human experience of war, this letter is it!

Yes, it's true that this recording is somewhat abridged.  You can find images of the handwritten copy with the full text, but the combination of the music and the words is haunting and perhaps a little more powerful for kids growing up in the multimedia age.  I do not, however, make the images from the video visible while we play it (we own the CD) because I think it distracts from the words.  The images you conjure in your mind are moer powerful than an endless stream of strangers' faces.

We tried, only half successfully to make a telegraph machine that ran between the kids' rooms.  It worked one direction only and then when we tried to fix it, it never worked in either direction again.   I suspect we had bad LED's but who can say?  Anyway, it was fun  building it and even thought it didn't go as planned Hannah Jane and Haven cited the activity as the highlight of their week.  We're going to grab some new lights and see if we can fix it.

The kids want to build a slave cabin model, but we've been unable to find any of those smallish cartons that we need for the model I have in mind.  We want to make something sort of like this, but with the roof cut into a separate piece so we can lift the roof off and look inside.  We would make furniture and such with oven bake clay.  But, if I don't locate any cartons by tomorrow, I think we'll be over this unit enough that we won't worry too much about building it.  I joked that I was going to enroll the kids in public school just so they could get their hands on some of those tiny milk cartons and that all freaked out.  Hahaha!

All that's left now is to have a little unit wrap-up party.  The kids will cook the food for a Civil War era feast, they'll tell their dad all about what they learned (as a sort of practice run for Culture Club), they'll play their song for him and maybe we'll watch a Civil War movie before bed.

If you have questions or want some files, drop me a note and I'll help you if I can.

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