What would immigrating to America in 1906 be like? What if you were only 18 years old, female, and came by boat from Lithuania? What if you were in a life and death escape of persecution because you were born a Jew? I was thrilled to receive Bessie’s Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc.and follow the journey of Bessie.
This book is the life story of Boshka Markman who’s name was changed to Elizabeth (Bessie) when she immigrated to the USA in 1906. She overcame tremendous obstacles and struggles. Along the journey she showed kindness, determination, wit, and she successfully made the transition in a new culture and a new life.
Bessie is a survivor and makes her own way in America. Most women of the day were still in their “approved” roles, submissive to cultural norms, and did what they were told. But Bessie showed an inner strength and resilience mixed in with her own independence that allowed her to survive on her own and make her own way. She was business minded and knew how to work a deal and worked her way towards her goals. She rejected many of the cultural norms of the day, including opinions from family and the Rabbi, and finds her own way.
Before leaving Lithuania, a woman gave her a hand made pillow and asked her to find her son and give it to him. He had also immigrated to America some time earlier. Bessie wasn’t sure how she would find this person, but she enjoyed the comfort of the pillow on her journey. She eventually does find the young man, Nathan Dreizen and they fall in love and get married. They work hard, build a business, buy a home, and establish their own family in America. When her husband dies, she has to learn how to cope on her own and earn money to care for the family so she takes over her husband’s business, a role that is typically only reserved for males in society. She also becomes a mortgage lender for family and friends to help them get a start in buying a home and reaching their goals too.
Though the book is written as historical fiction, Bessie is a real person and most of the information in the book really happened to her. The book covers her life between the years of about 1904 to 1936. The books is written on a reading level for older students and adults, though younger students will enjoy it too.
We loved reading this story! The experiences shared are realistic and were actually experienced by many immigrants when they left their home country and came to America at this time in history. Bessie faced huge obstacles being a young Jewish woman, that she had to overcome at this time in history. Bessie’s Pillow will keep you on the edge of your seat as you experience the ups and downs and tragedies and successes right along with this amazing young woman. My son loves reading and he enjoyed reading about Bessie’s journey and gives the book two thumbs up.
Video about Bessie:
Bessie’s America is a wonderful FREE online Unit Study Guide full of links to cross curricular resources that go along with Bessie’s Pillow. This guide was created especially for middle and high school age students but can be used by the whole family for discussions and to further the learning in American history and cultural heritage, etc, and gives a lot of additional background. Bessie’s America is an interactive, multi-media guide for use by Teachers, Parents, and Students. The links and resources are helpful for students to do additional research.
These additional resources will assist students in exploration of the cultural background, various musicals and theater, movies, radio, immigration, the Progressive Era, events, diseases, food and recipes, places, famous people and life events that Bessie and her family experienced.
Author Linda Bress Silbert:
The book is written by Bessie’s granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert as told to her by her mother. Her mother asked her for many years to write the book. Linda has included some family photos at the back of the book that show several aspects of her Grandmother’s life. She has also included many additional cultural and historical events in the back of the book to further the learning of the reader.
In addition to writing this wonderful historical fiction novel about her grandmother Bessie, Linda and her husband are also the owners of the StrongLearning.com publishing and tutoring company.
They have written over 40+ children’s books, plus additional books for parents and teachers. They have sold over a million copies of their books over the years. They have also dedicated over 40 years to improving the lives and educational opportunities of children and provide a lot of great resources on their website.
Full Video is available about the process of how Bessie’s Pillow was written and came together. Linda tells a very interesting and humorous way she gathered the stories of her grandmother and put the book together. She says the book is 95% actual events of her grandmother’s life, and about 5% of the book comes from research she did about that time period in history.
Creating A Masterpiece is an online Fine Arts Masterpiece program for students of all ages. They offer affordable and easy to follow step by step instructions by master artist Sharon Hofer.
We were given a 6 month subscription to theMonthly Plan for our whole family to use in exchange for trying it out and writing an honest review. I was so inspired by the instructor that I am doing these art project lessons right along with my kids. It is a lot of fun!
Creating A Masterpiece Monthly Plan
Online Fine Art Instruction
Video Lesson (online)
Supply List (online and PDF)
58+ Fine Art Projects
Retail: $39 month.
This is an online fine arts program with 144 lessons covering 58+ projects. The projects are divided into 5 skill levels plus an Art History section. The projects cover 18 different media types. This program is flexible and you can choose to work on a specific skill level or with a particular media. It is recommended to complete at least one lesson a week. How you choose to progress through the program is up to you. You can also move around in the program however it best suits your needs.
18 different media are covered in the lessons and you can choose work with specific media rather than work on a specific level:
There are 58+ different projects. You will need to decide on the project (choose either by level or by media) you wish to work on. Click on that lesson and go over the supply list as well as watch the video(s) to begin the project.
Each beginner lessons take about 1 hour or so to complete. Most upper level projects have 3 to 5 lessons, and a few projects have as many as 7 lessons built in, so those projects will take longer to complete.
Check out this short 11 minute video of a young girl completing an online lesson and you will see how easy this program is for kids of all ages.
Each project has it’s own list of supplies needed. Supply costs vary depending on the project you choose, and you may have some items currently on hand in your home, or you may need to purchase supplies in the craft section of your local store or online. The program does not dictate how you buy the supplies, you are free to pick up your supplies however it works best for you to acquire them.
If you would like to “try before you buy”, then check out the “Lessons in Soft Pastel”FREE Sample Lesson. This is an excellent way to see how this program works. You can also get the complete supply list of all the projects when you are given access for the sample lesson.
Art Teacher Sharon Hofer:
Sharon is dedicated and passionate that every student young and old regardless of skill level has the opportunity to create beautiful artwork and she is confident every student will excel with her program.
Sharon Hofer, has learned, mastered, and taught almost all forms of art media. She began her love of art as a young child, and began her career teaching art while she was still a student in highschool. She helped as a teaching assistant for the elementary grade art classes. She went on to college and learned every media of art she could so that she could be the best teacher she could be. She became a pastor’s wife. She then homeschooled her own kids and taught them art. She then taught other homeschool art classes in larger settings and her home art studio grew to over 180+ students a week.
She loves teaching art!
A quote from her website: “…you will be amazed at what they can do. As you will see, children as young as 4 – 5 can make masterpieces using media usually reserved for the high school student and beyond.” Sharon
Sharon is the owner and teacher of Creating A Masterpiece online fine art program, and the Hidden Acres Art School. She has taught art classes professionally for over 16+ years. She includes many forms of art media in her lessons so that each student has fine art instruction and exposure to a variety of learning opportunities.
Using this program with my family:
I love this teacher!!! Before I did any research about Sharon’s background, that she was a homeschool mom, loved kids and teaching, or that she was a pastor’s wife, I felt a deep love for her. I can’t explain it. There was something so special about the way she presented herself and encouraged me right through the computer screen. I knew she cared about me and my kids even though I had not met her in person.
I really like this program. Sharon is so easy to follow and very encouraging. I have never heard an art teacher so easy to follow and interesting to listen to. She is so encouraging that I want to, I desire to, make these projects. I am sure that sounds weird to someone who has not heard her speak, but trust me when I tell you that you will want to work on the project after you hear her teach the lesson. You feel like you can do it!
This program is flexible in choosing what projects you want to do and when you want to do your lessons. We can log into our account from any computer, any time of day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and fit these lessons into our life where they fit best.
To do a lesson, my kids log into our account. Then the kids gather the listed materials. Next they begin implementing the steps they learned in the lesson.
You can listen to the lesson over and over again as you work and pause it whenever it is needed. For example, you may want to let your masterpiece dry before moving onto another step, so pausing at a specific step is a good idea. Also some of the lessons are broken down into short videos so you naturally pause between one video and the next.
We did improvise some of the materials where we needed too. For example, for the lessons in watercolors, we didn’t have sponges on hand, so we used paper towels or just got extra water on our brushes to achieve similar (but not quite as nice) affects. We also didn’t have the “nicer” paper for painting, so we used the paper we had on hand. Sharon says in the water color lessons the lesser grade paper will wrinkle a little more as it gets wet and she gives instructions to iron the paper when completed to reduce wrinkles in the final product. It still worked out great! No worries!
Lessons in watercolors:
The first lesson we chose to do was a beginner level watercolor lesson with flowers. The lesson was divided into three short videos about 4 minutes, 5 minutes, and 6 minutes in duration. After we watched the videos, we sat down to do the lesson and paused the video as needed and complete the steps as you let the project dry for a bit then watch the next section and complete it. Overall, the video and art project took about 45 minutes to 1 hour for each of my kids to complete. This was very easy to do and motivated us to do more.
Floral Medley Project:
There are 3 videos in this project comprising one lesson for beginners. The goal is to simply explore colors of flowers using water color paints and try to keep the main focus in the middle third of the page while placing various faded flower colors throughout the page. Sharon teaches you the basics of watercolor and you can put your own ideas with it and use your imagination.
The kids spread out throughout the house and got busy with their first project. Some followed the steps closely and some improvised their projects.
Field of Wheat in watercolors:
More random flowers with watercolors:
Another lesson in watercolors is painting landcapes. This lesson shows how to paint an African landscape that includes a blazing sun. Sharon has traveled to Africa many times and shares her first hand experience in creating this masterpeice. This beginner lesson is made up of 2 videos and was a little more complicated than the floral medley lesson.
My son was working on a landscape picture here. You need to let projects with watercolors dry in between stages so he was working on different ones giving him something to do while one was drying. I took these pictures before he was through creating them.
Other landscape projects:
Another son wanted to paint from his experience and enjoys the flowers (lupines) in bloom in the front yard. He wanted to make his landscape picture look like them. The front yard is an open space surrounded by pine trees with a sky above and the grass in front of the trees is filled with lupines in bloom.
Painting a yard landscape of lupines:
A younger sibling went out and picked a few to compare his picture to and he did a beautiful job expressing his idea of a field of lupines.
Lessons in Pencils:
The Sunflower project is comprised of 6 lessons divided into 14 videos. “The students will start by drawing basic shapes and finish with a beautiful masterpiece. You will understand the importance of value as you learn how to shade. In creating this masterpiece you will be using tools such as kneading erasers, stiff-bristled brush, and tortillons.” (from the website).
My son age 12, not yet finished working on his sunflower:
Using these lessons and the art work listed in the references, he sketched a sailboat
and also sketched a dog:
And he sketched a bird too:
Planning The Next Project:
There are so many options for wonderful projects with this program. The next lesson I am looking forward to learning is working with clay (and I would like to work with concrete too). My kids don’t have any experience with clay. I have very little experience when I did ceramics in 4H as a child and made a few free hand projects. That was over 30+ years ago. I think I would enjoy creating projects with clay. We are not really interested in making sculptures per se. but we are interested in making useful items with clay. Sharon has a Level 1 Lesson working with self hardening clay and make’s a turtle in that lesson. I think the techniques she teaches will be helpful as we work towards our goals.
Personally I want to make things that are practical and useful that I can put in the garden. I would like them to serve a function such as to hold compost to feed worms, or collect water, or keep the birds from eating my seeds and fruits or interesting pots for plants to climb and drape from. I am not sure yet what kind of clay will work for that or if I will need to consider a different type of media to use outdoors. Some other future projects with clay or concrete I would like my family to do are earthen vessels that can hold water, vessels that can hold or cook food, beautiful flower pots, stepping stones and stone mosaics to walk out to the garden on and decorate some flower beds, and a bird bath for another area in the front of the house along the sidewalk. I would like to make an outdoor oven that is beautiful and functional so I can bake bread and pizza but yet it is a work of art too.
The instructions for each lesson and clear and easy to follow and you can make improvisations where you want. It is flexible and so simple to do. Everyone can create a masterpiece!
There are lots of art programs out there. Some are in book form, and some are classes you attend. Some are also in video format and you can use them right from the comfort, convenience, and freedom in your schedule right in your home.
If you are looking for an art program you can do from home, 27/7 at anytime day or night, with a competent art teacher and benefit from the most savings to your wallet, then I would encourage you to buy a subscription to Creating A Masterpiece monthly plan or yearly plan. I believe these lessons are more affordable and flexible and better instruction than other programs I have seen.
Low Cost divided into monthly, yearly, or various skill levels subscription plan. An entire family (we have 8 people in our family) can use this program learning multiple kinds of media, for less than half of what it normally cost for 1 student to receive art instruction using only one form of media.
Choose a plan that meets the needs of your family:
If you bought the monthly plan for $39 a month, and you have 1 kid and he did one project a week, then each lesson would cost you about $10 plus your supplies. This is very reasonable for professional instruction and convenience.
However, if you know you need more than just a few months worth of lessons, then consider the yearly plan subscription for $349 a year. 1 kid using the yearly plan completing only 1 project a week, your lesson costs would be about $6.71 ($349 / 52 = 6.71). You are already saving money! If your 1 child did two lessons a week, your cost would be $3.49 (349 / 52 / 2 = 3.49) for each lesson. See where I am going with this? The more lessons your child completes, the less each lesson costs.
But lets change up this a bit and look at it from my point of view. I have six kids and using this program for art lessons is a huge savings for us. Both the monthly and yearly plans are much more affordable than buying individual lessons in town for my kids.
In my case, our family will see a huge savings! If you are in the same boat as me and you have 6 kids and each kid completes 1 lesson per week, then on the monthly plan would cost $1.62 (39 subscription / 4 weeks / 6 kids = 1.62) per child per week each month. WOW! The year subscription would cost even less at $1.12 (349 subscription / 52 weeks / 6 kids = 1.12) per child per lesson plus art supplies. I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere for art lessons for my children for this price. I am truly thankful this high quality and affordable art program is available to us.
The word of God written in the bible is full of FREE nuggets of wisdom. These nuggets are worth more than silver or gold! Yet they are FREE!
In my bible study today, I was reading in Ecclesiastes and came across some nuggets of wisdom that are not the usual advice about how to live life that you might expect to see. However, if you take a close look you just might find your life in contrast, especially if you live in a wealthy modern society. I think these passages represent a profound truth usually missed by most people.
This book in the bible was written by the man who is said to have had the most wisdom and riches of any man who ever lived. He is also a man who made many many mistakes. He wrote this book during a time of deep self examination.
I summarized from Ecclesiastes 1-5 especially 5: 9-20.
If we try to increase our abundance of things, we will never be satisfied. Our “pursuit of abundance” will result in vanity.
When increase comes to us, we should use what we need to live with joy and share the rest with family and friends. When increase from the earth comes, it is for all those who labor as well as for the king. All are to enjoy the fruit (increase) of the labor. When blessings come, they are for everyone to enjoy, not for one person or a few persons, to hoard.
The only blessing in this life that we have on earth that is of any lasting value is to have joy while we eat and drink and enjoy our family, and be happy with the work of our labor. Everything else, every pursuit of anything else in life is vanity and will perish.
Everything else including trying to increase your possessions will vex (curse) your spirit and cause illness and cause you to loose sleep at night. Nothing we can build will bring us lasting happiness and we will die naked the same way we were born with nothing in our hands.
This nugget of truth is the opposite of what we are taught to pursue in our modern culture. If we could grasp this nugget, and apply it, we could be FREE of so much bondage.
Is achieving the “American Dream” the pursuit of true wealth? Will you come to the end of your life and realize you were mislead? Will you realize you spent your life in bondage and were never truly free?
What does vanity mean?
1. lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness
2. something worthless, trivial, or pointless.
3. excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit:
4. an instance or display of this quality or feeling.
5. something about which one is vain or excessively proud
(quote from online dictionary)
So vanity is WORTHLESSNESS and Shelfishness and Pride. Vanity is pride in one’s acheivements that actually result in a bound hollow pointless life. It is worth less than what it boasts and pretends because it is an exaggeration of value. Vanity is the opposite pursuit of true wealth.
According the wisest and richest man who ever lived, wealth is not equivalent to things. He said pursuit of things is bondage of spirit, like putting a curse upon one’s life, and is a vain pursuit that will result in nothing.
A person only needs what he can carry in his own hands to help him eat, drink, and enjoy his family and have joy in his work. All else is vanity in this world.
“Increase in wealth” should not also mean “increase in things”. You can truly be wealthy and happy without stuff!
In modern society we are falsely shown that wealth equals owning a big house(s) or nice appartment in an expensive neighborhood, expensive cars, fancy trips and vacations, expensive clothes, college degree (s), high ranking jobs that pay big incomes, expensive jewelry, eating at expensive restaurants, going to expensive sporting events and performances, etc. It is all about having “things that represent riches”.
But will having a resume with a college degree, and work history of high paying incomes, owning a house in a nice neighborhood with two cars in the attached garage, a green manicured lawn, and money in the bank equal to a life of true wealth? Is the abundance of things and money equal to real wealth? Is riches the same as wealth?
This truth is free and will set you free!
Wealth is freedom from debt and bondage.
Wealth is freedom from competition.
Wealth is the ability to be happy and joyful and sleep without worry.
Wealth is freedom from people pleasing.
True wealth is being happy simply by being content with eating and drinking with family and friends and with the work you do, while you live in a place of the size that provides just what you need to live a simple life and the ability to share the abundance of the increase with others.
As I thought about these truths, I realized this nugget of truth that wealth is being FREE from vain pursuits, I felt as though I had discovered an amazing treasure.
Reducing possessions to a level that is “just what is needed” to happily work (not struggle or be discourage to earn a living) and eat (nutritious food) and drink (pure clean water) and sleep well (at peace) while you enjoy the company of family and friends in your community is real wisdom! This should be the American dream and the pursuit of all of humanity.
The truth in the bible is free for everyone. It shows us how to avoid living a vain worthless life. Salvation is free for everyone too. Jesus came to save everyone who calls on his name and accepts him as their savior and obeys him. He told us to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as we love our own self and share our abundance and meet their needs. The bible also says that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom and that true wisdom is worth more than silver or gold.
There are nuggets of truth in the bible worth more than silver and gold and if you apply them you will live a life that is wealthy, blessed, and wise!
If you are looking for a wholesome and fun book series for your kids to read, then give your kids access to the Circle C books written by Susan K. Marlow available through Kregel Publications. My kids are HOOKED! Don’t even try to pry these books from their hands!
The Circle C book series are wonderful! They focus on the life adventures of a girl named Andrea Carter (Andi), her family (brothers, sister, mom, dad (he passed away when she was around 6 or so). You also learn about her relationships with ranch hands, the housekeeper, and her various friends.
Each Circle C book series about Andi’s life is set in the late 1800’s (1870’s-1880’s) in rural California, and is a historical work of fiction. Many of the historical facts are true even though the actual characters are made up. These stories are well written and include a glossary of new “vocabulary words” at the beginning, beautiful hand drawn illustrations, and at the end of the book is a “History Fun” section that gives more details about different aspects of life in the 1800’s.
Through out all of the Circle C stories, in all the different series, kids learn about what life was like in the Old West. The main setting of the series is Andi’s family’s ranch and sometimes involve her trips to various events or places in town.
All of the books are written from Andi’s point of view. We learn about challenges she faces, her hopes and dreams, the goals she works towards, her relationship with God and building her faith, her love for animals, and her relationships with friends and family and ranch hands who help out around the farm. Kids also learn many details that go into homesteading and taking care of horses.
There are six Circle C Stepping Stones books in all:
Book 1: Andi Saddles Up
Book 2: Andi Under the Big Top
Book 3: Andi Lassos Trouble (November 2017)
Book 4: Andi to the Rescue (November 2017)
Book 5: Andi Dreams of Gold (July 2018)
Book 6: Andi Far from Home (July 2018)
My kids and I highly recommend these books. The Circle C books are fun to read and are a great collection of interesting and character building stories for kids. They will challenge your kids to trust God and do the right thing when they face choices in life. The only questionable side effect of letting your kids read these books might be that every kid will want to own a horse! Put these books in their hands and your kids will be HOOKED too!
Andi Saddles Up
Andi Saddels Up
By Susan K Marlow
Illustrated by Leslie Gammelgaard
For kids (BOYS and GIRLS) ages 7-10
ISBN # 978-0-8254-4430-2
The first book in the Circle C Stepping Stones series is called Andi Saddles Up. It takes place in the Old West in the spring of 1877. In this story, Andi turns 9 years old and earns the “grown up” rite of passage of freedom to ride her three year old horse named Taffy whenever she wants to and without supervision. This is a big deal because up till this point she used to ride under the supervision of her older brother which caused some internal conflict for her. She doesn’t always like her older brother bossing her, but he has stepped up to keep an eye on her safety and run the ranch since their father died. Also because the horse was young, she had to usually ride her bareback. But now the horse was old enough for the weight of a saddle and a rider.
Also during this story, Andi’s family is in a land dispute with another rancher because a flood changed the course of the creek boundary that bordered their properties. Andi’s family stands to loose a lot of acreage if they allow the other rancher to keep the land that was cut off by the creek. Her brother stands up to the other rancher and they struggle to resolve the conflict. During this time, Andi also becomes friends with a girl named Sadie. The girls have a lot in common, they both live on ranches, and they really like each other. When they learn their families are the ones arguing over the new boundary disagreement their friendship is put to the test. Due to some unforeseen circumstances when Andi gets hurt, the families learn to forgive and work through and overcome. So many powerful messages are conveyed through this book, it is a very exciting read for kids and adults too.
Andi Under the Big Top
Andi Under The Big Top
By Susan K Marlow
Illustrated by Leslie Gammelgaard
For kids (BOYS and GIRLS) ages 7-10
ISBN # 978-0-8254-4431-9
When my kids were through with book one, they couldn’t wait to jump into book two. In Andi Under the Big Top, Andi goes to the Circus. This story is filled with excitement! My kids were on the edge of their seats!
After church one day, while waiting on her family, Andi finds out from a friend that the circus is coming to town. We have to wait a whole week with Andi until the “big day”. During the wait, she practices all sorts of silly tricks imagining herself in the circus. Finally the big day arrives and she goes with her brother and sister to see the circus and they ride on their horses all the way there.
At the circus, Andi meets a boy named Henry. He works for the circus. Andi thinks his life is great and exciting until she learns he is a runaway, and he is trapped working for the circus. She realizes his life is not so great and she feels sorry for him and wants to help him get free and return to his family. She takes a huge risk in helping him, and eventually her family helps him too. You will need to pick up a copy for yourself to hear the rest of the story!
This story is so exciting you just won’t be able to put the book down until you are through! Susan K Marlow has done such a great job with details and suspense and dealing with the real heart issues people experience in life in these books!
Or you can purchase a printed 56 page copy of the study guide for the first two books (Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top) in the Stepping Stones series level for $6.00.
Each Unit Study Guide that Susan K Marlow produces is filled with lots of cross curricular learning opportunities. Kids learn about history, geography with maps, culture, arts and crafts, science, language arts, bible study, math, music, and extra special project focus for each story like learning the Morse Code when we learned about the Telegraph, and about the bone structure in the arm and how to care for a broken bone, and wood working skills to build their very own set of wooden stilts (or you can make a different version with tin cans) and so much more.
Inside the study guide for each book is a suggested lesson plan with a 28 day schedule.
So if you followed this plan the way it is designed, and worked on one book and unit study guide curriculum and lapbook for 4 days a week, for about an hour +/- each time, it would take you 7 weeks to complete the whole thing. You could complete a lesson a day and finish in 4 weeks, or do it twice as fast and complete two lessons a day and finish it in 2 weeks. You can set your own pace. Your kids will be so excited to find out what happens next!
But if you want to go slower (my personal preference), and work on the book and unit study and lapbook about 2 days a week, giving it time to “sink in”, it would take you about 14 weeks to complete. Even if you only have time to work on this wonderful unit study 1 day a week, and fit it in for an hour+/-, this fun curriculum with interesting activities and projects, and lots of suspense that will keep your kids wanting more, this could last you a full 28 weeks! This curriculum is so flexible, it is a real homeschool treasure!
FREE Coloring Pages are available for each book. These are designed by the same illustrator of the books and are the pictures found scattered throughout different chapters. They are very detailed and beautiful!
Lapbooks, lapbooks, lapbooks….they have lapbooks!!!
Did I mention they have lapbooks?
Lapbooks have been created (by A Journey for Learning) for each of Susan K Marlow’s books, with printables and projects and loads of fun! These work great along with Susan K Marlow’s Unit Study Guides for an awesome well rounded curriculum filled with projects. This is a wonderful way to further the learning. Your kids will have a fun “scrapbook” of memories of their learning adventure to share with family and friends when they are through.
We have completed one these lapbooks previously for another Circle C book by Susan K Marlow we reviewed called Tales from the Circle C Ranch . These lapbooks are so much fun to make, and they help kids tie all the learning together in a hands on way. We love using lapbooks and unit studies and they have been a big part of our homeschooling over the years because they make learning fun and easy for kids to remember and share what they have learned. These lapbooks created for the Circle C books are very well made with lots of fun projects and we would like to have them ALL!
You can purchase the books by themselves for $7.99 as mentioned above, or you have the option to purchase the books and resources in various bundles. See the website for more details.
There are also beautiful paper dolls available. Pictured below are a few for you to see. Check the website for all the paper doll options available.
Author Susan K Marlow
Susan K Marlow has authored many books for children of all ages (I think there are 25+ books currently available). These books are fun and filled with adventures that will keep your kids interested all the way through. Susan is a homeschool mom who understands the needs of homeschool families for wholesome affordable and interesting curriculum that kids will enjoy. She lives with her husband on fourteen acres on a mountain in north-central Washington. She has four grown children and ten grandchildren.
In addition to a lot of great children’s books she has written, she has also authored unit study guides for EVERY book! She offers the guides in both a printed “for sale” option and digital download “for free” option too. These guides are cross curricular and help further the child’s learning about their faith in God, history, culture, crafts, science, math, music, language arts skills, and more. Susan is passionate about reading and writing and she has also authored a writing curriculum for kids called “Reach for the Stars“. She also sponsors an annual writing contest and shares giveaways on her blog. The writing contest is called Circle C Short-story Writing Contest.
Susan K Marlow books are divided into 5 different levels of wholesome reading fun. She is busy writing and adds in new books all the time. She has something to peak your interest for all ages!
In addition to the “Circle CStepping Stones” level for kids ages 7-10, she has also written a “Circle CBeginnings” level for kids ages 6-9 , “Circle C Adventures” level for kids ages 9-13, “Circle CMilestones” level for kids ages 11 and older, as well as another series of books called “Goldtown Adventures” for ages 8-12, about the life of a boy named Jem who lives in an old mining town.
Check out this video about the “Beginnings” series:
Check out this video about the “Adventures” series:
Check out this video about the “Goldtown Adventures” series:
My kids have read several of the Circle C books and love them all. We are in the beginning stages of building a family library filled with these wonderful books. So far we have read six of Susan K Marlow’s books: Tales from the Circle C Ranch, Thick as Thieves, Heart Break Trail, The Last Ride, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top. My kids have asked me over and over to get all of the books available. That is a lot of books, and I want the study guides and lapbooks to use to complete the wonderful curriculum program too. So I have a long wish list!
The kids have really enjoyed learning about Andi’s life and how people lived in the Old West in the late 1800’s in rural California. I think anyone can relate to her life to because she has the same ups and downs as any kid growing up. But I think my kids can relate even more to some of the details about Andi living on a farm and caring for animals because we have homesteaded for several years too. We also have a big family of 6 kids, and they can all relate to Andi and her family relationships between brothers and sisters. These details make the stories so realistic, relatable, and her life journey is interesting, and the challenges she faces keeps the children asking for more.
As a parent, I am thankful there are wonderful authors like Susan K Marlow who write wholesome children’s books like these. We are looking forward to building an entire library and homeschool curriculum with these wonderful resources.
Since 1949, Kregel Publications has been supplying Christian resources to meet the spiritual needs of Christian families, schools, pastors, missionaries, teachers, and Christian leaders. They currently publish over 900 titles including books on Christian education and ministry, contemporary issues, Christian living, fiction, and biblical studies, as well as many reprints of classic literature. They offer something for everyone, so stop by their website and see what they have to meet the needs of your family too.
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The kids are learning to cook over a campfire. This has been an ongoing learning adventure for several months now. We have tried several different methods for starting fires, making our own camp stoves, as well as different ways of making the campfire pit.
After trying several different arrangements, we came up with one we like the most and have kept for several months now. We use it once or twice a week as the weather and time permits. We really enjoy afternoons and evenings around the campfire.
We started off with simple learning techniques like where to build a fire safely, how to start a fire (matches, lighter, flint, feroconiom rod), how to use different tinders (wood chips, small sticks, dead leaves, tree bark, dead grass and dry plants, cotton balls, cordage, clothing, etc) to get the fire going strong, locating where to gather wood safely, and learn how to split wood into small sizes for burning, etc.
We built fire starter kits for the kids to keep and learn to use. This has been a wonderful resource. Our first kits were made with a salvaged bottle for storing, a few types of tinder, matches, and a feroconium rod and striker. When they used up all the stuff in their first kits, we built new kits that include more of the first, but also added in a lighter, additional versions of strikers, fatwood, etc. By far my son’s favorite method is starting a fire with his striker and a cotton ball. We hope to build a bow drill and learn that method soon.
Once they mastered the art of starting a fire, we learned how to build a firepit. Over time we built a few different arrangements of campfire pits. This whole process has been a great learning experience for the kids and a fun way to spend family time together.
The current campfire pit version we are using is our favorite so far. We found some old bricks someone had left behind from a construction project. These are not the usual bricks you would want to build an outdoor kitchen with, but we are using what we have on hand and getting by with them for now. We dug an “L” shaped hole in the ground and built a loose brick wall around the back side of the hole. The back wall is tall, and the sides come part way around, then we have a short wall of bricks across the front as a fire stop and safety zone. Safety is very important to keep in mind when you have an outdoor fire.
We also found some metal and an old grate someone had thrown away and used them as cooking surfaces by connecting them into the loose brick system above the fire to give us more ways we can cook food. We also put a separate small wall about half way at the back. This additional wall was needed to help support the grill top on one side and the metal bars on the other side and it also allows us to use either 1 side of the fire or both sides for cooking so we can make a bigger or smaller fire as desired.
Using a brick or rock wall on one side of your fire makes a lot of sense. The bricks make a nice windbreak and help to retain the heat from the fire, and then help reflect the heat back towards the people sitting around the fire. I plan to upgrade the pit with some special tiles for baking bread and pizzas on one side soon. I found a local store that carries the fire tiles for break baking. I am very excited about baking nice breads over the campfire. Maybe someday I can make a real outdoor pizza oven too.
The arrangement is large enough that we can choose to cook on the grill, the metal bars, flat rocks or bricks, or over the open fire and coals with roasting sticks or pans. So we can cook up high or down low with several options as needed. We made the pit so we can have a fire on one half, or just move hot coals over on one half while a hotter fire burns on the other half, or use the whole entire thing in a bigger campfire if desired. With 8 people in the family, this arrangement gives us all enough room to gather in front of the fire and benefit from the heat being reflected back in our direction.
We let the fire die down and put it out before going into the house. The next morning when the pit is nice and cool, the kids remove the ashes from their fire and sprinkle them on the location we plan to build our garden. The ashes will provide wonderful nutrients already broken down and released from the organic matter they were bound in for our plants to use. We learned this trick many years ago when we used to heat our home with wood.
His New Wrought Iron Pan
Our 12 year old loves cooking on the campfire and would truly cook on it every day if he could. He is the reason we got into the habit of cooking outside weekly. He wants to try new things and master various skills. After he gets his fire going, and his coals nice and hot, he usually cooks tea and different kinds of soups with his own stainless steel pot. He has made potato soup, rice, chili, cheesy potato bacon soup, chicken noodle soup, and Ramon noodles.
He recently bought is own wrought iron skillet to expand his cuisine options. To start with he learned how to oil and season his new pan and care for it properly. He also has his own knife and cutting board so he is ready to make lots of different things. He is getting great practice and is learning to cook with his new skillet over the open fire.
This day we were cooking turkey burgers, beef hotdogs, sliced potatoes in foil packets, and he was making his own Cowboy BBQ Beans in his new iron skillet.
He had placed a brick over some coals next to the fire to hold his pan level while it cooked. It took them no time at all to come to a rolling boil. He had to pull his beans off the fire a few times and stir them to prevent them from sticking and burning in the pan. His beans turned out very nice, the sugars caramelized and the beans had a hint of smoke flavor of the fire.
Almost everything was done cooking at the same time. That is one of the blessings to having a large working space in this campfire with various spots to set the different foods we were cooking.
When his food was done, he combined his hotdog with his bbq beans for his own version of “beenie weenies”. This was new for him as I haven’t fed the kids beenie weenies before, and he was excited to try them.
He was very pleased with how his “cowboy meal” turned out and thought he could handle making and eating this out on the open range bringing in the cows or up the side of a mountain while on a hike someday. I hope to teach him to make either biscuits or bannock (old fashion cowboy or Indian bread) and chop up some wild greens to go with his meal next time. He found some wild garlic growing in the yard that was already seven inches tall in February. The plant looks like fresh chives and has a small bulb at the bottom when you pull it out of the ground. He brushed the dirt off and tried it fresh. It was spicy! We also found a couple of violets in bloom in the front yard. Soon the dandelions will set on some nice leaves for making a raw salad base or to use as a sauted spinach. The pine trees are also budding and the baby pine buds are nutty and delicious and the needles make a nutritious tea. We have a book he will be using this spring to locate various wild edibles that he can include to improve the nutrients in a meal such as this.
I am very proud of this young man’s achievements. He gets an idea, puts his mind to it, and is not afraid to work toward his goal and see it through. He is currently making a homemade longbow. He has found the branch of wood, removed the bark, and carved it into the shape he desired. He has yet to soak the wood and increase the arch slightly and locate the cordage he will be using. I have no doubt he will reach his new goal.
Learning to cook over a campfire is a fun experience. The skills learned and self confidence gained will benefit kids the rest of their life.
Do you ever have a restless night when it is hard to sleep? What do you do during those times? Do you worry about your day? Do you worry about tomorrow?
When a lack of sleep happens to me, I try to spend those hours laying in bed praying and seeking the Lord instead of worrying. There is a peace that takes over your heart and mind when you seek God and ask Him to lead.
A wise man wrote: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139 : 23 – 24
Jesus said to pray like this: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Matthew 6 : 9 -12
Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry is fear. It is a lack of faith. Faith comes from hearing the word of God and putting your hope and trust 100% in what God has said and seeing his word manifest in your life. God is faithful and he will always take care of you. He is the living water of life that never runs dry. He will always answer your call to him and will always provide for you. He loves you and forgives you and delights in guiding and caring for you.
I just wanted to encourage you to ask God to lead you today and everyday in HIS way, because you can trust Him that his way is true and will last forever.
We are reading through Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! We were sent this wonderful book for review from the By the Way Book Series and it has given my kids and I a great way to start a discussion about the animals and their habitat in this wonderful mountain range of the USA.
This story is about two siblings: a brother named Alex, and his sister named Lexi, who went to spend three days and nights with their Uncle Ted who is a forest ranger in the Smoky Mountains. They decide to hike up the mountain and camp overnight in the wilderness.
It is spring time, and flowers are starting to bloom. As they travel along the hiking trails, they learn about lots of the wildlife that live there. They learn about God too and how he created this environment for the wildlife and people to live and flourish in.
Some of the animals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other fascinating facts kids learn about in this book are:
White tailed deer
Northern short tailed shrew
Snow birds or dark eyed Junco
Mountains and different topography forms: waterfalls, bald,
Forests and different kinds of trees
Different kinds of flowers and plants
Different kinds of mushrooms and fungi
Fireflies and insects
Some other things my kids learned about in this book:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian mountain trail, specific landmarks on the trail like Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, Cherokee Indians, pioneers, Civil War, specific mountains that were named for historic events or famous people and also for ancient legends by the Cherokee Indians, and a mountain musical instrument called a dulcimer.
Video of a dulcimer playing “I’ll Fly Away”.
Another Video of an 1800’s replica of a dulcimer that was a bit more primitive than the ones we usually see played today.
There is also a mini-lesson on Geo Caching (finding clues and a location of “hidden treasure” in a weather proof/ waterproof box for you to find using GPS coordinates). This is a popular hobby but one we have not participated in before. We got out our GPS map on the phone, and also a compass, and a compass/whistle that someone would use on their journey during this activity. We might like to put together a Geo Caching activity in our local area soon.
Reading this book encouraged us to take a closer look at the wildlife around us and the habitat they live in. We used to live in the Appalachian mountains in the Blue Ridge region. We often went for a drive and visited the Smoky Mountain region that was only a few hours from where we lived. But now we live about 2 hours down the mountain and foothills from where we used to live. Now we live at a lower elevation in a forest covered area filled with pine trees, oak trees, maple trees and other hardwoods. We live next to a small pond, lots of woods with several local streams, and a large lake nearby too. So we have a wide variety of wildlife here and some we have in common with the mountain region too. We have seen woodpeckers, hawks, crows, lizards, snapping turtles, frogs, snakes, wild turkeys, fox, coyote, red cardinals, robins, deer, a raccoon, an opossum, worms, red fire ants, termites, beetles, and more. I will post a story about this soon, but here are a few pictures we have taken of the wildlife in our yard and nearby.
This snapping turtle crawled up to the fence in our yard and was trying to enter the gate when we spotted him.
In the book Smoky Mountains Here We Come, there are many real life photos of animals and historical people and places. My favorite photo is a an old time Mill House with a water wheel. We would often seen wonderful old barns and mill houses on our trips to see the mountains. I would love to hang that picture on the wall.
The illustrations on every page in this book are wonderful and kept my kids interested all the way through. This book is like a regional American geography, history, science, and bible study adventure all wrapped up in one.
This book presents God’s amazing creation in the treasure of the Smoky Mountains from a biblical worldview. Along the way, kids are reminded often of God’s handiwork and his amazing creation.
We are stewards of this land. We can either be good stewards and care for it, or we can be reckless and neglectful stewards, the choice is ours. In his word, God instructs man to be good stewards of the land, animals, and resources. Jesus also shared several parables about good shepherds, wise servants, faithful caretakers. It is clear that God wants us to understand the He created all of this and he wants us to take care of it.
The book begins with the verse from Psalm 32:8 inside the front cover:
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou should go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”
The book ends with the verse from Psalm 97:6 inside the back cover:
“The heavens declare his righteousness…and all the people see his glory.
The book is loaded with scriptures to connect us to our Heavenly Father and remind kids and parents about our loving creator who made this wonderful bounty of life in so much variety and beauty.
Additional Resources Available
This book series is perfect for using as home school curriculum, family devotions, Sunday schools, clubs, and encouraging extra reading for kids too. You can use the book as a stand alone resource, or you can add to the learning by using maps, puzzles, games, field trips to the region of the country the book discusses or to visit a zoo to see the animals discussed, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos online about things discussed in the book etc. and turn this into an amazing learning journey filled with exploration.
Besides the books, there are additional resources available to further the learning with this wonderful book including: flash cards, activity guides, stuffed animals, and poster packs.
For an additional $2.50 you can purchase the flash cards.
The flash cards are full color and feature eight of the many different creatures we studied in the book. On the front of the cards is full color real life photo to clearly identify each creature. Also listed on the front is an accompanying bible verse that reminds you about God and the beauty he has created. On the back of each card is a long description of the habitat it lives in and it’s behavior characteristics.
For an additional $2.50 you can buy the “Keep On The Path” “Exploring the Smoky Mountains Study Guide” to further the learning.
After reading through the book, I was so impressed to want to learn more that I purchased the activity guides and flash cards for all six of my kids. $2.50 is much cheaper than I can print these myself. It is a really good buy. We are currently waiting for the cards and guides to arrive as I write this review.
There are also poster packs and stuffed animals available on the website that go along with the books too. I didn’t not purchase these but they would be great to use for a classroom where you need larger visual aids and reminders for the classroom. You could use this as part of a vacation bible school summer program too and use the posters to decorate walls, tables, or stations.
I plan to expand our learning we began with this book. My goal is to turn this book learning into a unit study and lapbook this spring. We will use the activity guide pages and flash cards plus the additional ideas I mentioned earlier (maps, puzzles, games, field trips (we live about 4 hours from the Smoky Mountains in TN and 2 hours from the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC also part of the Appalachian trail), visit a zoo, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos, etc) as we re-read the book again.
We will create a colorful lapbook to go along with the unit study and record what the kids have learned. Stay tuned for a follow up story to this review to see what the kids learned and how this adventure turned out. For now, while we wait for those resources to arrive, I found a few coloring pages online about woodland animals (such as the black bear, otter, bobcat, deer,) and a butterfly for the younger children to color while we read through the book. We really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to learn even more.
Besides the additional resources for Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come, I also ordered additional flashcards for the other books in the series too. Some of the animals and insects in other regions are also found in the region we are currently studying and also these cards are so nice that I would like for my kids to have the flash cards from all the regions as a learning resource. They are high gloss full color heavy duty cards loaded with lots of information about creatures from the different regions all over America. These inexpensive cards can be used for science and geography and crossovers with other subjects and are a great resource to have on hand.
By The Way Series
Check out all these great books from By the Way Book Series. We want to read more of them as soon as we can. This is a wonderful way to teach kids about all these amazing animals and creatures and geography that God has created and some history of the people in various regions around the USA.
Be sure to read more about the wonderful author, Joy Budensiek and her desire she expressed for writing these books to help kids and their parents talk about God and draw closer to him. These books are part of a movement to turn our nation and our children back to God. You can read more about “Renewanation” mission here.
Check out By the Way Book Series on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.
“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14
“He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.” Proverbs 21:21
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Matthew 19:29
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” Mark 10:21
“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8
It seems to me that God has made it very clear that he doesn’t want us to chase after cars and trucks, houses, careers, college degrees, sports, hobbies, land, animals, plants, possessions, food, unrighteousness, sins, addictions, time, money, families, vanity and body image, popularity, planets and outer space, science and technology, medical, or anything else.
God wants to be the rhythm and passion of our life. He alone is the reason for every breath we take, and every day we walk this earth. He wants us to turn to him for every plan we make and every need or desire that we have. He wants us to be content with his answers to our requests. He wants to talk to our heart and fellowship with us every day. He wants us to sing about his goodness and tell our children, friends, and neighbors about him.
Kids love to go on trips. Why not take the kids on “a trip back in time”? With this unit study your kids can pretend to take a journey, pack their bags and board a “time machine” right in your home to travel back in history to the Middle Ages. On this trip, you won’t even have to hear the usual “are we there yet?” This unit study journey is so much fun!
HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages
Format: CD or Download (Mac & PC Compatible)
Retail $33.95 Download
Retail $34.95 CD
Suggested grades: 3-8
25 Lessons, Go at your own pace.
Tons of Printables For Parent / Teacher and Students
50 Projects and Activities
Arts, Crafts, Recipes
7 Dramatized Audio Tours
Lessons and Printables
The CD includes directions and masters for over 50 projects and activities. There is a HUGE menu of files. Also included are Travel Tips, teacher keys, Additional Resources (to enhance the learning), and a Quick-Stop Itinerary. Photos of completed projects, and a three-page travel planner to help the teacher plan the the schedule with upcoming topics and projects at a glance.
Dramatized Audio Tours
Also included with this study are 7 Dramatized Audio Tours. These audio dramas are fun to listen to and take you right to the action! What a great way to get your kids right in to the daily life of the past by listening to and take this journey with the “Knight in Shining Armor Tours”. The tour guide is Agatha and the coach driver is Brian and they will take the kids on various errands and excursions.
Your kids will spend time at a town Festival Day, visit a monastery where they will hear the sounds of Gregorian Chant, or visit the Battlefield of Hastings, and they might catch a glimpse of Duke William of Normandy! Wow!
There is so much to do on this journey. It is more than just learning HISTORY! This trip is filled adventure, exciting events, fun people to learn about, and lots of facts about life from the past. Some of the topics in this unit study include:
Daily Medieval Life
Class Structure in Society
Towns & Guilds
Science & Invention
and a whole lot more!
Projects & Writing & Arts & Crafts & Life Skills
A “Scrapbook of Sights” for storing notebook projects
Creative Writing projects for Lapbook
Souvenir Craft Cards with a dozen 3-D projects to make
A Newspaper “The Medieval Times”
A “Snapshot Moments in History” Scrapbook Timeline
“Postcards from Famous Folks”
Coat of Arms
Cooking & Recipes
A “Dining Out Guide”
2 Board Games
What We Thought
One of the things we like most about homeschooling is the freedom to choose curriculum that interests us. The curriculum style that interests us the most is unit studies. It is our favorite method for learning. Unit studies are our first choice because they are flexible, adaptable, and there is such a huge variety of projects and resources that make learning any and every subject fascinating.
The first step for me after we received our product download was printing the information. This unit study comes with a huge amount of printables for the kids as well as instructions for activities and lessons. The mom / teacher definitely needs to be organized and print the lessons out and put them in some sort of a binder or file so you can keep track of the journey and get the supplies and printables ready for the adventure. Besides mom’s binder, a computer, printer, and lots of paper, each kid also need a binder and a couple of file folders, glue, colored pencils and crayons, scissors, etc.
Our trip back in time to the Middle Ages includes 25 “stops” (1 +/- hour lessons) at specific locations where my kids learn what life was like during this time in History. We went at our own pace and did 2 lessons a week. We skipped around a bit in the lessons and are half way through at the time of writing this review. This study should take us about 14+ weeks to complete at this pace, but I plan to stretch it out longer with some additional activities.
Here is a list of a few of the STOPS and PROJECTS we have made so far:
Stop 1: Laying the foundation / packing for the trip.
Create a “Luggage” Folder and Passport.
The next step is to help the kids make a luggage or a travel suitcase, and a passport for the journey. They will re-use these items in future Project Passport studies you do. The suitcase helps keep all their papers and projects organized on their trip so they don’t get lost. Kids can use the completed printables they stored in their suitcase to create a Lapbook at the end of the journey that showcases what they have learned. Another step to prep was to print out the history timeline, news paper, and scrapbook of sights so we were ready to add in tidbits along the journey.
The “prep” work and the first “stop” (lesson) was the most challenging for me as I learned to print out everything and make the “storage” or “foundation” projects of the unit study. After that, it was easy to look at the organized lesson plans for the day and follow the plan. The rest of the lessons take about an hour or less to complete. All of the lessons and project instructions, crafts, and recipes are provided in the unit study and are easy for the kids to follow.
Stop 4: Everyday Life – Family and Class Structure
Firewood & Fence & Farming:
While learning about Class Structure and the Feudal System of land tenants (Serfs and Peasants) working the land for the land owners (Lords), we found ourselves wanting to know more about the daily life of the Serfs and Peasants who raised food. We have a long way to go yet, but a few of things we focused on so far was “fuel” to cook and heat with, tools, and fencing to hold animals in a designated area.
A two worksheets are provided as well as an audio tour for this section. Since we like homesteading and farming, we decided to add more hands on projects learning about how people farmed / homesteaded during the Middle Ages to our study. We will be adding in more learning in this section in the future. We plan to learn how to build a replica of a dwelling, how to lash boards together, how they started fire with friction, fishing with nets, butchering, growing harvesting storing and grinding grain, growing a vegetable and herb garden, etc. These are skills that will be invaluable to these kids in the years ahead and help them connect their learning about the lives of people who lived in the past. Tweaking a lesson here or there is the great flexibility that we love about unit studies.
Since we have been using this study during the months of January and February we focused on homesteading projects from the Middle Ages that were done this time of year. These projects fit right in perfect timing to our study.
Chopping and gathering firewood and building and repairing fence was a common practice in January and February for the Serfs and Peasants.
January and February was also spent repairing hunting nets and repairing and building traps, sharpening tools, making utensils etc. So we worked with the kids on learning how to sharpen a pocket knife and we also took the kids to the lake and they made their own small bait traps and worked on their fishing poles when they got snagged and lost their lines.
While researching how the Serfs and Peasants farmed the land, we learned that the most common form of fence used in small scale farming in the Middle Ages was called a “hurdle”. It is built of a “waddle” or woven fence panel made of upright posts and willow (or other flexible wood or vines available) woven in between the posts. The next kind of fence used the most was hedges and stone fences or walls were also common if enough stone was available. All of these fences were used to keep livestock in a boundary, either a small pen or a small field that was on crop rotation with livestock. The fence or hedge held livestock penned in, or it held them out of gardens, graveyards, and orchards.
We could of made a small replica of the waddle fence panels and may still do this, but one of my sons likes to “build big”. Since he did not have the flexible material on hand to weave in and out of his posts he tried another method to make a simple fence panel about 5 feet long made of upright posts.
Of course 5 feet of fence isn’t enough to keep animals in, so this panel would have been combined with several more panel sections to create an actual fence. These paneled fences would have been joined together to create pens for milk cows, ox, chickens, pigs, and sheep. He used a small ax to make the panel and it was very obvious to the kids that just creating one panel was a lot of work. Folks who farmed or homesteaded in the middle ages had to work very hard to do even simple tasks.
Stop 5: Everyday Life – Clothing and Food
When making the recipes, you can cook these in your modern kitchen, fire place, or outdoors. We did some of both. We wanted to try cooking over an open flame/hot coals for a more realistic experience. It is a lot harder to cook outside, build a fire, prep and cook the meal, bake bread, etc than it is to make this in today’s modern kitchen. It was fun to try it out both ways.
Pictures of our creating our Herb Bread:
This bread was so delicious! Some of the kids ate it plain, some ate it with butter, and some ate it with strawberry jam. My husband loved it too!
Everyone wanted second and third servings of this delicious bread. The crust and texture of the bread came out amazing!
My son also wanted to try topping his slice of bread with honey. Every way they tried it, they enjoyed it.
For the stew, we changed the recipe to fit what we had on hand. That is how the people in the Middle Ages did it too. If they had an ingredient they used it, if not they substituted. This is a good exercise in helping people to be flexible, content, and make do with what you have on hand. Here is a picture of what the kids put into their stew.
He ate several slices with butter and then wanted to try it out with strawberry jam.
Outdoor cooking with Herb Bread:
This was another “extra” we added into our hands on learning. Folks cooked over a fireplace in the Middle Ages. We decided to make our “Middle Ages fireplace” kitchen in the back yard with some old bricks laying around and cook a few meals listed in the “Dining Out Guide”.
We made the fire place big enough to accommodate two fires or two cooking areas. Two of the boys made their fires to the best of their ability to see who could heat up their bricks and get their fire just right for cooking first. These two are competitive.
It was well after dark before we could get the fires to die down enough to cook on.
The kids learned it takes a long time to build a hot fire, heat their bricks, then let the fire die down to hot coals to bake bread.
We did not have a dutch oven pot or any “Medieval pots” to cook the bread in so we improvised with foil and shaped the foil like a pot and a lid. The kids used the same herb bread recipe we had made in the house, and this time they put it in the foil pot we made and placed it on bricks we put in the hot coals to bake.
This is the finished bread from the outdoor fire. It tasted delicious, though it looks misshapen or funny! With more practice, they will be able to shape it better.
We sliced it up and lathered it with butter and some of the kids had strawberry jam with it and it was delicious! The outdoor fireplace bread tasted just as good as the bread we had baked in the house in our modern stove oven.
We would like to try to create some pots from the middle ages to cook food in again. We might make some clay pots and try firing them in the fire in the future.
This was a common food eaten by peasants and surfs during the Middle Ages. This is also a common breakfast food my kids are familiar with. We have it once or twice a week. It is very nutritious!
Stop 6: Everyday Life : Community
Field Trip Castle:
One of the fun activities in this lesson is to build a replica of a castle. Included are directions to build a castle with sugar cubes. But my kids wanted to build one that will last and they can actually play with when they are through building it, so we are budgeting out money to buy a hobby brick kit to build one. We also have a wooden castle the kids have played with for years and the kids often build small castles with Legos. We pulled out our pictures from a while back when we actually took a field trip to see a real castle. The kids remember this well and talked about it as they learned about castles in this unit study.
Stop 7: Everyday Life – Crime, Punishement, Entertainment
Jousting and Fox and Goose Game
This section was really interesting to the kids because one of the suggestions is to play indoor and outdoor games: checkers, chess, horseshoes, marbles, dice, board games, capture the flag, tag, games with balls, and physical training activities to become a knight, etc. They also learned about a competitive game knights and warriors played to prove themselves in a challenge called Jousting.
Stop 13: Medicine and Disease
“Medicinal” herb salt.
Herbs and super foods were “medicine” in ancient times. Folks who knew how to use strong herbs and oils and salt survived some of the darkest diseases in history. Nowadays, petrochemicals are used to make synthetic medicines.
Though it is sad how many people died of the plague during the Middle Ages, learning how to make your own herbal remedy was an interesting lesson to explore. This is a subject we are very interested in. We have spent some time in the past learning about herbs used for healing. We have made elderberry extract, tinctures, various kinds of honey, teas, and several herbal remedies over the years. This study gave simple instructions for creating an Herb Salt that is just salt and dried herb(s) of your choice that can be used both in cooking and health care. We made an herbal remedy with oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, and sea salt for this project. Whenever one is feeling down, you can stir a teaspoon of this into hot water and drink it to restore minerals and act as an antibiotic anti fungal. You can add a touch of raw honey and lemon juice for even more benefits. We also rub the herb salt mixture into meat before cooking, or use it to season broth or other foods or put some in your bath water too.
We would like to create an actual “Herbal Apothecary” someday. We are in the process of learning how to do this. We have a good start with herbs, salts, essential oils, and dried super foods that ancient people in history knew how to use to support the body.
Stop 22: Battles, Wars, Conflicts
During this journey, the kids learned about ancient weapons that were used during warfare. One of those weapons was a catapult. We built our own catapult variation with the instructions supplied. We substituted some of the supplies listed. We built our catapult using twigs, a pocket knife, rubber banks, and hot glue. It turned out fantastic and worked perfectly.
It is amazing how sturdy this catapult is and how well it works!
Now the boys want to build a big life size model. Oh boy!
One of the boys also built a Lego catapult. He had a battle with his Lego men. This catapult worked very well too. Do you know how hard it is to find a Lego that was flung across the room?
Dad helped the kids make wooden swords a while back. They had a lot of fun making them.
It was fun to have their own sword and compare it to the weapons used in the Middle Ages unit study. The 12 year old made a paper hat for a king, draped a blanket on as a cape and pretended he was in a heated battle with the others to protect his kingdom.
Someday they would like to make an actual shield to go with their sword. They would also like to make a long bow and set up an archer range. They have shot bows and cross bows before. But they are interested in making their own primitive long bow now. They have been researching how to make it, but we haven’t built it yet. I just hope no-one gets hurt with all these battles they like to act out.
Stop 25: Final Stop – Packing Up
Lapbooks are one of our favorite projects.
The Lapbook is the last lesson #25 in the Project Passport Middle Ages, but we decided to put ours together as we went along for the purpose of this review so our reading audience could see it in action.
We are about half way through with the Lapbook at the time of writing this review.
We still have a ways to go to finish this study of the Middle Ages and in addition to the recommended activities, we are adding some “extras” into our study as we find the time. These additional activities will add a few more weeks onto our hands on learning. The kids are really enjoying this unit study.
Because this is a flexible unit study, you can go faster or slower and pick and choose which lessons you want to complete. For example if you speed up to 3 lessons a week, and do all of the lessons, you can finish this study in 8 weeks, or if you slow down and do 1 lesson a week on the journey, this unit study will last a full 25 weeks. We chose to go at our own pace, plug in the activities we were interested in, added in a few additional ideas we researched, and customized the study to fit best with our family’s interest and schedule.
Check out this video that explains even more about Project Passport unit studies.
Home School In The Woods offers free samples of audio dramas and lessons and much more. Be sure to check out their free samples on their website. We love their History Timelines too! Home School In The Woods is a great resource for homeschool families. We highly recommend all of the great products at Home School In The Woods.
Homeschool In The Woods
Be sure to check out all of the great products from Home School In The Woods. And be sure to check out all of the HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Studiesseries including their latest “Ancient Greece”. They will have “Ancient Rome” available soon and are adding new products all the time.
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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Loving others isn’t always easy. It is hard to love when you are offended. It is hard to love when you are angry.
I have been praying about how to help my kids solve their disagreements with their siblings in a loving way. Lately a couple of them seem to get on each other’s nerves a lot more. I have six kids, the older two are heading out of puberty and seldom get into big arguments, and two are younger, but the middle two are heading into puberty and lately argue with each other a lot. After having gone through the “preteen years with the older two already, and now with the next two repeating the pattern, it seems preteen puberty has an affect on tolerance and attitude.
Though we have been teaching them about love, forgiveness, and getting along since the beginning of their lives, I feels sometimes like I am starting over in some way, like they forgot what they knew. Before puberty, they used to be more patient and kind and generous and gracious in their attitude. But currently they are easily offended. Right now, one day they are best friends and the next day words spoken by the other person feels like a verbal jab or a put down even when it wasn’t intended that way. So I am in the process of teaching them about loving the other person all over again.
So where do I begin?
Like I said, this is something I have been praying and asking the Lord to point me in the right direction. This is a temporary phase kids go through as they head into puberty, so I have to give them some simple steps they can take to help them work through their feelings and chose to react to the other person with understanding and giving them the benefit of the doubt and not assuming the other wants to offend them.
Today I am focusing on solving an argument with “Love“. Love is an action. Loving someone else you don’t want to love, or someone who has offended you requires something from you. When you love, it results in growth in your character as you make room to overlook the offense, overlook differences, overlook your own wants and put the other persons wants and needs in front of yours. Choosing to argue is an option and choosing not to argue is another option.
“The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.” Luke 10:27
Choosing to forgive and love the other person is what God desires from us. God is love. He wants us to be gracious, to extend grace to each other and offer each other a helping hand. He wants us to show pure love towards each other. When we love others and forgive them we show that we belong to God, that he is our Heavenly Father.