Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ships and Sailing

Ships and Sailing the Seas

Having a decent introductory knowledge of sailing vessels is useful for any history studies of the age of discovery and exploration as well as for many of the wars fought between empires even as far back as the wars between Greece and Persia.  Since I am expecting to cover this period in World History with Alice this year it seemed appropriate to have a page with resources about Ships and Sailing.  Additionally, there are plenty of tie-ins with both science and literature.  Besides, with a father that loves ships, sailing and related literature, it is a topic I have bumped up against but really know very little about myself and I wanted to learn more (one of my favorite advantages of homeschooling is how much I get to learn in the process of preparing to teach and teaching Alice).  I hope you will find this resource list useful in whatever it is you are studying with your kids.

Useful Movies:

NOVA; a History of Navigation

PBS Series: Warships has four episodes each about a different era of warships.  The series is really more of a focus on battle technology as it relates to sea battles.  The first, Sea Power is the one that includes sailing vessels but is by no means chronological or complete in terms of coverage of earliest sailing vessels.   

Sailing Across the Atlantic is one I am super glad I found before beginning the school year because it will be a great complement when we study the Vikings.  The crew approximately traces the path of Eric the Red from Greenland to Newfoundland during the first leg of their journey.  The ship is much more modern - being only 80 years - as is a great deal of the technology the crew uses, but the voyage still shows clearly what it is like navigating these waters by sail.  Evidence of global warming also comes up - so if you are doing any studies related to this topic, it may be a good cross-over as well.

Book Resources:

Information and Relevant Picture Books:

The visual Dictionaries and Encyclopedias done by DK publishers are reliably good resources to have around for your kids.  The visual elements are stunning, layouts non-threatening, and text concise and easily understandable, so it is no surprise the Visual Diction of Ships and Sailing would top my list for non-fiction resources I wanted to be sure to have on hand for Alice.  The book certainly isn't a complete resource for understanding every sailing term your child might encounter while reading, but it is a great place to start and will cover most of your needs alone.  I found it to be the perfect amount of information needed at our finger tips.  When an answer wasn't available in this book, a perusal of a dictionary  or Wikipedia usually did the trick.

The Amazing Book of of Paper Boats:  This book has basic information about the science behind boats and has 18 boats to create from different points in nautical history.  It goes over water displacement, density and buoyancy, and stability as well as the historical development of boats and boating.  The paper constructions are beautiful and a fun activity for patient hands - I would not use it with the very young as a general rule.  Even with an elementary student, I suggest an adult do the scoring and cutting portions as prep.  Time required for each project is listed in the instructions and is usually listed at around two to three hours.  The two I have completed took less time actually working on the boat but using glue meant the over-all time was longer because we had to stop and wait for the glue to dry.   Once complete, the paper boats are amazing.  The paddles on the paddlewheel even turn!!  This book doesn't seem to be available new anymore.  However, it does seem to be readily available in new condition in the used sections when looking for books online.  It seems many people have purchased it, thinking it looked cool and then never completed the constructions.

Language Arts Options: 

The Boy who Sailed Around the World Alone
An autobiographical description of a modern sailing journey made by a teenage boy passionate about sailing.  While this voyage takes place well after a time when sail power was the only boating option for voyages that crossed the sea,  kids get a view of how an activity from so long ago is still practiced in today's world.   The fact that it is a true story of a young man sailing around the world might make it especially interesting to a middle-school or high-school student that is not generally keen on reading otherwise, but likes sailing and boats.  I haven't seen this, but there was even a movie made! The Dove.

Treasure Island
Who hasn't at least heard of this classic?  Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of a boy who is swept up into an adventure seeking treasure has been re-written and parodied in all forms of media since the late 1800's when it was first published.  Alice is reading this one with her grandfather as I type this line.  She has already seen Treasure Planet, but we'll make sure to order at least one of the movies to watch as well.  1950 Movie, 1934 Movie, Muppet Treasure Island (1996), I'll have to preview Sky1's TV Miniseries of Treasure Island but I'm amazed at the cast involved and look forward to doing so (The Making Of Video).

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
I have not yet read this one myself, or with Alice, but I know it has been met with enthusiasm by educators and readers from many walks of life.  I know Charlotte Doyle is independent, rebellious, and the novel addresses civil rights (for all) within its themes.

Unfortunately, I just haven't read a lot in this area of literature so, as I expand my sailing novel experience, I'll offer this Goodreads list as it has a much more exhaustive list with a range of reading levels and various age-appropriate choices than I can offer at the moment. 

Games, Printables and other Online Resources:

Old Bristol Historical Pages are ones I intend to look into more deeply and use more as I prep for the Caroline History Unit.  At first glance, it looks like a wonderful resource.  I link it here mainly for the diagram of a British Man of War.

School of Sailing - Sailing Terminology

Which Boats are What? - Wikipedia list of vessel types and distinctions

Sea Chanteys Lesson Plan on Age of Sail

How to Tie Boating Knots - animated knot tying instructions

Try Engineering: Sail Away Lesson Plans design and engineer a watercraft

eGFI - Math and Design in Sailing Vessels - another lesson plan focusing on designing a sailing vessel.

Sail Power - Make a sailing vessel with move-able sail so your kids can see how the boat moves relative to the direction of the wind

Field Trip Ideas:

I believe hands-on experience is the most memorable form of learning, so whenever possible I go on "adventures" with Alice that relate (however loosely) to things she is, or will learn.  We recently enjoyed an evening cruise on the Spike Africa thanks to a dear friend (yelp reviews).  The Spike Africa welcomes persons that require the use of a wheelchair - something I know not all vessel programs can, or will do.  Alice had a fun evening and an introductory experience with sailing to which we will be able to refer back. I don't think she'll ever forget hearing the command, "Block your sweats" called out to the crew when the mainsail had just been hoisted (I know I'll never forget her reaction) and she was even allowed to captain the ship for a period during the voyage.

In looking for other opportunities, I found a few companies that seemed to offer a true sailing experience.  As much as some of these experiences look like a true adventure (and one that would be life-changing) they are not in the cards for my little family at this time.  However, some of these resources may be helpful to you (and I hope, something we might come back to down the road).  If you go on one of these voyages or charter through one of these companies, please stop back and add a comment sharing your experience:

Black Dog Tall Ships looks like a GREAT program for elementary/middle school kids. If you, or your kids have been involved in this experience please add a comment and inform future readers about your take on the program.  It appears they also charter similar to Schooners Northwest's Spike Africa and offer summer camps.

Age of Sail offers day camp experiences as well as overnight encampments based out of San Francisco for groups such as classes, scouting troops and similar programs, and has a summer camp offering as well.

For older "kids"
List on Squidoo
Sail Training International

Monday, July 28, 2014

Get out and Go

If July and August aren't a good time to get out and get in touch with nature - I don't know when is a good time.  The weather is generally fabulous kids aren't locked to their desks, and traffic is lighter than usual.   It is also a time when kids who attend mortar and brick classes (whether part-time or full-time) might be getting a little bored with the same old games and toys at home.

Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle

Goats in a road-side enclosure in Eastern Washington

If you frequent this blog, you may know that Alice and I take a road-trip every summer and try to make sure to visit at least one National or State park along the way.  National and State Parks are wonderful places to go that I will always recommend.  During the summer months the National Parks often provide "living history" experiences when there is a historic aspect to the site.  If you live near one, please go and support their programs!  They are a great benefit to us all and will be memorable experiences for your kids and you.

San Juan National Historic Monument: English Camp Living History Day

Fort Vancouver Blacksmith's shop

However, National and State Parks aren't the only way to go.  Often there are treasures right in your backyard you can take advantage of on any given afternoon.  Just this last weekend, Alice attended a fly-in at a small airport near her Grandparent's House, rode on a helicopter and made a wooden airplane model.  We have visited farms, the beach, zoos, aquaria, botanical parks, county parks and small museums as well.  Even something as simple as a trip to the creek down the road can be an adventure when you really want it to be, the point is to get out and look for the adventure - you'll find it.

Local Renaissance Fair (Fencing Class - only$8!)

Medieval Times Tournament
It probably looks at the moment like I don't understand not having the option to travel to some distant place at the drop of a hat.  However, there really are things to do right in your own backyard.  These photos highlight some of the most memorable things we've done, but whether it is a puddle jump after a rainfall in your own neighborhood, a trip to the city zoo (which for us, means over an hour's drive, but it is worth it) or a weekend at the nearest national park, an adventure awaits you that will allow for some bonding, relaxation, some fun and probably a little learning too.

An Archaeological Dig Site we were able to visit on the spur of the moment when we visited Fort Vancouver.

Visit to a Working Textiles Farm only a little ways away from home
Nearby Beach
Forest Walk Find: Smashed Mushroom (this location was close enough to home to walk there)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Hundred Dresses - Reading and Activity Guide

This is a beautiful story by Eleanore Estes is about a little girl who claims to have 100 dresses, even though everybody knows she has only the one she wears.  Very few children's books address socioeconomic diversity and the prejudice that can accompany it for those with less.  This book handles the topic in a way that shares a lesson the author herself learned the hard way. Additionally, the subjects of courage, right and wrong, loyalty and friendship all come up through the thoughts the main character struggles with in the book.

Just for The Fun of It

Hopscotch may be old-fashioned, but it is still a heck of a lot of fun - and can be played for the price of a piece of chalk.  If you haven't already, give it a try! Hubpages Hopscotch will not only teach you the actual rules of the game, but its history as well.

Eleanor Estes weaves the message of equality into the story in one more way by showing the kids reciting the Gettysburg Address in the classroom.  Learn a little about this great president AND learn his very short Gettysburg Address.  Have your kids learn the address, set a rhythm or a song to it and then make a music video where they preform the Address as "The Lincolns - a band for equality"

Design a dress or two of your own.  There are lots of "fashion" kits out there with different ways of teaching girls to draw dresses and fashion, OR you can just sketch your own ideas the way Wanda did.  You can also use coloring page images and add color and trimmings as you see fit.

Find your kids a pen-pal to help them learn about someone who is different, but the same.  There are a TON of different pen-pal programs out there.  If your student/students are learning how to write letters, there is a Traditional Letter Writing Pen-Pal Program for that.  However, if you have particularly artistic kids there is a Pen-Pal Program for artistic exchanges too.  The artistic exchange is also a good one for cultural exchange.  There are also programs that use email and are international as well.  If none of the linked programs work for you, simply do a search - there are many more programs out there.

Vocabulary and Comprehension

I had Alice do the first set of vocabulary before reading and then do the second vocabulary set before reading section two and so on.  This worked pretty well in order to keep things simple.  There were a few circumstances where the word came after reading, and many where it came before reading. 

Section One

This section ends on page 18.   For this vocabulary, I gave Alice a list of the definitions and had her match the words to the definition.


outer fringe

Questions to Consider

  1. Does Wanda have many friends? How do you know?
  2. What is the dresses game?
  3. Why don't they believe Wanda?
  4. What makes Wanda so different?
  5. Maddie struggles between her loyalty to her friend Peggy and her dislike for the dresses game.  Would saying something to Peggy about Maddie's feelings truly be disloyal?
  6. How do you think Wanda feels about the dresses game?

Section Two

For the Vocabulary for section two (which ends on page 39), I gave Alice the vocabulary words, AND definitions and asked her to draw pictures that represented the word meanings.  Multiple words COULD be incorporated into one picture if she wished.



Questions to Consider

  1. What is "having fun with Wanda?"
  2. Is Peggy cruel to Wanda or is she just having some fun? Answer this question from Peggy's perspective AND from Maddie's.
  3. Why doesn't Maddie say anything to Peggy regarding her feelings about the dresses game?  Is Maddie cruel for staying silent?
  4. Why do you think Wanda said she had 100 dresses?
  5. What do you think about the idea that Peggy could not do anything that was really wrong just because she is best liked?  Is that true? Explain your answer.

Section Three

For this vocabulary set, I created a crossword puzzle using Ed Helper.  I used the definitions as the hints, but also gave her the list of words from which to choose.  Section three ends on page 49.



Questions to Consider

  1. Do you think Wanda's designs are her 100 dresses?
  2. Why does Maddie think herself a coward?  Do you agree or disagree with her?  Why?
  3. Write out what you think Maddie and Peggy should say to Wanda if they see her.
  4. What do you think will happen in Boggins Heights?

 Section Four

For this vocabulary list, I had Alice look up the words in her dictionary and copy definitions down.
This section ends on page 64.



Questions to Consider

  1. List some of the things that Maddie is thinking about that make her feel she should have been nicer to Wanda.
  2. What do you think about Peggy's idea that it is okay because if not for the teasing maybe Wanda wouldn't have won?  Is she right or not?  Explain your answer.
  3. How would you feel about Peggy and Maddie if you had been Wanda?

Section 5

For this vocabulary list, I had Alice help make a crossword puzzle with me.  If I was working with many children, I probably would have handed out a pre-made crossword puzzle for them to do.  This section coincides with the last chapter.


bear (as in the verb, to bear)

Questions to Consider

  1. Do you think you'd've forgiven them and given Peggy and Maddie some of your drawings?
  2. How do you think Peggy really feels about Wanda?  Cite quotations from the book to support your answer.
  3. Did you enjoy reading this book?  Why or why not?
  4. The Author, Eleanor Estes, told her daughter she wrote this book because of a true story from her own life.  Eleanor Estes had a classmate who was taunted in the same way Wanda was taunted.  She was Polish and wore the same dress to school everyday but left the school suddenly at one point and no one ever heard from her again.  This book is her way of saying she is sorry to that little girl.  What does that make you think about the Author?  Does that make you consider the story differently? 
  5. Is there anyone to whom you would recommend this book - why?

Other Resources for The Hundred Dresses

Teaching Books Network - Has links to more Lesson Guide options and an audio clip.