Sunday, February 14, 2016

Edward Lamson Henry Genre Project for Kids

My daughter created a genre painting.

When artists paint scenes of everyday life from their region and time period they are creating genre work. Edward Lamson Henry was an American genre painter. He grew up in New York and had the opportunity to study art in Paris at the same time as many impressionists. However, unlike the impressionists, he moved back to America and fought during the Civil War. After the war he created numerous genre works.

Detail abounds throughout his works of art. Small flags, feathers on hats, spokes of wheels, and even the backgrounds are complete. Many of his painting are of horse and buggies on roads or in villages.



We have been reading the art book Can You Find It? America: Search and Discover More Than 150 Details in 20 Works of Art (Can You Find It? (Abrams Books for Young Readers)). The book contains around 20 works of art done by Americans. Each work contains a short list of items for children to find "I Spy" in the work. The back of the book contains a short description of each work.

The book contains Henry's North Dutch Church painting. In connection with a unit study to learn about United States geographic regions, we came across this painting. I showed my daughter the painting and asked her where she thought the church was. She said, "Germany," which was a pretty good guess I thought. We used to live in Germany and it does look a lot more like Germany than like the churches in Western Michigan. Anyway, the church was torn down shortly after the painting was completed, but it was in New York. Immigrants settling in America commonly built structures in the style and manner of their homelands. The North Dutch Church in New York, built by immigrants from the Netherlands is a great example.



After reading more about Edward Lamson Henry on the internet we viewed the 5 minute video linked above to see more of his paintings. Then my daughter created her own genre artwork using chalk.

 The picture shows children sledding on toboggans and circle sleds.

Bridge Unit Study - Lesson 3: Trusses

My son built and tested a truss bridge.

Trusses are formed when two straight pieces come together to form a rigid joint. Most often they are triangular in shape and trusses are used in all types of construction from roof tops, to the Eiffel Tower and of course bridges.  

The book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test (Kaleidoscope Kids), explained how trusses work and then suggested a project for building a truss bridge. Again, my son jumped in.

 Using craft sticks and glue my sun built a truss bridge full of triangles.


 It took several days to build the bridge as he needed to wait for the glue to dry after each new side was constructed.

 Once it was finished and dry, testing began.

 His plan was to attach a road to the bridge (a ruler) and hang a bucket full of weights from the road.

 The basic idea worked well, but the bridge turned out to be much stronger than he anticipated.

In order to test the bridge to the point of failure, a stronger road surface was required as it was the weakest link in the design.

 Throughout the process, he took notes which included a sketch of his design as well as estimates of how much weight the bridge could hold.


Test set-up

Weighing coins to determine how much weight was applied to the bridge


A stronger ruler (road surface) was used

Free weights were used instead of coins as they were heavier

Books, weights, soup cans......... lots of heavy stuff - the bridge still held strong

Finally he got a hold of heavier weights.

 The bridge reached failure. 


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Native American Unit Study - Lesson 7b: Hopi Clothing

My daughter made a Hopi dress with a belt.

In the book More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life (Hands-On History) by Laurie Carlson, my daughter learned that Hopi women wore dresses with only one shoulder strap belted at the waist. She decided to make a dress of her own.

Her dress was constructed from fleece. To cut the material she laid one of her tank tops on top of the material to get the sizing close. Then she cut the fabric into a dress shape.

The dress was sewn down the sides and at the shoulder.


A decorative ribbon was added at the bottom.

Next she cut a long narrow strip of fleece to be tied at the waist as a belt. Fringe was added to the end of the belt as were fancy stitches into the boarders.

If you've been following Highhill Education, you may have noticed the theme of green fleece in the Native American clothing posts. My daughter's favorite craft is sewing. Therefore, after reading about many different traditions of Native American tribes, my daughter usually decided to make an article of clothing for her craft. She has an entire Native American outfit nearly completed. However, the outfit was made by combining the traditional clothing styles of many different tribes. Therefore, you will have to wait a week or two to see the entire outfit. Stay tuned. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Bridge Unit Study - Lesson 2: Draw Bridge

My son built a draw bridge model.

Do you think a draw bridge is a beam bridge, arch bridge or suspension bridge?

Well drawbridges are a type of movable beam bridge. They were used extensively during the middle ages to prevent entry into fortifications. Before cannons were invented, residents could simply pull up the bridge, and it was very difficult for invaders to enter.

Here is a medieval draw bridge turned permanent bridge from William the Conquerer's castle in Normandie, France.

Draw bridges are also used today, but they are not quite so common. In my town, there is a drawbridge that raises to allow boats with tall masts to pass underneath and enter the channel. Most of the time it stays down, but during the summer months it often goes up and can cause some minor traffic back-ups.

After reading about draw bridges in the book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test (Kaleidoscope Kids), my son followed the directions to create his own using an empty cereal box, string, and a straw.



 It's a pretty simple design. Just punch four holes in the box and lace the string through. Put the string through the straw and cut the string to the desired length for opening and closing.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Native American Unit Study - Lesson 7a: Southwestern Indians

My daughter made a ring toss game, a bull roarer toy and a silver armband.

The ancestors of Native Americans of the southwest lived in houses carved into the sides of mountains. Their pueblo homes were like apartment buildings with different families living in each room. To escape enemies the houses were difficult to access. The Indians used ladders carved into tree trunks which the pulled into the houses when at home so unwanted guests could not easily visit.


The two living books Pueblo Storyteller and Pueblo Boy: Growing Up in Two Worlds focus on real natives from the southwest.

Ring Toss Game
Native American tribes played a variety of games. After learning about the ring toss game played by the Zuni tribe of New Mexico in the book More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life (Hands-On History) by Laurie Carlson, my daughter decided to create the game.

First she cut two ring shapes from paper plates making sure that one was larger than the other. Then the plates were wrapped with yarn to cover all of the paper. The game is played by trying to toss the smaller ring inside the larger ring.

Bull Roarer
The Navajo along with several other tribes of the southwest made wind sticks used to pray for rain. They are basically sails on a strings that makes a wind-like noise when spun around in a circle.


First my daughter cut a rectangular shape from cardboard. Then a string was attached and the cardboard was decorated with marker.



Silver Armband
Silver and turquoise stones were naturally available in the southwest. Tribes often made jewelry from the silver. To make this simple armband a portion of a plastic water bottle was wrapped with aluminum foil. Since the bottle was curved, the bracelet fit perfectly.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bridge Unit Study - Lesson 1: Concrete

Lesson 1: Concrete

My son made concrete, built two model bridges and tested them to see which one was stronger.

I couldn't be happier with the book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test (Kaleidoscope Kids), which I purchased to give my son another hands-on engineering experience. With two parents holding engineering degrees, it's only natural that my son would have an engineering mind.



The book begins by describing the three main types of bridges: beam, arch and suspension. It gives examples of each, explains how they carry loads and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Perfect! The book starts with the big picture, explains in simple language and builds with each chapter so that kids come away with a thorough understanding of bridge construction. Although it is written for educators to use as a spine for group lectures, I just gave it to my son, instructed him to read it and do any activities he thought would be interesting. He jumped right in.



One of the first projects he did was make concrete.

To make concrete he needed to gather some sand, and some rocks.

Then he added some cornstarch and water and used an old pot to heat the mixture.

Following the directions in the book, he took the mixture and formed it into an arch bridge and a beam bridge.


Once it cooled down, he placed a load onto each bridge and added coins for weight.



Eventually the beam bridge gave way. Super. He learned the ingredients in concrete and that arches are stronger than beams.

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