Wednesday, July 27, 2016

American History Unit Study: War of 1812

Do you know why the War of 1812 was fought? Was the War of 1812 fought in Europe or North America?


This History Channel Documentary on the War of 1812 explained the war and described many key players and battles. Like almost all wars in history the main reason for this war was money. The secondary reason which helped to gain public support, was the fact that Americans were being seized from ships by the British Navy, and being forced to fight as British soldiers in their struggle against Napoleon.


Shortly after the French Revolution took place, Napoleon rose to power in France. After conquering many regions, he set his sights on England. As the two countries waged war, the new country of America tried to remain neutral. Both England and France wanted America on its side of the conflict, and used trade as an incentive to sway the Americans. In an attempt to force the Americans to enter the war, England successfully cut off exports from the majority of American ports. Their efforts brought the American economy to its knees and the public wanted it to stop. After England successfully stopped American trade and public support for war increased, war was declared on England.

Since Canada was a British territory and much closer to America, the Americans decided to wage war across the boarder. If the efforts were successful, the Americans stood to gain land. So the War of 1812 was fought both in Europe and North America. In Europe, the fighting was between the French and the British, where as in America, the fighting was between America, Britain, Canada and the Indians.

America spent two years engaged in battles with the British, Canadians, and Indians where Michigan and New York border Canada, (Detroit, Niagara, Toronto, Northern New York) and on the Great Lakes. During the fighting, both sides pillaged, plundered and burned cities along the border. Both sides won a few battles, lost a few battles, lost lives, and destroyed civilian property, but neither reigned supreme.

After years of fighting in Europe, the war between France and Britain finally came to an end. Once England had defeated the French, they turned their focus to North America. Since the Americans had few ships, and the soldiers were busy on the Canadian border, the English were able to sail up the river to Washington DC. During their acts of retaliation for the burning of Canadian cities, the White House was burned. After the British successes in Washington DC, they set their sights on the mouth of the Mississippi River. While they were on their way to attack, the American General Jackson assembled an army to defend the region. This time the Americans were successful.

Once the war in Europe was over, the stalemate in America was declared a draw, and peace was declared through a treaty written in Ghent, Belgium. The unnecessary war was finally over. The Treaty of Ghent stated that the borders between the nations of America and Canada would remain the same. During the fighting, the Indians had joined forces with the Canadians and British. Unfortunately for the Indians, this decision made them the biggest losers of the war. Once peace was declared, they were no longer recognized as a separate nation. They lost their ability to govern themselves and were pushed onto reservations, absorbed and assimilated into the white culture. The Canadians on the other hand, gained the most from the war. It was the first time in their history where Canadians from different backgrounds came together to fight for a common cause.  Therefore, in the end Canada gained a national identity, America and Britain ended where they began, and the Indians lost recognition as a separate nation.




Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Brooder Temperature - Science Fair

The temperature in the brooder was lowered each week.

Newborn chicks need the temperature to be around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. As they grow, the temperature can be lowered by 5 degrees each week until the brooder temperature matches the outside air temperature. Once they are around eight weeks they can regulate their body temperatures, their immune systems are stronger and they can move outdoors.


Our heat lamp was mounted with a wire attached to a beam over the tub. To change the temperature in the tub, the heat lamp was raised or lowered. Each time this was done I thought it would make a perfect science fair experiment. "How does the height of a heat lamp correspond to temperature?"

 It was tricky to adjust the lamp properly. Sometimes when it was lowered the temperature would change by 10 degrees. At one point, there was a shoe box under the lamp containing a weak chick which changed the way the heat was distributed. Another time the heat lamp bulb died and had to be replaced. The new bulb was a different wattage than the first bulb and the calibration process had to begin again. At night time the outside air dropped enough to change the temperature inside the tub. Eventually my son learned to change the length of the wire in 1 inch increments to arrive at the desired temperature.

So reading and adjusting temperature was another application which provided a hands-on learning opportunity experienced all because my son got chickens.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Speed! Price Drop

Do you have any kids learning multiplication?

Kids love it because it's fun. 
Adults love it because the kids are learning. 

Speed! teaches skip-counting by 2's up to 9's using eight decks of cards. The game is based on the traditional card game called Spit or Speed where two players race to be the first one to get rid of their cards. Skip-counting (by threes for example: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, etc) leads directly into multiplication as the numbers in the deck are the answers to the multiplication problems.


By playing the game kids not only learn to skip-count, but begin to unconsciously form number associations in their head. Therefore, when they are introduced to higher level math concepts, they tend to catch on quicker. For example, if they are asked to reduce the fraction 12/27 they will recognize that both of those numbers were in the Three Speed game. It is that association that is the key to reducing the fraction to 4/9.

For kids just getting started with multiplication (ages 4-6) I recommend beginning with the Two Speed or Five Speed decks as they are the easiest. From there, it's best to move on one deck at a time focusing on each one until the child is very fast at getting rid of his/her cards.

For kids who have already begun multiplication or are reviewing, they really enjoy trying out all the decks. It's still best to begin with Two-Speed or Five-Speed until the rules are understood, but then begin to move on to explore the other numbers. They will enjoy challenging friends, siblings and parents.

Parent Tip: If you have a young child that is motivated by winning, this game is perfect. During a game, when the cards in the center are the same the first person to shout "SPEED" gets to give the center stacks of cards to his/her opponent. Since the winner is the first to get rid of his/her cards, the first person to shout "SPEED" has a tremendous advantage. When my kids were young, I never noticed the matching numbers. Therefore, my kids always won.

Speed Price Drop from $19.99 to $17.99 until July 31, 2016
Get Speed! now at Amazon!

To learn more about the game including a video of it being played, please visit my Speed! page.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

War is all about Money

The more I learn about wars in history, the more I see a repeated story.

I'm not a fan of children's story books that have a bully. The bullied child fights back and eventually the situation is resolved. In the end, the bullied child is happy. There are numerous books with this storyline and conflict. They only differ by the way the conflict is varied. Sometimes the bully steals lunch money, sometimes the bully pokes fun at clothing. Regardless, the story is the same. It's predictable.

Just like this storybook plot, war stories are repetitive. In each case, the leaders present an issue to the public that evokes lots of emotion. The more the public hears the emotional story, the more they support the war effort. However, in most cases, the public is completely unaware of the true motive behind the war. MONEY! In almost every case the story is the same. The true reason for war is money.


I'm not a history expert by any means. In fact, I didn't do that great in history class in either high school or college. However, for the past seven years I have been homeschooling my children. Each year we study history. For the past five years we have selected one cultural and time period of history and learned all about it. We have covered Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Persia, Celts, Vikings, China, Scythians, Middle Ages, Renaissance and now we're into American History. I'm amazed how frequently the war story repeats itself. Here are a few examples:

War - Public Support Gained of Issue - True reason

Roman Empire

The Romans fought many wars to expand their empire. The public supported the wars because they believed their enemies were barbarians and uncivilized people which they could teach and reform. However, the true reason for the wars was money. Each time the empire conquered new territory, slaves were taken. In ancient Rome slaves meant money.

Middle Ages (Crusades)

During the Middle Ages the Crusades were supposedly about religion, but in actuality they were all about money. The public felt they had a right to the holy land and that it was their duty to take the land from the non-believers. If they fought for the holy land they believed their sins would be forgiven and they would be rewarded in heaven. However, throughout the conquest, religious leaders with public support not only plundered wealthy cities, they also began services which resulted in huge economic gains. Groups of knights formed which became wealthy by offering protection to travelers. The knights enjoyed a tax exempt status which greatly contributed to their wealth. In addition, they offered travelers high-interest rate loans. This series of wars fought in the name of religion, was really about money.

Mexican-American War

In the early days of America President Polk hoped to achieve greater economic wealth by acquiring all of the land between the two oceans. However, Polk gained public support for the war by telling the people that Mexico fired on American soldiers on American soil. In actuality, the American soldiers who were fired upon were on land Mexico rightly believed belonged to them. Once again, public support was created for the war under the guise of righteousness when the true reason for the war was all about money.

Civil War

In recent weeks I've been reading about the Civil War. This most deadly of all past American Wars was fought in the name of slavery, when again the true motivation was money. The Lincoln administration wanted a big central government in which favors could be given to friends and big businessmen. Most of the favors were being received by people in the north. In the south, taxes were being raised on imports in order to force the people to purchase goods from the north. Because the south was opposed to these taxes, the north ended up closing ports in the south. This economic dispute lead to states in the south wanting to leave the union and ultimately war. The war fought in the name of slavery, was actually all about money.

Present

So now fast forward to present times. Why are we fighting in the middle east? I've heard women in those countries are treated poorly. I've heard we're scared those countries have weapons of mass destruction. Well I know they have oil. Oil represents money. I ask you........ do you think the war story has changed?

If you have any good books to recommend on this topic please leave me a comment.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Brooder Cover for Chicks

The chicks can fly.
When the chicks were about two weeks old their wing feathers began to develop. The photo of the chick above shows a combination of down and a few wing feathers. As soon as the feathers began to develop, the chicks began trying them out. The would zoom across the tub gaining an inch of elevation. That same day we noticed them eyeing the top of the water and feeder.

The next day they were up on top.

 The following day they got a cover. This was another quick construction project for my son to practice his cutting and hammering skills, but also taught him a lesson in chick behavior.

 I love how this experience has contained such a variety of educational opportunities. In addition to building, caring for and watching the chicks grow, my son has been writing about the experience. Here is a link to his blog - Team Chicken - It would be wonderful if you stopped by and left him a comment to encourage him. - Thank You

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Constitution Study for High Schoolers

The Five Thousand Year Leap should be the government book for high school children.


When I was in high school I remember learning about the three branches of government, ages required to hold various offices, the Constitution and two main parties. Overall, the course was very basic. 

Politics today are so wrapped up in party specific agendas and special interest projects. Often decisions of politicians make little to no sense at all. The book The Five Thousand explains why the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution they way they did. Despite coming from a variety of backgrounds; (differing religious beliefs, professions, income level, etc) they were all well read and agreed on most issues. The majority of their discussions focused on the best ways to implement their goals. They didn't focus on party specific issues, rather, they spent their time writing a document which would work in a variety of different circumstances.

One of their primary goals was to create a government which operated between the two extremes of tyranny (ruler's law) and anarchy (no law). In other words, they wanted the people to rule. The book steps through 28 principles of which the Founding Fathers based their ideas. Beginning with the principles of Natural Law, and virtuous and moral people, this book explains the reasoning of the Founding Fathers in a way that makes a lot of sense still today.

While reading this book my 13 year old daughter completed a number of writing assignments which corresponded with the chapters. Here are some of her essay questions.


Tyranny and Anarchy
1. North Korea is a country currently ruled by tyranny. Somalia has anarchy. Research both countries and write an imaginary tale of your life as a child in each country.


Natural Law
2. You know the difference between right and wrong and therefore instinctively understand natural law. Create a table listing examples of acts both in accordance with and contrary to natural law.

Natural Law vs Political Law
3. Describe at least two past or current American laws which are not in agreement with natural law. Why were the laws passed? What happened?

Irredentism - Land Taken by Force
4. If you were a world leader, describe your irredentism policy.

Price Caps and Price Controls
5. Do you believe price caps/controls are positive or negative policies? Explain using examples.

Immigration
6. Immigration is a current hot topic in politics. How would you deal with immigration?

Booms and Busts in Economics
7. Briefly describe the cycle of economics.

8. What is inflation?

Government Subsidies
9. Should businesses be subsidized? Why/why not? Give examples.





Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Learning Responsibility: Baby Chicks are a Lot of Work

My responsible son is learning to be even more responsible.

He thought raising chicks would be easy. After all, he has been taking care of the neighbor's two chickens for months and all he has to do is gather eggs and make sure the water isn't frozen. Therefore, he was shocked when he got his own baby chicks.

Making sure the chicks had clean bedding was a big job. At first he tried to scoop the poop but found the bedding was saturated with small droppings throughout. Therefore, once or twice each week he changed the pine shaving.

One common problem with chicks is a condition called pasty butt. Basically, if the poo sticks to their butts instead of falling off it can make them very sick. Although it typically happens when chicks are stressed or living in overcrowded conditions, my son caught and checked each chick every morning. Since they recovered from their initial journey, they were fast and difficult to catch so this simple task took him around an hour. Not only did it take a long time, but it was difficult to identify and remember which chicks had been checked. After a few days of catching and checking chicks without any issues, he decided he would just try to look at each one as they ran around.

 Initially, there were no issues with the pine shavings. However, as the chicks got bigger, they would kick more shavings up into the air as they scratched. These flying shavings often landed in their water. My son's cute little chicks trashed their water so badly that he had to change it over five times each day.

Can you see the piece of wood under the water? The wood enabled him to go back to changing the water only once per day.


Chicks are animals, and animals tend to be dirty. They don't take care of themselves. In addition to these jobs, my son also had to keep the bathroom clean. As the chicks down turned into feathers and they grew the bathroom filled with more and more dust which required wiping down two to three times per week.

He did a wonderful job caring for the chicks and we are so proud.
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