Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Making Armistice Day Poppies

Our World War I Unit happened to fall over Veteran's Day (or Armistice Day: 11/11) and we wanted to visit a veteran's cemetery. I hoped we might find the graves of some World War I soldiers, but we didn't. However, we found some WWII soldiers that had been alive during World War I. It was interesting to think about what their lives must have been like. And it was beautiful to see the cemetery all covered with flags.

We made some paper poppies to leave on the graves, and to wear in our buttonholes. The tutorial we used is here. It was really easy and the children ages 4-13 all had fun making them.

We also watched a time-lapse video of the ceramic poppies placed at the Tower of London last year for the centennial of World War I. It's an amazing display!

And this video tells the story of why poppies stand for remembrance (especially in the U.K.)
At the cemetery we saw the grave of a young soldier who just died last June. There was a letter on the grave labeled "to my husband." It made me cry. His poor wife and family! What a sacrifice.
We're so grateful for our veterans and soldiers, and we were happy to have a chance to remember them on Armistice Day!

Monday, November 9, 2015

World War I Unit Study and Lesson Plan

This unit was shorter than I expected it to be, and we didn't take a ton of pictures, but it was a really interesting topic. I didn't know too much about World War I. I had learned about it in European History classes, but I didn't have a clear picture of what went on and I thought it was mostly just a war over…nothing. Which isn't exactly true. I learned a lot as I read and studied the historical situation in the early 1900s, and I was interested to learn how much of the "modern world"—down to even our kind of pervasive attitude of skepticism and sarcasm—can be traced back to World War I.

Anyway, my pinterest board has some good ideas for a World War I study, and I'll highlight a few of our favorite resources on this post.
We had this book from this library, and it gave us the idea for a War Censor activity. I printed out a letter from a soldier, and the children went through with a black pen and "censored out" the parts that might endanger the soldiers or otherwise prove useful to spies. They had fun doing that.
We really liked this documentary "World War I in Colour." It's amazing how seeing color pictures of the war makes it seem more immediate and real! There are six parts and we found them all on YouTube.

We made paper poppies for Remembrance Day.

This was a good short video about a (statistical) WWI mystery!

These Horrible Histories shows (find clips on YouTube) are pretty funny. Some can be crude, so they're worth previewing first. But the children could not get enough of this song, by Tsar Nicolas, Kaiser Wilhelm, and King George V. They LOVED it. 

Interesting video showing cases of "shell shock."

Here's an animated map of WWI.

We learned about the term "doughboy" and made these World War I Salvation Army doughnuts.

We read several picture books about the 1914 Christmas Truce. I cried and cried through every one of them. Such a sad and touching story! Here's a video about it.

The Zimmerman Telegram was an important factor in the United States' decision to enter the war. Here's a decoding activity we did with it.

We looked at and studied this powerful painting by Sargent.

Here are some recordings of popular music during WWI--songs like "Over There" and "It's a long way to Tipperary."

On the lighter side, we learned about Charlie Chaplin and silent films (one of Chaplin's first movies came out in 1914 and many were popular during the war). We watched some examples. They are SO funny and good. We also particularly like Buster Keaton. Here are some good ideas for movies and books to try on this topic.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Monkey and Ape Celebration

We had a great time with our end-of-unit Monkey and Ape celebration. All the household monkeys (and apes) were invited.
We hung up some vines (a plastic tablecloth which Seb cut into strips).
And we had a lovely monkey-themed dinner. (Don't forget the banana-chocolate smoothie! We forgot to put it on the menu, but we did NOT forget to make and eat it.)
This banana-coconut soup was really good. Interesting foreign flavors (it reminded me of the curried groundnut soup I sometimes make, which is an African recipe. This one was Vietnamese, I think). I found the recipe here. Here's another version that looked good.
I had made this style of monkey cupcakes years ago, for Seb's birthday. They're cute (although for some reason, in this picture these look to me more like dogs than monkeys!) This time I tried a peanut-butter banana cake recipe. I did plain peanut butter instead of chocolate/peanut butter for the frosting, though. 
Abe made monkey cups to hold our drinks. We found this idea here. We also printed out these little paper monkeys to cling to some bananas, for decoration.
After dinner we did some games and activities, and then watched "Monkey Kingdom." We liked it. There are lots of good monkey-themed party games—here are two.
We had an origami station. The pattern for the gorilla is here.
We made a whole troop of gorillas!
The nut-cracking station was a big hit. We cracked open walnuts and almonds the way some monkeys do it, between two big rocks! (This is another way monkeys use tools.)
It was a fun Monkey Celebration and a fun unit! Perfect for a family of little monkeys.
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