Our US Constitution: A Scavenger Hunt Activity for Teens

While we were back east, we spent a day in Philadelphia touring the many historical sites. We had arrived just days after Constitution Day – September 17th. We were informed that living history interpreters stand on the step of Independence Hall and read aloud the Constitution just as they had done in 1787. We were bummed to have missed this but a las, travel plans are not always perfect.

us-constitutionThe Constitution of the United States is one of the most important documents ever written. Congress authorized delegates to gather in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 to address grievances that had emerged since declaring independence from England and recommend changes to the existing charter of government for the 13 states, the Articles of Confederation.

All American HistoryJohn Adams described the Constitutional Convention as “the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen”. It is to this day, a seminal event in the history of human liberty.

To learn more about our nation’s history, I strongly recommend All American History by Celeste Rakes. It is available from Bright Ideas Press in two volumes and includes a student reader, student activity book, and teacher guide. We’ve been working through each chapter as we have prepared for our travels. My kids beg me to read another chapter every few days.

Primary Sources: James Madison

The best way to see into the past and learn about any historical event is with primary sources. These include diaries, letters, newspaper articles, documents, speeches, personal papers, photographs, paintings, and other items created near the time begin studied. They are made by people who have direct, firsthand knowledge of the event.Our United States Constitution: A Scavenger Hunt Activity for Teens @EvaVarga.net

Because many of James Madison’s ideas made their way into the Constitution, he is often referred to as the “Father of the Constitution.” Indeed, he was a driving force of the convention throughout the summer of 1787, and his notes of the deliberations have provided valuable insights into the proceedings.

None of the Constitutional Convention delegates talked to newspaper reporters or other outsiders. Some delegates took notes, but not every day. Even secretary William Jackson’s records were incomplete.

James Madison gave us our only complete primary source. Every day, he sat at the front of the East Room and recorded the day’s events. After the Convention convened, he wrote:

I noted in terms legible and in abbreviations and marks intelligible to myself what was read or spoken by the members; and … I was enabled to write out my daily notes during the session or within a few finishing days after its close … I was not absent a single day, nor more than a … fraction of an hour in any day, so that I could not have lost a single speech, unless a very short one.

US Constitution: Take it Further

The Bill of Rights document states the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Read through and discuss each amendment with your students. These amendments guarantee the basic freedoms that Americans enjoy today.

Older students should be encouraged to read the US Constitution in an Old World Style design as pictured here. Reading the ornate handscript is not easy though – even for one familiar with cursive lettering. Younger students can use a printed text.

I’ve put together a challenging and fun scavenger hunt with which to encourage your students to read the Constitution. You can download it for free .. I simply request you leave a comment answering, “What historical figure from this era do you most admire?”

Some of America’s best minds created the United States Constitution. Among them were James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, Roger Sherman, James Wilson, and George Washington. Encourage your students to select one of these men and research his contributions to our country and give a presentation.

42 delegates signed the Constitution on the 17th of September 1787. Three refused. Learn more about who these men were and why they abstained.Our United States Constitution: A Scavenger Hunt Activity for Teens @EvaVarga.net

Choose one of the amendments. Write a short speech giving your opinion of the amendment. Tell why you think it is or is not an important right for citizens to have and what life might be like without it.

Visit the Explore the Constitution website where Constitutional experts interact with each other to explore the Constitution’s history and what it means today.

Constitution Day

To commemorate the September 17, 1787 signing of the Constitution of the United States, Congress has designated September 17th of each year as Constitution Day. In 2004, Public Law 108-447, Section 111 was passed requiring the following:

Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the education institution.

Sadly, I don’t recall learning about the Constitution on an annual basis when I was in school. We covered it in US History – but not more than a few times I am sure. How about you?

 

American Art History: An overview of art movements and trends in America

I have always been fascinated by art and traditional handcrafts. Over the years, I have woven a variety of art history and skills lessons into our curriculum. We have also had the opportunity to visit many renowned art museums around the world through our travels.

art-first-nations

When a Native creates a work of art, a story is told. When stories are told, we are healing. When someone sees your story you are freeing yourself and giving other people permission to acknowledge their own stories. ~ PasstheFeather.org

colonial-artMy oldest is now entering high school and her experiences in art have blossomed. It is her passion. She and I have recently begun volunteering at a local art museum and through this experience we have been able to learn of many mediums and artists that were previously unknown to us.

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It has been a fabulous experience. Not only is she learning about art and meeting contemporary artists, she is also learning important job skills that will benefit her in the future. As she is yet underage, I accompany her and have also been learning a great deal – specifically about art history.

civil-war-art

The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art’s audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public. ~ Paul Gauguin

gilded-ageBeginning this month, I will get to share our experiences and love for art history as a guest blogger for Bright Ideas PressUsing the All American History series as our spine, I will be leading readers through a 10-post series to provide an overview of the history of American art from Pre-Colonial times to today, including multiple art forms.Cubism

Look at everything as though you are seeing it for the first time, with eyes of a child, fresh with wonder. ~ Joseph Cornell

Precisionism

Moving chronologically through the All American History curriculum, each post will summarize the art trends and movements popular during the period and feature one or two artists from that time period. Plus, I will provide a related art lesson or project that you can enjoy with your students.great-depression

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing. ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

Abstract-ExpressionismFor a historical context, I strongly recommend the corresponding texts:

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I am very excited about this series of posts. If there is an art movement or artist you would like me to consider, please leave comment below. I’m learning just as much as my daughter!

Travel Around the World with a Back to School Giveaway

Like many homeschool families and educators, I have spent a fair amount of time browsing the internet and making wish lists of books and curriculum I would like to have for the new school year. There are so great products and resources available that adhering to a budget can be troublesome if not near impossible.

“If only we could get curriculum for free!” I have often heard my friends proclaim. I am delighted to take part once again in the annual Back to School Toolkit Giveaway.

This post contains affiliate links for resources we absolutely love and truly depend on. 

Travel Around the World with a Back to School Giveaway @EvaVarga.net

Back to School Giveaway

This year, I am giving away a geography themed basket loaded with resources that will provide you and your children with activities and lesson plans to keep you busy all year long.

wondermapsBright Ideas Press has donated their popular WonderMaps CD. Designed with easy-to-use layers that allow you to enjoy great customizable features with just a click, WonderMaps is the perfect addition to your geography resource library. WonderMaps was created not only with hundreds of world maps but also a large selection of historical maps that cover everything you need for The Mystery of History vols. I–III and All American History vols. I & II.

Also included in the Travel Around the World basket are the following resources:

Discovering China (Multicultural Education Series), by Dianna J. Sullivan, was written for grades 4-8. This paperback guide provides a great start to a unit study on the culture of China. It includes many printables and activities to learn a few Chinese phrases and to explore the Chinese calendar, holidays, folktales, and cultural traditions. It even includes recipes for popular stir fry! 48 page paperback

Australia: An Interdisciplinary Unit by Merle Davenport was developed for grades 6-8. It covers the physical geography of Australia as well as the cultural geography. Some of the activities include making your own Boomerang, creating a timeline of historical events, graphing natural resource exports, making a star projector to learn about the constellations to compare how navigation differs in the southern hemisphere, and learning the strike (slang) of Oz (Australia). 48 page paperback

galapagos unit

The Galápagos islands were originally called the “Enchanted Isles” because the capricious meandering of the Humboldt Current had the effect of making the islands disappear and reappear to passing ships. The Galápagos Across the Curriculum is a fun, hands-on life science unit study that provides ample opportunity for kids to explore the diversity and remarkable history of the islands.  This unit study is full of inquiry-based activities and lesson plans that can be easily integrated into a larger life science curriculum. 12 page eBook (PDF)

The perfect accompaniment to your Galápagos unit, Galapagos Bedtime Stories by Paula Tagle Saad is charming book with many watercolor depictions of the animals in the archipelago. As the protagonists of the tales, most of the tales are told from the perspective of the featured animal. Factual information about life cycle, habitat, feeding, etc. are woven throughout. It also includes a glossary of terms in the appendix.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find more giveaway baskets at the iHomeschool Network’s annual Back to School Toolkit Giveaway – Giveaways Galore! There are over 34 baskets!!

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There are so many wonderful products in these baskets, I encourage you to enter them all.

You won’t want to miss Barb’s Handbook of Nature Study basket or Brenda’s Essential STEM Supplies.

 

Spark Interest in Geography with The Passport Club

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.

We have been really enjoying our new textbook, North Star Geography. As we have begun formal geography lessons the kids inquired if we couldn’t also resume the geography co-cop as we had done when they were younger.

passportclubThe Passport Club

As I began to gather materials, I discovered The Passport Club, a geography program designed to encourage students to learn some or all of the names of the world’s countries. It was first developed as an enrichment program for schools to encourage parent involvement.

The Passport Club program is operated by Chris and Bob Manning, with the goal of giving teachers and parent volunteers the tools and guidance to develop geographic literacy and a curiosity about the world within their students.

“What a wonderful way for us to learn about the world. This could easily be integrated into our geography co-op,” I thought to myself.

I am delighted to now share how we have begun to use the The Passport Club program in conjunction with the North Star Geography curriculum.

How Does The Passport Club Work?

Each student is issued a Passport Book that lists the countries or locations to be learned each month of the school year. The passports are the same for all grades and students. There are five levels for each month and the student can decide how many levels she wishes to study. Note that the levels are inclusive: if a student wants to study at level three, she needs to study levels one and two also.

Each month the student receives a copy of a world outline map as well as a regional outline map marked with the locations assigned for the month. Over the course of the month, the students study the locations assigned for the month in whichever way they feel comfortable.

Every hardback purchase of North Star Geography from Bright Ideas Press includes a free Companion Guide that includes reproducible outline and reference maps that are perfect for The Passport Club as well as many note-taking pages and graphic organizers.

North-Star-Geography

As a Brand Ambassador for Bright Ideas Press we have received a complimentary copy of North Star Geography in exchange for our honest insights about how this program is working in real life with our family.

The optional WonderMaps, also available from Bright Ideas Press, is a customizable collection of over 350 different maps.

The International Luncheon

The Passport Club is designed as an after school enrichment program but it can be easily adapted for home educators. In a homeschool setting, an International Luncheon – with food and presentations from each participating family – can be planned as a culminating celebration each month.

Families are encouraged to engage in Independent Study projects each month – a lapbook, a dance, a costume, a regional recipe, a 3-dimensional map, a poster of an animal in its native habitat, or a short presentation about the country. These projects could then be displayed at the International Luncheon and students can be given an opportunity to present what they have learned.

Families are also encouraged to bring a dish to share from one of the countries. Alternatively, one country could be assigned each month for a more focused study.

Checking Passports

Upon arrival at the International Luncheon each participating student comes to the Passport Check Table for 5-10 minutes, bringing their passports with them.

Starting at level one, the checker (a parent or teen volunteer) asks the students individually if they studied the level, and if so, to point out each location on an unlabeled map. The students must pass a level in order to go on to the next one.

Tips :: In kindergarten and first grade, the students are coached through level one, so that they all pass level one.  

If the student passes any levels, they then take their passport to the Stamp Desk. There they can pick a “stamp” for each level they passed, and it is pasted onto the Visa side of their passport page.

The “stamp” images utilized in the The Passport Club program are photographs, flags, or other graphics from the countries assigned that month. Alternatively, an assortment of cancelled postage stamps can be utilized and provide additional avenues for study (though these would need to be obtained independently by each family).

thepassportclubWhere Can I Find the Passport Books?

Passport Books and “stamp” image pages are available for purchase from the The Passport Club website. You can also find book marks, inspirational posters, T-shirts, and more!

Where Can I Find Cancelled Postage Stamps?

You may be able to obtain free stamps from local philatelists or from the American Philatelic Society.  At local and regional philatelic shows, there are tables of cancelled postage stamps free for children.

I’ve written extensively about using postage stamps in education and have contributed a chapter to the Big Book of Homeschool Ideas titled How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning.  You may also be interested in my earlier post, Stamp Collecting and Exhibiting.

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Developing Map Skills in the Galapagos

I love when we can learn subjects by using real life examples, like using maps to work on geography. Whenever we travel, our first go to resource is a simple map, it helps us to get our bearings and to visualize the larger picture of how everything is connected.

My children have developed map skills to help with our vacation planning and to successfully find their way around the place we are visiting. To give you some ideas for learning on vacation, here are a few ways we reinforced map skills during our recent trip to South America.

To help us learn more about the many wonderful sites we would be visiting, we first used Google Earth to see the geological features such as the Andes Mountains where the Nazca Plate is sub-ducting under the South American Plate. We also viewed the Galápagos Islands and viewed the hotspot where new islands are forming.

We discussed the geological processes that are shaping the islands and how the plants and animals that live there are specifically adapted to life in this harsh environment. I shared with them the definition for endemic species and we talked about the species we were most looking forward to seeing ourselves.

This post contains affiliate links.

usingmaps

To add some learning to your vacation, use your guide maps/road maps as a teaching tool. Show your kids how to use them and then encourage them to navigate while sightseeing. They’ll love it and won’t realize that they’re learning too!

A map is a visual representation of a place or of information about a place. The place could be small, like a room, or larger, like a house, neighborhood, city, state, country, planet, solar system, or galaxy. – North Star Geography, Lesson 1

North-Star-Geography

 

As a Brand Ambassador for Bright Ideas Press we have received a complimentary copy of North Star Geography in exchange for our honest insights about how this program is working in real life with our family.

While sightseeing in the Galápagos, Cristina – our interpretive guide, pulled out a bandana map at each island we visited to point out each of the surrounding islands. In time, the kids were able to correctly identify each of the islands themselves not only by their profile but by their geographical orientation as well. They were so captivated by this experience that a bandana map was their top souvenir choice.

Now that we are home, the kids are looking forward to creating an interactive map with My Maps, one of many mapping tools provided by Google Maps. They have already begun to flag the photos they wish to embed and have begun to brainstorm their storyline.

Tips for building map skills:

  • Help your children find maps before you depart on vacation.  Take some time to look over them prior to departure or while en route to get the “lay of the land” before you arrive.
  • Identify the map’s title, legend, compass rose, and scale.
  • Help your child identify two points on the map and ask them to determine the best path to travel between the locations.
  • Document your travels using a map.  At the end of each day, highlight the route you traveled and mark the things you did and saw along the way. Consider using My Maps to create an interactive map that you can share with friends and family.

geo-survey

Bright Ideas Press has created a survey to see what kinds of geography products homeschool moms most want. They need their feedback no later than Wednesday, Nov. 26.

As a thank you, you will receive a freebie code for an audio workshop at the end of the survey. It’s called History and Geography Through Literature, a $5.00 value.