Queen Girls Inspiring Our Youth One Story at a Time

Some time ago I shared with my readers a series of books for young girls that I found both inspiring and uplifting, Queen Girls. The women featured in these short biographies are amazing – strong, determined, and courageous.

I am now delighted to announce two additional titles in this wonderful series: Junko, Queen of the Mountains and Marie, the Bright Queen.

Each of these books continues in the style of the previously published titles. The women featured in the books are of diverse ethnic backgrounds and their stories are brought to life through engaging stories. The soft, colorful illustrations are done by Denise Muzzio in a simple style that may even inspire your young artist to try to paint her own heroines.

The goal of Queen Girls Books is to teach our children that our diversity makes each one of us unique, equally capable of doing anything we set ourselves out to do. To encourage them to find their happiness, passion, drive and self-confidence from within. 

Marie, the Bright Queen! Inspired by the story of Marie Curie, the first woman to receive two Nobel prizes for her discoveries. She is known for her pioneering work with radioactive materials and the discovery of two new elements: Radium and Polonium. She was also the first female professor at a university.

I have put together a short unit study on Marie Curie which I outlined in my earlier post, Science Milestones: Marie Curie.

Junko, Queen of the Mountains! Inspired by the story of Junko Tabei, a Japanese mountaineer and the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, bordering Nepal and China. She was also the first woman to ascend all the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent.

Whether you have girls or boys, these books will warm your heart and inspire your children. I encourage you to share them with your loved ones.

They can be found online at Queen Girls Books.

#queeengirls #childrensbooks #booksforgirls
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Youth Activism: Don’t Silence Their Voices

At our weekly Scout meeting earlier this week we talked briefly about how we, as individuals can make a difference. If you do your duty, then you can make a difference and though you are just one person, together youth activism has the power to impact the world.

Youth activism is youth engagement in community organizing for social change. Youth participation in social change focuses more on issue-oriented activism than traditional partisan or electoral politics.

As hard as it seems, it’s possible to make a difference. All it takes is one idea and the right mix of determination and willpower to effect change at the local level. Start with one thing you’re passionate about and find small, local ways to organize and find solutions to the problem. 

Image of youth activist Greta Thunberg with her sign "Skolstrejk for Klimatet"

GRETA THUNBERG

By now, everyone has heard of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist focused on the risks posed by climate change. She began her school climate strike only a year ago. This past week, she inspired over 4 million people to take a stand for climate.

“Everyone is welcome. Everyone is needed.”⁣⁣ ~ Greta Thunberg⁣⁣

Greta is great. However, if we center our attention and lift up only the white youth leaders on an international scale, we risk recreating the exact same dynamics of instilling a culture of white supremacy that is present in modern, adult organizing spaces. We risk silencing the voices of black, indigenous, and people of color .

Indigenous youth and adults have been tirelessly leading the fight for climate justice for millennia and yet their voices have not received the same recognition. Let’s celebrate a few of these amazing young activists!

Image of youth activist Autumn Peltier

AUTUMN PELTIER

⁣Autumun Peltier, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in Canada, was appointed chief water commissioner for the Ashinabek Nation and was recently nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize, awarded annually to a child who “fights courageously for children’s rights.” She was only 13-years-old when she addressed the UN General Assembly and told world leaders to “warrior up” to protect water.

Image of youth activist Isra Hirsi

ISRA HIRSI

Isra Hirsi, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike. She helped launch the U.S. movement the same month her mother, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, took office. She says the climate crisis “is the fight of my generation, and it needs to be addressed urgently.”

Image of youth activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

XIUHTEZCATL MARTINEZ⁣⁣

Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is an indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement.⁣⁣ He has fought for climate protections and spoken to large crowds about the effects of fossil fuels on the Indigenous and other marginalized communities since he was six years old. In 2015, Martinez and 21 other youths filed a lawsuit against the US Federal government, Juliana et al. v United States et al. They argue that the federal government is denying their constitutional right to life, liberty and property by ignoring climate change. 

ROOTS & SHOOTS

Are you a young person interested in making change, but don’t know where to start? Or are you an adult who is inspired by the recent wave of youth activism in the U.S. and want to help out? Consider Roots & Shoots; join an established group in your area or start a new group for your homeschool community or at your school.

Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, is a global movement of youth who are empowered to use their voice and actions to make compassionate decisions, influencing and leading change in their communities.

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ~ Jane Goodall

Founded by Jane Goodall in 1991, the goal is to bring together youth from preschool to university age to work on environmental, conservation, and humanitarian issues. Roots & Shoots is a movement for youth just like Greta, Autumn, Isra, and Xiuhtezcatl …. just like you or your children.


Becoming World War II Time Travelers with Home School in the Woods

We traveled to Washington, D.C. a couple years ago and while there, visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum. We took our time in the exhibit halls to absorb the messages communicated through the artifacts and stories. Later that evening as we processed what we had seen, the kids recalled visiting Norway’s World War II Resistance Museum in Oslo many years prior. 

Their continued questions and maturity have now convinced me it was time to look into World War II in more depth. As any parent or teacher can tell you, nothing engages a child in the learning experience like hands-on activities. Home School in the WoodsAmerica in World War II (from the Time Travelers series) provides the perfect resource. 

Teen using Home School in the Woods' timeline figures and notebook to create a visual timeline of World War II
I received access to this product in exchange for a review. I was compensated for my time and was not required to make a positive review.

Time Travelers: America in World War II

The CD includes 25 lessons that cover Hitler and the Nazi party, the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the war in the Pacific and Africa, battles and conflicts across the European continent, and so much more. After looking over the material, we decided it was a topic interesting enough and the materials extensive enough to make it into a year long history study. 

Timelines and maps provide the “when” and “where” while 3-dimensional projects, drama or history dress-up, cooking, and living books transport us back through time. These hands-on activities bring history to life for students and engage them in meaningful learning. 

Bring history to life by coordinating a living history museum for students.  Portrayed here are Irena Sendler and Arnold Mærsk McKinney Møller.

There is also a supplement page full of recommended books, videos, audio files, and more to explore the subject to its fullest potential. There are so many enrichment activities, I know we will have a rich and varied unit study all through the coming year. 

WW2 History Timeline Projects & Schedule

Like all the titles in the Time Travelers U.S. History series, a calendar style overview of all 25 lesson plans is provided that lists the activities and projects for each. We decide how frequently a lesson is introduced and how deep we explore each topic. We can do a lesson a day (choosing minimal projects) or a lesson a week (choosing a different project each day). The schedule is very flexible.

The project pages and activities for each lesson vary according to topic but all lessons include penmanship practice, figures for a timeline, and a short writing assignment (newspaper style article). Other project masters include maps, songs, recipes, and historical facts such as culture and people. 

Teen using Home School in the Woods' blackline maps to geographically depict the battles of of World War II
Using blackline maps from Home School in the Woods to visualize the War in the Pacific

Our favorite activities include the timeline and maps which allow us to visualize the expansion of German and Japanese power over the course of the war. Conflicts through battles, conquests, and attacks are displayed clearly and concisely.

It was refreshing to find a unit of study that went into great depth without feeling like we were just skimming the surface. The format also encourages children to explore deeper the parts in which they are most interested. 

The material is well written and affordable. However, I must admit it can be a little confusing at first to organize and print out what you need. It just took a little time to familiarize myself with how everything was organized. Access to a printer and ink is certainly a must, too.  

The US History Time Traveler series has many different historical eras to choose. Other great products include our favorite timeline trio which includes the “Record of Time” timeline notebook (we’ve been using it since my kiddos were in grade school) and Project Passport for world geography studies.

Join their educational community and get a free unit study on famous authors, too!

An Ultimate Giveaway

Enter the giveaway today! This is one you don’t want to miss. One very lucky winner will receive The ENTIRE COLLECTION of both Project Passport (5) and Time Traveler (7) products—$311.90 VALUE! The winner can be anywhere in the world because this is a digital product. 

Seashells on the Sea Shore: The Geological Contributions of Mary Anning

Imagine for a moment, it is the year 1844 and you’re walking down Broad Street in the small coastal town of Lyme Regis on the southern shore of England. Your eyes are drawn to a window of a cottage. Treasures lay on the other side of the glass: coiled ammonite shells long since turned to stone, sea shells carefully arranged in a pattern, and in the center sits the petrified skull of a long-snouted sea reptile with pointed teeth and huge eyes. A sign above the door reads Anning’s Fossil Depot.

This small shop of curiosities was owned by a remarkable woman of her time, Mary Anning. She spent her life collecting the Jurassic-era fossils displayed throughout the small shop, simultaneously providing for her family and unlocking the secrets of Lyme Regis’s ancient past. Today, her shop is a museum.

image of Mary Anning's Plesiosaurus fossil discovery

Born into poverty in a society famed for its class consciousness, the savvy businesswoman defied the odds to become one of the world’s most important scientific figures.

Paleontologist Mary Anning was an impressive fossil hunter who discovered the first articulated plesiosaur and was among the first to identify fossilized poop or coprolite. However, like many females scientists, her male contemporaries had a frustrating way of swiping credit from her.

Short Biography of Mary Anning

Born on the 21st of May 1799, Mary Anning was an English fossil collector and paleontologist. She became known around the world for important finds she made in the fossil beds along the seaside cliffs of the English Channel at Lyme Regis in Southwest England. Her findings contributed to important changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.

By the late 18th century, Lyme Regis had become a popular seaside resort and many locals supplemented their income by selling what were called “curios” to visitors. These were fossils with colorful local names such as “snake-stones” (ammonites), “devil’s fingers” (belemnites), and “verteberries” (vertebrae). Fossil collecting was a hobby shared by many and it gradually transformed into a science as the importance of fossils to geology and biology was understood.

Mary Anning painting

Painting credited to ‘Mr. Grey’ in Crispin Tickell’s book ‘Mary Anning of Lyme Regis’ (1996) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Her father was a cabinetmaker who supplemented his income by mining the coastal cliff-side fossil beds near the town, and selling his finds to tourists. He married Mary “Molly” Moore in 1793 and together had ten children, though only Mary and one brother, Joseph, survived to adulthood. Their father, Richard, often took Mary and Joseph on fossil-hunting expeditions. Mary continued to support herself through fossil hunting as she grew older. 

While scouring the beach in early December 1823, she came upon a fossilized skull that was like nothing she’d seen before. The majority of the skulls she had previously found belonged to Icthyosaurs; they were long and narrow, a bit like the heads of dolphins or crocodiles.

This skull, on the other hand, was small, beady-eyed, and had a mouthful of strange, needle-shaped teeth. Calling upon nearby villagers for assistance, Anning carefully unearthed the rest of the mystery creature’s body. Attached to a stout torso and broad pelvis were four flippers and a diminutive tail. The long neck was the most peculiar feature, however, accounting for nearly half of the 9-foot creature’s length.

She wrote to a colleague describing her discovery (see a page from her letter below) and her place in the scientific community was sealed, though many of her peers were initially skeptical. In fact, at a Geological Society of London meeting the following year, Reverend William Conybeare (a fellow paleontologist) stole the show with a well-received presentation on the nearly complete Plesiosaurus from Lyme Regis. He also published a paper featuring detailed original illustrations of the specimen. However, neither his presentation nor his paper mentioned Anning and he initially stole credit for the discovery.

Over time, Anning’s discoveries became key pieces of evidence for extinction. Her work also became well known in literary circles as well; Charles Dickens wrote of his admiration of her 18 years after her passing. Legend has it the children’s rhyme, “She Sells Seashells”, is also a tribute to her work:

She sells seashells on the sea shore.
The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure.
And if she sells seashells on the sea shore,
Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

Anning died from breast cancer at the age of 47 on the 9th of March 1847. Admirably, when the Geologic Society learned of her diagnosis, its members began raising money to cover her medical expenses. Later, her funeral was paid for by the society which also financed a stained-glass window dedicated to her memory that now sits at St. Michael’s Parish Church in Lyme Regis.

Bring it Home – Lessons from Mary Anning

Nature journals are as valuable a learning tool today as they were in earlier centuries. The image below comes from a letter written in 1823 by Mary Anning describing her discovery of what would be identified as a Plesiosaurus. Mary Anning Plesiosaurus

Visit a local natural history museum and create a nature journal entry on one of the specimens on display. Inquire with the staff about the process and care involved in curating skeletal specimens.

Participate in a fossil walk.

Begin your own collection of fossils.

If possible, visit the Natural History Museum in London or the museum in Lyme Regis.  We recently had this opportunity when we traveled to England in 2017. Here you can learn more about the pioneering work of Mary Anning and see some of the most complete fossils of prehistoric sea animals, including ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Plus, look out for the skeleton cast of the giant ground sloth, a land mammal often mistaken for a dinosaur.

Novelist Tracy Chevalier (author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring) has made a career of bringing history to life. Chevalier’s newest novel is called Remarkable Creatures centers around the life of Mary Anning. The novel introduces readers to Mary’s unlikely champion, Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class woman who shares her passion for scouring the beaches. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy, but ultimately turns out to be their greatest asset. Based on real characters, I found the story interesting. I was moved to realize just how difficult it must have been to persevere with the social obstacles she encountered in her time.

Visit my Science Milestones page to learn more about scientists whose discoveries and advancements have made a significant difference in our lives or who have advanced our understanding of the world around us.

Strengthen Your Knowledge with American History Timeline Projects

Our homeschool style has varied over the years – from Charlotte Mason to Classical to Unschooling and most recently dual-enrollment with an umbrella school. One thing that has held true through the whole journey is our love of timelines.

We started with a small pictorial images we glued into a notebook but it became so overwhelming to manage all the little clip art graphics and to stay up to date with our history reading. I’ve been looking for something better. Something that will enable us to dive a little deeper while also seeing how all the events and people affect the larger picture. I have now found the answer with The Giant American History Timeline from Sunflower Education.

americanhistorytimeline

*I received this product for free and have been compensated for my time, but was not required to write a positive review. This post contains affiliate links; See disclosure for more information.*

Since October, my son has been enrolled in an umbrella school. {I haven’t written anything about it yet – I promise to do so soon.} While we are not homeschooling independently any longer, I have been assured that we can maintain the freedom we are accustomed to and that he can work at his own pace. His works independently through the coursework assigned to him on Odysseyware (the software program) and I do my best to supplement and extend what is offered.

The Giant American History Timeline aligned perfectly with his history course this year and provided the perfect hands-on approach to compliment the mundane testing format of the online course. In lieu of writing an additional 500-word essay on the industrial revolution (there were initially three required), my son selected a timeline project from Book 1: Pre-Colonization to Reconstruction. He reached out to his instructor who responded,

“A timeline project is a wonderful idea. I think it would be the perfect substitute for the essay. I look forward to seeing your completed project.” 

The Giant American History Timeline Overview

There are many great things about this comprehensive product but what we liked best are the critical thinking skills promoted in the activity pages. These are not just fill in the blank or vocabulary matching worksheets. The students will be required to give thought to their responses. Not to fear, an answer key is included.

americanhistorytimelinelayout

This immense, two-volume bundle, includes over 260 activity sheets that can be organized into 32 timeline projects. There are six types of activity sheets used throughout the program:

  • Title Activity Sheets – featuring the main ideas fo the historical period
  • Map Study Activity Sheets – featuring demographic components (population growth)
  • Biography Activity Sheets – showcasing significant people from the historical period
  • Voice from the Past Activity Sheets – provide primary source materials from the historical period
  • Time Machine Activity Sheets – provide students an opportunity to compare / contrast the historical period with present day
  • Postcard from the Past Activity Sheet – provides a creative challenge for students to create a postcard to “send” from the historical period

While timeline plans are included for each of the projects, you can also easily customize your timeline project. Creating a giant American History timeline would be a fabulous way to visualize our nation’s history.

The Giant American History Timeline Giveaway

You can learn more about The Giant American History Timeline by visiting Sunflower Education. While you’re there, remember to use coupon code TIMELINE20 at checkout so that you can save 20% off the digital bundle

americanhistorytimelineimage

Best of all, Sunflower Education is giving away a timeline workbook to a lucky reader. Enter to win through the giveaway widget below:

You’ll also want to follow Sunflower Education so that you can stay up to date with their latest offerings. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Environmental Science: Timeline, Key Terms, & Pollination

Have I told you how much I love Boy Scouts? My son first joined in February of 2016 and has since earned 21 merit badges – the most recent of which is Environmental Science.

As science – specifically environmental education and stewardship – is my passion, I offered to serve as the merit badge counselor and lead our troop through the merit badge requirements.

My goal was to complete everything in just a few days. We thereby met from 9am to noon for three consecutive days and it turned out to be just the right amount of time.

Over the course of this month, I will share with you the highlights of our exploration. Each Sunday through the month of September, I will post a description of the activities I coordinated and the resources I used to teach the environmental science conservation merit badge.

Timeline of Environmental Policy

There are affiliate links below which means I may receive a commission when products are purchased. See my disclosure policy for more details. 

Timeline of Environmental Science

I devised a game similar to Timeline – one of our favorite family games – to introduce the Scouts to the historical events and initiatives that have shaped environmental policy in the United States.

One of the best things I like about the original game is that cards can be combined with the decks of multiple Timeline games (Discoveries, Music & Cinema, Inventions, Historical Events, etc.)

How to Play

While the original game has 110 cards, my simplified version has just 28. Six boys attended the class so I distributed four cards to each. The remaining four cards I held out, using a couple to demonstrate how to play the game.

Each card depicts an image of a historical event related to environmental science and a short summary text. The year in which that event occurred is shown on the reverse side. Players take turns placing a card from their hand in a row on the table.

After placing the card, the player reveals the date on it. If the card was placed correctly with the date in chronological order with all other cards on the table, the card stays in place. Otherwise, the card is moved to the appropriate place on the timeline.

In the original game, the first player to get rid of all his cards by placing them correctly wins. However, since there are not many cards to begin with, emphasis is on familiarizing oneself with the material not on winning.

Download Your Own Copy

If you are interested in playing the version I created, you can download it here, Environmental Science Timeline. There are two cards on each sheet of paper. You will first need to cut the two cards apart. Then simply fold each card in half to conceal the date and begin play.

Environmental Science Timeline ActivityKey Terms in Environmental Science

To familiarize ourselves with environmental science vocabulary, I used a slide show to first introduce the terms. We then played a game of bingo whereupon I called out the definition and they had to find the matching term.

Creating the bingo cards was quick and easy. I simply entered the terms into the widget at myfreebingocards and followed the prompts.

Download Your Own Copy

If you are interested in playing the version I created, you can download and print your own set for Environmental Science Bingo here.

Environmental SciencePollination

The last topic we covered on the first day was pollination. As the boys are entering 7th and 8th grade, they already had a good understanding of the process of pollination before we began. I thereby didn’t spend much time on reviewing this. Instead, we first watched a video, The Lifecycle of a Queen Honey Bee.

With the information we had learned from the video, I guided the boys through the process of creating a fortune teller to illustrate the life-cycle of the honeybee (complete metamorphosis). As they worked on their illustrations, I read aloud from the Handbook of Nature Study in more depth as well as to share the differences between the queen, the workers, and the drones.


As they departed at the end of day one, the boys exclaimed that the activities I had planned were enjoyable and that the also learned something. I call that a success.

Join me again next week when I share the activities I devised to cover environmental science requirements #3a-f.