Monday, August 31, 2009

US History: People Arrive!

Here we have a picture of dedicated home schoolers, starting their mega unit on American history. Just kidding! But we are starting the Pre-Columban phase of our US History megaunit.

We've built two time lines. The big one runs from 20,000 BC to 3400 AD. At one inch per 100 years, it's about 20 feet long and wraps around 3 walls of the dining room. We also have an "exploded" time line between 1430 and 2000 AD which gives us a view of 10 years per inch.

Naturally, we're starting at the back! The best general estimate of when people crossed the Bering strait(see picture above) is 20,000-25,000 BC. Of course, some people think it was 40,000 BC, and we'll talk about that. Here is an excellent computer model showing the land bridge over time. I also saw an interesting theory that the people at the tip of South America (some 3,000 years later) had not crossed the land bridge, but come by boat from Polynesia and the like. It's hard to verify since, if they settled on the coast (as seafarers would), all the evidence is now many miles off the coast of South America, covered at the same time as the land bridge when all the glaciers melted.

We will be starting with the Story of America book, since it actually starts this far back. We will try to track the spread of people throughout the Americas with this amazing website. Did you know that , when they crossed the land bridge, the people couldn't move south (too many glaciers) for 5,000 years? Or that it refroze, forcing many humans into "refuges"?

We'll talk about the different tribes and maybe get in a visit to the Museum of the American Indian. I want to hit at least the Northwestern tribes, the Anasazi, Hopi, Pueblo, the Mississipi "mound builders," the Iroquois nation, and some of the tribes which lived in our area.

We will be buying corn tomorrow and stripping and drying the kernels to make "parched corn."

We will also make popcorn balls with maple syrup.

We will be doing some sand painting (although we may cheat and do it on clear contact paper) and making moccasins.

We also have a northwestern Indian village we can build. This may be our diorama for this section, but it depends on what catches the kid's interest.

We will probably spend a day or so on the Incas and Aztecs, although they are out of geographical range, the older kids are quite fascinated with them. BrainPop has some really nice movies on them.

And, of course, I hope we will make movies for you. I am planning to do a trial run tomorrow...

I am curious as to how long we will spend in each mini unit, it will depend on what amazes us, I suppose! I will keep you posted.

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