Monday, April 21, 2014


Happy Easter! This is what greeted me today when I opened our fridge. We had a low key Easter. An egg hunt or two in the backyard, yummy treats, and lots of family time. We built a compost box out of pallets for the backyard and watched Shrek the Musical on Netflix. We are all still singing the songs! And just like every year, we spent quite a bit of time trying to explain 'saved by the blood of Jesus'.

But onto geography. This was a fun block!


I took Christopherus' suggestion of choosing a local hero through which to teach the geography of our specific area. There were many I could have chosen, but in the end I settled on Major General Benjamin Butler. He was a new Union general stationed at Fort Monroe during the Civil War. When 3 slaves escaped and presented themselves to him, he made a quick decision to ignore the Fugitive Slave Act (which required him to return the slaves to their owner) and instead declared them 'contraband of war'. It was the first time the term 'contraband' had been applied to people, and it allowed thousands and thousands of slaves to escape the South, form refugee camps, fight for the Union Army or move north, and even learn to read and write (the teachers were also heroes, as it was against the law to teach a slave to read or write).


I used this story to help E understand the geography of Hampton Roads: Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, James River, Elizabeth River, Fort Monroe, the peninsula, and south of the water. Our proximity to Washington, D.C. and Richmond, where we sit as the mid-Atlantic region on the coast...I did NOT go into detail about slavery, the Underground Railroad, or the war, any more than to say that slaves were treated as property and that the nation was divided over the issue. Who Abraham Lincoln was, as well as Jefferson Davis (and that Davis was imprisoned at Fort Monroe) did come up. My focus was on the good being done rather than the evil, and I was pretty impressed that he followed. He seems to be on a theme of bravery and leadership right now, which fits perfectly with Steiner's expectation of ten-year-old development.


So- here's how we began with maps. Our neighborhood. I find it interesting that E placed Princess Ann as the bottom of his map, whereas to me it was the top. He oriented north, while I oriented south. THAT is why I use a GPS! My sense of direction leaves a lot to be desired.

We then looked at maps of our city. I helped him find our street. Then, dear friends, my boy surprised me. Blew my mind. This is the child who probably cannot tell you our address or the city he lives in. He might in all seriousness tell you we moved here from Norfolk, Alaska. Every day I point out the name of our major cross-streets...yet he had to read street signs to remember them for his drawing.


But this kid found the route on the map from home to gym, from home to base, from home to botanical gardens. How? It wasn't until later that he even realized the map had street names listed. He figured it out based ENTIRELY on how the roads curve and cross. He also pointed out where certain stores and parks were located along those routes, again based entirely on street geometry. WOW.


That right there shows his amazing super-high intelligence if you take words out of the equation. If only everything were in pictures and art and movement, he'd have it made.

This boy of mine... I am so blessed to live in a country that allows me to homeschool him as we see fit!


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