Exploring Columbus: Omitting the Elipses

It's not a three-day weekend in October without a little debate about the namesake of the government holiday. There are usually several questions from various friends who are curious about how Columbus is taught in the classroom these days and, in recent years, "As a homeschooler, do you even teach about Columbus?" I believe that history education has come a long way since the 1990s, but it still seems really sugar-coated for my taste. And yes, I do address Columbus. Which is entirely different from celebrating him.

I've mentioned it many times before, like with Thanksgiving Without the Teepee, that I hope homeschooling will provide opportunities to do more than merely scratch the surface of different subjects. I love that we are not bound by a textbook account. We can dig deeper and follow a story, no matter where it takes us. The recently canonized Junipero Serra is one of those stories... that perhaps paints a picture of a man whose conversation efforts were more tyrannical than saintly. Maybe that's another post. Having said this, I must admit that I do something that I'm finding to be frowned upon in homeschool circles. I actually do use textbooks.

I find that textbooks at the elementary level, particularly science and social studies, often leave out a lot of valuable information. Curricula spirals, textbooks are heavy on developing spines, yadda yadda yadda. However, I like to think of them as an in-depth outline of all the topics we might further investigate. The historical account of Christopher Columbus arriving in North America is one of those topics. So, while our textbook offers entries from Columbus' ship log, it lacks the ellipses where the depravities were omitted. For a more authentic version of this piece of history I turn to Howard Zinn. He will set us straight.

  • The Biography Channel online streams the full episode of Christopher Columbus. It is a little dated, but I think it holds up.
  • A 2011 NPR segment "sets the record straight on some of the popular myths surrounding Columbus and his voyage."


Lesson Learned | 7

This week in outlearning: A roundup of some of our learning experiences:
  • Our family's first visit to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Total lunar eclipse of the super blood moon
Even on vacations, I always try to plan some educational experiences. This trip was an exception. In fact, this trip was an exception to my tendency to make very detailed plans. I threw caution to wind and we just had some good ol' family fun, no plans, just fly-by-the-seats-of-our-pants fun. I need a vacation from my vacation!

If you're interested in feedback about Harry Pottersville, you've come to the wrong place. I'm not a fan. [gasp!] That is not to say that I dislike all things Harry Potter, just that I don't get into it... like I don't get into Star Wars. [double gasp!] It was really fun for my Potterhead family, which made it fun for me! That's all I got.

We came home to a total lunar eclipse of a super harvest blood moon or something like that. Now, that was an exciting way to get back into our learning routine! It was a little disappointing that the sky was mostly cloudy, but we made the most of it. 

Lesson Learned | 6

This week in outlearning: A roundup of some of our learning experiences
  • Sewing lessons begin.
  • We forgot President Taft's Birthday. [gasp!]
  • The duck died.
  • A tree frogs died, too.
  • We left for Orlando
Is this the saddest list ever? It's not just because my pet duck died or that we lost a tree frog we've been raising from an egg, but where is the learning? I'm sure if I tried really hard, I could point out some life learning in there somewhere. I know I sure learned a few hard lessons this week. It's sometimes very hard to distinguish between livestock and pet. However, I'm going to call a spade a spade-This was the beginning of two very unstructured weeks.

Last year, JK decided that a theater group was the right activity. This year, she's switched to sewing and I think it's a great choice! Sewing classes at The Stitch School began this week, which was the highlight of learning. We love her sewing teacher and we're both really excited about all the practical things she'll be learning. It never hurts to incorporate practical skills into a learning routine!

Outside of sewing, I think I can call this week the beginning of our two-week fall break. I know, technically it was summer when the break started, but we did welcome autumn during our visit to Florida during the second week


October 4-H Meeting

All 4-H members are encouraged (not required) to complete the following activity and bring it to the next meeting. 

Create a food log or journal that includes a week's worth of meals and snacks. It is not necessary for meals to be in the order consumed, just try to include seven different breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks in your log. We will examine our journals when we meet next month. Don't dwell on how healthy or unhealthy your food choices are. Everyone will have their fair share of both! There's a reason we're completing this activity during the month of October. 

During our October meeting, members shared their Community Bee Projects. I must say, I was impressed that all 4-H members in attendance had a project to share. The projects were even more impressive. Could this group bee any more awesome? I'm only gonna do it once.

The group divided into three teams to work together to analyze grocery items that do and do not require pollination and play a little memory game. We watched a couple of videos, including one about wolves. It might seem weird to learn about wolves in a bee club, but even our Cloverbuds could find a link between the two. These kiddos are so smart! We also practiced the 4-H pledge, which most of us need to work on. CHALLENGE: Memorize the pledge and motions by our next meeting and receive a treat! Now, check out the pics of those projects...
A diary written from the perspective of a Queen Bee
An illustrated journal entry
Posters about bees in the backyard
A Lego model of a neighborhood where bees are hard at work


Lesson Learned | 5

So, this is about the time I came to the realization that I am burning my candle at both ends. That's an entirely different blog post. Now that things have temporarily settled down, I am playing catch-up with my notes.

This week in outlearning: A roundup of some of our learning experiences
  • Multiply by multiples of 10 & 100 and multiply 2-digit by 1-digit numbers.
  • Participate in 4-H Corn Crib at the Delta Fair.
  • Explore energy, ecosystems, and interdependence, including predator-prey relationships, environmental stability, and the basic needs of plants and animals. 
  • Investigate trophic cascades and how wolves can change rivers.
  • Interview someone for St. Mary's Soup Kitchen Newsletter.
  • Explore biodiversity of an ecosystem at the Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration.

Ecology Education at the Delta Fair
Besides working the 4-H Corn Crib, our experience at one of the fair attractions, Wolf Encounter, was the learning highlight of our time spent at the Delta Fair. It fit perfectly with our science topic. I love it when that happens!

The following video, from Sustainable Human, explains how reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park changed the entire ecosystem. It demonstrates what we learned at the fair- How wolves changed rivers. I always say, never underestimate what a county fair has to offer and this is a prime example!

Celebrating Nature and Native Ecosystems
Later this week, we attended the Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration in Holly Springs, Mississippi. It was our second year in a row to attend and I was very excited to have an opportunity to participate in completely different events. Among our adventures at Strawberry Audubon Center was a wagon ride through the lands of the preserve.

The tour was guided by a local wildlife and ecology professional (a professor from University of Mississippi, whose name has escaped me), who told the story of the land and described how the Audubon Society is helping it back to its natural state, after centuries of human invasion. This topic was another perfect fit for our science learning. Did I mention that I love it when that happens?!