In 1803, President Jefferson wanted to find out if the Missouri or Columbia Rivers made for easy traveling (and potential trading) routes to the Pacific Ocean. An expedition was planned not only to find out about the routes, but to learn more about the land, weather, plants, animals and even the native people groups encountered along the way.
Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were selected to lead a group of about 45 explorers – both military men and boatmen – who began the expedition on May 14, 1804. Despite many difficulties, for the next two years and four months, the explorers made tremendous discoveries about the previously uncharted land west, as well as opening the doors to others for exploration, trading and eventual settlements. Their story is amazing and inspiring!
Both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had birthdays in August. To celebrate, we enjoyed a fun to-scale mapping activity during a recent nature walk.
Find an area in nature where you can walk around pretty freely. Farms, parks, cemeteries and orchards are good choices. Because the day was SO incredibly hot, we just stayed in our yard.
Visually set an area that you plan to map. Make it simple. There is no need to be exact. I told my children, “We’re going to map the area from the fence to the shed to the apple tree to the fence.” That gave them a general area to map – or “boundaries” per say.
Decide how many feet of your area will represent one grid on the graph paper. We chose to say every ten feet equaled one grid on our paper.
Start in a corner of your area and measure out a plot of land. In our case, we roughly measured a 10×10 foot square.
Notice what’s in the square plot and draw it on your graph paper. We chose not to be overly precise and simply drew only major landmarks.
Continue measuring out adjoining plots of land and recording their landmarks until the entire plot has been mapped.
To-scale maps can be as general or precise as you wish. After the maps were drawn in pencil, we took a few minutes to use colored pencils to give them more detail.
The activity was meant for my older children, but even the 5yo got in on the action. (And drew a pretty good map in the end.)
Knowledge Box Central has partnered with me through iHN to offer a lapbook ebook giveaway! Since the Lewis and Clark Expedition paved the way for the future development of the United States, I thought it would be fitting to giveaway one ebook of their US Government Lapbook (you get to choose your level.) We did this lapbook a few years ago and learned SO much! You’ll love it!
Our farm has a rich 1800′s history. And considering the arrowheads we find occasionally, probably a lot of prior history as well.
I’ve told you before about how we find 19th and 20th century garbage as we plow the garden every year. Near the garden spot once stood a large red brick home with a rock foundation, several fireplaces, a stately staircase and amazing trim work. The bricks were handmade from the clay on the farm – maybe by slaves, maybe by paid help? There was a basement with two small rooms with one window in each room, rock walls and a small fireplace for heat. These were undoubtedly quarters for some sort of house help.
Sadly, by the time we moved onto the farm, the once majestic show house was in far too desperate shape to save. This picture is actually the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington. Although the house on our farm was not this majestic, it at least gives you an idea of the style since we never took a good picture of it before it’s demise. Shame on us!
As we tore down the house, we saved as many things as possible. The stone foundation became our fireplace and the poplar floor joists became our flooring. Many of the other materials like doors, fireplace mantles, windows and even the bricks have been sold to people who are reusing them in loving projects. We’ve saved some of those architectural pieces for ourselves (if we ever get around to doing interesting projects again.)
After reading a little of the history, I know you’ll find it just as exciting as me that there are remnants of a rock wall on the back of the farm. History claims that the rock walls in this area were built by migrant Irish workers who came to America because of the Irish Potato Famine. I’m just in awe every time I go back to see this wall that was built by such strong and courageous people so many years ago. Even if the rock wall has mostly been washed away and I’m only able to treasure about 20 feet of it!
Two other interesting historical finds on our farm and a neighboring farm…
A rock root cellar – the entrance is nearly caved-in.
A horse-drawn farm wagon that sadly sits below the ruble of a fallen barn.
I love learning the history of our farm, town, county and state. Just a little research will lead you to so many wonderful field trips, classes and other opportunities to learn about the history in your backyard!
Don’t ever call me completely punctual. We studied early pioneers and settlers of Kentucky at the beginning of last school year. A trip to Fort Boonesborough – the first pioneer settlement in KY – was planned then, but we never made it. My children never fear, though – eventually I tend to fulfill my promises.
Well, time flies! We finished off our Westward Expansion unit with a “project week”. On Monday, I gave the kids a test and a project list, both of which were to be completed by Friday. I don’t always give tests, but I like to surprise them once in a while with new methods of assessment. As for projects, Caleb had to choose three to complete and present, while Mahayla had to choose four. Besides math and a little grammar and reading, projects were the only things on the schooling agenda.
Here’s what the kids came up with. As usual, I’m not only pleased, but very surprised at their ingenuity and eagerness to do a good job. Give ‘em and inch and they’ll take a mile – that’s a good thing in this case!
Mahayla had to choose four projects. She couldn’t decide, so chose to complete five instead. (Next time I complain, remind me of this!)
A diorama and file folder report on Lewis and Clark
A quilt square. She researched pioneer quilt squares on the internet and came up with this one named “Oh Suzanna”. She completed the entire quilt square from start to finish without any help from me. Not bad for a first timer, huh? My granny would be so proud!
A five page report on Sam Houston, who happens to be in our family line. She had to interview my mom who has done extensive geneology research, and had to find information on her own.
A cowboy meal of chili and homemade crackers.
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cube butter
1/4 c milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Use fork to mash butter in until it looks like crumbs. Add milk and stir until dough forms a ball. Sprinkle flour on counter and roll dough into a flat rectangle with a rolling pin. Use a knife to cut the dough into small squares. Place onto a greased cookie sheet and poke holes into the crackers with a fork. Bake for 9 minutes. Makes about 24 crackers.
And she was Flying Sparrow in their original play entitled “Cowboy and Indian”. It was complete with five scenes, a playbill and a script!
Caleb had to choose three projects. In his usual fashion, he chose projects that required lots of hands-on and little writing. That’s okay, though, because he was still required to give a presentation about the projects. Even with very little writing, the information he gleaned and presented was very good.
A model of the Lewis and Clark keelboat.
A model of the corner watchtower from a fort that might have been set up along one of the trails west. He said he would have built the whole fort, but ran out of Lincoln Logs!
And he was Jeremiah (with a great country accent) in their play “Cowboy and Indian”. As you can see, the play ended rather sadly. Jeremiah and Flying Sparrow couldn’t find a better way to solve their conflict except through the use of guns. Maybe we watch too many Gunsmoke episodes on Sunday afternoons?
We’re nearing the end of our Westward Expansion unit, so I’m moving the resources from my sidebar into a post for future reference. I’ll be adding Slavery and Civil War resources to the side bar over the next few days.
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