Carla’s co-op group meets each Friday, September through May, so she plans to double up on the last two volumes.
Before the first class of the month, each student receives a reading guide. Carla uses the suggested test questions in the Teacher Tips section, saves the teacher’s master copy to her desktop with the new heading, and removes the answers from the key. At the top she creates a header to remind students to write their names on their papers, and a footer reads “My project for this month will be ___________________.” When the students come to class, they have read the material at home and are ready to discuss the new volume. It’s a big class, so Carla decides they will need two class days at the end of the month to show and tell about their projects.
In class the first Friday, they talk about the major events of that period of history. Carla uses the Thinking More questions to help the students see why history matters. A few visual aids keep the discussions varied and lively. For example, when they studied Indian cultures, Carla made pemmican for the children to taste while they talked. A costumed docent from one of their town’s historic homes came to talk to the students for the Civil War volume, and one of the students had a grandfather who worked cattle. Carla plans to see if he’ll be their guest speaker for the industrialization unit on Ranches, Cotton, and Oil.
The second Friday of the month is reserved for group activities. Sometimes Carla reads aloud from one of the suggested books, or she might choose one of the Doing More activities that no student selected. When they studied the Civil War, she had the students put their shoes on the wrong feet and march around the campus to see how it might have felt to march across several states in the days when left and right shoes were exactly the same. For the Statehood and Constitution volume, she divided the class into a House and a Senate. They held a mock Congress so the students could see how a bill becomes law. (That week things got a little loud!)
Everyone loves the show-and-tell days on the last two Fridays, and the children learn so much from each other’s projects and book reports. Occasionally someone will ask to do a project that’s not listed in the curriculum, and that’s okay too. Carla’s glad they’re making the study their own.
This year the Texas Congress is in session, and the Texas Home School Coalition is hosting Capitol Days. Carla’s students, with their parents and siblings, will caravan to Austin. The folks at Discover Texas helped them find a candle maker who produces Texas scents: bluebonnet, iced tea, cotton, yellow rose, and leather. The students earned enough from their fundraiser to cover their entry to the Bob Bullock Story of Texas Museum while they’re there. It will be a grand finale to their year of discovery!