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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

I was preparing our lessons for tomorrow.  We are studying animals that hybernate – – and since Groundhog Day was yesterday, I thought it all fit together nicely.  Here is the history I found, pertaining to this weather-predicting holiday.  Enjoy!

Since 1887, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club in western Pennsylvania have tried to note the first appearance of the rodent they call Punxsutawney Phil. If Phil comes out of his burrow into sunlight on February 2nd and spies his own shadow, he’s said to jump back down underground — dooming us all to six more weeks of winter. On the other hand, a cloudy Groundhog Day forecasts an early spring. Today Punxsutawney Phil lives in a climate-controlled habitat adjoining the Punxsutawney Library. A local celebrity, he gained national fame in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day (which was shot in scenic Woodstock, Illinois). The weather-watching rodent’s predictions are recorded in the Congressional Records of our National Archive. So far, Phil has seen his shadow about 85% of the time.
The groundhog’s reputation as a weather prophet came to the U.S. in the mid-18th century with German immigrants, known as Pennsylvania Dutch. They had regarded the badger as the winter-spring barometer, and reassigned the job to the groundhog after importing their Candlemas traditions to the U.S. Other Europeans used the bear or hedgehog — but in any case it belonged to a creature that hibernated. Its emergence symbolized the imminent arrival of spring.

But this is really a very old holiday — one that has its roots in astronomy. February 2nd is one of four cross-quarter days. It lies about halfway between a solstice and an equinox.

In Ireland, February 1st is the feast day of Saint Brigit, the spiritual protector of sheep and cattle. According to tradition, she was born at sunrise as her mother, a Druid’s slave, carried milk across the threshold of her master’s house. In the same way, her feast falls on a seasonal crossroads — between winter and spring. When winter is fading and the power of the spring sun is increasing. Prior to the conversion of the Irish Celts, Saint Brigit’s Day was known as Imbolc, one of four seasonal junctions in the pagan calendar of Ireland. It was the start of spring, and its name refers to “ewes’ milk” and to the birth of farm animals. Imbolc was dedicated to the Celtic goddess Brigit, who was associated with learning, poetry, crafts and healing. Many of her pagan characteristics were retained when she was made a saint.

Groundhog Day is also the secular incarnation of Candlemas celebrated in England, where it marked the beginning of spring. Candlemas is a traditional Christian festival that commemorates the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days after the birth of Jesus. It also marks the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple. Christians were observing this holiday in Jerusalem at least as early as the 4th century A.D. By the middle of the 5th century, candles were lit on this day to symbolize the association of light with Christ. Despite its place on the Christian calendar, Candlemas also has pagan roots. The ancient Romans observed the beginning of spring on February 5th — they tidied farm and field and closed the year with a purification festival. The Armenian Church held an ancient fire-god festival each February 2nd. Future weather was forecasted by the behavior of smoke blown from fires lit in church courtyards.

Try this old English rhyme — “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight. But if it be dark with clouds and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.”

Or here’s another old saying — “Half your wood and half your hay, You should have on Candlemas Day.”

In Germany it used to be said that “a shepherd would rather see a wolf enter his stable on Candlemas Day than see the sun shine.” A German badger was said to watch for his shadow. The National Geographic Society once studied the groundhog — and found him to be correct only one out of every three times. One final note. It’s supposed to be bad luck to leave your Christmas decorations up after today.

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 I tried to leave two comments on this site; however, I think the spam blocker, blocked them because of all the sites I listed.  So, I will leave this up for a while – – hope it helps someone!!  : )

Although the resources would be considered free, in all actuality, you do have to pay for shipping.  I belong to several on-line book swapping sites.  In all of them, you get points when you ship out books to others – – you can, in turn, use those points to get books for yourself.  The most common cost of mailing a book is 2.13.  Very good deal for a book.  Here are the sites:
www.bookmooch.com
www.frugalreader.com
www.paperbackswap.com
www.whatsonmybookshelf.com

A lot of the books I use for the swaps are from the thrift shop, library sales and what I already have on hand (that we have read and are done with). 

Here are some of my favorite Free (or nearly free) resources:

Audiobooks:
http://storynory.com/
http://librivox.org/newcatalog/
http://www.wiredforbooks.org/index2.htm

Classical Music/Composers:
http://www.classicalarchives.com/
http://www.squidoo.com/musiclapbook
http://www.classicsforkids.com/
http://www.highsmith.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Production/LSP/pages/2005_pdfs/lsp_mar05_lessons.pdf

Language Arts
http://www.spellingcity.com/
http://www.wowio.com
http://www.poemofquotes.com/articles/poetry_forms.php

Science
http://www.middleschoolscience.com/life.htm

History/Geography
http://www.studentsfriend.com/index.html
http://lunablog.net/2007/12/02/happy-holidays-the-first-free-lunablognet-homeschool-curriculum-is-on-its-way/
http://www.ourlosbanos.com/homeschool/history/americanpdf.html

Curriculum (with LOTS of FREE resources)
http://amblesideonline.org/index2.shtml
http://oldfashionededucation.com/index.html

Okay, there you have it – – my faves broken down…..hope this helps!!  : )

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 My plan was to start homeschool on Wednesday; however, I have an order that may not get here until the later part of the week – – so I was contemplating a (next week) Monday start up. The problem: Boo wants to start NOW.

For the last couple of months, I have read about different curriculum’s, put together a 20 week schedule and a daily/weekly schedule, decided on the books, etc. I was right on track….until, after some additional research, I reconsidering a couple of the decisions I had made early on.

I’ve been participating on postcrossing.com for about eight months – – and knew that I would integrate it into our geography studies; however, I wasn’t sure what else I would do (in geography). Then, on a trip to the thrift shop, I found “Around the World in Eighty Days.” Instantly, I knew I had found what I was looking for…..the problem was, it is a Great Illustrated Classic dumbed down version, which did not occur to me until I started researching some of the read-aloud sites. Plus, I had been reconsidering how I would approach Art Appreciation. I had already ordered three packs of six postcards through Dover – – I would use pack of cards for one six week study per artist. Then, I saw several artists that had both the six pack AND a twenty four pack of postcards – – mind gears are turning – – I decided to order one of the twenty four pack and two of the six pack for one artist. I would be able to present two to four cards per week for our artist study – – PLUS – – I would be able to use whatever duplicates (at least six) for geography, too (postcrossing).

Finally, I also ran across storynory.com – – they have the entire unabridged version of “Alice in Wonderland,” read by the wonderful Natasha!! How could I possibly pass that up?

I went back to Dover and purchased the unabridged version of “Around the World in Eighty Days” and “Alice in Wonderland,” one twenty four and two six pack of Paul Cezanne postcards, and several 60 percent off clearance sale classic books (Cinderella (.80), Mother West Wind’s Animal Friends (.60), Hercules (.40), King Arthur (.80), Native American Myths (1.40) and Dr. Dolittle (1.58).

So, what is a Mamma to do? She improvises.

For History, I printed off “The Stories of Albion and Brutus,” which we will read and discuss. Since it is the first story, we may not have a lot to discuss – – but, the boys will be here tomorrow, too and my Honey is a history buff….so, we’ll see. For Literature, we will read and discuss “The Ants and the Grasshopper” (from Aesop’s Fables). Then, for Language Arts, she will copy the moral of the story onto the lined section of this page and in the unlined section of the page, she will illustrate the story. (I can do two fables per page.) For geography and Language Arts, we will send a postcard to a postcrossing user, research the country we will send it to, she will learn how to address a postcard and we will decide what to write. For Poetry, she will read one poem from “A Child’s Garden of Verses.” In science, we will read the first section of Chapter one in the book, “Science for Modern Living: Through the Seasons,” (1950’s) which has to do with bird migration. Yesterday at Wal-Mart, I found a “Foamie” birdhouse kit – – so we will do that for art. Finally, in math, she will do a worksheet on magic squares and we will play the game: Re-Arrange. If there is time, we may play another math game.

Whew. That sounds like a lot – – but, it shouldn’t take more than a couple hours. I am pretty excited – – which is probably why I am having a hard time going to bed. But, it IS almost 2 AM, so should at the very least LAY DOWN – – and hope to get SOME rest!! : )

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Complete Curriculum for K-12 in American History

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Several years ago, I needed a good history curriculum for my oldest – – I wanted something short, sweet and to the point.

That’s when I found The Student’s Friend – – it not only is a history curriculum……it also includes Geography. The sweetest deal….it’s all FREE!!!

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