Wednesday, February 27

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon & Chinese Mythology

 

According to Chinese mythology, the god Pangu cracked the egg he was sleeping in, and this caused the big bang. The egg contained yin and yang, the two halves, which then separated. Yang, the lighter, rose up to create the sky, while Yin, the darker, formed the earth. Pangu held both in place with his hands and feet.

The greatest creature in Chinese mythology is the dragon. The dragon is a long, winged, snake-like creature with four legs, each with long and dangerous claws. Dragons were thought to have power over water and the weather. The dragon was the symbol of the emperor. His throne was even called the Dragon Throne. It is said that the Yellow Emperor turned into a dragon and flew to heaven when he died.

The Chinese zodiac is said to have been set when the Jade Emperor announced a race for the animals to compete for the twelve places in the zodiac. The rat forgot to wake up the cat, her neighbor, and went to the starting line. The rat rode on the ox through the whole race, jumping off just in time to run ahead and place first. He was followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Because she was not woken up, the cat missed the race and a chance at the place in the zodiac. This is why she hates the rat.

The legend of the Old Man in the Moon - the matchmaker - says that he ties the feet of young men and women with red cords for marriage.  They believe that marriages are made on the moon, and tie red cords to a tree to pray to the Old Man in the Moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival.


One sad love story tells of the weaver girl Zhin├╝, daughter of a goddess, and the cowherd Niulang. They fell in love, married, and had children. When the goddess found out about them, she was displeased and banished them to different sides of the Milky Way. Once a year, magpies form a bridge between the two lovers so they can visit. The day is celebrated as China’s Valentine’s Day.  You can see this acted out in Karate Kid.

Our spine read for this unit is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon


Access the complete unit study in the World Mythology Unit Studies Bundle!


Includes sixteen unit studies covering world mythologies. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning ancient through modern history.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Tuesday, February 26

We Were There on the Oregon Trail

***Pick up your FREE Activity Pack***

What’s a Mountain Man to do when the fur trade goes south?

May, 1843.  Pioneers left Missouri to head for Willamette Valley in Oregon.  The 2,000 mile long journey tested even the strongest of settlers, as the trail was rough and full of dangers.  Approximately 10% of those who set off on the trail died.  We can still see many grave sites littered through the trail area today.

While dubbed ‘the Oregon Trail,’ it wasn’t really a set trail, but more of a general route west.  Settlers followed the same path, but given all of the shortcuts (or attempted shortcuts), passes, and attempts to avoid dangerous areas, the trail was quite flexible.  The mountain men and fur traders that had traveled the region since its exploration by Lewis & Clark were seeking new jobs as the fur trade died out.  They turned their attention, and their skills, to being trail guides.  Some of them also documented the people, places, and nature found on the trail.

Planning for the journey could take up to a year – there were supplies to be bought, loose ends to tie up at home, and some families needed to earn extra money for the trip.  They traveled to Missouri, often meeting up with other families who were heading west, and set out in wagon trains.  These wagon trains provided protection in numbers.  They could only set off on the journey during a few months, as they needed to reach their destination before the snows came.

Due in part to the Oregon Trail, areas that had once been only log cabins or Indian lands were quickly cleared, planted, and scattered with towns.  California and Oregon became states, and the United States stretched from coast to coast. 

Virtual Field Trip

Our family traveled through Nebraska on the way to South Dakota a few years ago.  When we drove by Chimney Rock, we had to stop and poke around for a bit!


We discovered the Chimney Rock Cemetery, full of graves of the individuals who had died along this stretch of the trail.  While a bit sad, it was pretty amazing to be standing in a place with so much history behind it, looking at a view that had offered hope to weary travelers journeying to a new life!


Our spine novel is We Were There on the Oregon Trail


Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.


  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.


These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product Samples:

Monday, February 25

Six Basic Freezer Cooking Recipes

We do a freezer cooking day two or three times each year, stocking the freezer with essentials for quick and easy dinners.  

It's relatively easy to whip up a loaf of bread if you already have a ready supply of filling soup in the freezer.  Make a quick loaf using this recipe, or just pull out a box of Jiffy cornbread.  (To make the Jiffy extra-rich, substitute sour cream for the milk on the box recipe.)

Chicken Tortilla Soup (6 gallons)
  • 6 lb. chicken, chopped       
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced         
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 12 c. diced tomatoes          
  • 6 tsp salt                             
  • 4 cans enchilada sauce
  • 6 cans corn, drained            
  • 1 ½ tsp pepper                  
  • 6 tsp cumin
Mix all ingredients together and store in six separate gallon bags.
Reheat : Place in pot with 2 c water and 2 c chicken broth.  Bring to boil, then simmer 30 min to an hour.  Serve with rice, quinoa, tortilla strips, or cheese.
 


Chicken Noodle Soup (3 gallons – we reuse ice cream tubs)
  • 12 c chicken broth             
  • 1 onion, chopped                  
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 6 cups water                      
  • 2 bags carrots, chopped        
  • 6 tbsp parsley
  • 3 lb chicken, chopped        
  • 6 tsp pepper                          
  • 3 tsp sage
Heat broth and water to a boil.  Add chicken and cook.  Reduce to simmer. Add veggies and herbs.  Simmer one hour.  Place into three containers.
Reheat : Place in pot with one bag egg noodles and bring to boil.  Simmer 30 minutes to an hour.

Having pre-cooked taco meat can halve the time of almost any beef recipe.  We use this recipe in casseroles, soups, spaghetti, and for taco night.

Spiced Taco Meat
  • 10 lbs grass-fed beef 
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
Brown beef.  Add seasoning.  Finish cooking beef.  Package in quart-sized bags. 

It's also nice to have quick lunches on-hand for those days when everything is happening at once.  The kids are old enough to reach into the freezer and make their own hot lunches.  They are also able to prepare the following two recipes on freezer cooking day. 


  
A Slow-Cooked Year
This book includes : the whats and whys behind crockpot cooking, how-to tips and tricks, safe crockpot guidelines, printable planning sheets, and more than thirty seasonally-appropriate, kid-friendly recipes!
Another Year of Freezer Cooking
For anyone who wants to get a leg up on getting healthy meals on the family table, without much fuss...this book includes : the whats and whys behind freezer cooking how-to tips and tricks pantry freezing guidelines, printable planning sheets more than thirty seasonally-appropriate, kid-friendly recipes!

Burritos (makes 48)
  • 8 cans organic refried black beans                
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 16 oz shredded cheese         
  • 48 tortillas
  • 16 oz salsa
Mix beans, salsa & seasoning.  Spread onto tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up.  Either place in plastic bags or wrap in tin foil.
Reheat : Microwave at 50% for 2-3 minutes.

Pizza Pockets (20 pockets)
Dough        
  • 4 tbsp active dry yeast   
  • 4tsp salt                
  • 4 c warm water                
  • 8 tbsp oil                         
  • 4 tsp sugar            
  • 10 c flour                           
Filling
  • 3 c pizza sauce (tomato sauce & spices)
  • 6 c cheese, shredded
  • 3 c diced turkey pepperoni (optional)
Mix yeast & warm water.  Add sugar, salt, oil and flour.  Mix well and dump onto floured surface.  Knead.  Divide dough into pieces.  Roll into balls and flatten.  Add sauce, cheese & topping.  Fold over and seal.  Bake 10-15 minutes at 300.

Since we've already got the kitchen good and dirty, we typically make a few batches of cookies, or these candies.  If you have extra chocolate at the end, dip some bananas or strawberries in for instant fondue.....no need to waste perfectly good chocolate!


Momma’s Peppermint Patties  (makes 30…a 3 day supply)

  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp half & half
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract


  1. Mix everything together until it’s creamy.  Chill in the freezer until it’s firm enough to roll, and then form into 1” balls.  Flatten on a lined baking sheet and re-chill (the colder the better).
  2. Melt 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips in double boiler.  Dip each patty completely, then re-place on lined baking sheet and chill until firm.  Store in the refrigerator.


***************************************************************
Are you ready to try freezer cooking for your family?  It seems daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's quite easy!  I had the good fortune to have a cooking-oriented friend assist me with that first day.  Her knowledge, patience, and ability to teach to my kindergarten-level cooking gave me the confidence that I needed to continue. 
I would love to tell you that we always use coupons to maximize our savings, but the truth is that we purchase ingredients when we need them.  If we're home, and see a good sale on shelf-stable ingredients that we'll use for the next batch, we snag them.  That doesn't always happen, and fresh ingredients must be purchased when it's time to cook. 
Let your children help with food prep (chopping / grating / dicing) the day prior to freezer cooking.  This will make the day go more smoothly and quickly.  It will also give them some responsibility and lessons in home economics.  Let the younger ones measure ingredients and the older ones multiply measurements to make larger batches.  There you go - math class!

Friday, February 22

Flashback Four : The Pompeii Disaster


August 24, 79 AD

Seventeen years after being rocked by a major earthquake, the city of Pompeii had recovered and was a bustling metropolis.  The local historian, Seneca, wrote that quakes lasted for several days in early August of the year 79, but people were so accustomed to them that they were ignored.

Early escapees of the city were able to flee to nearby Misenum (about 13 miles away).  One of these was Pliny the Younger, who wrote that he observed, "the sea retreating as if pushed by the earthquakes" and "black and horrible clouds, broken by sinuous shapes of flaming wind."  He was seeing the wind - which ultimately doomed the people of Pompeii - and a tsunami that resulted from the earthquake.

Vesuvius' first explosion took everyone by surprise, and only 2,000 residents survived that first blast.  In only 25 hours, over 30,000 people died from the eruption!

The volcanic mud overtook the town so quickly, most victims died instantly -- the superheated air burned their lungs, and they were left curled up in ash and preserved for eons.  Because of the speed, the city of Pompeii became a snapshot of daily life in ancient Rome, and is a treasure trove for archaeologists.  

Our spine read for this unit study is The Pompeii Disaster

Access the complete unit study in the World History Novel Studies Bundle!


Includes seven unit studies (plus a bonus!) covering World History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning from Pompeii to World War 2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

Product samples:   The Night Witches & Women in Aviation   &   The Lookout Tree & the Great Acadian Upheaval

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Wednesday, February 20

Sean Livingstone series + Printable Activity Pack


Part Indiana Jones, part every other Hollywood blockbuster from the past twenty years....the Sean Livingstone series features a band of teens who fight an alien race to save the world!

Crown of the Pharaohs (Book One)
Fifteen-year-old Sean Livingstone is on the adventure of a lifetime, visiting his dad, an archaeologist who has just discovered an ancient alien device beneath the Sphinx – a find that reveals a forgotten chapter in human history, placing everything we know about life on Earth into question. But they’re not the first to uncover the truth. A reclusive billionaire and his assassins will stop at nothing to keep the revelation a secret from the rest of the world. Running for his life, Sean is catapulted out of time and place – into a world where humans live on the brink of extinction, dominated by aliens and their monstrous hybrid creations. With the past, present, and future hanging in the balance, only Sean can unlock the power of the pharaohs crown and save humanity.

Ark of the Gods (Book Two)
After 10,000 years, the alien race known as the Isharkute have returned to Earth, intent on enslaving humanity. Only one thing can stop them: the legendary Ark of the Covenant – an alien device of incredible power. Three cryptic riddles to the Ark have been hidden across the world, clues only Sean and his alien friend Nocao can decipher. With unexpected new companions, sixteen-year-old Bella and her older brother Arturo along for the ride, their quest takes them to far-off locations while unravelling some of the greatest mysteries of all time. But Senetep is close behind. His Isharkute invasion has brought death, destruction and a terrifying new army of hybrids. With governments and civilisations in ruins, it’s a race against time to find the Ark before Senetep. Can Sean unite humanity and save the world?


General Notes...

  • Part of the fun of these stories is picking out all of the references....such as the Babel Fish from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!
  • Aliens, mythology, magic....if your family avoids such things, these are not the books for you.
  • There are some violent deaths, particularly as Senetep (evil dude) steps in.  They're comparable to primetime TV, but forewarned is forearmed.
  • The third book in the trilogy, 'The Spearhead of Creation,' will tie everything together.
Regarding Hi-Lo Students...
  • At the beginning of book one, there are two characters - Sean & Seth - on opposite sides.  Because their names are so similar, it would be easy for some to get them confused, which could delay their ability to 'form' a character in their mind.
  • The beginning of book one starts out slow, but once the action picks up, it's fast-paced from there on out.
  • As the author is Australian, there is the occasional instance of a British spelling.
Space, Aliens, and Mythological Creatures

Read

Make / Do

Vocabulary
Amulet
Bestial
Centaur 

Cerberus 
Chimera
Disembowel               
Entomb

Escapade 
Exhume
Feral
Ghastly 
Grotesque 
Gryphon
Hackles 

Heinous
Hysteria
Infestation               
Jinx
Karma 

Kraken
Nemesis
Medusa 

Miasma 
Mythical
Obliterate 
Obscure 
Occult
Paralysis 
Poltergeists                
Premonition
Quiver
Repugnant 

Ritual 
Rune
Sibyl
Talisman                  
Venomous
Zealous

Birdman 

Think

  • What role did astronomy play in ancient civilizations?
  • Where do you think the idea for ancient mythological creatures originated? 
  • What do you think archaeologists will find from our society 2,000 years from now, and what will their findings say about us? 
  • What objects might lead to the misinterpretation of our culture by future archaeologists? 


Questions for the Author.....
What inspired you to write the Sean Livingstone series?
  • I was inspired by history and the fact that there’s still so many unanswered questions about our past. There seems to be striking similarities between different cultures in their religions and mythology, even when they’re from opposite sides of the world. Was there an ancient, advanced civilisation that existed long before us? There’s certainly evidence of ancient megalithic construction all over the world, things we can’t even replicate today. The Great Pyramid at Giza is the perfect example. I’d been thinking about these things all my life, and when it came to writing the Sean Livingstone books, I just let my imagination go wild. I tried to work in many of the unanswered questions about our past in a fun and entertaining way. Even though a big portion of Sean Livingstone’s adventure is pure science-fiction and fantasy, the story is built upon a foundation of real historical events and well-known legends. Ultimately, I’d love the Sean Livingstone series to spark the reader’s interest in history and for them to investigate and discover other incredible facts about our past for themselves.

Tell us about yourself -- 
  • I’m a dad with three children, two boys and a girl. I enjoy camping and being involved with all my kids school and sporting activities. I love writing, always have. I’m a huge Star Wars & Indiana Jones nerd. I enjoy going to the gym and keeping fit. As a writer, I’m writing the kinds of books that I wanted to read when I was growing up, with the added bonus of being able to share them with my kids and the rest of the world.


Interested in mythology?  Find sixteen world mythology units in the World Mythology Unit Studies Bundle!


Includes sixteen unit studies covering world mythologies. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning ancient through modern history.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Tuesday, February 19

The Storm Runner & Mayan Mythology


The Mayans had many gods. There were over one hundred and sixty-five. Many of them were nature-oriented, like the god of the sun, Kinih Ahous, or the god of maize, Yum Kaax. Most of these gods were mortal. They would help the Mayans with their jobs. 

The Mayans built enormous temples to these gods and kings. The temple to the gods was on a flat platform at the top of the pyramids. Some very famous pyramids are in Chichen Itza. They also studied astronomy here. There were two kinds of Mayan pyramids - one was for the people and priests, and one that was sacred (only the high priest could enter). There were stairways that led to the top of the pyramids. 

The Mayans feared death because only those who were given as sacrifices to the gods, or died at childbirth, were not sent to the underworld. Even the priests and kings were sent to the underworld! The underworld was said to be filled with demons, evil gods, and jaguars. Jaguars were the spirit animal of every king. A spirit animal was a soul of an animal that shared a body with a person. Everyone had a spirit animal, except the priest, who could have more than one. These spirit animals were called 'Way Ob.'

For this unit, The Storm Runner is our spine read.


Access the complete unit study in the World Mythology Unit Studies Bundle!


Includes sixteen unit studies covering world mythologies. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning ancient through modern history.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!