Thursday, October 29

Using the Permaculture Curriculum for Homesteading Science

Y'all know that we love to incorporate real-world learning into our homeschool here!  It's not just cooking and adulting, but getting dirty with the garden and animals....all that in addition to the regular school curriculum.  When we stumbled upon what we are dubbing Homestead Science, it delighted our youngest (who is not traditionally-school-minded) to no end!  It might be just what you've been looking for, too...

The Permaculture Student includes:

  • Private Community Facebook Group for Students
  • Unlimited Access to the Video Library
  • Includes eBook versions of The Permaculture Student 1 textbook & workbook
  • Hands-On Projects with Step-by-Step Directions & Video
  • Open & self-paced course. Start anytime, take your time & enjoy the design!
  • What you will learn:
    • Permaculture Design - homes, landscapes, society, businesses & more
    • Pattern Literacy
    • Reading the Landscape
    • Seed-to-Table Cooking
    • Earthworks
    • Seed Saving
    • Composting, Compost Tea, & Extract!
    • Food Preservation & Storage
  • Students that complete and turn in all their design assignments (workbook) will receive a certificate of completion in the mail. 
You'll receive the textbook in PDF format.  You can choose to upgrade to a physical textbook, but we just used the digital one.  We started to print it out, but sent it to our kindles instead...less waste and easier to access!

Inside the full-color textbook are vocabulary words, informational text, graphics, and beautiful illustrations to bring the concepts to life!

Each of the units is broken down into multiple videos, hands-on projects, workbook components, and reading from the textbook.  In the picture above, each of those tiny squares is a unit cover...which makes it very easy to access your unit.  We have the main page bookmarked, and are able to quickly find each day's work.

After watching the informational videos for the unit, you'll find a video guide to the workbook components and a video guide (or multiples) for each of the hands-on projects.  In this unit, we are learning to use different types of flours to make homemade breads, pancakes, scones, and biscuits...yum!

The workbook features activities for all ages, including coloring pages for the younger children, but is more geared toward middle school and above.  There are graphics for students to apply the concepts learned to their own property / land areas.

Critical thinking questions flesh it out for the upper grades, making them apply the concepts learned.  In each unit, there is a food plant focus, such as the squash we see in the pages above.  Students are learning to grown, preserve, and cook with these foods.

Each unit brings something different!  In one, you are designing a microclimate, including looking around your own land (could be one acre, could be a small lot around your home) and learning about the things that you already have nearby and finding new ways to make the land work for you.  In the next unit, you might be learning about how to raise chickens and cook eggs six ways from Sunday!

Our son - who writes over at Xander's Farm - has long shown a propensity for the outdoors.  He likes working with his hands, and started his own chicken business in elementary school.  It was his idea to try out this course, as he's most likely not going to follow the traditional route of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics through high school.  He knows what he wants, and one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that we are able to tailor his learning experience!

I would count the course as one semester of high school or (with some more hands-on activities) a full year of middle school.  That said, there is an Advanced Permaculture course that you can take, too, if your student is really into it.  What we are doing is filling out that second semester of science - because the transcript says Homesteading Science - with the Homesteading Course from SchoolhouseTeachers.  Printables and some how-to videos are included with these weekly lessons...and it's all included with the 350+ other courses offered at  We already have a family membership, and it is no additional cost, plus these two courses really complement each other well!

Right now, the Permaculture Student is on sale for 60% off!  Snag this unique course today and give your homeschool a serious real-world upgrade!

Wednesday, October 28

Roadschool Trip to Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska.  Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Two states...basically the same town.  While we usually venture a few hours away from the hotel, this particular trip was plagued by tornadoes, flooding, and other severe weather...

This FREE museum in Council Bluffs, IA was created to educate others about the history, and future, of America's railroad industry.  There are three main sections to the museum : the Lincoln collection, the Transcontinental Railroad, and the history of rail travel.  First, we had to build the railroad.  The boys used dynamite to blow out the side of the mountain and constructed trestle bridges to span the rivers.
There are many hands-on exhibits and virtual experiences so that you can travel on the railroads just like your great-grandparents did!
The Lincoln collection has several pieces from his private life, but the shining exhibit is his personal rail car that was constructed in 1864.  Lincoln only ever rode on this rail car Springfield, IL where he was buried.  It's beautifully macabre...

Finally, part of the history of rail travel is communication.  We learned about the importance of telephones and operators, as well as standard rail time.  The purpose behind introducing railway time was twofold: to overcome the confusion caused by having non-uniform local times in each town and station stops along the expanding railway network, and to reduce the incidence of accidents and near misses, which were becoming more frequent as the number of train journeys increased.

Durham Museum
Across the river in Omaha, NB is the old Union Station.  Maybe you've heard of a 'Union Station' in other cities...what makes something a union station is the fact that it connects multiple railway lines.

Union Station opened in January 1931 and quickly became one of the busiest stations in the nation.  At its heyday, 64 passenger trains and over 10,000 passengers came through the station each day.  The last train ran through there in 1971.

The first things you'll notice when you walk inside are the eye-popping ceiling and the bronze statues.  It is the statues that make the place feel 'alive,' like you are re-living the golden age of railroad history in the 1940's.  Actually, the whole museum has that vibe about it...
Take the escalator downstairs to ride the trolley through town and take the train across country!  On your trip, you'll pass vintage cars and beautiful scenery.  If you're an HO train lover, there is a track setup that spans over half the length of the museum - it covers the evolution of the Union Pacific railroad, from laying the track, through its peak, and to its position today.
Inside the train itself, you can easily imagine what it would have been like to travel across country.  The lounge and dining cars are reminiscent of White Christmas, but the berth cars are different.  Our guide told us that there were two types of berths :  one had separate bedrooms, while the other was a living room that folded out into a bedroom.  These were the latter type.  Honestly, I think I'd prefer the former!  Six families slept on one rail car in little bunkbeds...with very little space to move.  If you were travelling alone, you had an actual room, but the bed folded down on top of the toilet, and if you had to go in the night, you had to unhitch your bed first!
There are many historical exhibits on the other side of the museum about the history of Omaha.  One of our favorites was the dress-up's fun to be silly!
We arrived early, and decided to do a bit of exploring.  Dad is a member of the Scottish Rite, so we popped into the local temple to have a look around and do a bit of socializing.  It gave everyone a chance to stretch their legs.  If you've never been to a Masonic Temple, I suggest doing so for the history and architecture alone.  The oldest was having a grand time exploring various architectural features of the building, while the youngest pored through antique books in the library.  

Don't be put off by all the hype surround freemasonry.  As the hubby says, "Coca-cola has more secrets than the freemasons."
Orchard & Winery
Finally, the rain let up for a bit, so we stopped off at a local place called Ditmar's Orchard.  We weren't sure what to expect, but it was the perfect ending to the day!  The lady that owns it was the embodiment of a working mother...juggling several kids effortlessly while running the orchard and winery.  That's right - winery.  Hot dog for mom and dad!  

The orchard has a large playground - that's fun even when it's wet - and so we sent the kids off to play with the other kids that were out there.  It's nice to watch them making friends wherever we go.  We sampled wine & cheese and toured the orchard.  In the fall, they have a U-Pick for families to pick their own produce.  They also have a lot of locally-made products (jams, jellies, mixes, etc) that are preservative free and very yummy!  If you're going to be in the area, we recommend stopping in here!

Railroads, Iowa & Nebraska Resources

Monday, October 26

Roadschool Trip to South Dakota

Our journey north took us through the western part of South Dakota....home to Mount Rushmore and Deadwood!  We journeyed through the wild west era of Wild Bill Hickok, sang camp songs about ghost chickens, and stood in awe at Gutzon Borglum's artistry...

Wild Bill Hickok & Deadwood
In the 1870s, gold was discovered in the Black Hills. 
When some miners came across a creek full of dead trees and gold, the town of Deadwood was born. It was a boomtown, growing full of gamblers, outlaws, gunslingers, and gold seekers within just a few weeks.

Wild Bill Hickok was a prominent figure in the Wild West. His background as a Union soldier and Pony Express wagon driver are just part of what led to his dangerous and adventurous life up in Deadwood, South Dakota.

The town of Deadwood, South Dakota definitely thrives on its tourist industry.  Limited-wage, legalized gambling helps to bring back the feel of the past, and visitors can get involved with reenactments several times daily.

Swing over to the Franklin Hotel, on the main strip, and you'll see Wild Bill Hickok and several of his contemporaries tearing up the streets with their gun slinging and fighting!  They get the kids involved and don't worry, it's family-friendly.  You never know who might show up by the Franklin Hotel.....Calamity Jane or Buffalo Bill might stop by!
The street dramas are free, but for the best show in town, be sure to stop by the Masonic Temple for the Trial of Jack McCall.  It's a live show, and they pull up kids and other audience members to make it even more fun.  At about an hour and a half, it's both funny and educational, and truly worth the money.

The night started out with a singalong....silly camp songs, but a lot of fun nonetheless.  We hadn't heard of some of them, and several months later, these songs are still being sung at our home.  Now you know where our mascot, the Ghost Chickens, came from!!

Everyone gets to sing along and participate, at least minimally, but some have larger roles.  They even pulled our workin' man up on the stage!!  All in all, it was a great impromptu evening on our stopover from Rushmore to the job in Colorado.  If you get the chance, you should go visit Deadwood, too!

Wild Bill Hickok Resources
For mom & dad.......

Mount Rushmore
A little bit down the road from Deadwood is the national landmark of Mount Rushmore.  At the park entrance are all fifty state flags.  It's quite a long walk to get to the trail that wraps around the mountain.  The day we stopped by was absolutely gorgeous....not hot or cold, beautiful Carolina blue sky...perfect day.

Inside the museum, you can watch a video about the sculptor (Borglum) and the history of Mount Rushmore, from inception to completion.  There are also several exhibits showing the various phases of construction and talking about the project from a geological standpoint.
We took the trail around the mountain, to get a closer look, and the boys worked on their Junior Ranger Program workbooks.  We love this program - they get a small token for completing the day's schoolwork!  This is the same spot on the trail where National Treasure 2 was filmed toward the end.

It's a pretty impressive know that it's huge, but you can't really fathom just how big it is until you've stood underneath the faces.

“Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can...their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were.” ~Gutzon Borglum
Mount Rushmore Resources