Tuesday, May 30

Culper Spies & Women in the Revolutionary War

Whether on the farm, in a tavern, working as a spy, or actively fighting in a battle, women played many roles in the American Revolution...

While formal politics did not include women at this time, everyday actions and behaviors became charged with political significance, and in this way women played an integral role.  The decision to stop drinking British tea or ordering clothes from Britain showed Colonial opposition by patriot women during the years both leading up to and during the war.

For the most post, women expressed their support through traditional gender roles, including home economics and assisting with the businesses of their husbands and fathers.  It should be noted that the war also negatively affected the lives of Tory women, who remained loyal to the crown, and those who remained politically neutral.

Fun Facts:

  • Women and children often followed the army camps, cooking, cleaning, and providing laundry services, as well as assisting in field hospitals and serving as seamstresses to repair clothing, tents, and other materials.
  • Some women disguised themselves as men in order to fight in the war.  Others served as spies during the war.  Women were fairly effective spies, for both sides, because they could pass through checkpoints and camps without raising too much suspicion or drawing too much attention to themselves.
  • Women took care of businesses, homesteads, families, and properties when their husbands left for war.  After the war, like multiple American wars in the centuries after the American Revolution, women were expected to go back to their traditional roles.
  • Women had political influence, but largely through their husbands.  One example is Abigail Adams, who famously and voluminously corresponded with her husband while he was in Philadelphia, reminding him that in the new form of government that was being established he should “remember the ladies” or they too, would foment a revolution of their own.  Learn more about Abi here.
  • It was the women, through personal diaries and narratives of others, who documented the war era.

A Woman Disguised

Deborah Sampson is known for having disguised herself as a man and serving in the Continental Army under the name Robert Shirtliff, fighting in the American Revolutionary War.  She was given the dangerous task of scouting neutral territory to assess British troops in Manhattan, which General George Washington contemplated attacking.  She helped lead infantrymen on an expedition that ended with Tory confrontation, then led a raid on a Tory home that resulted in the capture of 15 men.  At the siege of Yorktown, she dug trenches, helped storm a British redoubt, and endured canon fire.

For nearly two years, she fought, her sex undetected, despite close calls.  However, when she received a gash in her forehead from a sword and was shot in her left thigh, she contracted fever, lost consciousness, and was discovered while being treated in a hospital.  Upon being discovered, she was honorably discharged.  She was the only woman to earn a full military pension for participation in the Revolutionary army. 

Hidden in Plain Sight

Nathan Hale was hung for suspected treason in 1776, and was a wake-up call to the dangers of spying in this war, leading Washington to begin the Continental Army's secret service.  Benjamin Tallmadge headed the service, based on Long Island, New York, and recruited only those men and women he felt he could 100% trust.  This group became known as the Culper Spy Ring.

Only one women is known to have been a Culper Spy.  Anna Smith Strong was said to have aided in the spy ring’s activities.  Her husband had been confined on the British prison ship HMS Jersey in 1778, and she lived alone for much of the war.  She used the laundry on her clothesline to leave signals regarding meeting locations for other spies.

The Culper Spy Ring achieved more than any other American or British intelligence network during the war.  In 1780, it uncovered British plans to ambush the newly arrived French army, and without their warnings to Washington, that alliance may well have been damaged or destroyed by this surprise attack, leading to a completely different outcome for the war.


  • Anna Strong & the Culper Spy Ring
    • It’s a true story of the American Revolution: Meet the secret Culper Ring, a network of American spies fighting against the army of British redcoats, and historical figures like George Washington and the soon-to-be-infamous Benedict Arnold. And meet Anna Strong, an unsung heroine who found ingenious ways to communicate top-secret messages to her fellow spies, helping to save the American colonies from British rule.
    • It’s a mystery to solve: There are clues embedded in the book’s text and illustrations. Spycraft materials, including a cipher wheel, come in an envelope at the beginning of the book. Use them to decode Anna’s hidden message and discover the secret mission she undertook for the Culper Ring!

Extra Reading


  • Mary Silliman's War
    • It is the fourth year of the War for Independence. The enemy is not only the British--Americans are also fighting among themselves. Mary Silliman's town of Fairfield, Connecticut, is bitterly divided between patriots and tories. When her husband, a fierce patriot and state's attorney, is kidnapped and held for ransom, Mary sets in motion a dangerous plan to win her husband's freedom.
  • Turn (miniseries)
    • Washington's Spies is the untold story of America's first spy ring. An unlikely team of secret agents form The Culper Ring to help George Washington turn the tide of the Revolutionary War.

Make / Do


  • Mary Ball Washington
  • Martha Custis Washington
  • Lucy Flucker Knox
  • Abigail Adams
  • Deborah Sampson
  • Sybil Ludington
  • Mercy Otis Warren
  • Margaret Moore Barry
  • Elizabeth Burgin
  • Mary Hays Macauley
  • Nancy Hart
  • Esther DeBerdt Reed
  • Margaret Cochran Corbin


  • Why, and in what ways, did the role of women begin to change during the American Revolution?
  • How did the roles of Patriot and Tory women differ?  How were they the same?

Find more Revolutionary Resources

Monday, May 22

Mare's War & African American Women of WW2

Most folks have heard of Rosie the Riveter, but have you heard of the Black Rosies?  What about the Double-V Campaign?

African-American serving in World War II faced racism in their service, and black women faced the double battle of racism and sexism.  Before recruitment and training even began, African American women faced the major hurdle of discrimination.  Applications were located at local United States Post Offices, and many women that applied were immediately denied, simply because of their race.  Once entering service, they also faced segregation within the military.  These women were kept in a  company separate from white trainees, including separate lodging, dining tables, and even recreational areas.

On the homefront, more than half a million 'Black Rosies' worked in shipyards, factories, railroads, and administrative duties for the war effort.  Many of them, however, worked tirelessly without any recognition.  It was during this time that the Double-V campaign began in Pittsburgh.  Double-V was a slogan used to highlight the struggle on two fronts that African-Americans found themselves fighting—for victory over freedom overseas and for victory over racism at home. 

Of the more than 140,000 women who served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II, about 6,500 of them were Black.  This included the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, a unit of more than 800 black WACs, and the only black WAC unit to serve overseas.  The women arrived in England with the task of working through a huge backlog of mail meant for the troops.  Working in three shifts around the clock, they were able to sort all of the mail in half the amount of time expected, just three months.  Each eight-hour shift averaged more than 65,000 pieces of mail sorted!

The military service of black men and women before and after the desegregation order, and the strength of the Double V Campaign, helped to inspire the modern civil rights movement that began in earnest just after the war ended.  

Learn more about the Civil Rights movement in The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Freedom Summer.

Notable Figures

Tuskegee Army Air Field Nurses

The Tuskegee Airmen were not the only ones on the base who had to fight gender as well as racial discrimination.  When the USs entered World War II, there was a shortage of nurses.  Out of a total of 50,000 Army Nurse Corps (ANC) nurses serving in World War II, only 500 (or 1%) were allowed to be African-American.  There was a cap, a limit, on the number allowed to serve.  Approximately 28 of those black nurses served at Tuskegee.

Mary McLeod Bethune 

Also known as “The First Lady of the Struggle,” Mary McLeod Bethune dedicated her life to improving the lives of African Americans.  She was born to former slaves and saw education and literacy as the way to escape poverty.  She was a teacher in the 1920s and 1930s, and during World War II, served as the assistant director of the Women’s Army Corps and helped to open the military to  African American women.

James Thompson

In a 1942 letter to the Pittsburgh Courier, Thompson called for African Americans to fight for a “double victory” over racism at home and fascism abroad.  This Double Victory campaign was displayed prominently in the paper's pages for months, as well as photos and stories encouraging its subscribers to form Double V clubs.

  • Mare's War
    • Meet Mare, a World War II veteran and a grandmother like no other. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less than perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American Battalion of the Women's Army Corps. Now she is driving her granddaughters—two willful teenagers in their own rite—on a cross-country road trip. The girls are initially skeptical of Mare's flippy wigs and stilletos, but they soon find themselves entranced by the story she has to tell, and readers will be too. Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare through her experiences as a WAC and half of which follow Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day, this novel introduces readers to a larger-than-life character and a fascinating chapter in African American history.
  • Courageous Six Triple Eight
  • Sisters in Arms

  • Using a world map, track Mare's journey from Bay Slough in the 1940s back to Bay Slough in modern day.
  • Write a letter to the editor of a black-owned newspaper from the perspective of a young African American living during WWII. 
  • Write a mini-biography of Lavenia Breaux, based on her oral history.
  • Develop a new ad campaign (poster, radio commercial, ad, etc) for recruiting African-American women into service.
  • If you could select five photographs to tell the story of life for African American women in the military during World War II, which ones would you choose? Give a reason for your choices.

  • WAAC
  • WAC
  • WASP
  • Allied Nations
  • annex
  • Black Rosies
  • VE Day
  • VJ Day
  • VV Campaign
  • 6888th
  • Tuskegee Airmen

  • Do you think Mare was right to leave home the way she did?  Why or why not?
  • Why do you think African-American opinions about the VV campaign differed?

Get the entire World War 2 Bundle!


  • The Book Thief
  • We Were There at the Battle of Britain
  • Number the Stars
  • The Winged Watchmen
  • We Were There at Pearl Harbor
  • We Were There at the Battle of Bataan
  • Island War
  • Red Stars
  • The Night Witches
  • Mare’s War
  • We Were There at the Normandy Invasion
  • Code Talkers
  • We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge
  • The Light Between Us
  • We Were There at the Open of the Atomic Era
  • A Merry 1940s Christmas

Product samples:

Wednesday, May 17

Take an Adventure through High School Literature!

We LOVE using the combination of a Charlotte Mason / Unit Studies approach to homeschooling. It’s the base of our curriculum, our school days, and all of the novel studies we love to share with you!

The Society of Literary Adventurers is an opportunity for teens to find joy and enchantment in literature with our online book clubs for high school and join an exclusive community of like-minded folks!
Membership includes thirty-eight book units (and more coming), courses on how to write a research paper and a month-long, family-style Christmas unit, printable nature journal and unit study planner, plus several video workshops for parents about homeschooling teens.

 Each book unit includes:

  • Rabbit Trails – Diving off of themes from the novel, meander down paths about pop-culture, history, biographies, poetry, music, and more.
  • Magic Dust - These hands-on projects will take you into the book through science, art, games, and more.
  • Vocabulary & Grammar – Copywork and dictation to help with spelling and grammar, plus literary elements, are included here.
  • Writing Assignments - Covering various literary themes, each book club features a different topic and element for the essay.
  • Party Time! (one per club) – This is the last lesson of each club, and includes ideas for food, decorations, and activities to celebrate the novel.

What's Included?

The Society of Literary Adventurers includes access to ALL COURSES available to high school students.  This includes:

Poetry and a Movie
This course is great for starting high school because it introduces the students to the literary elements. We spend several weeks on each so that the student has a thorough grasp of the concepts.  Each month studies a new poet and includes a new writing project. At the end of the month, your student will watch a movie that used the poem as inspiration.
  • This is a one-year full course with 10 monthly poets.
    • A Study of the Master Poets with Background Information
    • A Study of Literary Elements and Form in the Poetry of the Master Poet
    • A Movie Suggestion to go along with the Poet
    • Writing Instruction
    • Grammar Instruction
    • Fun elements like Poetry Teatime and Trivia Games
Some states require a credit in American Literature. This series was designed to fulfill that requirement.  Each month studies a different classic novel and ends with a celebration of the novel. Each book club also includes a different writing project.
  • This is course is comprised of 10 monthly book clubs. We recommend completing at least 8 book clubs for a full-year credit.
    • A Study of TEN American Literary Classics
    • A Study of Literary Elements
    • A Party School to Celebrate Each Book
    • Lesson Plans for Weekly or Monthly Book Clubs
    • Writing Instruction of Essays and Fiction Stories
    • Grammar, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction
    • Fun elements like Rabbit Trails and Magic Dust

British Literature
Some states require a credit in British Literature. This series was designed to fulfill that requirement.  Each month studies a different classic novel and ends with a celebration of the novel. Each book club also includes a different writing project.
  • This is course is comprised of 10 monthly book clubs. We recommend completing at least 8 book clubs for a full-year credit.
    • A Study of TEN Classic British Literary Classics
    • A Study of Literary Elements
    • A Party School to Celebrate Each Book
    • Lesson Plans for Weekly or Monthly Book Clubs
    • Writing Instruction of Essays and Fiction Stories
    • Grammar, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction
    • Fun elements like Rabbit Trails and Magic Dust

World Literature
Some states require a credit in World History. This series was designed to be a literature course to complement a World History course and fulfill a language arts credit requirement.
  • This is course is comprised of 10 monthly book clubs. We recommend completing at least 8 book clubs for a full-year credit.
    • A Study of TEN World Literature Novels
    • A Study of Literary Elements
    • A Party School to Celebrate Each Book
    • Lesson Plans for Weekly or Monthly Book Clubs
    • Writing Instruction of Essays and Fiction Stories
    • Grammar, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction
    • Fun elements like Rabbit Trails and Magic Dust

These courses can be used as a full language arts program. Each book club course includes grammar, spelling, literary elements, reading and a writing project. All these parts make up a complete language arts curriculum for one year of high school credit.  You can also choose to complete book clubs in your own time frame as a supplement to a language arts program. Use the parts of the lesson which appeal to you and fit with your current language arts program.  We have used the book clubs in both capacities -- as a full year of language arts and as a summer supplement to our Good & the Beautiful curriculum.

How it Works

When you first log into your account, you'll see all of the book clubs available with the course and how far you have progressed on each.  Many of the unit adventures are done via embedded videos and external links to further reading.  What's nice about this is that it's already been pulled together and vetted for you.

Member Bonuses
  • Quarterly Live Workshops
    • Monthly Interactive Book Club - We'll be following a book club together with Daily Planning, Additional Copywork and Dictation instruction and other ideas
  • Printables
    • Downloadable PDF of our Book Club Planner
    • Downloadable PDF of our Nature Journal for use with our Nature Book Clubs
    • Join the Summer Lit Camp, beginning on May 22 with three days of fun with Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves! Then jump into the summer book club.

Want to try it out?  You can access a completely FREE course from both the Nature Club and the Literature Club for a limited time!  These are aimed at elementary and middle school, but will give you a feel for how the book clubs work.

Saturday, May 13

What We Missed While Homeschooling

As anyone who has graduated a homeschooler knows, senior year is a time for contemplation and reflection.  This journey...it's long, can be difficult, and often leaves you with questions.  Was it enough?  Did I give it the best I could?  Here are thoughts from some veteran mommas...

  • We should have focused more on modern history.  We spent way too much time on ancient history.  More time on US history, Native American history, and modern geography would have helped him more once he got to college.
  • We skipped a lot of grammar in the early years, but it made learning a foreign language incredibly difficult because there was no understanding of verb tenses.
  • I would have focused less on finding a good co-op and just enjoyed the few homeschooling friends we had.  Not every kid needs a wide social circle, and when homeschooling is the only thing you have in common, it just isn't enough.
  • Using an online academy, with a teacher other than myself, helped with preparation for college.  She had to answer to someone else, and I was just 'mom.'  She learned to be on someone else's timeline and how to communicate with a teacher.
  • Even though testing isn't required in our state, a little practice on timed testing would have gone a long way toward helping with SAT prep and probably boosted her score.
  • We spent a lot of time on handwriting, but should have focused more on typing as everything is typed or done on the computer these days.
  • Apps should have been used as a supplement to school, rather than to teach whole subjects.  There are a lot of skills gaps where the app just didn't cover things, but she spent a lot of time playing them.
  • We {I} needed to be more organized about digital curricula, files, paperwork, and keeping up with the transcripts.  It's so much easier to lose digital files than books and paper, but everything is done online anymore.
  • I don't know who needs to hear this, but worry less. Enjoy more. Children grow up so fast, and you can't get that time back. They will absolutely learn what they need when they need it.
  • We should have spent more time on field trips and nature related learning during the younger years, and less time focused on what the kids were "expected" to learn.
  • Although he didn't need to take notes at home, we should have worked on notetaking and making graphs, because these are things he needs everyday in college.
  • We spent so much time switching curriculum, trying to find the 'perfect' one, but there really isn't anything that's perfect.  We should have stayed with one that worked well, and just changed it a bit to make it better for us.  We lost a lot of time, and money, looking for a unicorn.

Organize your desktop easily with these five interchangeable wallpaper designs. Each follows the same pattern, so you can switch out your background while keeping your icons exactly as they are --- easily organized AND visually appealing. The five themes include the four seasons and an everyday wallpaper.  Snag your set!!

Looking for a little extra push?

This book & worktext set will help you and your high school student breeze through the steps of college and scholarship applications, as well as brushing up on study habits and life skills. The worktext includes activities, worksheets, and planning pages, and accompanies the book.

This online co-op provides live / blended classes for high school students, using The Good & the Beautiful for language arts, Apologia / Berean Builders for science, and Notgrass for history.  These classes meet weekly, allowing students the opportunity to discuss the literature, get additional instruction on concepts covered, and show off their art projects and recitations.  Students also to receive a grade for these courses from a source outside of the home.

Pick up the College 101: the First Year ebook for FREE on our Subscriber Freebies page!  Not yet a subscriber?  Sign up here!

Tuesday, May 2

Farming Books for Elementary (Interest-Led Learning)

One of our sons is more the hands-on, outdoors type of kid.  He works hard and has great work ethic, but doesn't really plan to continue schooling beyond graduation.  He's not a fan of reading, but enjoys reading about working with animals and the land.  If you've got a kid like this....this list is for you!

**It should be noted that these farm-themed books are for elementary-aged children.  There is a separate book list for middle & high schoolers here.**

Farm & Homestead Books for Elementary School

Lower Elementary

--> Download & Print the Farm Book List <--

Upper Elementary

Caddie Woodlawn
Diary of an Early American Boy

Arts & Crafts: Seed Art

Using pumpkin seeds, corn, peas, wheat berries, or any other hard seed, create your own nature art!  You'll need seeds, glue, construction paper, paint, and a little creativity.  (Parents should supervise younger children as small seeds can be a choking hazard.)

Build Your Own Homestead Little Learner’s Homestead Science

This elementary curriculum is an interactive homeschool curriculum that will introduce your child to small scale farming. This one of a kind homestead curriculum is designed for pre-school through to 3rd or 4th grade depending on your child and whether this will be used as a full curriculum or supplemental to another curriculum.  

Build Your Own Homestead is designed to give your child a better understanding of where their food comes from. This allows them to take ownership in providing food for the family whether that’s understanding what they are choosing at the grocery store, helping you tend to the garden, or gathering eggs from your chickens.  Homesteading is a science on multiple different levels. Agriculture, animal science, food science, experimentation, and social science are used everyday on the homestead.
*Homestead NOT required*

For more on homesteading, check out the Homesteading Course at SchoolhouseTeachers!

This homeschool homesteading course is designed for anyone who has a desire to live more independently and prepare much of what is needed each day using their own hands. In this elective course, the student can learn how to work for what they want by making it themselves, instead of participating in an “on demand” society. Homeschool students of all ages learn patience, along with the skills needed to make their own cleaners for the home, sunscreen, homemade ketchup and dry mixes, as well as how to choose animals and prepare for emergencies, and much more. Learning the patience and usefulness of “doing it yourself” can be immensely helpful not only in the sense of living a healthier life, but also for the budget!