Sunday, February 21, 2010

Family History: The Night The Stars Fell

In our Social Studies book Social Studies Made Simple, we are studying "change." In this unit students are to learn how change affects their lives. For this, we were to ask our family and friends to share stories and pictures from events that happened long ago. My father-in-law shared a great story about Gesserine's great, great, great, great grandfather who experienced the "Night the Stars Fell" in 1833. I will first share her article with you here.

The Night The Stars Fell
Nov. 12-13, 1833

William Sevedge and his family were in the process of moving to Hempstead County, Arkansas and were camped on the St. Francis River on the "Night the Stars Fell." The "Great Leonid Meteor Shower" that occurred on November 12-13, 1833 was referred to as the night the stars fell from the sky which is exactly what eye witnesses, such as my great, great, great, great grandfather William Sevedge and his family probably thought was happening. The storm that year was very intense and lead to the first formulation of a theory on the origin of meteors.

"On the night of November 12-13, 1833, a tempest of falling stars broke over the Earth... The sky was scored in every direction with shining tracks and illuminated with majestic fireballs. At Boston, the frequency of meteors was estimated to be about half that of flakes of snow in an average snowstorm. Their numbers....were quite beyond counting; but as it waned, a reckoning was attempted, from which it was computed, on the basis of that much-diminished rate, that 240,000 must have been visible during the nine hours they continued to fall." - Agnes Clerke's, Victorian Astronomy Writer

We had a lot of fun researching this event. I first found some great information and images at We also used a section in our article which came from a Nasa site about this history Leonids. We also looked up some videos taken of more recent Leonid showers to let Gess get a feel for what it might have looked like. We found this one on Youtube which was pretty good. Here is what the Leonid Shower of 2001 looked like.

Next we had Gess take this information and put in into an article format. Our Social Studies book had the template inside. I, of course, did the writing, but she helped to cut and glue it into place. We read it and talked about it as we put this together.

This then, gave Gess a sudden desire to watch Chicken Little. We haven't seen that movie in quite some time, but I think this story reminded her of his cry that the "sky was falling!" That shows me that she really grasped what was going on! In any event, we had fun, not only learning about the Great Leonid Meteor Shower of 1833, but realizing that our family was there to experience it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day

Today we learned about President's Day which is the holiday dedicated to the memory of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who both have birthdays in February. Last year I tried to teach Gess about both Washington and Lincoln as well as the current presidents she was familiar with which are George W. Bush and Barack Obama. However, I could tell that was a bit much for her as she started calling George Washington, Barack Obama. She was just getting them all mixed up. This year I am simply focusing on the presidency in general and will touch on each president as we hit them in our history lessons. So all we did for today was watch a couple of videos and color a picture.

The first video was from the History Channel. They usually have a nice, short video about the history of each holiday and today was no exception. We watched their video The History of the Holidays: President's Day to get a glimpse of how this holiday started and how it ended up being celebrated as we do so today.

Then I found a cute video on Youtube titled From Washington To Obama in less than 4 Minutes. I said the name of each president as they appeared on the screen.

After that I found a simple coloring page online.

This is how we spent some time learning about President's Day. This is, of course, has also been included in our daily February Calendar Activity as well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Family Tree

I am still struggling to find some good ideas for Social Studies so I bought the book Social Studies Made Simple and am giving it a try. It looks like it might be a good guide to make sure we cover some important topics. The first lesson was on the family and it gives you the patterns to make acorns for a family tree so we set out to doing just that. This was fun because it gave us some art work to do as well. First I had Gess paint her tree. Then I had her color the acorns. Once we did that she glued them on.

During the week we talked about family and I explained the relationships from the children to the grandparents. Here is her finished tree.

This next week we are focusing on history and "change." We are having family come up with stories and pictures that show how things have changed over the years. My sister came up with a really cute one about coke bottles. She even had a picture of her and I drinking soda when we were young! Gess will then have to make a newspaper article out of one of the stories. Maybe we will put it up when she is done. I might even make helping me with it on the blog part of the project! Either way, it will at least be fun!


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