Saturday, May 2, 2009

Night At The Museum History Unit - Easter Island Head

I hadn't really planned to do much on our history unit today, because it's Saturday, but sometimes learning just happens. Today, was one of those days. What started out as a little research time for me, turned into a full blown lesson for the kids.

I was spending a leisurely Saturday morning, cup of coffee in hand, surfing the web. I was really doing more drifting than surfing, as I moved from character to character of the Night At The Museum, trying to decide which one to take on next. I'd settled in to watching a series of video clips on YouTube, about Easter Island, when I realized my son and husband were both watching over my shoulder. Before long, it was family movie time again.

We were happy to learn the origin of the island's current name - it was first discovered by the Europeans on an Easter Sunday. And, we were interested in the various theories as to how and why the heads were made. This is one of those areas where modern science and archeology meet.

But, it was Saturday, and although it wasn't really sunny, it wasn't raining - so why stay in the house? We made a quick trip to the library to pick up some of the books I'm hoping will come in handy for the next weeks projects, and then hit the road. I was hoping to see a moose, though I would have been happy to have seen some big horn sheep. We didn't see either today, but we did end up following a small portion of the Lewis and Clark trail. It always amazes me, that anyone would have looked at the Bitterroot Mountains, and thought it would be a good idea to try to walk across them. That's not forgetting that Sacagawea did it with a toddler in tow - really amazing.

When we got home, I settled into a little more planning for next week. Looking at the calendar, I realized that Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. It won't really tie in to our history unit, but we hate to miss a holiday. Cinco de Mayo is a natural for a pinata, and we had just enough time to get one started.

With six children, we've made quite a few birthday pinatas, but I've never really let the children make one on their own. Today seemed like a good day. And, while we had the paper mache supplies out, I decided to go ahead and have the children start, what I hope will turn into our own little Easter Island type head, as well. If you've never made a pinata before, the steps are easy, but it is messy, and it does take three to four days to complete the project.

We started with balloons - a round one for the pinata, and an oblong one for the Easter Island head. We mixed one part glue to two parts water to make our paper mache material.

Then, we dipped strips of newspaper into the glue, and laid them onto the balloons, smoothing as we went. When the balloons were covered, except for a small part at the top, we set them aside to dry overnight. Finally, we cleaned up the mess.

The children, seeing the kitchen table was clean, decided it would be a good time to pull out the pastels and work on the T-Rex mural. I thought about protesting, but really, they were volunteering to do homework. Once they were off to bed, and I had the kitchen cleaned, again, I realized we'd actually completed another section of our history unit. Not too bad for a lazy Saturday.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

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