Year In The Life ( Social Responsibility )

Happy 2015!

Well, it is time for me to put another year to bed. I started these year in the life posts as guidelines (as well as reassurance) to prove to myself that we are indeed homeschooling. I wanted to “see” everything we did.

Sometimes I will find myself in a rut and it feels like we are running around in circles not accomplishing anything. By looking back I always amaze myself at how much we actually do.

Now, I not only enjoy looking back on our year, these posts help me spot our weaknesses as well as strengths and this helps me plan out the next upcoming year.  This year I give the girls all the credit, I am really proud of them.  They worked really hard and boy does it show.

There is only one thing I want to mention before I start. We didn’t just arrive where we are in our homeschooling journey. It has taken lots of stops and restarts on my part. I, me, myself had *a lot* to learn. I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated if you are not where we are. Instead I want these posts to inspire that yes, you too can do it. It can be done. If we can do it, if we can get here, so can you.

Also, though I have separated our lessons into “subjects” to make it easier for me to sort out, our day isn’t divided up that way. I don’t say “time for social studies” or “let’s do some science”. It is more like “Mom, I would like to get the movie Anastasia.” or me discovering my favorite astrophysicist is updating the television show Cosmos and following all the many trails. Everything connects.

So, with that being said I am starting 2014’s year in review with social studies. We had two really huge studies thanks to Sky’s interest in Don Bluth’s animation with the movies Anastasia and An American Tail.

World History: The movie Anastasia took us to Russia and introduced us to the Romanov’s. Watching the movie brought up Anna Anderson and her claims to being the long lost Anastasia. “What really happened to the Romanov family?” which led to us watching the movie Nicholas and Alexandra. However, I believe there is always more than one side to every story so I brought in one of my favorite musicals, Fiddler on the Roof to show another side of the Romanov family. This brought up emigration and led us to watching An American Tail which brought us to New York.

Before we left Russia though we watched a PBS documentary on Catherine the Great and Rudy Maxa’s travels to St. Petersburg. Which brings me to Pinterest and my What About Earth and Her(story) boards. I use these boards to help connect the dots of what we are learning about by pinning pictures or maps related to these topics. The pictures of Russia and its culture helped bring it even more alive.

We touched briefly on World War 1 and watched the movie War Horse.

We brought in the arts by studying the Russian ballet and watching Coppélia, The Nutcracker, The Swan Princess, and Sleeping Beauty. We listened to Tchaikovsky and Peter and the Wolf. I brought in language arts with the Russian fairy tales The Mitten and The Littlest Matryoshka and we watched an animated version of Peter and the Wolf that originally aired on PBS.

We even touched a little on current events with what was, is happening in Russia, Crimea, and the US.

Fiddler on the Roof led us into Passover and Jewish culture by watching the 10 Commandments and Prince of Egypt.


Which led us to watching Globe Trekker Egypt, which led us to Ancient Egypt


and Ancient Civilizations. We learned about the agricultural revolution, Mesopotamia, Babylon, Assyria, Sumer, and the Indus Valley civilizations.

This took us into the Middle East


and watching Globe Trekker about the Arab Gulf States, Israel, Sinai, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordon. We left our studies of ancient civilizations with Ancient Persia and Bible stories with watching the History Channel’s Bible miniseries episodes 1-5 and DreamWorks Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors.

This led us into Christmas School and watching the movie The Nativity and listening to the history of King Herod at Storynory. Which led us to Victorian London where we currently are now.

Little Sis’s interest in the Jenny the Cat series led us to reading Jenny Goes To Sea and learning about South Africa, Zanzibar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and the Panama Canal (thanks to my What About Earth Board).


We also learned about India’s celebration of Diwali.

Favorite resources: I can’t say enough about the Green brothers and their Crash YouTube video series. They are the base of our studies. I also really like The Magic Tree House Research and Fact Tracker guides.

Television shows and movies (other than the ones already mentioned): Downton Abbey season 4, On the Spot, Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego, PBS Hawking, BBC Creation, Persepolis, and the original Boris Karloff’s The Mummy.

American History: Continuing the Russian trail with An American Tail movie and immigration led us to New York, the American Girl, Rebecca series, and the year 1914. It was 2 years after the sinking of the Titanic and 4 years after my great-grandparents immigrated to the United States.

This led us to learning about Ellis Island, Coney Island, and Silent movies. We listened to the songs Animal Fair, Take Me Out To the Ball Game, and The Grand Old Flag. Papa and I are already huge Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy fans so silent movies aren’t anything new to the girls. However, Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, and Pearl White are. We enjoyed watching The Perils of Pauline serial, Arbuckle and Keaton shorts, and Mary Pickford’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This led us to watching the original and new versions of King Kong, the musicals Annie, Newsies, and West Side Story.

It wasn’t all fun though as we learned about the importance of unions, striking, and women’s rights. We watched a PBS documentary about the Triangle Fire and learned about Clara Lemlich. We watched the Dear America episodes of Dreams in the Golden Country and A Journey to A New World which brings us into the holidays, Thanksgiving and Pilgrims, where we left off in American History.

We watched documentaries on the Founding of Jamestown, Roanoke Island, and Episode 1 of the We Shall Remain Series, After the Mayflower.

Civics, economics, what’s left of geography, and history related field trips:


Monopoly isn’t just for math but great for helping explain capitalism, with the exception that not everyone starts life out with the same amount of money.

Sky requested the movie What Would Jesus Buy, we watched the series That 70s Show as a family, and while learning about Tsunamis studied the state of Hawaii with an episode of Discovery Atlas.

We also watched the Presidential State of the Union Address and had midterm elections.

We visited our local living history museum during Civil War days




and the annual Maple Syrup Festival.


Whew, now that I have put last year’s social studies to bed I can start focusing on 2015, but first I think I will make my next post about Language Arts. Our stories played a huge part of our year too.



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