Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Way Back When: Charles Darwin, The Beagle & The Theory of Evolution

I wasn't sure if I should tackle this famous man just yet. However it just seemed to happen and felt very logical. As per the first part of the unit there were no real expectations (and in fact I think I will continue with those thoughts for our entire history cycle) just a bunch of books on the topic, a few internet searches and wait and see where it takes us.

I was very pleasantly surprised! Allowing myself the freedom to just choose a topic and too ditch any lesson plans or curriculum is freeing in more ways than one. Ok so maybe we don't end up covering something important, so what? What is the big deal? The kids are most certainly getting far more history than they ever would at any school anyway and they are still young enough that we will definitely revisit the topics at least once and in many cases twice before their 'school' years are over. So for now, whilst it seems to be working we will stick with it.

I had no idea what to expect when I ordered Who Was Charles Darwin from The Book Depository. It is a small book both in size and in length. I was drawn to it because there is a whole series of biographical books about famous people.

This narrative (written for children) covers Charles' life and the most important components of it. There is some kind of illustration on each page (black line sketches) that are all very pertinent to the reading. Whilst this wasn't an overly exciting read it certainly allowed us to get to know Charles alot better.

Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure is a fabulous book and one that you could look at again and again, each time finding something new within its cover. Lots of lift the flaps and pull out bits and bobs, showing many of the amazing things he experienced whilst on the Beagle.

It includes extracts from his diary records, maps and copies of many hand drawn images. This is a definite must to have on hand when learning about Mr Darwin.

This was another book that I had no idea what to expect, Animals Charles Darwin Saw is a bright lively account of his time on the Beagle. In essence it is really another biography as it covers most of what was covered in Who Was Charles Darwin, however this book takes a much closer look at the animals and the Beagle experience. So whilst we felt it doubled up a little it was worth adding to the study.

Once we had begun reading I thought that we should at least try and jot down some notes, however with a reluctant writer and a beginning writer any of the regular notebooking  pages I found just seemed to overwhelming. I didn't want them to feel that they had to fill the entire page with the written word.

So I set about to whip up a Famous Person Notebooking Page myself. This page covers  most of the important information without all of the writing. If there ever is a time that they feel the need to write more they can do so in the bottom text box area, entitled 'Other Biographical Points Of Interest'. This made the notebooking experience doable. As we read we always had the sheet there in front of us and added to it when we found out bits of information. We will definitely continue to use these with future studies.

B completed a copywork page about the Beagle, taken from the Who Was Charles Darwin book. The sketch he drew of the HMS Beagle is also featured within the same book.

He mapped the journey of the Beagle using this map I found here, we used our books (as they all contained maps) and this site to fill in the labels of the Beagle's journey.  We travelled the journey with the Beagle over at the Natural History Museum's site.

At that I was more than happy with what we had covered, the concepts that were discussed, natural selection (survival of the fittest) evolution and how that would affect the world (and how it still does today) and felt that we had come to a nice end with this general pre history topic.

Later I found B working on this. Completely of his own accord he began with the Galapos Islands and decided to add in the tortise. It's pretty darn impressive if I do say so myself (not that I'm a boasting mum or anything hehehe just very proud).

As always I was just happy if K sits in on the readings and the discussions (afterall she is technically only in preschool/prep if she were attending school here), she decided that she wanted to complete a page to remember the study by also.  'Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle'

Whilst out shopping recently I spotted this documentary, knowing how this subject had grabbed B's attention I thought for sure he would enjoy it and I was right. This is a double dvd documentary of nearly 3 hours in total viewing time. We planned to watch it over 2 consecutives days. Which we did, however the kids enjoyed it so much that they chose to watch each DVD twice in a row on the same day!

The footage on this is truly amazing and what an awe inspiring place this little set of islands are. We were enthralled every single minute of this documentary. It was great to see some the animals we had just read about and to wonder (and most cases try and figure out) exactly how big some of them are as the narrator gave details of the animals size. The tortise for example is roughly 1 tonne, that's one huge tortise to say the least.

It covers land and sea animals with both the same amount of depth and looks closely at how the Galapagos have evolved and changed over time and how they are continuing to do so. I am so glad I found this.

As always when we read or watch a documentary I lay out drawing tools, but there is never any expectation, although I have come to learn that generally something is produced and some times their hearts are more into it than others and that that is completely ok.

K produced this amazing piece of work and from where I was sitting I couldn't even tell what she was actually doing until she brought it up to show me. This is probably the most detailed drawing she has ever completed. I can't believe how quickly she is maturing and growing up. This inlcudes, Green Sea Turtles, Fur Seals, Blue Footed Boobies, a Flamingo and a couple of land Iguana's.

B also decided to do a montage of sorts that included various Galapagos animals set over a map, showing the islands in relation to South America and Australia. He is now progressing to Artist quality sketch pencils also with his work which he is loving.

I have one more short post to do on the last couple of books we are currently reading for our pre history unit and then we are done. ( we chose not to bother with dinosaurs as we completed a stand alone dinosaur unit about 18 months ago) This was a little over the place as we simply followed our interests, but the kids have learnt so much from this unit, by working this way. I am really looking forward to moving along with history. 

Here are a few links I found in my travels. We didn't use all of them as some are more suited to slightly older children but you may get some use out of them.

    I have started keeping my books found (but not always used) in themed lists, which should hopefully make things much easier later on when we come back to revisit topics. I'm not really sure they are of any use to anyone but I figured I was putting them together anyway so some one may find them useful. 

    The Pre-History Book list is 2 pages and no way an exhaustive list, however you can download it by clicking here.

      Please link up below your Secular Pre-History, Early Man and Evolutionary themed posts.

      Do you teach Secular History in your Homeschool?

      Please link up your Secular History Blog Posts here.We can begin to collectively share resources, activities and all of the fun we have studying history, with other secular homeschool bloggers.

      This is a blog hop, so whilst it isn't compulsory feel free to grab the hop code (just below all of the links that have been added above) and place it into your Secular History Blog Post. By doing this all links added (including future links) will show in your post as well as here.

      You just need to be sure you are linking up to the appropriately themed link list (this one is Pre-History, Early Man and Evolutionary themed posts)

      Have questions? Please don't hesitate to ask.

      Why not also grab our button code below and spread the word to other secular homeschool bloggers about this History Link Up. Simply copy the code and place it in the HTML of your blog post or your blog sidebar.

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      The Adventurer said...

      We did Charles Darwin last year We oved the book
      "One beetle too many" which I saw on your list. Living in the UK we were fortunate to visit his home outside of London and it was fantastic. This is how I do most of my history studies with my children.

      Joyful Learner said...

      You are amazing and so thorough! I totally agree about not following a curriculum for certain things. Public schools cover so very little history and even when they do, it's only surface knowledge. What you have done goes a lot deeper and will stay with your children for years to come. Thanks for including the downloads. And B's illustrations are AMAZING too! Very talented, indeed.

      Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

      B is such an incredible artist, and now K seems to be catching up with him. I am amazed with his level of detail. I bookmarked this post for the future study of evolution when Anna is older.

      Anonymous said...

      What a great unit! The kids' artwork is really great. It's amazing what kids will do when they are interested and engaged. Your pre-history unit looks well planned. Do you plan to move forward in time after this? We've slowly, slowly been doing history units and moving forward in time, but it seems we only cover one big unit every semester or so since we so often "stop" to do other units that *really* interests/intrigues the kids at the moment. (Child-led, child-picked learning!)

      I love the non-pressured approach you seem to have with your kids and can definitely relate to that!

      Kez said...

      They look amazing books. I wonder if our libraries have them?

      B is such an incredible artist!

      Dottie said...

      I love the look of your Darwin study. I'll definitely come back and "borrow" a few ideas when we start evolution.

      I love the idea of this link-up. Great way to combine some hard to find resources.

      Sara said...

      Thanks for this post. I'm not Christian and I do believe in God but also evolution to an extent, and this helps me with writing up a bit of my own curriculum for my children.

      e-Expeditions said...

      I've been avidly clicking back and forth through your archives, enjoying it immensely. :D I love all the neat activities you put together, particularly the famous person notebooking page--I wish I had a few of those when I was studying history! You've got a couple talented artists on your hands, too--those Galapagos turtles look awesome! :)

      Oh, and thanks for those links! They'll come in very handy. :)

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