This quarter, in Religion, we're learning Memory verses mostly about the school theme and the Ten Commandments, about which the pastors will be teaching. We're doing a unit called PLACE, which is an acronym for learning about the personality and abilities with which God has blessed you, the Spiritual Gifts you have from the Holy Spirit, and ideas on how to use them to serve the Lord in the present by aligning them with your passions and reflecting on past experiences. From there, we'll come up with individual mission statements for the school year.
In Language Arts, we're reading a mystery novel, the Westing Game. The book is initially challenging, as it has quite a cast of characters, but the students are already intrigued by the double-life some characters are leading, the not-quite-empty "deserted" mansion, etc. I have a soft spot for the book myself due to its setting in fictitious "Westingtown," which is based on Milwaukee's North Shore area. I'll be sharing pictures of the Milwaukee lake front with the class, and the movie for the book, called "Get a Clue" (a Hallmark movie from a few years back), was filmed there as well, so we'll have a good investigation of how a director establishes setting.
In Social Studies, we did a stations activity with maps, brochures, books, and primary sources (such as journals) to refresh our minds about the realities of pioneering on the Western frontier. We're especially focusing on the impact of the railroads and how the move toward industrialization impacted the West, such as the Long Drive. Many of the students are enjoying our discussion of our culture's romantic view of a cowboy's life, as contrasted with the much grimmer reality. My own parents are particularly fond of this period in our nation's history. My dad grew up watching Roy Rogers, and still reads Louis L'amour novels. Some of the first books my mother read to me as a small child were the Little House books, and our family made pilgrimages to the Banks of Plum Creek, Minnesota, and DeSmet, South Dakota, where Laura Ingalls had grown up. I hope you and your family will enjoy talking about what your child is learning during this unit on Opening the West.