Texas Adventure Week One: Texas in Ancient Times (In Our Classroom)

I haven’t posted a weekly update on what’s happening in our homeschool in the last several weeks, partly because it’s been pretty routine and partly because we’ve been busy!

This week though, I want to start something new. One of the requirements for home education in Texas is instruction in good citizenship. Teaching our state history is a good way to fulfill that requirement. Schools in Texas teach state history in 4th and 7th grades. Over the years I’ve searched high and low for a Texas history curriculum that suits us but I’ve never found just what I was looking for.

So…I decided to make up my own! We prefer to use a literature-based approach (our core curriculum is Sonlight), so that’s the approach I went with. For the past year or so I’ve been collecting various books on Texas history, organizing them by time period, and making notes for activities and field trips to go along with them. Texas is a huge state, but we are blessed to be fairly centrally located….many of the major historical sites are within a day’s drive of us. Eventually, I’ll have it all organized in a “Sonlight-style” schedule that I can use again with my younger ones.

Since I’m not doing a “core” with Karate Kid this year-we’ve been sticking mostly to the basics-and he’s in 4th grade, when state history is taught in the public schools, I decided this would be the perfect time to introduce our Texas history material! While it’ll mostly be geared to him (the Dancer has taken a Texas history co-op class in the past), everyone will participate to some extent. My plan is to have him keep a notebook, and also to keep a weekly record here, both for my benefit and yours!

So without further ado, here’s a brief recap of our first week…

Texas Adventure Week One: Texas in Ancient Times

Texas map
US map
Learn about . . . Texas Indians (Learn about Texas)
Texas (Eyewitness Books)
Story of Texas (Four Volumes in One)
Story of Texas: A History Picture Book
An Educational Read & Color Book of Texas
(the last two were purchased at the Alamo, if I’m not mistaken)

This week we focused on the Native Americans who lived here long before the first Europeans arrived. We read about how people first arrived in the Americas via the Bering land bridge and eventually made their way down to Texas, following mammoths and other large animals that they hunted.  Isn’t it amazing that there were once giant mammoths, sabre tooth cats, and other huge mammals right here in Texas that these people tracked and hunted?! We learned which tribes inhabited which areas, and that some of the earliest were the Caddos and Karankawa, right in our neck of the woods! Each day we focused on a different area and group, reading how they lived, what they ate, and marking them on our Texas map, along with a smaller map for Karate Kid to put in his notebook.

We learned about the origin of our state name, which comes from the Caddo word “texia”, meaning friendship, which the Spanish pronounced “Tejas”. We also briefly read about our state seal, flower (bluebonnet), bird (mockingbird), tree (pecan), motto (friendship), and song (Texas Our Texas), and discussed the six flags that have flown over Texas (Spanish, French, Mexican, Republic of Texas, United States, and Confederate), all of which we’ll be revisiting in coming weeks.

We wrapped up our brief introductory week by comparing several arrowheads and spear points that we and family/friends have found in the area to some of those shown in our book. There’s definitely some similarity! Karate Kid had great fun speculating who might have owned ours and what they could’ve been used for!

On the Texas Trail of Cabeza De VacaNext week we’ll learn about Cabeza de Vaca, the first European to set foot on Texas soil. Long before the Mayflower sailed or the colonists arrived at Jamestown, de Vaca and his men were hiking along the banks of the Guadalupe, eating pecans, right here in the very area where we live!

In other subjects:

The Great and Terrible QuestOur schoolwork in other areas is going well! We’re right on track in all our subjects! Peanut is loving preschool and Monkey Boy continues to add words to his vocabulary and speak clearer every day. Karate Kid learned about adverbs, adjectives, and negatives in grammar and All About Spelling continues to go fantastic! We’re about to finish Level One and I’ve seen a great improvement in his spelling already! The Dancer performed in her ballet company and the local symphony’s production of Peter and the Wolf this week, playing Peter. She’s continuing through world history, reading about the Middle Ages. I just finished pre reading her next reader, The Great and Terrible Quest, and really enjoyed it! What a wonderful little book!

What’s been going on in your classroom?

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  1. Having grown up being home schooled in Texas – this post sure brought back a whole lot of memories!

  2. This brings back memories of my own school days and learning Texas history.What's really funny is that I mentioned that I took history classes for Texas where I live now (Ohio) and I got a lot of stunned amazement. Apparently, they've never heard of a history class devoted strictly to just a state.I told 'em…Texas has so much history that it needed its own history class. LOL

  3. Way to go for making up your own state curriculum!

  4. I love your approach to studying your state. Both my older kids did the state study in a co-op class, but I think I'd like to do my youngest as you've done.

  5. God bless Texas! I love me some bluebonnets, for sure!!!

  6. This is great! I asked my 8yr old about TX and he reminds everyone very sadly, "Davy Crockett died there".What a fun unit study!Thanks for linking up Texas to The HSV!Stef

  7. What a great self-made Texas history curriculum!! Thanks for sharing…my boys especially loved the bit about the arrowheads. They look for those everywhere we go, lol!

  8. I'm not from Texas, but find its history fasinacting. Thanks for sharing some of your resoureces. We just recently finished reading The Great and Terrible Quest–it was a hit both times we read it.

  9. I love Texas History! It is a passion of mine!I wanted to say that teaching Texas history is not a requirement in Texasonly reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship is requiredI would study Texas history ANY way because I love it, but just wanted to point out that it is not a requirement so someone else doesnt feel they are doing something wrong by not teaching it.out of curiousity where did you get the information that it was a requirement… also make SURE to read about Gail Borden! AN AMAZING MAN, right up there with Ben Franklin (almost) Also Moses Austin (father to Stephen F. Austin) was run out of town because he fixed the roof of an imporant house and it leaked— that house was Monticello! FUN FACT. He then went to MO and from there ended up in Texas!

  10. Hi Carrie…thanks for pointing that out. I went back and clarified. I didn't mean to word it that way. Texas history is a required subject in the public schools in 4th & 7th grade, and most home educators teach it for that reason & to help fulfill the good citizenship requirement. Besides that, we've got such great state history most want to teach it anyway, LOL!From THSC:"Good citizenship" is usually taken to mean civics. Public schools teach one semester of civics, usually in the senior year of high school. Teaching U.S. and Texas history, government (theoretical and practical), the Pledge of Allegiance, and similar activities will also help meet this requirement.Thanks for the info…I'll definitely look at adding more on Gail Borden, and I didn't know that about Moses Austin!

  11. Bless you! I will definitely be following this study with interest. We have yet to do a study of Texas (shocking, I know!), although I've amassed some materials, including a narrative history of TX, which I think will work well in a SL-style unit. Your example may just be the kick-in-the-pants I needed.

  12. Awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to read more. 🙂

  13. Amanda Wells says:

    Hello! I am trying to plan a Texas state study and we also are a Sonlight family, and your mention of getting your plans together Sonlight-style made me drool a little, lol! I just wanted to check in and see if you ever did that, and if you’d consider sharing or selling your schedule? My email is hisredeemed81@gmail.com and I’d be glad to hear from you either way! Thanks for the work you have shared here, at any rate.

    • Hi Amanda!

      I’ve put together a rough schedule, but I’ve never completed it to the point that I could share it. Getting it into a nice format that I could share with other homeschool families is on my to do list! I’ll keep you updated.

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