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Friday
Aug212015

Georgia History: Creek Nation Field Trips

This August marks the 201st anniversary of the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which forced the Muscogee people, better known to Georgians as the Creek Nation, to surrender all its territory in Georgia. But the Muscogee legacy lives on in these historic sites.

 

photo by Herb Roe/www.chromesun.com | via Creative Commons

CARTERSVILLE :: The Creek weren’t even a nation when Columbus first landed in new World — back then, the Mississippian mound-builders were the dominant native American culture in the Southeast. Ultimately, the mound-builders would join forces with the woodland tribes to form the Muscogee, but you can get a vivid picture of what life was like for the Creek people before they officially became the Creek at the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site, the most intact Mississippian site in the southeast.

 

SAVANNAH :: It’s kind of sad that the only memorial to Mary Musgrove in the city she helped establish is a historic marker about a mile from the site of her long-gone home. Mary, or Coosaponakeesa, as her Creek family called her, was the daughter of an English father and Creek mother, and she used her dual cultures to help James Oglethorpe negotiate with the Creek to establish the city of Savannah. (To learn more about Mary Musgrove, add An Angry Drum Echoed: Mary Musgrove, Queen of the Creeks to your reading list.)

 

MACON :: Fort Hawkins Archaeological Park was the site of a brand-new structure during the Creek Wars of 1813-1814. During the 18th century, the Creek had thrived in Georgia — in fact, it was common for European traders (and runaway slaves) to settle down in Creek towns and marry Creek women. But after the Revolutionary War, Georgia planters began to dream of plantations stretching across the state — which couldn’t happen as long as the Creek were living on such prime real estate. With the deerskin trade waning and the plantation culture growing, violence was inevitable.

 

WHITESBURG :: General William McIntosh, one of the half-Creek, half-Scottish sons of European traders, was popular with Georgia’s post-Colonial government but not so popular with his own people, who felt so tricked and sold out by their then-leader that they murdered him in 1825. The remains of one of McIntosh’s two plantations, Lochau Talofau, can be seen at the McIntosh Reserve in Carroll County. McIntosh’s death signaled an escalation in the still-contentious relationship between the new United States and the Creek nation.

 

ROANOKE :: There’s nothing to see in Roanoke, Ga., anymore: The charred remains of the once bustling river town are now buried beneath the waters of Lake Eufala in Stewart County. Furious at the forced removal of their lands, a group of Creek tribes banded together to attack the town of Roanoke in 1836, one of several prosperous towns that had sprung up on former Creek land along the river. They burned the town to the ground, leaving only six men alive. The Creek made their point, but they would never get their land back.

 

 

This article was originally published in the summer 2014 issue of Atlanta Homeschool magazine. It has been updated and expanded for publication online. Some links in this article are affiliate links — if you purchase something through them, the merchant pays Atlanta Homeschool a small percentage of the sale price. We use these fees to pay for web hosting, photos, and writers.

 

Thursday
Aug132015

How to Build Your Homeschool Community

The kids are all right — but what about you? Building your homeschool community can be a little trickier than finding social opportunities for your kids, but you need a support network, too. We’ve rounded up some of the best ideas for finding and building your homeschool community. Think of it as socialization for homeschool parents.

 

HOMESCHOOL GROUPS
You don’t have to join a homeschool group to build a homeschool community, but it’s a good place to start. Groups can be thematic, like Georgia Charlotte Mason, which provides support for parents using Charlotte Mason methods, or Georgia Unschoolers, who embrace unschooling as their educational philosophy. If you’re committed to a particular style of homeschooling, these groups can be a valuable information resource as well as a place to make friends. 

 

If your homeschool is more eclectic or you’re not sure yet what method is right for your family, you might consider a geographically based homeschool group. When I Googled “our town + homeschool” back when we first started talking about homeschooling our daughter, I was thrilled to find a support group for homeschoolers practically in my back yard. There are local support groups all over Atlanta — Atlanta Secular Homeschool on Facebook, the Atlanta Alternative Education Network in Roswell, PEACH in Gwinnett county... The list goes on and on.

 

Homeschool groups are an ideal introduction to the homeschool community. There’s no guarantee that you’ll meet your best homeschooling friend there (though you certainly might), but you do know that you’ll meet a group of people who are going through the same experiences you are. You’re all homeschoolers, which gives you something in common before you even meet.

 

If you’re not a social butterfly, the idea of walking into a park day or play date where you don’t know anyone can be intimidating. It may comfort you to know that many of your fellow homeschoolers have felt exactly the same way, which often makes them extra welcoming to newcomers. 

 

CLASSES AND CO-OPS
If you’re really introverted or nervous around new people, joining a class or co-op can be one of the best ways to grow your homeschool community. And if you’re really shy, volunteering — to help with registration, organize clean-up after classes, or put together a family directory — gives you a reason to get to know people who you might feel uncomfortable talking to otherwise.

 

Classes can obviously be a good option if there’s a subject you don’t want to teach yourself, but don’t write classes off just because you’re comfortable covering the basics yourself. Co-ops like LEAD (in Decatur), the Atlanta Homeschool Co-Op (intown), and HEGA (in Tucker) also have lots of elective classes, from fashion design and robotics to musical theater and fencing, that can add a little fun to your homeschool. And perhaps even more importantly, classes give you a regularly scheduled opportunity to interact with other homeschooling families. If it takes time for you to work up the nerve to chat comfortably with a homeschooling mom, an occasional park day may not be long enough. But seeing the same person week after week at co-op makes it easier to break the ice. If you’re a people person, knowing that you have a regular socializing hour while your child is in class can help smooth out some of the bumps in a rough week.

 

Atlanta can be a tough city for homeschoolers, not because there aren’t enough options — there are tons! — but because everything is so spread out. Sometimes you can feel like you spend a huge chunk of your life in the car. Classes and co-ops may be far-flung sometimes, but since they are recurring events, people tend to show up even when they’re not in the mood to drive. That makes them a great place to connect with your fellow homeschoolers. (And at least you can rely on the less-than-stellar traffic as a conversation starter once you get there.) 

 

ACTIVITIES
When we started homeschooling, I lucked into a great group of fellow homeschool moms because we all wanted our daughters to be in Girl Scouts. None of us would have ended up at the same park days since we live in different parts of town. We had all kind of different ideas about how home education should look for our particular families, so it’s unlikely that we’d ever have met at a co-op or support group. Some of us have wildly differing beliefs about everything from breastfeeding to eating meat to memorizing multiplication tables. But these diverse women became the moms I called first when I had a question about homeschooling — in part because their different perspectives really helped me sort out my own feelings.

 

Like co-ops and classes, activities give you a standing date with other families. Unlike classes and co-ops, you don’t necessarily have to share an educational philosophy to sign up for same scout troop, dance class, or martial arts gym. Sometimes that might mean sitting through an activity smiling and nodding, silently vowing to bring a book the next time, but often, it means meeting really interesting people who wouldn’t cross your path otherwise.

 

Your child’s interests are the obvious guide to choosing activities. If you want to be sure you’ll run into some fellow homeschoolers, look for activities that meet during the day — a judo class that starts at 1:30 p.m. on a weekday is likely to appeal to homeschoolers, while an art class that doesn’t start until 4 p.m. may attract students in traditional schools as well as homeschoolers. Don’t be surprised if your child’s interests — and along with them, his activities — change from year to year as he discovers his passions. If you’ve made a friend who’s more than a warm acquaintance, you can make plans to get together away from the activity or to keep in touch over email. If you haven’t made a good friend at your child’s activity, perhaps his new passion will be the one that introduces you to your next real homeschooling friend.

 

SELF-CREATED
If you want a homeschool group but you can’t find one to suit you, consider starting your own group. That’s what Laura Northrop did in 2004 when she first started homeschooling and couldn’t find a homeschool group in her area. She spent a lot of time in the car connecting with other groups, which she says is a worthwhile hassle for new-to-homeschooling families since it opens your eyes to how big the homeschool community really is. But ultimately, she wanted a group that was geographically convenient, too, so she made the leap and started one. Now Northrop’s group has more than 250 members. Starting your own homeschool group may seem extreme or intimidating, but it can be a surprisingly easy and effective way to grow your homeschool community.

 

“It’s as easy as easy as starting a Yahoo! group or a Meet-Up group,” says Northrop. “Believe me, people will find you.” 

 

ONLINE
When it comes to your homeschool community, don’t limit yourself to people you can see face-to-face every week. The internet is a treasure trove of resources, with forums to talk about everything from the merits of NOEO chemistry to the potential pitfalls of Story of the World, blogs full of ideas for unit studies and crafty projects, and lots of specific information on topics from homeschooling your gifted child to sorting out occupational therapy or austism resources while you’re homeschooling.

 

Creating your own blog can also be a way to extend your homeschool community. Shelli Pabis, who started blogging before she started homeschooling, was pleased to feel that she had found an online community when she started to talk about homeschooling on her blog. Though she tends to be an introverted person, she wanted to connect with other moms going through similar experiences. “The blog helped a lot,” Pabis says.

 

When you’re a homeschooler, building a community sometimes means going the extra mile — literally. Community is easiest when geography and mutual interests bring people together on a regular basis, but homeschoolers are not exactly famous for taking the easy route. We’re willing to mix and match, to try something different, to experiment, to do something we’ve never done before when it comes to educating our kids, and we’d be smart to apply that same broad-minded willingness to developing our homeschool networks. Finding your niche is as important to your homeschool’s success as finding your child’s academic interests, and it deserves the same effort and creativity.

 

 

This excerpt was originally published in Atlanta Homeschool's fall 2012 issue. It was updated and edited in 2015.
Thursday
Aug062015

Field Trip: Foxfire Museum

photo courtesy of the Foxfire Museum
Explore Georgia's living history

 

It’s the kind of story that makes a homeschooler’s heart sing: Back in the 1960s, an idealistic young English teacher wanted to get his students excited about learning so he took the novel approach of asking them what they wanted to do. Their answer: Creating a magazine to preserve the history of the Appalachian South where they’d grown up.

 

That high school project ultimately morphed into the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center in the North Georgia mountains, where more than twenty different log cabin structures (including a blacksmith shop, church, and grist mill) recreate what life was like for Georgia’s mountain villages around the turn-of-the- century. For the last thirty-eight years, the Foxfire students (and their teachers) have worked to create this 110-acre trip back in time. Mountain life in the nineteenth and twentieth century meant hard work in the fields and in the kitchen, but the Foxfire Museum captures the joy and beauty of that life, too.

 

Open: Monday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; admission: $6 for everyone age 11 and older, $3 for ages 7 to 10; free for ages 6 and younger; reservations required for guided tours.

 

5 things you shouldn't miss:
1:: The Zuraw Wagon was used on the Trail of Tears.
2:: Test your balance on stilts, a traditional Appalachian amusement.
3:: Work by the Village Weaver (artist-in-residence Sharon Grist) is on display at the Tiger House.
4:: More than 150 different plants and flowers grow along the Nature Path.
5:: Homemade toys in the Moore House show how mountain children entertained themselves.

 

Insider tip: Schedule a tour rather than just strolling the grounds alone. On a tour, you’ll get to go inside many of the cabins, but you can only peek through the windows on the self-guided tour.

 

Required reading: The Foxfire Book, a collection of articles, recipes, and living history from the magazine that started it all.

 

Fun Fact: The sled on the front porch of one of the cabins was for working steep fields (where a wagon might not be able to safely go), not for snowy days.

 

This article was originally printed in the fall 2012 issue of Atlanta Homeschool magazine and was updated in August 2015.

Thursday
Jul302015

August Best Bets

Our picks for the best out-of-the-house homeschool fun this month  BY ERIN FLY


THEATER
Learn what happens when a dragon moves into the neighborhood, frightening the neighbors, in this elementary school puppet show.


ART
Curious about coding? Kids between ages and 15 can learn how to write simple drag-and-drop codes to produce their own games, animations, and songs at this hands-on workshop.


FILM
Sing along to "Do-Re-Mi," "Climb Every Mountain," "My Favorite Things," and all your favorite songs from The Sound of Music at this special movie screening. 

HISTORY
Learn more about the ways people fought back against the Nazi initiatives at the Museum of History and Holocaust Education’s first homeschool day of the academic year, focused on Resistance in the Holocaust.

FUN
Homeschoolers can get discounted tickets ($10 for outer box seats and $18 for pavillion seats), plus free admission to the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. There is also a pre-game parade along Turner field. Arrive at the Hank Aaron Ramp across from aisle 125/129 by 5:30 P.M. to participate in a pre-game parade.

NATURE
Paddle along the lake at twilight and look for water birds with a park ranger-guide during this activity, designed for . This event is for adults and children ages six and and older who know how to swim. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Meet the ranger at the bait shop. 

NATURE
The Chattahoochee Nature Center hosts homeschoolers on the second Monday of each month, with science and nature programs designed especially for homeschoolers. See what you can expect in 2015-16 at this open house.

HISTORY 
Check out the museum and grounds at the History Center, plus get a sneak peek at what's coming up at their monthly homeschool days during the 2015-16 school year. 

THEATER
Learn about Aesops's most famous fables with puppets — including classics such as "The Lion and the Mouse," "The Fox and the Mouse," and "The Tortoise and the Hare." 

FUN
Take a fishing trip to Buck Shoals, and fish for catfish, bream, and bass. Take your catch home for dinner. Participants should bring their own bait and rod. Buck Shoals (an unopened state park) is located near Smithgall Woods in Helen; call for directions.

FUN
Experience live animal encounters, crafts, games, and butterflies at this event. The highlight is two tents filled with hundreds of live butterflies.

ART
View over 200 pieces of art, photography, crafts, and sculptures at the Piedmont Park Arts Festival. This festival also includes food trucks and live music. 

ART
Homeschoolers get free admission to check out Seriously Silly: The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems and the High's other exhibitions and to learn more about the museum's monthly homeschool days. (Bring a copy of your declaration of intent with you to take advantage of the free admission.) 

FUN
Hike with your dog and a park ranger on this moderate, one-mile hike. This hike will also give a view of the historic Civil War-era New Manchester mill ruins. Best for ages 6 and older. Close-toe shoes only. 

SCIENCE
Celebrate the 14th anniversary of Giants of the Mesozoic by partying like a dinosaur. Enjoy dinosaur-themed activities with crafts, hands on projects, and games. Kids can come dressed as a dinosaur. 

Stap on a headlamp to run a nighttime marathon with an otherworldly theme at Riverside Park. This race is 3.5 hours long. Finishers of this race will receive an alien headband medal. Aid and water stations avaliable every mile. No jog strollers are allowed. 

SCIENCE
The Georgia State University Observatory's monthly open house includes tours and a slide show. View the night sky through an observatory telescope starting at one hour after sunset, weather permitting. 

CULTURE
Enjoy family friendly activities, arts and crafts, and live music at the largest multicultural event in the southeast. 

FUN
During this park ranger-led experience homeschoolers will be allowed to participate in physical fitness and natural science activities. Come prepared to be active outdoors.

NATURE
Learn about local birds and their habitats and about the Aubudon Society, which promotes bird conservation, during this guided nature walk. Meet up at the Park office/trading post. Feel free to bring your own bird seed to donate to the park's bird feeder. 

SCIENCE
Homeschool parents get free admission (with a copy of your declation of intent) to check out the Zoo's educational offerings, and if you stop by the educator lounge in the Ford Tent between 10 A.M. to 3 P.M., receive a coupon for 10 percent off at the zoo's gift shops and resteraunts. There will also be education vendors. Registration required. 

ART
There are family friendly free activities, including art and theater workshops, performances, games, and more every Sunday at the Woodruffs Arts Center. 

FILM
Get your silent movie fix with this 1927 classic about two men who become World War I fighter pilots. Definitely show up early for the organ sing-along before the film begins.

 

Wednesday
Jul222015

The Best Homeschool Classes for Fall 2015

Every fall, we round up some of the coolest-sounding secular homeschool classes around the Atlanta metro area. There’s some really fun stuff this year (including the Special Topics in Literature: Buffy the Vampire Slayer seminar that I’ll be teaching in Dunwoody this fall), but these classes definitely caught our eye.

 

Level: Elementary
In a town that’s home to the Center for Puppetry Arts, there’s really no excuse not to get your puppet on. In this hands-on class, kids will learn to design and make puppets and get practice in putting on their own puppet shows.

 

Level: Elementary-High School
What cooler way to study animals and science than with real animals and scientists? Age-appropriate classes start kids out with simple topics like animal coloration and advance to high school-level investigations into conservation and veterinary medicine.

 

Where: LEAD
Level: High School
Put those critical thinking and analysis skills to work in this class, which focuses on creating, critiquing, and defending arguments. (I get lots of email from people looking for a high school debate class — here you go!)

 

Where: Marcus JCC
Level: Middle School
Think of it as super-charged P.E.: Kids will get to try everything from boating and fishing to climbing walls and archery in this energy-burning class.

 

Level: High School
Anybody can learn science facts, but this class teaches you how to evaluate, analyze, and make sense of the facts you learn.

 

Where: LEAD
Level: High School
What makes a game addictive? And what goes into conceptualizing a good game? This class helps you learn about game theory, playability, design, and other elements through hands-on projects and prototype construction.

 

Level: Middle-High School
Kids can test their theories in this hands-on lab with scientific equipment and expert guidance in the scientific method and project design.

 

Where: LEAD
Level: Middle-High School
Is it obnoxious to include my own class here? But I am super excited about this class, in which students will be creating and publishing a regular magazine of their own, doing everything from writing and conducting interviews, to copyediting and managing production schedules.