The Way of an Eagle – History of Flight I

This week we’re bringing you FOUR great audio programs… all dealing with man’s fascination with flight, and earliest attempts to fly. These are some great stories, told in delightful 15 minute episodes the whole family can enjoy. As an extra bonus, with each episode we’re also giving you our exclusive PDF “Listening and Discussion Guide” to make them even more useful in your homeschooling!


First up, we go on a whirlwind exploration through time to listen in on a bit of the history of man’s quest to fly like the birds. Along the way, we encounter ancient myths and legends… oddball experiments with egg shells and morning dew… “negative magnetism”… homebuilt wings… and other crazy ideas before eventually scientists eventually began sharing information and make some true scientific progress toward solving the puzzle of flight.

To download the MP3 audio program, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save” the file to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key and click the link, then save to your mac.

To download the PDF Listening Guide for this program, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save” the file to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key and click the link, then save to your mac.

Snow Story #2: The Blizzard of 1888

TotallyFreeImages_com-281074-Standard-previewSo there was a lot of snow this past weekend —  just about the worst snowstorm ever, right? A product of climate change, right? Well… not necessarily.

People are always concerned with what affects us right now, and don’t always have a sense of what happened before our own time. Just to put things in perspective — there has ALWAYS been – and always will be – really big snow storms in the winter time. And to prove it, here’s a wonderful 15 minute audio story of the infamous Blizzard of 1888 that hit New York out of seemingly nowhere, and completely buried the northeast under several feet of snow in 36 hours. (I wonder what the folks that went through that storm would say if they could compare our recent storm to theirs.) It’s a terrific living history story! Check out our “Listening Guide” that goes along with it too.

To download “The Blizzard of 1888” Audio Story, RIGHT click here and “save as” to your computer.

To download “The Blizzard of 1888” PDF Listening Guide, RIGHT click here and “save as” to your computer.

Snow Story #1: The Long Winter


wilder“The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (MP3 audio dramatization)

Since we’ve had our own winter problems this week, it brought to mind this fine audio dramatization of some REAL winter hardship – one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s best “Little House” books, “The Long Winter”. Think we had it bad? Ha! Read on:

“The Long Winter” is based on the real-life experiences of Laura and her family during the blizzards of 1880-1881. Here’s what Wikipedia says of that time:

The snow arrived in October 1880 and blizzard followed blizzard throughout the winter and into March 1881, leaving many areas snowbound throughout the entire winter. Accurate details in Wilder’s novel include the blizzards’ frequency and the deep cold, the Chicago and North Western Railway stopping trains until the spring thaw because the snow made the tracks impassable, the near-starvation of the townspeople, and the courage of her future husband Almanzo and another man, who ventured out on the open prairie in search of a cache of wheat that no one was even sure existed.

The October blizzard brought snowfalls so deep that two-story homes had snow up to the second floor windows. No one was prepared for the deep snow so early in the season and farmers all over the region were caught before their crops had even been harvested, their grain milled, or with their fuel supplies for the winter in place. By January the train service was almost entirely suspended from the region. Railroads hired scores of men to dig out the tracks but it was a wasted effort: As soon as they had finished shoveling a stretch of line, a new storm arrived, filling up the line and leaving their work useless.

There were no winter thaws and on February 2, 1881, a second massive blizzard struck that lasted for nine days. In the towns the streets were filled with solid drifts to the tops of the buildings and tunneling was needed to secure passage about town. Homes and barns were completely covered, compelling farmers to tunnel to reach and feed their stock.

When the snow finally melted in late spring of 1881, huge sections of the plains were flooded. Massive ice jams clogged the Missouri River and when they broke the downstream areas were ravaged. Most of the town of Yankton, in what is now South Dakota, was washed away when the river overflowed its banks.

This Ingalls family is different than the one you saw on TV, but it is a very faithful adaptation of the book, and is quite entertaining. It is the ONLY “old time radio” adaptation of any of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, and if you love those stories, you’ll treasure this half hour audio dramatization. We’ve also included a PDF “Listening Guide” to accompany this program.

To download this MP3 audio program, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save” to your pc. Mac users, press the “control” key then click the link and save to your mac.

To download the PDF Listening Guide for this program, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save” to your pc. Mac users, press the “control” key then click the link and save to your mac.


It snowed.

Dear Friends,

Our little part of the world got a healthy dose of Snowmageddon on Friday (15″+ of snow and ice), and power has been hit and miss.  (Don’t worry about us — we’re well prepared and are warm and cozy here. Maybe a touch of cabin fever since our one lane country road won’t get plowed for a few days, but all is okay.)

We may not be able to answer emails or update the site until we dig out and power/internet are a bit more reliable. We have  freebie resources that  should still post each day this week, but if there’s a problem or glitch somewhere along the line – hey, you’re on your own. We’ll be back soon as we can.

Thanks for your support and understanding. You’re a pal!

The Erskine Family


Beginning Handwriting

Screen shot 2016-01-15 at 2.12.57 PMBEGINNING HANDWRITING (PDF ebook)

Here’s a very good how-to guide on introducing and teaching handwriting to early elementary age students, published by the Tasmania Department of Education. Lots and lots of great tips, developmental stages to test for, exercises, teaching basics and helpful info included in this excellent, heavily illustrated little guide.

To download this PDF ebook, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save link” to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key then click the link and save to your mac.

Stargazers & Starships – Huge Astronomy Curriculum

Stargazers & Starships & Beyond

A wonderful complete online curriculum by Dr. David P. Stern for middle school through high school age students, exploring elementary astronomy, Newtonian mechanics, the Sun and related physics and spaceflight. Also included are a Spanish translation, 46 lesson plans, a short but complete math course (algebra + trig + logarithms), teachers’ guides, glossary, timelines, 419 answered questions by users (current tally), over 100 problems to solve, and more. Great resource site!

Click here to go to part one of THE SKY ABOVE US curriculum.

Click here to go to the “From Stargazers to Starships” Main page with links to many more lessons, study helps & resources!

Plants & Textiles “Make It Yourself” Lessons

plantsandtextilesWhat do mats, rope, indigo, paper, and nets all have in common?
All are related to textiles and all are made from plants, of course!

This set of projects from Cornell University focuses on past and present technologies that convert plant materials into fibrous products. If you are wearing blue jeans, you likely are wearing indigo – a time-honored plant dye. You can still purchase handmade paper, even though most of today’s paper comes from large mills. Rope, nets, and mats, once made by hand from plants, are now manufactured in factories using a variety of raw materials.

Students will learn mat weaving, rope making, paper making, indigo dyeing and net knotting. Each activity consists of four main components:
  Tools – make a tool;   Technology – use the tool in a traditional activity.; Research – use the Internet to learn about comparable technologies and products in today’s market, and to further explore plant fibers and textiles.;  Connections – involve others from your community.

PDF lessons, Educator resources and videos are included. Projects range from simple to quite complex. This is a great hands-on series of lessons for grades 5-12!

CLICK HERE to go to the unit study page!

Charlotte Mason in Modern English

Here are all six books written by Charlotte Mason over the 40 years of her educational career, redone in modern English for today’s readers by Leslie Laurio of AmblesideOnline.

Here’s what Leslie says about these excellent paraphrased editions:

“Charlotte Mason’s ideas are too important not to be understood and implemented in the 21st century, but her Victorian style of writing sometimes prevents parents from attempting to read her books. This is an imperfect attempt to make Charlotte’s words accessible to modern parents.”

These are just great, and make Charlotte Mason’s books and ideas much more accessible to educators today. You can read all six volumes online for free – CLICK HERE.

And on this page, the subjects from Mason’s six books (updated, paraphrased version) have been arranged by topic, for easy reference (this is a work still in progress): CLICK HERE.

Some Successful Americans – Classic Biographies

ssa_sales_coverSome Successful Americans: Classic Biographies by Sherman Williams (PDF ebook)

This collection of fourteen life stories, originally published in 1904 and illustrated with 36 photographs, digitally restored by CJ Press, offers an excellent view into America’s past and some of the people who made her great. Biographer Sherman Williams specifically selected Americans, both men and women, who began life in less than ideal circumstances and went on to become truly successful people, individuals who made an impact on their world.

Biographies include Abraham Lincoln, Peter Cooper, Mary Lyon, Horace Greeley, Cyrus Hall McCormick, Frances Willard, Louisa M. Alcott, Alexander H. Stephens, Leland Stanford, Charles Pratt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Eli Whitney, Henry Clay, and Benjamin Franklin.

To download this PDF ebook, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save link” to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key, then click the link and save to your mac.

This is Sand

This is Sand

Just for the fun of it, here’s a delightful little activity game to end your week. See what your kiddos can make of this virtual sand box. The instructions are simple, and the play is calm and mesmerizing. For both computers and portable devices.

Click here to go to the site! Then press or double click your left mouse button to drop sand. Read the instructions, then have fun!