50 States in 50 Days with Bunny Trails

This year, our homeschool focus is 50 States in 50 days with Bunny Trails. All the links are now on Pinterest

Every day, we study a “State of the Day,”  then we branch off into a Delight Directed bunny trail. This was not my original plan for this year, it just developed (see evolution of this plan here).

Quick Summary: 1. Read about the  “State of the Day”  2.Watch a video from History Channel:  The States DVD Set (free online or 4 DVDs for $9) 3. Play geography games, and 4. Work on a lapbook.  Here is a sample of the video:

Typical Schedule

  • Boys color in the state on our wall map while I read.
  • We watch a section about the State of the Day with   The States DVD SET (sample above)
  • A few times a week we  play the Scrambled States  (Love this game)
  • Every other day we watch  “How the States got Their Shapes” on the History Channel (I tivo this but its online too.  I really enjoy this show but the boys groan a bit).
  • On alternate days day we play one of these free online games:
  • Language arts. Copy work from one of our readings.
  • At the end of week, we fill in booklets (usually 5)  for a lapbook
  • Delight Directed Bunny Trails
  • Delight Directed Bunny Trails

    I  am flexible about going off the main schedule. God knows what my children need to learn. If our day goes completely off schedule I’m OK about it. My husband and I pray daily for direction in educating our boys. Sometimes God leads us off my school schedule onto His, and I don’t want to miss it. I watch and listen for sparks that will ignite their learning. When I sense a spark we go where their interest leads.

    Once we cover the “State of the Day,”  I ask the boys what they want to know more about (allowing them to chose is the Delight Directed part). They usually tell me whch topic–with great enthusiasm–during the reading or  video. Then we all look up online resources (learning to research) or I grab a book from our extensive home library.

    Bunny Trail Examples

    We touch on some topics and go into great depth on others.

    • The Pennsylvania Bunny Trails took about an hour and half. It was a chance to review the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson by watching several short videos at Discovery Eduction.  Then we watched several 3 to 5 minute videos on Hershey. PA, steel factories, mushroom farming and the Crayola Factory.
    • The Hawaii Bunny Trails stretched into the two days, two evenings and a week-end.  We watched three hours of documentaries about volcanoes (because my boys kept asking for more) and several short videos on surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving,  the ocean floor, marine life, volcanos, etc. That weekend we watched the movie the Soul Surfer. Then my 13-year-old wanted to know everything about Peal Harbor so we spent days watching movies on WWII,  Japan, Germany, etc. It was fascinating.
    • Our Mississippi  Bunny Trails lasted over a week reading Mark Twain’s books. We continued to study a state each day but read the Twain books too. Don’t worry about children getting confused when you jump around a little–they do it all the time with television.
    •  Tennessee Bunny Trails We live in TN so we had one day officially studying it as the State of the Day but we continue by going on field trips several times a year.  (TN Aquarium, Ruby Falls, Rock City,  riverboat ride, Andrew Jackson’s home, etc).
    • Massachusetts  Bunny Trails I let the boys decide on the rabbit trail however, I do have input. I’m saving the  study for November to review Plymouth and Thanksgiving. I’m sure they will want to research whales too. I have tivoed videos on JFK, Robert and Ethel Kennedy and will steer them in this direction (I’ve been dropping comments about the segregation, Civil Rights, Bay of Pigs, and Kennedys’ assignations to get them interested now) .  I also try to steer toward agriculture topics in each state as we are preparing a large organic vegetable garden in the spring.

    Since we are not studying chronologically (jumping from Civil War to Revolution to Pearl Harbor) I just refer to a USA timeline on our dining room wall– it works.

    Internet Video Resources

    We are so blessed to homeschool in the Internet age.  Pick any topic and you can find an online video then go on a virtual field trip. I utilize online resources and Tivo daily. These are the main resources I have bookmarked:

  • Hulu
  • PBS.org
  • History Channel: The States
  • You Tube 
  • WonderHowTo
  • WatchKnowLearn
  • Teacher Tube
  • Educational Videos
  • Discovery Education (subscription)*
  • BrainPOP ( subscription)
  • 50 States in 50 Days Lapbook

    For the lapbook we make a layered lapbook for each state (see video here). Each booklet includes (pages get longer page 1 to 8):

    1. State Shape /Cover
    2. State Flag
    3. Fast Facts
    4. State Borders
    5. State flower, bird
    6. Map with major cities
    7. Interesting Facts
    8. Famous Facts

    The booklets fit on two 8.5×11 pages. They are cut out and stacked from shortest to longest. Click the image for a larger view.

    Download the layered booklet template free here.  We will complete all 50 booklets before placing them into the file folders. I don’t know the order of booklet in the file folders yet. Either alphabetically, by region or by the Man in the Maps order.

    STAY TUNED:   I will post more instructions and photos of the booklets soon.

    Map to Our Bunny Trails

    Below is a list of states we studied and the delight directed bunny trails. I’m keeping an ongoing list of these mini unit studies with links in case anyone is interested (leave a comment to let me know).

    The States DVD Set

    History Classics: The States DVD SET  is a 10-part series about our 50 states – on 3 DVDs ($9 while it last, once homeschoolers jump on this it will go back to regular price).

    No need to buy them if you have unlimited Internet as most the shows are available online.

    HISTORY CLASSICS: AMERICA THE STATES contains 13 acclaimed documentaries on 4 DVDs

    1. DISC 1 (The States, Parts 1-4): Part 1: California, North Carolina, Kansas, New Hampshire, West Virginia / Part 2: Texas, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Iowa, Delaware / Part 3: New York, Louisiana, Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont / Part 4: New Jersey, Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Alaska
    1. DISC 2 (The States, Parts 5-7): Part 5: Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Hawaii, South Carolina, Montana / Part 6: Florida, Indiana, Washington, Utah, Rhode Island / Part 7: Illinois, Connecticut, Nevada, Mississippi, Wyoming
    2. DISC 3 (The States, Parts 8-10): Part 8: Virginia, Ohio, Idaho, Alabama, North Dakota / Part 9: Michigan, Tennessee, Maine, Missouri, South Dakota / Part 10: Georgia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Maryland/DC
    3. DISC 4: The Mexican-American War / The Louisiana Purchase / Lewis & Clark: Explorers Of The New Frontier

    From sea to shining sea – Hawaii to Maine, Florida to Alaska – this remarkable series celebrates both the extreme diversity and the common bonds that makes this nation great. An unprecedented survey of America, this very special set of the blockbuster THE HISTORY CHANNEL® miniseries takes you across the entire country and reveals the very best of each of its states.

    With wide-eyed curiosity and enthusiasm, THE STATES tracks down what’s special and unique throughout the union. Its ambitious state-by-state approach ensures that each region’s highlights get the attention they deserve.

    *Discovery Education offers a teacher planning options where I add the videos to a Quick List. The boys may pick a state at random but I already have the videos picked out for them to see in my Quick List.

    Want More?

    Would you like me to post more state links? Let me know in the comments.


    robinsampson

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