Homeschooling Journey: John Henry, West Virginia, and Clementine Hunter

Last week was a great week of learning around here! We are getting settled into a routine and getting used to the new curriculum and the things I am supplementing myself are going well. I designed my own literature arts curriculum for Wyatt and I to use and not to pat myself on the back, but we are both enjoying it a great deal. I am also winging it with music and art, and honestly it is all going together very well! We will see how that continues.

First, lets talk about John Henry. Wyatt LOVED the story of John Henry, but seriously, why did it have to end the way it did! We read the book by Ezra Jack Keats, watched the John Henry cartoon by Disney, and sang many many John Henry and railroad songs, including one by John Denver and another by Johnny Cash. This was by far Wyatt’s favorite though. I can’t tell you how many times we have sung this now. We talked about how brave and strong John Henry was, and talked about times Wyatt has been brave and strong as well. We talked about how machines and industrialization made life both easier, but also took jobs from many people, which was something that also came up when we read Paul Bunyan.

I read a few versions of John Henry, some mentioned states, other didn’t, but I ultimately decided West Virginia was a good state to accompany the story for our Social Studies portion of the week. There is a statue of John Henry in West Virginia and it seems to be part of their folklore so it made sense. We learned about railroads, about the state symbols of West Virginia, and chose some interesting facts and favorite things. I of course loved the history about John Denver’s song Country Roads, how he sung it in D.C. and received a five minute ovation. The song has naturally become the state song. Wyatt chose as his favorite fact the Mothman myth, which was just a little mention in the book that we use as our “spine”, The 50 States. Sometimes it is so 100% obvious he is my kid. As we read a bit more about Mothman, I learned we had just missed the Mothman festival in West Virginia! How cool would that have been to attend together as a field trip?

Art was also really cool this week. We learned about Clementine Hunter, and if you are unfamiliar with who she is, I encourage you to look her up! She was fascinating and brave and talented. We learned that she had a gallery show that she wasn’t even allowed to attend since she was Black, and so we talked a bit about that, as well as an age and developmentally appropriate discussion about slavery and racism. We read Art from her Heart, which is a fabulous picture book, and then recreated her painting of zinnias. I picked zinnias from our yard, brought them in, and Wyatt got to work. I helped him with the shape of the jar in the painting, but the rest was all him and I think he did amazing!

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.

Disney’s American Legends || John Henry An American Legend || M is for Mountain State || Art from her Heart

Other Resources:

The Junior Ranger Railroad Explorer

Overall, a very good week here!

5 thoughts on “Homeschooling Journey: John Henry, West Virginia, and Clementine Hunter

  1. I cannot believe how much you pack into a week! Wyatt is receiving such a wonderfully well-rounded yet integrated education! I have a former student who just recently returned from the Mothman festival! Her pictures are something else! I’m with you on the ending of John Henry. I haven’t heard of Clementine Hunter, but I will have to look into her work now. And, Wyatt’s zinnias are pretty amazing! Is that watercolor? Thanks so much for sharing these parts of your life, Erin!

    http://marshainthemiddle.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol!! Well it is so much different than traditional school – plus I only have one student. We can have just little conversations about things, take our time or not much time at all, depending on how Wyatt is responding and learning. If he picks something up fast, we can move on, and if he is super interested we can do more digging and exploring. But thank you for all of your kind words, I am always super nervous having actual teachers read about what we do!

      Ok. I am officially jealous that your former student got to go to the Mothman Festival! Lol. Next year, we might attempt a trip!

      Wyatt’s zinnia’s painting is indeed watercolor! It came out so nice I think!

      Like

  2. Pingback: My Sunday-Monday Post – Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs..

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