When the Wild West Was Changing

Wild West collage

We took a fun field trip this month that led us to our plans for our post on this month’s theme for the Poppins Book Nook – Wild West.

My first thought when I think of the Wild West contains saloons and brawls, horses and spurs. Well, we did study that aspect of it but we came at it from a different angle. We looked at the tail end of the Wild West, as it was becoming less wild and more settled, as the railroad was coming through, bringing change and enterprise and more permanence.

Wild West book

We read a book about life in a Wild West town called, not surprisingly, You Wouldn’t Want to Live in a Wild West Town! by Peter Hicks. It was quite an eye-opener for the girls because they haven’t ever really experienced a whole lot of lawlessness. It was a perfect fit for this month because while it described the wild west perfectly, it fit in with what we were exploring: the change of the west from

lawlessness and fending for yourself to a more civilized area that was becoming populated, with trains bringing material goods and foods to towns and no longer having to rely solely upon yourself or the kindness of strangers to help supply your needs.

Wild West books



We also had these other books for the girls to read through and explore. They enjoy having a variety of materials available to peruse and/or devour as the mood hits them. (Sorry for the blurry picture; I didn’t realize it was blurry until I had already returned it to the library.)




Wild West trains

Our field experience was a trip to ride a steam train (now converted to a diesel engine) and experience what riding the countryside might have been like 150 years ago. The engine was loud, the clickety-clack was rhythmic, and the whistle – well, I am just glad we weren’t any closer or our eardrums might have  paid the price. We saw how a turntable is used to turn the train around; well, it really only turns the engine but the train can then go the other direction. We were able to learn a lot about steam engines propelling trains through the countryside.


Wild West train worksheets


We followed that with some lessons about trains, including train safety and how to draw an engine. Those lessons were given to us at the train station but I found them online at http://oli.org/. The girls drew an engine. We did a couple of finger plays. They wrote about their experiences.





Wild West Pinwheels


We also did an experiment (partly for learning about steam engines and partly for FIAR with Mike Mulligan) that helped the girls understand how water was converted to steam which was then converted to energy which moved the parts of the engine and thus the train or steam shovel. We made a small pinwheel and held it over the spout of a tea kettle that was boiling and whistling. It turned the pinwheel. It was a very clear example of how steam can become energy.




We also discovered Charlie Brown and the American History series that was created with the Peanuts characters. We watched the video This Is American, Charlie Brown: The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad on YouTube. It covered the railroads meeting in Utah, the driving of the golden stake, and how the railroads coming through really changed the landscape and the way of life. The Wild West towns were talked about as the sprang up and then died down as the railroad moved through. The role that immigrants played in the building of the railroad was also covered. We enjoy the Peanuts gang and so, after watching the one we needed to for this unit, they chose at least two others to watch, just because. **As of the date of this post, almost all of the educational cartoons featuring the Peanuts gang had been removed from YouTube, including the one we watched. Hopefully, they can be found elsewhere. They were really very good!**

All in all, this was a fun month for the Poppins Book Nook. It didn’t end up anything like I had planned but I think a whole lot more learning went on because of that. I am thankful for the way things work our when we are open to what comes our way. Did you do anything for the Poppins Book Nook Wild West theme this month? Please share anything you did or things that you think might be fun to do in the comments section.

At Home.
Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

Don’t forget to visit the Poppins Book Nook at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom to download your copy of the free lapbook to go along with this month’s theme and to see what they did. Also, go visit all the other bloggers who participated this month.

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Clip Art by Melon Headz https://www.etsy.com/shop/melonheadzdoodles

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4 thoughts on “When the Wild West Was Changing

  1. RavenThreads September 30, 2014 at 8:01 am Reply

    It does look like a fun month! I love when themes develop in ways I’m not expecting!!

    • 3gigglygirlsathome September 30, 2014 at 9:46 am Reply

      Me, too! I see deeper learning than when I craft things carefully and pull them off just like I expect. When they direct it some and it flows with a fun experience, they just learn so much more.

  2. Jill October 6, 2014 at 1:33 pm Reply

    What a great experiment, the trains were such an important part of the wild west.

    Thank you for helping to bring a spoonful of reading fun to the Poppins Book Nook this month!

  3. […] When the Wild West Was Changing by At Home: Where Life Happens […]

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