Ships and Sailing the SeasHaving a decent introductory knowledge of sailing vessels is useful for any history studies of the age of discovery and exploration as well as for many of the wars fought between empires even as far back as the wars between Greece and Persia. Since I am expecting to cover this period in World History with Alice this year it seemed appropriate to have a page with resources about Ships and Sailing. Additionally, there are plenty of tie-ins with both science and literature. Besides, with a father that loves ships, sailing and related literature, it is a topic I have bumped up against but really know very little about myself and I wanted to learn more (one of my favorite advantages of homeschooling is how much I get to learn in the process of preparing to teach and teaching Alice). I hope you will find this resource list useful in whatever it is you are studying with your kids.
NOVA; a History of Navigation
PBS Series: Warships has four episodes each about a different era of warships. The series is really more of a focus on battle technology as it relates to sea battles. The first, Sea Power is the one that includes sailing vessels but is by no means chronological or complete in terms of coverage of earliest sailing vessels.
Sailing Across the Atlantic is one I am super glad I found before beginning the school year because it will be a great complement when we study the Vikings. The crew approximately traces the path of Eric the Red from Greenland to Newfoundland during the first leg of their journey. The ship is much more modern - being only 80 years - as is a great deal of the technology the crew uses, but the voyage still shows clearly what it is like navigating these waters by sail. Evidence of global warming also comes up - so if you are doing any studies related to this topic, it may be a good cross-over as well.
Information and Relevant Picture Books:The visual Dictionaries and Encyclopedias done by DK publishers are reliably good resources to have around for your kids. The visual elements are stunning, layouts non-threatening, and text concise and easily understandable, so it is no surprise the Visual Diction of Ships and Sailing would top my list for non-fiction resources I wanted to be sure to have on hand for Alice. The book certainly isn't a complete resource for understanding every sailing term your child might encounter while reading, but it is a great place to start and will cover most of your needs alone. I found it to be the perfect amount of information needed at our finger tips. When an answer wasn't available in this book, a perusal of a dictionary or Wikipedia usually did the trick.
The Amazing Book of of Paper Boats: This book has basic information about the science behind boats and has 18 boats to create from different points in nautical history. It goes over water displacement, density and buoyancy, and stability as well as the historical development of boats and boating. The paper constructions are beautiful and a fun activity for patient hands - I would not use it with the very young as a general rule. Even with an elementary student, I suggest an adult do the scoring and cutting portions as prep. Time required for each project is listed in the instructions and is usually listed at around two to three hours. The two I have completed took less time actually working on the boat but using glue meant the over-all time was longer because we had to stop and wait for the glue to dry. Once complete, the paper boats are amazing. The paddles on the paddlewheel even turn!! This book doesn't seem to be available new anymore. However, it does seem to be readily available in new condition in the used sections when looking for books online. It seems many people have purchased it, thinking it looked cool and then never completed the constructions.
Language Arts Options:The Boy who Sailed Around the World Alone
An autobiographical description of a modern sailing journey made by a teenage boy passionate about sailing. While this voyage takes place well after a time when sail power was the only boating option for voyages that crossed the sea, kids get a view of how an activity from so long ago is still practiced in today's world. The fact that it is a true story of a young man sailing around the world might make it especially interesting to a middle-school or high-school student that is not generally keen on reading otherwise, but likes sailing and boats. I haven't seen this, but there was even a movie made! The Dove.
Who hasn't at least heard of this classic? Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of a boy who is swept up into an adventure seeking treasure has been re-written and parodied in all forms of media since the late 1800's when it was first published. Alice is reading this one with her grandfather as I type this line. She has already seen Treasure Planet, but we'll make sure to order at least one of the movies to watch as well. 1950 Movie, 1934 Movie, Muppet Treasure Island (1996), I'll have to preview Sky1's TV Miniseries of Treasure Island but I'm amazed at the cast involved and look forward to doing so (The Making Of Video).
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
I have not yet read this one myself, or with Alice, but I know it has been met with enthusiasm by educators and readers from many walks of life. I know Charlotte Doyle is independent, rebellious, and the novel addresses civil rights (for all) within its themes.
Unfortunately, I just haven't read a lot in this area of literature so, as I expand my sailing novel experience, I'll offer this Goodreads list as it has a much more exhaustive list with a range of reading levels and various age-appropriate choices than I can offer at the moment.
Games, Printables and other Online Resources:
Old Bristol Historical Pages are ones I intend to look into more deeply and use more as I prep for the Caroline History Unit. At first glance, it looks like a wonderful resource. I link it here mainly for the diagram of a British Man of War.
School of Sailing - Sailing Terminology
Which Boats are What? - Wikipedia list of vessel types and distinctions
Sea Chanteys Lesson Plan on Age of Sail
How to Tie Boating Knots - animated knot tying instructions
Try Engineering: Sail Away Lesson Plans design and engineer a watercraft
eGFI - Math and Design in Sailing Vessels - another lesson plan focusing on designing a sailing vessel.
Sail Power - Make a sailing vessel with move-able sail so your kids can see how the boat moves relative to the direction of the wind
Field Trip Ideas:
I believe hands-on experience is the most memorable form of learning, so whenever possible I go on "adventures" with Alice that relate (however loosely) to things she is, or will learn. We recently enjoyed an evening cruise on the Spike Africa thanks to a dear friend (yelp reviews). The Spike Africa welcomes persons that require the use of a wheelchair - something I know not all vessel programs can, or will do. Alice had a fun evening and an introductory experience with sailing to which we will be able to refer back. I don't think she'll ever forget hearing the command, "Block your sweats" called out to the crew when the mainsail had just been hoisted (I know I'll never forget her reaction) and she was even allowed to captain the ship for a period during the voyage.
In looking for other opportunities, I found a few companies that seemed to offer a true sailing experience. As much as some of these experiences look like a true adventure (and one that would be life-changing) they are not in the cards for my little family at this time. However, some of these resources may be helpful to you (and I hope, something we might come back to down the road). If you go on one of these voyages or charter through one of these companies, please stop back and add a comment sharing your experience:
Black Dog Tall Ships looks like a GREAT program for elementary/middle school kids. If you, or your kids have been involved in this experience please add a comment and inform future readers about your take on the program. It appears they also charter similar to Schooners Northwest's Spike Africa and offer summer camps.
Age of Sail offers day camp experiences as well as overnight encampments based out of San Francisco for groups such as classes, scouting troops and similar programs, and has a summer camp offering as well.
For older "kids"
List on Squidoo
Sail Training International