Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Modern Slavery: Free Resources


Did you know that there are MILLIONS of people still in slavery...TODAY?   Many people think that slavery ended with the civil war, but the Emancipation Proclomation  only ended LEGAL slavery in the United States.   Slavery continued many places legally for long after that, and continues as a criminal activity even today.
"I want to be very clear:  I'm talking about real slavery.  This is not about lousy marriages, this is not about jobs that suck, this is about people who can not walk away, people who are forced to work without pay, people who are operating 24/7 under a threat of violence, and have no pay.  It's real slavery in exactly the same way that slavery would be recognized throughout all of human history."
           - Kevin Bales (from his TED Talk in 2010.)
Slavery today looks a lot like slavery a few hundred years ago (though there are some differences).  Read on...

WARNING:   The chart below contains some information that may not be appropriate for younger children, and may contain triggers for abuse victims.   The printable of this chart contains versions with and without more mature content, so that some of the information about modern slavery could be more easily shared with elementary age children.   You have permission to copy and edit this material even further to make it more appropriate and accessible for you own children or classroom, if necessary.

Past and Present Slavery
A Side by Side Comparison 

Then Now
For most of history, in most places, slavery was legal. (1b, 1c) Today, slavery is officially illegal around the world, though laws against slavery are not always enforced, and some countries lack laws covering some forms of slavery.  Still, slavery as a criminal activity exists worldwide. (1c, 2)
The average cost to buy an enslaved person was around $12,000 to $40,000 (adjusted to today's currency), and because of this they tended to be treated as a long term investment (1d, 2)The average cost for traffickers to obtain an enslaved person, worldwide, today is somewhere between $90 - $400.  In North America, the cost is around $3,000 to $8,000--still a fraction of what it cost when slavery was legal here.  The result of this is that today's slaves are often treated like disposable resources. (2)
Slaves were subject to beatings and other forms of violence and abuse. (1d) Beatings and other forms of  violence are still tools traffickers use to keep people enslaved today. (2)
Enslaved women were often raped by their masters and subjected to other sexual exploitation. (1d) Women in slavery today are still subject to rape, even when they are trafficked primarily for labor, not sex. (2)
Tattoos were used to mark people as slaves in ancient China, Greece and Rome, and branding was common during the trans-atlantic slave trade. In both ancient Rome and in the U.S. south, metal collars were sometimes put on slaves who tried to run away. (1d, 1e, 1f, 1g, 4)Today, sex traffickers sometimes tattoo their victims so that they can mark prostitutes as "theirs" and track them down if they try to leave. These tattoos may be names or designs like logos, and often  incorporate bar codes that can be scanned by smart phones.  In Niger, Wahaya slaves are sometimes made to wear heavy brass ankle bracelets to signify their slave status.  (5,6, 7a, 7b)
In the past, slavery was an important part of world economies, and a large percentage of many nations were slaves.  Here is a sampling of nations who's historical slave prevalence we know (numbers are rounded).

Percentage of 
Population Enslaved
(by Year Recorded)

150 BC - Rome - 30-40%
1086 - England - 10%
1930 - Ethiopia - 12% to 25%
1910 - Korea - 30% to 50%
1860 - United States - 13%


The percentage of the world population enslaved today is lower than at any time in modern history, and the money generated by slavery today is the "tiniest proportion of the global economy to ever be represented by slave labor." (2)   The exact percentage of slaves in the world today is impossible to  determine as slavery today is  mostly a criminal, underground activity, and no longer publicly recorded as it often was under legal slavery.  But the largest  slave population in the world today is most likely Mauritania, where an estimated 4% of the population is still enslaved.   We are closer to ending slavery than ever before. (2, 8, 9)      

Sources listed at the bottom of this page.

"The past, the present, and the future are really one:  They are today"
~Harriet Beecher Stowe, 18th Century Abolitionist

Free Modern Slavery 
Educational Resources 

I believe it is just as important to teach our kids about modern slavery as it is to teach them about historic slavery.   Here are some free resources you can use to teach your children or students about slavery.

Printable Then and Now Comparison Chart
I have two versions of this chart, one simplified for elementary age children (without the information about sex trafficking and rape), and a version for older students similar to the one above.

Teacher Resource by Free the Slaves
 Several pages of concise info about modern slavery.   There are no graphic details, but sex trafficking and prostitution are mentioned.

Global Slavery Index Infographic
This contains a lot of information about modern slavery in a helpful graphic.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Magnet Letter Phonics

A fun an easy way to practice phonics is to let your child make up words with magnet letters.    Whatever order they put the letters in, you sound out the "word" they made.   If they make a word with no vowels, point out that you can't say a word without vowels, point out what the vowels are, and have them add some until the word is more readable.  My kids loved playing this game, and it really helped them associate the sounds with the letters and learn about how to sound out words.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Ninjago Party

My kids loved Legos for a long time, so lego themed parties became a regular thing at our house.   One of my favorites was the year we did a Ninjago party at the park (which sadly I didn't get a lot of good pictures of, but I still wanted to share it).

The Cake

I did, at least get a good pic of the cake.   This was the 2nd time I'd done this son liked it so much the first time he asked for it again (only this time the Green Ninja, not the).  The eyes were a little tricky (I used black icing for that)...but the rest was pretty simple.   Just a buttercream with a LOT of green and yellow dye.   I did the eye area first and then spread the other.   The eye area you'll want to really get smooth, but the mask area can be messier and still look cool (in fact, it looks a little bit more like the folds in the mask that way).  It's a very forgiving cake design.


This section contain some affiliate links, through which I can earn commission.

The favors boxes were really cool too.  I made them with blue and red Chinese take-out boxes, and had bought Ninjago eye stickers to cut out and put on them, but then lost them somewhere in my house and ended up drawing eyes with sharpies on yellow paper to cut out and use instead.   Above is the ONLY one I could find a picture of, cropped from the background a larger picture  (why, oh why didn't I take picks of these!)

In the box were foam ninja stars and Ninago stickers.   Being foam I felt safe that kids wouldn't hurt anyone if they threw them at someone (which they did).
The ninja stars I got were from target, but I doubt they carry those here's some similar ones I found online.

Click on the pictures to see these products on Amazon.


The first game we did was throwing the ninja stars from their favor box (which I gave everyone early), at a couple extra favor boxes.  Pretty simple and the kids liked it (and it gave them something to throw at other than each other).

Following the ninja star throwing we had a scavenger hunt to find the Golden sword.   I hid cards around the park with different clues on where to find the next card.  At the end was a cheap plastic sword spray painted gold, and bags of candy for everyone.   They liked the candy but some were a bit disappointed about having to share the sword, so if I were doing this again I would have gotten enough cheap plastic weapons, and let them find one after every couple of cards, making this a search for the "golden weapons" in stead of just one weapon.

The rest of the time, after cake and presents, the kids just played at the park...which is what I love about having a birthday party at the park.  It makes things so simple.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Book Review (+Free Printable): 100 Scientists Who Made History

This post contains some affiliate links through which I can earn commission.

One of the great things about homeschooling is getting to make connections between different subjects.   As we study history, I wanted my son to learn about the great scientists of the past...but I wanted to do it in a light, fun way.  100 Scientists Who Made History with it's fun, useful visuals and brief, interesting descriptions of the life and contributions of scientists throughout history, was exactly what I was looking for (or nearly that...I'll explain why later).

The book contains a wide array of scientists from various cultures from ancient through modern times.   Fifty-five of these (yes, I counted) are given full page features, brimming with fun facts about their life and work.   

 The rest of the 100 scientists are given brief paragraphs on pages like these...

So, why was it only NEARLY what I was looking for?   Well, because ideally, the scientists would be arranged in chronological order, making it easier for me to supplement my history lessons.   This book, though, was arranged by topic (a perfectly reasonable and useful way to arrange a book of this sort, but it didn't work well for my purposes).    To fix that, I made a chronological list of the scientists featured in the book,  which you can grab at the link below....

Quick Organizing Tip

When I have a book like this that I want to be used for my history lessons, I will mark the pages I want to use for the next era/section with post-it-notes marked with either the date or chapter.   I also keep a notepad on my computer, organized by chapter, where I list resources I want to use in the future.   I'll stick post-it's in my spine in chapters I have extra resources for, reminding me to check that list. 

For more ways to combine science and history, 

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