Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Geography-Postcard Album: Montana, "The Treasure State”

"Big Sky Country"

We were very excited last week to receive a whole handful of postcards!
Our lovely blog friends in Montana sent us not just one postcard, but six!
Almost Unschoolers are a family with six lovely children and their blog is one of my favorite resources for learning activities. The Mom of the family is so creative and talented (and so are the children!)
I would tell you to go there now, to check out their blog, but then you would get so distracted by all the good stuff there, you wouldn't finish this post, so just wait until you are done this post to go over there.

You can see how much they love their state by the varied postcard choices.
"We couldn't decide on a single postcard to represent Montana, so we're sending several."
We learned a lot about Montana by just looking at the postcards.

"Roaming the lands for thousands of years, these majestic animals could be found throughout the West."
"Summers warm and light brings forth an explosion of vivid colors in alpine flowers. Look closely and you can find flowers in every color of the rainbow."
"President Jefferson's movement on the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States overnight. Now faced with the challenge of surveying what the United States purchased, the President turned to Capt. Merriwether Lewis and Capt. William Clark. From 1803 to 1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition explored a total of 8,000 miles and nine of the current 50 states. More than a quarter of their time and mileage with spent exploring the vast Montana wilderness."

The Lewis and Clark expedition is especially important to our family because Katie had just finished a thorough study of this when she got her two kittens, and so she named them Lewis and Clark.

Montana Moose...This majestic animal can be seen foraging for food in rivers, lakes and streams. A true Montana favorite!
"Bears are an integral part of Montana's wildlife. Cubs are normally born during hibernation. Mama bear brings them out into their new world as the last of the winter's snow melts. This mama with her three cubs is a rare sight indeed!"
 Each card was written and illustrated by a different member of the family.

Quentin colored a map and learned more about what Montana has, including the state bird, the Western Meadow Lark and flower, Bitterroot.We had to look those up on the Internet to see how they were to be colored.

Quentin commented that the state has lots of rivers and mountains.

With so many postcards, and the map, we had to make a two-page spread.

We located and colored Montana on our United States map.

As you know if you have been reading my postcard album posts, we like to make a food that represents the state we are studying in some way. I asked Almost Unschoolers what they would suggest and the Mom of the family said,
"Montana is known for huckleberries - they are horrible to eat fresh, but make very good pancake syrup and jams - you might be able to find huckleberry syrup at the store. Otherwise, stick with steak - there is a real cowboy feel to the state - and steak houses are everywhere."
I had never heard of Huckleberries before except in cartoons like Huckleberry Hound but I looked in the jams and syrups sections of the stores in our area just to be sure. Unfortunately, there was no Huckleberry syrup to be found. I guess it just doesn't make it this far. I didn't think a steak dinner would be too memorable for them, since we have it from time to time already. So, I turned to my American Grub; Eats For Kids From All Fifty States book and it suggested making your own beef jerky.

"When white people first began settling the West into parts of what is now Montana, they had no way to refrigerate meat. They learned to preserve it the way the Indians did -by cutting it into long, thick strips and drying it. Cowboys and prospectors carried it in saddlebags for a quick meal while they were on the move. Although jerky was originally dried by smoking it over an open fire, it can now be made in an oven with flavored spices to provide the smoky, open-fire flavor."

The recipe in the book suggests using either hickory smoke sauce or teriyaki sauce. We decided to divide our meat into two batches and try half with each to see which we liked better. They are currently marinating on my counter and will be dried slowly at a low temperature this afternoon. I will let you know how it turns out and which we prefer in our taste test.
And just to be sure, in case the recipe doesn't turn out, I bought a bag of already made jerky.

Thank you, Almost Unschoolers, for making our state study of Montana so much fun.
And okay, readers, if you aren't already familiar with the Almost Unschooler blog, you can now hop on over there and check it out. You will be glad you did.

UPDATE: This is how our jerky looked when finished. There was little difference between the two flavors, although it seemed that the smoke flavored was slightly preferred. Sam said that he liked the homemade better than store-bought. Quentin and Alex seemed to like it a lot. Katie and James not as much. All I know is that it was all gone within a half-hour.
Few other states in our union have the magnificent topography of the Centennial State. This unique Colorado landscape is beautifully represented in the illustrations of Helle Urban, an the rhyming verse and expository text of Louise Whitney defines those images and expands our understanding of the Rockies, Blue Spruces, Springs, and Yucca plants that paint this land. "C is for Centennial" entertains as it educates and its mult-tiered format makes it accessible for readers of all ages and at all elevations. 

 11 states (22%) and Washington DC

Our Cup of Tea has more idea for studying Montana.


  1. How awesome that you received 6 cards from Almost Unschoolers. You certainly could learn a lot about Montana this way!

  2. Venison jerkey is a big favorite around here - not one of my personal favorites, but it's what a lot of the deer meat gets turned into after hunting season. I'm glad all the post cards made it, after we wrote with felt pens. And, thanks for all the kind words!

  3. What a great way to learn about a state!

  4. How fun is that! We have an abundance of huckleberries here on the Coast. I grew up eating huckleberry pie. So hum. My grandma would put in apple suce and tapioca into it to beef it up if berries were scarce. Love Montana!

  5. That was so like Leah, to have all 6 of her kids get involved with this postcard exchange. Montana truly is a beautiful State. I don't know what my favorite part of Montana is, mountains, rivers, wild life, oh and the history! Hope your jerky turns out.

  6. Anonymous24.3.11

    i love this! you're inspiring me to start doing this sooner than I planned. :) This is awesome. :)

  7. I grew huckleberries, from seed, in our garden. I was so successful that I gave some of the plants to family. Unfortunately, their gardener would not believe that they were not deadly nightshade, so he ripped them out. Oh well. We enjoyed a few huckleberry pies.

    Lewis and Clark the cats are like peas in the pod. I love ginger cats.

  8. I've never heard of Huckleberries either except for Huckleberry Finn!

    I like the new pics in your header...I miss the one of your son standing in the snow though...that was a nice one!

  9. What a big surprise for your family! What a generous pack your friends in Montana sent you. I enjoyed all the photos and had a real learning time reading your post. Thank you for linking to Postcard Exchange.



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