Blessed Assurance ~ Sign of the Beaver {Chapters 1-5}

Malachi's American History is spread out over two years and we were getting quite ahead of him with Sonlight's D&E American History, so we decided to put the breaks on Sonlight and wait for Malachi to catch up. In the meantime, we have been using Blessed Assurance (Prepare & Pray Volume II). I did Prepare & Pray I with my older boys when Malachi was Bo's age. It is a family preparedness curriculum designed to include the whole family, so he still remembers some of the activities we did. These are all documented on my blog and linked here.

Blessed Assurance part 1 uses The Sign of the Beaver. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links). We read the assigned reading, answer discussion prompts, read a Toddler Tale, and do a hands-on activity for each unit.

For Units 1 and 2, we:
  • discussed Matt's level of responsibility and skill compared to a typical American boy of today.
  • talked about wisdom and discretion (especially when dealing with strangers during perilous times) 
  • learned why we want to develop our sense of discernment and intuition
  • found the Penobscot River on a map of Maine
  • talked about the political atmosphere of the Massachusetts colony during this time (where Matt's family was from) and why Matt's family moved to Maine
  • learned about combustion and what a fire needs to burn efficiently
  • learned about fire safety and how to put out a fire properly 
  • learned how high fat foods tend to "stick to your ribs" more than lean foods and what a figure of speech is
  • learned the importance of not being careless
  • learned the uses of salt
  • learned how molasses is made (and the history of the mills in our town)
  • learned how to treat a sprained ankle
Projects and activities:
  • made Johnny cakes with molasses

We did a cattail nature study.

Elli and Mali added a page to their nature journal...

  • Matt let his fire go out, so we started a fire without matches, using a magnesium fire starter and cat tail tender

Making a cattail torch is another way to use a cattail. They can also be eaten! We went over all the uses of the cattail. (This was actually a lesson from Unit 3, but I skipped ahead knowing that it would be snowing soon).

We are still reading Pocketful of Pinecones and the Burgess books for nature study, too.

  • learned first aid for burns and the use of aloe, lavender and honey as natural first aid

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  • Matt is attacked by bees after trying to collect honey so we reviewed how to remove a bee sting (I have a video in our row of The Bee Tree)
  • started a mending basket (needle, thread, safety pins)
  • the only sweetener Matt has is molasses, so we made whole grain biscuits, ate one plain, and then ate one with molasses to compare and appreciate the difference and while molasses was a treat for Matt, the kids were torn - Malachi liked the molasses, Eliana liked the plain, and Bo liked honey on his biscuit best

  • learned that comfrey contains the constituent allantoin, which by promoting cell proliferation, encourages the growth of connective tissue, bone and cartilage. It also breaks down red blood cells, which supports the healing of bruises. It's also a key constituent in eye creams. 

I read from the Rodale's Encyclopedia of Herbs for this lesson and the kids colored a coloring page in the curriculum. Then I read the section on bathing with herbs and I made a tonic bath (for me!). Tonic baths freshen and brighten the skin during long, cold winters. Herbs that have a tonic effect on the skin include comfrey, orange peel, lavender, and rose petals, so I used rose geranium, orange and lavender essential oil in an herbal bath. To do this, I made a decoction of the comfrey. A decoction is stronger than an infusion even using the same amount of herb. To make an infusion, you pour boiling water over the dried herb. To make a decoction, you add herbs to cold water, then bring it to a boil. I made a cloth "tea bag" and 1/2 cup of comfrey then added 2-3 drops of each oil. The oils moisturize and scent the skin, but I learned it is best to soak in the water for about 10 minutes to allow your skin to absorb moisture before the oil coats it and then it traps the moisture in the skin. 

In case you are wondering, this is what the decoction of the comfrey looked like. 

and the oils I added.

I usually add the oils to epsom salts before adding to a bath, but wanted to see how the comfrey would be like without the salts. There was a suggestion in the book to use salt to cleanse the skin prior to the bath, though. And I recently made fizzy bath bombs using Lavender, Geranium, and Tangerine. Very nice and soothing! 

Not really a survival or preparedness tip of colonial days, but certainly helpful now-a-days. :) 
  • started cutting and stacking wood for winter use 
We got a good pile of rounds ready to split for firewood while at our property this month. We had intended to spit the firewood but our log splitter wasn't working. We still had plenty of work to keep us busy though. 

While up there, we:
  • learned what an ax, splitting maul, and wedge are (and that we need to better maintain ours)
  • learned what woods are best for starting and maintaining a fire
  • learned how to identify wood that is dry and ready for use
  • learned gun safety and how to load and shoot a .22

I found that old hobo stove near the campfire. It is a homemade cook stove made from a #10 can. Jordan made this during part 1 of our preparedness curriculum, Prepare & Pray. It had a small wire rack on top for heating foods.

Another project was to add a ruffle to a dress that was too short. Eliana had a sweater dress that still fit but was now too short, so I added fabric to make it longer. I bought just enough to lengthen it, but wish that I had bought more to make it an actual ruffle. I didn't bother hemming it because I didn't have pink thread and followed the motto: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. 

Another preparedness effort on the home front includes cooking from scratch and baking again. This is our Sabbath bread...

Nathan made the beautiful cutting board in Wood Shop this year. 

Eliana and I made it half sprouted wheat and half white wheat. I taught her how to roll the dough into ropes and braid it and then brush with egg wash. I also made a batch of sticky buns and cinnamon rolls with the other half of the dough for Sabbath morning. I have not baked like this regularly for almost 2 years - since I started Trim Healthy Mama. I am still tempted and I have a little, but I don't indulge like I would have before. Eventually, I'll make this whole sprouted grain and enjoy it as a crossover with butter.

It saves us money when I bake. In fact, I am baking my own bread for me - the Soft Sprouted Bread from the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook instead of buying Ezekiel bread. (I buy the sprouted flour from Azure Standard). 

Here it is sliced and each slice wrapped individually to freeze, which makes it easier to pull out after it freezes.

Our Dream Community Food Ministry

One of our assignments in Unit 2 was to design some basic ground rules for a food ministry based on Scripture. Who qualifies for help? How long? What conditions? We looked at the book of Ruth and the law of harvesting:
"'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.'" (Leviticus 23:22) 

"Gather the gleanings" means to pick up what you drop when you are gleaning. Boaz instructed his harvesters to drop extra for Ruth as she was gleaning behind them.

This led us to discuss the correlation between eating and willingness to work hard. We looked up verses on the consequences of being lazy, and we all agreed that if we had a community food ministry that people would qualify if they were willing and physically able to work or unable to physically work but willing. We liked the idea of a community garden plot, chickens for eggs, goats for milking for young children, and a storehouse. Members would be provided with seeds and taught how to heirloom garden, care for chickens, collect eggs, and milk the goats. The storehouse would contain bulk grains and we would teach people how to preserve, store, and cook whole foods. It is a lot of work to prepare your own food! Growing your own food, harvesting and preserving it, and grinding grain, baking bread, and cooking from scratch is certainly hard work in our culture today. Grabbing pre-made convenience foods is very tempting and a time saver for sure, but we must be willing to work hard to afford those types of foods if we want them.

So this was about 3 weeks of curriculum and took us through the end of November. We've done the reading and discussion for the next unit, but the hands-on projects for this lesson are more involved. I have what I need now to do at least one of them, but we haven't started it yet. To be honest, all the hands-on stuff has been great, but overwhelming at times. It is much easier to read aloud with Sonlight and do our daily lessons, so we've mostly been doing that these past few weeks while I work on a few personal projects. :) 


  1. Wow! This curriculum looks amazing. Definitely something my older ones would enjoy! Yall packed alot of fun and learning into these past weeks!! My kids loved the Sign of the Beaver, and so did I!

  2. What fun and practical learning! Such a great experience to have as a family!

  3. What a great post! We haven't read these yet, but The Sign of the Beaver is on our list for the next year or two.

  4. This post makes me want to pull this out of my upcoming "for sale" books. I am so torn with wanting to do everything I see that is fun and functional.

    (((missing you)))

  5. Oh my goodness! What a beautiful post. There's just too much goodness all wrapped into one! Looks like SO much fun! Your lavender salve looks so soothing. That bread...oh my!