Thursday, February 21, 2013

Homeschool Weeks 19-22

Week 21 brought us pretty close to the end of the medieval era.   We really love this time period and are excited that the FRC home school group plans to have a history fair sometime in April so we can showcase some of the things that we have learned.  This mom is helping plan it, so my kids are required to participate!

In week 19 we continued our study about the Vikings, specifically the Danes invasion of England.  We studied Alfred the Great who  drove the Danes out of his lands and won back other parts of England.  The Anglo-Saxons rule came to an end, however, at the Battle of Hastings when Duke William of Normandy fought and defeated King Harold of England.   For the next few weeks, we studied the fun things of this era:  feudalism (serfs, kings, nobles), castles, knights and chivalry, medieval life, the medieval church and the pope, and monasteries.  In week 21 we studied the Crusades and a couple of people associated with them: Saladin and Richard the Lion-Hearted.  We learned about wicked King John and the signing of the Magna Carta.  We enjoyed seeing how we still follow ideas from the Magna Carta in our government today.  Of course, we couldn't study King Richard and his brother John without watching the Disney movie Robin Hood.  Nicolas and I enjoyed watching Ivanhoe which was also set in the time of Richard, John, and Robin Hood.  Nicolas had read the book earlier so could tell me how the movie differed from the book.  He let me know the book was better than the movie; isn't that usually the case?  We also learned about El Cid and how the Christians reconquered Spain from the Moors (African Muslims). Nicolas and I just picked up the movie El Cid from the library and hope to get a chance to watch that sometime this weekend.   During the Middle Ages, many Christians went on pilgrimages to holy places or shrines.  We read The Chanticleer and the Fox, a tale of Chaucer, to give us an idea of the stories that were told on the pilgrimages as related in The Canterbury Tales.  Other people we studied in more detail the last four weeks included:  Elizabeth of Hungary, Bernard of Clairvaux, Anselm, and Francis of Assisi.   Activities during this time included eating at a Medieval Inn,

Eating mincemeat pies and drinking ale (ginger)

Playing a medieval game--9-Man Morris while we ate at the Inn.

making stained glass windows,

Just like the medieval churches?

eating lunch at a monastery, 

(No picture here, but Grandpa and Grandma will remember trying to eat pea soup in complete silence!)

putting together a castle,

and designing a coat of arms.

We finished our read-aloud The Door in the Wall and began Dangerous Journey, an edition of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress with lots of illustrations.  The girls continue with their book units, and Nicolas started a new one on Swiss Family Robinson.

The girls finished the human body science unit and started a new unit on astronomy that will take us through the end of the school year.

Our body friend, finally all put together, well, kind of...

Part of our solar system.  Russ hung the planets for us (for which we are grateful), but we had to ask him, "Since when do Jupiter's stripes run vertically?"

We are working hard to keep up with art and the music of Mozart.  Some weeks we don't get to it and other weeks we do double to catch up.   Somehow it all seems to get done, along with our our BSF, English, math, Latin words, Bible, spelling, and handwriting.  Whew!

Starting last week and now for the next several weeks we are going back in time to study other ancient civilizations up to the Middle Ages.  Last week and the first part of this week we studied China, learning of the different dynasties, the Old Silk Road, the history of the Great Wall, and various other cultural aspects of their civilization.  We will next study Japan, Australia, and Russia before returning to Europe.  

Seth continues to move west in his study of the United States.  He learned how Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory (Louisiana Purchase) and then studied the state of Louisiana.  We enjoyed a Cajun meal of red beans and rice in honor of the state.  He also studied the states of Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, and Michigan.  We spent some time reading about what it is what like to go West by wagon train and then built our own little Conestoga wagon.  We also studied the life of Robert Fulton, who was instrumental in the invention of the steamboat, the first submarine, and the torpedo.  Our science lesson that week dealt with learning how/why things float.  In another science lesson Seth answered the question, "Does a seed need water to grow?" by setting up a little experiment with popcorn kernels.  At the end of the week we related this to our spiritual life.  Just as there is no life and growth in the seeds without water, so our spirit too needs the living water that Jesus gives to grow and do the things God has planned for us.   Seth is now working through some mini science lessons on the human body.  Currently we are studying the five senses.

Seth learned more wonderful words for Jesus:  Jesus is the Vine, Jesus is the Head of the Body, and Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.    I don't think we had any extra art projects to reinforce our Bible lessons during these weeks.  We did make a fruit salad with lots of different fruits (not quite nine, though) to remember the fruits of the spirit that we can produce if we remain in the vine, Jesus. 

Sometimes teaching your own children can be so frustrating...especially in math.  I can understand why that subject is the cause of much tension in homeschool families.  I am constantly trying to get Seth to understand the concept of "number families" when learning addition and subtraction.  I have been telling him for over a year that if he can understand that concept, subtraction will be so much easier.   I was just at the point of pulling my hair out when I saw the light go on.  "Oh, I get it!  If 
4 + 2 = 6, then 6 - 2 has to equal 4!"  I could have wept.  When I mentioned this to Russ he said one of the favorite sayings of a former colleague of his in the teaching profession was, "Water on rock, water on rock...water always wins."  I think that little thought can carry over to many areas of parenting.  But, oh, what patience that requires.

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