Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 34

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Chapter 34 took us to South America in order to meet a certain Simon Bolivar. The craft was edible and easy to make: arroz con leche. We used to make a lot of “rice with milk” when I was growing up in Romania, so it was a familiar dish to me.

Arroz con leche

Arroz con leche

The difference was the orange juice and the cinnamon. I have to say, I did not expect the orange juice to give it a nice flavor. It just did not seem right. Continue reading »

Once I tried it though, I was really impressed. The rice is starchy and the milk has protein, so, in a way, it is a bit of a heavy dish. But the orange juice gives it a lift, a tropical nuance that makes it very pleasant.

If you can, try to make this dish for this chapter. Depending on your rice, you might have to cook it longer. I have the kind of rice that needs a good 45 minutes to cook. In conclusion, this was a rice pudding with a South American flavor. Very, very nice.

Ingredients for arroz con leche

Ingredients for arroz con leche

The kids noticed that greed seems to be a running theme through history. Even liberators like Simon Bolivar end up giving in to their humanity and seek a throne for life. Is it any wonder that it is hard to work toward term limits in our American Congress?

We had a conversation about our fallen human nature. We may say now that we are not interested in power, but when the opportunity is given to us, there’s no telling where our greed might take us.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 33

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Chapter 33 covered the end of Napoleon and the craft was really exciting. I had no idea it would be so easy to create our own snow globe with a soldier inside to represent the poor French soldiers trudging through Russia in the winter.

Snow globe soldier

Snow globe soldier craft

We made sure the pronunciation of Napoleon’s name is different from that of Neapolitan ice cream. We love Neapolitan ice cream at our house and they asked me if it got named after Napoleon. That’s when I realized we needed to clarify some pronunciation. Continue reading »

The chapter also covers the useless war of 1812. We have listened to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture before and we listened to it again. My son thinks the cannon sounds are really exciting. You can find a recording with real cannons on YouTube if you do not have a copy of this piece.

I did not play Abba’s Waterloo song for them, but I told them how the name can be used in different contexts to mean a battle you were supposed to win, but you lost. I also mentioned how the Duke of Wellington lived long enough to overlap his life and career with those of Queen Victoria.

The kids know I watch “Victoria” on PBS and I told them the Duke of Wellington makes several appearances in Victoria’s life as represented on this TV show. He is older and he advises her with his wisdom.

Here’s another reason to do history even before fifth grade: all the vocabulary used in popular culture, in newspapers, in songs, in symbolic ways. Vocabulary is very important in our homeschool and you might be sick of my reminding you about it over and over again.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 32

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Lewis and Clark star in chapter 32. Oh, and Lewis’s dog, Seaman. My children love animals and they melted over the idea of this dog that came along during this expedition. In fact, he was the only animal to complete the trip.

Lewis and Clark diary craft

Lewis and Clark diary out of construction paper, computer paper, and two brads.

When I looked him up online, he looks adorable. Well, the statues that represent him. Seaman was a Newfoundland dog and his fluffy tail and long hair make him very cute. Continue reading »

Pompy stole the show though. The coloring page featured Sacagawea and her baby boy, Jean-Baptiste, nicknamed Pompy. Can you imagine carrying a baby with you in that wilderness? No Huggies or Pampers. No wet wipes. Talk about adventure.

I really wish I had time to supplement this chapter with some of the reading suggestions provided. However, I am on a mission to complete volume 3 as soon as possible, so we can start on chapter 4 and finish that one before the next school year starts.

Yes, this means we will be doing history through the summer, too, but they enjoy it. It’s like reading to them out loud, which they do not consider school. If we get really ambitious, we might even be able to finish volume four before the school year ends in the middle of May.

Here’s why: we have finished our math curricula and so math does not necessarily have to happen anymore through April and May. We could cover two chapters of history every day. In 21 days of school, we could finish 42 chapters, which is what Story of the World has in every book.

It took me a bit to get this flexible in my mind about homeschooling. This process is called “de-schooling yourself.” For those of us who attended public school, it seems that we must do at least five subjects every day. Or else. But that’s not realistic for a homeschool setting.

Back to Lewis and Clark. I know that we will cover them again and again before they finish high school. We must declare ourselves satisfied with this quick glance at their story and move on. Who knows? I might order some of those books through the summer months for us to read after all.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 31

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Chapter 31 deals with a different kind of rebellion: the factory workers in England smashing machines for being abused in the work place. This chapter is our opportunity, parents, to steer young minds away from entitlement.

Factories in England

Coloring pages – our only craft for this chapter

Why? Because this chapter talks about children working in factories starting at age 8. That’s right. Let that sink in, especially if you have normal children, like I do, who are still learning not to complain when they hear they have to study or read or practice an instrument. Continue reading »

My children will do their work every day, but it is not without a bit of coaxing on my part. We are still working on attitude and getting things done without having to be told.

I have a friend who is homeschooling her children after she was homeschooled herself. She told me that when her mom used to give her different assignments, my friend would ask, “Do I have to?”

Somehow, somewhere, my children learned this phrase, too. It’s funny, really. When I say they have to do this or that before they can consider themselves finished with school for the day, they ask, “Do I have to?”

Where did that come from? So anyway, this chapter will teach them they should be thankful they do not have to work in a factory 12 hours a day. They only have to read a book (which is interesting), copy a paragraph (which can be amusing), practice an instrument (which is intriguing), solve some math problems (which prepares them for fun science experiments later), and listen to a history lesson (which makes them wiser).

What’s not to like? Why would you not want to “have to” do school today?

The crafts or activities suggested in this chapter did not inspire us. Sorry.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 30

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Chapter 30 covers Haiti’s fight for independence from France. If we studied anything about Haiti when I was growing up in Romania, I must have forgotten it, because I remember nothing on the subject. So I was learning alongside my children in this chapter.

Symbol of Haiti - the palm tree

Symbol of Haiti – the palm tree

My fourth grader studied big numbers in math this year, so he had the task of explaining to his sister (who is only in second grade) what the difference is between 36,000 white French aristocrats and 500,000 African slaves. Unit studies are not my thing, but when I can make a connection between subjects, I make it. In this case, math and history came together and it was fun. Continue reading »

The chapter has some violence, which would be normal when you study a rebellion, right? But we move quickly over these parts of the stories. I do not want to minimize the suffering of the slaves. We talk about the terrible institution of slavery every time it comes up and I remind them the Bible clearly speaks against slavery.

Haitian flags

Haitian flags

On the other hand, I do not want to get too graphic about what they did to slaves back then. After all, my children are only 7 and 10. When the time comes, I will let them read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and we will study the American Civil War and many other related lessons.

As always, I rejoiced because they learned new vocabulary. “Aristocracy” was one of the words in this lesson and they knew what it meant but they were not sure. Sometimes words we hear seem clear but not 100% and we need to look them up or ask an adult. That was the case here.

Dessalines creates the new Haitian flag

Dessalines creates the new Haitian flag

We discussed the different types of aristocrats and how some are lower or less important than others etc. For our craft, they created palm trees out of craft foam. They also colored the Haitian flag and, of their own free will, made some drawings.

One represents Jean-Jacques Dessalines creating the flag and the other, well, just a cool medieval castle under attack. Because we can. Homeschooling fun at its best. I think.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 29

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Chapter 29 deals with Napoleon’s rise to power. Two stories about Napoleon document first his becoming a consul and then an emperor. The kids want to understand why Napoleon behaved the way he did, which to me signifies that we are moving into the logic stage of their development.

French and British War Game

The French side is blue but technical difficulties made it so their cards ended up being white instead.

They are not just concerned about the facts. Now they want to know why the facts are as they are. What motivates people to want power? Why does a man want to become a leader at any cost? Greed. That’s the short answer. Continue reading »

So we discussed greed and what it does to people and relationships. We gave examples from our own lives and from some of the literature we have read or movies we have watched. The Bible verse came to mind, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

We talked about all the art that Napoleon brought from Italy and which is now in the Louvre. “Was the Mona Lisa among those paintings?” they asked me. I did not know the answer to that question.

When I researched it, I found out that no, the Mona Lisa did not come to France with Napoleon. It actually came a long time before that. Da Vinci himself brought it over from Italy.

For the craft or activity, we decided to play the game provided in the Activity Book, called “Conquer the World.” I printed out the cards on construction paper: blue for the French and red for the English. Well, would you believe this? The blue paper got warped in the printer and I got tired of working with it, so I printed out the French cards on regular printer paper.

I did not enlarge the board, either, as they were suggesting. And I did not want to laminate it because I knew we would want to color it. They enjoyed playing the game and I could really tell they remembered the details. It would be interesting to play it again in a month or six months and see if they still remember.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 28

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Chapter 28 is titled “China and the Rest of the World.” It is meant to contrast how the Chinese viewed themselves versus how the world (mainly Great Britain) saw China. If you ever needed a conversation starter on the topic of illegal drugs, this would be it.

Girl throwing clay on toy pottery wheel

Working with air dry clay and a toy pottery wheel

By now, you know I use these history lessons to make applications to our daily lives. Because the opium trade is discussed in the second story of the chapter, this was my opportunity to cover the bad long-term consequences of drugs. Continue reading »

When King George III sent his ambassador to China, I pointed out he was the same George III against whom American Patriots fought during the War of Independence. It is important for children to start making connections as we move from one continent to another.

We are building our timeline and seeing how the same “characters” pop up here and there across the map of the world creates a big picture in their minds.

They kept asking, “Why would anybody want to dream these crazy dreams?” We talked about the emptiness of people who do not have a purpose in their lives. We believe in a Creator God who put us on this earth for a reason. He has given us gifts and talents and our job is to hone those talents for His glory.

We develop a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, every day. When you have His Spirit in your heart and in your mind, you are not looking for ways to escape reality. On the contrary, you are seeking ways to improve your efficiency so that you can redeem the time and get your mission accomplished.

Unit studies are not my thing at all, but I like to make connections between the subjects as we come across things I consider useful for their upbringing. This is just an example of such a conversation.

For our activity, they wanted to make Chinese vases, as recommended in the activity book. I reluctantly agreed to getting out the toy pottery wheel and the air drying clay. Who looks forward to that kind of mess? Not me. But my daughter especially loves art tactile experiences.

Did she make a vase that looks like the sketches in the activity book? Nope. At least, she had fun and I got over my fear of clay and messes one more time. It’s all good.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 27

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Chapter 27 deals with the beginning of the industrial revolution: the cotton gin in the US and Watt’s steam engine in the UK. My son is into technology, so he was eager to learn more about these events. My daughter came along for the ride. As long as there is a coloring page, she is happy.

Boy draws invention on paper

For our activity, my son drew his own invention

The world has changed dramatically since the invention of the steam engine and this chapter describes very well the lives of people before and after Watt’s invention. I like Ms. Bauer’s writing and my children do, too. Continue reading »

It was touching to read about the children who helped in coal mines. I brought home the point to my children. They sometimes complain they have to “do school” but these nineteenth century children would have given anything to be spared the work in the mine. It is a sobering thought and it had the right effect on them for a few hours.

The next day we were back to the moaning and groaning about math and other subjects. I don’t want you to think that my children are enthused with learning every single moment of every day. They are normal children who would rather play when they should be studying.

Sister watches as brother draws his invention

My daughter watches as my son draws his invention

They obey and put their toys away and come to the table so we can study, but not without a bit of coaxing on my part. Obedience is important and I am still working on getting them to obey the first time I say something. Even Ms. Bauer shared that her children mutter things under their breath as they are asked to start a lesson or do a chore. But they go and do it.

I acknowledge their feelings and re-direct them to their task by saying something like, “I know you feel like playing a bit more, but it is 10:30 already and we really need to get started with math, otherwise we will be here studying at 6pm and who wants to do that? The sooner we get it all done, the more time in the day there is for you to play.”

If your child does not obey you when you ask them to come to the table and it takes more than a minute to convince them, it is time to take some of their privileges away. Obedience comes first.

The crazy thing is, once they get going, mine start saying, “I really like this! This is so cool! So glad we are learning about this!” or an equivalent. Like a train that starts slowly moving its wheels and then goes faster and faster, some children need to warm up to the idea of learning.

Philharmonia Winter Concert

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My son’s orchestra, Philharmonia, gave a winter concert last night at the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville, alongside three other ensembles: Preludium, Sinfonia, and the Chamber Orchestra.

Boy and girl with rabbit ears

My kids goofing off after the concert

One of my friends has a daughter in the same orchestra and she films it. We are so grateful for her efforts. Here’s a link to the 2018 Philharmonia Winter Concert. My son is in the second violin section. Continue reading »

Once the camera stops panning around and settles on the conductor, you can see my son at the top left corner of the screen. His stand partner is one of the rehearsal assistants. She has blond hair and wears a black top.

Girl passes out concert programs

My daughter poses after passing out programs

Their three pieces were unbelievably beautiful:

  1. “To Dance in the Fields of Glory” pays tribute to the military, their sacrifices and their meaningful lives.
  2. “Forever Joyful” describes the boundless energy a puppy has. The composer wrote it after he got a puppy.
  3. “Baila Conmigo” is Spanish “Dance with Me,” a fitting title for a tango.

The winter concert usually gets very challenging because of the weather and the flu season. Several school closings threatened to cancel two of our rehearsals and the director would have none of it.

We practice in a Knox County school, so when they are closed for weather or flu outbreaks, the youth symphony cannot access the building. Well, they came up with a solution.

One night, we went on the UT campus, in the beautiful Natalie Haslam Music Building. We have been there before for violin workshops and recitals, so we were familiar with the layout and parking. All things work together for good.

Back to the winter concert. My daughter’s orchestra passed out programs at the doors before the concert. They take their job seriously. They will start preparing a piece for the April concert, but until then they donned their concert attire and passed out programs at the doors.

TeenPact One Day

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For the third year in a row, we headed to Nashville for TeenPact One Day. This year, we managed to book a room next door to the Snodgrass Tower where the class was held. We just walked over, after making arrangements to leave our car parked at the hotel until that afternoon. So, so convenient. As soon as we know the date for 2019, we will book our room again at the Capitol Hotel Downtown Nashville.

TeenPact One Day

Signing each other’s Box Game

TeenPact is a four-day workshop for teens ages 13-19, teaching them how a bill becomes a law and many other details about our government. TeenPact One Day is the same workshop adapted for children ages 8-12 and it only takes place over one day. To be precise, between the hours of 10am and 4pm, with a lunch break. Continue reading »

TeenPact also has the tag “leadership school” because it trains the children how to shake hands, have eye contact, the mechanics of public speaking, making friends, and how to be a leader and influence people.

There is homework you download from the TeenPact website. Although not graded, the homework prepares your children for the day. It also gives parents and opportunity for conversations on topics that might not otherwise come up.

State House of Representatives

State House of Representatives

This year, we talked to our children about Roe v. Wade, for instance. My favorite part of it, of course, is vocabulary. They learn political terms: candidate, campaign manager, grassroots coordinator, legislative, executive, judicial, capitol, bill, lobbyist, corporate etc.

Our youngest attended TeenPact One Day for the first time this year and she loved it. She says she already looks forward to next year.

The day opens with an icebreaker called the Box Game. The students receive booklets and one of the pages contains boxes with things that might apply to them, e.g. “I have blue eyes.” They are to sign each other’s Box Game in one box and move around the room to get all the boxes signed.

State Senate

State Senate

Then, there is a 15-minute worship service followed by the Sword Drill. This is a game my son loves. The Bible becomes a sword and they are to look things up in it as they are told.

There is a skit about how a bill becomes a law – everybody’s favorite. Then we walk to the Capitol building for a tour and scavenger hunt. Lunch is followed by more workshops on government.

Returning students have a different track every year. The first-time students remain in the same classroom and are guided through the mechanics of public speaking. Returning students go into smaller classrooms and discuss different terminology.

As citizens of this country, we choose to vote in every election and stay informed about the political issues of the day. We believe it is important for our children to be trained in such matters.