Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 23

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The New Country dealt with the American Constitution and the first American president. A rather long and involved chapter, but oh so important for us. Their standardized test is looming in the not-so-distant future and Social Studies will be an important part of the scoring. The questions tend to be about American history.

Foam craft about the three branches of the American government

Foam craft about the three branches of the American government

I printed out the stencils for the craft on the three branches of government, the presidential timeline, and the map work. I did not think they would want to color Benjamin Franklin’s snake design. Well, they wanted it. It shows how much I know. Continue reading »

So I made two copies of it, as I usually do. My daughter, ever the artist, finished hers and requested a second one. This is the first time any of them has ever colored the same page twice. Children change from day to day and we had better keep up, I suppose.

I read to them while they color. It keeps them busy and focused. I can also consider the coloring a bit of artwork. It’s nice to see the color choices they make and yes, they have explanations for them. The theory of color by a seven-year-old – you have not lived until you have heard this one.

Coloring page with Ben Franklin flag design

Coloring page with Ben Franklin flag design

The craft was a bit stressful for me because I do not like the mess created by crafts. A friend of mine, homeschooling mother of five, has declared herself “craft-challenged” and refuses to do crafts with her kids. I would not go quite that far about myself, but crafts stress me out. I kept picking up the bits of paper and foam they made as they cut according to the stencils.

My daughter wanted to make two crafts. I indulged her. We have to use up all this foam we have around the house somehow.

We read the Preamble to the Constitution three times aloud and we added it to our memory work basket for the mornings that follow. I cannot get them to chant something five times in a row, as Susan Wise Bauer recommends. But three is not bad either, I think. It will just take 10 days instead of five to memorize something.

The presidential timeline was a bit tedious, but we made it through. One of them ran out of concentration and started goofing off toward the end. I knew we could not fill out index cards on all the presidents from Washington to Lincoln. With all due respect, this will be an activity better left for the Logic Stage.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 22

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Chapter 22 is titled “Revolution!” and it presents two stories about the American Revolution. The first, Discontent in the British Colonies, shows the reasons why Americans became more and more dissatisfied with England. The second, The American Revolution, presents the beginning of the War of Independence, highlights of it, and its outcome.

American flag craft

American flag craft made by my daughter

This is a rich chapter and we dwelt on the Review Questions to make sure most facts stuck. I read to them Longfellow’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” but decided against memorizing it. Not only is it too long, it is historically inaccurate. Longfellow took a lot of poetic licenses (artistic liberties) and only mentioned Revere, completely leaving out his worthy fellow rider, William Dawes. Also, he makes Revere into the recipient of the message by lanterns instead of being the one who actually gave the signal. And so on. Continue reading »

However, I believe we should memorize the introduction to the American Declaration of Independence, so I have made a copy and added it to our morning basket of memory work. Susan Wise Bauer has a very simple formula for memorization: have the child read the passage five times in the morning and five times in the evening. In a few days, the child should know it by heart.

American flag craft

My son putting together his American flag

I have not found success in having my children repeat something five times in a row. We do three times in the morning. No evening memory work – sorry, it just does not work for our family’s schedule. But I still find that they can memorize a poem in about five days of repeating it three times in the morning. It’s quite neat!

For a craft, we made the original flag of the American colonies. Who has talent to draw a star stencil? Not me. Who has the patience to cut out 13 stars for the original 13 colonies? Not me, nor my children.

Star Stickers for American flag

My daughter using star stickers on her flag craft

Instead, I gave them some of my sticker stars, which I use to reward their good paperwork. My daughter chose pink and purple stars, while my son worked with gold stars. Not exactly historically accurate, but they had fun and got a bit of artistic endeavor in for the day. Plus, they were proud of their flags.

My Top 10 Strategies for Raising Polyglots

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Because of my European background,  I want to raise polyglots even though we live in the United States. It helps that I homeschool – it gives me time to speak and read to them in different languages. If they went to school for seven hours a day in the majority language (English), it would put every other target language (Romanian, French, Spanish) at a huge disadvantage.

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I focus on Romanian and French for now. I decided I would add Spanish to the mix only after we get a grip on these two. Their daddy is American, so it’s all English with him.

So here are my Top 10 strategies for raising polyglots:

1. I spoke to them in the target language from birth. When others around us must understand my conversation with my children, I switch to English. Even though I live and homeschool in the US, I use Romanian as the language of instruction as much as I can. I repeat new concepts and vocabulary in both Romanian and English to make sure they get it.

2. I read to them in the target language at least 20 minutes a day. At first, I translated from English into Romanian. As the books got more complex, I switched to reading in English from English books, in French from French books and in Romanian from Romanian books.

3. We sing and listen to music in Romanian and French. While they play or eat, we turn it on in the background. They really like it. I point out some words if they are interested.

4. We Skype regularly in Romanian with my family or friends. Any French-speaking kids out there that we can Skype with?

5. I brush up on my own language skills by reading books, newspapers and blogs in French (or other languages). I listen to the news in French.

6. We listen to Radio France International, especially Le Journal en Français Facile for the children’s sake.

7. My children stumbled upon Fireman Sam in French and Robocar Poli in Korean on youtube. They even found Postman Pat in Dutch. When a character is hanging on a cliff yelling HELP in another language, they get it. Caution: TV viewing harms small children’s brain. My children are three and almost six. We only allow them 30 minutes daily, if at all.

8. We look to make friends with people who speak French or Romanian in our area. It’s tough though. But I keep hoping.

9. When the children get older, we will take them on trips to Québec and France.

10. Once my children can write, we plan to find them pen pals. Hopefully, my community of multicultural bloggers will hook me up in a few years (hint, hint).

I take teaching languages seriously, but I’m relaxed about it. Children don’t need pressure. Through it all, I am thankful that homeschooling allows me the time to accomplish my goal of raising polyglots in the good ol’ USA.