Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 33

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Chapter 33 deals with Confucius, tangrams and tea. We drank tea. Not green tea, because we stay away from caffeine, nor mint tea, as suggested in the activity book, because we did not have any on hand. I started a tea pot and placed three Bigelow Orange and Spice tea bags (affiliate link) in our respective tea cups.

Tea Cups

Our tea bags steeping in the cups

They remembered how we used to drink tea with cake or cookies or scones in the winter and at our recent afternoon tea at Buckhorn Inn, so they decided they wanted some pumpkin pie with their tea. (We made pumpkin pie yesterday so they knew we had some in the fridge.) It was a lot of fun and we talked about how tea originated in China, but it is now the national drink in the United Kingdom, India and many other countries.  Continue reading »

They colored Confucius and cut up the tangrams.

Confucius Tangram Craft

I set up the desk for them to work on before they got there.

We own a set of magnetic tangrams called Travel Tangoes (affiliate link), which gives you 24 images to build with tangrams. My daughter chose a squirrel and we built one together with the tangrams she just cut up.

Tangram Squirrel

Tangram Squirrel

The kids loved the story of Confucius and his teachings. My son actually started applying one of the sayings given in the history book to a situation we dealt with the night before. We stopped history (so to speak) and conversed about that instead. It showed me that he really is a thinker and applies wisdom to every day situation.


Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 32

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Chapter 32 deals with China: the First Emperor, the Great Wall of China, pictograms, calligraphy, and the burial chamber filled with clay warriors and horses. My son had a lot of fun listening to the stories. I thought it was a long chapter, but he was not bored at all. I mentioned there is yet one more story in the chapter and he said, “Keep going! Read it!”

Boy building a dirt mold for a backyard Great Wall of China

Filling the dirt mold

After map work and coloring, we built the Great Wall of China: first on the table, then in our backyard. Here is a clip showing him fill up the dirt cast. Here is the next step – removing the cast.

To make the cast, we used super glue and craft sticks, as directed in the activity book.

We had lots of fun, although I did get some super glue on my fingers. Two days later, I am still dealing with it. The duct tape left some residue, too. I just could not figure out how to use super glue to connect the four sides. So I opted for duct tape instead.  Continue reading »

Four Sides and Tape

After they dry, bring on the duct tape.

Dirt Mold

Duct tape seemed easier.

I psyched myself up before the project that “we will get dirty” so I would not freak out with all the dirt. Sure enough, after he built it, he started throwing dirt all over himself. I am ashamed to say that I started freaking out, but then I remembered he can take a shower… and he did.


Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 10

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We studied Ancient China, chapter 10 of The Story of the World Volume 1 mostly in the car. I knew the Story of the World CDs would come in handy. The kids enjoyed the story of the silk worms. They had no idea about how silk is made. I feel so privileged – all over again – to be the one introducing them to such facts about the world.

They did their mapwork. My daughter colored the page with Chin and his dad, but my son put it off. Again, I do not insist on coloring if he does not want to.

We read some of the books recommended. My local library did not carry these particular titles, but they got them for us in about a week through the inter-library loan program. Meanwhile, the children’s librarian brought us similar books which they did have. One of them actually had the same title as the one recommended by Susan Wise Bauer, i.e. “Ancient China,” and it made it confusing later on as I was returning both titles.  Continue reading »

But we sorted it out and moved on from it. My librarians are very relaxed and if we make a mistake or they make a mistake, they take it all in stride. I appreciate such a working partner.

I chose not to make pictograms or Ming dynasty bowls. My kids have been playing with clay a bit too much lately on other projects and I am tired of cleaning up after art projects. It’s my classroom and my prerogative. I give you permission to do the same when you get tired of cleaning, in case you needed to get permission from somebody.

We are totally behind in our history curriculum. This is school week 15 for us and we should study at least chapter 15 in Story of the World Volume 1 this week. Oh well. This is a good challenge for me: figure out how to get history done. It’s all about priorities and planning, of course.

The temptation for any homeschool mom is to wonder if  kids finish things better in a classroom environment. Here’s the short answer: they don’t. And now, for the long answer…

I have recently spoken with a teacher who told me the older the kids get, the less they get done in class. “If you wait for 15 kids to get their math books out, you can spend 15 minutes… That’s why we give them homework. Because we can’t finish the lesson in the class.”

It was like a boost in the arm mid-year when I heard that. January and February can be dreary months for a homeschooling mom, you know. In fact, Susan Wise Bauer says that February is burnout month and we are a few days away from February. So I choose to relax, take each day as it comes, do my work and even if I don’t get everything done, I go to bed with a positive spirit.

Homeschooling feels like a privilege to me. When I look back on the time I get to spend with my children, nobody can take that away from me. And, if things get dreary in winter, I can always look forward to next year. I have already ordered some second grade curriculum for my son. I can’t believe I just typed that. My son, in the second grade? Yup! It will be here before I know it. No time to mope around!