Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 11

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The Ancient Kingdom of the Franks takes up all of chapter 11. As a Francophile, I am delighted to study about the history of France and to introduce my children to the richness of that culture. I remember studying about the Merovingian dynasty at the University of Bucharest, where I majored in French and English.

Clovis Coloring Page

My daughter does not even know the Blue Beard story yet, but she sensed Clovis should have a blue beard.

The chapter tells two stories: one about the background around the time of Merovius and how he united the Franks, Romans, Allemani and Burgundians for the first time in order to fight the Huns; the second one is about his grandson, Clovis, who united these peoples again in order to create an empire.  Continue reading »

Clovis used three tools toward unity: one law, one capital city (Paris) and one religion (Christianity). You should have seen the transformation in the kids as I mentioned the word “Paris.” They were coloring and listening to the story as if it was just another story, but then this familiar element came into their hearing.

Clovis Coloring Page

My son decided Clovis should sport a white beard instead.

We had watched the Aristocats and read Madeleine stories. I teach them French. They have heard me tell many stories about France and Paris. They know what the Eiffel Tower looks like. So this was familiar territory to them and they wanted to know more about it.

It confirmed to me that my job is to expose them to places and cultures, history and languages. As they build a body of knowledge, connections keep being made and a larger picture about the world emerges.

They colored the portrait of Clovis and the Fleur-de-Lis, France’s symbol. They worked on the map. I also brought an atlas so that they could follow the journey from New Zealand back to Europe. That trip on the map back to France was a great exercise in geography, by the way.

I decided we did not need to work on any of the crafts mentioned. I have ordered some extra books about the Franks from the library and we are waiting on them. Unfortunately, the lady who was in charge of inter-library loan requests was in a major car accident. They gave the job to another librarian already, but I have a feeling the requests will be processed more slowly.

Wonderful Wednesday – Irises

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The Outdoor Hour Challenge last Friday was about snakes. We will keep it in mind, should we ever run into a snake. I am not necessarily scared of or grossed out by snakes, but I would not want to seek them out either.

So, instead, I chose a subject that is closer to my heart and my house – the iris. Another name for it is, of course, fleur-de-lys (also spelled fleur-de-lis), which translates to flower of lily. The word iris means rainbow in Greek – because the flower comes in so many colors.

White and purple iris flower

Iris in my garden

We live in a home built by my husband’s grandparents. We remodeled it and its garden during our first year of marriage, before moving in.

We kept some of the plants and trees, which had been planted by my husband’s grandmother. Among them, a patch of iris plants – white and purple and perfect in every way. This is the time of the year they are in full bloom.

We enjoy these flowers for their sheer beauty, as well as for the memory of our children’s great-grandmother, although neither I nor the children ever got to meet her. To bring it all full-circle, my mom re-planted some of the irises along our driveway last year, when she came to visit.

A symbol of French royalty since Clovis, the iris can be found on coats of arms throughout France and England. Apparently, English kings wanted to show their claim to France by putting an iris onto their coat of arms.

The fleur-de-lys survives as a symbol on some coats of arms today, like those of the King of Spain, the Duke of Luxembourg and the House of Bourbon. Incidentally, Queen Anne of Romania belongs to the House of Bourbon.

White and purple irises

Irises in our garden

They say French kings received an iris instead of a scepter during their coronation ceremony. As such, it is a symbol of perfection, light and life.

Anna Comstock says the iris contains a great lesson for all of us “because nothing in it is what it seems.” The pistil looks like leaves, the leaves look like stems and the petals hide under the sepals. Somehow this arrangement creates perfect tunnels for bees to do their work.

The fleur-de-lis is the national flower of France. It is also the state flower of Tennessee, where I live. Two hours away from my home, in Greeneville, TN, they have an annual Iris Festival. In fact, it is this weekend, should you want to go.

For other Wonderful Wednesday nature study posts, click here.