Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 24

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The Ottoman Empire or Chapter 24 hit home with me, as I grew up in Romania, and our medieval history was riddled with battles against the Turks. In fact, as late as 1878, Romania was fighting the Ottoman Empire or what had remained of it. It’s always interesting to read history from an English source, a source that would not be as biased as a Romanian historian, for instance.

Dancing bear crafts

Dancing bear crafts

My children did not appreciate the fact that Muslims took over Constantinople and called it Istanbul. My daughter, who loves art and would color anything, refused to color the page I had printed out from our history curriculum – a page depicting the fall of Constantinople. I then offered the portrait of Suleiman. She took one glance at him and said, “No, I don’t want to color him either.”  Continue reading »

When it comes to coloring, I think it falls in the category of “busy work” unless the child takes great delight in it. So I don’t make my children color unless they really want to. Instead, we worked on a craft with dancing bears. We made the puppets and then we recorded a short clip of the kids working them as puppeteers, the way an itinerant Turkish entertainer might have.

I tried reading to them from a Romanian history book for children, “Mircea cel Mare si luptele lui cu turcii” by Nicolae Djuvara. We bought this book in the gift shop at Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle) when we were in Romania in April. My son wanted it. It has beautiful full-color illustrations, but I am afraid the level it is written on may be for higher grades than my children’s Romanian level. I got through the first chapter and then they started with all sorts of questions which revealed it was way over their heads. I put it back on the shelf for a later time.

This is a fairly long lesson, with four different story lines, so we had plenty to discuss as it is. I have given up on trying to read the recommended texts, whether fiction or nonfiction. Our goal at this stage is to introduce children to names, places, historical facts, and lots of vocabulary. I think we certainly accomplish that goal with the text of our history book.


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 deals with Medieval India. The best part was the weaving craft, although the two stories were pretty interesting, too. The kids learned the word “dynasty.” New vocabulary is always fun and it is one of the reasons why I chose to do history with them in grades 1-4.

Weaving Craft

Sometimes it does seem like too much when so many people simply focus on the 3 Rs, but I really think there is something to exposure to vocabulary, true stories, geography and historical figures.

They liked coloring the map and the man riding on an elephant, which was the coloring sheet provided for this chapter in the Activity Book. I can already tell the Activity Book has more projects and on a higher level than last year. I can see a progression of difficulty level.

The kids were really excited about weaving. They used the nail to poke holes and my son even made a pun when he said, “I nailed it!” My daughter got discouraged with the weaving process and I had to encourage her to continue and to persevere. “This is only your first time trying weaving, so give yourself some room to make mistakes,” I said, or something to that effect.

Woven Cloth

Finished product

She really enjoyed coloring the elephant. I know she needed to do something more familiar after all that weaving, so she threw herself at coloring with all her might.


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 2

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Chapter 2 of SOTW Volume 2 deals with the British Isles as they got invaded by Anglo-Saxons. There are two stories in the chapter, one being the one about Beowulf.

We worked on coloring Beowulf and did the map work. I also printed out the brooch design for them to color. We were supposed to make brooches for their Celtic cloaks, but we gave up. Sometimes you just have to say, we have read, we have colored, we have worked on the map, we are done. Nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t do a craft for history.

Beowulf coloring page

Beowulf colored by my five-year-old

I just want to send this message out there into the blogosphere. I am not super mom. I don’t do everything required in a history curriculum. This marks an important step in my homeschooling journey, as I am naturally inclined to dot every i and cross every t. But, with everything else we have going on this summer, I have to organize my priorities and some things have to go.

We can run around trying to do so many things and then we end up close to burnout before the school even started. Summer can be a bit too busy, I think. And I am not even doing everything I thought would be nice to try.

Speaking of requirements, one book per week to read from the suggested list is enough. I heard it from the mouth of this curriculum’s creator, Susan Wise Bauer herself.

Celtic brooch materials

Celtic brooch materials all ready to go… before I gave up

So take heart, homeschooling mom, you are not the only one cutting corners. Some days are low energy, other days are just full of so much to do. You may want to tackle it all, but something has to give. Again, nothing bad will happen if we don’t do a craft for every chapter in our history book. Can you tell I am actually writing this for my own benefit?