Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 15

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Chapter 15 dealt with three things, all of them happening in the New World. First, we looked at the Wampanoag’s war against the English colonists, also known as King Philip’s war. Such a mess! It is one thing to inspire the children with stories of brave explorers who sailed across unknown seas in search of a shorter route to India. It’s another thing altogether to talk about the aftermath of such explorations and colonization attempts.

But history must be taught, no matter how painful and sad it may have been. Since history repeats itself, we want to make sure that we learn what happened in the past so that we may not repeat others’ mistakes.

Boy and girl in camo

Having fun in camouflage outfits

The second story dealt with the French having trouble in New France, today’s Quebec. One trouble was the lack of women and the other was the attack of the Iroquois. Since we are vaguely making plans to visit Montreal and Quebec City one day, we made a mental note of Marie-Madeleine de Vercheres and her statue which we should definitely see. Continue reading »

King Louis XIV paid women to cross the ocean in order to live in New France, where they could meet lonely soldiers, settle down and have families together. Somebody should come up with a similar idea for the Chinese these days, but that is another history lesson for another time.

The third story was about William Penn’s holy experiment or the beginning of Pennsylvania. We talked about Quakers and I showed them the oat box – Quaker Oats – which has a man in his characteristic Quaker suit and hat on the label. We eat a lot of oatmeal for breakfast. The children are very familiar with that box. Now they know what the man represents.

My children are going through an army phase, so it was very easy to get them dressed in camo for this chapter’s project of blending in.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 9

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Chapter 9 deals with the Western War or the Thirty Years’ War. This was a fascinating lesson to me. I had forgotten the details of this war. After all, it has been decades since I studied it in school. Now that I know more about the difference between Catholics and Protestants, I looked at the story in a different light anyway.

Shredded apples

Shredded apples for the Swedish apple cake

First of all, religious wars are sad. We talked about the fact that war may be a necessary evil at times, but it should never start simply because you persecute somebody for their faith. Continue reading »

For our craft, I made a Swedish apple cake according to the recipe in the Activity Book. It was fun and, as usual, I substituted some ingredients for health reasons. No matter how you cut it, one cup of sugar in a cake recipe seems extremely rich. I used some molasses and honey instead of the sugar. I definitely did not use a cup of the sweeteners.

Molasses, coconut oil and honey

Molasses, coconut oil and honey

My suggestion to you it to omit the nutmeg in the recipe. Even though I like nutmeg, it totally seemed to overwhelm the cloves and other ingredients. So skip the nutmeg altogether and make your Swedish apple cake more palatable.

Swedish apple cake

Swedish apple cake

The consistency was more that of a fruit cake – dense and fruity. I was the only one who consumed this apple cake and that’s because I don’t believe in throwing away food. Maybe I went too far with my substitutions? Maybe it is supposed to be that way?

Swedish apple cake in pan

Swedish apple cake in pan

It was edible, especially with a cup of milk nearby, but I am not a picky eater. My children tried it and did not like it. It must have been the nutmeg, but I also think that the name “cake” made them expect something fluffier and softer.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 8

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The Middle of the East or Chapter 8 was all about the Persian puzzle and the Ottoman Turks. Needless to say, I have a great deal to add to the history lessons on the Ottoman Empire, as someone who grew up in Romania. Thanks to our proximity to the Black Sea area, Romanians were always being invaded or threatened to be invaded. For centuries, the Turks were our greatest enemies.

Bridge of four arches

One soldier was enough to make the bridge of four arches bend.

The craft we chose was to build a bridge of four arches. It was not that hard, but it was not easy either. Scotch tape helps but it can be unruly, as I just used scrap paper for the arches, and scrap paper is flimsy. By the way, let us talk about the supplies needed. Typing paper? I had to look that up. Continue reading »

Apparently, that is another name for A4 – the European size for what we call 8 1/2 x 11 or Letter size in America. A4 is slightly longer and wider than Letter size.

The good news is, what you need to cut out of a piece of “typing paper” also fits within a Letter size. So we used some scrap paper, Letter size, and cut out the strips required. This was a great exercise in measuring with a ruler, by the way. If your children need some practice with measuring and using a ruler, there’s your opportunity.

We put them together with tape and then tested them with plastic soldiers. One plastic soldier was OK on it, but two proved too heavy. The kids played with the soldiers as if they were having a battle around the bridge and did not place them on the bridge.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 5

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The children enjoyed Warlords of Japan or Chapter 5 because it is right up their alley with shoguns, battles, and the Japanese art of war. They take tae kwon do, which is Korean, but it’s martial arts and it comes from the Far East, so they feel the connection.

wind poem craft

Wind poem craft hanging in the tree – our wishes and silly poems registered for posterity

Of course, my heart skips a beat at all the violence in the chapter, but it’s history and the children need to understand freedom does not just happen. Throughout the centuries, no matter where you go in the world, there have been battles for freedom and control. Continue reading »

They learned new words like shogun (military ruler), daimyo (warlike noblemen), samurai (Japanese knights) and sumo wrestling. I showed them sumo wrestling on YouTube and they got embarrassed at the costume. They could not believe the size of sumo wrestlers, either. Welcome to the world and its many different cultures and traditional sports.

We made a wind poem. I asked each of the children to tell me some wishes. When they ran out of wishes, we wrote some silly poems on the remaining strips. The writing has to be done vertically, according to Japanese tradition, on narrow strips of paper. We then taped them onto a plastic rod and put it in a tree near the house.

This craft is recommended in the Activity Book. Japanese participating in the Star Festival used to write poems and wishes on strips and hang them outside. As the wind caressed the strips of paper, the festival participants hoped their wishes would come true.

Of course, we discussed the difference between superstitions and prayers. It was a good learning moment.

 


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 34

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Chapter 34 or Martin Luther’s New Ideas is probably my favorite topic in medieval history. I love the Protestant Reformation and all that it entails. Luther is my favorite reformer, though I appreciate what each one has done for the cause.

Martin Luther coloring page

Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg and the world was never the same.

We learned the basic facts through the first story. Then, through the second story, which dealt with Henry VIII, we learned how these new ideas coming from Germany could be taken too far when people are blinded by greed, jealousy, pride etc.  Continue reading »

It was rather strange to talk to the kids about Henry’s six marriages and two beheaded wives. But I think Susan Wise Bauer did a good job in presenting the facts without descriptive, gratuitous violence. We just swiftly learned the facts and moved on.

If you have a hard time remembering which wife died, was divorced, or was beheaded, the chapter provides a simple rhyme to help with that.

I printed out a portrait of Martin Luther for them to color but showed them the portrait of Henry VIII. They both said they did not want to color him. He was too crazy. And I was not going to make my children color him anyway. But I wanted them to have a visual of him so that they may start recognizing him in history books and magazines.

The map work was smooth and then we did the craft page with the Tudor Family Tree.

Chapter 34. Done. Check. Eight more chapters to go, but who’s counting?


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 33

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Spain, Portugal, and the New World or Chapter 33 continued the violence theme but from a different perspective. I think it is important for children to understand that Europeans used to look at black-skinned or brown-skinned people as if they were not fully human. Also, that slaves were brought from West Africa and how this was done and why.

Conquistador mask with a pink beard

Conquistador mask with a pink beard

We got a chance to color a conquistador and to learn the word itself. We made a conquistador mask. My daughter was appalled that the mask had a beard. “I’m a girl! How can I wear this with a beard?” she asked. So she colored the beard pink. Problem solved.  Continue reading »

The second story was about Cortes and Montezuma. My son liked it so much, he asked to hear it again. I read the narration paragraph to him. He wasn’t satisfied. I told him I would not read it again, but he could read it to himself later on.

These kids… they will ask for the moon. They push the boundaries over and over again. If you don’t stop and place firm edges to what you are willing to do, they will take away all your energy. Learn to say no. That’s my advice to you. It’s hard, I know, but for your own protection, you have to learn to say no to your kids.

The map work was rather easy. By now they know Portugal was not a part of Spain, but just another country. They understand where West Africa is. This lesson teaches the meaning of “West Indies,” too.

Chapter 33. Done. Check.


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 32

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The American Kingdoms or Chapter 32 brought back the challenge of violence. How do you tell small children that the Mayans played a ball game at the end of which the losers were put to death? And if you do tell them, do you tell them how the losers died? Very tricky.

Actually, it’s not that tricky if we divide and conquer this dilemma. Death is part of life and we have already experienced the death of loved ones: one of their friends died last November (still as shocking today as I think about it) and their grandfathers died one year and two years ago respectively.  Continue reading »

So I have no problem with telling them that people die in these history lessons. But how they die, that’s another matter altogether. I have chosen not to tell them how these poor people were killed. You can do whatever you want.

The crafts did not speak to me at all. Maybe also because I am in a hurry to get through this curriculum. Maybe because the one craft I did print out for them, Mayan math, seemed rather involved. First off, I had to learn how the Mayans did math before I could explain it to the kids. Honestly, I was feeling lazy. There, I said it. I was feeling lazy.

So these pages went into their history binders without being done. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t know. I am the mom. I am the teacher. I decided that they understood quite a bit about the Mayans, the Aztecs and the Incas. Solving this math problem with Mayan figures would not make or break us.


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 22

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With Chapter 22, or Exploring the Mysterious East, we have entered the second part of the book. By the way, we are still reading a book about Eleanor of Aquitaine, the mother of Richard the Lionhearted and John Lackland, and other famous women from history. Also, we got a chapter book on Robin Hood from Dr. Bauer’s recommended list. We are swamped with reading material and we are on a deadline, as these are ILL items which cannot be renewed.

Needless to say, I am not inclined to be getting these extra readings from the library any time soon. First off, we are in catch up mode and I have decided that reading the lessons and doing the map and a bit of coloring here and there is sufficient for their age. Secondly, I am tired of having to stop in the middle of a sentence, when I read out loud to them, because of the violence portrayed in these books.   Continue reading »

It’s not that the writers are intentionally making the books violent. The subject matter is violent. We are talking kings, queens, adulteries, intrigues, lots of fighting and lots of wars and death and torture, after all. Humanity has not exactly been singing Cumbaya at each other. But Dr. Bauer has made an effort to tell the story of the world to children in a great curriculum and I will stick to her stories.

The other books she suggests, while great for the subject, have to be so thoroughly edited by me verbally, as I go along, that I have decided it is not worth the effort.

This chapter dealt with Marco Polo eating ice cream for the first time in China and the kids loved it. For some reason, my son was also really impressed with the description of coal: black stones which can burn. He answered the questions very well and so did my daughter, who just finished kindergarten.

She wants to answer more and more questions and I have allowed her to just read the answers from the book, as she is still learning to read and process information. This way, she gets reading practice, she is proud that she can answer the questions and be part of the lesson just like big brother, and then she actually learns some history details by repeating them herself.

They are still learning to be patient with each other and to take turns. It used to be no competition between them when she was smaller and just joined us for fun. Now, she wants to be actively involved and feels slighted if I focus too much on big brother when we do subject together. I have learned that even though we do subjects together at his level, I have to: 1. give her a chance to participate and 2. explain some of the words for her level. It’s fun!


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 18

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We covered The Age of Crusades or Chapter 18 in March, after our son’s standardized test and a spring break. By then, the terrorist attacks in Brussels had happened and it was very tempting to tell them the violence between Christians and Muslims are still continuing today. I am not afraid to call these people what they want to be called, i. e. Islamic terrorists or Islamic fighters.

However, we were getting ready to fly to Romania and I did not want to scare the children. It was eerie to be reading about this though just when we were ready to pack and travel. We even considered not going, as Europe seems to be in a state of confusion as to its own security.

In the end we decided to go and I have yet to update the blog and my readers about our trip to Romania. Suffice it to say that we had fun and the kids learned a lot.

This was a rather long chapter – four different stories, lots to keep in mind. I have learned to ask each set of comprehension questions after each story. That way, it is fresh in our minds. I can’t even keep all these details and people straight sometimes. So I don’t expect the kids to remember everything perfectly.

As long as we read the answers a couple more times, I consider it a review and another way for us to repeat and learn. History is not very fun unless you are emotionally involved with a topic.

Again, no crafts. We were in a hurry to catch up and I just wanted to get the map and the coloring page done. And no pictures because before we finished the 180 school days before we left for Romania. As such, I had switched them to new binders for history, having filed all the papers from “last year” in a place that is not easily accessible right now.


Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 28

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The Roman Empire was fascinating for the children. I liked it, too, as I have always liked any stories about ancient Rome. Can we all agree that the Roman soldiers should be worthy of our admiration? They and their bracelets and their bracelet inscription, SPQR, which stands for Senatus Populus que Romanus, which translates to “The Senate and the Roman People.”

Roman soldier cuff bracelet

The famous Roman soldier cuff bracelet

The crafts (aqueducts, sand dough, Roman road model) were a 10 on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is the most difficult level. I decided to stay clear of glue and sand and little pebbles in a shoe box lid. We made the cuff bracelets from the next chapter instead. We cut up a cereal box, measured it around the kids’ wrists, stapled them, and then covered them in aluminium foil.

Craft bracelet

I stapled the cardboard bracelets first.

I did not show them the gladiator coloring page. Too raw for my taste, I suppose. It’s enough for them to hear that some gladiators preferred to commit suicide than to kill others for sport.