Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 29

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Chapter 29 deals with Napoleon’s rise to power. Two stories about Napoleon document first his becoming a consul and then an emperor. The kids want to understand why Napoleon behaved the way he did, which to me signifies that we are moving into the logic stage of their development.

French and British War Game

The French side is blue but technical difficulties made it so their cards ended up being white instead.

They are not just concerned about the facts. Now they want to know why the facts are as they are. What motivates people to want power? Why does a man want to become a leader at any cost? Greed. That’s the short answer. Continue reading »

So we discussed greed and what it does to people and relationships. We gave examples from our own lives and from some of the literature we have read or movies we have watched. The Bible verse came to mind, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

We talked about all the art that Napoleon brought from Italy and which is now in the Louvre. “Was the Mona Lisa among those paintings?” they asked me. I did not know the answer to that question.

When I researched it, I found out that no, the Mona Lisa did not come to France with Napoleon. It actually came a long time before that. Da Vinci himself brought it over from Italy.

For the craft or activity, we decided to play the game provided in the Activity Book, called “Conquer the World.” I printed out the cards on construction paper: blue for the French and red for the English. Well, would you believe this? The blue paper got warped in the printer and I got tired of working with it, so I printed out the French cards on regular printer paper.

I did not enlarge the board, either, as they were suggesting. And I did not want to laminate it because I knew we would want to color it. They enjoyed playing the game and I could really tell they remembered the details. It would be interesting to play it again in a month or six months and see if they still remember.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 28

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Chapter 28 is titled “China and the Rest of the World.” It is meant to contrast how the Chinese viewed themselves versus how the world (mainly Great Britain) saw China. If you ever needed a conversation starter on the topic of illegal drugs, this would be it.

Girl throwing clay on toy pottery wheel

Working with air dry clay and a toy pottery wheel

By now, you know I use these history lessons to make applications to our daily lives. Because the opium trade is discussed in the second story of the chapter, this was my opportunity to cover the bad long-term consequences of drugs. Continue reading »

When King George III sent his ambassador to China, I pointed out he was the same George III against whom American Patriots fought during the War of Independence. It is important for children to start making connections as we move from one continent to another.

We are building our timeline and seeing how the same “characters” pop up here and there across the map of the world creates a big picture in their minds.

They kept asking, “Why would anybody want to dream these crazy dreams?” We talked about the emptiness of people who do not have a purpose in their lives. We believe in a Creator God who put us on this earth for a reason. He has given us gifts and talents and our job is to hone those talents for His glory.

We develop a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, every day. When you have His Spirit in your heart and in your mind, you are not looking for ways to escape reality. On the contrary, you are seeking ways to improve your efficiency so that you can redeem the time and get your mission accomplished.

Unit studies are not my thing at all, but I like to make connections between the subjects as we come across things I consider useful for their upbringing. This is just an example of such a conversation.

For our activity, they wanted to make Chinese vases, as recommended in the activity book. I reluctantly agreed to getting out the toy pottery wheel and the air drying clay. Who looks forward to that kind of mess? Not me. But my daughter especially loves art tactile experiences.

Did she make a vase that looks like the sketches in the activity book? Nope. At least, she had fun and I got over my fear of clay and messes one more time. It’s all good.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 27

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Chapter 27 deals with the beginning of the industrial revolution: the cotton gin in the US and Watt’s steam engine in the UK. My son is into technology, so he was eager to learn more about these events. My daughter came along for the ride. As long as there is a coloring page, she is happy.

Boy draws invention on paper

For our activity, my son drew his own invention

The world has changed dramatically since the invention of the steam engine and this chapter describes very well the lives of people before and after Watt’s invention. I like Ms. Bauer’s writing and my children do, too. Continue reading »

It was touching to read about the children who helped in coal mines. I brought home the point to my children. They sometimes complain they have to “do school” but these nineteenth century children would have given anything to be spared the work in the mine. It is a sobering thought and it had the right effect on them for a few hours.

The next day we were back to the moaning and groaning about math and other subjects. I don’t want you to think that my children are enthused with learning every single moment of every day. They are normal children who would rather play when they should be studying.

Sister watches as brother draws his invention

My daughter watches as my son draws his invention

They obey and put their toys away and come to the table so we can study, but not without a bit of coaxing on my part. Obedience is important and I am still working on getting them to obey the first time I say something. Even Ms. Bauer shared that her children mutter things under their breath as they are asked to start a lesson or do a chore. But they go and do it.

I acknowledge their feelings and re-direct them to their task by saying something like, “I know you feel like playing a bit more, but it is 10:30 already and we really need to get started with math, otherwise we will be here studying at 6pm and who wants to do that? The sooner we get it all done, the more time in the day there is for you to play.”

If your child does not obey you when you ask them to come to the table and it takes more than a minute to convince them, it is time to take some of their privileges away. Obedience comes first.

The crazy thing is, once they get going, mine start saying, “I really like this! This is so cool! So glad we are learning about this!” or an equivalent. Like a train that starts slowly moving its wheels and then goes faster and faster, some children need to warm up to the idea of learning.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 26

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Chapter 26 in Volume 3 took us to Russia. Catherine the Great made a big impression on my daughter. Of course, the paper dolls were a hit. She decorated every single one and made sure she could stick and remove them with Velcro dots.

Catherine the Great Paper Dolls

Cutting out the paper dolls representing Catherine the Great

My son was disgusted with Peter Ulrich’s behavior. It’s good for them to see good monarchs and bad monarchs. We talk about legacy sometimes. What do we want people to think of when they remember us, after we are gone? Continue reading »

It may sound like a terrible subject for children, but I think it is important for them to remember that, one day, they will be gone. However, their actions will live on in the memory of others. How do we want to be remembered?

Cutting Velcro dots

Tiny Velcro dots were needed for the crowns

My daughter said, “I am glad Catherine made Russia into a great nation.” We discussed several details about her reign. Even though she still believed God gave her the right to be queen, Catherine improved the lives of all Russians when she was in power.

It is always good for little girls to have strong female role models, especially when schools for women are created and women are empowered through education.

Catherine the Great Paper Dolls

Catherine the Great Paper Dolls

Too bad Catherine got married to a horrible guy. Even more heart-wrenching is what happened to her children, how they both got taken away from her by her mother-in-law, who raised them herself. I cannot imagine anything worse than that.

After reading up on her on my own, I was glad Susan Wise Bauer left out all the children Catherine the Great issued with other men. Those details can wait for when the kids are older and can handle such information.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 25

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The French Revolution is the subject of Chapter 25. It gets gory at times, the story line, but thankfully Susan Wise Bauer kept those details to a minimum.

Patriotic button during the French Revolution

Patriotic button during the French Revolution

My son is very interested in wars and battles so he was excited to hear our chapter dealt with fighting and conflict. Of course, they felt for the kids of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Continue reading »

One of their friends is named Maximilian so Robespierre stood out for them – as if what Robespierre did was not enough to stand out. But, you know, it helps when you can make connections.

The first story was strictly about the conditions in France which lead to the French Revolution, while the second dealt with the aftermath of the Revolution, i.e. the Reign of Terror.

Tricolor felt buttons

We used felt pads with sticky backs instead of the recommended foam

In all honesty, the way suspicion reigned supreme reminds me of Communism and, also, this political correctness required today in everything you do and say. Obviously, what happened in France in the late 1700s was pushed to the extreme, but the atmosphere is the same.

If you show less-than-enthusiastic support for Syrian migrants these days, you are a heartless person. Never mind that European women are raped by migrants and terrorist attacks happen almost every month in Europe. Never mind that. In the name of globalism, we should open all borders and let mayhem take over the West.

If your jar of peanut butter says “Made in the USA” or “Peanuts grown in the USA,” you are in trouble with the political correctness police. You are a bigot and a horrible person who causes people to seek counseling. We are living in strange times. History repeats itself.

All the more reasons to keep on keeping on with our history lessons. I am behind with printing out our history timeline figures, but I promise to catch up next week. Maybe.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 24

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Chapter 24 deals with Captain Cook’s voyages and the beginnings of Australia as a British colony. Since we just finished “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” the kids were already somewhat familiar with the name “Captain Cook” and the whole idea of explorations. It was a happy coincidence that our literature selection and our history lesson overlapped in a way.

Boy looking through telescope

My son looking for Venus after sundown

I am more interested in the reading comprehension questions now, as the nationally standardized test is coming up in six weeks. There will be lots of reading comprehension items on that test and I want the kids to learn how to approach their texts.  Continue reading »

If the questions are really easy, I direct the question to my second grader. She sits with us in history and loves to color and do the maps. She also loves the crafts, if any. But until recently she did not show an interest in answering the questions. As she grows and matures, I also want to challenge her to answer in full sentences and to scour the text for the right answer.

The other exercise that I did not emphasize before but on which I insist now is narration. My son gets lost in the details and has a hard time summarizing a text into three sentences. So we work on that skill at the end of the history lesson. I give him the examples given in the book if he does not know how to do it, or I correct him as he goes along and starts giving too many details.

Looking through the telescope

Looking through the telescope

For our activity, we chose to look at planet Venus one evening, after the sun set. We were leaving the house to go to tae kwon do, which should explain why my son is wearing what he is wearing in the picture. The moon was out, but no sign of Venus.

We looked around the moon through the telescope, but we could not find Venus. Later on, after tae kwon do, Venus was out and I just don’t have the right camera to capture it. But we spotted it and thought about Captain Cook and his secret mission.


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.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 21

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This chapter dealt with four wars – three completely useless plus the Seven Years’ War. George Washington gets introduced to students for the first time and our kids perked up when they heard his name. They knew about Washington from other books.

Camo shirt and blanket

Camo shirt and blanket

The chapter has two stories, both complex and rather boring at times. The children let me know that several times. As they colored the governor’s mansion coloring pages, I read to them.  Continue reading »

We answered the questions and I helped them with the narration. I like how even SWB makes provision for narration in complex story lines by allowing us to direct the student to specific details in the story.

Williamsburg Palace

Coring page for the chapter

The map work was interesting, as we had to put pluses and minuses on different countries, with different colors, to represent the four wars which took place both in Europe and in North America.

Hammering Ferns

My son hammering fern pigment into his shirt.

The craft was elaborate, too. We had to hunt for a light green shirt, ferns, a hammer, and salt. It has been cold lately, so it was chilly in the garage, where my son had to beat down the ferns to get their green juice to ooze onto the shirt. My son got warm as he pounded the ferns, but I just stood there taking pictures, not very good ones at that, shivering away.

Our son pours salt over the t-shirt to set the pigment.

Our son pours salt over the t-shirt to set the pigment.

We decided it was enough after a couple of minutes. Then, we soaked it in salt water. I decided one hour would be a good soaking period, as we were not given specific instructions. We put the T-shirt in the dryer afterwards.

The redcoats learn to camouflage in North America.

The redcoats learn to camouflage in North America.

I think it turned out OK, but I wish we could have put other leaves besides ferns – maybe rhododendron. There are not that many other leaves around, now that it is December. Also, there was just so much salt, you can see some white streaks here and there on the t-shirt. Oh well.

The kids loved the story of the redcoats learning to camouflage themselves in the forests of the American colonies. We pulled out our play camouflage blanket and took some silly pictures.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 19

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Chapter 19 from volume 3 covered the English in India. Colonialism fascinates me. I realize it is not a very pleasant subject for many and that is an even stronger reason to study about it. We have nothing to fear for the future unless we forget our past.

Sikh bracelet craft

Sikh bracelet craft

And by our past I mean world history. We live in a global village and the culture of one place influences another place more often than 50 years ago. The culture of one place comes from the history of that place. So there you go, we have a connection between your suburban lifestyle and what the English did in India 200 years ago. Continue reading »

Most of the crafts in this chapter have something to do with the Sikh religion, their dress, and their being used as bodyguards by the British. A friend of mine is very proud to say that she is craft-challenged. Well, I am right up there with her.

I have another friend who told me she plans on using Story of the World with her children, but not do the crafts. The Activity Book scares her. She feels she has no talent for crafts. Let me tell you something about that.

I do not thrive on artsy-crafty projects. They are not something that make me want to jump up for joy. I just pick the easiest of the suggestions and run with it. This chapter is no exception. Who has the time or the inclination to make a sun dial or whole Sikh outfit? If that will keep my children from learning about history, then I am in trouble.

You see what I did here: we put some aluminium foil over my Orange Rhino bracelet and we called it a day. History crafts do not have to take over your whole morning (or more than five minutes). If you don’t feel like doing any crafts, so be it. It’s OK not to do crafts for every chapter. I give you permission.