Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 38

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Chapter 38 covered American tragedies: “The Trail of Tears” and “Nat Turner’s Revolt.” We have read about the Trail of Tears from other sources before and the children were familiar with the story. They still shuddered to think what that was like for the Native Americans.

"Girl, daughter" in American Indian Sign Language

“Girl, daughter” in American Indian Sign Language

My daughter was upset with Andrew Jackson for passing the Indian Removal Act. I reminded them that, incidentally, Andrew Jackson was one of the three presidents Tennessee has contributed to this nation. Continue reading »

For our craft, I really did not want to make an Indian hunting purse. What would we do with it? Put it in our overflowing craft bins? Throw it away? After all that work? Besides, sewing is not something in which I delight. Last but not least, I do not want to do their crafts for them.

"To drink" in Native American sign language

“To drink” in Native American sign language

So, we ended up learning about the Native American sign language. The Activity Book provides a page full of signals the American Indians used to communicate. I asked the children to pose for me with one signal. They chose “girl, daughter” and “to drink” respectively.

About Nat Turner’s revolt: I told them I watched a TV show called “Strange Inheritance” and it was about Nat Turner’s Bible. Apparently, a courthouse in Virginia cleaned their attic boxes and found the Bible that belonged to Nat Turner. They knew it was his because his trial took place there and other reasons.

They sent it to the family that used to own him – the surviving members, that is. The family were happy to turn the Bible over to the Smithsonian instead of selling it for a seven figure to private collectors. I think that’s admirable.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 37

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Chapter 37 took us back to Africa, troubled Africa, with two stories: “The Zulu Kingdom” and “The Boers and the British.” The kids colored the page with Shaka, the Zulu king. We also did the map.

Close combat African spear

Close combat African spear

For our craft, we worked on the small spear. We found it very difficult to staple the tip to the paper towel roll, but we made it work. Since I did not want to rush to the store to get silver spray paint, or make a mess painting the tips silver and waiting for them to dry, I decided to use sparkly, silver card stock I happened to have. Continue reading »

How to transfer the provided black tips onto the silver card stock? Well, we traced the black onto butcher paper. It’s not the most transparent paper you can fine, but it works. The originals provided were black enough, you could see them through the butcher paper.

Then, we put the butcher paper over the silver card stock and traced over the pencil marks, pressing really hard. It actually left indentations into the card stock. At this point, we could trace over the indentations with a pencil, or we could just hold it to the light at a certain angle and cut it with a pair of scissors. We ended up doing the latter, to save time.

The fun part was the raffia. It took a bit to get it twined nicely around the tube. You can see in the picture. By the time we were done with three inches of wrapped raffia, we did not feel like unrolling it just to make it all pretty. As I said before, we are more about learning things than about perfecting crafts to put on Pinterest. Oh, and the raffia was made in Romania – as an added bonus for those who care.

It was interesting to explain about the Boers. They were from Holland, or the Netherlands, but they are called Dutch. We have been through this before, but it is finally sinking in – all the names we have in English for Holland.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 36

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Chapter 36 in Story of the World volume 3 covers the end of the slave trade. We were very happy the abolitionists succeeded in their worthy endeavor. We discussed greed and how the desire for more money makes people do horrible things.

Abolitionist Poster

Abolitionist Poster

For our craft, we made an abolitionist poster – a very basic one. Large construction paper instead of poster board. Where would I put a poster board? We already have too little wall space because we have so many windows. Besides, I could not even fit a poster board in their craft bins (which are rather large, mind you). Continue reading »

So I opted for a large construction paper in red – a color which demands attention. I made a copy of the poem provided and taped it in the middle. We looked up four Bible verses which condemn slavery and the kidnapping of people.

Abolitionist poster

Each child added their own anti-slavery image on each side of the poem.

One verse was from the Old Testament and three from the New Testament: Exodus 21:16, Galatians 3:28, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, and Luke 4:18. Of course, there are so many more verses which condemn slavery. It is a disgrace that Christians used to use the Bible to condone this abominable practice.

When they get a bit older, I will have them read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It will give them an immersion into that universe and the people in it. It is a sad chapter in world history, but research shows there are more slaves in the world today than back in the 19th century. How awful!

Human trafficking is a tough conversation to have with small children, so I am reserving that one for the next time we go through the curriculum.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 35

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Chapter 35 covers Mexican independence in two stories: the cry of Dolores and the Republic of Mexico. We stayed in history only. Lots of things are going on right now around our border with Mexico, but I did not want to get the kids too involved in it. I am so sick and tired of all the illegal alien situation in the US and the liberal media’s handling of the topic.

Paper flowers in the colors of the Mexican flag

Paper flowers in the colors of the Mexican flag

As an immigrant myself, I did not have the option to cross a border by foot and get into the US. I had to get a proper visa, after a tough interview at the US Embassy in my country, buy an expensive plane ticket, and then wait my turn in the documentation line when it came to adjust my status from non-immigrant to immigrant. That’s the legal way to become a US permanent resident. Anyway.

Mexico is a great country with an exciting language, which we learn a bit here and there. Our neighbor to the south has a lovely culture and we need to study their history and how they came to be independent. We have great friends from Mexico, too. That’s all that matters. Continue reading »

The kids are getting the picture of all the turmoil in history lessons. When they hear about yet another revolt or battle or execution, they groan and roll their eyes.

The crafts were pretty cool: paper flowers to represent the colors of the Mexican flag and huevos rancheros. I made it vegan, with scrambled tofu instead of sunny side up eggs. The recipe for hot chocolate included chili pepper. We did not think that would taste good, so no chili in our hot chocolate.

Huevos rancheros and hot chocolate - a Mexican breakfast

Huevos rancheros and hot chocolate – a Mexican breakfast

For some reason, we go through waves. Some weeks they love to color the coloring page provided in the Activity Books. We are going through such a time right now. While I read the stories out loud, they color with a passion.

The comprehension and review questions can really help remind us of key pointers in the lesson, so I ask them. When it comes to the narration exercises, even Susan Wise Bauer points out that some chapters have more details than others and, as a result, may not be that easy to summarize.

Preparing huevos rancheros

Preparing huevos rancheros

So yes, I have skipped narration in some chapters because I do not want to overdo it. We get plenty of practice with narration in our writing curriculum (Writing with Ease) and in general, as the kids narrate back to me the books they read or some parts they really enjoyed from a movie or a book.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 34

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Chapter 34 took us to South America in order to meet a certain Simon Bolivar. The craft was edible and easy to make: arroz con leche. We used to make a lot of “rice with milk” when I was growing up in Romania, so it was a familiar dish to me.

Arroz con leche

Arroz con leche

The difference was the orange juice and the cinnamon. I have to say, I did not expect the orange juice to give it a nice flavor. It just did not seem right. Continue reading »

Once I tried it though, I was really impressed. The rice is starchy and the milk has protein, so, in a way, it is a bit of a heavy dish. But the orange juice gives it a lift, a tropical nuance that makes it very pleasant.

If you can, try to make this dish for this chapter. Depending on your rice, you might have to cook it longer. I have the kind of rice that needs a good 45 minutes to cook. In conclusion, this was a rice pudding with a South American flavor. Very, very nice.

Ingredients for arroz con leche

Ingredients for arroz con leche

The kids noticed that greed seems to be a running theme through history. Even liberators like Simon Bolivar end up giving in to their humanity and seek a throne for life. Is it any wonder that it is hard to work toward term limits in our American Congress?

We had a conversation about our fallen human nature. We may say now that we are not interested in power, but when the opportunity is given to us, there’s no telling where our greed might take us.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 33

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Chapter 33 covered the end of Napoleon and the craft was really exciting. I had no idea it would be so easy to create our own snow globe with a soldier inside to represent the poor French soldiers trudging through Russia in the winter.

Snow globe soldier

Snow globe soldier craft

We made sure the pronunciation of Napoleon’s name is different from that of Neapolitan ice cream. We love Neapolitan ice cream at our house and they asked me if it got named after Napoleon. That’s when I realized we needed to clarify some pronunciation. Continue reading »

The chapter also covers the useless war of 1812. We have listened to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture before and we listened to it again. My son thinks the cannon sounds are really exciting. You can find a recording with real cannons on YouTube if you do not have a copy of this piece.

I did not play Abba’s Waterloo song for them, but I told them how the name can be used in different contexts to mean a battle you were supposed to win, but you lost. I also mentioned how the Duke of Wellington lived long enough to overlap his life and career with those of Queen Victoria.

The kids know I watch “Victoria” on PBS and I told them the Duke of Wellington makes several appearances in Victoria’s life as represented on this TV show. He is older and he advises her with his wisdom.

Here’s another reason to do history even before fifth grade: all the vocabulary used in popular culture, in newspapers, in songs, in symbolic ways. Vocabulary is very important in our homeschool and you might be sick of my reminding you about it over and over again.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 32

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Lewis and Clark star in chapter 32. Oh, and Lewis’s dog, Seaman. My children love animals and they melted over the idea of this dog that came along during this expedition. In fact, he was the only animal to complete the trip.

Lewis and Clark diary craft

Lewis and Clark diary out of construction paper, computer paper, and two brads.

When I looked him up online, he looks adorable. Well, the statues that represent him. Seaman was a Newfoundland dog and his fluffy tail and long hair make him very cute. Continue reading »

Pompy stole the show though. The coloring page featured Sacagawea and her baby boy, Jean-Baptiste, nicknamed Pompy. Can you imagine carrying a baby with you in that wilderness? No Huggies or Pampers. No wet wipes. Talk about adventure.

I really wish I had time to supplement this chapter with some of the reading suggestions provided. However, I am on a mission to complete volume 3 as soon as possible, so we can start on chapter 4 and finish that one before the next school year starts.

Yes, this means we will be doing history through the summer, too, but they enjoy it. It’s like reading to them out loud, which they do not consider school. If we get really ambitious, we might even be able to finish volume four before the school year ends in the middle of May.

Here’s why: we have finished our math curricula and so math does not necessarily have to happen anymore through April and May. We could cover two chapters of history every day. In 21 days of school, we could finish 42 chapters, which is what Story of the World has in every book.

It took me a bit to get this flexible in my mind about homeschooling. This process is called “de-schooling yourself.” For those of us who attended public school, it seems that we must do at least five subjects every day. Or else. But that’s not realistic for a homeschool setting.

Back to Lewis and Clark. I know that we will cover them again and again before they finish high school. We must declare ourselves satisfied with this quick glance at their story and move on. Who knows? I might order some of those books through the summer months for us to read after all.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 31

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Chapter 31 deals with a different kind of rebellion: the factory workers in England smashing machines for being abused in the work place. This chapter is our opportunity, parents, to steer young minds away from entitlement.

Factories in England

Coloring pages – our only craft for this chapter

Why? Because this chapter talks about children working in factories starting at age 8. That’s right. Let that sink in, especially if you have normal children, like I do, who are still learning not to complain when they hear they have to study or read or practice an instrument. Continue reading »

My children will do their work every day, but it is not without a bit of coaxing on my part. We are still working on attitude and getting things done without having to be told.

I have a friend who is homeschooling her children after she was homeschooled herself. She told me that when her mom used to give her different assignments, my friend would ask, “Do I have to?”

Somehow, somewhere, my children learned this phrase, too. It’s funny, really. When I say they have to do this or that before they can consider themselves finished with school for the day, they ask, “Do I have to?”

Where did that come from? So anyway, this chapter will teach them they should be thankful they do not have to work in a factory 12 hours a day. They only have to read a book (which is interesting), copy a paragraph (which can be amusing), practice an instrument (which is intriguing), solve some math problems (which prepares them for fun science experiments later), and listen to a history lesson (which makes them wiser).

What’s not to like? Why would you not want to “have to” do school today?

The crafts or activities suggested in this chapter did not inspire us. Sorry.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 30

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Chapter 30 covers Haiti’s fight for independence from France. If we studied anything about Haiti when I was growing up in Romania, I must have forgotten it, because I remember nothing on the subject. So I was learning alongside my children in this chapter.

Symbol of Haiti - the palm tree

Symbol of Haiti – the palm tree

My fourth grader studied big numbers in math this year, so he had the task of explaining to his sister (who is only in second grade) what the difference is between 36,000 white French aristocrats and 500,000 African slaves. Unit studies are not my thing, but when I can make a connection between subjects, I make it. In this case, math and history came together and it was fun. Continue reading »

The chapter has some violence, which would be normal when you study a rebellion, right? But we move quickly over these parts of the stories. I do not want to minimize the suffering of the slaves. We talk about the terrible institution of slavery every time it comes up and I remind them the Bible clearly speaks against slavery.

Haitian flags

Haitian flags

On the other hand, I do not want to get too graphic about what they did to slaves back then. After all, my children are only 7 and 10. When the time comes, I will let them read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and we will study the American Civil War and many other related lessons.

As always, I rejoiced because they learned new vocabulary. “Aristocracy” was one of the words in this lesson and they knew what it meant but they were not sure. Sometimes words we hear seem clear but not 100% and we need to look them up or ask an adult. That was the case here.

Dessalines creates the new Haitian flag

Dessalines creates the new Haitian flag

We discussed the different types of aristocrats and how some are lower or less important than others etc. For our craft, they created palm trees out of craft foam. They also colored the Haitian flag and, of their own free will, made some drawings.

One represents Jean-Jacques Dessalines creating the flag and the other, well, just a cool medieval castle under attack. Because we can. Homeschooling fun at its best. I think.


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.