Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 11

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Chapter 11 was all about India and the Mogul emperors there. The craft was not that complicated. We put a couple of stuffed animals in the math balance and tried to see what goods could make them balance.

Foofa on a math balance

The weight of Foofa in costume jewelry and such

The story was that of the young Indian prince whose weight was measured in gold and food which were then given to the poor on his birthday. The kids had fun bringing costume jewelry, marbles and other objects to try to make things balance. Continue reading »

I suppose you could really dive into this activity and transform it into a math activity and other things – a whole unit study in itself about India. The thing is, unit studies do not appeal to me. I would suspect one cannot do a unit study about India either without cooking an Indian dish. Alas, I am not sophisticated enough to appreciate Indian cuisine.

Teddybear in math balance

Teddybear in math balance

I have several Indian friends who have cooked their dishes for me and promised me to tone down the spices. The food was so spicy, I had tears in my eyes as I ate the first couple of forkfuls and then asked to be excused from finishing the rest of my plate. I am sorry, but Indian food is not my thing. I have never liked spicy food to begin with. Ginger and curry are not at all flavors I like, either. There it is.

The kids enjoy looking cities up on the world map. We talked about how large India is – large enough to be called the Indian subcontinent in some contexts. And that was another chapter done.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 10

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Chapter 10 dealt with China and the rise of the Manchu. The kids could not believe how stubborn and self-sufficient the Chinese were.

Girl gets sand from a sandbox

Getting sand from our sandbox

For our craft, we made a Zen garden. Oh, the fun! We have an aluminium pan for our crafts and first my daughter filled it up with sand from the sandbox. Then, they cleaned the sand a bit. Lots of little leaves and pebbles somehow manage to get into our sandbox, despite the lid. Continue reading »

Raking the Zen garden

Raking the Zen garden

Then, I explained to them how to rake it and decorate it with rocks. My children have recently started rock collections and they were very willing to part with three of their rocks for this project.

We talked about the difference between Zen and Christianity. We believe, as Christians, that there is nothing good in us. The heart is desperately wicked, the Bible says. That is why we need a Redeemer and we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Through faith in Him, we receive eternal life. He lives in our hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and so now our hearts are renewed. Our actions reflect this inward change.

Zen garden

Zen garden

With Zen, things are different. Zen believers turn inwardly to achieve peace. Christians reach outside of themselves, to God and His Son, while Zen teaches people to look inside themselves. The kids did not seem to have a problem distinguishing the two principles.

For the record, I have given up on reading the suggested books. Maybe this summer? We are in the home stretch of preparing for the annual standardized test and I seem to have tunnel vision about the 3Rs. We will definitely look at some of the titles suggested by SWB and see if the library can get them for us.


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 7

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Chapter 7 dealt with the spread of slavery. The children were appalled by the institution of slavery and we clarified some things about it with this chapter. Tobacco as a source of income was discussed and, of course, we talked about smoking. Again.

Anti-smoking poster

My daughter made an anti-tobacco poster

I read somewhere that children as young as 8 already know if they plan to start smoking when they get older. Even if their parents do not smoke, some children become influenced by a movie or another adult in their life who smokes and they already develop an idea that smoking might just be something they want to do one day. Continue reading »

Because of this, I have been on an anti-smoking campaign with my children from day 1. I had one non-smoking parent and one who smoked. I knew the smell of cigarettes even though my smoking parent made an effort to always smoke on the balcony or in front of an open window. I never liked the smell of it and I never thought smoking was cool – no matter how many French movies I watched.

Strangely enough, my husband had the same background: one smoking parent and one non-smoking parent. He has also never entertained the idea of smoking. So we used our own story mingled with this history chapter on tobacco as an income source to discuss that smoking is bad for you and that we should not get involved in the smoking industry at any level.

Boy and girl create anti-smoking posters

They each worked on an anti-smoking poster

We read the background to the tobacco poster and King James’s Counter Tobacco document – rather long, but we did it. I had to work up an appetite for it because it just seemed long and redundant. Then, they worked on an anti-smoking poster. I printed out an infographic from the CDC website about all the risks associated with smoking and they worked around it.

Queen Nzinga was another part of the chapter and – in all honesty – it was all new to me. Fascinating woman she was – a great role model for our daughters.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 6

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The last time I blogged about Story of the World and our adventures in history was in October. That does not mean we have done done history. In fact, today we covered chapter 34. I suppose you can say I’m a bit behind in blogging about SOTW. My apologies. I will do my best to recount our efforts and catch up in the next couple of months.

Chapter 6 dealt with new colonies in the new world: Plymouth Plantation and New Amsterdam. For our craft, we made cornbread based on the recipe provided in the Activity Book – an original Wampanoag recipe with modern ingredients.

Wampanoag Cornbread

Wampanoag Cornbread

I modified the recipe a bit: soy milk instead of “milk,” vegetarian margarine (we like Smart Balance) instead of “margarine,” and honey instead of sugar. The one egg needed in the recipe can be replaced with Egg Replacer, of course. Even with all the substitutions, the cornbread came out well and everybody enjoyed it. I made some vegetarian chili and a cabbage salad and that was our lunch.

The kids loved to hear the story of The Mayflower all over again. We have covered it every year around Thanksgiving and they remembered some bits. The thing is, I don’t harp so much on dates and details. Maybe I should. The way I learned history was dry and fact-oriented and I want them to get into history through the avenue of a story.

Continue reading »

I had good history teachers, but the way they taught us was via a textbook. Here are the five reasons why the peasant revolts happened in 1907; memorize the years when King Stephen the Great reigned; now list the seven outcomes of World War II. I never understood why people got interested in history. What was the big deal?

Cornbread in pan

Cornbread in pan

Well, now that I am older, I look at history differently – as a story. I think that Susan Wise Bauer inspired me in that way, but I grew into this experience organically, through my fascination with royalty and by watching period dramas like ‘Downton Abbey’ and, more recently, ‘Victoria.’

You get the story and then you start asking questions about the people, the times, the inventions, and the government of the era. You get answers by Googling, by looking things up in a history encyclopedia, by listening to music from that time, by buying a history magazine etc. And then you know more about what happened and why. You discover you love history because it is so fascinating to hang on to the story.

That’s my strategy with the kids and I think it works because my son declares he loves history. My daughter – not so much, but she is still young. When my son was my daughter’s age, he was OK with history, but he would not declare his love for it.


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. 3, Chapter 4

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Chapter 4 in The Story of the World Volume 3 deals with the struggle to look for a Northwestern passage. Hudson and Champlain are the main heroes of the two stories in the chapter. I did not exactly have the milk cartons required to make the craft boat – we drink non-dairy milk which comes in a totally different shaped-carton.

LEGO friends in a boat

Floating cakes of ice during the search for a northwestern passage. Yes, LEGO friends in the boat…

So I set the kids on an adventure with LEGO people and boats. We used white LEGO bricks as the floating cakes of ice mentioned in the stories, an expression which made them laugh. Cakes of ice? They kept repeating it. This is why we read extensively. They learn new ways to use words and to put them together.  Continue reading »

They barely colored and I did not insist. They have been coloring a lot of history sheets lately and we don’t need to drive this activity into the ground.

The best moment for me during the history class was when my daughter heard Hudson wanted to sail to India by going over the top of the earth. “Wait!” she started. “The top of the earth?” Her eyes thoughtfully rested on my eyes for a quiet second. And then she burst out, “He is going to Santa!”

I laughed for a few minutes. We all did. She started explaining how she connected things in her mind. “The top of the earth is the North Pole. That’s where Santa lives! Hudson is going to Santa!”

I made a point to remind them their violin teacher lives in Quebec. They should tease her about the first colonists being beggars and convicted criminals. They said they might mention it. I also asked them, “Should we not be thankful that all these explorers have gone before us? Our lives are so comfortable now here in North America. These people sacrificed everything in order to find a way toward global trade.” They appeared thoughtful, so hopefully some realization of our blessed stated is sinking in.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 3

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Chapter 3 came with two stories, but they both focused on King James. I know it’s a bit much to read two stories in one sitting, and work through questions and narration, but we do it because, frankly, I find it hard to split history in two days during the week. Plus we have been doing this through the summer and the kids could take it.

When I finish one story, I ask them the comprehension questions. Then, I ask my eight-year-old to narrate the story back to me. As soon as he stops, they say, “Next story! Next story!” So it’s not like I am stressing them out or making them suffer. They love history.  Continue reading »

It was interesting to see they were making connections today. When I mentioned Westminster Abbey, my daughter said, “That’s where Handel is buried!” She has been listening to some CDs about the lives of different composers and obviously she is connecting the dots.

One thing they did differently today was my daughter decided to copy her brother in his coloring. So if you see a cat in the original coloring page, you can also see it in her page, except hers is reversed (she is left-handed).

If you look closely, there’s even a lion on the sails – probably an inspiration from the Dawn Treader – the Narnia book we are reading right now. They have Aslan on their sails. They were impressed with the number of scholars King James got together to translate the Bible (54).

I decided I was not ready to do crafts so we did not do them.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 1

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Here we go again. Another school year means we go on with history. It’s hard to believe, but we have reached the year 1600 in our studies. On our first day of school this year, we read Chapter 1 of Volume 3 in Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.

Story of the World Volume 3

Story of the World Volume 3

 

I don’t know why the layout is slightly different but it does not matter. It’s the same basic format:

  • I read a chapter out loud from the main book, which contains the actual “stories”
  • They color a picture which I copy from the Activity Book
  • We work on the map provided for that chapter in the Activity Book
  • We do a craft suggested, if I feel up to it
  • We read a suggested title, optional

Continue reading »

This first lesson was a bit longer, because I read the Introduction and then Chapter 1, which had two stories. But they liked it.

And, truth be told, as soon as they saw the new curriculum and realized it was “history,” they started squealing for joy. A homeschooling mom’s dream come true: children who love to learn.

My six-year-old gets bored at times through longer chapters. And, lately, she has embraced two expressions: “I don’t get it” and “I can’t.” Well, I told her I will not accept “I can’t” and that’s the end of that conversation. She may say, “This is hard,” or “It sounds challenging” but not “I can’t.”

Two other teachers in her life tell her the same thing: her violin teacher and her tae kwon do instructor. So I am on the same page with other adults in her life and hopefully we can get her out of that habit.

When she says “I don’t get it,” I stop and explain. But I noticed that she does get it. She just says it because she thinks it is a cool thing to say. I am not sure where she picked it up (a book? a movie?). But we are working on fixing it and yes, history is one area where she uses it.

The first chapter was a bit convoluted. We had lots of opportunities to get lost in the story. So I just stopped and repeated what she was missing and we moved on.