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.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 17

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Chapter 17 dealt with Russia’s Peter the Great. I have mixed feelings about Russia. I grew up in Romania and Russia influenced our culture in a very tangible way. I do not like Russia because they brought communism to Romania, but I like Russia for its art and literature.

Foam medal craft

We used foam sheets with sticky backs for the medals.

Russian history explains a lot about its art and culture, so I am curious to learn more about all the details that have shaped this country.  Continue reading »

The temper of Peter the Great gave us an opportunity to discuss our own tempers. Homeschooling families spend a lot of their time together. We have more opportunities to get on each other’s nerves than families who send their children to school for seven hours a day.

Foam medal

One of the medals made by the kids out of sticky foam sheets.

Thankfully, we do not get as ugly with each other as Peter the Great did, but we have our moments when our tone with each other could use some modulation. I call it our “meek voice” and I am the first one to admit that I need a lot of help in developing my meek voice and using it more often.

Foam sheets with design drawn

First we drew the design onto the foam sheet.

For our craft, we used foam sheets to create medals. When Susan Wise Bauer wrote this curriculum, the foam sheets she recommended did not have sticky backing. Well, this made our craft a lot easier. We did not have to apply glue. Our foam sheets are like stickers.

#1 Place Medal Craft

The other medal my children made

You just remove the protective cover and voila, you have a sheet ready to be stuck onto another foam sheet. So first we drew the shape, then they cut it out, then we removed the protective cover and stuck the pieces together according to the design shown in the book.

We used different color foam sheets, but then the kids decided to color them with markers anyway. Oh well. Whatever works. You will notice that one of my children is still learning how to spell “place.”


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 16

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Chapter 16 dealt with people like John Locke and Isaac Newton – fascinating discoveries and advances in the sciences and philosophy. I really enjoy a chapter which speaks about people (or events) I have already studied for myself. Not that I don’t enjoy learning new things. But I have a frame of reference and it intrigues me to see how Susan Wise Bauer covers the topic.

Gravity experiment

The children took balls into the tree house to see how they fall to the ground.

Besides, I am kind of ready to get out of the Dark Ages and move on with human civilization. I am ready for early modern history to actually happen. Bring on the scientific revolution! Continue reading »

For the activity, we went to the tree house and dropped balls of different sizes and weights to the ground. Isaac Newton’s a-ha moment changed humanity in so many ways. It is inspiring to share things like that with the children.

We found some simple biographies of Newton and Locke at the library. In all honesty, I have given up trying to locate the exact titles suggested in the history curriculum. I found some of them to be too long and others to be too advanced. And our librarians make the effort of ordering these specific titles through ILL, which is time consuming.

I end up not reading all of these titles to the kids and then I feel guilty. I am that mom who has to finish the book to feel like she has gotten the job done. And even though now they can read lots of books to themselves, I still prefer for us to read at least one history book out loud.


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 14

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Chapter 14 covers the very interesting country of Prussia in early modern times. With my renewed interest in all things German, thanks to Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, who hailed from the small German principality of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, this chapter provided a lot of information we all received eagerly.

German flag

The flag of Germany today still reflects the colors of the old flag of Prussia.

I told the children about the three colors of the German flag, which can be found in the coloring page from Story of the World, on the Prussian emblem. With everything going on now in the European Union, reading about how these countries used to be really puts things in perspective. Continue reading »

I have friends and family who live in Germany and I feel very concerned for them. They have so many Muslims there, it is only a matter of time before a larger terrorist attack will happen in Germany. That is my sad, sad prediction.

For our project, we studied a bit of German. Now German is one language I have not attempted to introduce because I simply think we are doing enough languages. But I used to study German and I know a smattering of expressions, so I found it easy to follow Susan Wise Bauer’s list of German words.

If you don’t know how to pronounce German, never fear. She provides a pronunciation guide for each word. No excuses now. We found it fun because the children remembered how Mr. Weenie in Open Season used to say “Nein! Ja!” and eat yet another biscuit.

For a quick, funny example of the German accent in English, there is another scene where Mr. Weenie teaches a friend to say “I am wild” which sounds like “I am vild” in English. Mr. Weenie’s “I am vild” is – well – wild.

We talked about the national anthem of Germany which is the melody of the Christian hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” The words were written by John Newton on a melody by Franz Joseph Haydn. This song is called Austria because it was originally the national anthem of Austria. We noticed how the colors of the modern-day German flag (red, yellow, and black) were used on the old Prussian flag.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 13

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Chapter 13 was all about the Sun King of France, none other than Louis XIV. We made masks and talked about Versailles and the man in the iron mask. It was a bit of a crazy story to tell. Maybe I did not explain well, because they had a lot of questions about it.

Versailles Mask

Versailles Mask

A few years back, I watched the famous movie about it with Leonardo di Caprio but I remember some of the action was inappropriate for small children, so we will not be watching that any time soon. Maybe I can look up some books on the subject. Continue reading »

We talked about Versailles and I showed them pictures online. Of course, my daughter and I love the dresses the ladies wore back then. As we were admiring them, my son rolled his eyes. Typical boy, what can I say?

Scary Versailles Mask

Scary Versailles Mask

About the craft: we made these Versailles masks but I could not convince my daughter to accept that the tips go up. She wanted them to go down. Therefore, the mask covered her whole face. Also, if you did not want to do an elastic, you could just glue a popsicle stick to one side of it. Not all balls were fully masked and secretive.

Susan Wise Bauer mentions this as an option as well. They did not necessarily want to hide their identity. It was more of a fun thing to do – keep a mask in one hand and cover your face now and then, depending on the conversation.

The Sun King, of course, was quite a topic. I am not impressed with absolute monarchs and neither are my children. We discussed the divine right of kings – again. It’s important for them to understand why these people behaved this way. As soon as you invoke God’s permission for your actions, you need to tread carefully.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 12

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Chapter 12 covered Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. What a chapter! For some reason, England is always interesting for us to study.

Homemade bread

Homemade bread

We made some bread in the bread machine and talked about the cooking project in the book, a loaf that measures up. Susan Wise Bauer provides a recipe for “easy bread” in the Activity Book. I am curious enough to try it some day, but not right now. I have too many things going. Maybe I will try making it during spring break, which is coming up shortly. Continue reading »

So for all intents and purposes I baked some bread in my trusted bread machine and called it a project. The kids love homemade bread. The house fills with the aroma and we all just feel like we are home. A friend of mine says that a home just does not feel like a home to her unless there is a cat around. I feel the same way about the smell of homemade bread.

Anyway, the kids do not remember the names of the people we study in history – it’s a fact. If we go through this history cycle three times, as SWB recommends it, they probably will. I keep telling myself this is only the first time they encounter these characters. They will have to read about them several times before they finally understand who is who and why they do what they do.

It is a new way of doing things for me, because I learned a lesson by heart and then considered my job as a student done. This is different. Reading and narrating, then hoping things will stick as we go through the cycle again in the next four years… Hmm… it’s all a big adventure, isn’t it?


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.