Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 13

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Chapter 13 deals with The New Kingdom of Egypt. The kids colored the map and the mask of Tut while I read the first two stories. I asked if they could handle two more stories and they said yes. So I finished the chapter in that one sitting. The following day, my son brought his coloring pages to Daddy and told him about the Valley of the Kings and how it is full of tombs etc. I praised him for his narration, which I had not even requested.

That’s one thing I learned: when the chapter is long and we do it in one sitting, they do not want to answer review questions or to do a narration. They are ready to get away from the table and play! So I will have to work on reviewing this lesson later this week.

I asked if they wanted to make a monument and read the paragraph which explains it could be about somebody who died, a toy, an activity they enjoy or whatever. My son said he wanted to make a monument to Papaw – my husband’s father, who passed away one year ago. My children both were affected greatly by his passing and the concept of death became real to them then.

Bread and Glue

Bread and Glue

So we took bread and glue and proceeded to mix them together as indicated. It required white bread, which we never buy – we like whole wheat bread. My daughter, who is almost five, saw how messy and sticky this exercise was, and told me she did not want to build a monument.

Ball of glue and white bread

Ball of glue and white bread

Instead, she wanted to try the white bread. She ate a slice and loved it so much, she grabbed a second slice. Then, she asked for a third and a fourth, in a PBJ. I am always happy to see her eat, so I obliged, after we finished our monument and we washed our hands very well.  Continue reading »

Flattened ball of bread and glue

Flattened ball of bread and glue

My son gave up on his monument at this point. His hands were super sticky and covered with patches of sticky bread. He did not know how to flatten the ball of glue and bread. So he went to wash his hands. I was determined to make a monument. If somebody had told me 10 years ago that I would write a sentence like “I was determined to make a monument” in order to describe a homeschooling moment at our house, I would have told them that they were crazy.

Rectangle cut out of clay

I cut a rectangle out of that irregular shape, with the blunt edge of a knife.

So a monument I made, based on my son’s original plan. My son came back and declared himself happy with it. He wants it to dry first and then he will paint it gold – he loves that gold paint!

UT Monument to Papaw

UT Monument to Papaw

Since Papaw was a UT Vols fan, I used a plastic plate as a base for this monument. I could not bend it any more without breaking it, but it had just enough curvature to stand on its own. I did use the extra pieces (which I had cut out to obtain the rectangle) as reinforcements in the front and in the back.

It actually looks a bit like marble. But if you removed the crust of the bread slices, you would not get as much dark brown spots. The instructions did not say to remove the crust, so I had not.

Gold Paint Monument

Gold Paint Monument Craft

A few days later, my son painted it gold and it looked even better. What do you think?


Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 10

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We studied Ancient China, chapter 10 of The Story of the World Volume 1 mostly in the car. I knew the Story of the World CDs would come in handy. The kids enjoyed the story of the silk worms. They had no idea about how silk is made. I feel so privileged – all over again – to be the one introducing them to such facts about the world.

They did their mapwork. My daughter colored the page with Chin and his dad, but my son put it off. Again, I do not insist on coloring if he does not want to.

We read some of the books recommended. My local library did not carry these particular titles, but they got them for us in about a week through the inter-library loan program. Meanwhile, the children’s librarian brought us similar books which they did have. One of them actually had the same title as the one recommended by Susan Wise Bauer, i.e. “Ancient China,” and it made it confusing later on as I was returning both titles.  Continue reading »

But we sorted it out and moved on from it. My librarians are very relaxed and if we make a mistake or they make a mistake, they take it all in stride. I appreciate such a working partner.

I chose not to make pictograms or Ming dynasty bowls. My kids have been playing with clay a bit too much lately on other projects and I am tired of cleaning up after art projects. It’s my classroom and my prerogative. I give you permission to do the same when you get tired of cleaning, in case you needed to get permission from somebody.

We are totally behind in our history curriculum. This is school week 15 for us and we should study at least chapter 15 in Story of the World Volume 1 this week. Oh well. This is a good challenge for me: figure out how to get history done. It’s all about priorities and planning, of course.

The temptation for any homeschool mom is to wonder if  kids finish things better in a classroom environment. Here’s the short answer: they don’t. And now, for the long answer…

I have recently spoken with a teacher who told me the older the kids get, the less they get done in class. “If you wait for 15 kids to get their math books out, you can spend 15 minutes… That’s why we give them homework. Because we can’t finish the lesson in the class.”

It was like a boost in the arm mid-year when I heard that. January and February can be dreary months for a homeschooling mom, you know. In fact, Susan Wise Bauer says that February is burnout month and we are a few days away from February. So I choose to relax, take each day as it comes, do my work and even if I don’t get everything done, I go to bed with a positive spirit.

Homeschooling feels like a privilege to me. When I look back on the time I get to spend with my children, nobody can take that away from me. And, if things get dreary in winter, I can always look forward to next year. I have already ordered some second grade curriculum for my son. I can’t believe I just typed that. My son, in the second grade? Yup! It will be here before I know it. No time to mope around!


Story of the World, Volume 1, Chapter 1

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Last week we started Chapter 1 in our history curriculum, Story of the World. I read to the kids the first section about the first nomads. Then, we read “It’s Disgusting and We Ate It” – one of the recommended books. The kids (and I) can only take so many pages of that book. They groan and moan at almost every sentence. It truly is disgusting. 🙂

“Ancient Agriculture” is rather dry for a living book. It feels like a textbook. I tried reading it to the kids and they interrupted me, asking for another book. I must say, this is where I don’t follow SOTW to the letter. I know Susan Wise Bauer, the author, recommends doing different activities if they work for our families. This is where I have to learn to watch for their reaction and not feel bad if we cannot complete a certain reading assignment.  Continue reading »

Bottom line: if the kids don’t enjoy something, I don’t insist. Right now they are young and the objective is to get them interested in learning and excited about discovering new things.

From the beginning, I questioned whether ancient history would even be something to teach in first grade. But, as I learned more about SOTW, I realized it is truly written as a story. Plus, it has all these hands-on activities and reading assignments which my children would enjoy. Finally, exposing them to vocabulary and concepts and giving them a framework of history and geography won me over.

However, I made a decision early on that, as soon as an activity or book does not interest them, I would not push it on them. That’s what I love about homeschooling. We have freedom to choose.

Little girl making cave paintings

We made cave paintings for our craft. The mess was incredible. I cleaned red paint off the table and in the bathroom for a few days after that, always discovering a new spot. My mistake was that I sent them to the bathroom to wash their hands without thinking that they will be touching light switches and sinks in the process. But they had fun and that’s what matters.

We also looked up cave paintings under Google Images. As I was doing that research, I found out that cave paintings have been recently found in Romania. They are some of the oldest cave paintings in Central Europe, demonstrating that early people engaged in similar art activities throughout the continent, not just in Western Europe.

I would say we would take the kids there when we go to Romania, but these cave paintings are naturally protected from human eyes as one must go under water inside the cave to get to their location. Phew! That’s great, because I don’t like caves to begin with.

By the way, I don’t get into the age of the earth with the kids right now. They are too young for that debate. Instead, we started Through the Bible with Felts all over again. I have used this Bible curriculum with them in the past for specific stories. I even started it out with them last year, following it chronologically, but by Moses and the plagues we all gave up. I think picking up the felts for the next story got to me. I hope to be more diligent with it this year. Pray for me. 🙂

This time, I started all over again from Creation and we are working our way through it to reinforce customs and people of the ancient world. At this stage, people and locations on the map are more important than dates. I was glad my son knew who was the son of Abraham and Sarah. I did not know that answer until I was 17, when I started reading the Bible on my own. It’s fun to teach them these Bible lessons in their childhood.

This week, we received our National Geographic world map from Amazon. We put it on the wall in the room where we do most of our studies. The kids love it. They look at it every day and ask questions. Informally, we do some geography, too, it seems like. I grew up with maps on the walls in my room and that has always kept me aware of the world around me. I want my children to know their geography, let’s put it that way.

They really liked The First Dog and Little Grunt and the Big Egg. We read those during our bedtime reading.

I would have made the effort to make a “Game Bag” but (1) I don’t enjoy sewing all that much and (2) we don’t need another craft project lying around the house and needing to be put up at the end of the day, when all the playing is done.

That’s it for Chapter 1. How have you enjoyed working through Chapter 1 in your homeschool?

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