Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 10

Posted on

The Bottom of the World or Chapter 10 deals with the first people of Australia and New Zealand. The coincidences in our homeschool keep on coming. When we went to the Pigeon Forge Library last week for Meet Mr. Lincoln, my daughter picked up a packet containing a book about McGillyCuddy, a kangaroo stuffed animal with a joey in its pouch, and an activity page based on kangaroos. The next history lesson dealt with Australia and New Zealand. Hmmm…

Mock moths (peanuts) and popcorn, held together by honey

Mock moths (peanuts) and popcorn, held together by honey

The children thought the coloring page looked strange – it is a Maori with all his war or decorative paint. The map was fun. We sang the continent song and I reminded them Australia is also a continent, not just a country.  Continue reading »

I am behind in ordering the extra books for this chapter, so I only read the chapter to them and we’ll have to catch up with the extra literature. Of course, the parts about the boy eating snake and other lovely meat grossed us out.

We worked on an edible craft: the moth (peanut) and popcorn medley. I like these edible crafts. I don’t have to worry about storage afterwards. I wondered if I should use microwave popcorn or the real deal, which requires popping in a pan. I decided to go for the easy route. We buy Full Circle microwave popcorn, without butter, which is the healthiest alternative available, as far as I know.

Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 27

Posted on

The Rise of Rome, or Chapter 27, finally brought us to my favorite ancient kingdom. I have always loved Rome, its culture, language, art, and influence on the modern world.

Homemade fasces


I brought them into the school room with the words, “Let’s do history! We finally get to learn about the babies on the cover of this book!”

My kids are interested in babies right now. They want stories of their baby years and they zoom in on anything about babies. So I took advantage and used it as an entering wedge into our history lesson today.  Continue reading »

One funny anecdote for me about Remus and Romulus was that my primary school teacher (I had her for grades 1-4) had twins. Their names? Remus and Romulus. The other funny part was that they were in my sister’s class, two years older than I. I saw them a lot at school events involving my sister’s class. So I sort of grew up with a Romanian version of Remus and Romulus.

We made fasces and cecina. The kids liked cecina up to a point. It has an aftertaste, maybe because of the liquid in the can. If I make it again, I would rinse the chickpeas and use regular water. I was surprised that you can actually serve it out as a pizza slice.

Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 23

Posted on

The Greek Gods or Chapter 23 allowed me to introduce the kids to the neurotic gods who make up much of Antiquity’s myths and legends. I choose the word “introduce” for a reason. We are not going in depth. Maybe next time around. That is why we are not building a family tree for the Greek gods (Olympus Family Tree) or drawing a home for the gods. I am also staying away from most of the titles suggested.

To the Most Beautiful, the golden apple that started the Trojan War.

“To the Most Beautiful,” the words on the golden apple which started the Trojan War.

I really enjoyed those stories as a child, but I am pretty sure I was at least in fourth grade by the time I read about the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. Most of their stories contain adult themes and, besides, I don’t want to confuse my kids with all sorts of gods right now. We are still coming out of the concrete stage of thinking. When the lines between reality and fiction get blurry, it’s best to stay away from certain stories.

We chose the golden apple craft project to illustrate the reason why the Trojan war got started. The kids enjoyed the story. I read it to them twice, a few days apart, and they still did not get all the plot. A bit too many layers, I suppose. I don’t mind stretching their minds and challenging them.

It was only after we made the golden apple and I wrote “To the Most Beautiful” on it that it finally sank in with them why the gods were upset with each other. We had conversations about this for several days. I usually keep their crafts where we can see them, on the kitchen isle, so we can admire them for a few days before we go on to the next craft. They serve as conversation pieces and as an excuse to rehearse facts and new terminology

Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 15

Posted on

The Ancient Phoenicians, chapter 15, has been a convoluted chapter for us. First off, I remembered Carthage from when I studied Ancient History in the fifth grade and I looked forward to it. But we went skiing instead, as a family, the day we were supposed to cover this chapter.We called it a P.E. day.

Secondly, every time I tried to play the chapter in the car, to make up for lost time, the kids did not show an interest. I did not have the energy to enforce learning time (car schooling). It does take energy, at least for me, and some days I have it in limited supplies.

Thirdly, the weather has made the roads so bad, the library has had irregular hours and they have not been able to procure my ILL titles to read about this chapter this week.

Stack of history books

Our stack of 12 books from the library, to catch up on our history reading

But we persevered, despite more seeming setbacks.

The other day I got a screw in one of my car tires, and spent two hours in a mechanic’s waiting room. They were super busy because, as fate would have it, two of their guys quit that day. They did not charge me anything for patching the tire, because of my wait. I insisted I wanted to at least pay for their expenses. I told the shop owner I understand “overhead” and that I feel bad for not paying for something. He said he felt bad I had to wait for two hours.

Well, I had brought my knitting with me and it was not a total loss of my time. Of course, I was there with the kids. My son had brought a LEGO magazine to read and my daughter had her Hello Kitty coloring book and crayons.

Something happened inside of me while waiting there. On the way home, despite their protests, I told them gently that we would listen to Chapter 15 after all; that it was a short chapter and, afterwards, we would listen to Wizzy Gizmo, which was their initial request. They love Wizzy Gizmo… but we need to do our history lessons as well. And we did. I have said it before, these CDs are worth it.

When the library finally called me that they had my ILL titles, I drove over there and brought home 12 titles from our previous lessons. We are catching up with reading from previous chapters.

One project I want to do for the Phoenician chapter is the bread recipe, but there is no way I can do it this week. I have to prepare my daughter’s birthday party on Sunday.

Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 13

Posted on

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 8

Posted on

Chapter 8 deals with the Assyrians: Shamshi-Adad and the Story of Gilgamesh. If you don’t mind the subject of cruelty and dictators, then you should be OK with this chapter.

Other than that, this was a fairly easy chapter to go through because I decided to read to them only Gilgamesh the King (Ludmila Zeman) and not the next two books. I am not trying to be mysterious here. It’s just that Susan Wise Bauer has specifically asked us not to publish her reading lists, so I will not go into details about all the other titles.

Gilgamesh the King Book Cover

Suffice it to say that I learned the hard way to preview these titles and, as I looked at them, they just seemed so pagan and raw for my young kids, I decided they should be in middle school before reading such matter.   Continue reading »

The first volume was not as bad though. Plus, the virtues of forgiveness, mercy, true love and friendship play a huge part in this story. I knew it would be good for my kids to hear this tale.

My daughter colored the picture of Gilgamesh and the lion, but my son did not. No surprises there.

We did not do the art project or the writing project. Maybe it’s my laziness. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t necessarily want my kids to write a fairy tale. Maybe I don’t trust they will know how to draw a picture of Enkidu. Maybe it’s all of the above.

I know that I am enlarging their vocabulary and cultural awareness by exposing them to historical accounts, names, and places once. That should be enough for now, at ages four and seven.

Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 7

Posted on

Chapter 7 deals with “Hammurabi and the Babylonians,” with a section about Hammurabi’s code. We built a ziggurat by following the instructions in Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors. This book is recommended in several SOTW chapters and contains simple projects for kids to do. I am not sure that a first grader could do any of these projects without adult help, but that’s what teaching is all about, right? Leading and guiding a student through his work and hoping that some things will stick.

The book mentioned using corn meal to achieve the texture of a ziggurat and Tempera paint. I gathered all my materials, including the recommended measuring spoon and cup. They said to draw stairs with a black marker. This seemed easier than the ziggurat project in the SOTW Activity Book, which involved cutting stairs out of a cereal box and gluing them.

Cereal boxes, paint, glue, corn meal to make a ziggurat

Materials to make a ziggurat

As my husband walked by, you know, the principal of our school, he saw the gear and asked, “What you’re making, honey?” When I explained, he said, “Oh, I can spray paint your ziggurat and throw some sand on it. Just glue it for me first. Wouldn’t that be easier?”  Continue reading »

I’m always for the path of least resistance. So the kids glued the boxes together and, when the spray paint dried, they drew stairs and doors on it with a permanent marker. Now we have a ziggurat to behold and call our own. And we know that everybody participated in the making of it.

Our ziggurat craft

Our ziggurat craft

From this same book, we made sebetu rolls. My daughter is four and she loved mixing the ingredients until the dough got too firm for her. We enjoyed them with cream of vegetable soup. Very chewy! They got hard the next day, but I microwaved them for 30 seconds and they got all soft and warm. Perfect comfort food for fall days!

My son read Abu Ali: Three Tales from the Middle East out loud not just for history. It also counted toward his Pizza Hut Book It! reading goals. This book exposes children to Middle Eastern humor, names, and life. Friends call each other “donkey” and fool each other. Food pushes people to do things we might consider unusual.

I grew up with similar stories, so I get it. But my American children, who are used to American story telling, did not shout, “Again!” at the end of the book. However, the next day, my son asked to read it again. He got the humor. From then on, he read it every night until we had to return it to the library.

It really is funny if you understand their sense of humor. Amazon has this title marked as one of the 100 children’s books to read in a lifetime, so definitely include this in your reading inventory.

The Winged Cat seemed too dark. By now, I have learned to preview these books… So I did not even show it to my children and returned it to the library quietly.

We worked through the crossword puzzle and map activity. They did not feel like coloring the ziggurat and I let it go.

Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 6

Posted on

Chapter six deals with the Jewish People. It fits nicely with our devotional (Through the Bible with Felts – Betty Lukens), as we are still in the Old Testament, right around the time of Exodus and the story of Joseph. Another coincidence: we have started listening to the MP3 Bible in the car. As I type this post, we are in Genesis Chapter 28. So the SOTW chapter was a nice recap of the story of Terah, Abraham, Moses and Joseph for us.

I chose Alexander Scourby’s reading of the King James Version. A bit boring for the kids, but we are slowly making progress. I tell them, “One chapter only,” so they don’t have room to protest. But we go somewhere by car several times a week, so we have the potential of listening to at least six chapters in three trips, for instance (one chapter each way per trip).

From Dance, Sing, Remember, one of the recommended readings, we made Harvest Muffins. We loved these.

Harvest muffins with a glass of rice milk

Harvest muffins with a glass of rice milk

I scanned the recipe and printed it out for future reference. And by “future” I mean “next week.” They were that good.

Continue reading »

For the coat of many colors, my son happened to work on a felt craft during Sabbath School at church, which represented the many colors in Joseph’s coat. Yes, they were also covering the story of Joseph there, too. The teacher got felt strips from Hobby Lobby and then cut them out herself. So thankful for faithful, diligent teachers.

Craft of many colors to represent Joseph's coat

Craft of many colors to represent Joseph’s coat

Also, if you are looking for simple Old Testament stories, read by a narrator and spiced up with just a bit of animation, I would recommend Personally, I stay away from screens as much as I can. Something to do with brain research – read Endangered Minds. But on a day when I am tired of reading yet one more thing to the kids, this website comes in handy and the kids like the variety.

Back to our history adventures… The narration exercises seem a bit difficult at this time, but the kids will answer questions well. I work with my son especially, since he is my official homeschooler (in first grade). However, today, he did well narrating his Bible story from church. It happened to be the story of Potiphar’s wife lying about Joseph. On the way back home, I asked my son  to tell his dad, who was in a different classroom with our daughter, what he learned about the story of Joseph. My son did a good job explaining in three sentences how Joseph got into jail even though he was innocent.

What do you know? Joseph himself came to my son’s classroom to tell his story.

Joseph in Sabbath School

Joseph came to Sabbath School

History, our devotional, and church Bible stories all seemed to run into each other in a good way for us for this chapter. That is why it has taken me so long to write this post. So many weeks in a row I kept taking pictures and I knew we were not done yet. Hopefully I can be more on track from now on.