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.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 28

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Chapter 28 is titled “China and the Rest of the World.” It is meant to contrast how the Chinese viewed themselves versus how the world (mainly Great Britain) saw China. If you ever needed a conversation starter on the topic of illegal drugs, this would be it.

Girl throwing clay on toy pottery wheel

Working with air dry clay and a toy pottery wheel

By now, you know I use these history lessons to make applications to our daily lives. Because the opium trade is discussed in the second story of the chapter, this was my opportunity to cover the bad long-term consequences of drugs. Continue reading »

When King George III sent his ambassador to China, I pointed out he was the same George III against whom American Patriots fought during the War of Independence. It is important for children to start making connections as we move from one continent to another.

We are building our timeline and seeing how the same “characters” pop up here and there across the map of the world creates a big picture in their minds.

They kept asking, “Why would anybody want to dream these crazy dreams?” We talked about the emptiness of people who do not have a purpose in their lives. We believe in a Creator God who put us on this earth for a reason. He has given us gifts and talents and our job is to hone those talents for His glory.

We develop a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, every day. When you have His Spirit in your heart and in your mind, you are not looking for ways to escape reality. On the contrary, you are seeking ways to improve your efficiency so that you can redeem the time and get your mission accomplished.

Unit studies are not my thing at all, but I like to make connections between the subjects as we come across things I consider useful for their upbringing. This is just an example of such a conversation.

For our activity, they wanted to make Chinese vases, as recommended in the activity book. I reluctantly agreed to getting out the toy pottery wheel and the air drying clay. Who looks forward to that kind of mess? Not me. But my daughter especially loves art tactile experiences.

Did she make a vase that looks like the sketches in the activity book? Nope. At least, she had fun and I got over my fear of clay and messes one more time. It’s all good.


Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 23

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Chapter 23 deals with The First Russians. I was tempted to work on a kokoshnik craft, but I only have one daughter and I usually include both children in our projects. I did not want to make different crafts. So I decided to cook a big pot of borscht, according to the recipe provided.

Borscht with vegan sour cream

Borscht with vegan sour cream – despite its beautiful color, the children refused to even try it.

Since we make a similar soup in Romania, I knew the taste I was trying to achieve. It always helps to know what your goal is when you are cooking foreign recipes, right? Well, I still changed a few things around because for instance I did not have tomato paste and used tomato sauce instead. But it came out nice and mouth-watering and, apparently, it’s all for me, because my kids will not touch it. My husband is not a red beet fan, so he is not interested either. Oh well, more for me.  Continue reading »

We have dear friends who are Russian, so this has been a good chapter to read and find some elements we can share with them. The stories of Ivan the Great and Ivan the Terrible were, of course, daunting, but it’s history. Things happen.

We worked on the map and the coloring page. They ran to the world map we have on the wall to find Kiev and Moscow there. I don’t know why. Usually, they are content with the SOTW map. Maybe because I told them it’s close to Romania? Or because our closest friends come from Russia?

I grew up in an Eastern Orthodox Christian family in Romania, so I was very interested in the details about how the Rus became Christian. I would have to disagree with Susan Wise Bauer when she says the Orthodox do not worship the images (or paintings) of saints and Mary or Jesus. Maybe that’s what the official catechism says, but that is not what happens in real life. When we attended church, blessing oneself in front of these icons, bowing before them, kissing them and worshiping them was very much a part of the ritual one was expected to perform.

Narration is still not easy for my oldest. I don’t even attempt it with my youngest. The comprehension questions receive good answers, in full sentences, but the narration exercise just seems a bit too difficult. So I read it to them to give them an idea of what to look for and how to put it together themselves.

All in all, a good chapter. I enjoyed learning some things I did not know and they liked listening to the stories.


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!