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!