Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 35

Posted on

Chapter 35 covers Mexican independence in two stories: the cry of Dolores and the Republic of Mexico. We stayed in history only. Lots of things are going on right now around our border with Mexico, but I did not want to get the kids too involved in it. I am so sick and tired of all the illegal alien situation in the US and the liberal media’s handling of the topic.

Paper flowers in the colors of the Mexican flag

Paper flowers in the colors of the Mexican flag

As an immigrant myself, I did not have the option to cross a border by foot and get into the US. I had to get a proper visa, after a tough interview at the US Embassy in my country, buy an expensive plane ticket, and then wait my turn in the documentation line when it came to adjust my status from non-immigrant to immigrant. That’s the legal way to become a US permanent resident. Anyway.

Mexico is a great country with an exciting language, which we learn a bit here and there. Our neighbor to the south has a lovely culture and we need to study their history and how they came to be independent. We have great friends from Mexico, too. That’s all that matters. Continue reading »

The kids are getting the picture of all the turmoil in history lessons. When they hear about yet another revolt or battle or execution, they groan and roll their eyes.

The crafts were pretty cool: paper flowers to represent the colors of the Mexican flag and huevos rancheros. I made it vegan, with scrambled tofu instead of sunny side up eggs. The recipe for hot chocolate included chili pepper. We did not think that would taste good, so no chili in our hot chocolate.

Huevos rancheros and hot chocolate - a Mexican breakfast

Huevos rancheros and hot chocolate – a Mexican breakfast

For some reason, we go through waves. Some weeks they love to color the coloring page provided in the Activity Books. We are going through such a time right now. While I read the stories out loud, they color with a passion.

The comprehension and review questions can really help remind us of key pointers in the lesson, so I ask them. When it comes to the narration exercises, even Susan Wise Bauer points out that some chapters have more details than others and, as a result, may not be that easy to summarize.

Preparing huevos rancheros

Preparing huevos rancheros

So yes, I have skipped narration in some chapters because I do not want to overdo it. We get plenty of practice with narration in our writing curriculum (Writing with Ease) and in general, as the kids narrate back to me the books they read or some parts they really enjoyed from a movie or a book.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 34

Posted on

Chapter 34 took us to South America in order to meet a certain Simon Bolivar. The craft was edible and easy to make: arroz con leche. We used to make a lot of “rice with milk” when I was growing up in Romania, so it was a familiar dish to me.

Arroz con leche

Arroz con leche

The difference was the orange juice and the cinnamon. I have to say, I did not expect the orange juice to give it a nice flavor. It just did not seem right. Continue reading »

Once I tried it though, I was really impressed. The rice is starchy and the milk has protein, so, in a way, it is a bit of a heavy dish. But the orange juice gives it a lift, a tropical nuance that makes it very pleasant.

If you can, try to make this dish for this chapter. Depending on your rice, you might have to cook it longer. I have the kind of rice that needs a good 45 minutes to cook. In conclusion, this was a rice pudding with a South American flavor. Very, very nice.

Ingredients for arroz con leche

Ingredients for arroz con leche

The kids noticed that greed seems to be a running theme through history. Even liberators like Simon Bolivar end up giving in to their humanity and seek a throne for life. Is it any wonder that it is hard to work toward term limits in our American Congress?

We had a conversation about our fallen human nature. We may say now that we are not interested in power, but when the opportunity is given to us, there’s no telling where our greed might take us.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 19

Posted on

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 6

Posted on

The last time I blogged about Story of the World and our adventures in history was in October. That does not mean we have done done history. In fact, today we covered chapter 34. I suppose you can say I’m a bit behind in blogging about SOTW. My apologies. I will do my best to recount our efforts and catch up in the next couple of months.

Chapter 6 dealt with new colonies in the new world: Plymouth Plantation and New Amsterdam. For our craft, we made cornbread based on the recipe provided in the Activity Book – an original Wampanoag recipe with modern ingredients.

Wampanoag Cornbread

Wampanoag Cornbread

I modified the recipe a bit: soy milk instead of “milk,” vegetarian margarine (we like Smart Balance) instead of “margarine,” and honey instead of sugar. The one egg needed in the recipe can be replaced with Egg Replacer, of course. Even with all the substitutions, the cornbread came out well and everybody enjoyed it. I made some vegetarian chili and a cabbage salad and that was our lunch.

The kids loved to hear the story of The Mayflower all over again. We have covered it every year around Thanksgiving and they remembered some bits. The thing is, I don’t harp so much on dates and details. Maybe I should. The way I learned history was dry and fact-oriented and I want them to get into history through the avenue of a story.

Continue reading »

I had good history teachers, but the way they taught us was via a textbook. Here are the five reasons why the peasant revolts happened in 1907; memorize the years when King Stephen the Great reigned; now list the seven outcomes of World War II. I never understood why people got interested in history. What was the big deal?

Cornbread in pan

Cornbread in pan

Well, now that I am older, I look at history differently – as a story. I think that Susan Wise Bauer inspired me in that way, but I grew into this experience organically, through my fascination with royalty and by watching period dramas like ‘Downton Abbey’ and, more recently, ‘Victoria.’

You get the story and then you start asking questions about the people, the times, the inventions, and the government of the era. You get answers by Googling, by looking things up in a history encyclopedia, by listening to music from that time, by buying a history magazine etc. And then you know more about what happened and why. You discover you love history because it is so fascinating to hang on to the story.

That’s my strategy with the kids and I think it works because my son declares he loves history. My daughter – not so much, but she is still young. When my son was my daughter’s age, he was OK with history, but he would not declare his love for it.