Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 8

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Chapter 8 is titled “Becoming Modern.” What a simple yet beautiful title! I pointed out to the kids that for most of history people have not lived with electricity, cars, trains, or time zones. It was a new concept for them.

Gold and silver spikes to unite the two railways

Gold and silver spikes to unite the two railways

There was a brief explanation about time zones and about light bulbs. I supposed this would be the moment to stop and read a short biography of Thomas Edison but we must exercise self-control. This time around through the Story of the World, we will not read extra books.  Continue reading »

As I explained several times before, I am trying to get through volume 4 as quickly as possible so that we can start volume 1 all over again in the fall. My youngest is really young and I just do not want to get bogged down with too much information at this stage.

The second story was about Japan’s restoration of the emperor’s power. Matthew Perry is mentioned and I remembered how we placed a sticker of him on our timelines. Good thing we can reinforce these names and dates in several ways.

The craft we chose was the spike used in the ceremony celebrating the two lines of railroads meeting together in Utah. We made a silver one with aluminium foil and a gold one using a gold paint marker. We do not own gold aluminium foil and I was not about to get some just for this one craft, in the hopes that we could use it in the future for other things.

We brought out the toy train set and pretended to have a ceremony but not really. Just building the rails and putting the spikes in was all we did. I took a picture and voila! Chapter 8 is in the books.

Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 6

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Chapter 6 offers a strange combination of countries: Paraguay and Canada, but it makes sense because they both struggled for independence about the same time. The mapwork was challenging. We are still getting used to having to label things on the map.

Canadian motto activity

Canadian motto activity

We need to rise up to this new challenge though. It is teaching us a lot more than having to just look at a page and draw arrows from point A to point B or highlight a country or circle a city. Continue reading »

There was no debate over Lopez in Paraguay. The kids thought he was a crazy dictator. When they heard people have split opinions about him, they could not believe it. Somebody who kills half the population of his country because he is insane enough to go against three countries cannot be a patriot.

The story about Canada was interesting. I did not know many details about Canadian history myself, so I enjoyed learning with them.

The kids liked locating Prince Edward Island on the map. They thought is was small and cute. I told them I know a lady who lives on Prince Edward Island. I added that she homeschools and blogs about it. They said, “Oh, like you!”

For the activity, we filled out the page provided with the puzzle that makes out Canada’s motto, “From Sea to Sea.”

My son noted that “patriot” rhymes with “idiot” and we had a good laugh about it. I reminded them that we say “patriot” in Romanian too and it comes from “patria” which in Latin means “fatherland.”

Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 5

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We got to the Civil War in chapter 5. Both stories covered the topic: first the conditions in the country before, during, and after the war. Lincoln’s assassination is one of those events like the Titanic going down – you know how the story ends, but as you read the story again, you hope against all hopes that it would have another ending.

Juneteenth Feast

Juneteenth Feast to celebrate the emancipation of slaves

Walt Whitman’s poem was touching, but because of the drops of blood mentioned we will not memorize it. My eight-year-old was a bit disturbed by the expression and the mental image. Continue reading »

Instead, we are going to attempt to memorize the Gettysburg address. And by “we” I mean my son. My daughter is too young to memorize prose, at least in my mind. She has her poems to memorize and she is happy with them. They rhyme and are easier to commit to memory.

For our craft or activity, we made a Juneteenth feast: red beans, rice, coleslaw and biscuits. I did not use the recipes in the book, but I was glad the author provided us with traditional recipes from even before the Civil War.

The cabbage salad you see is very easy to make. It has three ingredients: cabbage, coarse kosher salt, and dill. It takes about 10 minutes to put together. I chop the cabbage in the food processor, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt (for about half a head of cabbage) and 1 teaspoon of dill.

If you want a really good taste, you should massage that coarse salt into the cabbage. The salt makes the cabbage softer plus the saltiness gets incorporated evenly in the salad. The dill gives it a heavenly taste.

Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 1

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We have made it to volume 4! Yeah! We should celebrate somehow, but we are too excited about history to stop, even for a celebration. We have built momentum and we want to keep on going.

British Empire craft

“The sun never sets on the British Empire.”

My plan is to finish volume 4 before we start school again in August, because I would like to start the whole four-year history cycle all-over again. My son will be in fifth grade next year, so he gets to experience it on a different level than my daughter. But I think this time it will be clearer for her and I want her to start again with the Ancients so that things will make more sense. Continue reading »

I know she gets a lot out of it, for her level. The advice for multi-level teaching has always been that we should teach for the oldest child and let the chips of understanding fall where they may for the younger siblings.

My daughter knows to ask questions if she does not understand a word or a sequence of events. She likes to color when my son likes to just listen and not color. They do their thing and the caravan of history moves along. It works!

About volume 4: there are less coloring pages, more maps, and a new feature called “Outline.” The children are supposed to narrate the story and, also, write down an outline.

British Empire craft - the sun never sets

British Empire craft – the sun never sets

Since this is our first time going through this volume, I have decided we will not get bogged down with writing down an outline. For the sake of my younger child, we will skip this exercise until we come back around to it, three years from now. She will be older and writing fast will not be an issue, so we will be able to move better.

We will not be reading the extra books recommended, either. We will simply read the stories, do the map work, and create one craft. That’s it. It’s a good initial introduction to modern history. The next time we go through it, we will be older and wiser and we will be able to tackle extra reading and outlines.

Now, if they really become fascinated with a particular topic, I may get them an extra book about it or open up the reference books we have on history (Usborne etc). But I will not be focusing on extra reading of my own free will.

The first chapter was about Queen Victoria and the kids loved the expression, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” It was neat to find out that the British Empire was represented with color pink on old maps. I did not know that. We made the craft and they loved shining the flash light on the “globe” we created.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 42

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Chapter 42 is the last in Story of the World Volume 3. We made it! The story of the forty-niners was familiar to the kids from other books we had read, so it was easy to delve into this chapter.

Gold nugget craft

“Gold” nuggets – a craft to remember the forty-niners

For our craft, we chose to paint pebbles with gold paint to make them look like gold flakes and gold nuggets. They played with them a bit afterward, but not too much. They consider them more of a collection, so they keep them proudly on their nightstands.  Continue reading »

The map work and the coloring pages worked out fine. It was nice to be able to wrap this book up with a review of the world as it was in 1850 – a world of unrest.

It is very interesting to me that we needed an entire volume for the 1,000 years (approximately) of medieval times, which is volume 2 of Story of the World. But then, we needed an entire volume for only 250 years of world history, from 1600-1850.

Gravel pebbles and gold paint for our craft

Gravel pebbles and gold paint for our craft

It just goes to show how dark the Dark Ages really were and how much happened since the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. Sure, it also has to do with Susan Wise Bauer’s choice of laying things out in four volumes and breaking them up in this way.

Nevertheless, it astounds me that you can spend 42 chapters on 1,000 years of world history and then turn around and spend another 42 chapters on only 250 years. This being said, we are eager to start volume 4.

In fact, the day we finished volume 3 the children asked me to start volume 4. Why? Because they like it, I suppose. It is rather a different format and I can tell there have been some revisions made between the editions I had for volume 1, 2, and 3 vs. volume 4.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 41

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New Zealand and Her Rulers is the title of chapter 41. What a difficult chapter to read! We really dislike the parts of history in which people are treated unfairly. The Maori tribes really got the short end of the stick in their treaty with the British.

Maori butterfly craft

Making the Maori butterfly craft zing

The map work and coloring pages kept us busy. For the craft, we decided to check out the special butterflies (purerehua) the Maori made. Continue reading »

As directed, we used floss and a ruler to make this special device the Maori swung over their heads at high speeds in order to make loud noises that would keep others away from their meetings.


“Purerehua” means butterfly in Maori

My son went outside to test it and, sure enough, the contraption made a strong buzzing sound. It took my son a few minutes to figure out how to swing the ruler over his head and at what speed. Hint: it was a very high speed. But once we heard it, it was a great feeling, like “we have made buzzing sounds” kind of thing. We felt very accomplished.

Zinging craft

Make it zing!

Sometimes these crafts have a way of humbling us because they do not turn out worthy of Pinterest. But you know what? That’s OK. We are not perfect. Our crafts are not perfect and they do not have to be. We are here to learn history and have some fun through coloring and crafts, that’s all.

Other times, they work out and they give us that great feeling of accomplishment which, I believe, every child should experience in school.

My daughter insisted in doing a more feminine craft – she is oh, so girlie and I love it! – namely the sweet potato garden. Trust me, you do not want to see a picture of the jar with a molding sweet potato in it. Instead of growing roots and leaves, our sweet potato grew mold. We threw it away after a few days.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 40

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For chapter 40, we came back to North America, mainly to Mexico. We read about the Alamo and Texas independence. The kids had already heard about Davy Crockett and the Alamo from books we have studied.

Boy writes in flip book

My son creating his flip book about Alamo

Ironically, there is a restaurant ten minutes from our house called Alamo. It looks just like the ill-fated fort. It burned down in the 2016 wildfires, but it has been rebuilt and enlarged since. Also, there is a “Davy Crockett mini-golf course” in our town, as well. We drive by it every time we leave the city to go to Pigeon Forge on the main roads. Continue reading »

They knew the man with the raccoon hat was Davy Crockett and they knew everybody who tried to defend the Alamo had died. It encouraged me to know that things stick and my work is not in vain.

We did everything from the book: reading, comprehension questions, map work, coloring. For our craft, we built flip books about four Alamo fighters, as directed. This craft showed me the difference between them clearly: my son, in 4th grade, wanted to write things down; my daughter, in 2nd grade, was happy to draw their characteristics instead of writing them.

My daughter decided to use pink as she drew the reasons why these for men were famous. Despite the violence of their lives, my daughter drew them in pink. I find it touching.

She actually teared up and I choked up as I read them the story. Such courage and dedication to a cause that so many take for granted today! See, this is why we study history. To learn to appreciate the sacrifices of others so that we may have a better life today.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 39

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In chapter 39, we traveled to China. The kids were appalled by the greediness of the English merchants and the weak character of the Chinese who got addicted to opium. It was another opportunity to talk about smoking and illegal drugs, as well as the love of money.

Gluten free, vegan poppy seed muffins

Gluten free, vegan poppy seed muffins

We made poppy seed muffins for our craft. Since I had to go on a gluten free diet, I have been perfecting my gluten free baking skills. I like my creations, but my children do not. Oh well. More for me. Continue reading »

I bake their things separately with gluten flour and mine without gluten. It works. Sure it is more work, but I hurt if I eat gluten, so I am motivated at the most basic level – avoiding pain. A gluten free diet is so tough to implement, it is only people like me who hurt physically that will stick to it.

I found the recipe online, on the King Arthur website. Since I became gluten free last year, I have bought all sorts of baking ingredients and so I am ready to bake gluten free at a moment’s notice. You know, things like almond flour, banana flour, quinoa flour, xantham gum and chia seed meal – the sort of things I did not even know existed about 12 months ago.

We did the map and colored the provided coloring sheet, which was a sad picture of Chinese men smoking opium. I was glad Susan Wise Bauer explained that poppy seeds used in cooking are different from the poppy seeds used in making opium. Whew!

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 37

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Chapter 37 took us back to Africa, troubled Africa, with two stories: “The Zulu Kingdom” and “The Boers and the British.” The kids colored the page with Shaka, the Zulu king. We also did the map.

Close combat African spear

Close combat African spear

For our craft, we worked on the small spear. We found it very difficult to staple the tip to the paper towel roll, but we made it work. Since I did not want to rush to the store to get silver spray paint, or make a mess painting the tips silver and waiting for them to dry, I decided to use sparkly, silver card stock I happened to have. Continue reading »

How to transfer the provided black tips onto the silver card stock? Well, we traced the black onto butcher paper. It’s not the most transparent paper you can fine, but it works. The originals provided were black enough, you could see them through the butcher paper.

Then, we put the butcher paper over the silver card stock and traced over the pencil marks, pressing really hard. It actually left indentations into the card stock. At this point, we could trace over the indentations with a pencil, or we could just hold it to the light at a certain angle and cut it with a pair of scissors. We ended up doing the latter, to save time.

The fun part was the raffia. It took a bit to get it twined nicely around the tube. You can see in the picture. By the time we were done with three inches of wrapped raffia, we did not feel like unrolling it just to make it all pretty. As I said before, we are more about learning things than about perfecting crafts to put on Pinterest. Oh, and the raffia was made in Romania – as an added bonus for those who care.

It was interesting to explain about the Boers. They were from Holland, or the Netherlands, but they are called Dutch. We have been through this before, but it is finally sinking in – all the names we have in English for Holland.

Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 33

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Chapter 33 covered the end of Napoleon and the craft was really exciting. I had no idea it would be so easy to create our own snow globe with a soldier inside to represent the poor French soldiers trudging through Russia in the winter.

Snow globe soldier

Snow globe soldier craft

We made sure the pronunciation of Napoleon’s name is different from that of Neapolitan ice cream. We love Neapolitan ice cream at our house and they asked me if it got named after Napoleon. That’s when I realized we needed to clarify some pronunciation. Continue reading »

The chapter also covers the useless war of 1812. We have listened to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture before and we listened to it again. My son thinks the cannon sounds are really exciting. You can find a recording with real cannons on YouTube if you do not have a copy of this piece.

I did not play Abba’s Waterloo song for them, but I told them how the name can be used in different contexts to mean a battle you were supposed to win, but you lost. I also mentioned how the Duke of Wellington lived long enough to overlap his life and career with those of Queen Victoria.

The kids know I watch “Victoria” on PBS and I told them the Duke of Wellington makes several appearances in Victoria’s life as represented on this TV show. He is older and he advises her with his wisdom.

Here’s another reason to do history even before fifth grade: all the vocabulary used in popular culture, in newspapers, in songs, in symbolic ways. Vocabulary is very important in our homeschool and you might be sick of my reminding you about it over and over again.