Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 31

Posted on

Chapter 31 deals with a different kind of rebellion: the factory workers in England smashing machines for being abused in the work place. This chapter is our opportunity, parents, to steer young minds away from entitlement.

Factories in England

Coloring pages – our only craft for this chapter

Why? Because this chapter talks about children working in factories starting at age 8. That’s right. Let that sink in, especially if you have normal children, like I do, who are still learning not to complain when they hear they have to study or read or practice an instrument. Continue reading »

My children will do their work every day, but it is not without a bit of coaxing on my part. We are still working on attitude and getting things done without having to be told.

I have a friend who is homeschooling her children after she was homeschooled herself. She told me that when her mom used to give her different assignments, my friend would ask, “Do I have to?”

Somehow, somewhere, my children learned this phrase, too. It’s funny, really. When I say they have to do this or that before they can consider themselves finished with school for the day, they ask, “Do I have to?”

Where did that come from? So anyway, this chapter will teach them they should be thankful they do not have to work in a factory 12 hours a day. They only have to read a book (which is interesting), copy a paragraph (which can be amusing), practice an instrument (which is intriguing), solve some math problems (which prepares them for fun science experiments later), and listen to a history lesson (which makes them wiser).

What’s not to like? Why would you not want to “have to” do school today?

The crafts or activities suggested in this chapter did not inspire us. Sorry.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 28

Posted on

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. 3, Chapter 27

Posted on

Chapter 27 deals with the beginning of the industrial revolution: the cotton gin in the US and Watt’s steam engine in the UK. My son is into technology, so he was eager to learn more about these events. My daughter came along for the ride. As long as there is a coloring page, she is happy.

Boy draws invention on paper

For our activity, my son drew his own invention

The world has changed dramatically since the invention of the steam engine and this chapter describes very well the lives of people before and after Watt’s invention. I like Ms. Bauer’s writing and my children do, too. Continue reading »

It was touching to read about the children who helped in coal mines. I brought home the point to my children. They sometimes complain they have to “do school” but these nineteenth century children would have given anything to be spared the work in the mine. It is a sobering thought and it had the right effect on them for a few hours.

The next day we were back to the moaning and groaning about math and other subjects. I don’t want you to think that my children are enthused with learning every single moment of every day. They are normal children who would rather play when they should be studying.

Sister watches as brother draws his invention

My daughter watches as my son draws his invention

They obey and put their toys away and come to the table so we can study, but not without a bit of coaxing on my part. Obedience is important and I am still working on getting them to obey the first time I say something. Even Ms. Bauer shared that her children mutter things under their breath as they are asked to start a lesson or do a chore. But they go and do it.

I acknowledge their feelings and re-direct them to their task by saying something like, “I know you feel like playing a bit more, but it is 10:30 already and we really need to get started with math, otherwise we will be here studying at 6pm and who wants to do that? The sooner we get it all done, the more time in the day there is for you to play.”

If your child does not obey you when you ask them to come to the table and it takes more than a minute to convince them, it is time to take some of their privileges away. Obedience comes first.

The crazy thing is, once they get going, mine start saying, “I really like this! This is so cool! So glad we are learning about this!” or an equivalent. Like a train that starts slowly moving its wheels and then goes faster and faster, some children need to warm up to the idea of learning.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 25

Posted on

The French Revolution is the subject of Chapter 25. It gets gory at times, the story line, but thankfully Susan Wise Bauer kept those details to a minimum.

Patriotic button during the French Revolution

Patriotic button during the French Revolution

My son is very interested in wars and battles so he was excited to hear our chapter dealt with fighting and conflict. Of course, they felt for the kids of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Continue reading »

One of their friends is named Maximilian so Robespierre stood out for them – as if what Robespierre did was not enough to stand out. But, you know, it helps when you can make connections.

The first story was strictly about the conditions in France which lead to the French Revolution, while the second dealt with the aftermath of the Revolution, i.e. the Reign of Terror.

Tricolor felt buttons

We used felt pads with sticky backs instead of the recommended foam

In all honesty, the way suspicion reigned supreme reminds me of Communism and, also, this political correctness required today in everything you do and say. Obviously, what happened in France in the late 1700s was pushed to the extreme, but the atmosphere is the same.

If you show less-than-enthusiastic support for Syrian migrants these days, you are a heartless person. Never mind that European women are raped by migrants and terrorist attacks happen almost every month in Europe. Never mind that. In the name of globalism, we should open all borders and let mayhem take over the West.

If your jar of peanut butter says “Made in the USA” or “Peanuts grown in the USA,” you are in trouble with the political correctness police. You are a bigot and a horrible person who causes people to seek counseling. We are living in strange times. History repeats itself.

All the more reasons to keep on keeping on with our history lessons. I am behind with printing out our history timeline figures, but I promise to catch up next week. Maybe.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 24

Posted on

Chapter 24 deals with Captain Cook’s voyages and the beginnings of Australia as a British colony. Since we just finished “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” the kids were already somewhat familiar with the name “Captain Cook” and the whole idea of explorations. It was a happy coincidence that our literature selection and our history lesson overlapped in a way.

Boy looking through telescope

My son looking for Venus after sundown

I am more interested in the reading comprehension questions now, as the nationally standardized test is coming up in six weeks. There will be lots of reading comprehension items on that test and I want the kids to learn how to approach their texts.  Continue reading »

If the questions are really easy, I direct the question to my second grader. She sits with us in history and loves to color and do the maps. She also loves the crafts, if any. But until recently she did not show an interest in answering the questions. As she grows and matures, I also want to challenge her to answer in full sentences and to scour the text for the right answer.

The other exercise that I did not emphasize before but on which I insist now is narration. My son gets lost in the details and has a hard time summarizing a text into three sentences. So we work on that skill at the end of the history lesson. I give him the examples given in the book if he does not know how to do it, or I correct him as he goes along and starts giving too many details.

Looking through the telescope

Looking through the telescope

For our activity, we chose to look at planet Venus one evening, after the sun set. We were leaving the house to go to tae kwon do, which should explain why my son is wearing what he is wearing in the picture. The moon was out, but no sign of Venus.

We looked around the moon through the telescope, but we could not find Venus. Later on, after tae kwon do, Venus was out and I just don’t have the right camera to capture it. But we spotted it and thought about Captain Cook and his secret mission.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 22

Posted on

Chapter 22 is titled “Revolution!” and it presents two stories about the American Revolution. The first, Discontent in the British Colonies, shows the reasons why Americans became more and more dissatisfied with England. The second, The American Revolution, presents the beginning of the War of Independence, highlights of it, and its outcome.

American flag craft

American flag craft made by my daughter

This is a rich chapter and we dwelt on the Review Questions to make sure most facts stuck. I read to them Longfellow’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” but decided against memorizing it. Not only is it too long, it is historically inaccurate. Longfellow took a lot of poetic licenses (artistic liberties) and only mentioned Revere, completely leaving out his worthy fellow rider, William Dawes. Also, he makes Revere into the recipient of the message by lanterns instead of being the one who actually gave the signal. And so on. Continue reading »

However, I believe we should memorize the introduction to the American Declaration of Independence, so I have made a copy and added it to our morning basket of memory work. Susan Wise Bauer has a very simple formula for memorization: have the child read the passage five times in the morning and five times in the evening. In a few days, the child should know it by heart.

American flag craft

My son putting together his American flag

I have not found success in having my children repeat something five times in a row. We do three times in the morning. No evening memory work – sorry, it just does not work for our family’s schedule. But I still find that they can memorize a poem in about five days of repeating it three times in the morning. It’s quite neat!

For a craft, we made the original flag of the American colonies. Who has talent to draw a star stencil? Not me. Who has the patience to cut out 13 stars for the original 13 colonies? Not me, nor my children.

Star Stickers for American flag

My daughter using star stickers on her flag craft

Instead, I gave them some of my sticker stars, which I use to reward their good paperwork. My daughter chose pink and purple stars, while my son worked with gold stars. Not exactly historically accurate, but they had fun and got a bit of artistic endeavor in for the day. Plus, they were proud of their flags.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 17

Posted on

Chapter 17 dealt with Russia’s Peter the Great. I have mixed feelings about Russia. I grew up in Romania and Russia influenced our culture in a very tangible way. I do not like Russia because they brought communism to Romania, but I like Russia for its art and literature.

Foam medal craft

We used foam sheets with sticky backs for the medals.

Russian history explains a lot about its art and culture, so I am curious to learn more about all the details that have shaped this country.  Continue reading »

The temper of Peter the Great gave us an opportunity to discuss our own tempers. Homeschooling families spend a lot of their time together. We have more opportunities to get on each other’s nerves than families who send their children to school for seven hours a day.

Foam medal

One of the medals made by the kids out of sticky foam sheets.

Thankfully, we do not get as ugly with each other as Peter the Great did, but we have our moments when our tone with each other could use some modulation. I call it our “meek voice” and I am the first one to admit that I need a lot of help in developing my meek voice and using it more often.

Foam sheets with design drawn

First we drew the design onto the foam sheet.

For our craft, we used foam sheets to create medals. When Susan Wise Bauer wrote this curriculum, the foam sheets she recommended did not have sticky backing. Well, this made our craft a lot easier. We did not have to apply glue. Our foam sheets are like stickers.

#1 Place Medal Craft

The other medal my children made

You just remove the protective cover and voila, you have a sheet ready to be stuck onto another foam sheet. So first we drew the shape, then they cut it out, then we removed the protective cover and stuck the pieces together according to the design shown in the book.

We used different color foam sheets, but then the kids decided to color them with markers anyway. Oh well. Whatever works. You will notice that one of my children is still learning how to spell “place.”


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 15

Posted on

Chapter 15 dealt with three things, all of them happening in the New World. First, we looked at the Wampanoag’s war against the English colonists, also known as King Philip’s war. Such a mess! It is one thing to inspire the children with stories of brave explorers who sailed across unknown seas in search of a shorter route to India. It’s another thing altogether to talk about the aftermath of such explorations and colonization attempts.

But history must be taught, no matter how painful and sad it may have been. Since history repeats itself, we want to make sure that we learn what happened in the past so that we may not repeat others’ mistakes.

Boy and girl in camo

Having fun in camouflage outfits

The second story dealt with the French having trouble in New France, today’s Quebec. One trouble was the lack of women and the other was the attack of the Iroquois. Since we are vaguely making plans to visit Montreal and Quebec City one day, we made a mental note of Marie-Madeleine de Vercheres and her statue which we should definitely see. Continue reading »

King Louis XIV paid women to cross the ocean in order to live in New France, where they could meet lonely soldiers, settle down and have families together. Somebody should come up with a similar idea for the Chinese these days, but that is another history lesson for another time.

The third story was about William Penn’s holy experiment or the beginning of Pennsylvania. We talked about Quakers and I showed them the oat box – Quaker Oats – which has a man in his characteristic Quaker suit and hat on the label. We eat a lot of oatmeal for breakfast. The children are very familiar with that box. Now they know what the man represents.

My children are going through an army phase, so it was very easy to get them dressed in camo for this chapter’s project of blending in.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 14

Posted on

Chapter 14 covers the very interesting country of Prussia in early modern times. With my renewed interest in all things German, thanks to Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, who hailed from the small German principality of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, this chapter provided a lot of information we all received eagerly.

German flag

The flag of Germany today still reflects the colors of the old flag of Prussia.

I told the children about the three colors of the German flag, which can be found in the coloring page from Story of the World, on the Prussian emblem. With everything going on now in the European Union, reading about how these countries used to be really puts things in perspective. Continue reading »

I have friends and family who live in Germany and I feel very concerned for them. They have so many Muslims there, it is only a matter of time before a larger terrorist attack will happen in Germany. That is my sad, sad prediction.

For our project, we studied a bit of German. Now German is one language I have not attempted to introduce because I simply think we are doing enough languages. But I used to study German and I know a smattering of expressions, so I found it easy to follow Susan Wise Bauer’s list of German words.

If you don’t know how to pronounce German, never fear. She provides a pronunciation guide for each word. No excuses now. We found it fun because the children remembered how Mr. Weenie in Open Season used to say “Nein! Ja!” and eat yet another biscuit.

For a quick, funny example of the German accent in English, there is another scene where Mr. Weenie teaches a friend to say “I am wild” which sounds like “I am vild” in English. Mr. Weenie’s “I am vild” is – well – wild.

We talked about the national anthem of Germany which is the melody of the Christian hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” The words were written by John Newton on a melody by Franz Joseph Haydn. This song is called Austria because it was originally the national anthem of Austria. We noticed how the colors of the modern-day German flag (red, yellow, and black) were used on the old Prussian flag.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 13

Posted on

Chapter 13 was all about the Sun King of France, none other than Louis XIV. We made masks and talked about Versailles and the man in the iron mask. It was a bit of a crazy story to tell. Maybe I did not explain well, because they had a lot of questions about it.

Versailles Mask

Versailles Mask

A few years back, I watched the famous movie about it with Leonardo di Caprio but I remember some of the action was inappropriate for small children, so we will not be watching that any time soon. Maybe I can look up some books on the subject. Continue reading »

We talked about Versailles and I showed them pictures online. Of course, my daughter and I love the dresses the ladies wore back then. As we were admiring them, my son rolled his eyes. Typical boy, what can I say?

Scary Versailles Mask

Scary Versailles Mask

About the craft: we made these Versailles masks but I could not convince my daughter to accept that the tips go up. She wanted them to go down. Therefore, the mask covered her whole face. Also, if you did not want to do an elastic, you could just glue a popsicle stick to one side of it. Not all balls were fully masked and secretive.

Susan Wise Bauer mentions this as an option as well. They did not necessarily want to hide their identity. It was more of a fun thing to do – keep a mask in one hand and cover your face now and then, depending on the conversation.

The Sun King, of course, was quite a topic. I am not impressed with absolute monarchs and neither are my children. We discussed the divine right of kings – again. It’s important for them to understand why these people behaved this way. As soon as you invoke God’s permission for your actions, you need to tread carefully.