September 23, 2014

Children's Extra Reading Evaluation Post: Rats, Bulls, and Flying Machines; Magic Tree House Monday with a Mad Genius and Leonardo da Vinci

First, a review of Rats, Bulls, and Flying Machines: A History of the Renaissance and Reformation (nonfiction) by Deborah Mazzotta Prum.  I linked to amazon in case you want to read more reviews.  Miriam, age 11, is being interviewed by me--her mom.


Did you enjoy this book?:  "Yes, I loved it.  I want more books like it."

What was your favorite part?: "All of it.  I liked reading about Shakespeare and Leonardo."

Anything else you want to say about the book or the author's writing style?: "I learned what a papal bull is.  Papal means having to do with the Pope and bull is a word meaning document issued by the Pope.  The author had lots of good little cartoons.  The author was talking to you like she was a cartoonist, kind of.  She was funny."

Who would enjoy this book?: "I think people that like cartoons that add funny bits to a history book.  I think age 9 to old age would like this book."


Emeline (age 7, grade 3) reviews Monday with a Mad Genius by Mary Pope Osborne (fiction).

Did you enjoy this book?: "Yes, I did.  It was very, very fun. Leonardo da Vinci and the two kids were fun to read about."

What was your favorite part?: "About Leonardo da Vinci's big bird."

Did you learn anything about history from this book?:  "I learned tons!  I learned that Leonardo was a great painter and a great architect."

Who would enjoy this book?:  "Kids that are 8, 7, and 6."



Emeline's review of Leonardo da Vinci: A Nonfiction Companion to Monday with a Mad Genius.

Did you enjoy this book?": "Yes, I did.  It was very, very awesome.  I liked the things it taught me about Leonardo da Vinci.  His most famous painting is the Mona Lisa.  I really liked how he paints and draws.  I really want to go and see the Mona Lisa."

Did you learn anything about history from this book?:  "I learned tons about history."

Who would enjoy this book?: "You would [meaning me, but probably you too!], Dad would, Miriam would, Cowen would, Kiersten would."




September 17, 2014

Cortes, Pizarro, and Exploring Turns Into Conquering

Cowen and Eli were riveted by the books we read on this day.  The girls were still a little meh.  If I had more time I would think of something to get them invested, but I don't have time.

I did one very smart thing for the day we talked about the Aztecs and Incas and that was having a bunch of books on hand with photographs of real relics from the civilizations.  We didn't read all the books, but the kids have been poring over them in their free time.

We did read Francisco Pizarro by Jeff Donaldson-Forbes.  I didn't realize that Pizarro lacked even basic honor and decency.  Sad.


We also read Aztecs and Incas AD 1300-1532 by Penny Bateman.  I couldn't find a picture but it is available at the Davis County Library in Utah.  I thought it had a good overview of both civilizations.

For the children's perusing pleasure, I had the DK Eyewitness book Aztec, Inca, and Maya on hand as well as the World Book reference titled The Aztec.  The children also enjoyed flipping through The Incas by Tim Wood because it has see through, cut-out type pages.  (Funny: Miriam just walked by and saw me holding the Tim Wood book.  She said, "That's a good book."  So there you have a firm endorsement.)

Lastly, after reading books, looking at books, and finding the Incan and Aztec empires in the children's atlas (I tell you, Cowen is obsessed), we watched a movie.  I broke all my personal and family rules and let the children watch it before I had seen it.  Therefore, I cannot say anything about the quality/accuracy/appropriateness of the movie.  The boys said it was awesome, but it had quite a bit a fighting and some artwork with nudes.

Here's the linky to the Cortez movie: http://youtu.be/A8niQ1ZAbwU

September 15, 2014

Columbus and Magellan

We haven't done as many activities with history as I would like.  Part of that is my being preggers and tired, and the other part is that we are still getting in the swing of things.  Hopefully more time will be devoted to history in the future.  Hopefully, I'll figure out how to put myself to bed at a reasonable time so I get up earlier.  That would help too!

Here are a few of our favorite books from our Columbus/Magellan day.

How We Learned the Earth Is Round  by Megan Lloyd is my favorite that we read.  It had a lot of great information, but it was very child-friendly and accessible.  I highly recommend.


1492: Year of Columbus by Genevieve Foster was also pretty good.  We skipped a few pages about the Aztecs and Incas because I knew we were going to study them more in-depth later.

I didn't love any of the Magellan books.  Magellan and Da Gama: To the Far East and Beyond wasn't terrible, but it had too much info for my younger kids.  I skimmed it with them and mostly talked about Magellan.

Cowen is definitely more interested in the explorers than my girls.  He has happily pulled out our children's atlas every time we've read an explorer book--just to make sure he knows exactly where the explorer traveled.  It has been fun to engage with him and answer his questions.  The girls . . . eh.  They aren't as interested.

All my children, however, loved this handy dandy little video about Magellan:





I also thought this one was pretty informative, although not as entertaining:






September 14, 2014

History Review Days

We've been accomplishing a great deal these past few school weeks.  We've ironed out the last of the new work assignments, got into the groove of doing diligent school work every day (except Tuesdays, when I've been bottling).  We've read and laughed and  . . . not laughed.  

Since it had been awhile since we focused our attention on history, I decided to do a bit of review.  We started with a large review timeline.  I wanted something the kids could manipulate.  It took a bit of jogging their memories, but eventually the timeline took shape.  Obviously, since this timeline covered the history of the world since the creation to the end of the Middle Ages, I really limited the events to the highlights. 




We also read some books to review.  One of our favorites was Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley.

We also really liked The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History by John S. Major.

We read those books, and a few others, to review what was going on in the world and to set the stage for the major world exploration we studied next.  I wanted the kids to understand how Europe received goods from China and India and how the balance of power and prices changed when Islamic empires shut down the overland trade route.  We read a little bit about Marco Polo and then we did one of my favorite things.  We mapped.










The purpose of the map was to remind the children of basic divisions of power in Europe going into the Age of Exploration when things started changing fast.  We also looked at a map of Asia and Africa, but I couldn't find a good outline map for those areas.  

http://whi.weebly.com/uploads/6/6/6/1/6661760/2103871_orig.jpg

Lastly, we made individual, and slightly more detailed, timelines on calculating machine paper.  I love that stuff for timelines.





There are lots of places online that offer a highly simplified overview of world history.  I used one of those sites as a reference when choosing the events for the timeline.  Mostly I wanted to remind my kids of things we spent time on in the hopes it would all come back to them.  It did--for Miriam at least.

Here's what is included on Miriam's timeline:

Timeline Events:

8000 BC: beginning of farming

3100 BC: Egypt is ruled by pharaohs

3000 BC: Sumerian civilization began; cuneiform writing

2000 BC: First Chinese dynasty

1200 BC: Oldest known civilization in the Americas, Olmecs

800 BC: Greek city-states formed, democracy explored

776 BC: First Olympic games

550 BC: Cyrus forms the Persian dynasty

334 BC: Alexander the Great conquers his empire

27 BC: Roman way of life spreads throughout the Roman Empire—mightiest empire in the ancient world

AD 33: Jesus is crucified

AD 410: Barbarians plunder Rome marks the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire

AD 527: Justinian 1 becomes Byzantine Emperor

AD 622: Muhammad starts religion of Islam

AD 814: Charlemagne unites much of Europe, starts the Holy Roman Empire

AD 900: Viking Age

AD 1066: Battle of Hastings; William the Conqueror defeats the Saxons

AD 1099: First Crusade

AD 1279: Kublai Khan conquers China

AD 1298: Marco Polo publishes his adventures


AD 1347: Black Death arrives in Europe


Here's a video that might also be valuable if you are reviewing.  http://www.historycentral.com/dates/Overviewhistory.html  It is a link to a 15 minute video that discusses all major world events through AD 1500.

And that was the first two days of history of the new school year!

September 1, 2014

Calendar Magic



Today I labored, as is only appropriate on Labor Day, over the school year calendar.  I like to have the year mapped out (a residual effect of being a professional teacher or just Type A behavior?) and now that it is, I haven't stopped patting myself on the back.  The calendar worked out brilliantly.  We're studying the pilgrims (legitimately) the week of Thanksgiving and the Revolutionary War (legitimately) the week of July 4th.  How is that for amazing?

Granted, my yearly plans never go as planned but let me have a few more minutes to gloat over my calendar's awesomeness before I face that reality.

I spent all day poring over my two spines: The Age of Discovery by Timelink and The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe by Ellen McHenry.  I will also be using Ellen McHenry's second chemistry course, Carbon Chemistry, but I don't own it yet.

I broke everything down into pieces and then assigned each piece to a day.  So very, very time consuming, but so very, very worth it for me.

September is devoted to history.  Here is how it breaks down--

3rd: Joan of Arc, any other catching up, start timelines on paper roll

4th: map practice, what the world looked like at the end of the Medieval period, work on timeline

5th: Columbus and Magellan, read books about them, map where they went, discuss expanding world

8th: Cortes and the Aztecs, Pizarro and the Incas, Jacques Cartier in Canada--maps and timeline

10th: Ottoman Turks under Suleiman 1, Babur in India and the start of the Mogul Empire, maps, any documentaries I can find, books if I can find them

11th: Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, Calvinism, Venn diagram for Catholicism and Protestantism, Henry VIII divorces first wife so England breaks with Catholicism

12th: Review of major world religions, Venn diagrams, books

15th: overview of Renaissance, definition of rebirth, ancient Greeks, ancient Romans, humanism--humans can accomplish anything--focus on this life instead of afterlife, Medici (look for documentary), patrons, Gutenberg

16th: Painters that made a difference: Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, etc., try to draw like one of them

17th: Perspective, Erasmus, Machiavelli (maybe)

18th: Guest lesson on perspective, draw

22nd: Durer, Hans Holbein, Leonardo da Vinci, try to make one of Leonardo's inventions

24th: Akbar--Mogul India--map; Toyotomi Hideyoshi--Japan, maps, timelines, Africa beginning of slave trade, French Civil War

25th: guest artist--another perspective lesson

29th: Spain's Golden Age; empire, Cervantes, El Greco, defeated Portugal, Dutch revolt against Spain, map Spain's empire

October 1st: Elizabethan England; England's Golden Age, new worlds, Richard Chancellor

2nd: Shakespeare

3rd: Pirates/Spanish Armada



At that point, we start chemistry.  I assigned one week to each chapter in the chemistry book, so I won't bore you will listing the dates here.

I wrote out the whole year like this.  Granted, I might end up scratching some things (like Machiavelli), depending on what is available at the library and how interested I think my children will be.  We might spend an extra day on pirates if I find enough cool things to justify it.  My schedule is usually pretty fluid, but having it laid out allows me to focus further planning on the nitty gritty of how I'm going to introduce the ideas to my kids.

Having everything outlined also allows to me focus my library searches and limit how many books I have out from the library at one time.  It also allows me to figure out how extra reading assigned to Miriam and Emeline fits in with the overall calendar.

Today was so productive!  I keep thinking I should work on school some more but . . . I think I'll rest on my laurels, read a novel, and eat something Chinese.  Happy labor day!

August 26, 2014

First Day of School Pics!

 Harriet (3)
 Cowen (9)
 Eli (5)
 Emeline (7)
Miriam (11)
Oskar (18 months)

The first day of school was awesome.  It felt so good to be following a schedule again--even though there were glitches here and there.  I'm still working on training the children in their new chores and helping kids stay on task.  We didn't get to history, but that isn't very surprising.  I figured we wouldn't do the extras until we got into the groove of things.

Today was nice too.  Miriam went to the DaVinci Academy for her day of classes.  I decided to give it a try with the new program but I'm definitely lukewarm.  One foot in, the other foot out.  I wanted a little homeschool $ and this was the last year for Miriam to take classes, so I put her in and kept the other kids out.  We'll see if the money is worth the requirements.

Miriam loved her classes.  The other kids and I lost focus around 10:30 because the weather was so nice.  We headed to the hills for a nice ambling walk on the canal road.  We might have to stick to paved trails though because carrying Oskar when he got tired was not fun.  A stroller might help me get to the end of this pregnancy.  Still, lovely day.

My favorite things that have happened over the past two days: Cowen and Emeline figuring out how to alphabetize and Cowen sitting by Harriet on the couch helping her go over her touch-and-trace alphabet cards.  Harriet wants so much to "do school" and Cowen was so sweet with her.  Loved it.

Funniest thing?  Emeline was trying to find a word in the dictionary for her language arts assignment and kept singing the alphabet song through the letter "o" over and over.  None of us were paying attention until she muttered, "I have got to learn the alphabet."  Then we realized she couldn't remember the rest of the alphabet and we erupted in a massive fit of giggles.  Emeline looked sheepish but appreciated her siblings singing the song repeatedly for her until she found the word in the dictionary.

Good times.

I'll leave you with another pic of Oskar--guaranteed to make you smile.


August 23, 2014

Everything Feels More Manageable Now


I've decided that for a person who usually muddles along without a "spine" for each subject I'm pretty happy to not muddle this year.  

I was really starting to feel desperate about where to start with the Renaissance (yes, I have a masters degree in history.  Would you care to know about masculinity during WWII, because I could really help you out there).  My sister, Kami, who likes history as much as I do but actually knows about the Renaissance sent me a bunch of links to help me out.  I went to each and every one and started to break down my units into logical sections and assign books to the units.  I was starting to feel better about things.

Then, I skimmed through the library books I already checked out and realized that I had unwittingly found a "spine."  A perfectly AWESOME spine.  It is called The Age of Discovery by Brian and Brenda Williams.  The book is laid out in sections by date and all the important things going on around the world during those years are broken up by geographic region.  There are timelines on the bottom of the pages to further clarify things. For example, on pages 52-53 the date box says, "1770-1789" and the sections are titled: "First fleet to Australia," "Settlement of Australia,""The Maoris of New Zealand," and "Tom Paine--Revolutionary."  

Awesome!!  At a glance I can see what the important topics are, whether or not I feel they are important enough to find an additional book about them, and how they fit together.  I can then skim over the timelines at the bottom of the pages that are in text boxes organized by continent.  It is seriously genius.  Now I don't have to worry that I'm going to leave out something critical from our studies.  It also gives me a way to fill in information without needing a whole book on the subject.  

I'm feeling much more confident!!  It is too bad Eli threw up today because now I'm pumped for school to start on Monday.  If all the kids are sick, we'll postpone.  :)  

As a small sidenote--I apologize to any and all of you who know me in person or who run into me on facebook periodically, or in any other way have to endure me during pregnancy.  This pregnancy has been harder on me emotionally than any other I can remember (the stress of the move? increasing sensitivity to hormonal changes? knowing it is my last one and just running out of grin-and-bear-it? having six other kids?) and I basically don't like anyone right now.  Grumpy is an understatement.  Please don't be offended!  I'll get over it the minute baby is born (or a week later when the hormones have settled a little).  Thank you for bearing with me!