The Road Ahead: Curriculum for 2016-17 Year

20160815_080425 (640x480)Choosing curriculum is time-consuming, sometimes fun and always hard. I usually end up doubting myself and wondering if something would work better. This year was a little different . I didn’t have the big “What have I done?” moment this time around and feel happy with the choices the kids and I made together. I guess that is the difference this year…the kids helped pick their books. Grade level gets harder to pinpoint each year too. The longer we homeschool the wonkier our grade levels turn out and I’m not sure the distinction is necessary in home education. But for those who need to know– Oldest is in seventh and Sparkles is in fifth. The younger two are straddling grade levels with Middle Boy a fourth-ish fifth grader and Littlest a Kinder-first grader.

BFB guides

BFB guides

Naturally, we chose to stick with Beautiful Feet Books for our history, literature selections and writing projects. We love BFB and the family behind the company. The guides and the books always lead to “big juicy conversations” (a Brave Writer term). We may be discussing history but we also talk about choices, morals, character, religion, politics and the struggles within human nature. The guides and the chosen books always inspire me to come up with projects. I build plenty of margin space for these history inspired

lots of BFB books

lots of BFB books

projects into the yearly calendar. Littlest will use Primary Early American History and the middle two will work through Intermediate Early American History. Oldest is using Early American and World History and next summer the older three will study through the Western Expansion guide. Littlest will take a couple of years to complete the primary guides for American History and Character.

some of our history projects for this year

some of our history projects for this year

Language Arts was absolute drudgery last year. This year they will all begin IEW’s Fix It for grammar. The kids all approved of this curriculum and since we started at the beginning we could fly through the first few books…if we wanted to. But we do not and there really isn’t a need to do so. On occasion we’ll pick up an Arrow or Boomerang from Brave Writer during the year for fun and a little

first day of school

first day of school

change of pace. We’ll continue with Poetry Tea Time and freewriting from Brave Writer as well and I plan to enroll them in another online class in January. This year Littlest joined in with the freewriting topics by dictating his thoughts to me. He loves to see his own words on paper. The older three are continuing the poetry and composition courses from Blackbird and Company. Littlest is using Foundations from Logic of English to learn to read. I could not be happier with this curriculum for reading instruction. The crew is also working through MENSA’s Year of Living Poetically. This was started last month and they are already memorizing their second poem.

first day candy bars

first day candy bars

Everyone has their own math. Littlest is still working through MUS’s Primer. He also has geo boards, tangrams and other geometric manipulatives to keep his hands busy during read aloud time. Middle Boy is using Christian Light Education and supplementing with Beast Academy. Sparkles is using Math Mammoth and Oldest is finishing up Christian Light Education sixth grade math. He is ready for pre-algebra and is trying to decide between MUS or Math Mammoth. I’m considering Math Without Boarders for the high school years. Everyone will need a new level of math by December.

20160815_183139 (640x480)I had a hard time finding science curriculum. I just wasn’t happy with most of the available selections. I do like Dr. Wile and ended up sticking with his books. The younger crew love his elementary science books and Oldest started with General Science. We’ll also watch a ton of science documentaries and I plan to get Curiosity Stream on ROKU too.

For Christian studies we are working through Pilgrim’s Progress but I haven’t decided what we should do after we finish toward the end of September…

20160815_183000 (640x480)We added art and music appreciation studies from Simply Charlotte Mason. We’re listening to Bach and studying the art work of Botticelli, Giotto and Van Gogh. We’re still working through Barry Stebbing’s Nature Drawing and Journaling course but will finish it up soon and move onto ArtAchieve.

projects

projects

At certain points during the year we will set all academics aside and work through projects together. Oldest is going to make a stop motion movie and possibly move on to robotics afterward. Middle Boy found a Minecraft STEM and art project book that he plans to use and Sparkles is going to learn to sew. Our group project is knitting and we will all be making hats, scarves and socks this year. I’ve

art

art

been on YouTube learning all of the various knitting stitches by making coffee cozies. That way I’ll already have a clue when the kids pick up knitting needles for the first time.

Everyone will work on their keyboarding skills and Littlest will be introduced to the computer. The older three are still taking piano lessons and Littlest is showing a bit of interest in learning piano too. He’s working on a little song right now and trying to remember the location of middle C. Once he does that he’ll be way ahead of me…

That’s our year in a nutshell. I’ve left white space in our schedule for bunny trails and whispered moments of inspiration from the homeschooling muses.

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Medieval Study: The End of an Age

Intermediate Medieval books and guide from Beautiful Feet Books

Intermediate Medieval books and guide from Beautiful Feet Books

Sadly, all things must end and so has our current study of medieval times. We spent the last five weeks reading The World of Columbus and Sons from Genevieve Foster; the final required book in the study. The guide is set up to go through this book in four weeks but due to some unforeseen events going on at home we needed an extra week to get through the text and all of the rich discussions.

Box Day!! Always a happy day in a book loving homeschool!

Box Day!! Always a happy day in a book loving homeschool!

Oldest started this session marking locations from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Africa on his map. As we read about the explorations of the Portuguese he marked their routes. We also read some extra books on exploration about Prince Henry the Navigator (A Sea Route to Asia: The Adventures of the Portuguese Exploration by David Rutsala), Magellan, De Balboa and Cortez. We read about Timbuktu and the beginnings of the slave trade.

globe project for medieval history

globe project for medieval history

We read about the fall of Constantinople and the ironic (considering today’s news stories) welcoming of the Jewish population into the Ottoman Empire following their expulsion from Spain. We watched a documentary called The Story of the Jews which covers the various diasporas of the Jewish people throughout the centuries. We were both saddened and encouraged by the documentary. My daughter was particularly moved and wondered aloud when people would “get over hating each other before even meeting?”

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All of our books for the study…that we could find.

My son enjoyed learning all about Columbus, Martin Luther (Martin Luther by Mary McNeer and Lynd Ward), William Tyndale (The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day by Scott O’Dell), the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci (both by Diane Stanley). He did not enjoy anything about the royal troubles of Spain, France, England, the Holy Roman Empire or the Medici family. Of all the

with books and a few projects

with books and a few projects

books we read that mentioned the plague the death of Captain Jack in The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day had the most emotional impact on us. He was certainly a rogue but we liked him anyway. The lack of respect shown toward his corpse was unsettling. We ended up discussing the impact of so much death on a society…kinda hard to wrap one’s mind around really.

Ember Day Feast ingredients

Ember Day Feast ingredients

Our final discussion for the study was to compare the ideas of Machiavelli and Erasmus. We’ll likely dive into this a little deeper during his high school years. He liked Erasmus’ idealized views of governing and thought that Machiavelli was just plain crazy.

the feast

the feast

We followed up our study with a medieval Ember Day feast. We had come across the term a few times in our readings and looked up the meaning. These are days of fasting (no meat) and prayer that occur at the beginning of each season. Originally the Catholic Church instituted the celebration of these days in Rome to coincide with pagan agricultural celebrations. Beginning in the fifth century the practice spread throughout the West. The days are still celebrated in some rural areas of Europe.

20160524_124132 (640x472)Our feast included an Ember Day Tart, Hungarian Cheese Soup, Brown Rye Bread, Pottage, Apple Cider, Almond Milk and grapes. Pottage is vegetable soup with oats (I used instant oats) and I thought the kids would be reluctant to eat it. To keep them from being too picky I ran it through the food processor so it was more like a bisque than a stew. I am happy to live in times that include a crock pot and a food processor! (I will admit to wishing for those replicators on Star Trek: The Next Generation!!!) The food was good and we enjoyed our feast. Our favorite recipe was dipping the rye bread into the cheese soup. Yum!

20160524_124126 (640x480)We loved this study. All of the books were excellent and Oldest had a hard time choosing his favorite book from the study. He found it impossible to choose just one of the books. From the required books he chose Crispin: The Cross of Lead and The Trumpeter of Krakow. His favorite book from the recommended reading list was A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg.

20160524_124144 (640x480)I could not pick a favorite book; my emotional attachment to them is directly related to warm memories of snuggling with my children while reading aloud. We wept bitterly together over Robin Hood’s death, we loved the audacity of Eleanor of Aquitaine, we were angry at Crispin’s inhuman treatment…I could go on. The read aloud experience this curriculum provides is so precious. I cannot possibly imagine continuing in the home education lifestyle without Beautiful Feet Books.

up next

up next

So what’s next? Well, we still have a longbow to make. Every single weekend that my husband has been available to help us with this project the sky has rained. We have all of the components and sometime in the near future I’ll share our experience at the making of a long bow. Our next academic year begins in July. I’ve already started the planning process. Oldest will study the Early American and World History Jr. High pack. My middle two will work through the Early American History Intermediate study and Littlest will begin the Primary Early American study sometime in the fall or early winter. We are all looking forward to our history studies and this mama can’t wait to introduce Littlest to Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin.

Posts related to this series:

Introduction

Augustine to Arabian Nights

Eleanor to Robin Hood

Weeks 12-18  Wow! I got sooo creative with that title!

Minstrels, the Black Death and Chaucer

Joan of Arc to the Philosopher’s Stone

Medieval Fig Tarts

Thank you to the very wonderful and generous people of Beautiful Feet Books who have blessed my family!

Medieval Study: Joan of Arc to the Philosopher’s Stone

the catapult

the catapult

After our delightful study of the Canterbury Tales with Beautiful Feet Books we started studying Joan of Arc and The One Hundred Years’ War between France and England. The story of St. Joan is so very sad. My children were not familiar with her at all and so had no idea of the amazing and heartbreaking story they were about to embark. As we read her story the kids bombarded me with questions…hard questions too! I had to explain the veneration of relics, asking saints for prayers and the nature of visions. As we continued to read her story the kids struggled to understand why she was abandoned by her king, condemned by the church and burned alive.

cats and catapults...

cats and catapults…

Of course, the kids really wanted to know if I believed the Maid of Orleans. Did she really have visions? Did God send her to save France from the English? I cannot have an answer for every question and someday they will make up their own minds on such mysteries. I choose to simply accept Joan of Arc at her word.

“Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years.”  –Winston Churchill

“She is the Wonder of the Ages. And when we consider her origin, her early circumstances, her sex, and that she did all the things upon which her renown rests while she was still a young girl, we recognize that while our race continues she will be also the Riddle of the Ages.” –Mark Twain 

required books from the study

required books from the study

While we studied about Joan we built a catapult and looked through a picture book (from the library and I forgot to note the title or take a picture of it!) of medieval warfare tactics and siege engines. The boys built some Lego models (I didn’t take pictures again) and we watched several documentaries on YouTube and Netflix about castles and medieval warfare. Currently Netflix has a series called “Secrets of Great British Castles” that the family enjoys watching together.

We moved on to the study of the printing press, movable type and Johannes Gutenberg. We enjoyed both the book for this section and the recommended Stephen Fry documentary from the guide. We spent time discussing the importance of this moment in history. This invention laid the corner-stone of the Reformation, Renaissance, the scientific revolution and the spread of learning to nearly all people. For this part of the study I bought a paper making kit. We plan to make paper later this week and try our hands at making a homemade book.

20160410_131541 (640x480)Our last read aloud for these past six weeks was The Trumpeter of Krakow. Oh wow did we love this book!!! It follows the story of a family in the Ukraine that has to travel to Krakow as refugees (a topic still relevant on the news today) and they just happen to be in possession of the philosopher’s stone. Of course the kids were shocked to discover that JK Rowling didn’t come up with the idea all her own!!! We discussed alchemy and the theory that the whomever possessed the stone could turn other metals into gold. While we were reading about the alchemists in the story I pulled out The Mystery of the Periodic Table (by Benjamin D Wiker) and read the couple of chapters on alchemy to my crew.

We are currently working through a felting project to go along with our studies of the Mongols. Making your very own felt sheets from wool roving is a bit messy! We finally have a nice sunny weekend coming up so that we can work on our paper making and felting projects outside.

We only have four weeks left and our medieval study will be all finished! We’re in the process of making our Robin Hood hats, choosing recipes and other projects for our final feast. We are looking forward to sharing the end of our study celebration with you soon!

 

Medieval Study: Minstrels, the Black Death and Chaucer

books for this session

books for this session

We’ve just wrapped up weeks nineteen through twenty-four of Beautiful Feet Books’ Intermediate Medieval History covering from the 1290’s to 1400 or so. The book selections for this session were some of our very favorite of the study so far. The books are so wonderful, in fact, that my younger crew abandoned their history studies and insisted on listening in with their older brother. I just modified a few of the assignments to suit the younger kids so they could participate with their older brother. This is what happens when you read quality books aloud! Everyone joins in the fun…

In the first book, Adam of the Road, we learned about minstrels, heraldry and even more about medieval society. I found a fun heraldry prompt on Pinterest for my crew to dive into. The kids enjoyed making their own symbolic shields and I was so pleased with the results that I put their projects in a safe place. So safe, that I cannot remember where…(please tell me that I am not the only one who does this!)

The European World resource book

The European World resource book

At this time Oldest came up with his own history project for the rest of the study. He is using Minecraft to build a medieval city. For the past six weeks he has been building locations from the books. He even added one of the medieval Robin Hood ballads to the tavern he built to represent the Canterbury Tales. I wasn’t sold on this Minecraft build since the BFB guide includes several projects as well. It seemed more like an excuse to play video games to me at first. However, after watching how much research he put into each addition to his city I lost my skepticism. After the first week the middle two joined him on the project. The three of them are working together, checking out medieval history books from the library and learning so much on their own just so they can build their city. I’m pretty sure this is

illustration from Canterbury Tales

illustration from Canterbury Tales

what is referred to as “delight-directed learning”…the sweet-spot of home education. I sincerely believe the quality literature and discussions prompted by the guide led to my children’s curiosity to learn more on their own.

The next part of the study was on The Black Death and John Wycliffe through the book Morning Star of the Reformation. We found this book to be just a wee bit preachy in favor of Fundamentalism. For us it sparked a discussion on world views, respecting other’s beliefs and the importance of reading and understanding the Scriptures in our own language. The book does provide a rich portrait of a clergyman’s life and the description of The Plague and its aftermath on a culture is vivid. Oldest then gave us a presentation on The Plague aided by a nice map and website references in the guide.

they get cozy during read aloud time

they get cozy during read aloud time

In our next book, Crispin: The Cross of Lead, we learned just how difficult and harsh life could be for the common people. Thus far into the study this is probably my favorite book. It really captured the importance and hold the Catholic Church had on the medieval mind. We could feel the beginnings of political and religious unrest unfolding in society. The kids were just heart broken over the unjust cruelty shown toward Crispin and his mother.

the Minecraft tavern

the Minecraft tavern

Our last two weeks for this section of the guide was on Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales. The book provided by BFB is beautiful! The illustrations are just gorgeous! We also read Chaucer: Celebrated Poet and Author, Life on a Medieval Pilgrimage and another Canterbury Tales adapted by Geraldine McCaughrean. All three books were recommended by BFB. The kids, to my surprise, really enjoyed the Canterbury Tales and the Chaucer biography. The guide gives several websites on pilgrimages and suggests the student write a report. Since we were reading a book together on the subject I did not give Oldest the assignment. After we read the book I told the kids about the two pilgrimages I went on many years ago. My first pilgrimage was to the Ava Maria Grotto in

horse from Adam of the Road

horse from Adam of the Road

Cullman, Alabama. My second pilgrimage was to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows during my time with the Franciscan Order. I’m pretty sure that my kids think I’m weird…

We’ve been studying Shakespeare this term as well. We wrapped up our Shakespeare unit by reading and watching Hamlet since the story occurs during the late Middle Ages (1300-1499 or so). Hamlet is not a part of the BFB study at all but it does fit in nicely. We watched the Mel Gibson movie. It was pretty good and on Netflix.

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Hamlet

Right now Oldest is writing his own Canterbury Tale. For most of the written assignments in this study I have accepted first or second drafts with oral discussion. For this assignment we will be going through the entire revision and editing process which takes about a month for us. Once his story is completed and if he gives permission I will share it here in the blog.

We spent a great deal of time discussing religion, justice, the unfairness of the feudal system and the breakdown of society due to the plague and the Little Ice Age. These conversations led

church

church

to the kids understanding the importance in literacy and the ability to think critically as a defense against tyranny. If only it were so simple as their sweet idealistic hearts believe. Oldest then made a comparison of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages to Sharia Law today. Now that, is a chilling thought…

We have about nine weeks remaining for this study. Our tradition with history studies is to have a feast. In the next few weeks we will be researching recipes and final projects to share.

Medieval market square

Medieval market square

At the end of March and first of April Oldest and I will be hanging out at the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. If you are going then please stop by and say “Howdy!” We’d love to meet you! Beautiful Feet Books will also be at the Great Homeschool Conventions in Texas and California as well this year.

 

Beautiful Feet Books’ Intermediate Medieval History Weeks 12-18

guide and required books

guide and required books

Before I get into this section of the study I’d like to mention one little thing about the previous post. We had not yet read the Epilogue to Robing Hood when I wrote our report. During our move I had left the book in our apartment in Lexington while overseeing our move from Benton to Frankfort. Life got just a tiny bit crazy! I’ve watched many Robin Hood movies over the years. Not a single one of the films prepared me for the ending to the book!!! We were so devastated (and a tiny bit angry) by the manner of our hero’s death that I had to cancel school the rest of the day. Sparkles and Middle Boy just cried their hearts out. Oldest refused to concentrate on math or grammar until we discussed the injustice and greed that led to Robin’s death. Life is unfair sometimes and especially so for heroes (real or literary). I made some popcorn and we buried our sorrows watching Walt Disney’s Robin Hood. Roger Miller and Robin Hood always go together in my mind and his song ran through my head the entire time I read the book aloud.

Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day

You are welcome for the earworm!

all of our resources for this session

all of our resources for this session

The first three weeks of this session are devoted to the study of the Magna Charta through James Daughtery’s book The Magna Charta. The first part of the book was a review of previous books on the Plantagenets. We found the review helpful since we had paused our studies for the move. Oldest became so fascinated with Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Plantagenets that he purchased a book on them with his birthday money. He was fairly proud of himself for purchasing his first history text. Weeks twelve through fourteen have several words to define from the book. Usually Oldest looked the words up in a dictionary. Sadly, our dictionary was packed away in a box in storage. Oldest thought he had a free pass on the vocabulary words until I reminded him of the glossary’s existence in the guide! 😉

Oldest studied several websites to learn about the life of England’s common people and wrote a silly tale about a stable boy named Jack. We discussed the life and legacy of King Richard, King John, Stephen Langton the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Innocent III, and William Marshal. We studied the art of Albert Herter during our picture studies and discussed the symbolism of representative government in his work. We also read Marguerite De Angeli’s

Oldest with his birthday books

Oldest with his birthday books

delightful book A Door in the Wall (a suggested read). We just adored this book and even the younger children listened in on this read aloud. We also discussed the importance of the Magna Charta to our own American history.

I was relieved that the guide had us take a look at the lives of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic since faith and religion took a hard hit with the death of Robin Hood and the politics of the Church during the Medieval period. I added a short study on the life of St. Hildegard von Bingen. She was a German Benedictine abbess and composer of beautiful music. I learned about her during my time in the monastery and the chant she composed for her communities returns my heart to the cloister. O Frondens Virga

illumination project

illumination project

which I linked for you is my favorite of her compositions. I also adore her because she was a bit of a rebel. We read Life in a Medieval Monastery by Marc Cels and Places of Worship in the Middle Ages by Kay Eastwood. To round out our medieval religious studies we also read Magic in the Margins: A Medieval Tale of Bookmaking by W. Nicola-Lisa and Oldest worked on a small illuminated manuscript project. He chose to illuminate the Preamble to the Constitution.

Our next couple of weeks were spent learning about Cathedrals and Castles with David Macaulay’s books. Oldest and the younger siblings enjoyed making stained glass windows with tissue paper for art projects and watching YouTube videos about Guedelon in France. Oldest also watched a documentary about the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Florence and then explored the

some of Oldest's papers and projects

some of Oldest’s papers and projects

subject further on Kahn Academy. I didn’t realize how much he had learned about architecture until he started pointing out features of buildings in downtown Frankfort. Currently he is working on building a Medieval city on Minecraft. His castle is designed after Visegrad the Citadel. He chose this castle primarily because my husband had visited there and brought home an informative booklet with diagrams of the topography and building plans.

The next two weeks of the guide (17 and 18) bring us to Medieval China and Marco Polo. Sadly, Oldest completed all of the reading for these sessions on his own. I love reading aloud these history books and it made me sad to miss out on The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean. I fell rather ill a few weeks ago with a chest infection. Oldest did read aloud a few chapters to me during my feverish days but as the fever subsided I developed a terrible cough and could barely breathe let alone read aloud.

architectural designs Oldest pointed out during downtown walk

architectural designs Oldest pointed out during downtown walk

Fortunately, even without reading the book I was able to intelligently discuss the book and questions in the guide thanks to the answer key! We depended heavily on the Resources part of the study guide for the course this time around. I did notice this evening while checking over his map that he forgot to add the map work for China though he did mark Marco Polo’s route. Guess what his first assignment will be Monday morning!?!

Oldest with book

Oldest with book

One of the projects was to build a paper model of The Temple of Heaven. We didn’t get to that project because the color printer is still packed away in a box. It looks like a fun craft so we plan to work on it at some point. Oldest did build a mini version of the temple with his legos. We read about the life of Confucius and reviewed Buddhism, Taoism, and Confusism. Just as he started reading The Samurai’s Tale by Erik C. Haugaard (another suggested book) he got my chest infection. The book must be really good because he kept reading while he was feverish. I just love this picture of him asleep by the Christmas tree with book in hand.

Legal note: The kind (and totally awesome!) folks at Beautiful Feet Books provided me with the literature pack and guide in exchange for this review series.

 I offered them no guarantee on what I would write here.

 

Medieval Study: Eleanor to Robin Hood

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some of the books we read for weeks 7-12

By the title you can see that we haven’t covered a long period in history. We hit a little snag in our schedule…my husband was offered a wonderful job and we are in the process of moving. My homeschool schedule took a major hit! Normally, I would have carried on this section of our study on through to the Magna Charta, medieval architecture, and castle life. We should be finishing up week sixteen of the study instead we are in the midst of week twelve.

The study of Queen Eleanor and her times begins in week seven of the study. We chose to start this section with one of the recommended books A Proud Taste of Scarlet and Miniver  by E. L. Konigsburg. Oldest loved this book and even the younger children listened to the story. We couldn’t put the book down and I finished reading it aloud in about four sittings. Oldest became enthralled with Queen Eleanor. Everything about her and her times fascinated him. He checked out several extra books at the library on the time period and enjoyed a couple of books on Saint George the Dragon Slayer. After reading the next chapter in our spine book (The European World) we started on Queen Eleanor: Independent Spirit of the Medieval World.

Lego feudalism model

Lego feudalism model

In his first couple of weeks with this section of the guide Oldest explored feudalism. He chose to make a Lego representation of the feudal system. He then explored several websites on Gothic architecture, Vikings, and the early Crusades. He also worked on his map marking cities and Queen Eleanor’s route on the Second Crusade. We read about the struggle between church and state through the tragic story of King Henry II and Thomas Becket. Oldest found Becket’s betrayal of his friend and king shocking and just could not understand the Church’s stance on a nation’s laws. Oldest still sees the world in very black and white terms. He was rather upset at the lack of true justice in medieval law. He struggled with the idea that people who called themselves Christians did not “walk the talk”. I had to remind him at this point that many people during this time in history could not read. Most people did not have access to a Bible and simply believed whatever they were told. We had some good discussions that we will likely revisit when we study the Protestant Reformation. I felt a little sad for my son…sensing his faith in humanity took a hit. A little gray is starting to penetrate his black and white world.

the crossbow worked

the crossbow worked

Oldest designed a tapestry with a battle scene from the Second Crusade. I then assigned him a five paragraph paper on Eleanor of Aquitaine. I simply hoped to get one page. He does not enjoy writing. He loved to write when he was younger but something happened during his public school years to choke that early spark from him. The past few months I have backed off from too many writing assignments and started slowly implementing techniques I’ve learned from Brave Writer. Once he started writing about her he couldn’t stop! I took a very hands off approach with this assignment. As he continued to write I allowed him to put off his other work. He wrote 1144 words! I was beyond thrilled and chose to accept his paper without a proper editing session. I didn’t want to end his enthusiasm for writing or history. He also wrote a poem about her that I will have to add a picture of later. It is currently boxed for the move (along with both of the Eleanor books).

We then started The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades by G. A. Henty and Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam by Diane Stanley, Saladin: The Warrior Who Defended His People by Flora Geyer and Richard the Lion Heart and the Third Crusade: The English King confronts Saladin by David Hilliam. All of these books are only recommended and are not a part of the guide. We enjoyed reading The Boy Knight and the rest of the books above helped to flesh out the history in the novel. Oldest made a mini crossbow and then spent some time tinkering with it to make the design better. The Boy Knight segued quite nicely into The Adventures of Robin Hood. We’ve watch a few Robin Hood movies over the years so he knows the basic story. Due to our crazy moving schedule we only

playing from The Song of Robin Hood

playing from The Song of Robin Hood

got through three or four chapters a week. We had already chosen our projects and bought parts but will have to wait until after the move. We were going to make a PVC pipe long bow and Robin Hood style hats for everyone and host an archery competition followed up with a proper medieval feast. We’ll actually do those projects at the end of our study.

We did watch the Doctor Who episode: Robots of Sherwood. Oldest enjoyed pointing out scenes that were inspired from the book. He thought the actor and writers did a good job of bringing Robin Hood to life…other than the robots and time traveling of course. We discussed heroes in literature, forest law and justice. I was surprised when he pointed out the similarities in literary style between Doctor Who, King Arthur, 1001 Arabian Knights, and Robin Hood! They are all framed narratives. Just as each chapter of the books is part of an overall narrative telling a single story so is an entire season (sometimes several) of Doctor Who. I was impressed he caught that. I also never considered using literary devices to describe visual media. We also read a few article on the Battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion of England. Learning about the conquest helped us to understand the animosity between the Saxons and the Normans in The Boy Knight.

fig tarts

fig tarts

Oldest did have to write a food review for another course and chose to make medieval fig tarts. He finds a way to merge most assignments into his medieval studies these days. The tarts were tasty but really heavy on the spices. I had to make a slight modification to the recipe above since fresh figs are hard to come by in Kentucky! I found dry whole figs at the local Mennonite shop and soaked them in grape juice overnight. I also skipped the saffron and used turmeric…

We are looking forward to getting settled in our new home so we can continue our medieval history studies. We are about to start the story of the Magna Charta and the origins of representative government. For now, Oldest is learning to play one of the ballads in The Song of Robin Hood by Anne Malcolmson, Grace Castagnetta and Virginia Burton. The book is a must have for any true fan of Robin Hood. The book contains early original ballads of Robin Hood with music adapted for modern times. Once he is comfortable I’ll record his version and upload it to YouTube and post a link here. Also, last month one of my favorite blogs: As He Leads Is Joy posted a picture of Little John’s grave she found while out on a walk. Just something of a neat coincidence…

Medieval Study: From Saint Augustine to Arabian Nights

books from the study

books from the study

We’ve completed our first six weeks of Beautiful Feet Books’ Medieval History: A Literature Approach for Advanced Intermediate and Junior High.  Oldest loves history. It is his favorite subject to study. I think one of the reason’s he loves it so much is because I read many of the books to him. When we first started using Beautiful Feet Books a few years ago I thought reading books to my kids was kinda strange. I mean, they are old enough to read on their own now. Odd as it seemed to me at the time, I went along with the recommendation in the guide anyway. I (and my kiddos) am so happy I took the quirky counsel. Read-aloud time is one of our favorite parts of the homeschool day. I didn’t know it at the time but reading to our kids is not only beneficial to our children’s education but…oh my! I am getting off topic! For more information

from the guide

from the guide

on why reading aloud is important check out the Read-Aloud Revival. I am currently listening to one podcast a week for my own time of summer refreshment.

This study dives the student right into a pretty good-sized workload the first week. Within the first three weeks of the study Oldest’s hand written glossary contained nearly one hundred words.  We chose to break up the vocabulary words by doing only five to eight of the words each day. He wrote a small paper on Charlemagne, worked on a hand drawn map, completed an Anglo-Saxon rune art project, and copied and decorated King Arthur’s Code of Chivalry. The rune project was his own idea. The guide directed him to a website to learn

projects

projects

about the runes and suggest he have fun making coded messages with someone. His rune page says, “Beowulf is cool!” and then he did some illustrations similar to those in the Beowulf book from the study. In the midst of this study Oldest was working on his final research paper (1000 words on the life of Julius Caesar) for his writing curriculum so I cut two of the writing assignments. An essay comparing the conflicting ideas of Christianity and Paganism and an essay on Judaism, Christianity or Islam. We simply discussed and explored these topics together. I think his favorite project so far is the map. He takes his time locating each place, marking routes, and adding a bit of color. Every week also includes internet sites to explore and Oldest has really

map work

map work

enjoyed exploring these topics further. He spent a couple of hours on the recommended King Arthur webpages.

Oldest loves the spine book  (The European World 400-1450) for this study. He strongly disliked Streams of Civilization used in the ancient history study and has suggested several times that every copy should have a proper Viking burial at sea. The European World is an excellent and informative text with photographs and maps. Our favorite part of the book is the little samples of primary sources of literature, biographies and other text usually dated from the time period covered in the chapter. Oldest found it fascinating that the tradition of decorating Easter eggs originated with feudalism.

from Beowulf

from Beowulf

Oldest’s favorite book for the first six weeks is Beowulf. The book is beautifully illustrated and even the younger children would listen to the story. As a mom, I just love when their imaginative play mixes with the books we are reading. Middle Boy even built Grendel with Legos. I read several stories from King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Through this book and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights we learned about literary elements and framed narratives. The guide suggested only a portion of each of the two books for reading. Oldest added the King Arthur book to his reading list and will do an additional report with it later in the school year.

from The European World

from The European World

We decided to finish the Arabian Nights book as a read aloud. (I wish the book contained a pronunciation guide or the names and places…this Southern girl had no clue!)  I had never read this book in the past and wasn’t looking forward to it honestly. I knew it was about an Islamic king who killed his new bride every day because he hated women. Much to my surprise we all enjoyed the book…yes, even me with my own admitted prejudice was charmed by Shahrazad’s stories. Now that I have read this book I also know where the writers’ of several episodes of Bugs Bunny received their inspiration. Ha! The book prompted some difficult conversations about how women are treated in other cultures…especially in Islamic regions. During this time I read about Ann Voskamp’s journey to Iraq (you may want to skip this if you are very sensitive…it gave me horrible nightmares.) My sparkly girl is nine and so my emotions were a little high as I

extra books

extra books

struggled with how much to share with my children. (And no, I did not share anything of Mrs. Voscamp’s report.) History and current events can be tough to talk about sometimes.

Oldest spent the last week learning about the differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We’ve studied this in the past so it was mostly a review for him. He did read the appropriate sections in The Usborne Book of World Religions by Susan Meredith. We found a few videos on YouTube to explain the basic practices of Judaism and Islam. I tried to arrange an interview at the Jewish Temple in Paducah but have not received a return call yet. As far as I know there are no Islamic practitioners that I feel comfortable exposing my children to in this area. This weekend I will take Oldest to a Catholic church and explain to him the Way of the

Charlemagne paper and a peek at the guide

Charlemagne paper and a peek at the guide

Cross, Rosaries, scapulars, and transubstantiation. In fact, I will be taking him to the monastery chapel where  I once lived and believed my vocation was to the religious life. We currently attend a Methodist church and I am looking forward to explaining to him the differences in practice between the two denominations. He’ll have some hard questions for me I am sure…

We read two extra books that are not part of the study but are recommended for extra reading. The first book we read was Saint Augustine: Early Church Father by Rachel M. Phillips. This book covers the time period just before the fall of Rome. It is a nice bridge book between the ancient course we just finished and our current study. We pushed through the book as a read aloud but it was not easy. So much of the book is Augustine’s thoughts and that made it hard on Oldest to understand at times. The

Intermediate Medieval books and guide form Beautiful Feet Boks

Intermediate Medieval books and guide form Beautiful Feet Boks

book also delves into sexual sin (not graphically) and womanizing. If you are not ready to discuss such things then skip the book. This is a book we will likely revisit in the high-school years. The other recommended book (but also not part of the study) we read was The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier. The book I found was illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. The book is beautiful and after I got the rhythm of the older usage of the English language down we found the book delightful…it is one you have to give some time for it to become immersive. The illustrations alone are worth seeking for the book. Not all middle school

Oldest working on mapwork for Medieval studies

Oldest working on mapwork for Medieval studies

boys are going to love the book…however if they are fans of Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail then they will love it. I guess it is the usage of the book’s prose…maybe…?

Oldest loves this course. He begs for history every day. This week we are currently on a one week summer break from school (Yes, that is all the summer break my kids get!). However, Oldest insisted that we read our next book in the study while on break this week. What more can a homeschooling mother ask for from a curriculum that a middle school boy begs to do while on summer break?!?