Sunday Journal: First Full Week Back

20160815_104602 (640x480)Our first week of the academic year is now history. Even though I would not call it catastrophic in any sense of the word…the days certainly had their moments. I also just didn’t get my walks in this week and I guess that did not help my mood at all. I’m fairly certain that the less alone time I get the worse it reflects on my humanity. Really, I’m rather terrible.

Being introverted can be hard sometimes…like having a monster in my

first day of school fun cereal

first day of school fun cereal

Well, I’m not sure what should follow after that…I kinda lost my flow since the kiddos came and gave me “goodnight kisses”.

Guess my introverted monster isn’t as bad as I imagine since my peeps still love me enough for kisses and hugs.

Littlest in the school room full-time was fun this week. He loves his Logic of English reading lessons so long as I leave the games

Littlest working on his lettering

Littlest working on his lettering

out. He tells me he only wants “serious school not baby school”. He got really mad this week when we hit a review lesson and he didn’t “learn anything useful”. He insisted we do the next lesson right away. I also have some Kindergarten workbooks just to keep him busy (I know…busy work is bad). The workbooks have the directions and answers for parents on the same page. Littlest realized that he was capable of reading the answers and could self check his work. He thought that was hilarious! Clearly, he’s outgrown Kindergarten after one week of school.

Boots and Bach

Boots and Bach

Two little words came to my mind at that moment and one of them isn’t very nice…

One of our favorite moments of school this week was listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. Our kitty Boots was sound asleep during the entire hour or so of read-aloud time. As soon as I turned on the music she sat up and listened and was a still as the Sphinx of Egypt. Once the music was over she curled back up into a little kitty ball and snoozed for hours. Even though we went through the series of questions and talked about the instruments we heard and the emotions stirred…we’re all curious to know if Boots will react the same way during our next Bach appreciation moments. Serious science right there…

Oldest took his first science exam since we started homeschooling. I was happy with his results and I know he will improve now that he knows what to expect. He is using Dr. Wile’s General Science this year and in one of the essay questions he had an entirely different opinion than his book on the reasons for scientific advancement during the Renaissance. The author argued for Christian worldview and Oldest argued for the printing press. He’s twelve and already arguing with his textbook/authority…it is going to be a fun year.

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!

Review: The Dragon and the Raven

Henty%20TheDragon%20and%20the%20Raven%20Album%20Art_zpsgmx7xdnz (504x465)Recently, we enjoyed listening to The Dragon and the Raven from Heirloom Audio Productions. This audio recording is the story of King Alfred the Great and is an abridged version of George Alfred Henty’s book of the same title. For this review I received the audio-drama set on two disks and online access to a study guide, soundtrack, poster and the ebook.

HeirloomAudio-Logo_zpsnjxedqzz (497x426)Heirloom Audio Productions is a Christian company. Their mission “is to engage our listener’s imagination by taking them back in time and immersing them in the story.” They did just that with their extraordinary production of The Dragon and the Raven. The cast (John Ryhs-Davies, Brian Blessed, Sylvester McCoy, and Helen George to name a few) and sound effects are amazing and truly make the experience of listening to this audio-drama an immersive experience.

map work and cd's

map work and cd’s

We listened to the story during our read-aloud time every morning and then went over the comprehension questions (called Listening Well) and discussion prompts (Thinking Further) after each session. The discussion guide is divided by disk and track making it very easy to follow along. I usually went over the vocabulary or “defining words” before we listened to help the kids’ understanding of the story.

The Raven

The Raven

The study guide is nicely put together and lovely. I wish I could have afforded to print it in full color because it is beautiful. Gorgeous, illustrated and made to look like aged parchment. Personally, I would be willing to purchase a  paper study guide (call me old but digital just doesn’t work for me!) if they made them available. The study guide really fleshes out the story and would make an excellent basis for a unit study. I’ll be pulling this back out when we revisit Medieval history in a few years. The first part contains a

Alfred Jewel art work

Alfred Jewel art work

short history of Britain as well as a biographies of Alfred the Great and G. A. Henty. The study guide also suggested map work, web sites for further exploration, art, Anglo Saxon poetry, and a recipe for Alfred Cakes. For the map work I found a free printable of Great Britain on the internet and we looked up the locations on the internet.

study guide

study guide

At the end of the study guide is a Bible study on three important character traits of Alfred the Great emphasized in the study: God’s Law, love of enemies, and literacy. The Bible study lists several verses of Scripture that could be used for memorization or copywork during the study.

All of my kids enjoyed listening to The Dragon and the Raven. My oldest son has even requested to listen to it again and asked for a copy of Henty’s book. We absolutely loved listening to the audio-drama and working through the study guide. We incorporated the

Alfred Cakes...aka scones

Alfred Cakes…aka scones

study into our poetry tea-time tradition by making Alfred Cakes and trying our hand a composing kennings. Middle Boy’s imagination was truly captured and he built The Raven out of Legos and even a shield wall. I am so impressed that I plan to add some of their other audio-dramas into our history studies. I think With Lee in Virginia will be our next choice…

 

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The Dragon and The Raven Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/TheDragonAndTheRaven

The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/TheExtraordinaryAdventuresOfGAHenty

Heirloom Audio Productions
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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.

 

Sunday Journal: Thanksgiving Week Adventures

Oldest learned to fry eggs this week

Oldest learned to fry eggs this week

Since I was still suffering from my chest cold and this was Thanksgiving week very little schooling happened. We did work on some math and read in our History of Medicine text for science. This week we’ll get back to a full schedule, wrapping up a few subjects, and prepping for a new start in January. Mostly, I am planning fun things to do between now and Christmas.

he made this face every time he broke an egg

he made this face every time he broke an egg

One of my favorite moments this week involved Oldest. He learned to fry eggs last week. One day this week he chose to make himself a bird’s nest for breakfast. When he finished the first one Middle Boy asked for it so Oldest gave it to him and started another one for himself. Every single time he finished his egg another sibling would ask him to make them one too!!! And every single time he handed them his breakfast and started again. I think he expected me to ask for one too but I just smiled and said, “Welcome to motherhood!”

learning to make gravy

learning to make gravy

This Tuesday I helped the crew make our breakfast for Poetry Tea and Breakfast time. I taught them to make biscuits and bacon gravy this week. We’re enjoying cooking together every Tuesday morning. Poetry appreciation has also morphed into cooking classes and it is very good…my favorite morning of the week. These sorts of mornings remind me why I love homeschooling my children.

playing on the swingset at the old house

playing on the swingset at the old house

We drove to Paducah to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family as we do every year. I would have been fine staying home and just resting. We’ve been on the go since the move and could just use some down time as a family. But it was also good to go in and see family and friends. We stayed at our old house and it was kinda

Sparkles and cousin at Thanksgiving

Sparkles and cousin at Thanksgiving

sad to see it empty. I refused to go to our old school room because I knew I would cry. On Friday we visited with friends. My bestie and I hung out at McDonald’s for breakfast and chatted about everything while the kids played at the Playplace. We’ve been gone less than two months and the McDonald’s in town was already remodeled. I know things change when you move but that was a bit quicker than expected!!!

our fortunes: husband, mine, Oldest, Sparkles, Middle Boy, Littlest

our fortunes: husband, mine, Oldest, Sparkles, Middle Boy, Littlest

For lunch we drove out to our favorite Chinese buffet. We had a great time laughing over our fortunes. Oldest’s reaction to his was hilarious because his fortune was something about exploring his feminine side! Later in the evening we went to visit with Suzann and her husband. The kids and I all missed her and we had a wonderful time at her place. I am a little mad at myself because I didn’t take any pictures of her with the kids!!! We are also officially adopting the kitten that was stranded at her house this year. The kitten will come back with us on our next trip west.

Boots will join us soon

Boots will join us soon

Sparkles has been begging for a kitten for over a year. She is over the moon and cannot wait to go shopping for kitty supplies. Our new kitty is named Boots.

On the drive home I listened to Julie Bogart’s last scope. I had missed it the night before and had to catch the replay since it wasn’t saved to Katch. I admire this woman so much. Her courage is infectious! I haven’t had a mentor in a long time and am glad to have someone willing to invest her wisdom and time. She is also

The crew at Suzann's

The crew at Suzann’s

going to do a live writing workshop this week for the kids!!!! You can find the information for the workshop on the Brave Writer site here. The whole experience is free and will give you some insight into the Brave Writer lifestyle. I am excited and plan to participate along with the kids.

We are thankfully finished with our current science curriculum. The kids and I are definitely ready for something new to read. Instead of choosing the curriculum myself this year I let the kids pick. I showed them several different books based on the

laughing over our fortunes

laughing over our fortunes

criteria they gave me (lots of experiments, mostly science with no overly pro-creation or pro-evolution talk.) They chose Dr. J Wile’s Science in the Beginning. We’ll also order the lab kit because I am terrible at getting all those little things ahead of time. Middle Boy read the entire free sample online and loved it. He responded with delight to the conversational tone and the assignments.

Math will be receiving a major overhaul. I’ve been reading books and articles by mathematicians and have all of these ideas swimming in my head. All four of my children are in separate math curriculums based on their learning styles or comfort needs.

Sparkles new hair color

Sparkles new hair color

Middle Boy is bored, bored, bored! He needs to have his mind challenged or he gets rebellious. In January he will be starting Beat Academy. He chose the curriculum after loving the placement exam. This math is “out-of-the-box”, tough, and will stretch all of our thinking skills. My mind may very well snap working with him! I also set up all of the kids some math courses on Kahn Academy this week. Oldest is determined to start pre-Algebra sometime next year so he will have time for advanced mathematics before graduation.

making cookies for Suzann

making cookies for Suzann

Sparkles will continue with Teaching Textbooks for now until her math phobia is behind her. Littlest is already shocking all of us with his addition and subtraction skills so I will start him with MathUSee’s Primer because I have it on my shelf. As his learning style unfolds we’ll place him into a suitable math curriculum.

Sometime this week I’ll have my next post about our journey through Intermediate Medieval History with Beautiful Feet Books. We are finishing up our study of Medieval China. I’ve also got a set of long overdue book reviews from Deborah Taylor-Hough. She sent me a couple of her books during the move and I’d like to share them.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Parent-Teacher Meet-up

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…