Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Music Lessons

As home educated kids, these 3Gs can practice as much or as little as I will manage. The kids are in 3rd and 4th grade and play at imaginative efforts a great deal of the time, but must be managed to study and pursue wisdom. Two Gs study piano and the third, violin. However, the third received a guitar for Christmas. He is interested, more interested than he has been with the violin in the past year. It's a new stage of music learning. Music study, right along with Latin and art are essential subjects that I'm not afraid of anymore. Mostly, I'm not afraid, because the Daddy handles Latin and the piano teacher handles my "otter-ish" two quite well, and art is a step-by-step, pick-up-and-go process from the book I chose to invest in last fall.

But what would it be like here if they didn't study the mechanics of music, Latin and art? It's not just an excuse to get them active and thinking, it's a way of thinking that we hope they choose to process choices and discern in life. And, an outlet for creativity is essential here. One might think that the Daddy wasn't creative, but that would be incorrect based upon how he solves problems in his work. And, of course, I'm a bit on the far side of creative, which can be reigned in sufficiently based upon reality. Is it Einstein who said that imagination is more important than knowledge? Maybe he did, but based upon how the kids use their imagination to pursue wisdom, I think we're on the right track.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Our Day in Prague

With only one day in Prague and a wonderful apartment with several rooms all to ourselves, we got a slow start that Sunday morning. We'd been out the previous evening after the train ride ( we traveled from Berlin to Prague during one morning on our trip and it was a morning well spent) and getting checked into the apart/hotel location. We got lost while trying to investigate the tram system. I looked out and saw the river on my left.  After we studied the map, we decided that the river should be on our right if we were headed the correct direction. Minor problems with the cities tourist maps gave us good reason to covet the warmth of the subways. We found the local LARGE grocery store & bought a baguette/nutello & coffee for the following mornings. Sunday was a day to fit EVERYTHING in.

AND when I say everything, I mean almost everything. We started by taking the tram to a spot close to the gates of Prague Castle (Malostranska). The regular tram line was being worked on (in the dead of winter?!?! by hand - not a backhoe in site). And moved our way past the changing of the guard, St. Vitus Cathedral, and St. Nicholas Church. Because we were traveling down hill and needed to do it "all" in one day, we didn't pay entrance fees and therefore missed some of the sites' eccentricities.

We were told about the Lobkowicz Palace on Castle hill by Julie at From Greer to Here.  She is a mom to five active children and wife to a military pilot who lives in Germany and home educates her kids.  They get to take local field trips and had past through Prague. She loved the art collection and the story behind the Lobkowicz's struggle to regain their family home and the precious art pieces.  I might have loved to explore, but with so much to see, we didn't stay long and missed the tour. We walked along the Kafka area on Golden Lane.  The Lesser Quarter Square was a quick walk to a church and back because it was mostly about shopping.  BTW, shopping with elementary kids in tow is NEVER a good idea, especially in a shop that is selling Czech crystal ware.

We ate lunch at the bottom of the hill before crossing the Charles Bridge.  I actually ate dumplings and gravy and some warm kraut. It was Czech food, but not deep fat fried liked I wanted. We finished there after a few lessons on the language from our waiter and moved over the Vlata River. Each of the kids touched the statue on the bridge for some "luck." We found the quiet street (?Carolina Street?), opposite the frequently traveled shopping street (Karlova Street) and moved into the Old Town Square to see Tyn Church, an enormous Christmas market and the astronomical clock that is pictured below.

Proseem (thanks) 

It is amazing to see what a city looks like when it is NOT bombed to pieces during world wars. Prague was not damaged as much as Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin or Frankfurt am main. Prague is from the 1300s. Medieval. We didn't get to hear any concerts or see beautiful gardens (traveling in November is not all it's cracked up to be), but I still enjoyed what I saw. The underground (subway) trip to Wenceslas Square (more of a boulevard though) was fun to see where many import recent happens occurred (Velvet Revolution). It was mostly for shopping too, so we headed back for Christmas Market food and singing on the stage at the Old Town Square. The subway and tram system were wonderful. Seems like we walk so much when traveling anywhere, but on European cobblestone, walking can be challenging and tiresome. The lights at night in Prague made a good memory for me. By the time we were ready to take a plane to Frankfurt, we were recognizing many landmarks and had figured out our way around. Maybe I'll see Prague again, but there are so many other places to explore and maybe next Thanksgiving a warmer place will be reached by our stand by - space available privileges. Posted by Picasa

Gravity Machine

Friction and Gravity are much more fun when hands are on the eating dinosaur.

We've seen so many of these machines in the Christmas Markets abroad and now we know how to make the machines. This one looks like a dinosaur (sort of), but we've seen all kinds of characters with moving parts that can hinge back and forth.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mango Language Practice

With Gramma! French and German are much more fun this way!

BTW, our adventure with Explode the Code is finished. Everyone completed the final section and we're on to bigger and better uses of our hard won phonics knowledge.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Prague Visit to St. George's Statue


After visiting the statue of St. George killing the dragon, I found a link to an interesting FREE resource from
Classical House of Learning Literature.  The Modern Age, Grammar Stage ebook for Story of the World book 4 chapter 15 lesson about The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame provided me with reading comprehension questions.  I found that Disney has made a movie about the story, but I chose to present my 3Gs with a condensed version of the same story by Robert D. San Souci.  The experiment worked! The field trip was completed with a story. Not the original story (not the movie), but the story non-the-less.Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ishtar Gate and the Ancients

The Pergamon Museum really was a brilliant stop on our trip to Berlin.  It was a field trip I reveled in for hours.  The audio guides held my tweens' attentions AND the pieces on display were really ALL THAT!  We are learning about the Israel's time in captivity during the book of Daniel from the Bible in Community Bible Study.  This site was taken apart in Babylon and brought back by amazing people to be displayed and preserved.  I can't imagine some of these marble statues being ground down to make cement blocks, but is was a way to eradicate detestable images from godless societies.  That said, we didn't really see any of the remnants of World War Two in Berlin and therefore nothing of Hitler was glorified or preserved.  Just the scale of the Ishtar Gate to the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II (604- 562 BC) was impressive. I don't think that I want to leave that kind of legacy though...

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Did it ever occur to you to take your kids to the Brandenberg Gate?

If Napoleon could get there, so can we.

I wonder what Berlin looks like in the summer, but maybe it would be hot. Travelling in the winter has the advantage of adding clothing while bustling about instead of roasting and sweating thru beautiful gardens.  AND there isn't air conditioning in much of Europe. Very little HVAC industry. If we wanted fresh air in our hostel room, we opened the window.  AND Berlin was full of Turkish people who make BRILLIANT food for our 3rd annual Turkish Thanksgiving dinner.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Well, If you've ever wondered...

what a field trip to Checkpoint Charlie would be like, here it is.

Berlin was a wonderful experience both for food, transport, interactions with locals and transplants. I was not taken into the museum at this site because I begged for mercy from the Cold War Era history lesson. I'd take the same an ancient or medieval history lesson a dozen times before studying this essential recent time period. I sat at *$ for an hour and a half while the Daddy soaked up history from one of his FAVORITE time periods and shared that interest with the kids.  The highlights from our 3Gs were how many ways people attempted to escape East Germany during the 60s, 70s and 80s. It was amazing to them to consider people escaping in luggage, grocery carts or parts of a car.

I watched the gypsies beg for money outside the door and examined the traffic patterns which allowed cars from right and left and then to and fro and then diagonally from oncoming corners to the u-bahn for pedestrians.  I marveled at how this corner has changed over the past 21 years.  I'm thankful for our visit to Berlin. Didn't think I'd ever say that.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

SOTW4 Modern Age History and Associated Individual Reads

Firstly, Twenty-one Balloons by William Pene Dubois is such a fun story full of all kinds of History and Geography! My kids were not cajoled into reading this book. I merely mentioned it once, never happens here, and they jumped on the opportunity to read this book about Professor Sherman.  My purpose for imposing this book upon my kids was to discuss the explosion of the island of Krakatoa in 1883.  The Story of the World Modern Age brings up this location and its struggles in Chapter Nine.  The fictional story of Professor Sherman's visit to this Dutch East Indonesian location helped my students discuss the historical and political struggles between political powers of the age. 

Secondly, Secret of the Andes, however, did not catch my kids attention even once we relayed the information from their Aunt who studies in Lima and travels throughout Peru this fall semester.  This book by Ann Nolan Clark was a mysterious read for me several months ago as I pondered my sister's travel to a South American country. But proved too, should I say, deep for my 3rd and 4th graders.  The SOTW Modern Age (SOTW4) chapter about Peru and other surrounding countries was Chapter Nine, but I wasn't able to work my kids through the book completely before the moment passed.

Lastly, a success in the INDIVIDUAL READ category! Actually, this story about Brazil which correlated to our SOTW4 Chapter Thirteen is read aloud by Patricia Conolly.  The book is Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. The audio product I checked out from the library says that it takes 8 hours to hear the whole story, but I can't get these people to sit for more than 15 to 20 minutes per session.  So, it's going to take a week to get through this one, but I will continue to push through this and the chapters of SOTW4 so that we WILL FINISH our history cycle before the end of MAY!

More about our successes and failures in history later; more specifically the rate of stories finished per week AND the use of the outline worksheets and notebook map pages included in the study guide materials.  These steps are taken deliberately in order to prepare these young children for a new cycle AND method of history study next fall.

Friday, November 12, 2010

No matter how you word it...Matthew 28:18-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” NIV

18-20Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." MES

18 İsa yanlarına gelip kendilerine şunları söyledi: "Gökte ve yeryüzünde bütün yetki bana verildi.

19 Bu nedenle gidin, bütün ulusları öğrencilerim olarak yetiştirin; onları Baba, Oğul ve Kutsal Ruh'un adıyla vaftiz edin;  20 size buyurduğum her şeye uymayı onlara öğretin. İşte ben, dünyanın sonuna dek her an sizinle birlikteyim." INCIL

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our Progress through Story of the World in the Modern Age (4)

The Modern Age is fascinating to these three elementary aged kids mainly because we get to travel to interesting places. We visited London and Edinburgh at just the right time for study of Queen Victoria and everything beyond the Victorian era on the timeline. The Sepoy mutiny meant more to us after Bangladeshi and Indian food from Brick Lane on a cold, dark, rainy evening. I still can't afford to take my kids to a Japanese restaurant, but I do let my kids taste the California rolls (I know, not really sushi) when I get them from Whole Foods store.  The stories of history in Japan were helpful for my kids because I really don't study far east information. I get stuck in middle east and stay there.

We of course have visited Istanbul and some of the Ottoman sites discussed in Chapters 2 and 9 in SOTW. We plan to try for Berlin and Prague which gets us closer to the walls of Vienna where the Ottoman Turks were stopped from proceeding westward. 

We know a little about Afghanistan from our Uncle who served with is activated National Guard unit there recently.  The information about "The Great Game" was an introduction to the manipulation that takes place further in the modern history.  And of course, the discussion of Dr. Livingstone will lead to many more stories about missionaries' journeys.

Our visit to Rome last Thanksgiving was special in light of our ancients study several years ago. But, the statues and monumental buildings dedicated to Victor Emanuel I and II were excellent demonstrations from the story about Italy's "Resurrection" in SOTW Chapter 4.  And again, I don't plan to ever undertake the journey to China, but the lessons are valuable in realizing China's role today in the world market.

The Civil War was brought to life by a History Channel video about the history of U.S. But, also from our visit to Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain. Someday we are going to get out to Cantigny to see a re-enactment.  Someday.  We also visited the Museum of Appalachia near Knoxville and learned about the cast iron kettles that were kid sized which had been used to salt food/meats during the summer for use in the winter.  We do live very close to Lincoln's home and museum and will someday visit that site also.

We were reminded of the missionary families we know who serve in Argentina and one who will serve in Uruguay soon during the chapter about South America. We also look forward to news from our aunt who is studying in Peru this semester and what she has learned about the relations/history between Chile, Peru and Bolivia during her study. AND pictures of her visit to the desert described in the SOTW chapter.

The card game from Chapter seven called, "Changing Rules" was a hit for all five of us to play and learn why such dramatic changes in power made a huge difference AND were difficult to keep track of in daily life. We also plan to examine more of the German history when we try for Berlin this month.

Our visit to Promontory Point was solidified by the story of a modernizing world in Chapter eight.  We enjoyed walking around the 2 engines described in the events.  And also remember living in Johnson County Kansas where there were signs everywhere in reference to the trails westward that settlers took when they moved to the wild west.

And still that only brings us to the middle of chapter ten out of 42 chapters!  Someday, there will be an expedition to Egypt... which comes into the picture with the building of the Suez next.  And the Daddy will tell stories of standing atop his "boat" while traveling down the Suez at dusk with the call of the muezzins in the distance.  But for now, we will enjoy this homeschooling family's adventures in Egypt.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Backyard Fun, and Then...

 Drilling a hole in a board with the hand drill.
Building platforms in the tree.
...someone got the mail, and the new lego magazine got all the attention.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inclined Plane

The physics lesson about inclined planes didn't go exactly how it was supposed to, but we learned something AND we used the Home Depot make and take kit.

For example, the plane was supposed to be 2 rulers at differing angles. So, we used the clamps to anchor the half of our original ramp.  The cars were not heavy enough to be forced down the ramp by gravity. And finally, our rubber bands were too strong even when we tried several sets (Dollar Store bundle of rubber bands used one more time).  So, we tried to weigh the car down with Magnetix. It was not a significant amount of pull until we loaded up one of the cars to stretch the rubber band a whole inch. 

Kid Costumes

A neighbor with my boys and my own little version of the American Girl, Kaya (we call her Purple Feather).

A fun time was had by all. Even after a visit to a friend's church where there were games and candy.  A lesson about Reformation Sunday and Martin Luther was included.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Simple Machines

"The front of the boat is a wedge, Mom."

Simple machines are explored in physics this week with games.

Do you know the list of 6 simple machines? Not first class this or 3rd class that, SIMPLE.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

More about Laws of Motion

Newton's 3rd Law of Motion describes an action and reaction. We saw this when the "paddle" on the carton boat was wound up on a rubber band and then allowed to rotate and make the carton boat travel the length of the bathtub.

The Ping Pong Popper was fun for each of my Gs because I let each one make the project and "shoot" each other with ping pong balls as well as heavier rubber balls. We compared the distance each could travel.  The re-use of toilet paper holders was wonderful ;-)