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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