Wrapping Up Week 26-27 (2016-17)
I was especially thankful for the computer work the boys were able to do on their own while I was sick or while I was taking care of the other children. They were able to get through a lot of work independently thanks to their Veritas Press Self-Paced Courses (history and Bible), Teaching Textbooks 4, XtraMath.org. Actually, they’re pretty self-sufficient with other things too. Ian did all his work in The God Puzzle by Valerie Ackermann on his own, and they needed very little from me to go through their Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Book 1) and Sequential Spelling. Sometimes I almost feel guilty for how much they do independently, but then I remember that Arianna will be officially starting Kindergarten next year and I’ll be schooling three kids, and I get over that feeling pretty quickly.
Together we finished lessons 14 and 15 in All Things Fun and Fascinating for writing. In last year’s IEW course the unit on writing a story from a series of pictures was a little frustrating for them because they still really relied on the structure of writing from a source text. This time around they seemed to enjoy the flexibility of this unit, and it was fun to see their growth in this area.
Here’s what else we worked on together over the past couple weeks:
We finished reading about the War of 1812 in From Sea to Shining Sea for Young Readers and then spent the rest of our history time digging a little deeper with the following resources.
We read several picture books about different events from the War of 1812.
Dolley Madison Saves George Washington by Don Brown tells the story of the First Lady saving a cherished portrait of America’s first President when the British burned the original White House and much of Washington, D.C.
The Town That Fooled the British (from the Tales of Young Americans series) by Lisa Papp is about the town of St. Michaels, Maryland, which avoided destruction by British cannons when they hung lanterns in the trees to disguise the true location of the buildings. We also read a similar fictionalization of the same event called The Boy Who Saved The Town by Brenda Seabrooke, but I preferred Papp’s book for two reasons. First, the illustrations by Robert Papp are beautiful, and I just loved admiring them throughout the book. Secondly, the main character in Seabrooke’s story isn’t quick to obey his parents but rather tries to argue with them when they ask him to do something. It isn’t something we encourage in our family and I felt like the boy in Papp’s story showed better character.
Finally, we read By the Dawn’s Early Light by Steven Kroll. It tells the story of Francis Scott Key witnessing the British attack on Fort McHenry, which led him to write the lyrics to what later became our national anthem. I especially loved the illustrations by Dan Andreasen (and went running to verify that he had also illustrated the Felicity books from the American Girl series because his style was so recognizable). Another book about this story that’s good for kids to read on their own is Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner by Monica Kulling.
I also bought a used copy of Mr. Madison’s War: Causes and Effects of the War of 1812 by Kassandra Radomski, but I decided to hold off on it until my kids are older. It’s not a “living book” like the previous ones I’ve mentioned, just a non-fiction book about the war. I’m going to keep it so the boys can go a little deeper the next time we cover this history cycle (Elijah will be in 5th grade, which would be a better fit), but I saw no need to spend time with it now.
While we were sick, I went searching for videos we could watch on the War of 1812. I found two on Amazon Instant Video (both free to watch with Prime). Anthem: The Story Behind the Star-Spangled Banner focused on the history of the song, from the tune’s roots as a British club song to embellishments in the melody that later became standard practice. As a former music major, I found this more interesting than my kids, but it was still worth watching.
They preferred Proof Through the Night, which elaborated on the life story of Francis Scott Key. Produced by the Christian History Institute, this video wasn’t of the same caliber as some of the documentaries we’ve watched, but I appreciated their efforts and enjoyed learning more about the faith of the man who wrote our national anthem.
For our biography this week we read about Lottie Moon, an American missionary to China. The boys each read Lottie Moon: a Generous Offering from YWAM Publishing’s “Heroes for Young Readers” series, as well as Lottie Moon: What do you need? from the “Little Lights” series.