Learning with Monet - Week in Review 24-25

Monday, February 29, 2016

We are really enjoying our exploration in art through the World's Greatest Art Study! These past few weeks we have studied the life and art of Claude Monet. It's been a welcome break from chronological history, but it is still history nevertheless. It wasn't until college that I began to appreciate history. It was always so lifeless to me until I started learning history through art and literature. Art and living history books are much better teachers than dry text books. I just never had experienced a different way until later in life. It is so fun to do things in a different way with my own kids.

This was one of our projects of the week. So pretty! See more below about how we did this.

These are our resources that we used for our study of Monet. We had some books on our shelf, but we checked out a few more at the library. Silas has surprised me a lot in retaining a lot from these books. When we were discussing one of art pieces he was able to tell me that Monet had trouble with that particular one because he was washed overboard by a wave. He had been painting on his sailing studio boat when the wave crashed over him.

The Art Treasury book has lots of art projects that are inspired by works of famous artists.There is usually a small portion to read about the artist.

In this case they chose Monet's water lily paintings.

This was a fun project! Instead of paint we used torn tissue paper. This was easier said than done, but he got the hang of it.

Then we diluted some glue, and applied it with a sponge brush. He then layered on the different strips of paper adding glue where it was necessary.

He cut out some flours and lily pads and glued those on as well.

He was very proud of this painting. Cutie :)

I thought he did a beautiful job!

Silas also replicated another Monet painting. I told him to choose his favorite one.

He chose Impression, Sunrise. This was the painting from which the Impressionist style of painting name is derived. I loved his version!

This is the original.

We are fortunate the have a wonderful museum here in Kansas City. We went to go see the Water Lilies, but it was on tour. The Nelson Atkins Museum has 4 Monet paintings. We were only able to see 2 this time. Another is in storage for renovation.

This is from the painting above.

It has been really neat to see Silas paying attention to the details of the artists and their lives.

When I told him to sign his painting, pointing to the right side of his painting, he knew that Claude Monet usually signed his paintings on the left.

As we continued walking through the museum we got to the American art. Silas recognized that this painting must have been inspired by impressionism.

He was right! Theodore Robinson spent time in France where he befriended Monet himself.

I can't help but stop in the beautiful courtyard cafe at the museum. A perfect excuse for a treat! The boys all chose chocolate croissants. There were only three....

...so I had this little piece of art instead.

We have been doing a simple lapbook to go with our studies.

Silas has been adding information to each section.

It doesn't take long, but it does help him to identify different works of art.

There is always a quick little puzzle to put together.

We set aside the church history cards, but we are still reading through some of Famous Men of the Renaissance.

I asked Silas what his favorite books were this year, and he actually said A Child's History of the World. Huh! We decided to skip HOD Preparing this year, but I went ahead and bought another copy of CHOW for him to read throughout the year. He's almost all of the way through it. I'm glad I got it!

Sometimes I forget to give props to the things we have used for years. I'm a fan of Rod & Staff grammar. No, it isn't very fancy, but there is something so simple and yet very thorough about it. Anytime I think of switching to something else I can't bring myself to do it. This week one of his little challenge excercise was to write a descriptive paragraph about a camel. I was thrilled to see that he (on his own) formatted his paper just like we have been learning in IEW. He did a great job without my help.Yay!

Another thing we love is Singapore and Life of Fred. When I asked Silas what his favorite subjects were he chose Life of Fred as one. Singapore is tough, but I really love it. Life of Fred adds and element of fun and challenge, but in a different way. I love this combination for this particular kid.

Ohhh....Boxes have been arriving lately! I'm in serious planning mode for next year. I was considering what to do for literature when a friend sent me a link to Teaching the Classics and Reading Roadmaps. I just started watching the DVDs, but I have already learned so much. Starting next week we will be working through some of the 4th grade books. We will for sure be using their lists and method for literature next year. I can't wait to tell you more about it!

Thanks for checking in! How was your week? Are you also planning and thinking about next year's choices? Is there anything new that you're excited about?

Week in Review - HOD Rev to Rev - Units 24-25

We are happily back in the swing of using Heart of Dakota. I asked my son what his favorite year was, and he said this year once we switched to the new books (HOD Rev to Rev.) I wasn't sure how he or I would feel about it, but it's going really well!

Unit 24 - This week we covered English Explorer Sturt who explored southern Australia, Louis Napoleon, The Crimean War, Florence Nightingale as well as Joseph Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Emmanuel II in Italy.

Louis Napoleon Rules in France.

Victor Emmanuel and Garibaldi Liberate and Unite Italy.

Aedan was supposed to draw something related to Florence Nightingale for the Crimean War. I'll spare you!

One thing I really missed about HOD was the biographies. While learning about the Crimean War Aedan is also reading about Florence Nightingale who served as a nurse in that period.

Aedan's history project this week was to study buildings of that house people of different faiths. This is the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence, Italy. He had to compare it with the building below and ask what kind of people of faith would be in this kind of building.

This is the Bahai' House of Worship in Delhi, India. They believe that there can be unity of all of the religions under one God which is a very extreme opposite view of the Christian faith.

Aedan sketched both structures. 

Unit 25 - In this unit we studied the explorer Sir John Franklin who explored the Arctic, Harriet Beecher Stowe's writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Dred Scott decision, Sojourner Truth and the things that led up to the Civil War. We were reintroduced to a famous American by the name of Abraham Lincoln and how his leadership abolished one of the cruelest establishments in our country's history.

Sir John Franklin Sails for the Arctic on the "Erebus" and the "Terror."

Harriet Beecher Stowe writes Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Commodore Perry's First Visit to Japan.

Our history project this week was to make a Carpenter's Wheel. Quilts were used to communicate messages. This design possibly was a design to communicate to slaves traveling on the Underground Railroad that they needed to go in faith that God would be with them.

Aedan is still thouroughly enjoying the inventor study. He finished up his study of Samuel Morse. Now we know why our history project a few weeks ago used the words "What God hath wrought." It was the first message communicated by Morse Code.

Aedan has been reading the extensions since being back to HOD. There have been some really excellent books! This is one to not be missed as we head into the Civil War and the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Our poem this week was based on a quote by Sojourner Truth. Wow. Nothing can communicate quite like poetry. The thought of losing my child as transaction...there are no words, but these might just at least explain a little. I love that we are reading source texts and poetry of the period this year. The selections have been fantastic!

This deserves a post all its own. I found Lightening Literature about 6 weeks ago. I decided to pick it up this year. I will write more about why I am absolutely loving this program. It's everything I have been looking for in a literature program for Aedan. He is loving Tom Sawyer. It has brought up a lot of really great discussion on so many things. I will share more in detail later!

Strung Like Ghosts

Monday, February 15, 2016

 A long, long time ago before kids and even before homeschool my nose was buried in a book. This is still true of me today. I have always had a love affair with books. I didn't always know how much of an introvert I was. Books were always a welcome refuge for me. Stories always brought me to new places or a greater understanding of myself and others. Growing up I read a lot too, but I'm not sure I always knew how to pick a great book. As I got older I started finding myself even more in these stories. As I add books to our school shelves I find myself reading them...catching up on the stories I didn't read as a kid, or those that are new to the shelves in children's libraries.

The kids redeemed one of our homeschool coupons the other day to watch a movie. We rented Bridge to Terebithia. I hadn't yet read the book. If you haven't seen the movie it's definitely worth a watch (I hate spoilers, so I won't ruin what happens.) I will tell you that you might need a full box of Kleenex. Then we also rented Because of Winn Dixie (which has the same young actress as Bridge to Terebithia). I remembered that I had Because of Winn-Dixie on the shelf as well. I actually had read this book a while ago, but after watching the movie I wanted to pick it up again.

In homeschool, or in reading bedtime stories or picture books do you also find yourself learning life lessons too? This was the case for me as I picked this book back up. I don't know why, but it touched me very deeply the second time around. I've always been one to love a broken story because my life story has had many broken seasons. I know heartache, disappointment, and loss far more than I wish I did. My story is also a story that hasn't ended, and one where redemption and forgiveness will shine brighter than any of the valleys I have walked through - only because of Jesus, and because he was always there to walk me through it. He always makes use of pain, always.

Because of Winn Dixie is the story of a preacher's kid who has also experienced more loss than her little life should ever have sustained. Her mom "never liked being a preacher's wife." It made her feel like a bug under a microscope (I know exactly how this feels.) So one day, she just walked away. We walk through life with this young girl as she encounters all the misfits of life and finds a way to bring redemption not only to her story, but to those around her simply by loving them despite all flaws and despite all mistakes.

There are so many wonderful characters in this book:

India Opal - This is the narrator of the book. We watch her as she struggles to find her place in a new town. We watch how she beautifully battles loneliness and loss with her dog as her sidekick.

Winn Dixie - The book's namesake - This dog is adopted by
Opal when she finds him in the grocery store. She thinks she has a lot in common with this orphan dog. He smiles with his teeth. I had a dog like that once.

The Preacher - This man is a wonderful father who struggles to raise his daughter after his wife walks away. Opal calls him the preacher because sometimes he feels more like that to her than her daddy. I know a few PKs who would have said the same of their dads too.

Miss Franny Block - The local librarian who Opal visits often to hear her stories. You'll have to look out for her story of the Litmus Lozenge. Absolutely beautiful.

Otis - A clerk at the pet store (and also a wonderful musician) where Opal works to pay off a collar and leash for Winn Dixie. He spent a little time in jail. Opal discovers that there is always more to a story because of this.

Gloria Dump - The local witch, or so the kids say. Opal makes friends with this sweet lady and finds not all things are as they first appear.

Amanda Wilkinson - This girl always has a pinched up face. Opal finds that there how to have grace for those whose stories you may not always know right at the beginning.

Sweetie Pie Thomas - A sweet 5 year old girl, one of Opal's first friends since no one else in town will talk much to her. Sweetie Pie very much wants a dog, and loves Winn Dixie very much.

Dunlap and Stevie Dewberry - The town bullies who we learn are not as tough as they seem.

India Opal's Mom - While Opal's mom isn't in the story, she is still very central to the story. We learn more about her brokenness, but there is much healing in her absence.

Photo Credit

Because of Winn Dixie is a very small book. There are very few words on the page, but to me they were so, very powerful. This is one case where the movie is almost as good as the book because so much of the dialogue is actually represented in the movie. Of course, books should always, always be read first in my opinion.

There are so many breathtakingly beautiful scenes in the book. I feel like I could write so much about this one little book. One of my favorite parts is when Opal finds out that her friend Otis had been in jail. All she had ever experienced of this man was kindness. Every day he would let the animals out of their cages and serenade them because he knew how it felt to be behind a locked door.

One day Opal tells Gloria Dump what she knows about Otis and asks, "Do you think I should be afraid of him?" Gloria gets up "real slow" and walks Opal to her back yard where the find themselves standing under a great, old tree. "Look at this tree," Gloria instructs Opal. The tree has hundreds of bottles strung from its branches. All kinds of bottles were strung - whiskey, beer and wine bottles of all shapes and sizes. "What do you think about this tree?" Gloria asks. Opal doesn't know what to think. She asks why all those bottles are hanging there. Gloria tells her it's to keep the ghosts away, the ghosts of all she had done wrong. Opal asks, "You did that many things wrong?" Gloria says yes. "But you're the nicest person I know" says Opal confused by the realization that someone so kind could have also made so many mistakes. Opal's mom drank too, and she asks Gloria if those bottles made her do the bad things she did. Gloria says she would have done many of them even without all those bottles "before she learned the most important thing." She doesn't tell Opal what the most important thing was because she says it is different for everyone. I think all of us have a life lesson that is unique to us. It's the one that most often helps someone you may encounter further along in life who is walking in similar shoes.

Then she says one of the most beautiful things in the book. "But in the meantime, you got to remember, you can't always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now. You judge Otis by the pretty music he plays and how kind he is to them animals, because that's all you know about him right now. All right?"


How many of us have a Mistake Tree? All of us. If you don't think you have one then you are kidding yourself. Isn't that why Jesus stooped down and wrote in the sand all those years ago when the Pharisees were prepared to stone the adulterous woman? They had all sinned. All of them, and all of us have done "that many things wrong." In reading this book I realized I had forgotten about my own Mistake Tree. I realized that God had taken down all those mistakes and cast them farther than I could ever run to get them all back. I realized also that I might be strung like a ghost on someone else's tree, and that I had forgotten to view them in my heart like they are now and not in their past. I know what it's like to be treated differently because of things I have done, or even worse, to be treated differently because of the things that were done to me by others. Even so - Forgive.

There are no throw away people. There are no lost causes, and no person unworthy of love and forgiveness, at least that is how the Jesus I know sees it. If you are hanging like a ghost on someone else's Mistake Tree, why don't you just climb right back on down and release them. All right? That's what I'm going to try and do too. Isn't that what Jesus did for us on that tree so long ago?

Here's to learning more right along side those beautiful kids of ours. Blessings to you <3

A Return to HOD - Rev to Rev Units 19-23

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hello friends! As you all know our family has used Heart of Dakota for the last several years. Last year I was beginning to feel a need to focus less on history and more on the basics for Aedan specifically. I had gotten everything all ready for Revival to Revolution, and just couldn't get excited about it. I don't know if I was hormonal or just needing to take a breather, but we shelved HOD for this year. It took a while to get into our new groove. I loved the books we chose, but my goal was to simplify. We did do that by limiting the amount of activities, but what I was finding was that we were still spending the same amount of time in history as before, it was just spent differently. There was more reading, and more writing (which we definitely needed work on.) The books were quality books, but for this kid in particular I began to miss the creative element of HOD. The thing I felt most confined by last year was the thing I ultimately ended up missing (those beautiful notebook pages!)

Here is where I took those wonderful HOD books right back off the shelf. We were using one of the spines HOD uses in BF. As soon as we finished that book it was right where we would need to be in HOD, so we started right there - around unit 19. I'm so glad we took our little break. I think I needed perspective. I think Aedan had a little more time to develop his math skills as well. Starting back was like a breath of fresh air. While simplifying was good, I was finding that I heard less school references outside of school hours. I saw less after school comics with history figures, and fewer inside jokes told. It wasn't that what we were doing wasn't great. I think I just needed more time to plan it. Anyway, here are what the last few HOD weeks looked like. They are sort of jumbled together, but they still represent some of what we learned over the last month.

One of the things I realized very quickly is that even though I'm a lover of art and creative things, I was doing a poor job of scheduling those things myself.

Unit 23 - As we jumped back into HOD I took a sigh of happiness as I realized how wonderfully everything fits together. Part of me was not wanting that anymore, but once I didn't have it I realized how well done it all was. This is a layered mountain scene modeled after the Bierdstadt painting below of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We had read about the California Gold Rush and how travelers came over the plains, around Cape Horn and through the Panama Canal to try their hand at gold mining. We studied California, so this painting was the perfect project to go with all that. I thought Aedan did an absolutely beautiful job! I am seeing how all those watercolors we did in Creation to Christ really developed his painting skills. This project took patient hands. Handy tip - An exacto knife works far better than scissors on this project.

Aedan's painting was modeled after Valley of the Yosemite by Albert Bierstadt.

We also missed all the fun cooking projects! In Unit 21 we learned about how the Greeks fought for Independence. We made Koulourakia cookies in honor of them.

Aedan had to have patient hands to make these.

If there's a sweet treat at the end he will do it!

We made several different shapes.

This is how they looked after we baked them.

Photo bomb! We then dipped them in powdered sugar. The boys are always happy to share one another's projects.

In Unit 21 we also learned about Samuel Morse. We read about him in our history and inventor study reading. Aedan had to make a Morse Code message.

He used his student notebook to make a message.

Sometimes even though we aren't in the same guide they kids still have fun with one another throughout the day.

The kids thought this message was a very strange one, but they feel like that about Rod and Staff Grammar sometimes too ha!

Aedan's timeline entries have always cracked me up :)

Remember the Alamo!

The Mexican and American War.

California becomes a state ha!

Unit 22 - In learning about the Gold Rush we learned about the many ways travelers got to San Francisco. Our history activity this week was to make a game where we put all the perils of travel of each route into these separate envelopes.

The boys had so much fun. We laughed and laughed! Silas's cow died at least 8 times on the Oregon Trail.

This was the Oregon-California Trail.

These were the perils of travel through the Panama Canal.

 We learned about the many new ways of travel. One of those was the stage coach. Unit 20's project was to make a stagecoach sign that would have had rules that you might typically find back then.

Draw and Write Through History was always a favorite for Aedan. Here are a few of the drawings he made over the past few month. This was a stagecoach.


The Alamo.

A gold miner.

A grizzly bear.

We had kept a few elements from Rev to Rev even though we didn't do the history portion the first half of the year. One of those was the inventor study. Aedan absolutely loves these books. I think it helps him to realize that he's not so different than many of these creative men from long ago. He especially loved learning about Henry Ford.

He has also enjoyed the 50 States Under God  state study. He has always been a kid that enjoyed learning different facts. As we learn about new states we add them to the map as it was when the last state was introduced.

I'm starting to appreciate the Map Trek maps after doing them for a few years. It always helps to see where in the world the history we are reading about happened.

These are our current storytime and extension books. Aedan has always read most of the extension books even though he falls into the guide's range. He lately has been asking me what book he "gets" to read next. I love that is a distinct difference from "has" to read. I love how the story time and extension books give a fuller picture of what was happening during the period we are studying. 

Thanks for letting me catch you up on what's been going on with us. I hope to be able to share more of what we do the rest of the year too!
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