Friday, May 05, 2006

Loose Ends

We are slowly wrapping up this year's official school. We try to learn all the time, but officially have a vacation in which we take a break from all planned/organized school activities. As a compromise with the children we have decided to end earlier this year while the weather is pleasant and start again when the temperatures hit 100 and the humidity over 90%. Even so, I am determined to finish some of the wonderful books and projects we have started.

We are finishing our last geography lessons. If you remember, we are reading Around the World in Eight Days and mapping the progress of Philias Fogg, Passepartout, and Figg (and now Aouda) on their adventure. This book and study have far exceeded expectations. As you can see (if you can see) we are in San Francisco. Actually, we got on a train today, but don't know where we stop next. As we have travelled we have read some reference material, looked at pictures of some of the landmarks mentioned in the book, and done a travel book with hand drawn entries and narratives. Here is my 6 year old daughter's page on Big Ben in England.
O.K. I know the photography is poor and you can barely see anything, but see the stick figure under the clock face? This is the holding area/jail for parliament members who get out of hand. I suppose we read too much Stephen Biesty since both of the children drew the cell and none of the pictures I showed them had a see through wall. Isn't it remarkable how children pick up on a minute section in a reading and attach themselves to it?

I am proud of my children for their work, but also proud of myself for slowing down enough for the children to enjoy the study and truly come away with a sense of the countries. Of course, the book lends itself to reading only one or two short chapters a day so I had some help there. Also, the Around the World narrative calls attention to cultural, religious, and geographic highlights so it is easy to direct and obtain further information. All this and the book is also an interesting read for all involved, including my husband who gets his feelings hurt if we read during the day so he misses something.

Another loose end, that will not soon be tied is our modern history study. We keep getting side-tracked. My son has gotten interested in tanks, guns, early fighter planes, etc and there is a lot of war in modern times. Right now, we are finishing Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji which is a story of World War I from the perspective of a carrier pigeon who helped advance the Allied Forces. Even though this is a Newbery Winner book, I had never seen this wonderful story mentioned in homeschool circles as a WWI resource. I wonder if it is because it is written from an Indian (Hindu) perspective and not an European view. We are enjoying this book as a read aloud because the Indian names, unfamiliar religious practices, and poetic language combined to make it a difficult read. Besides, my six year old didn't want to miss anything. Today, when I took my daughter to the city for ballet, every single pigeon we saw may have been Gay-Neck. This neglected book has really made an impression on my children. Obviously, if we are just finishing WWI, we have a few more wars to cover before we officially close the school year. Fortunately, my children have never associated history with school.

Once these loose ends are tied, we will rest and plan for the next official school segment scheduled in August.

1 comment:

mull-berry said...

Don't know if you're a Disney fan, but their film "Valient" is about those pigeons.