This morning, while we were getting ready for Reformation Sunday church, I was telling the children about how much my Dad loved singing “A Mighty Fortress,” and how I always associate Reformation Day with him belting it out in German. Well, the first line of the hymn, anyway, because that’s all I really remember him singing auf deutsch. I commented that for all I knew, he only ever learned the first line of the song in German, but he definitely sang that one line with gusto. At which point, Chickadee looked at me and said, “I didn’t know he knew a guy named Gusto!” Hilarity ensued, and now I have an even better story to tell!
A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from every need
That hath us now o’er taken.
The old evil foe
Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal. Lutheran Service Book #656
Happy Reformation Day!
That’s what Turkey and Bunny called our school time on Friday. I condensed our regular lessons into four days so we could focus solely on the Reformation on Friday. Actually, had they not gone to the fantastic Fall Bible School in Freeburg (alliteration, anyone?), we would have had a full week’s worth of Reformation School. As it turned out, though, they learned so much there, and did enough projects that overlapped with what I had been planning, that I only needed one day to do the stuff that I considered particularly important for their age level.
I love our special units. It was so fun to come up with stuff to do to help them understand who Martin Luther was, and why he was important to the church. As it turns out, there is a lot of stuff you can teach, even at the kindergarten level, about the events of the Reformation.
We started by listening to a recording of “A Mighty Fortress” in German. We talked about what country speaks German, and then located Germany on the map (which Bunny actually found with no help–we must have pointed it out before. I figured Turkey would be the geography minded one, but Bunny is really great at remembering where countries are! Sadly, I bet she knows more about world locations than a lot of adults…). I also told them that some of their own ancestors are from Germany, along with Martin Luther and other key players in the Reformation.
We read Psalm 46 (verse one was our memory verse for the week), and talked about how “A Mighty Fortress” was based partly on that part of the Bible. We continued to listen to some hymns that were written by Luther (I snuck a few Christmas hymns in there!), while putting our Luther’s coat-of-arms project together. I was particularly proud of that, because I came up with the idea myself. On Wednesday, we had used gold glitter to cover the outer ring of the seal, and white glitter to cover the rose. After they had plenty of time to dry, we were able to layer the different elements of the coat-of-arms, while talking about the symbolism behind each part. They cut the blue circle out of construction paper (I had cut out the heart for them), and we also had a black felt cross to put on last. They look really cool–the glitter really makes them stand out, I think.
We read “Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World,” by Paul Maier, and then went back through and looked at the pictures and retold the story that way. We also practiced counting by fives (to 95, of course!), and then writing the number five, as well as the word five.
At the end of “Martin Luther School,” we sang the verse of “A Mighty Fortress” that they had learned at Fall Bible School, and then listened to a different recording of the hymn in English.
It never ceases to amaze me the way you can use one topic to teach so many subjects. Just in talking about the Reformation, we covered math, world cultures, music, arts and crafts, religion, and the obvious history lesson. That’s one of my favorite things about homeschooling–it’s a much more natural approach to learning. No need to force certain subjects, when they cross over each other so easily!