This was a busy and fun (not to mention short!) school week! We had one day that was a field trip day (Tuesday) and one day off (today, for Veteran’s Day). But first…cooking! Ladybug helped me make another three recipes from Recipes from the World of Tolkien…Lembas Bread (spicy cornbread), Sam’s Coney Stew (but actually chicken thighs according to the suggested substitution in the cookbook), and apple and blackberry cake:
Chickadee also did some baking with me this week…we made “Canterlot Cornbread” from the My Little Pony Baking Book. It was some of the best cornbread I’ve ever had!
Our previously mentioned field trip was to Creve Coeur Park for our annual walk on the four-mile loop around the lake. We timed it so Turkey, Bunny, and Moose could come with us, and he had a great time!
We did get some school work done, too. In algebra 2, Ladybug learned how to identify discriminants. In chemistry, she learned about decomposition, formation, and combustion reactions, and did an experiment to break down water into its constituent parts using an electrolysis machine. She read about dynasties in Japan and China in history. She has almost finished the second part of The Scarlett Letter. She tried her hand at crime and horror writing in creative writing.
Chickadee had mostly a review week in math, covering many of the topics she’s worked with so far this year. In science, she learned about chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas. She learned about early Greece and the Mycenaeans in history. We continued to read through Centerburg Tales. And we got to tag along with Bunny on a visit to the St. Louis Art Museum today!
Next week we have a full week of school, with some Thanksgiving fun thrown in, and then it will be Thanksgiving Week already!
When Bunny and I visited the St. Louis Art Museum for the first time in almost two years last week, I sought out my favorite piece in their whole collection, a French sculpture of the Virgin and Child:
I also discovered a new favorite, this portrait of Eunice Dennie Burr (who was married to a cousin of the infamous Aaron Burr) by John Singleton Copley:
I love how there are pieces that I seek out like old friends, but also always something new to discover when we visit the museum!
Since we’ve stayed home for so much of the last 15 months, I haven’t had the chance to see many of the masked statues in and around St. Louis. I did finally catch a glimpse of King Louis IX in a St. Louis city flag mask when Bunny and I went to the Art Museum last week, though!
We’re definitely over a quarter of the way through the school year now…how is that even possible?!?
Turkey’s and Bunny’s study of the Augsburg Confession this week focused on the Sacraments…I was very impressed that it very clearly stated that absolution is the third Sacrament, something I’ve taught at home from the very beginning, but an idea with which some Lutherans are uncomfortable. They continued to work on proving trigonometric identities in pre-calculus. In physics, they finished the chapter on parabolic motion and range. They started a chapter on the senses in health. We had some very good conversations based on the cantos they read in “The Paradiso.”
Ladybug reviewed ratios in math. She practiced finding the mechanical advantage for the various simple machines she learned about in science last week. In writing she read “The Open Window” so she could analyze the plot line. She learned about Charles I and the English Civil Wars, Oliver Cromwell and the Interregnum, and Charles II the 1660 Restoration in history.
Chickadee practiced regrouping tens in math. She finished the Old Testament portion of her read-alouds from The Beginner’s Bible. She also finished the first of three Explode the Code books for second grade. We read more stories from Tales from Beatrix Potter, some of which I had never heard of before! She finished her study of Venus in science by learning about its phases.
Since we worked so hard this week, I decided that today should be a field trip day, so we headed to Forest Park, where the fall color is reaching its peak:
The true destination for our field trip was the St. Louis Art Museum, where we toured the new “Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt” exhibit, which is on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
One of the best parts of the special exhibits at the St. Louis Art Museum is the Explore Lab, which adds a hands-on component to the event:
Here’s a glimpse at some of the children’s artwork:
After we finished at the art museum (and walked around Forest Park a bit more), we stopped by the Missouri History Museum to see what is admittedly a very small, but very meaningful exhibit about the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Championship:
This was a very fun and relaxing way to end a busy week!
Just like that, another year’s summer school has come to an end. I think our Rick Steves’ Europe themed summer school might be my favorite that we’ve done so far, because even though I didn’t have to do as much work (until it was time to start cooking), and hands-on activities and field trips were a little elusive (although I did make a few things work!), we all learned so much, and had a lot of fun while doing it!
So what did a primarily video-based summer school look like? We watched (if I counted correctly) 72 episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe over the course of two months. While we couldn’t “visit” every place I would have liked, we did get a great overview of Europe with “trips” to Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Palestine, plus a few other places. We also watched all three regular travel skills specials and the cruising special. We even found time for all three other specials: Christmas, Easter, and Festivals! (We watched The Story of Fascism in Europe last spring, and since it was kind of intense, we didn’t watch it again this summer.) I bought my oldest students travel journals, and Chickadee a sketchbook, and they wrote and/or drew something for every episode we watched. Places they hope to visit someday, interesting facts, travel tips…anything that jumped out at them. I really hope they’ll keep these journals, so that if they ever do have the opportunity to go to Europe, they can look through them, and see what their younger selves thought would be cool to visit, and maybe add some locations to their itinerary.
I mentioned field trips and hands-on activities. Some of them were a bit of a stretch, but I did my best. For example, we visited Frankenmuth, MI, this summer, which is known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” I figured this was as close we could get to visiting a European town, and it really did look like I imagine some German towns do. We also got to eat a lovely German meal while we were there:
Speaking of food, we also tried a new-to-us cuisine this summer when we went to a local Bosnian restaurant. We were all very impressed, both with the dishes and the “slow-food” way of eating there…I’m sure we’ll be going back!
And how could we make it through the day we learned about traveling in Greece without having gyros?
The St. Louis Art Museum is hosting a special exhibit of work by a European artist, Paul Gauguin, which was a nice way to experience a bit of European culture:
Now, on to “other activities.” We played a lot of games this summer: Ticket to Ride Europe, 10 Days in Europe, and Ticket to Ride: My First Journey (European Map). These all gave us a chance to talk about the various cities/countries on the maps, and recall things we had seen watching Rick Steves’ Europe, and talk about the places we’d like to visit. I also gave my students a few special assignments…Chickadee made a poster about her favorite European city, (Paris), Ladybug wrote a 1,500 word essay about hers, (Rome), and my oldest students read Travel as a Political Act, and I have to say, I think our discussions about that book might have been my favorite part of the whole summer. They certainly learned a lot about life in Europe and the importance of travel, and I think their worldview changed a bit because of it! For one hands-on activity everyone could enjoy, we built the only Lego Architecture European skyline set we didn’t already have: Paris. It was a fun little build, and a nice addition to our collection!
And finally…cooking at home! This is always one of my favorite parts of summer school, but I have to confess, I kind of put this off to the end of the summer, and was rushing to cook all the things I had planned. In the end, we tried French, Swiss, Norwegian, Spanish, Hungarian, British, Italian, German, and Middle Eastern cuisines at home (full details on what we tried next week). I think we all have some new favorites, and I definitely learned a few new cooking techniques along the way!
Obviously, traveling to Europe as a large family isn’t a realistic option, at least not for us. But I did my best to give my children a glimpse into European culture and history, and more than that, I really I hope I inspired in them a desire to travel when they’re older and have the opportunity. There are so many interesting places and great people throughout the world, and I am grateful for any chance to explore them, even if we had to do it vicariously for now!
This has been a great year for St. Louis museums and traveling exhibits. In addition to Destination Moon at the St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Art Museum also hosted a very special exhibit…Sunken Cities, which focused on the discoveries of two Egyptian cities by Franck Goddio in 2000 that had been hidden in the Mediterranean for over 1,000 years. Both of these wonderful collections have recently moved on to their next stops, but in case you missed Sunken Cities, here’s a look at what was included.
The Sculpture Hall was the temporary home of three enormous statues:
The main exhibition space housed all sorts of artifacts, some from the sunken cities, and some from other historic sites.
This was an excellent exhibit. It was quite humbling to be in the presence of such ancient history, and was also a nice to companion to last year’s Science Center exhibit about King Tut’s tomb. I can’t wait to see what kind of special exhibitions the St. Louis Art Museum will host in the future!
For the fourth summer in a row, “The Bigs” have participated in a Kantorei Kamp at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis. It’s a busy, fun week for everybody, because while they’re at camp, Chickadee and I go adventuring…sometimes, I think she has more fun than her siblings do!
On Monday, while the Kamp had a full day of music theory, handbell practice, and choral rehearsals, Chickadee and I went to the playground in Forest Park and to the Missouri History Museum, where we visited the History Clubhouse and the new “Muny Memories” exhibit:
On Tuesday, Chickadee and I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in the morning, and then joined the Kantorei Kamp for some swimming at the YMCA:
Wednesday was a little bit cooler, so Chickadee and I walked around the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Art Museum:
We only had a little bit of free time on Thursday morning, so Chickadee and I visited the St. Louis Public Library and read some books before joining the Kantorei Kamp for a backstage tour of Powell Hall, a picnic lunch, concretes at Ted Drewes, and a concert by a quartet from the Greenleaf Singers for Make Music St. Louis Day:
And today we went with the Kantorei Kamp to the LC-MS International Center to hear them sing for chapel. After that, Chickadee and I visited the St. Louis Science Center before picking up “The Bigs” from their last day of Kamp:
And a bonus handbell piece from church on Sunday, which I managed to record while they rehearsing before the service: