2019-20 School Year–Week Ten

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!

Summer School 2019

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!

Sunken Cities

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!

Kantorei Kamp Week

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:

2017-18 School Year–Week Thirty

This week has seemed like it’s been about a year long, so forgive me if I don’t cover everything!

Math continues on. I think this was the last lesson about proofs for Turkey and Bunny…Turkey is disappointed; Bunny is relieved. The Math-U-See instructor said at the beginning of our journey into proofs that about 50% of students love them, and 50% of students hate them, so at least we’re statistically correct! Ladybug did some more work with ratios and percents…next up is the metric system! And Chickadee is still working on subtracting and telling time.

Our science studies have continued to focus on both arthropods and vertebrates. If learning about tarantulas didn’t do me in, the lesson about fish innards should have, but I’m still ok. Next week, though, we finally reach the day we’ve been awaiting (dreading?) all year…dissection day!

We finally began our study of Henry V. Even though my children are familiar with Shakespeare, and his influence on the vernacular, they are still sometimes shocked to discover phrases they know and use were coined by him! Turkey and Bunny are also reading through Julius Caesar, so Shakespeare is a big theme here right now!

Our history lessons have continued to focus on Rome and the aforementioned Julius Caesar. We also had a great opportunity to visit the St. Louis Art Museum today to see the new “Sunken Cities” exhibit. While it focuses on the Egyptian city of Thonis-Heracleion, that city was at its best around the same time we’ve been studying…we even saw statues dating to the time of Ptolemy II, who we learned about just a few weeks ago!

We have a special weekend field trip tomorrow, and then just about four weeks of school left after that!

Reigning Men

It has been a very fashionable year at the St. Louis Art Museum!

Earlier this year, we saw an exhibit dedicated to Degas and the Paris Millinery trade. We also went on a fun scavenger hunt looking for hats designed by British milliner Stephen Jones. But that wasn’t the end of the fashion exhibits! Last week, we also had the opportunity to tour the Reigning Men exhibit,  which showcases men’s fashion from 1715-2015, thanks to “Free Fridays” at the St. Louis Art Museum!

Reigning Men is divided into five sections. First was Revolution/Evolution, which focused on both the more aggressive, political side of fashion, as well as a general resistance to traditional menswear, evidenced by a change in colors and patterns. There was much in the part of the exhibit that felt familiar, due to our studies of history:

Next was East/West, which showed how events such as the Crimean War changed then-current fashions in Europe. The changes have persisted, and have extended to Japanese-inspired fashions, among other things, becoming popular, even today:

The third section, Uniformity,  was the largest. As the title suggests, military uniforms were displayed. More utilitarian outfits worn by civilians, as well as business and formal attire considered socially acceptable, were also included:

There were even several pairs of unusual shoes on display in this part of the exhibit!

From there, we moved on to Body Consciousness, which focused on clothing that flaunted a youthful, trim silhouette. In addition to some rather sheer styles, there were even underwear on display here, which caused some giggling from all of us. We also saw a swimsuit made of the material that was banned following the 2008 Olympic Games!

The final area was The Splendid Man, which focused on bold colors and adventurous styles, including heavy embroidery and even a suit covered in sequins! Let’s face it, we don’t normally see men dressed in the fashions displayed here, so it was the most foreign to us!

This was a fascinating exhibit. We saw suits of clothing that looked as if they had been lifted from the pages from history, tuxedos we recognized from movies, familiar military uniforms, and even the closest thing we have to “National Dress” here in America, in the form of a Ralph Lauren design. But as is the case with most high fashion, much of it was completely alien to us, and unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the streets. It was still interesting to see how men’s fashion has evolved, and I don’t imagine that I’ll consider menswear “boring” again!

2017-18 School Year–Week Three

It was another busy week of school!

We are in a fairly comfortable routine now. The teacher is still working on handling everything for three different grades, but I’m getting it figured out. Surprisingly, religion has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to balance. Turkey and Bunny do all their Bible readings on their own, but we then discuss all the questions from the lesson together. Meanwhile, I still read the stories (from two different books) out loud to both Ladybug and Chickadee, in addition to going through the questions for each with them. Sometimes, I can’t keep up with who I’m talking to at any given moment, but we’re managing.

Math has continued to go well. Turkey and Bunny have gotten into some new stuff in geometry, but they’re picking it up quickly, and they both like it. Ladybug has been reviewing fractions and decimals, and Chickadee is working on counting higher. She has some trouble after fourteen…she always wants to skip straight to sixteen, and I think it’s because she ignores fifteen because it’s not pronounced “five-teen!”

Ladybug has really been enjoying science. She learned all about different kinds of dogs this week, including wolves, jackals, and dingoes. Turkey and Bunny had their first test (both received As!), and are now learning about the kingdom of Monera. They’re looking forward to getting out the microscope soon, and seeing what kind of weird stuff lives in the ponds around here!

Today we took a field trip. There has been a men’s fashion exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum (Reigning Men), that I had wanted to see, but almost forgot about. Fortunately, they offer free tickets on Fridays, so we were able to get in at no cost before it leaves town. Since we’re all learning about ancient Egypt right now, we also stopped to see the galleries dedicated to Egypt while we were there.

We don’t have any big plans next week, but we are attending a Japanese Festival this weekend, and hopefully we’ll learn something while we’re there!