Life is slowly getting back to normal after illness and other challenges disrupted our routine. We have had a great time these past two weeks in our studies of Africa.
Here are the highlights of our last two weeks:
Bible- Last week, we did several stories about the birth and times of Samuel. I’ve been putting a little more effort in my lesson preparation (that is, I have started writing my Bible lessons/curriculum for next year, and I am using the same principles to prepare these lessons) and it has been producing good fruit and has been very rewarding. Our discussions and the narrations the kids give me have been much improved. This week, we focused on Saul. Mostly, I have used flannelgraph to tell the stories, but on the day that I read the story of Saul coming to Jabesh-Gilead’s rescue, I used our blocks box as my city and the kids’ action figures and little dolls as citizens and soldiers. They loved it. And then, the next day by way of introduction and review for the daily Bible reading, I asked what they remembered from yesterday’s story. Their retelling was impressive. We’ve started to learn the hymn For A Thousand Tongues to Sing and memorizing John 15:7, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” We have had many good conversations about abiding in Christ as we have been working on this verse.
“Trip Around the World”- Each day we focused on a different country and read (or really, looked at a lot of colorful pictures and read a few key points) a book about the country and then a tale from that country.
Africa- David Livingstone: Courageous Explorer (Heroes for Young Readers). This story, told in rhyme, was a good introduction to David Livingstone’s life for young kids.
Egypt- The Egyptian Cinderella. My daughter loves anything having to do with beautiful princesses and she loves it when we read Cinderella tales. We’ve read quite a number of Cinderella tales from around the world. It has been very neat for me to see the similar threads in the stories and each culture’s distinctive values and flair shining through these stories.
Nigeria- Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. This was a funny little tale we all enjoyed.
Sudan- My Great-Grandmother’s Gourd. This was a great story about blending old ways with new ways and seeing the value in both progress and tradition. The kids were very interested in the story and remember it well a week later.
Ghana- Anansi the Spider. This was quite the fun and simple tale, and the kids enjoyed the spiders’ various superpowers in this story.
Uganda- Gorilla Walk. This was a recounting of a couple who goes on an adventure into the Impenetrable Forest to see the mountain gorillas. It is fascinating and very well illustrated. We broke the reading into two days and really enjoyed the story.
Kenya- Mama Panya’s Pancakes. A village tale about sharing and hospitality. We enjoyed the story and of course, ate pancakes after we read it!
Botswana- Honey Honey Lion. This was an excellent story about a badger who does not share honey with the bird who led him to the honeycomb. She shows him how important her role is and he learns a valuable lesson. The kids loved this story. They loved the pictures and we had a great conversation about kindness and sharing and discussing who did well and who did not. At snack time, the kids asked for honey. So I gave them honey on toast. For lunch, we had honey on cornbread. The next day, the kids asked for a snack and I gave them a cornbread muffin and Z-urchin (who had just awoken from his afternoon nap) said, “I want… lion.” So I got him some honey and he was happy.
Zimbabwe- Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. We loved this story. It is another Cinderella tale- beautifully illustrated and beautifully told. This was Princess K’s favorite book this week!
South Africa- Gift of the Sun. We have not yet read this book about a lazy man who learns his lesson, but I plan to read it this week before starting on our South American studies.
We also ate a few meals inspired by our African unit. One dinner, we ate Egyptian inspired chicken kebabs with rice, pita and hummus, with plantains fried in coconut oil sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar for dessert. One lunch, we ate beans and rice with cornbread. Even Shortstop loved the cornbread.
Phonics, Math, & Copywork- We’ve been working through the story Billy and Blaze and X-man is delighted to be able to read out of a book. On one day, we will go through one sentence in the story and learn the new words of that sentence. The next day, we will take one of those words and do word building with our magnetic letters. We do that twice per week and just review the book on Friday. We also do a Victory Drill Book page once in awhile (though I’d like to do this more often) and X-man loves the challenge of trying to get 30 words in a minute to “win” the page.
We’ve been working through Delightful Handwriting a lesson per day and RightStart Math a half of a lesson per day. Copywork continues to be exciting for Princess K and Math continues to be X-man’s favorite subject.
Adventure- On Friday, we took a trip to the Animal Shelter where Daddy is currently working to meet him for lunch. He took us inside to see the adorable dogs, cats, and the rabbit. The kids loved seeing the animals and really, really wished we could take one home. Not this month.
As our final activity for our African Unit (other than that book I still want to read!), we went to the zoo with the purpose to find as many animals from Africa as we could. We did pretty well. We found and identified 16 animals from Africa and had a great time on our African Animal Scavenger Hunt. Next week, we are studying South America and the following week will be Australia. So I think I will send the kids to the zoo again with daddy after those two weeks to find Amazon rain forest animals, kangaroos, and koalas!
We also went to a friend’s pool. This was Baby Shortstop’s second pool adventure. He hung out quietly in my friend’s baby pool flotation contraption for over an hour, but he was wearing quite a perplexed look on his face the whole time. The kids had an absolute blast and I got burnt to a crisp. Note to self: sunscreen is a good thing. Use it. Use it often.
One thing that has been missing for the last month is our regular nature walks/studies. I have been seriously missing doing my Outdoor Hour Challenges. With my illness, Shortstop’s cold/pneumonia, car trouble, birthday celebrations and other stressful situations this month, I have not been able to get back into that groove very easily. I have sent the children outside and they have come back with tiny ants crawling on their fingers, with rocks of various sizes, with stories of seeds they planted (so they could grow a bird again), and with a variety of sticks they wish to use to start a fire.
However, I have not done an intentional nature study with them in awhile and I have noticed the difference in my heart. It could be due to the illnesses and other stresses in life right now as well, but I have noticed that I have been more easily overwhelmed and a bit less enthusiastic about school lately and I think getting outside to really look at God’s creation would refresh and delight me and help my heart refocus. This last week was back to almost normal (finally!). So I am hoping that a return to nature study will soon follow!