Encountering France

The week’s not quite over yet, but I have fifteen minutes now, not long enough to tackle a work project but perhaps long enough to write up the adventures of the week.

This has been a fantastic week, school-wise. A big part has been that I am starting, slowly, to improve from the stomach illness–still have quite a ways to go, but for the first time in weeks my head felt clear.

But another big part has been the energy behind a new project and topic to explore. I had several books on hold about France from the library, but our library day isn’t until Wednesday. Casting about for something to read in the interim, I found The French Twins at the Baldwin Project. Perfect choice. They were enthralled, and when it was done we looked at pictures of the cathedral online. Plus it sparked many more questions and areas to explore: cathedrals in general, WWI, Joan of Arc. We reserved some more books.

D1 did a nice drawing of the cathedral; D2 started but was having too much trouble translating what he wanted to reality. However, he’s shown much greater maturity this week in not fussing over this kind of frustration.

We got some France-related books for the twins, too: more in the Madeline series, a picture book of Renoir’s paintings with colors, and a lovely little book called The Cat Who Walked Across France. The only trouble with that one is D4 got SO excited about the page with the Eiffel Tower, telling us a long, convoluted story about his climbing adventures, that we could not persuade him to let us turn the page and read the rest of the book!

We also started The Family Under the Bridge. Once we reach an end of one of the longer books I will probably read them Twenty and Ten–it’s fairly intense for their age, but they are really fascinated by the war aspect of The French Twins. The Family Under the Bridge prompted a look at the Cathedral of Notre Dame online, and later chapters in The French Twins led us to listen to La Marseillaise at YouTube.

In honor of our new study, our folk song this time is “Frere Jacques,” along with “Brother John” and a Spanish version courtesy Wikipedia. (Let me just say that the internet makes my style of homeschooling immeasurably easier–I would need massive filing cabinets to do this without it. Which is what my mother had.) We’re also learning “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and some verses from Psalm 90 to go with it, and the poem “January Brings the Snow.” All have to do with the passage of time and seem especially appropriate for the first month of the year.

I gritted my teeth and we broke in our Christmas art supplies of watercolor pencils and real watercolor paper by drawing twigs from the trees we have selected to study for the year. (D2 also drew a wad of moss from his chosen maple; D1 thought it no fair that maples grow moss and figs don’t, but then I pointed out *she* got to draw rotten figs, so it all came out even.) They were intensely focused and showed close attention to the details. The new art supplies definitely helped with the motivation.

And we also have been cleaning up boxes and came across the games, so they have played endless rounds of Parcheesi, as well as having a lot of fun with the UpWords tiles. I figure that much Parcheesi covers math for the week.

Today we read the story of Roland and Oliver from a book of French legends. Now they are staging a battle with D2’s knights.

I still feel like we are somewhat lacking in the outputs, but I also am beginning to suspect I am too impatient in this regard. Looking at the planets they drew–using accurate information remembered about each planet–seven or eight months after we “concluded” our planet study, I can see that the ideas do come out, it just takes time.

Copywork continued well. D1 is working through “January brings the snow,” a stanza a day, plus asking to do a word or two in cursive. D2 is doing a single word, and sometimes we expand into a short spelling lesson.

All in all, a very busy, productive week, and now I’m running late for a work meeting. 😛

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