At the beginning of the year we started a new time period in the Simply Charlotte Mason Curriculum: Early Modern and Epistles. It started with the Pilgrims coming to America and covered the beginning of the Colonial Era in America. This year is different, however, because the timeline splits, with one branch covering America and the other covering the rest of the world. So at the same time we were reading about Pilgrims, Quakers, and Indians, we were hearing about Shakespeare and Galileo.
Olivia wrote a "diary entry" of a Pilgrim girl.
For the American side of the timeline, we primarily read The Landing of the Pilgrims for Olivia and then a series of books like Sarah Morton's Day, Samuel Eaton's Day, Tapenum's Day and The Courage of Sarah Noble for the boys. The Landing of the Pilgrims was a really detailed account of the Pilgrims' journey from England to Holland and then to Massachusetts, with excerpts taken directly from journals or diaries of actual Pilgrims. The books for the boys all had wonderful pictures of children in period dress acting out the typical day's work that they would have had to do. Needless to say, the kids were all very thankful that we don't live in those times, though it did give me some ideas...
So I put them to work weeding the garden. :)
On the "Rest of the World" side of the timeline, we mostly covered English history, specifically Shakespeare and the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. We spent a good bit of time specifically on Queen Elizabeth because she was such an important figure in English history. It was during her time that the arts and theater thrived, the Spanish Armada was defeated and the struggle between Catholics and Protestants was calmed, though not entirely resolved. For her portion, we read Good Queen Bess along with the materials included in the Stories of the Nations that comes with the curriculum.
For Shakespeare, we read The Bard of Avon, which told about his life before, during and after the theater. We also read a longer book called Master Skylark, which is about a boy who is somewhat unwillingly pressed into the service of an unscrupulous play director. The boy is from Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon and goes on quite and adventure that sees him eventually playing for the Queen herself! While the period language was a bit tough to muddle through at times, it was a very interesting story that the kids really enjoyed. Not too long after we finished the term, Greensboro put on Shakespeare in the Park with As You Like It for the play. It was performed by a group of middle-school-aged children who did a fantastic job. Sadly, I was under the weather that day and forgot to bring the camera along with me. :(
Aside from English history, we also studied about Galileo Galilei. We read the books Galileo's Leaning Tower Experiment, Starry Messenger, and Along Came Galileo. The kids really enjoyed hearing about his various experiments, especially dropping things from great heights. I'm quite surprised we didn't have any "incidents" considering one of our boys' penchant for causing destruction. :)
Rather fortuitously, it turned out that UNCG was putting on a performance of Philip Glass's Opera Galileo Galilei just as we were finishing up the term, so I got tickets for Olivia and I. Neither of us had ever been to an opera so it was a new experience for us both. Fortunately, it was in English and the put subtitles on a screen over the stage so it was easier to follow along. It was very cool. It moved backwards through his life by starting when he was an old man remembering earlier times and then it gradually moved back through time until he was a young boy, touching on not only his experiments, but also on his struggles with the Church and their reaction to his writings.
For Geography, we started a very interesting book: Sailing Alone Around the World. It's the log of Joshua Slocum, a sailor in the late 1890s that decided to undertake a solo journey around the world. He was no stranger to sailing, having been a sea captain on merchant vessels for decades before. The story is very detailed and tells a lot about not only the places he visited but also the people he encountered and the weather he had to endure. Since we'll be doing this book all year, we only covered his journey from Connecticut to Buenos Aires, Argentina by way of the Azores and Gibraltar. Now, you may be saying, "Gibraltar's not between Connecticut and Argentina...?" and you'd be right. Read the book. :) A fun part of this is that we're tracing the route on a map each week. We found a website called Scribblemaps that lets you draw on a map and save it so you an add to it later. Here's ours so far.
For Science, Olivia's continuing the tag-team of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and Apologia's Exploring Creation. In particular, she's been learning about muscles and blood. She learned about long and short muscle fibers, voluntary and involuntary movements, and what makes up blood (red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma). She did an experiment that involved making "blood" from corn syrup (plasma), Red Hots (red cells) and jelly beans (white cells). She also made a stethoscope out of a funnel, some tubing and a balloon. It really works!
In addition to all that, she is doing some form Language Arts every day with Spelling Wisdom, Pictures in Cursive, Word of the Week and Intermediate Language Lessons. She's also keeping up with her piano practice, which is showing great returns as you've seen from her recital videos. :)
I'll have more on what the boys are doing on their own in the next post.