Its been several weeks since we wrapped up Germany, but I have not had the time to post our study until now. We prepared for a hurricane, went on a very long road trip to my 10 year college reunion and attended a wonderful Charlotte Mason conference, all back to back to back! Tomorrow we begin our study of the continent of Africa and I could not start that without posting about Germany!
We get a lot of questions regarding our non MFW studies and how we fit those in. I do not post about everything we cover just to avoid tedious long posts. Each week I’ll try to throw in a “non MFW” pursuit to give you a peak at the other stuff. This week we’ll look at math. During our study of Germany, my boys worked through a few sets in their Saxon math books, went for a Geometry nature walk (finding shapes in nature), and spent a good deal of time playing with their math manipulatives. Check out Richelle Baburina’s Charlotte Mason math approach! The boys need lots of hands on time with their math work. They love working on their hundreds board and with their arthmasticks, which they often use to teach their 6 year old brother. We usually end our math block with our math memory work from CC. The boys skip count all the way up to 15X15 before reciting squares and cubes and working through their geometry memory work. All of these are sung out loud. On Friday’s we usually play store or pet shop or some other game where math skills are employed.
Now, on to the books! In Germany, what else could we read but fairytales! We had a marvelous time reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Well, most of us had a marvelous time reading. My four year old had a marvelous time destroying EVERYTHING IN THE LIVING ROOM while we were reading the first few tales. Then he threw himself on the floor and screamed bloody murder for seven solid minutes. Good times.
But back to the fairy tales! A small warning–many of these fairy tales do not have happy endings. If your child has a very sensitive heart I recommend screening the book before you read aloud. There are also excellent picture book variations available (i.e. Handel and Gretel). We had a little picnic tea party outside for one of our fairy tale readings. The weather went from sweltering to slightly windy for a 30 minute time frame and we jumped on it! And yes, my youngest is holding a duckling in the picture above. Our friend found him after his whole family had been killed by a car. She texted and asked if we could take him in. I learned a few things about myself in the minutes that followed. 1) I will spontaneously adopt all motherless creatures I come across without a moments hesitation. 2) Instead of asking for permission or mutual accord, I just decide. And the way I break the news to my husband is, “Don’t be mad, m’kay?” and 3) I really like ducks. I like them enough to not ask myself practical questions like “what is the long term plan for this duck?” Sigh. The duck is still here and it has stolen our hearts. Oh, that waddle! Squee!!!
In our readings about Germany we could not help but notice the many castles featured. We enjoyed David Macaulay’s book “Cathedral” when we studied France so we decided to look at “Castle” this time. My boys were quite enthusiastic about this project. They made notebooks filled with drawings and notes. We will be practicing our book binding skills later this week when we bind them into books with our awl and waxed thread. (FYI I had no idea how to bind books before my second born asked, “Hey, can we figure out how to bind books?” It something we figured out together). “Castle” is packed with great information and we loved watching the medieval building process from the ground up. Check your local library for Macaulay’s book. You can also find a PBS special on this book here in all its vintage glory.
I love looking at different periods of history as we study each country. We have been reading “Story of the Nations” from Simply Charlotte Mason this year in our morning basket and the story of Otto Von Bismarck serrendipitously popped up during our study. What a fascinating time in German history! The boys were able to narrate the story well and afterwards asked if we could read more about that particular time period in German history. We read a few books about Luther and the Reformation and Gutenberg’s printing press as well.
If you read about our study of France, you will recall our afternoon painting in the style of various artists of the Montmartre. How could we learn about Germany and not study musicians? We listened to Bach, Strauss, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Handel and Wagner. The boys wanted to paint while we listened so we mixed our tempura paints with dish soap and made fall window murals after we listened to our daily Chopin mazurka (and YES, we have to make it look like fall around here!) Afterwards we had our weekly assessment time. LOTS of discussion on medieval architecture which I was not expecting but I am glad they enjoyed it and absorbed everything so well.
Lastly, I have to share about a great blessing we received during our study. My sister married into a beautiful German/Polish family two years ago. I texted her mother in law a week or two before our study began to ask if she had a family recipe to share. Well, she ended up coming to our house wearing a beautiful dirndl, armed with beautiful books, family pictures, a poster with German words and their meanings, a large cowbell and a bag full of ingredients for apple strudel. She was so generous with her time and knowledge. The boys soaked it up! What a gift!
They made dessert, learned about mad King Ludwig and his castle obsession. They learned about festivals and costumes and family members. We learned about the cows yearly parade down from the hills. The lead cow(s) decorated in floral headdress leading the procession of other cows wearing enormous bells around their collars. I don’t know how we would have discovered this on our own. Thank you so much for the beautiful visit Omi!
Truly, this is a wonderful year for “guest speakers.” Do you have friends in your neighborhood, homeschool group, church, workplace that have roots or beginnings in the countries studied? Reach out to them and let your children interview them or prepare a dish from that country and invite your friend over to enjoy some and share stories of their experiences. Its a refreshing and wonderful way to bring these countries to life!
We are off to Africa next. We’ll check in again soon.