Tag Archives: Susan Wise Bauer

All About Egypt

This year, my younger children are  going to be diving back into world history. Because we did a little bit over the summer, I decided to start off the new school year by reviewing ancient Egypt. While we’re using the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer as our primary text, we’re also supplementing with some great books from the library. And, as always, I’m learning a lot right along with them!

If your family is studying ancient Egypt, here are some resources you might like to look into:

Books:

Ancient Civilizations – Egypt by Christy Steele.  A nice book to read aloud together or assign as silent reading for older elementary students. Includes a glossary in the back.

The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann – The story of the Pharaoh Khufu and the construction of the Great Pyramid. Contains both actual photos and traditional illustrations. While older students could read this book  on their own, it’s one I would choose to read to them, as we could go over all the information as it’s presented.

Tutankhamun by Robert Green – A book full of information about King Tut and the discovery of his tomb. Contains  interesting photos, including one of Tut’s mummy and one of the dig site at the Valley of the Kings.

Great Ancient Egypt Projects You Can Build Yourself – To add in some hands-on learning, check out this book with projects such as making boats, papyrus, bread, jewelry, and hieroglyphs.

 

Other Resources:

Ancient Egypt Unit Study and Lapbook by Jodi Small – Contains a library list and over 30 “minit” books.

Ancient Egypt Lapbook by JoAnn S. – Includes a reading list, activities, crafts, and cooking ideas.

Ancient Egypt Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities
by Mr. Donn – lots of lesson plans featuring the geography, history, religion, art, and daily life of ancient Egypt.

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery for Kids
– Ancient Egypt – online activities featuring ancient civilizations, including Egypt.

 

Photo by embalu

Getting Ready to Convene

Next week is the big Southeast Homeschool Convention in Greenville, South Carolina, and I’m getting ready to be inspired! The list of speakers is an impressive one, as it includes nationally-known homeschooling veterans, authors, and advocates, such as Susan Wise Bauer, Jesse Wise, Amanda Bennett, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, Jim Weiss, and more.

The cost of the convention isn’t much — $55 covers the cost of a single family’s admission, including parents, children, and grandparents. For $1 more, teenagers can attend the Teen Worldview Seminars while mom and dad are in other workshops.

A children’s program is also being offered, but unfortunately, the classes have already been filled to capacity. I have three children with nowhere to go, then, so now it’s time to plan.

The classes are offered part of the day on Thursday, all day Friday, and all day Saturday. My husband wanted to attend some workshops as well, and we don’t have a regular sitter. I’m planning, then, to just take the kids along with me, and I found out this week that many of my friends are planning on doing the same. So it’s time to prepare.

The convention center doesn’t allow snacks to be brought in from the outside; that makes it a little tougher, since snacks can be a great diversion to kids who have to sit…and sit… and sit. But there are other things we can do.

We’re going to be packing each of my children a bag to bring along, and here’s what we’re going to put in them:

  • A blank notebook and pen for doodling or drawing
  • A puzzle, dot to dot, and maze books
  • Hidden pictures printed off the Internet
  • A coloring book and crayons
  • Reading books for the older ones
  • Small toys

I have a feeling we’ll need to be taking quite a few breaks, and I bet walking around the vendor tables with everyone in tow will be more of an adventure than I would like. But I don’t anticipate any stares or complaints or sharp looks from other conference attendees; after all, they’re all homeschoolers, and they’ve been there too.

Photo by mzacha

Music Lessons Again — This Time, It’s Personal

When I first began homeschooling, my husband bought me the book The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise. For a few years, I tried to follow many of the recommendations outlined in the book before I realized that’s what they were: recommendations. I then used it more as a springboard as I planned the new school year. One thing I did appreciate, though, was the authors’ view of music study. Every child, they say, should have two years of piano lessons as part of their education. I agreed, thinking this would help build self-discipline, self-esteem, and an understanding and appreciation of music.

This didn’t quite happen with my daughter Lillie, though. As I’ve written before, she’s struggled with the lessons and practicing, not because she couldn’t do it, but because she didn’t want to put forth the effort. In order to have a good practice week, I would have to sit down with her every time she practiced and make sure she did it — as she fussed and whined and told me I didn’t know what I was talking about (I don’t play the piano, but I did study music from middle school through college). I was unsure if I should let her quit or make it stick with it until I saw some positive changes in her attitude. I let her quit at the end of the school year.

Then, this summer, a new opportunity came along. Both of my girls were given the chance to take violin lessons from my sister-in-law who moved nearby. Lillie was very excited — and I was surprised. It would be a year’s commitment, I told her, but she agreed. We started the lessons three weeks ago.

Because they are beginners, I’ve been sitting in on the girls’ lessons and helping them as they practice. The first week of practice went well. When we began the second week of practice, though, Lillie began complaining the chin rest was uncomfortable. She spent much of the practice time fussing about it, but when we went for the next lesson, she didn’t mention it to my sister-in-law at all.

This week of practice has brought out more of Lillie’s woes: the chin rest was still uncomfortable, her fingers couldn’t reach the right strings, she was tired of standing, and on and on. I finally asked her why she didn’t tell her aunt about all these problems; after all, her aunt was the one who would know what to do about them. “It never happens at her house,” Lillie told me.

Exasperated, I finally laid down the law. “No more grumbling in this house,” I told her. “If you have a problem with your violin, you can’t tell me anymore. You have to tell your aunt.” Suddenly, the complaining stopped.

I know Lillie wants to please her aunt; after all, she’s not just a music teacher Lillie sees once a week, but she’s the aunt who lives close by and has a pool in her backyard and invites us over for cookouts and looks through Lillie’s whole collection of silly bands. I’m sure that this time, Lillie will learn a lot more than music notes. 🙂

Photo by earl53

Teaching Reading

I once read in The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer that “reading is easy.” Reading may be easy, but sometimes teaching a child to read can be difficult.

My oldest son was an early reader, starting off by reading simple words when he was just three years old. After a while, however, he reached a plateau; he could read three- and four-letter words, but he didn’t seem to be able to move on from there. We spent a few months practicing those words by reviewing them and playing games. Then, all of a sudden, he could read almost anything. I never taught him about the long vowel sounds or the silent “e”. He just read them on his own. I wondered, then, if that was how children learn to read.

I found out the answer with my second child. When I followed a similar course with her, the results weren’t the same. She didn’t pick up on it right away; instead, we worked through some phonics books, slow and steady, learning the rules as she learned to read. It took a little longer, but eventually, she got it. Today reading is one of her favorite subjects.

When it was time for my third child to start reading, I decided to try the same phonics workbooks, and for a while, they were helpful. But my third child is my most playful one and the one most resistant to learning. Despite the whining and complaining, we pressed on, though at an even slower pace than before. After trying several different reading programs, I put them all aside and decided to delve right into traditional books. Finally, she really was reading.

My youngest is entering the first grade this year, and he’s not yet a reader. While he’s good with numbers and understanding math concepts, he forgets letter sounds from one day to the next. So lately I’ve been gathering different reading programs together. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll try them out to see which is the best fit. Perhaps it will be an established curriculum, or perhaps, as with my oldest, we won’t use any curriculum at all.

While teaching reading isn’t always easy, homeschooling has helped us as it allows for the differences in learning styles — and in the children themselves.

Photo by Mary Vogt

Piano Lessons

keysWhen my oldest son John (now 13) was small, my husband purchased the book The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. Although John was just starting his schooling years, I read through the book, and I really liked what I read. Since then, I’ve implemented some of the ideas the authors suggest. One of those ideas was to have every child complete at least two years of piano study.

We’ve done this with several goals in mind. One is that they learn to read music and understand what it means to play an instrument. Research shows that learning music  often helps students do better with math, so that was another benefit. I also wanted them to learn the self-discipline that would be required for practicing.

So far, three of my children have taken piano lessons. Here’s how it’s gone:

John started when he was only five, took a couple of years off, then started again. He does well with it, and though at times he wants to quit, I tell him he’s too far along to quit now. So, he’ll probably be working at it until he graduates.

Cassie took lessons for two years, then wanted to quit. There was a lot of sibling competition going on,  as she often compared herself to her brother who was both older and more experienced. She has since taken up the flute and is doing well with it. She now even wants to add piano back in again.

Lillie was very enthusiastic at first, but her enthusiasm quickly waned as she, too, began comparing herself to John. She has wanted to quit for quite some time, but I told her she had to finish two years. She did, though they were not a good two years of practice — more often that not she would try to get out of playing, and instead of learning self-discipline, she experienced Mom’s discipline. So, I added on one more year, hoping to end her piano career on a higher note (no pun intended).

Then…I talked with my older brother, an accomplished musician. And he gave me more to think about…

Every child, he said, should learn to play the piano. Of all the instruments, it’s the one that people who don’t make music a career tend to continue playing on into adulthood. It’s a skill you can always use, no matter what your occupation. You can play it at church, for holiday gatherings, for family sing-a-longs. You can play as your children dance around the room, or you can play for a friend’s wedding.

Besides, he continued, you never hear anyone say, “I wish I hadn’t learned to play the piano,” but you often hear people say, “I wish I had stuck with it.”

So now, I’m rethinking their piano lessons. Perhaps Lillie will have to continue on with them and keep practicing. And when she complains, I’ll tell her she can blame it on her uncle.

The Story of the World

One of my favorite history curriculums for elementary students is The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. Consisting of four volumes in all, this series is designed so students complete one volume per year. A great way for teaching history to multiple grade levels, this series can even be used with middle school students.

Volume 1: The Ancients covers from 5000 B.C. to 400 A.D.; Volume 2: The Middle Ages covers from 400  to 1600; Volume 3: Early Modern Times covers from 1600 – 1850; and Volume 4: The Modern Age covers from 1850 – 1994. Each book discusses what was happening around the world during a particular time period, so students have a better understanding of major events and how they affected various nations. For example, students learn that Napoleon’s financial troubles led him to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States, which in turn allowed westward expansion to continue. I have to smile when my fourth grader can tell me the connection between Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson!

What makes this such an enjoyable series for both the parent and child is the way in which it is written. Susan Bauer presents history as a story, a narrative meant to be read aloud to the students by a parent or teacher. It’s fun to read and fun to listen to. Sometimes my older children and I take turns reading a page, which gives them extra reading practice too.  The books are also available on CD, and I know several moms who use driving time as history time with this resource.

Of course, what makes history even more memorable are hands-on activities, and this curriculum provides these as well. Activity books are available for each of the volumes. These include map work, crafts, coloring pages, and reading lists. Tests for each volume can also be purchased – everything you’d need to teach and enjoy history!