Globetrottin' Girls

Though I took an unplanned break from blogging in January and haven't been posting Weekly Wrap-Ups even since I returned, we, of course, have continued our home learning journey, including our tour of world geography using My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC). So, given that we just wrapped up our study of our latest country (India), today seemed like as good a time as any to summarize our "globetrotting" adventures over the past nine weeks:

FRANCE: January 3-14
The girls were very excited to head to France after our Christmas vacation because Abigail's favorite Disney Princess is Belle and because the story of Rachel's favorite princess, Cinderella, is likely set there. With all our countries, they've absorbed a lot about a culture through our joint reading of multiple "living books" from the library, and France was no exception. We read about several French artists - Monet, Renoir, Degas, Caillebotte - and about Picasso, who all but adopted France as his actual homeland. We read a reality-based novel called Twenty and Ten, which recounted the successful attempt by a group of French (Christian) children to hide and protect a group of Jewish children during World War II. We read several books set in Paris and learned about the famous sites there. And we read about caves, since there are so many in France.

We tried some French cuisine, too: French bread dipped in hot chocolate (a typical French breakfast for which the girls, surprisingly, did not care); quiche; croissants; and crepes (which they loved and have asked me to make several times since).

Because France is so famous for its artists, the girls' France-themed project came from Artistic Pursuits, the art curriculum they do with Jeff. We started a new volume in the series in January, the first several lessons of which focused on the French Impressionists, so it was a perfect fit.

KENYA: January 17-28
From France, we "flew" down to Kenya for a couple of weeks and enjoyed many books about some of the main people groups in that country, most notably the Pygmies and Masai. The girls enjoyed making Masai-style necklaces and trying tapioca pudding, though they weren't particularly fond of irio, a casserole of sorts made from mashed potatoes, peas, and corn.

They also learned about David Livingstone. And, of course, we spent a substantial amount of time studying the Kenyan savannah and the animals that populate it. In fact, that part of our time felt like a mini-zoology course because they learned so many interesting facts about animals with which they thought they were already familiar. Their culminating project for Kenya was to make African savannah murals.

As part of the curriculum, we've been learning the locations of many countries all around the world - 20 per continent, on average. I've been amazed at how quickly the girls have memorized so many locations and was especially determined that they do so with Africa, mainly because it is largely neglected by typical school curricula. For example, when I was growing up, we were required to memorize country locations on the other four big continents (and, of course, Australia, which was a cinch), but were then told, "Oh, and there's Africa. Make sure you know where Egypt is." So my knowledge of African geography was abysmal, but I was determined that the girls would not suffer that fate - and that I would learn along with them that which I should have known long ago. We had a great time together with it and are regularly reviewing all our previous continents so the knowledge sticks.

SUPERBOWL CELEBRATION: January 30-February 8
The success of our beloved Green Bay Packers required us to take an unplanned "detour" back home in order to revel in SuperBowl week and our team's ultimate victory. Of course, we could have continued on to the next country, but one beauty - among so many - with home education is that we're able to be very flexible and spontaneous. So, though I hope the girls have many other opportunities in their youth to have fun with the Packers' success, given that their last SuperBowl victory was 14 years ago, I wasn't about to miss this occasion just to say I "stuck with the original plan." Instead, we had a reduced academic schedule all week and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves through the whole event.

SAUDI ARABIA: February 9-18And, afterwards, it was off to Saudi Arabia, where we reviewed what we'd previously learned about deserts and compared and contrasted Middle Eastern deserts to those we'd studied in North America last fall. We also learned some interesting specifics about camels and tried chick peas and hummus (both well-liked by Abigail but only tolerated by Rachel).

My main focus for one of the two weeks was introducing the girls to the tenets and customs of Islam - because we think it's important for them to understand the worldview of Muslim people. One day, we had the privilege of hosting a friend from church, who regularly does educational consulting throughout the Middle East and had offered to share pictures and model the abeya even she must wear in Saudi Arabia. Of course, much of what they learned over those several days disturbed the girls quite a bit. But we spoke often of how our reaction should not be anger, but rather sadness for how so many have been deceived and prayer that many will ultimately learn the truth about Jesus.

INDIA: February 22-March 4
Finally, we headed east from Saudi to spend two weeks in India, a country for which we felt a bit of a connection going in because of the missions work Jeff does in Sri Lanka. The girls learned much about Hinduism - which bothered them less than Islam - the Ganges River, and the Himalayas, and tried ahm puhl - a mango smoothie which they both absolutely loved - and chipatti bread, which they liked, too.

A highlight of our "journey" was the chance the girls - along with some of the kids for whom I babysit - got one day to try on homemade saris (or a dhoti for T.) and bindis, the little dots some Indian women wear on their foreheads (though, obviously, T. got a turban instead). For the most part, they all thought the outfits were wonderful, though Abigail disliked that they were so loose. And then that same day, they made India-style gemstone inlay plaques.

We also started to work on memorizing the locations of a number of Asian countries, a task we'll continue (along with reviewing all the rest) for the next several weeks.

On Monday, we'll be off to China, followed by Japan, and Russia before taking a week off to focus on Easter. After that, we'll spend a bit of time in both Australia and Antarctica before "heading home" to Green Bay for the summer.


Lisa said...

You certainly have been busy! We did ECC last year and I wish I had done more with it than I did. I think I was so overwhelmed that I could barely stay afloat. But, we'll revisit it later on, so I'm not worried!

My geography skills weren't great either. Not knowing much about Africa (even through high school), I don't think I was aware it was a continent (not a country) until adulthood! How embarrassing! Not just for me, but for the schools I attended too!

Looks like you are all enjoying the curriculum and I'm glad you took the time to write about it. You've been missed around here. :)

Toyin O. said...

Sounds like you guys are learning a lot, you are raising some smart children there. very nice pictures:)

Kathi said...

Hi Tina!
...just wanted to let you know that we are starting a MFW Homeschool Highlights link up in the coming weeks. If you're interested, stop by and let me know!

:: Happy Homeschooling! ::
Kathi @ A Heart Like Water
http://6arrows.blogspot.com/ A Heart Like Water

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