Archive for the ‘SOTW’ Category

Years ago I had bought the second volume of Story of the World at a used curricula sale and so I had ploanned to use that this year. Until that whole thing about the Mosque at Ground Zero happened this summer (my best Linda Richman voice: “Tawk amongst yourselves: The Mosque at Ground Zero is neither a Mosque nor at Ground Zero. Discuss.”). I knew that SOTW would be covering a lot of the history of Islam this year, and I knew that I didn’t know enough about it to be able to keep it balanced. Based on my experience with the bits on Christianity and Jesus at the end of SOTW’s volume one – which I do know a fair amount about – I did not trust them to be very balanced about Islam’s origins. So at the last minute, we gave away our copy of SOTWV2 and switched to History Odyssey based on our love of their science curriculum.

And I am so glad I did.

History Odyssey is, frankly, a better curriculum. In my humble opinion. It draws from many sources – including Story of the World, actually – and has extensive book lists which are, for the most part, easy to find at the public libraries. Right now, I have close to 60 books checked out for this other curricula, several weeks worth at a time. It’s incredibly literature-based which I adore. We have books from Tomie de Paola, Demi, and Aliki. There are also excellent-quality nonfiction books listed. The story books are not always secular – but that is totally fine with me since it is a mere part of a large amount of balanced views, and since I find truth in every aspect of history. In other words, believe it or not, I find it really important to know and read the Bible and other religious texts and stories, but SOTW does not present it along with other fact-based sources to make things as honest as possible.

HO draws from several main texts. The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History is one we already happened to have and to love (it’s not only factual and balanced, but also includes kid-safe websites to learn more! awesome!). As I said before, it also draws from SOTW, so we listen to that in audiobook form when applicable. It adds a nice dimension to a curriculum. The last one is a book I was torn on owning or not. I probably would have bought it for the literature aspect of it, but money is tight right now and when it advertised that the new edition was free of racial slurs, I figured maybe it was a little less balanced, even, than SOTW. Heh. If I had the cash, I might have invested in it anyway, but we do get plenty of good historical literature in so many other ways that I am not particularly feeling it’s loss. The last book we use each week is not so much a text book as it is an activity book. I find it really helpful that HO tells me which projects would be good for each chapter. So far we have made cabbage soup and dumplings (oddly a big hit, at least with my older child), porridge and done a few crafty projects.

In addition to the daily work that SOTW recommends, such as map work, HO includes dictionary work which I find to be an excellent addition on every possible level. Copywork, dictionary skills, alphabetizing, vocabulary, all rolled into one small assignment each week.

I wish I’d taken the time to learn about this years ago when I first heard of it. I am completely pleased with History Odyssey so far.


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Margie was REALLY negative today. I just crawled into my brain and sang happy songs and tried my best to ignore it all. Then, she went into her room to do her math and came out about 30 minutes later (it was a long review she chose to do all at once) perfectly happy and content. Go figure.

While she was in there, I created my own little project – Roman money. I took pennies, nickels, and dimes, added a sticky square, and wrote the corresponding Roman numeral on it. When she came out, we had a Roman feast with chickpea pancakes (recipe from SOTW), olives, and figs. We “bought” the food and had to figure out how much to pay. (Later, Margie wrote her own Roman numerals in a project she was working on.)

roman money

Margie didn’t like any of the food, but this DID inspire her to create her own lunch of bananas, sliced and topped with peanut butter, sprinkled with raisins (we figured the raisins were probably Romanish).

In the afternoon, she had an acupuncture appointment and did FABULOUSLY. Yay!

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So far I am really liking this science curriculum. This week’s unit is about cells and today we looked at the structure of a chicken egg, including a cell on the yolk. It was really very cool – we ALL learned a lot and the kids were both totally into it. Here they are looking closely at the shell which, we learned, is porous.

In The Story of the World today, we read about Roman Gladiators. It was a bloody chapter (naturally). I can’t help but get the feeling there is some underlying anti-Roman resentment there (probably also rather natural). There have absolutely been other instances of evil being done by the various cultures we’ve studied and, yet, I don’t think I have ever felt anything so hostile in other examples in this book. For the record, I am NOT doubting the validity of the statements. I do, though, feel that this chapter (so far) stands alone in its gore and is less balanced than other stories shared in this book.

After lunch, we headed to the park and arrived about 45 minutes before PE began so we could play with the kites the kids got in their Ostara baskets.

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Today was… interesting. It was the sort of day where I try to lock myself in the closet only to realize I don’t actually have any locks on my closets. It was a pleasant and needed break from ourselves to visit with friends at and after art class.

Today the kids worked on mosaics or collages with tissue paper and using glue as starch.

all done

making the sea

tissue paper - spent

And the artwork by Margie and Elliott, respectively.



In the afternoon, Elliott played with the unifix cubes. He made checkerboard patters which I found pretty cool, but the bit that really impressed me was that he applied photoshop-style color techniques to them. First he created the orange/navy set. Then he “brightened” it by using light blue and yellow. And then he made it black and white. The last set was “zapped” (or “zapped-ed” as he says) which is the Wii’s version of negative, I think. He plays on the photo channel a lot, and I love that he’s applying it to hands-on art.

elliott made these

Margie and I cuddled on the couch and read some of the 1001 Nights stories. I have no idea why SOTW recommends these for ancient Babylonia since they focus on Allah quite a bit and therefore won’t come until later in time, but I don’t know these stories and we should so we are reading them anyway.

Elliott also went to soccer class.

By the evening things had calmed down for us all, but I started feeling head-coldy (I think still left over from last weekend) so we never did get to any formal lessons. We’ll make it up tomorrow.

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Monday I decided to pretend was Sunday again.

Tuesday was a hard day.  M was uncooperative to the max and I was having issues of my own which resulted in too little patience.

~1 lesson in math
~1 page of spelling
~Read/reviewed chapter 15 in SOTW – Phoneticians. We learned about how they learned to blow glass (we’ve seen that done at Balboa Park), and how they made a purple dye from snails. We learned the story of Dido and the founding of Carthage.
~M had PE at the park today

~Cut a lot of stuff out.
~Did a Letter F worksheet
~Learned the ASL sign for F.
~Played at the park during PE

Together we went to a new library and got a card there. I wasn’t thrilled with the library at all – it was small and all in one room so we had to whisper even in the Children’s section. BUT this is part of the SD County system which means I can now have books sent from anywhere in that system for free, I think. Which open up a lot of good opportunities for us. Yay!

Part of our SOTW work this week included dying some wool. I happened to have this on hand to learn to dye and this was the perfect chance. We didn’t use snails, though – we used red cabbage (and some alum). First we chopped the cabbage and then boiled it for about an hour on the stove. We strained the cabbage out and added a little alum (one resource I found said 10% of the weight of the wool to be dyed – I don’t have a scale so I estimated). It noticeably made the dye darker – since we mixed the alum into a small bowl of dye we were able to compare both dyes, with and without. We added the yarn and put it back on the stove. I let it simmer for awhile and then turned off the stove and let it sit until we came home from PE. We rinsed it in the sink until the water ran clear and hung it to dry. Despite the alum, it was still a very, very faint color. But, hey, we didn’t have murex snails.


7 Days: Day 4 (I Just Dyed in Your Arms Tonight)

dyed v. non

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We had a fabulous finish to the week. Thursday very little in the way of formal lessons occurred as we had to hurry out for our annual Not Back to School Party. Our friend brought two looms for the kids and they all had a blast weaving (we even got to borrow the little one overnight!). Another friend brought her fabulous ice cream to share with us and I brought some homemade magic shell to top it with. There were balls and air rockets and a playground. It was lovely.

mob @ the loom

the kids' work


The day was mostly lovely, anyway. Early in the morning, I heard the news that Mary Travers died and I cried openly. Peter, Paul and Mary were a staple in my house growing up and mean so very much to me. I showed my kids a couple of videos and we spent the rest of the day listening to Mary and the guys sing. Mary, you will be dearly missed – thank you for sharing your gift with the world.

On Friday we finished up the week’s lessons.

~Narrated a couple of sentences about Thales & the pyramid to me.
~Created a flip book of some of the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt.
~Finished up the current lesson in spelling (3 pages)
~Scissor work

~Worked on a days of the week Very Hungry Caterpillar flip book
~Scissor work

Then we headed off to knitting group where M finished up her weaving and learned how to tie it off, E and I took a little walk among the Pines, the kids played various games with balls, cars and hoops. It was a lovely afternoon.

Next week we will take a break from SOTW and focus on Mabon and the Holiday. I found this lesson plan I plan to use as a guide.

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Today we took advantage of the free museum day to go visit the Museum of Man’s Ancient Egyptian exhibit. While there we also peeked in at the human evolution exhibits, but mainly spent time in Egypt since that is what we are studying in SOTW.



pharaohs, one possessed.

to weigh a soul


~2 pages of spelling
~1 exercise in her math book (which was rather involved)
~Notebooking page about Akhenaten
~Listened to intro and first chapter of Insectigations.
~Listened to one chapter of Casting the Gods Adrift.
~Practice in using scissors
~PE – soccer

~Practiced using scissors

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