Galloping the Globe... France!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

We had so much fun studying France!  I've always been in love with Europe, and the prospect of studying this beautiful country excited me as much as the kids.  We studied the language, climate, geography, culture, music, and art of France.  This included a study of Claude Monet (though there are so many famous French artists we could have chosen).  We also took a look at french cuisine and cooking as an "art".  We also learned some french language, listened to traditional french music, baked goodies, and learned about the famous cave paintings in Lascaux.

What a breath-taking country full of live and culture!  If you ask our children where they want to go, I will guarantee at least one of them will say, "France!".  I know we experienced that wonderful french "Joie de vivre" while studying and learning together as a family.

As an 'introduction' to France, we read several books about France and learned about the culture of going to the market on a daily basis.  Many Parisians buy fresh bread (baguettes) every single day and often stop in at the local "cafe".  We decided it would be fun to take a trip to our local town bakery to buy some fresh bread and sit down for some coffee and goodies.

Love the old building our bakery is in....

How can you not love this ambiance?
Mmmm... fresh pastries!

We read through Madeline again (we 'rowed' it last year, which was a great introduction for France!).  This year, we decided to make Eiffel Towers out of wafers.  Lots of fun - but they did collapse really easily.

Another french tradition - Tarte Aux Pommes (Apple Pie)!  We enjoyed an afternoon of baking.  We discussed how the French consider cooking and baking an "art".  We use the recipe from "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" and it is fail-proof.  Delicious!

Our masterpiece - I thought the kids did a GREAT job!

The finished product... hubby said it was the "best pie he's ever tasted".  *wink*

We studied french artist, Claude Monet by reading through this lovely living book.  "Linnea in Monet's Garden" takes young readers into the world of Monet and his art.  Great option for Charlotte Mason-style educator's who prefer living books to books that read like a text.

We also used Famous Artists and The First Book of Art as resources.

Monet art project - learning to paint with oil paints and acrylics.  I showed the children a copy of one of Monet's most famous paintings of water lilies.  They attempted to copy his Impressionism techniques.

Berry Picking...  another french tradition.  We took a look at the history of the cave paintings in  Lascaux and decided to do a craft to replicate the paintings.  This included searching for vibrant berries to make "traditional" dies and paints.

Paper bags stuffed with newspaper, stapled shut, then painted with a mixture of sand and glue.  

When the paper bags dry, they look like rocks.

Mixing the dark dirt, and berries we found and creating really interesting paints!

Our finished "natural"  rock (cave) paintings.

One thing I really wanted to do for our study of France, was have a traditional-style French meal.  We decided to cook roasted chicken, vegetables, potatoes, and croissants.  We made the croissants from scratch, and it was a TON of work.  It was fun for the kids to see and better understand how yeast works with flour!

The finished meal, served in a traditional french style - all laid out on the table.

Literary study and read-aloud - The Family Under the Bridge.  This is part of our Core A Sonlight reading list and made for a wonderful France-centered family read-aloud.  This is a heart-warming novel/story about a homeless man who finds a family in the most unusual way!


Audrey's finished painting of "Water Lilies" by Monet

Simon's lapbook
Alex's lapbook

We used Homeschool Share for many of the lapbook printouts!


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The Better Mom

Africa - East and South

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We kick started our homeschool year in August.  We started with a study of East Africa (mostly Kenya), and South Africa.  We LOVE studying about Africa.  What I did find, however, is there is an overwhelming amount of literature and resources about this beautiful continent.  What struck me most profoundly is the vast diversity in people groups, biomes and climate, community, and religion.  Africa is not just the Serengeti, friends!

I am passionate about presenting our children with a true, non-biased study of Africa, which certainly includes some of the common African cultures, but later this year we will also study Morocco, Egypt, Central Africa, and Tanzania.

We also mixed in (of course) some nature study and finished up a year of team Soccer.

Here's a peak, it's not extensive, but it gives you an idea of some of the activities we did and some of the learning that took place!

Just a few of the African-themed books we read...

For our study of South Africa - we started with Meerkats.  I've always been fascinated by these little creatures.  We borrowed several DVDs of "Meerkat Manor" from the library and our kids were in complete awe of them.  What a wonderfully educational and entertaining series.  It isn't really for children, but the narration and storyline is clear and easy for children to follow.  LOVED it!

We also studied their anatomy, habitats, homes, family life, predators and prey. 

Sketching life-size Meerkats

For South Africa, we did a lot of reading about Nelson Mandella.  He is such an amazing man and a wonderful ambassador for freedom and peace.  The kids LOVED learning about him and I enjoyed sharing his message with open hearts.

The Hundred Penny Box was one of our South African literary studies.  It's a beautiful story about an older woman who shares the story of her life through the pennies she has collected along the way.  We read the story, discussed, then painted our own "Penny Box".

We also had fun dying "beads" (noodles) for South African jewelry -

A peek at our Lapbooks:

For our study of East Africa, we covered mostly the Serengeti and Kenya.  This included animal studies and studies of the climate, culture, and communities found in the Eastern country of Kenya.

Learning how to do Paper Beading -


We also played more with Maasai style beading, which is much smaller and usually done with thin wire.

Learning some Swahili words -

Animal studies - learning about Lions on a sunny morning.  I love organizing everything for the kids so they have a tidy workspace inviting them at the start of the day.

Hands-on learning about different biomes and habitats, playing in the sandbox!  We created different areas that would be suitable for various African animals.



"How tall is a Giraffe's leg?"

Some of our Lapbooks:



Thanks for reading...

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