Our oldest son is in Classical Conversations Challenge B. As the years pass and he takes on more and more responsibility (and as he also surpasses my height), I’m fully aware that his childhood is fading into a collection of memories. Five years ago seems so recent yet so distant. One moment there’s an eight-year-old sitting in front of you struggling to write a three-sentence paragraph and another moment there’s this young man with a deep voice pointing out the logical fallacies in your arguments. I’ve been suffering from a bit of nostalgia lately, pondering memories I so cherish that all I can do is pour them out here in words and photos that don’t do them justice. Sometimes as parents we can get so caught up in the things we wish we’d done differently. But there are things I really don’t regret.
If I could give one piece of advice to parents of young children, I think it would be to go down the rabbit trails with them. Nurture their love of learning by following their lead in some areas. Pursue some interest-led learning regardless of what the critics may say. Five years ago, Stephen loved lapbooking and unit studies. He loved paper crafts and building things. He loved history and timelines and maps. (He still does.) After laying a foundation of memory “pegs,” we took off on a multitude of diggin’ deeper learning adventures simply because of his insatiable appetite for learning. At the time, some folks pointed out that what we were doing wasn’t “classical” because it wasn’t “stick in the sand.” I started to doubt my decisions. I wondered if it was just unneccesary busywork – a waste of time when we could instead focus on more Latin vocabulary.
Today as I look back pondering these precious memories, I realize that this absolutely was not a waste of time. Of all that we did during his elementary years, I’m grateful for the moments I allowed us to go down rabbit trails. This is what our most special memories are made of now. And it was a catalyst for his love of learning today.
This week as we started our study of World War I, I pulled out a couple of the unit studies Stephen led us through so that we could share the memories once again as a family. After five years, the enthusiasm is still contagious and inspirational. This is one of my favorite memories from Stephen’s childhood…
It was a study of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and a smorgasbord of events in between. Filled with paper crafts and activities, the lapbook above was pieced together over several weeks, during which we also built a timeline of what we were studying. (I still advocate keeping a timeline as one of the best tools for learning history.)
The map overlays helped to visualize and gain a better understanding of the growth of America from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.
The notebooking & copywork pages, newspaper writing prompts, and engaging projects provided opportunities to study various aspects of World War I, including military weapons, WWI poetry, embroidered silk postcards, and the story of Alvin C York – just to name a few.
There were other aspects from this time period that I would have never pursued as a mom of boys, such as penny rug coasters and 1900s fashion overlays (which were one of David’s favorite parts of this study).
We read about people of interest from all types of backgrounds – missionaries, political figures, westerners, scientists, sports figures…
and built a paper Wright Flyer and a suspension bridge, which we tested over and over again.
We enjoyed reading about historical people, places, and events, and Stephen was even able to follow many of the detailed project instructions without much assistance from me (although I did have to spend a lot of time upfront printing out the projects!).
And even though I may have been the one who put together the unit study review games, I usually didn’t win them, much to my chagrin.
Lapbooking, paper crafts, and unit studies aren’t for everyone. Some kids don’t enjoy them. Some parents don’t enjoy them. But for our family, this was one of the things I actually did right as a home educator.
If you’re struggling with doubt, remember that homeschooling is something you can customize for your own family. Whether you enjoy unit studies or crafts or Montessori or a stricter Charlotte Mason approach doesn’t mean you aren’t providing a solid classical education. How so? Well, you can teach your children the art of grammar-gathering and memorization (art of grammar), the art of asking questions, reasoning, and processing information (the art of dialectic), and the art of eloquent expression (the art of rhetoric) in the midst of other activities your family enjoys. So it’s not one or the other. All of these other methods can fit within the goals of a classical education. I believe the creation of good and beautiful things brings a love for good and beautiful things. It builds virtue. I see it now in our oldest son.
In the spring of 2012, I didn’t realize that the two unit studies we did (this one and the World War II Unit Study) would be such a springboard for future discussion. I didn’t realize these would spur within our children such a fascination with history. And much to my surprise, Stephen recently asked if we could complete some new Homeschool in the Woods studies this year.
Mom, I may not be able to to fit it in with my Challenge work right now, but maybe we can do a study in our spare time. Maybe even over summer?
Really, I thought he might have outgrown these by now, but I was wrong. He’s now planning to lead his younger brothers in the Artists Activity Pak this semester and the New World Explorers and Colonial Life Studies later this year. They are all quite excited about our upcoming learning adventures!
Freebies and a Giveaway!
There are so many great resources to download for free from Homeschool in the Woods! The free Authors Mini Project-Pak is designed to provide several projects focused on twenty-four 19th- and 20th-century authors, including a notebook timeline, penmanship pages, a card game, report pages, and a “Box of Authors”! Did I mention it’s free?!?
They also have great samplers of their history studies, timeline figures, and maps. Our family tried many of the Time Travelers samples before we finally broke down and bought them. Our oldest son LOVED these studies when he was in grades 2-6! You can take a look at the studies we’ve done by clicking here.
And… I’m excited to announce that I have a giveaway for you! The folks at Homeschool in the Woods have provided one Time Travelers Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression History study download to give away to someone here at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood. Enter to win via the Rafflecopter form below…
Rules: This giveaway is open to United States residents, ages 18 years and older only. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on Monday, January 30, 2017. Entries must be recorded within the Rafflecopter form. One winner will be selected at random using Random.org via RaffleCopter and will be notified via email. You must enter a valid email address to win. In the event that the winner cannot be contacted by email or does not respond within 72 hours, the prize will be forfeited and and an alternate winner will be selected. By entering this giveaway, you indicate that you have read and agreed to abide by these rules.
To see other Homeschool in the Woods Studies we’ve completed:
Composer & Orchestra Study
American Revolution Study
Early 19th Century Study
Homeschool in the Woods 20th Century Lap Pak
Benjamin Franklin Unit Study (for grades K-2)
Renaissance & Reformation by Homeschool in the Woods
Middle Ages Project Passport by Homeschool in the Woods
Homeschool in the Woods New Testament Activity Pak
Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression
(Industrial Revolution through Great Depression & World War II tie in with Cycle 2 and Cycle 3. Click to see what it was like to complete these studies: WWII Wrap Up | Through the Great Depression | A Simple Week | A little about WWI)
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