Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Europe Rundown

I write many things about what I love about home school. My very favorite thing has nothing to do with any good reason for doing it, it is simply a benefit of it.

I get to see how things come together, especially when I feel out of control. It's thrilling, really.

We are studying European countries right now. Here is the rundown.

Brooke got up early a few weeks ago and pulled out an around-the-world cookbook, opened up to the recipe she had been talking about for months, pointed to it, and said, "I wanna make this."

Gingerbread waffles. Yay. It's Christmas season, we actually had time to make something from scratch, I actually had the ingredients, and the recipe came from Belgium, which we immediately had to look up on the map. Bonus- best waffles I've had, and I didn't even think I liked gingerbread.

While I was in Thailand, Mom took the kids to Lindsborg (aka "Little Sweden") to find dala horses. They were able to check off another "8 Wonder of Kansas" (Actually two- they stopped by Coronado Heights on the way). They brought home dala horses to paint, and suddenly we are familiar with Sweden.

I'm getting to unload many of my memories and pictures from my time in Spain, and they actually care. Their eyes widened as we discussed castles, flamenco dancers, and Gypsies. This may be the only chance I get- to share my love for Spain and have it received with such attentiveness.

The subject moved on to art. One of the favorite paintings was from Picasso's (born in Spain) blue era. As we talk about the wonderful artists from Europe, an art project was born. Van Gogh was the son of a Dutch minster.

It just seemed to come together. Last night we painted while sipping French hot chocolate.

France. Oh, I think we could spend a whole month or more on France. We are attempting to learn French, which has been deterred because our headphones keep breaking, but we do know a little. So many things come up about France out of the blue, like, "Did French fries come from France?"

Artists- My favorite, Monet. My kids know my favorites. Monet is special to everyone here. Crepes, croissants, France has wonderful foods. Even if French fries is not one of them. Fashion, Paris, the Eiffel Tower, phrases we've never thought to ponder that happen to be French. Next trip: France?? We have relatives there!

We were assigned to read about Menno Simons. Oh, yeah kids. You are half European descent, of an interesting group of people called Mennonites. It is all very confusing to them but they know that name "Mennonite" and "Anabaptist" means something to their heritage. So does borscht, zwieback, farming, and Nun ist Sie erschienen, which if I can find the words to, I would love to learn for once with the kids. Maybe while we roll out some peppernuts.

Last year around Christmas, I picked up a used book about Christmas trees around the world. Guess what? Most of the cultures featured, if not American, were European- so the girls studied them and decided that Austria's tree was indeed the most beautiful.

With my bank account nearly wiped out, Mom and I set out to thrift stores and found the perfect supplies- the only things bought new or full price were the styrofoam balls. Figurines and ribbons were second hand or 50% off. We even found miniature sporting ball ornaments for Max to enjoy.

Now, our Christmas tree does not look Austrian. It looks like a thrown together heap of pinks, blues, greens and yellows. Cheap, sparkly balls and ornaments made by little hands is the "theme", if you please. I think it's crooked, and one string of lights does not work. But the Austrian inspired ornaments are my very favorite. Max's too- he especially likes the plastic apples. (Yes! We found plastic apple ornaments at a thrift store!)

A viewing of "The Sound of Music" may be very near in our future.

I have not yet mentioned the stories read from various countries- ones that we actually know where they are on the map! I love it when things connect in those little brains. And mine as well.

Most of this learning came from simply going with the flow, along with a bit of a zealous teacher, who happens to be very disorganized presently. These are the things that thrill me about our school.

1 comment: