Lesson ideas using Superman comics

As a kid I enjoyed watching Lois and Clark, or at least the first two seasons of it, but I never actually read any Superman comics. It’s only been recently with my kids interested in superheroes that I’ve started to learn more about them. At first I was thrown by the discontinuity of the stories. I tried to link things together looking for a big storyline, until I suddenly realized that like Archie comics, there isn’t one. There are story lines, but not one big single one. Suddenly I could start looking at the different stories for what they are. Continue reading

Frédéric Joliot-Curie

I was reading about Marie Curie last week, and am enjoying now reading about her son-in law, Frédéric Joliot. Many details of his life lend themselves to great discussions with children about radiation, World War II, and sexism. When Irène Curie, daughter of Pierre and Marie Curie, married Frédéric Joliot she was already a published scientist, and she choose to keep her maiden name rather than take on what in her time and place would have been more acceptable: Irène Joliet-Curie (a compromise more celebrating of her maiden identity than many hyphenated names today where the maiden name becomes a Continue reading

learning about Marie Curie and radioactivity

As I was preparing to write that blog post about comic books, there was a day when I asked my husband to grab some more comic books when he goes to the library. One of the books he brought back was called Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss. It was from the adult graphic novel section, and it isn’t exactly a comic book. It’s an artistic exploration of the Curie’s life and also of the “fallout” of their discovery of radioactivity. The book tells how Marie and husband met, and how they Continue reading

a non-sports person watches a jousting competition

My husband and I took the kids last night to watch the Knights of Valour Jousting Competition. It was quite an interesting experience. Jousting is an incredibly strange form of target practice where both opponents have targets on them and the goal is to break one’s weapon or unseat one’s opponent. The Knights had pretty impressive armor but injuries sound pretty common place. The evening began with a couple of side acts – a bareback riding demonstration from someone dressed to resemble Alexander the Great, a quick mock fight between a gladiator and a legionary, and the site of a Continue reading

Learning about medieval religious plays and poems

Yesterday I finished reading the book A Little Lower Than the Angels by Geraldine McCaughrean. It is a great historical fiction novel, set in Britain during the middle ages and one of the wonderful things about it is that it isn’t about knights and castles. Instead its about a stone-mason’s apprentice, Gabriel, who runs away with a group of travelling mystery players. Gabriel enjoys the care given to him by Garvey, the playmaster who plays God, but he’s a little nervous around the Frenchman Lucier, who plays Lucifer. When they run into some trouble Garvey decides to turn Gabriel into Continue reading

great children’s books for exploring the 19th Century

The 19th century was an amazing century of industrialization, railways and colonization. The Napoleonic wars, Crimean war, opium wars, the American civil war were just a few of the wars fought during the century. Beethoven was composing his symphonies. Railways were transforming travel, trade and many other things. My appreciation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days grows as I learn to recognize how new and exciting the ability to travel far distances by rail was. My appreciation of feminism grows as I read about the nineteen century woman’s struggle to break free of the limits placed on Continue reading

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

While reading about Christina Rossetti, I couldn’t help becoming interested in the story of her brother Dante too. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a member of a group that jokingly referred to themselves as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, signing PRB after their names. He was the older brother of Christina Rossetti. Named Gabriel, he choose to add the name Dante, as the Italian poet was an important part of upbringing – each of the four Rossetti siblings published something about Dante at some point in their lives. Dante fell in love with one of his models, a working class woman named Elizabeth Continue reading

Christina Rossetti – philosophical questions within her poetry & life

 This is a follow-up post to the my previous post about lesson ideas based on Christina Rossetti. These are the deeper topics I found while reading about Christina, and I felt the deserved a separate page rather than be mixed in with the previous posts ideas. These are things I’ve been discussing and will continue to discuss with my children, and they are questions I wonder about in my every day life. Feminism Christina Rossetti lived during a time when politicians were concerned about the number of single women (according to William Rathbone Greg in 1851 only 57% of women Continue reading

Inside the mall or outside: thoughts on the allegiance to capitalism.

It was bitterly cold today but I joined with others in handing out candy canes and holiday themed postcards in support of the campaign to raise the minimum wage in Ontario. There were six others from my anti-poverty group and we took turns warming up inside the mall and standing outside fumbling with our gloves trying to give things out. I did the interview with CTV. We gave out about a 100 candy canes and had some supportive feedback yet with weather this cold no one wants to stand and talk. Inside the mall feels like such a different world. The Continue reading

Racing the Moon, gifted children and Nestbeschmutzer

The book: Racing the Moon The book I’m currently reading to my children is called Racing the Moon by Alan Armstrong. Set in 1947 the book is wonderfully sophisticated. The main story is of a brother and sister, Alex and Chuck. Alex is 11 and idealizes Ameilia Earheart. Chuck is 17 and, booted out of college, drifting with a bit of a suicidial wreckless streak. They befriend an army scientist Captian Ebbs. Captain Ebbs is working on food for the space program, so she’s a natural fit with the two space obsessed youngsters and can help guide them. Other threads to the story Continue reading