• Brogia Family - portraits as well as a picture from the Horrible Histories Borgia Family song.
    history

    Learning about the Borgia family – for fans of Horrible Histories

    We enjoy watching Horrible Histories, and sometimes I use episodes as the basis of a history lesson. Here are some of my notes (and at the bottom, a list of resources, including a link to related math worksheets): Watch the vignette on Pope Alexander VI on Horrible Histories (season 4, episode 9) and the song Borgia Family in the same episode. Note that Alexander VI is the name Rodrigo Borgia took on when he took his position as Pope. Giovanne was murdered, possible by his brother Cesare. Note how the video deals with that possibility. Label map of Italy. Locate Siena. While Rodrigo Borgias was a Cardinal there, the pope…

  • a collection of books about pirates or tangentally related to pirates
    history,  homeschooling

    planning history curriculum based on pirates

    I am planning my history curriculum for my kids this year. We are going to focus on world history from the starting point of learning about pirates.  What were the different eras of pirates? How did pirates relate with the various nations? What economic or social situations helped encourage piracy? Reading about the topic got a bit overwhelming for me, as I wanted to know enough to pull everything together and fill in all the details between different periods of piracy. I’ve decided to make it easier for myself and use the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia as my basic text and then branch out from there. Talking about piracy will help…

  • books,  history,  homeschooling,  science

    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. In the earlier Superman comics the little stories were similar…

  • history,  science

    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 sort of middle name!)  Her husband Fred was a scientist…

  • books,  history,  science

    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 grew in fame but suffered ill health problems. It describes…

  • history,  homeschooling

    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 chariot delivering the legionary to the fight. Then the M.C.,…

  • books,  history

    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 a faux miracle worker and tensions mount. Gabriel is innocent…

  • books,  history,  homeschooling

    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 her, but it helps too in recognizing the limits of…

  • books,  history,  homeschooling

    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 Siddal, but continued to put off marriage to her for…

  • books,  history

    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 over 20 were married, 12% were widows and 30% spinsters).…