• Picture shows a small Minecraft village.
    homeschooling,  minecraft,  politics

    Political Studies through Minecraft

    I have reopened my Minecraft server in light of the Covid-19 restrictions and the need to have extra online social activities for children. I host events a couple of times a week on Minecraft and Zoom, and the children play on the server whenever they want in between those events. One question came up recently that introduced some very fun questions about political studies. Some children asked if they could have special areas on the server where they set the rules. A child demonstrated what he meant with a list of rules and the punishments he wanted to enforce. Was this allowed, he asked? So I’ve been thinking about that…

  • Picture shows a child's hand holding a styrofoam skull. Text is "Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare: Alas, Poor Yorick, I knew him."
    homeschooling

    Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare through Play

    I love Shakespeare. As a teenager, my best friends and I would hang around in the attic of my house practicing acting out Mid Summer’s Night Dream.  We didn’t understand all the jokes at first, but annotated books helped us learn them and we became familiar with the rhythm and language of his works. I still hear my best friend’s voices when I read certain lines of the play. Later, as a parent, I was excitedly to introduce my children to his work. I started when they were very young, still at an age where they were playing with wooden blocks. We took to reciting a passage from Macbeth over…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    American Political Studies Resources for Highschool Student

    I am a Canadian homeschooling my children, but we can’t help hearing about American politics. So, my husband and I are insisting that our children learn to understand the American political system as well as the Canadian system. Here is what we are using: The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is Paralyzing Democracy by Daniel Lazare. My husband recommended this one for understanding the limits of the American system. Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville. De Tocqueville was a Frenchman writing about America in 1831. He was incredibly optimistic about the United States and its potential. The West Wing, a tv series by Aaron Sorkin. This television show is…

  • homeschooling

    Day-to-day to challenges homeschooling

    I’d love to say that homeschooling was this paradise of cooperation between parent and children, where we do amazing fascinating projects and have plenty of fun. The fact is, most days are a strange tug-of-war between watching the children pursue their own projects and trying to get them to do just a little bit of schoolwork while also carving out a bit of time for my own projects. Every day is filled with little interruptions and distractions. Some are mild and simple. Some drag me down a rabbit-hole of questions about how I should be responding. Here are just a few: kids inventing their own games and wanting to tell…

  • history,  homeschooling

    Resources for Learning Akkadian and Sumerian

    My current hobby is learning ancient languages, in particular Akkadian and Sumerian. I take a multi-pronged approach. I use an app to help me memorize word lists. I make charts of words and work through workbooks and I watch youtube videos. I look at ancient texts and their translations to be able to see how words are used “in the wild” (in their conjugated forms). I copy sentences. I make lists of related words. Searching for Words The Sumerian online dictionary and Akkadian online dictionary are both very useful. There are app versions. Memorizing Words: I use the app Memrise. This is basically a flash-card app that asks you to…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    teaching civics with reflections on a small town council meeting

    It is Saturday morning and I’m watching a video recording of a town council meeting that took place several provinces away. I’m taking notes to write the story up for my dad’s newspaper. The strange thing is, I actually find counsel meetings kind of interesting. I love the little details of small town life. The minor hockey club asked for their meeting notices to be displayed on the town’s signs. This would add to the frequency of which staff would have to change the text on those signs. The administration is willing to do it but want permission to draw up a policy, because presumably if they put the hockey…

  • Biblical history,  homeschooling

    More notes on attempting to secularize Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World.

    This is the second part of a series of articles exploring the way that Susan Wise Bauer presents Biblical stories in her Story of the World curriculum. In chapter six of volume one she presents the stories of Abraham and Joseph. In chapter twelve she recaps this briefly while talking about the Hyksos invasion of Egypt: These enemies were from Canaan. Do you remember reading about Canaan? In your story about Abraham, Abraham heard the voice of God, telling him to go to Canaan. And do you remember what he thought? He thought, “Why would I go to a wilderness filled with strange, wild tribes?” It is important to note…

  • The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer and one of many academic books on the topic of the early Hebrew religion
    Biblical history,  history,  homeschooling

    Notes on the Story of the World – from a secular academic perspective

    The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a very popular history curriculum amongst homeschoolers. However, one complaint frequently made is that the book presents Biblical stories as if they were history. In chapter six of volume one it tells the story of Abraham and then the story of Joseph, both embellished from the Bible. Here are some notes on how I would approach these. Placement of the Story The Story of the World situations the story of Abraham as taking place shortly after Sargon the Great. Sargon the Great lived over two thousand years before the Common Era (CE or, as it was known in my childhood,…

  • homeschooling

    Worldbuilding as a Homeschooling Project.

    I’ve been a pretty lazy homeschooler recently, busy with a temporary part-time job as well as getting ready my online classes, so I am unbelievably grateful that my kids have some awesome projects going. Today I want to share, with his permission, about my middle child’s project. His project is worldbuilding. He’s got an imaginary world. He’s spent months now working on the language the dragons speak. It isn’t just a matter of a different alphabet or different words for all the same concepts we have. He’s thought about what kinds of concepts a dragon might develop. His word for a surface you write on is based on his word…

  • history,  homeschooling

    Reading Ancient Hittite Laws with my Kids

    I’ve been reading through an old book on the ancient Hittite laws. (Why? Why not?!) The first interesting detail in the book is the idea that they might not have had a word for the abstract concept of “law.” They had a word for “a law” or “the laws.” Some of the laws seem unremarkable but others have led to some interesting conversations with my kids. We talked about the following law and how it compares to modern compensation for injuries: “If anyone injures a person and temporarily incapacities him, he shall provide medical care for him. In his place he shall provide a person to work on his estate…