We’ve completed our first six weeks of Beautiful Feet Books’ Medieval History: A Literature Approach for Advanced Intermediate and Junior High. Oldest loves history. It is his favorite subject to study. I think one of the reason’s he loves it so much is because I read many of the books to him. When we first started using Beautiful Feet Books a few years ago I thought reading books to my kids was kinda strange. I mean, they are old enough to read on their own now. Odd as it seemed to me at the time, I went along with the recommendation in the guide anyway. I (and my kiddos) am so happy I took the quirky counsel. Read-aloud time is one of our favorite parts of the homeschool day. I didn’t know it at the time but reading to our kids is not only beneficial to our children’s education but…oh my! I am getting off topic! For more information
on why reading aloud is important check out the Read-Aloud Revival. I am currently listening to one podcast a week for my own time of summer refreshment.
This study dives the student right into a pretty good-sized workload the first week. Within the first three weeks of the study Oldest’s hand written glossary contained nearly one hundred words. We chose to break up the vocabulary words by doing only five to eight of the words each day. He wrote a small paper on Charlemagne, worked on a hand drawn map, completed an Anglo-Saxon rune art project, and copied and decorated King Arthur’s Code of Chivalry. The rune project was his own idea. The guide directed him to a website to learn
about the runes and suggest he have fun making coded messages with someone. His rune page says, “Beowulf is cool!” and then he did some illustrations similar to those in the Beowulf book from the study. In the midst of this study Oldest was working on his final research paper (1000 words on the life of Julius Caesar) for his writing curriculum so I cut two of the writing assignments. An essay comparing the conflicting ideas of Christianity and Paganism and an essay on Judaism, Christianity or Islam. We simply discussed and explored these topics together. I think his favorite project so far is the map. He takes his time locating each place, marking routes, and adding a bit of color. Every week also includes internet sites to explore and Oldest has really
enjoyed exploring these topics further. He spent a couple of hours on the recommended King Arthur webpages.
Oldest loves the spine book (The European World 400-1450) for this study. He strongly disliked Streams of Civilization used in the ancient history study and has suggested several times that every copy should have a proper Viking burial at sea. The European World is an excellent and informative text with photographs and maps. Our favorite part of the book is the little samples of primary sources of literature, biographies and other text usually dated from the time period covered in the chapter. Oldest found it fascinating that the tradition of decorating Easter eggs originated with feudalism.
Oldest’s favorite book for the first six weeks is Beowulf. The book is beautifully illustrated and even the younger children would listen to the story. As a mom, I just love when their imaginative play mixes with the books we are reading. Middle Boy even built Grendel with Legos. I read several stories from King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Through this book and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights we learned about literary elements and framed narratives. The guide suggested only a portion of each of the two books for reading. Oldest added the King Arthur book to his reading list and will do an additional report with it later in the school year.
We decided to finish the Arabian Nights book as a read aloud. (I wish the book contained a pronunciation guide or the names and places…this Southern girl had no clue!) I had never read this book in the past and wasn’t looking forward to it honestly. I knew it was about an Islamic king who killed his new bride every day because he hated women. Much to my surprise we all enjoyed the book…yes, even me with my own admitted prejudice was charmed by Shahrazad’s stories. Now that I have read this book I also know where the writers’ of several episodes of Bugs Bunny received their inspiration. Ha! The book prompted some difficult conversations about how women are treated in other cultures…especially in Islamic regions. During this time I read about Ann Voskamp’s journey to Iraq (you may want to skip this if you are very sensitive…it gave me horrible nightmares.) My sparkly girl is nine and so my emotions were a little high as I
struggled with how much to share with my children. (And no, I did not share anything of Mrs. Voscamp’s report.) History and current events can be tough to talk about sometimes.
Oldest spent the last week learning about the differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We’ve studied this in the past so it was mostly a review for him. He did read the appropriate sections in The Usborne Book of World Religions by Susan Meredith. We found a few videos on YouTube to explain the basic practices of Judaism and Islam. I tried to arrange an interview at the Jewish Temple in Paducah but have not received a return call yet. As far as I know there are no Islamic practitioners that I feel comfortable exposing my children to in this area. This weekend I will take Oldest to a Catholic church and explain to him the Way of the
Cross, Rosaries, scapulars, and transubstantiation. In fact, I will be taking him to the monastery chapel where I once lived and believed my vocation was to the religious life. We currently attend a Methodist church and I am looking forward to explaining to him the differences in practice between the two denominations. He’ll have some hard questions for me I am sure…
We read two extra books that are not part of the study but are recommended for extra reading. The first book we read was Saint Augustine: Early Church Father by Rachel M. Phillips. This book covers the time period just before the fall of Rome. It is a nice bridge book between the ancient course we just finished and our current study. We pushed through the book as a read aloud but it was not easy. So much of the book is Augustine’s thoughts and that made it hard on Oldest to understand at times. The
book also delves into sexual sin (not graphically) and womanizing. If you are not ready to discuss such things then skip the book. This is a book we will likely revisit in the high-school years. The other recommended book (but also not part of the study) we read was The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier. The book I found was illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. The book is beautiful and after I got the rhythm of the older usage of the English language down we found the book delightful…it is one you have to give some time for it to become immersive. The illustrations alone are worth seeking for the book. Not all middle school
boys are going to love the book…however if they are fans of Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail then they will love it. I guess it is the usage of the book’s prose…maybe…?
Oldest loves this course. He begs for history every day. This week we are currently on a one week summer break from school (Yes, that is all the summer break my kids get!). However, Oldest insisted that we read our next book in the study while on break this week. What more can a homeschooling mother ask for from a curriculum that a middle school boy begs to do while on summer break?!?