We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Geography and Science combined unit

As this was our last week of Classical Conversations, the question is now entering my mind, "What will we do once Classical Conversations is over?"

CC is a 24 week program, so I did 6 weeks before it started and will now do 6 weeks after to make a 36-week school year. The first 6 weeks we just did some basic skills review and fun reading, so what will we do for the last 6 weeks? We will be focusing on some skills for each child, but I also want to review some of the work we've done in CC.

One area I'd like to review and expand on in particular, is geography. I've come up with a combined geography review and science/nature unit. Here is the basic plan:

I'll use this great little Usborne book (Living World Encyclopedia):



I'll also purchase a large, laminated, black-line map on which we'll mark each of the areas we study.

Each week we'll cover a different climate/environment and then review the geographical locations that host this type of environment.

Week 1 - Grasslands
Living World Encyclopedia (LWE) p. 38-39
Geography to review: all continents (grasslands occur on every continent, except Antarctica)

Week 2 - Deserts
LWE p. 50-57
Geography: Middle Eastern countries (Iraq, Iran, Cyprus, Syria, Turkey) and the "-stans" (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Usbekistan, Kazakhastan)

Week 3 - Temperate forests
LWE p. 58-65
Geography: continental European countries (and some features: Appenine Peninsula, Balkan Peninsula, Iberian Peninsula; and some capitals: London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona)

Week 4 - Northern evergreen forests, Polar regions
LWE p. 66-69, 72-77
Geography: Scandinavian countries and features (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands), Baltic Europe (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland),Siberia

Week 5 - Mountains, Rivers, Lakes
LWE p. 78-85, 90-93
Geography: all mountains we've learned (Ural Mountains, Carpathians, Caucasus, Alps, Pyrenees), all seas we've learned (North, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Baltic, White, Black, Caspian, Aral, Arabian, and the rivers (Seine, Rhine, Danube, Po, Elbe, Volga)

Week 6 - Tropical Rain Forests
LWE p. 96-109
Geography: SE Asia (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Guam), Central America (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama)

Week 7 - Islands
LWE p. 34-7
Geography: Carribean (Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico), other islands (Canary Islands), oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian)

I know this is longer than my intended 6 weeks. But that is Ok, this is fun study - they will be happy doing this even after our "official" school year is over. Right? Right!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Friday - Way of the Cross photos

Here are the promised photos from the Way of the Cross.

This is the entrance. The branches at the bottom of the cross are thorny blackberry canes. The little basket to the left holds the last station (the Resurrection) for the children to take home for Easter morning.

I did end up making two seperate booklets - one for younger kids and one for older kids.

















Here are some of my favorite stations:

1st station - the thorns



















3rd station - falling on the road





















8th station - Christ dies; extinguishing the light of Christ.




















9th station - the tomb















And some of the families:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sitting Shiva for Jesus

Today, I sat shiva for Jesus.

We opened our home to friends and strangers for a Stations of the Cross for children. At each station was lovely art, a short devotional, and an object lesson. (I'll share details and photos after Easter.)

Truthfully, I wasn't sure how it would be received. But, after my children and I went through the Stations just prior to our first guests, I realized the impression it all made. Truly, it was the Lord's doing.

The house was hushed with just the whispering of parents and children, and in the background thoughtful, gentle, choral music played. What a blessing to see families gathered so closely around the stations- many of them kneeling or sitting in conversation and thought. The kids were engrossed, as were the parents.

I didn't know that it would feel so much like a funeral vigil, but it did. Among Jews, it is a custom to "sit shiva" when a close family member dies. The mourners quietly recieve visitors, who come to just sit - not necessarily to socialize. After the first session ended and our family returned to our normal noise level, I realized how purposeful the earlier silence felt. It was then that it occurred to me that we were sitting shiva for Jesus.

And it felt right.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Have a Blessed Triduum!

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen

From the Book of Common Prayer, p. 220



Well, the pinnacle of the liturgical year, the Triduum, is almost upon us. My blog will be silent as my family focuses in on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday activities.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Way of the Cross for Children - devotions

Here are the devotions I'm using for the Good Friday "Way of the Cross for Children". I've pulled most of these from two rersources: The Story of the Cross: The Stations of the Cross for Childrenby Mary Joslin and Stations of the Cross for Children by Rita Coleman. I hesitated posting this because I did pull so much from their books, so please if you use this, only do so for your family (and consider purchasing the books).


Station 1- Jesus is condemned (Matt 27:11-16)
Jesus stands before Pilate. He is bruised and bleeding from the beatings. They have made him wear a crown of thorns. Pilate wants to please the people, so he orders that Jesus be crucified.

Oh, poor Jesus, how can they do this to you? How can you be so calm and quiet when they spread false stories about you?

Dear God, Keep me from anger and spite. Help me to love and forgive. Help me to follow Jesus.


Station 2 – Jesus takes up the cross (Matthew 27:24-31)
Now the soldiers make Jesus carry a big, heavy cross through the streets. The cross looks so big and heavy and Jesus looks so tired and weak.

Each one of us has our cross to carry; we each have our problems, big and small.

Dear God, When I feel alone, and troubles weigh me down like a heavy load, help me to know that I am walking with Jesus.


Station 3 – Jesus Falls (Isaiah 53: 1-4)
Oh, no! The cross is too heavy for Jesus—he has fallen to the ground. Look how the people taunt him! But look! He is getting back on his feet and continuing on his way.

Dear God, I try to follow Jesus, but sometimes I fail and fall. May I know in my heart that Jesus is always with me.


Station 4 – Simon of Cyrene carries the cross (Luke 23:26)
The soldiers notice that Jesus is too exhausted to go on, so they force a man called Simon to help Jesus to carry the cross.

Dear God, Thank you for those whom we do not know who help us with their greater strength when we are in need.


Station 5 – Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:26-31)
The women of Jerusalem are crying for Jesus. They love him very much. As he passes them, Jesus speaks to them, even though he is very tired and weak. He asks them not to cry for him and they seem to be comforted by his words.

Dear God, When the world is unkind and people are unfair, we weep with you; you weep for us.


Station 6 – Jesus is stripped of his clothes (John 19:23-24)
The soldiers now roughly take even the clothes from Jesus. They gamble among themselves to decide who would have his tunic. He is left with nothing.

Dear God, Help me not to worry about the things that people may take from me, but rather to seek to live in the way you want, to live in your kingdom.


Station 7 – Jesus is nailed to the cross (Luke 23:33)
Oh, the agony Jesus is in as the soldiers nail his hands and feet to the big, heavy cross. It is hard to look at the pain on Jesus. Face. But, still he asks his father in heaven to forgive the soldiers. He is compassionate and forgiving to the end.

Dear God, Teach me to love and forgive even when others hurt me. When I see violent people get their way, help me to continue to live peacefully.


Station 8 – Jesus dies (Luke 23:43-49)
After three long hours on the cross, poor Jesus dies. Darkness falls over the land, even though it is only three o’clock in the afternoon. The earth quakes and everyone is frightened. Has the end of the world come? Jesus has died.

Dear God, There is no end to Jesus’ love. He died to save me. I do not deserve all this love and yet I know that you will always love me.


Station 9 – Jesus is laid in the tomb (Matt 15:57-66)
After Jesus died, a kind man called Joseph offers a tomb to Mary for the body of Jesus. With great love and sadness, his body is wrapped in a clean cloth and laid in the tomb. His tomb is in a small garden. A big stone is rolled to block the entrance of the tomb. A soldier is ordered to stand guard over the tomb in case someone tries to steal the body of Jesus.

Dear God, When we are very sad and we have too many hours to sit and weep, be with us.


In the past couple of days a few families with older children (middle school age) have signed up, so I am going to provide them with a slightly different set of devotionals. If I have time before Thusday, I will post that set of devotionals, too.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Way of the Cross for Children - choosing the stations

Well, I spent the afternoon digging around a couple of websites and have found some great images for the "Way of the Cross for Children" stations.

Instead of 7 stations, I've decided to go with 9 (with 10 being the resurrection). After I chose the stations, I discovered that in biblican symbology the number "9" stands for man's imperfection and God's judgment, while 10 represents perfection. I just think that is neat!

Station 1: Jesus is condemned (Matthews 27:11)
Station 2: Jesus takes up the cross (Matthew 27:24-31)
Station 3: Jesus Falls (Isaiah 53:1-4)
Station 4: Simon of Cyrene carries the cross (Luke 23:26)
Station 5: Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:26-31)
Station 6: Jesus is stripped of his clothes (John 19:23-24)
Station 7: Jesus is nailed to the cross (Luke 23:33)
Station 8: Jesus dies (Luke 23:43-49)
Station 9: Jesus is laid in the tomb (Matthew 15:57-66)
and Station 10 (which will go home as a scroll for them to open Easter Sunday): Jesus is resurrected (Matthew 28:1-20)

The images I found for each station are below. Most of them came from the website "Art and The Bible" - from the "Way of the Cross" page. This website is a fantastic, rich resource. Those that can't be found on this website came from a general Google image or Wikipedia search on the title/artist.

I've decided to use fine art prints instead of some of the line drawings I'd found. Mostly because I'm an Art History buff - and any chance to use good art makes me happy, but I also thought this would appeal to the parents. Besides, we are always look for opportinuties to expose our kids to good art.

Here are the images I'm using:

Christ Before Pilate
Il Tintoretto 1565










Christ Leaving the Praetorium
Gustave Dore 1873







The Carrying of the Cross
Matin Schongauer circa 15th c.







Way to Calvary
Duccio di Buoninsegna 1308










Christ and Mary Magdalene
Peter Paul Reubens 1618











The Disrobing of Christ
El Greco 1583










Crucifixion
Bertram of Minden 1394












The Crucifixion
Andrea Mantegna 1457







The Entombment
Caravaggio 1602










The Resurrection
Matthias Grunewald 1510











Today I'm working on the devotions to go along with these stations. Check back tomorrow and I'll share with you what I've come up with!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Way of the Cross for Children

The Stations of the Cross or "Way of the Cross" has been a meaningful, devotional exercise for Christians for centuries. It involves images of various events from Jesus' final day on the path to Golgotha. One walks from image to image (stained glass, wood cuts, paper or painting), meditates on the scene and prays. Often accompanying scripture is read. Traditionally there are 14 (or 15 if you include the Resurrection) of these stations, but we do not need to follow these exactly.

I've often thought that children would respond very well to this type of devotion as it involves all the modes of learning: kinesthetic, visual, auditory. This year, I'm going to give it a try. If you'd like to learn more, keep reading and I'll share with you all my plans!

This is going to be a pretty big deal for us. We've invited people from church, friends, and some local homeschool groups to join us! Am I crazy? Maybe! My basic plan is as follows:

1) We are offering two sessions: 10:00-11:30 am and then 3:30-5:00 pm. I've asked families to call and sign up for one of the two sessions (they can come anytime during these two sessions).

2) Families will go through the stations together (this not a kids do their own thing while moms chat event).

2) Each station (I'll be using an abbreviated set of 7) will consist of a print out of an image of that station, an object lesson, and a short prayer. Families will move through the stations at their own pace.

3) I'm considering having a final activity at my kitchen table (probably pinning sins to a cardboard cross).

4) Each child will go home with a scroll of the final station, the Resurrection, to be opened and colored on Easter morning. (Shhhh! Don't tell them - that is a surprise!)

5) I'll have very quiet, sombre music playing to encourage a serious, thoughtful mood.

This is my overall plan. Now it is time to start the nitty-gritty planning! Check back tomorrow as I post more of the details. I'll post my entire plan by early next week, in case you'd like to host a similar event for your family and friends.