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Our unit study on Europe in the Middle Ages is going very well. Brody is retaining so much of what we have been covering. He has really jumped headlong into the unit. He is tearing through the historical fiction books I selected for him, such as Adam of the RoadThe Door in the WallThe Castle in the Attic, and Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction. He is building castles and cathedrals out of legos and blocks, playing nobles and knights with action figures, and interjecting random medieval facts into conversations. In addition to that, we are all enjoying our schoolwork so much more. I didn’t plan on involving Adelyn in the lessons and activities because I felt like five years was too large of a gap to bridge, but she is so interested and practically insisting on being included that we are finding a way!

Recently we have been focusing on the art of the period and studying Madonnas, tapestries, illustrated manuscripts, Gothic architecture, cathedrals, and Gregorian chant. We primarily relied on the Core Knowledge Teacher’s Handbook and Art Resources for these, but we supplemented the illuminated manuscripts section with Jonathan Hunt’s Illuminations and our own illuminated letter activity using foil and sharpie markers.

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We also had a lot of fun creating cathedrals. (Brody’s will be a part of a larger project about The Four Alls from the book Knights & Castles: 50 Hands-On Activities to Explore the Middle Ages.)

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Tonight we enjoyed a monastic inspired meal to complement our recent reading. We have been making our way through Kathryn Hinds’ The Church (Life in the Middle Ages) and found this idea on her website. Silence doesn’t really exist in our house, so we did skip out on that part. But we still had fun using our hands to sign “pass the bread” as is mentioned in the book! It was a great experience, the littles had fun and were very curious about why we were eating something so different than usual. Brody did a great job explaining to them about what he’s been learning, and we even assigned monastic roles to everyone in the family.

I only snapped one quick picture before everyone started digging in, but we also had fruit flavored water kefir as our wine and baked apples with honey for dessert. The main course was a loaf of fresh bread, a big hunk of cheese, green beans (two ways, roasted and steamed), carrots (two ways, roasted and steamed), and peas. It was a lot of fun, and I think we may have to continue to eat our way through history as we learn!

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We have been immersing ourselves in the Middle Ages for a little over a week now, and I am really loving how it is growing and evolving. Not only have we been learning about the history of Europe, but we have picked up on a few other learning opportunities as well. We started out with a huge stack of books, which was a little intimidating at first, but is turning out to be a great experience.

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We began with an overview of the time period of the Middle Ages, the general state of the world as a whole at that time, and the geography of Europe both during that time and present day. Brody started off his journal with a fun illustration, what he already know about the topic, and a map.

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We are beginning our study with the history of the church in Europe by reading Kathryn Hinds’ The Church (Life in the Middle Ages). Each day we read from it together and then utilize what we have read about for a journal entry (or two, or none, depending on the content and the day).

Here is an example of a dictation exercise. I selected a passage from our reading and reread it aloud to Brody while he wrote it down (in print). Then we looked back over it and made any spelling, punctuation, or grammar corrections that were necessary. Any misspelled words got circled, and any punctuation or grammar errors were discussed. Then he re-wrote the corrected passage in cursive, and we used the misspelled words (plus a few extra words that he chose from the text) as spelling and vocabulary words.

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On these pages he wrote out a meat pie recipe that he researched (and then insisted that we make and eat!) and jotted down information about an impromptu lesson on Roman numerals that we decided to do when Brody’s interest was piqued.

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And lastly, we have a vocabulary page with words that we took note of during our reading (so that we can work on spelling and vocabulary without being tied to dictation) and a little study on personification in poetry from the lyrics of a hymn that were a part of our reading (in relation to St. Francis of Assisi).

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That is it for this week, but I look forward to what is to come and I am glad you are following along with our little journey!

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