Friday, April 20, 2012

Middle Ages and Whittling

For our History studies this term, we've been focusing on the Middle Ages. As per the Simply Charlotte Mason website, we are using Famous Men of the Middle Ages for our primary text. I love all the Famous Men books, as they really give such a solid grasp of the way life really was. Many of the stories do tend to blur together, but the gist of it really comes across beautifully, and in such a fascinating way. As a supplement, we are using the Kaleidoscope Kids' Knights and Castles activity book. (Kaleidoscope has several absolutely wonderful activity books, depending on what your subject of study is. This is our third. I highly recommend them.) Anyway, so in addition to our reading, we've got a diorama of the Four Alls, a Code of Chivalry (though shalt treat thy sister with kindness and fairness) and several other projects. We also have a Medieval Literature book that gives basic stories like Beowulf, The Dapple Grey Palfrey, and others, when we get tired of just reading about Famous Men. Oh, and we read a child's version of Macbeth, because the opportunity to introduce my daughter to Shakespeare arose and I couldn't not jump on it.

So anyway, there's a basic rundown. In case you were dying to know how we're studying the Middle Ages.

The best part of all though is our Literature study. It doesn't always work out that our chosen Literature book falls in line with other homeschool studies, but in organizing all the books in our school room, I happened upon The Door In The Wall by Marguerite de Angeli. If you're not familiar with it, it is set in feudal England, and the primary character is a ten year old boy named Robin who is struck with an illness that renders him unable to use his legs. It was first published in 1949, making it one of the most recently written books we've read for our studies of classic children's lit. But it's a fantastic book, the vocabulary and dialogue are to die for, and my Oldest Girl is enjoying it immensely.

Which brings me to the whole purpose of this post. (Sorry it took so long.)

In one part of the book, Robin learns to whittle. He learns patience and diligence as he works to create different wooden pieces with the tools made available to him. This whole idea of a boy, not much older than she, being able to whittle real little toys intrigued my Oldest Girl quite a lot. While I may not be ready to hand her a pocket knife sharp enough to be carving solid chunks of pine, I was at least comfortable with this:

Using one of Daddy's pocket knives to carve a bar of Ivory soap.

My Oldest Girl, who can hardly stand to sit still for even five minutes, sat for an entire hour carving this little bird.

 And after a short break, she was back at it again, this time attempting a bear. It's a good thing I bought a 3-pack of the soap.

I wish I could say I'm awesome enough to have come up with this idea on my own, but I'm not that cool. I found the project in a book called Early American Toys and Games that my parents gave us for Christmas last year. It proved to be a wonderful success. Except that now she's asking for her own (sharper) pocket knife, and wondering what kinds of woods are easiest to carve...

Anyway, I thought it was a fun enough project to share with y'all, I know several of you have kiddos the same age who might really enjoy doing this (and who would really enjoy some of the books I mentioned, too!) Here's to homeschool, where we can give our kids the chance to experience history with each of their senses and really understand what we're teaching them!


Stephanie Ivy said...

FWIW, I went through a similar phase of whittling (also brought on my reading) when I was about that age or a bit older. Despite being handed slightly sharper knives, I *did* come out with all my appendages intact.

Wendy said...

That is so cool! She did such a great job! that reminds me of I in the attic? when the kids stole the key and pressed it into a bar of soap and then carved a key from the mold.