“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
- Nelson Mandela in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom
Last night I read about the passing of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999. For a number of reasons, we took the morning to learn more about South Africa’s history.
It just so happened that the past two days we had been learning about the British Empire. We’ve been studying India… and are moving into the twentieth century and are talking about the British rule in India (and next week will be learning about Gandhi). Yesterday, we had even colored in this map showing just some of the countries that were under British colonial rule.
We took a slight tangent and spent this morning learning about apartheid in South Africa. The kids and I watched Cry, the Beloved Country. It was set in late 1940s. Although the movie really doesn’t go into much detail about the violence of apartheid, it was just enough to talk openly with the kids about what it was like and how difficult it was to live under that system.
At the end of the movie the black priest in Johannesburg said that he was forsaking the world in order to spend time praying that his one great fear would not come to pass… “That one day when the white man turns to loving, he will find that we [blacks] have turned to hating.” After the movie we talked about that one fear that priest had… How difficult it would be to move beyond past wrongs and past hates. And how difficult it can be to forgive.
We then talked quite a bit about Nelson Mandela and his extraordinary legacy. We talked about how difficult it must have been for Mandela to spend 27 years in jail… and come out to be the leader of South Africa and to be forgiving, fair, loving and peaceful.
Mandela said in 1964:
“During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
What an extraordinary man the world has lost. What a powerful lesson for the kids… to see someone like that teaching all of us the power of love, peace, equality and forgiveness.
Some powerful quotes about Nelson Mandela have come out in the past day or so…
- “His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide.” — Jimmy Carter
- “Mandela’s strength as a teacher is that he not only advised us what to do, he showed us how.” –Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
- “He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness.” –Musician Paul Simon
- “From prisoner to president, Nelson Mandela was tireless in his pursuit of Equality and justice for all people.” –Bill and Melinda Gates
- “Nelson Mandela showed us how to love rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or violence, but because he learned that love would do a better job.” –Irish musician Bono
…On another note, the kids and I also talked about their grandfather (my husband’s father) who spent much of his career in the foreign service. His last posting in the early 1990s was at the U.S. embassy in South Africa. He lost his life on his way to work in Pretoria. My husband, who was in college in the U.S. at the time, was planning to spend the Christmas holidays with his family in South Africa. Instead, he had to fly there for his father’s memorial service. His dad was later buried in Arlington Cemetery (for his service during the Vietnam War).
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Last week I mentioned that we’ve been doing some grammar review again. We went over 11 comma rules. Then each day they’ve been doing five or six sentences — adding in the comma where needed and identifying the comma rule that applies.
My kids love science, so the comma worksheet has a lot to do with science this time. (There are sentences about the plague, polio, the Venus fly trap, ocean currents and so forth.) I made another sheet last year that is quite similar and I’ll include the link to that and some other free grammar sheets I’ve made at the bottom of this post.
As always, the Comma Rules and Practice Worksheets are free to download!
By the way, if you don’t have a color printer I included p. 3 without pictures at the end of the document.
My youngest wants to do everything her older brother and sister are doing. I made a simple comma rules practice sheet for her as well, but she only went over four of the comma rules:
In this related post, you’ll find links to more of my other free grammar sheets. They cover not only comma rules, but capitalization, homophones, possessive nouns and pronouns, the use of apostrophes, quotation marks, underlining and more: Various Free Grammar Sheets
Here are examples of a couple grammar worksheet sets I’ve made.
NEXT: Printable Christmas Coloring Pages
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Last fall (a year ago), LD did a unit on geometry. He needed some basic review of some of the things he learned — so I put together a small review pack for him. I’ll share it here for anyone who might find it useful.
You can download the free Geometry Review Packet here: There are 6 pages, plus the answers.
Last week I talked about how we’re trying to make math time more challenging, engaging and meaningful. I explained how we’ve added in Math Circle time (math questions, challenges and riddles–read more in this post-Math Should Never Be Boring: More Math Riddles-and the wonderful book we’re using for that!). But I also mentioned that we’re trying out a couple of other books as well.
LD has also started using Challenge Math. I love the sentence on the front cover: “Math is often taught as all scales and no music. This book contains all the music!” Since LD only started the first chapter I’m not ready to do much a review, but so far LD really likes it a lot — and has figured out the circumference of the Earth and how long it takes light to reach earth from the sun! It’s a neat book so far (for upper elementary/middle school). I’ll try to add in another review in another month or so, once he’s worked through more of the book, but so far so good.
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A couple of weeks ago, I started writing a series about how and why we started our own Homeschool Writing Workshop. This is the fourth post in the series. Since it’s been a while, let me link to the first few posts in the series:
Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop — Post #1: How and Why We Got Started with a Workshop Model.
Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #2: Creating a Writing Workshop Area and Materials to Have on Hand
Creating a Writing Workshop Post #3: This post is about Mini-Lessons during writing time, mentor texts and includes reviews of 8 or 9 writing books that you might find helpful.
As I started on this journey, I realized there were certain materials I needed right at my fingertips. It was wonderful to have read all the books and looked through tons of resources, but I needed to be able to reference the information that resonated with me immediately. I started creating a Writing Worksheet Resource Pack. I kept adjusting and modifying the pack (and still do!) but I thought it was about time to share it with anyone else who might find it useful.
Let me explain what is in the resource pack, so you have a clearer picture of the kinds of things we have covered in our writing workshop this fall. These pages are not necessarily in this order, but you’ll find them all in the writing workshop pack I made.
The kids brainstormed some of the different types of literature and writing genres they were familiar with. We went over this long list (and actually, they thought of a few that I had to add to the pack!):
I’ve gone over the six writing traits in general (I talked about this in the very first post in this series)… and then gone into specifics as well. I’ve referred to this chart a couple times a weeks since we started:
In the third post in this series, I talked about the mini-lessons we’ve done after we read a book together. I have a page of some of the mini-lessons I hope to cover in the next couple of semesters:
I have a number pages that go over some of those lessons. For example, we’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about how the opening of a story should really capture the reader’s attention. We’ve also talked about making sure to write about a manageable topic:
And we talked about characters, the plot and setting:
And we talked about knowing where your story is going, creating tension, coming to the climax of the story and bringing the story to an end.
And more mini lessons — on using descriptive words and strong verbs, creating strong visual images and more:
We’ve also talked about non-fiction writing a number of times this semester. I also wrote some resource pages about non-fiction writing:
Much of the time, the kids decide for themselves what they want to write. DD spent several weeks writing a story about a phoenix (which wound up being 30 pages long!). LD is more likely to write about one topic each day. At times, though, he can’t think of how to get started. There are a couple pages of ideas of what he can do if he gets stuck. This is a laminated sheet that he can grab and quietly look over if nothing comes to mind and he can’t think of what to write:
I’m sure that I’ll be adding to my resource pack as I go, but there’s enough here that it might be useful to some of you!
Download the Writing Workshop Resource Pack:
If find this useful or if you create your own writing workshop, I’d love to hear from you over on my Homeschool Den Facebook Page!
Don’t miss the previous posts in this series…
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I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving holiday. Life seemed to charge forward at break-neck speed and suddenly it was Thursday — Thanksgiving. We hadn’t even bought a turkey!! Since we didn’t have any extended family coming over (and the turkey was frozen solid!!!), we decided to have shrimp and veggies and a pumpkin pie on Thursday. Then we made the full spread on Friday (turkey, sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and of course dilly bread — a recipe from my great grandmother that my family has made since before I was born). Yum!
We had so much to be thankful for this year — and I love going around the table and hearing what the kids have to say. They are growing up so quickly and sure do impress me.
On Saturday, I got up on the early side and made pumpkin muffins. Yum! (Here’s our pumpkin muffin recipe if you’re interested.)
Then I delved in to my work. I had some posts to write and I also wanted to be on top of school for these next few weeks. I made a whole bunch of math games for ED and sorted out what we’ll be doing in some of our other subjects. We’re going to do a unit on electronics (Fun!!)… and I have the fuses and wires and things like that all ready to go. Now (since that’s not my background) I just need to read a bit more of the book because I have no doubt that LD will catch on quicker than me and leave me in the dust!! That reminds me, I also need to find the snap circuits and bring them down for ED to work with. It’s been so long, I bet she’ll enjoy working with those! We’re going to finish up our unit on India (Taj Mahal and then modern India and Gandhi)… and from their we’re going to do a unit on the Civil Rights Movement in the US (since Gandhi had such a profound impact on MLK, Jr. and the movement itself.) I suspect that will be after the holidays, but we’ll see.
Did you all brave the crowds on Black Friday? I didn’t. For one thing, I was cooking much of the day, but for another I’m having balance/dizziness issues again. Loud noises are extremely hard to deal with (all connected to my ear surgery). :( I need to stay close to home and even so, there have been a number of times I’ve lost my balance and fallen over. Anyway, we did check out some of the online deals, but didn’t go wild shopping for the kids. We actually have a lot of their gifts already. Hubby and I had decided we were not going to buy gifts for one another, but that quickly fell by the wayside. Since I got tendinitis in both Achilles tendons (a side-effect of the strong antibiotic I was on) we had started talking about getting a recumbent stationary bike. Then we saw it on sale… and well, Merry Christmas to us. I’m really, really out of shape now — especially because I spent three weeks in bed — well, or at least was in bed for 17-20 hours a day. My muscles have shriveled to nothing and my muscles are very tight.
Speaking of health and all that, I read a really great book that I enjoyed a lot called The Self Health Revolution. I loved the premise of the book which was your health is in your own hands and you should use common sense. Can’t deny that, right? It talks about fake foods, toxins (in our food supply and elsewhere) and the foods and drugs animals (cows, pigs and such) are given… and then talks about the common sense things to do (eat lots of fruits and vegies, water, exercise, etc.). I wasn’t looking for a diet book or a exercise training book; I just wanted an inspiring book about keeping healthy. This book struck a chord with me and I’d highly recommend it.
And since I’m talking about books and needing to work on my strength and flexibility again… I hauled out my favorite stretching book… 7 Minutes of Magic and have been stretching before I go to bed. Initially, I borrowed the book from the library but liked it so much that I bought it. The stretching routine actually takes me more like 15 minutes and I’ve had to add in some stretches for my calves, quads and hamstrings, but I like the routine. I flip through the book as I go from stretch to stretch. It works better for me than a DVD would.
This fall I have read a LOT of books. (Remember that 17 to 20 hours a day I was spending in bed?!!).
I read and loved Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants. It wasn’t as good as Pillars of the Earth, but I really loved it. If you like historical fiction though, you just HAVE to read The Bronze Horsemen by Paullina Simons. That’s one of the best books I’ve ever read!!
I’ve also been reading the Gone series. One day, everyone over the age of 14 disappears and a huge wall appears. Kids have to learn to survive on their own while at the same time developing weird powers. The series is sort of Lord of the Flies — in how the kids struggle to gain power and deal with one another. It’s certainly action packed… and I’ve been borrowing book after book (in the series) from my library. I guess that says something!
I also read Orange is the New Black. I had heard about it from a friend. It was pretty good and now I definitely don’t need to see the movie (or is it a TV show)? I also read Dan Brown’s new novel, Inferno, this fall. His books are definitely action packed… leave you gripping to the edge of your seat type books! I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I read the Happiness Project. I really loved that! It definitely made more mindful of appreciating my life, my family… and all that. It’s obviously not for everyone (some people had some pretty negative things to say in their review on Amazon), but I really enjoyed it for what it was. Oh–and one other book that’s worth a mention is The Time Keeper — a book which follows the creator of time, Dor. Dor (Father Time) is forced to hear everyone’s cries, “I don’t have time…” This was a neat, thought-provoking book!!
I definitely keep my local library busy, don’t I?!! If I had to recommend one to get started — I’d recommend the Bronze Horsemen. (I recommended it to my friend this fall — and she’s now on the third novel in the series!!) But if you don’t want to tackle a long book, then I’d recommend The Time Keeper just since it was so unique, was a quick read and really makes you think about how we all complain about time.
I’d better go! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend! ~Liesl
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