Tag Archives: Homeschool

Meanwhile…back in Florence…

I am so sorry for the big lag between Italy vacation posts. Theo and I reached the end of his third quarter of homeschool, and this is always a big scramble to finish up projects, polish papers chosen for submission, and for me…scan, scan, organize, and scan. I just couldn’t fit any time to share more of Florence, until now.

Considering that homeschool kept me away from blogging, I’ll start with the Leonardo da Vinci museum, which was a little museum of reproductions and models of many of his inventions from his notebook illustrations. This was a required stop for Theo, who was doing a history book report on a biography of da Vinci, and who was also to do a model of his pyramidal parachute as a project. We joined an Italian school group also touring this very hands-on, interactive museum. We found it at the Galleria Michelangiolo, the irony of which is not lost on me.

Theo drawing water uphill.

Theo drawing water uphill.

You crank this fellow to get him drumming, but he was originally intended to march and everything.

You crank this fellow to get him drumming, but he was originally intended to march and everything.

Something tells me the Louvre isn't likely to make a spot on the wall for this painting.

Something tells me the Louvre isn’t likely to make a spot on the wall for this painting.

It’s no major attraction, but it was a fun diversion, and suitably touchable for children, which so much in museums is not. In fact, most of indoor Italy seems to be off-limits for photos, too. That will affect this series, for sure.

Theo has a very limited touring-threshold, so in general, we would go out and explore for several hours, and then return to the hotel for a break before heading out for more sights without him. As a result, it really was kind of important to have a comfortable and safe hotel room, and wi-fi. Well, truly, we all prefer good wi-fi access.

Our hotel in Florence, Residenza Johanna, was nice. It was off the main street and a few blocks’ walk from Palazzio St. Mark. While that made it convenient to the Accademia Gallery, and a science museum, it was a bit too much of a hike to everywhere else. In future, I would prefer staying closer. Our room was at the end of a hall, and had a separate sitting room with a daybed made up for Theo. It wasn’t large, but it wasn’t small, and the bathroom, which had a shower, was generous. Unfortunately, the wi-fi connection was a little weak, so Theo spent chunks of time on a sofa in the hallway, where he could stream You-tube better. The included breakfast was a lovely continental spread with perfect cappucinos. I really need some protein in the morning, though, so I confess they didn’t last me all morning. Fortunately, you can get great breakfasty croissant sandwiches and things for a nice, Hobbity mid-morning snack on something like every third street corner. 

Kicking up our heels between excursions. Theo is through the arched doorway.

Kicking up our heels between excursions. Theo is through the arched doorway.

Next time, some of what we found on our excursions.

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

This quote from George Santayana written in 1905 is what convicted me as I soberly walked the cemetery and memorial grounds of the Concentration Camp of Vernet d’Ariège, opened initially in 1939 as a refugee detainment camp for Spanish Republican soldiers fleeing Franco’s regime. Within 7 months of opening, it was formally designated a concentration camp to lock up “the undesirable aliens,” particularly some volunteers who had fought Franco, political opponents of Hitler, Mussolini and Petain, and members of the French Resistence, according to the museum phamplet.

The outskirts of the now-peaceful ville, looking over where the internment camp used to be, to the mountains separating France from Spain. The water tower there is the only remaining structure.

The outskirts of the now-peaceful ville, looking over where the internment camp used to be, to the mountains separating France from Spain. The water tower there is the only remaining structure.

What was truly striking in the memorial cemetery is the global nature of its inhabitants. Each of these posts represents a country of someone(s) incarcerated in the camp. 215 people died at the camp, and 152 are resting at the cemetery, covering a large percentage of the represented countries.

Checking out the countries represented here.

Checking out the countries represented here.

And noting that the U.S. is represented. One US citizen is also listed as a casualty of the camp.

And noting that the U.S. is represented. One US citizen is also listed as a casualty of the camp.

This memorial cemetery is well-tended and seems to be well-remembered.

This memorial cemetery is well-tended and seems to be well-remembered.

More than 4500 people passed through this camp, including 90 Jewish children sent here from Auschwitz, ages 2-17. Some were incarcerated for having once espoused Communist views, including one man who fled Hungary because he had changed to anti-Communist views. He was an artist, and his enrollment photos were smiling. He painted and drew the most haunting depictions of men in the camp, and was described as a model prisoner who improved the corps de esprit of the whole camp.

In memory, and obviously remembered. The potted plants on the top step are fresh and alive.

In memory, and obviously remembered. The potted plants on the top step are fresh and alive.

The years people spent here together were obviously a bonding time of survival, because even some survivors chose to join their comrades here after life.

Not all who are here died in the camp.

Not all who are here died in the camp.

Not all who died, are here. Many were deported out of camp, some to even more repressive camps in Algeria, some to Mussolini’s prisons in Italy, some to forced labor, most to Nazi extermination camps. About a quarter of these latter persons were among the last convoy forming the main contingent of the Ghost Train, often dying in transit. Note the survivor of the Ghost Train above, though! This is a spot of victory, of hope!

Stoney looking into one of the actual convoy train cars with our friend and guide.

Stoney looking into one of the actual convoy train cars with our friend and guide.

These train cars were supposed to house 60 men or 8 horses. They often crammed up to 100 people in one of these things. This one is a memorial to the children who occupied it, listed on a plaque inside.

in memory

in memory

I am glad Theodore was with us. As sobering as it was, it was at a level he could absorb without being overwhelmed. And most amazingly, we met the mayor of the town at the museum, who is himself a survivor. He told us (through our friend) that he arrived at 10 months old with his parents as refugees from Spain. He endured decades of prejudice, even though he was married to a French woman and had French children. He fought hard with France to be allowed to become a French citizen because he insisted he arrived in a concentration camp and wouldn’t change his story to be politically correct, but today he is not only a citizen, but the mayor of the town that once housed the camp. We have so much to learn from this man. We must remember.

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The Barcelona Cathedral

There are really only a few buildings in the heart of Barcelona that can be truly said to command the city, but the Barcelona Cathedral is one of them.

The very impressive front facade of the medieval Barcelona Cathedral.

The very impressive front facade of the medieval Barcelona Cathedral.

The exterior alone is a marvel. It was built over a span of the 13th through 15th centuries, with most of the outer front facade being more recent.

These are a few of the apostles along the front face.

These are a few of the apostles along the front face. Also note the dress code posted for those who wish to tour the cathedral.

the amazing details up close.

the amazing details up close.

Only Theo and I went in the Cathedral. It was pretty funny, because they don’t start charging until you turn 13, and the lady at the payment window asked (told) Theo how old he was, as he began telling her he was 13…”How old are you? You are 12, aren’t you? Right? You are 12, I am sure. Just nod…” She wouldn’t hear of anything else. Inside would have been well worth tickets for us both.

inside the Cathedral here

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Dream Field Trip Part II

So the Romans, crafty militarists that they were, being at war with Carthage in Spain at the time and allied with Greece, moved in and encamped a garrison. They chose the high ground. Over time Rome incorporated Greece, this area became a Roman city, and the Greeks and Iberians below, Roman citizens or at least under Rome’s aegis. The Romans held a lofty view…

Looking back from the entrance to the Roman forum. The treetops are at the Greek city level.

Now, if we found it windy in the Greek city, up here among the Romans, it was brutal. Not even exaggerating. Take the city gate, for instance…

otherwise known as “The Wind Tunnel.”

To your left is the remains of the amphitheater; to your right, the arena. Through the the remains of the arched gate, the forum and city. Interestingly, on a stone to the right of the gate is a phallis carved in relief, we are told as a protection for the city. Obviously I am a woman, because that is not generally a symbol I regard as defensive. Anyway, to get here in this spot to take the photo, I was buffetted by the wind, but encountered no real difficulty. To return through this gate was a different story: a sandblaster of focused gales was whirling through here, and I found I had to turn my back and push backward through the gate. It was an actual feat of strength. Ridiculous! Or maybe I am just wimpy.

All roads lead to the forum, seemingly.

The whole archeological museum has wonderful signage, in four languages (one of which is cropped out here). It shows what the ruin looked like new, which is tremendously helpful when all you have are a bunch of footings.

Looking out over the forum. Big, eh?

The Roman house ruins were surrounded by, and surrounded, gardens, including this courtyard pond.

There were lots of marvels of engineering. The Roman bath houses were in the process of being excavated, including footings that raised the floor in the hot room, heating from the floor below. There were sewer systems, and fresh water systems. One I had never heard of before here was the Roman water purification system, used in the Greek and Roman sites. This photo is from the Greek city, but most of the houses boasted water collection from the tile roofs, which was then treated for use when water was scarce.

Amazingly, this apparently collected water from rain and rooftops and filtered it to make it potable water.

I am still in awe of such an old, old city…layers of oldness, even to the medieval convent that now houses the museum. Had I been a little girl, this would have delighted me as a playground. It makes me wonder if I wouldn’t have enjoyed a little archeology myself! But after all, it is MY dream field trip. I just hope my son/student benefited as well!

 

 

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Field Trip of My Dreams

Really, isn’t it the dream of all homeschoolers? To travel the world as a giant field trip? Well, we have begun to live that dream! First  on the timeline is ancient Greece and Rome. This was the focal of our trip to Costa Brava…the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya at Empúries, an archeological excavation begun in 1908 and still ongoing, of an early Greek settlement in Gaul, followed by a Roman barracks, then city. We braved 30 kph winds to see these ruins, and it was extraordinary.

One wall of the Greek city, dating from the 3rd century, and parts to the 5th.

This tree was broken the night before our arrival. It was very windy.

A view of the Greek city from the museum terrace, which began as a medieval convent.

The Greeks chose a lovely seaview!

More Greek ruins here

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Homeschooling in France

I apologize for my scarcity. I have several posts I would like to blog, but I’ve struggled with making the time. You see, I may not have a work visa like my husband, but I am still working; I am homeschooling my teenage son. Yes, this is pretty much a full-time job, and we have added to it my little French classes at the marie, and a church retreat last weekend. So my apologies, but I will probably be a little erratic.

Our homeschool nook, which hosts current school curriculum and my son’s crib blanket. Hey, some things you just don’t let go of.

I am not new to homeschooling. Most of my children have been homeschooled some or most of their school careers, although I haven’t done so for four years. I am comfortable, confident, and know from my older kids that our curriculum choices work. I also use an umbrella for administration from junior high and up, so my son is under an umbrella here. We are studying world history, and I have some pretty awesome hands-on field trips planned to places world history actually happened.

Our first will be at the end of this month, to a spot in Spain where the first Greek settlement of Gaul was founded, then built over by a Roman garrison, followed eventually by a medieval Catalan city. You can find a virtual visit here, but the day we go will also have a Roman re-enactor to bring the Roman landing alive. The fact that some great tourist beaches are also near has not gone unnoticed. I love teaching world history!

Ancient Egypt come to life, soon to be recorded in Power Point. By the way, NOT a fan of French glue. The stick glue is American, and not great either. They don’t like you flying with bottles of glue.

There are, of course, special hoops to jump through in a foreign country. I have submitted my letter of intent, as required by law. Today I got a phone call (they were able to scrounge up a sort of English speaker) asking for clarification of Theo’s birthday. I was told to expect a letter from the department of education, as his education would need to be “controlled.” I am confident this is a translation issue, and they mean something more like monitored, because most homeschoolers here I’ve talked to haven’t had too much trouble. I am definitely praying for favor in the eyes of the inspector, though!

Next year, after touring Europe through the eyes of history, we’ll enroll our son in the International School here, but until then, I am grateful for a year of discovery together!

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Spreading the News

The night of our art show, I passed on some emotional (for me) news to my students and their parents: I, my husband and our youngest son would be moving to France for a few years. I would not be back to teach next year. I had already told people at church, but had held off sharing with my school until I could do so all at once.

Eventually, this blog, being 4 Me after all, and about the new Me’s God makes me into, will transition  into an expat in France blog, influenced by my art background and homeschooling junior high for my youngest child. This wasn’t even on my Fifty Before Fifty list, and probably calls for an entire revamping of that now archaic list. I hope friends and family will be better able to stay in touch as I share our adventures and even mundane experiences in a foreign country and culture.

Now to learn a bit of French beyond bonjour, madame! Un croissant, sil vous plait.

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Show Time!

April is a month of reckoning for elementary artists. This is when their artworks are put up for all the world to see. For us, it began with the district art show, and included both school students and homeschool students. Selected pieces are hanging on the walls of the city library, along with other schools in the disctrict. This one gets the kids excited because everyone can easily see their art on display, and they get to see it with the art of lots of other kids.

The outside two artworks are my students'.

And again, the outside two are my students'.

And I just returned from the big regional art competition Concordia University hosts for young art students at their associate schools in a five-state area. Our students showed very well, with one outstanding purple ribbon, and four out of every five artworks a blue ribbon.

The Cubist Mantis wins a blue!

To be terribly honest, with today’s gas prices, this was painfully expensive to participate in. I don’t see it as a given in the future.

And this week I am mounting (and finishing) art projects for our school’s fine arts show, to be held next Thursday. What a month! Maybe a little TOO intense. But it’s worth it for the kids, right?

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Ushering in Spring

My homeschool students have done their spring-themed projects, kicking off their spring session. My older students had a rare experience with acyrlic painting, and a first experience on canvas paper. We observed sheep and lambs together, then worked through a loosely guided drawing, in a neutral paint color with our brushes, of a lamb. Although the lamb’s head and the background were painted traditionally, the wooly body was acrylic with medium added, painted with plastic spoons. We definitely created some fluffy lambs!

Third grade homeschool student.

Another third grader.

A second grade homeschooler.

Kinders painted a garden of spring flowers, in a lesson introduced by Deep Space Sparkle here, although we didn’t take time to spatter. We dripped puddles of watercolor, then turned our papers up over newspaper and let the drips paint stems. We then read the book Ish, by Peter Reynolds. Afterwards, we returned to our flowers to add details with chalk pastels. I think they were very flowerish!

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Groundhogs

Line drawings from the homeschool class on Groundhog Day. Our reference photo was Bing’s photo for that day.

Second Grades:

Third Grades:

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