Saturday, 17 October 2015

'Our Island Story' sorted by SOTW chapter

'Our Island Story,' by H. E. Marshall is a popular choice for British history. Well, history and mythology. Some stories are still good for the telling even if they're not entirely factual. Your milage may vary, but this is how I've assigned them. Will be updated as time passes and we stride through history. :)


Chapter 28, The Roman Empire

Our Island Story pg 1- The Stories of Albion and Brutus

Chapter 35, Caesar the Hero

Our Island Story pg 4- The Coming of the Romans

Our Island Story pg 9- The Romans Come Again

Chapter 36, The Roman Prince

Our Island Story pg 11- How Caligula Conquered Britain

Chapter 40, Rome Begins to Weaken

Our Island Story pg 15- A Warrior Queen

Our Island Story pg 20- The Last of the Romans

Our Island Story pg 24- The Story of St Alban

Our Island Story pg 29- Vortigern and King Constans


Chapter 2, The Early Days of Britain

Our Island Story pg 33- The Story of the Coming of Hengist and Horsa

Our Island Story pg 39- Hengist's Treachery

Our Island Story pg 43- How Giant's Dance was brought to Britain

Our Island Story pg 48- The Coming of Arthur

Our Island Story pg 52- The Founding of the Round Table

Chapter 3, Christianity Comes to Britain

Our Island Story pg 56- The Story of Gregory

Chapter 15- The First Kings of England

Our Island Story pg 61- How King Alfred Learned to Read

Our Island Story pg 65- King Alfred in the Swineherd's Cottage

Our Island Story pg 70- More about Alfred the Great

Our Island Story pg 74- Ethelred the Unready

Our Island Story pg 78- How Edmund Ironside (Edmund II) fought for the crown

Our Island Story pg 82- Canute and the Waves

Our Island Story pg 85- Edward the Confessor

Our Island Story pg 90- Harold

Our Island Story pg 96- The Battle of Stamford Bridge

Our Island Story pg 102- The Battle of Hastings

Our Island Story pg 109- William the Conqueror

Our Island Story pg 114- William the Conqueror- Death of the King

Chapter 16- England After the Conquest

Our Island Story pg 118- William the Red

Our Island Story pg 121- Henry I

Our Island Story pg 129- King Stephen

Our Island Story pg 133- Henry Plantagenet- The Story of Gilbert and Rohesia

Our Island Story pg 137- Henry Plantagenet- The Story of Thomas a Becket

Our Island Story pg 143- Henry Plantagenet- The Story of the Conquest of Ireland

Chapter 19- A New Kind of King

Our Island Story pg 146- The Story of Richard Coeur de Lion

Our Island Story pg 153- Richard Coeur de Lion- How Blondel Found the King

Our Island Story pg 158- John Lackland- The Story of Prince Arthur

Our Island Story pg 161- John Lackland- The Story of the Great Charter

Our Island Story pg 169- Henry III- The Story of Hubert de Burgh

Our Island Story pg 173- Henry III- The Story of Simon de Montford

Our Island Story pg 178- Henry III- The Story of the Poisoned Dagger

Our Island Story pg 181- Edward I- The Little War of Chalons

Our Island Story pg 185- Edward I- First Prince of Wales

Our Island Story pg 189- Hammer of the Scots

Our Island Story pg 193- Edward II- The Story of Robert the Bruce

Our Island Story pg 198- Edward II- The Battle of Bannockburn (1314)

Chapter 26- France and England at War

Our Island Story pg 201- Edward III- The Story of the Battle of Sluys

Our Island Story pg 204- Edward III- The Story of the Battle of Crecy

Our Island Story pg 211- Edward III- The Story of the Siege of Calais

Our Island Story pg 217- Edward III- The Story of the Battle of Poitiers

Our Island Story pg 221- Richard II- The Story of  Wat Tyler's Rebellion

Our Island Story pg 228- How Richard II lost his throne

Our Island Story pg 230- Henry IV- The Battle of Shrewsbury

Our Island Story pg 234- Henry IV- How Prince Hal was sent to Prison

Our Island Story pg 238- Henry V- The Battle of Agincourt

Our Island Story pg 242- Henry VI- The Story of the Maid of Orleans

Chapter 27- War for the English Throne

Our Island Story pg 247- Henry VI- The Red Rose and the White

Our Island Story pg 253- Edward IV- The Story of Queen Margaret and the Robbers

Our Island Story pg 256- Edward IV- The Story of the Kingmaker

Our Island Story pg 260- The Story of the King Who Was Never Crowned

Our Island Story pg 265- Richard III- The Princes in the Tower

Our Island Story pg 269- Henry VII- The Story of a Make Believe Prince

Our Island Story pg 273- Henry VII- The Story of Another Make Believe Prince

Chapter 34- Martin Luther's New Ideas

Our Island Story pg 278- Henry VIII- The Story of the Field of the Cloth of Gold

Our Island Story pg 284- Henry VIII- How the King Became the Defender of the Faith and How the Great Cardinal Died

Our Island Story pg 290- Henry VIII- The Story of the King's Six Wives

Chapter 38- England's Greatest Queen

Our Island Story pg 294- Story of a Boy King

Our Island Story pg 299- The Story of Lady Jane Grey

Our Island Story pg 303- Mary I- How the Princess Elizabeth Became a Prisoner

Our Island Story pg 307- Mary I- How a Candle was Lit in England which has Never Been Put Out

Our Island Story pg 310- Elizabeth- How The Imprisoned Princess Became a Queen

Our Island Story pg 313- Elizabeth I- The Story of a Most Unhappy Queen

Chapter 42- Empires Collide

Our Island Story pg 318- Elizabeth- The Story of How England was saved from the Spanish

Our Island Story pg 323- Elizabeth- The Story of Sir Walter Raleigh

Our Island Story pg 328- Elizabeth- The Story of the Queen's Favourite

To be continued…


Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally...
Her young daughter has Echolalia, dyscalculia and some processing issues so isn't speaking fluently yet; but she is making good progress as they work and play in Central Victoria, Australia.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Days of Significance- July 25

We're nearly finished with our time in Mexico, but even after spending two years here and constantly looking for new things to see and experience, we are always learning about more that we could do.  For the last few weeks, that has been the Dance of the Tastoanes.  We missed it last year because we weren't in Guadalajara most of the summer but this year we saw the dance in San Juan de Ocotan, Nextipac, Ixcatan, and Tonala. This post has a brief description ( of the dance and the meaning behind it with links to other sources about it.

It was interesting to visit 4 different places because the masks are never the same and there are distinctive styles in different towns. We also talked to two different mask makers, one in Ocotan and another in Tonala, who were able to tell us a lot about the masks and the dance and its importance to the people there.  The masks in Ocotan are handmade of leather and wood, the masks in Tonala are often ceramic, and commercial masks made of plastic or leather are used in Nextipac. Ixcatan in a forested and isolated place and the masks were often made of wood or were animal heads or skulls.

There is very little indigenous influence left in this part of Mexico in comparison to much of the rest of the country so this was something truly unique.


San Juan de Ocotan


Amira is a peripatetic homeschooler currently living in Mexico.  She loves food, books, geysers, ruins, rain, and rocky beaches. She blogs at

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Horrible Histories by SOTW chapter (V.2)

I love the Horrible History tv show. I like it so much I don't care whether my 8 year old learns anything from it or not and include it in our history studies anyway. I bet you like them too, or will when you get your hands on them, so I offer the list of Horrible History clips organised by Story of the World chapter we've used and enjoyed in our homeschool. 

Story of the World, for those who don't know is the popular history curriculum for children in the early years of school, written by Susan Wise Bauer:


Chapter 1, The Glory That Was Rome- none (wah!)

Chapter 2, The Early Days of Britain

*Series 1, episode 8, Smashing Saxons: Historical Hairdressers. Presents of dung

*Series 2, episode 6, Smashing Saxons: Saxon weather forecast. Ghost Prevention (a woman violently berates her husband for burning their crops). Anglo-Saxon famine beliefs

*Series 3, episode 3, Smashing Saxons: Invasion, Invasion, Invasion
*Series 3, episode 6, Cut-Throat Celts: Horrible Points of View. Historical Pet Shop: Celt customer
*Series 3, episode 12, Cut-Throats Celts: Celtic poetry banning. "Celtic Boast Battle Song" (song)
*Series 3, episode 12, Savage Stone Age: Comparison between Stonehenge and the pyramids (animated). Cliff Whiteley: Stonehenge purposes

*Series 4, episode 3, Smashing Saxons: Historical dentist. Historical Masterchef
*Series 4, episode 10, Smashing Saxons: Saxon belief in monsters. Historical Dates: Saxon peasant

*Series 5, episode 1, Smashing Saxons: Weekdays Assemble (parody of Avengers Assemble). Saxon farmer's crop-growing solution.

Chapter 3, Christianity Comes to Britain

*Series 1, episode 12, Smashing Saxons: Saxon mealtime charades. The Monk Art Show: how to write like a monk

*Series 2, episode 11, Smashing Saxons: "The Monk Song" (song)

*Series 5, episode 5, Smashing Saxons: Wonders of the Saxon UniverseKing Aethelred meets Brother Augustine.

Chapter 4, The Byzantine Empire- none (alas!)
Chapter 5, The Medieval Indian Empire- none (bother!)
Chapter 6, The Rise of Islam- none (woe!)
Chapter 7, Islam Becomes an Empire- none (boo!)
Chapter 8, The Great Dynasties of China- none (wah!)
Chapter 9, East of  China- none (misery!)
Chapter 10- The Bottom of the World- none (whinge!)
Chapter 11- The Kingdom of the Franks- none (sook!)
Chapter 12- The Islamic Invasion- none (whine!)
Chapter 13- The Great Kings of France- none (grizzle!)

Chapter 14- The Arrival of the Norsemen

*Series 1, Episode 3, Vicious Vikings (partially animated): some Viking beliefs: the origin of the first man and woman, how the sky is held up, life after death (Valhalla or Hell) and the story of Thor searching for his stolen hammer
*Series 1, episode 4, Smashing Saxons: Saxon EastEnders (Weregeld law). Anglo-Saxon Ghost Hunt

*Series 2, episode 1, Vicious Vikings: Vikings navigate with a raven as a compass. "The Viking Song" (song) 
*Seriage traditions

*Series 3, episode 7, Vicious Vikings: Historical Wife Swap: Vikings and Thralls

*Series 4, episode 8, Vicious Vikings: Wonders of the Viking universe. Historical Dates: Viking courting and marriage traditions

*Series 5, episode 2, Vicious Vikings: Vikings settle a dispute peacefully
*Series 5, episode 4, Vicious Vikings: I Can't Believe You Fed Me Seal Blubber! (parody of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!). Erik the Red advertises Greenland (parody of Iceland advertisements).
*Series 5, episode 8, Vicious Vikings: Shouty Man: New Runic Alphabet. Crucifix Con-Artist.. Viking peace (song).

Chapter 15- The First Kings of England

*Series 1, Episode 1, Vicious Vikings: Historical HairdressersWarrior: Viking vs Monk
*Series 1, episode 5, Smashing Saxons: Court of Historical Law: ordeal by cake. Twisted Fairytales: "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (Saxon punishments)
*Series 1, episode 8, Vicious Vikings: Stupid Deaths: Edmund II. Valhalla Tours (989-1016)
*Series 1, episode 13, Vicious Vikings: HHTV News: Bob Hale's Viking Report. Stupid Deaths: Sigurd the Mighty (875-892AD)

*Series 2, episode 8, Vicious Vikings: Viking war paint. The Lindisfarne attack ~793AD
*Series 2, episode 9, Vicious Vikings: HHTV Sports: Viking feud. Viking chief funeral
*Series 2, episode 10, Measly Middle Ages: News at 1066Now Miserable: Volume 3 (with "special guest" Simon Cowell, a reference to the Pig Piano sketch of Series 1)

*Series 3, episode 2, Smashing Saxons: HHTV News: The Battle of MaldonMonk Magazine (991AD)
*Series 3, episode 8, Vicious Vikings: Winter Cooking with the Hairy Vikings. Historical Desktops: Stained Glass Windows XP
*Series 3, episode 9, Vicious Vikings: Writing a history book. "We Sell Any Monk" (advertisement)

*Series 4, episode 3, Vicious Vikings: New Home Abroad. HH Movie Pitch: King Canute (990-1035)
*Series 4, episode 10, Measly Middle Ages: HHTV News: Saxon Rebellion on Ely. Normanopoly (board game) 1070AD
*Series 4, episode 12, Smashing Saxons: Saxon bank. HH Movie Pitch: Alfred the Great (847-899)

Chapter 16- England After the Conquest

*Series 1, episode 5, Measly Middle Ages: HHTV News: the Domesday Book. William the Conqueror's Funeral 1028-1087
*Series 1, episode 9, Vicious Vikings: Words We Get from the Vikings. Hornless helmets (animated)
*Series 1, episode 11, Vicious Vikings: Words We Get from the Vikings. Viking rhymes

*Series 2, episode 3, Measly Middle Ages: Historical Paramedics. Scary Stories: "The Children of Woolpit"
*Series 2, episode 7, Smashing Saxons: Words We Get from the Saxons. New Saxon sign of the Cross. Engelbert, Edwin and Ergotism
*Series 2, episode 12, Smashing Saxons: Bag-O-Swallow-Chick Stomach Stones (advertisement for a cure for headaches). Saxon Helmet Company. Words We Get from the Saxons

*Series 3, episode 1, Vicious Vikings: Words We Get from the Vikings. Historical Paramedics
*Series 3, episode 2, Nasty Knights: Attacking a castle. The siege forecast
*Series 3, episode 8, Smashing Saxons: Kidnapped (two parts). Words We Get from the Saxons 2
*Series 3, episode 8, Measly Middle Ages: the death of William II. Stupid Deaths: Henry I  1056-1100 and 1068-1135
*Series 3, episode 10, Smashing Saxons: HHTV News: Norman report. The love story of Mud and Matilda. Words We Get from the Normans

*Series 4, episode 4, Measly Middle Ages: HHTV News: The siege of Palermo. Stupid Deaths: Gyrth and Leofwine, King Harold II's brothers, dead in the Battle of Hastings. Words We Get from the Normans

*Series 5, episode 10, Measly Middle Ages: Query of the War of the Bucket. Matilda and Stephen (song). 
*Series 5, episode 11, Measly Middle Ages: Great Historical Country Walks. French word confusion. 

Chapter 17- Knights and Samurai

*Series 1, episode 7, Measly Middle Ages: "I'm a Knight" (song, two parts). That Was EntertainmentJousting on Ice
*Series 1, episode 8, Measly Middle Ages: The confusing name of Wat Tyler. The rules of chivalry. 

Chapter 18- The Age of Crusades

*Series 2, episode 4, Measly Middle Ages: Historical Hospital: European and Arabian medical points of view during the Crusades. Stupid Deaths: Humphrey De Bohun
*Series 2, episode 5, Measly Middle Ages: HHTV News: Bob Hale's Crusades Report. Crusader crones

*Series 3, episode 4, Nasty Knights: HHTV Investigates: Knight Deaths. Stupid Deaths: Knights Templar

*Series 4, episode 11, Nasty Knights: Historical Masterchef. Crusader Presents

Chapter 19- A New Kind of King

*Series 1, episode 6, Measly Middle Ages: Flagellants' beliefs. The made-up planet (animated)  1200's-1300's

*Series 3, episode 5, Measly Middle Ages: John Balliol's release request. Stupid Deaths: Griffith Ap Llewelyn  1239-1314 and ??

*Series 4, episode 1, Measly Middle Ages: HH Movie Pitch: Richard Whittington (1354-1423)
*Series 4, episode 7, Measly Middle Ages: Snowball fight at the Earl of Lancaster's execution. Stupid Deaths: Richard the Raker 1322AD
*Series 4, episode 8, Nasty Knights: Stupid Deaths: Richard the Lionheart. Crusader training course on monsters. Mellified Man
*Series 4, episode 11, Measly Middle Ages: Historical Desktops: King John

*Series 5, episode 1, Measly Middle Ages: A knight goes off fighting with his eyes closed. Richard I goes off crusading
*Series 5, episode 3, Shocking Scotland: Bonnie Prince Charlie. HH Movie Pitch: Robert the Bruce. 1720-1788 and 1274-1329
*Series 5, episode 7, Measly Middle Ages: Gross DesignsEdward IOwain Glyndŵr (song). 1239-1307
*Series 5, episode 8, Shocking Scotland: Black Agnes defends against the Earl of Salisbury's siege of Dunbar Castle. 1312-1369
*Series 5, episode 12, Measly Middle Ages Making It in the Middle Ages, Stupid Deaths: John of Bohemia. 1296-1346

Chapter 20- The Diaspora- none (sadness!)
Chapter 21- The Mongols Devastate the East- none (alas!)
Chapter 22- Exploring the Mysterious East- none (woe!)

Chapter 23- The First Russians

*Series 5, episode 3, Ruthless Rulers: Gross DesignsVlad the Impaler. Stupid Deaths: Ivan the Terrible. 1431-1476 and 1530-1585

Chapter 24- The Ottoman Empire- none (shame!)

Chapter 25- The End of the World

*Series 1, episode 10, Measly Middle Ages: Twisted Fairytales: "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (plague spreading). "Bring Out You Dead" (song)

*Series 2, episode 11, Measly Middle Ages: The Plague Report. Scottish invasion in England. My Big Fat (Medieval Scottish) Wedding (~1346)

Chapter 26- France and England at War

*Series 1, episode 5, Ruthless Rulers: Louis XI and the Pig Piano, with special guest Simon Cowell (animated) (1423-1483)
*Series 1, episode 11, Measly Middle Ages: Stupid Deaths: The gory Middle Ages. Ready Steady Feast: live from the Siege of Orléans (1428)

*Series 2, episode 7, Measly Middle Ages: knight fight refusal argument. Rattus Rattus fantasizes: Joan of Arc is confused by an angel

*Series 4, episode 9, Measly Middle Ages: Edward III's wedding. HH Movie Pitch: Agincourt: The Movie (1312-1377)

*Series 5, episode 5, Fabulous French: The Dauphin introduces Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc (song).  

Chapter 27- War for the English Throne

*Series 1, episode 13, Terrible Tudors: the history of Shakespeare's Globe (animated). The ghost of Richard III questions the historical accuracy of the Shakespeare play based on his life (1452-1485)

*Series 3, episode 3, Measly Middle Ages: Stupid Deaths: James II of Scotland. "William Wallace Song" (song)  1430-1460 and 1270-1305
*Series 3, episode 6, Measly Middle Ages: HHTV News: Bob Hale's War of the Roses Report. "Richard III Song" (song)

*Series 5, episode 9, Terrible Tudors: Lord Stanley at the Battle of Bosworth Field. "Henry VII" (song). 

Chapter 28- The Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal- none (wah!)
Chapter 29- African Kingdoms- none (woe!)
Chapter 30- India Under the Moghuls- none (alas!)

Chapter 31- Exploring New Worlds

*Series 4, episode 4- Awesome USA: Colonization. "The New World" (song)
*Series 4, episode 5, Radical Renaissance: HHTV News: Bob Hale's Renaissance Report. Leonardo da Vinci's unfinished works 1452-1519
*Series 4, episode 6, Potty Pioneers: Christopher Columbus discovers the West Indies. HH Movie Pitch: Leif Ericsson
*Series 4, episode 9, Radical Renaissance: The corrupt Pope and "The Borgia Family" (song) 1492-1503

Chapter 32- The American Kingdoms
(In civilisation order)

*Series 3, episode 1, Angry Aztecs: Dog steak and pond scum biscuits are on the menu of "Historical Masterchef" (parody of Masterchef). Howler monkeys realise why they're a favourite hunting target
*Series 3, episode 6, Angry Aztecs: "Aztec Come Dine With Me": The annual days of maize and beans have a rather anti-social side effect.
*Series 3, episode 9, Angry Aztecs: "Aztec Gardeners' World" discusses fertilizing fields with human blood. Enjoy hours of family fun with Aztec Whodunnit-o
*Series 3, episode 12, Angry Aztecs: Hi-Tec All-in-One Cactus multipurpose tool and Chuckle Resin chewing gum (advertisements)

*Series 2, episode 1, Incredible Incas: Shouty Man: New! Multi-Purpose Incan Hole. Incan Sham-pee (advertisement)
*Series 2, episode 4, Incredible Incas: Historical Shopping Channel: Inca Hour. "Stay Calmer When You Want to Harm a Llama" (advertisement).
*Series 2, episode 5, Incredible Incas: CD set: "Live like an Incan" (advertisement). An Incan child gets some offbeat birthday presents.
*Series 2, episode 9, Incredible Incas: The Chasqui messenger service turns into a game of Chinese Whispers. HHTV News: Bob Hale's Incan Report
*Series 2, episode 12, Incredible Incas: Francisco Pizarro's "Very Rough Guide" to Mexico

Chapter 33- Spain, Portugal, and the New World- none (woe!)

Chapter 34- Martin Luther's New Ideas

*Series 1, Episode 2, Terrible Tudors: This Is Your Reign: King Henry VIII. Henry VIII sings "Divorced, Beheaded, Died", a song about his six marriages 

*Series 2, episode 12, Terrible Tudors: Horrible Histories World Wrestling: Francis I of France defeats Henry VIII by tripping him up. Rattus Rattus fantasizes: Historical Desktops: Mullions XP (the English Reformation)
*Series 2, episode 11, Terrible Tudors: HHTV News: Bob Hale's Catholic Report. King Henry VIII plays tennis while Anne Boleyn is executed 

*Series 3, episode 6, Terrible Tudors: Henry VIII Tudor diet plan. Historical Paramedics

*Series 4, episode 2, Terrible Tudors: Martin Luther's strange office. Henry VIII goes on Cash in the Abbey. "Hide and Priest" (game)
*Series 4, episode 12, Terrible Tudors: Historical Masterchef. Paranoid Henry VIII

*Series 5, episode 2, Terrible Tudors: Religious Switchover (parody of the Digital Switchover). Thou Hast Been Framed! (parody of You've Been Framed!): Tudor Executions.
*Series 5, episode 7, Terrible Tudors: Who On Earth Are You? (parody of Who Do You Think You Are?). Henry VIII shows off the Tudor King Lift.

Chapter 35- The Renaissance

*Series 5, episode 4, Measly Middle Ages: Anglo-Saxon ChronicleHistorical ApprenticeJohannes Gutenberg vs. Monks.

Chapter 36- Reformation and Counter Reformation- none (wah!)
Chapter 37- The New Universe- none (bah!)

Chapter 38- England's Greatest Queen
(In mostly monarchial order)

*Series 4, episode 10, Terrible Tudors: Edward VI's whipping boy. "Mary I" (song) 

*Series 3, episode 3, Terrible Tudors: Lady Jane Grey is queen for nine days. The invention of the English mile

*Series 3, episode 11, Terrible Tudors: Phillip and Mary: Love Story. Tudor sugar-paste toothpaste

*Series 4, episode 7, Shocking Scotland: Historical Dates: Mary, Queen of Scots. "The Blue-blooded Blues" (Song)
*Series 5, episode 3, Terrible Tudors: Francis Walsingham's postal service advert bloopers. HHTV News: Mary, Queen of Scots report.

*Series 1, episode 4, Terrible Tudors: Elizabeth I's nicknames. Oh Yea! Execution Special. "We're Tudors" (song) 
*Series 3, episode 5, Terrible Tudors: Elizabeth I's Christmas (from the Horrible Christmas Special). Platform shoes (animated). Historical Fashion Fix: peasant to nobility
*Series 3, episode 9, Terrible Tudors: Complicated money currencies. Liz's peculiar laws
*Series 4, episode 3, Terrible Tudors: Historical Desktops: Queen Elizabeth I Online Dating
*Series 5, episode 8, Terrible Tudors: Edward De Vere passes wind in Elizabeth I's court. Stupid Deaths: Diane de Poitiers.

Chapter 39- England's Greatest Playwright

*Series 2, episode 1, Terrible Tudors: Elizabeth I likes only one of her portraits. Historical Mastermind: Shakespeare flaunts the words he has invented

*Series 4, episode 5, Terrible Tudors: William Shakespeare gets into a rap battle. Oh Yea! Magazine: Elizabeth I
*Series 4, episode 11, Terrible Tudors: News in Tudor criminal slang (with signer for hard of hearing). Tudor Spelling Bee. Shakespeare and the Quills (song)

Chapter 40- New Ventures to the Americas - none (woe!)
Chapter 41- Explorations in the North- none (boo!)

Chapter 42- Empires Collide

*Series 4, episode 1, Terrible Tudors: The Spanish Armada (film, two parts). Stupid Deaths: Tudor archers

*Series 5, episode 5, Terrible Tudors: Tudor Wildlife Magazine. Stupid Deaths: Hans Steininger. d.1567

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally...

Her young daughter has Echolalia, dyscalculia and some processing issues so isn't speaking fluently yet; but she is making good progress as they work and play in Central Victoria, Australia.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Days of Significance- June 21

Rose-Marie was celebrating Yule.

And honestly, this recipe is all you really need to know about that.

Gingernut Ripple Cake

300g thickened cream
2 tbsp icing sugar (I left it out but it's a holyday, so if you want sugar, eat sugar!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g ginger nut biscuits (and by biscuits, of course I mean cookies.)
A wee bit of ginger powder

Beat cream, sugar and vanilla extract within an inch of it's life. Use it to cement the biscuits together into an attractive Yule log arrangement. Cover the lot with more cream because you can't have too much cream unless you're lactose intolerant and sprinkle with the wee bit of ginger powder.

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally...
Her young daughter has Echolalia, dyscalculia and some processing issues so isn't speaking fluently yet; but she is making good progress as they work and play in Central Victoria, Australia.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Links for educating about Domestic Violence

I wouldn't presume to know what *you* should be teaching *your* kids about domestic violence.

I don't know what your kids know. 
I don't know what your kids don't know.

I don't know what is safe for you to tell your kids
I don't know what is safe for your kids to know.

I don't know what isn't safe for you to tell your kids.
I don't know what isn't safe for your kids to know.

But this must be a topic of concern to you, as it should be to all parents, or you wouldn't be reading. You probably don't know exactly what you should teach your kids either. Perhaps you have no experience, so don't know what you're meant to be preparing your kids to avoid. Perhaps you have all too much experience and court orders that prevent you from saying and doing the exact things you *know* you want to tell those pieces of your heart that walk around in someone else's body- namely your children. Tough topic.

Most forms of abuse are legal.

Sometimes you can't get away from the perpetrators.

You can't cure other people's personality disorders.

Sometimes damage control is the best you can do.

Sometimes life sucks.

But here are some links to help you work out what you need to teach. There can be no "one size fits all" here.

From Woman's Aid in the UK:

The Education Toolkit- Expect Respect

For Kids in Shelters: The Children's Welcome Kit

From the Victorian Government in Australia:

Building Respectful Relationships: Stepping out against gender based violence for secondary school students.

From the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, in association with UN Women:

Voices Against Violence
(This seems to be available in English, French and Spanish.)

From the New South Wales Government in Australia:

Child Protection Education K-6

Out of America:

The Representation Project
(If you purchase anything here, we'd like to hear a review, thank you!)
((I've emailed asking for a suitably priced kit for home use))

Another from Australia:

Respectful Relationships


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Horrible Histories and Fairy Tales

For the younger, but not too squeamish amongst us:

Series 1, Episode 1, Gorgeous Georgians

Series 1, Episode 2, Awful Egyptians

Series 1, Episode 3, Wicked Witches

Series 1, Episode 5, Smashing Saxons

Series 1, Episode 6, Frightful First World War

Series 1, Episode 7, Woeful Second World War

Series 1, Episode 9, Terrible Tudors

Series 1, Episode 10- Measly Middle Ages

Series 1, Episode 11, Groovy Greeks

Series 1, Episode 12, Measly Middle Ages

You could read the stories, lovely versions with beautiful illustrations of course, not the horrible originals, then watch these. Ideal mini-unit studies for preschoolers!
*evil chuckle*


Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally...
Her young daughter has Echolalia, dyscalculia and some processing issues so isn't speaking fluently yet; but she is making good progress as they work and play in Central Victoria, Australia.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Days of Significance- May 1

Rose-Marie was celebrating Samhain.
(Our usual contributors in the Northern Hemisphere refused to contribute to this article because the Spring weather was too nice and they wanted to be outside, lol.)

Samhain is basically the Pagan's Day of the Dead. The three candles on the left represent my important deceased people. I'd like to be able to say ancestors, but this is the first year I've had to make that blue candle. The candle on the right is stuck with animal shaped hat pins. They represent and honour (for what that is worth to the animals involved) the animals we eat and the animals lost due to environmental reasons, such as deforestation.

For Samhain dinner I also eat foods that I associate with the people represented by those candles. For my grandpa, I eat French toast. I cooked French toast for him once, when I was a kid, and he was so enthusiastic about it I can't even describe it. Dear Grandpa could have eaten French toast for breakfast every morning for all I'd know. He was the kind of grandpa who would behave as though it was gourmet fare even if you'd burnt the edges. :) For Grandma we eat apple pie and ice cream. She always had apple pie and ice cream in the freezer, waiting for us to show up. I don't even have a fridge, let alone a freezer, but when I have grandkids, I will buy one. Because I *know* proper grandmas have apple pie and ice cream in the freezer. :) I now also eat watermelon on Samhain because my boy was the watermelon eating-est kind of boy. I would like to post a picture, but I don't think his father would like it, so I'll leave you to imagine a skinny, blonde, 5 year old boy sitting in a perfectly natural pose behind half a watermelon. The posture is saying "this is my watermelon" and the facial expression is saying "this is not *your* watermelon!"

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally...
Her young daughter has Echolalia, dyscalculia and some processing issues so isn't speaking fluently yet; but she is making good progress as they work and play in Central Victoria, Australia.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Free Public Domain books- Augsburg Art

The good people at the Well Trained Mind forum have been chatting about the Augsburg art books and, well, drooling over how wonderful they are. Trouble is, they are not accessible for some people outside of the US, because Google can be a bummer like that. Links have been shared around to avoid this problem and we're reposting them here to spread the word!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Days of Significance- March 21st

Amira was celebrating Nooruz

When we moved to Kyrgyzstan the first time 10 years ago, one of the things I most looked forward to was Nooruz. We had had some Uzbek friends in Idaho who told us about the holiday and invited us to their celebration and I wanted to see what it was like in Kyrgyzstan.  We've since celebrated Nooruz many times (that's the Kyrgyz spelling- there are lots of variations depending on what part of the Iranic or Turkic world you're in) and one of my favorite things to do is to eat laghman.  They're long pulled wheat noodles that probably orignated in China.  These specific noodles aren't necessarily traditional for Nooruz, but eating noodles is.  I love to celebrate this holiday, not only because it reminds me of being in Kyrgyzstan, but because it's been celebrated for thousands of years by many different people.

This version of laghman is a simpler way to do it than the flung and folded way.  More power to you if you can pull that off.  Most people in Central Asia make laghman this way.

Mix about 4 cups all-purpose flour (this is the only recipe where I don't use whole wheat flour- it just doesn't work well), 2 eggs, 1 tsp salt, and enough water to make a stiffish dough, then knead it a bit.  You can do this in a mixer or food processor if you like.  Shape the dough into a ball, cover, and let sit for at least two hours. 

Break off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into long, pencil-thin strips. After forming each strip, oil it, then coil it on an oiled plate (start in the middle and work your way out, then when the plate is full, start a second layer till the dough is all used up). Cover the coiled dough mound with plastic and let it sit till you're ready to cook the noodles (you want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes and much more time is better- at least two hours).  As you can see, you don't have to be perfect.
Take each noodle one at a time and pull it with both hands into a very long, thinner noodle. Work carefully so you don't break the noodles. Leave each pulled strip in a separate little heap on the counter until the water boils.
Holding your hands out, about 18 inches apart with the palms facing each other, take the ends of three or four little heaps together between your thumb and your palm and run them around the back of your hand. Bring the dough on top of your other hand and then down across the back of your hand. Bring the first hand around to pick the dough up again on top of the hand and then around the back. Repeat that motion to make a sort of figure-8 with the noodles. 
When you have all three strands wrapped around your hands, pull the noodles again by moving your hands farther apart (don't break them, but do give them a good pull), then drop them off your hands into the boiling water.Stir the noodles to prevent sticking. They'll float to the top as the water comes back to a boil. Fish them out with the strainer about a minute or less after the water boils again. Dip them into the cold water, then transfer to a plate. It's easiest to keep each batch on separate plates because the noodles are so long that they're hard to get out of a communal bowl.

If you're making a lot of noodles, they'll get cold before you get them all done, so briefly dip them back in the hot water before serving to warm them up.  Or you can fry them which is what my son prefers and I have to say that's a really tasty option.

Get a large pot of water boiling and have a bowl of cold water and a big strainer scooper thing (I don't know what they're called) ready. While the water is getting hot, start stretching the noodles. Take each noodle one at a time and pull it with both hands into a very long, thinner noodle. Work carefully so you don't break the noodles. Leave each pulled strip in a separate little heap on the counter until the water boils.


Rose-Marie was celebrating Mabon.

Once it stopped begin too hot to move without putting the air con on, I got stuck into the very much needed Mabon cleaning. It's not that I'm fond of housework, or anything, but by the time Mabon comes around, I find myself glad to be able to get stuck into it. We worked on it a little each day for over a week. I didn't want to inspire rebellion in my daughter!

Here's a pic of my other trusty cleaning companion, the vacuum cleaner that used to be mine, that I handed over to my mother because she has more carpet and a house big enough to fit it in!

Hooray for the vacuum cleaner! Spiders, you must rebuild!

We also harvested. This year, living somewhere with better quality soil and more reliable water, we finally got enough popcorn to eat, not just to plant next year! It looks pretty, doesn't it, sitting in my lovely fruit bowl made of red gum burl. We haven't eaten any yet, but we can and that's nice to know! I will certainly plant more this summer. 6 plants wasn't enough. The plants are so large, but only produce about two cobs. That's not going to keep anyone in afternoon snacks for long, is it?

This being temperate Australia, it is not only a time of harvest. We get a winter growing season, so it is also time to start off seedlings. Daughter and I planted out some old seed we had left over on Mabon, expecting nothing to germinate and for us to have to take a trip to a nursery for seedlings come Samhain, but lo! We had much better luck than expected! Look at that! 

Amira is a peripatetic homeschooler currently living in Mexico.  She loves food, books, geysers, ruins, rain, and rocky beaches. She blogs at

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Experiences of 'Barton Reading and Spelling' with Dyslexic Kids

My kids were not successful at learning to read using "whole word" and "sight word" instruction in school, and we wasted years trying. Tutors and extra studying after school didn't help either, and in some cases made our situation worse! After completing evaluations and finding out both children were dyslexic, we were told our best bet was to find a system that was Orton-Gillingham based; essentially phonics. We decided the best thing to do, at least for the moment, was to use a program that could be implemented at home. Someone had recommended Barton Reading And Spelling ( I was hesitant at first because it has a reputation of being rules based and I knew that my children did terribly when forced to memorize rules. Now, while it IS rule based, I have found the program to be amazing.

First, Barton is probably the easiest for a layman to implement. It comes with tutor DVDs, a great teacher's manual, and lots of on-line support. Susan Barton herself is more than willing to discuss concerns by e-mail and phone. After extensive research, it just seemed that this program would give us the best chance of implementation at home.

I will admit to disappointment and felt almost insulted when we started the first level. It seemed SO basic and almost silly going back to the beginning with sounds, and not even sound-letter association, especially for my older child who was already in 6th grade at that point. I honestly considered sending it back. My kids were very articulate. They couldn't possibly have sound discrimination issues, could they?

Having committed good money to the purchase, we decided to try the program anyway. Once we started and I committed to following the recommendations and script, I began to see changes began pretty quickly. I had been wrong. The very, very basics presented in Level 1 were actually where things had started to go wrong for my children, only no one had known it. Not me. Not the teachers. Not even my mother, a reading specialist, who is very bright and had years of teaching experience.  Barton Level 1, as basic as it looked, was the key that finally started to unlock all the more advanced skills in reading and spelling.

I am still amazed at how well thought out, laid out and successful this program has been for us. Over the past year I have watched the transformation in understanding of sounds and words and language with my kids and it has been amazing. My daughter, in particular, made more progress in reading and spelling with this program in just a year and a half than she did in a very long 7 years of instruction in a classroom setting and with tutors.

That being said, this program is not a miracle system. It won't work for every single child. And not every child will progress at the same pace. Every child is different so the pacing really depends in part on the tutor, how often the tutor works with the child and more importantly the underlying strengths and weaknesses of each child. Even with an umbrella diagnosis of dyslexia for both kids, they have very different underlying strengths and weaknesses so their pacing and individual success through the program has been different.

My advice? If Level 1 clicks with a student within 2-3 months, stick with the program. Many kids will even get through Level 1 in a week or less. If they haven't even finished Lesson 2 of Level 1 after 2-3 months, perhaps try something else. Even for those children suited to this program, progress through the levels will vary. It is not unusual for students to take a year or more working through Level 4, which is probably the most challenging.

One thing to keep in mind is that the program keeps adding on to previous skills and by the time all 10 levels are completed, the student should be functioning at a high 9th-10th grade on reading/spelling. In other words, this program is not just for the very basics of reading remediation. It can carry a student through into High School level material. It can also be used with a child that is not dyslexic, although they will almost certainly move through the program at a MUCH faster rate than a dyslexic student. The levels are not equivalent to grade levels, though. They are building blocks. Each level is needed to build on for the next level so even an older student will usually need to start with Level 1.

When I first started it took a while to wrap my brain around this system. I know others who think this type of program just seems intuitive and I know some who get irritated at the Teacher's Manual and the tutor support DVDs, feeling they are too basic, break things down too much. I found them absolutely necessary for me to understand this system. Once I did, and actually followed what Susan Barton says to do, insisting the kids follow the system even when some stuff seemed silly, I could see the method working. I could see the kids making connections, and improvement in reading/spelling/grammar all began to manifest.

Each level has a lesson for each rule or concept being taught for that level, as well as built in review of prior concepts/rules. As I've said, the first 2 levels seem very basic and are quite short compared to the other levels but are usually absolutely essential for successful remediation. After level 2, each level contains between 10 and 14 lessons, with each lesson broken into parts (usually A-Q.) Each part provides a different way of approaching that rule/concept. The student does some work orally, some with tiles (manipulatives), some written in isolation, some written in phrases, some written in sentences. Some is reading individual words, some is reading off of lists of, some is reading phrases, some is reading sentences, and some is in reading passages, etc. Helpfully, if the student is going through a part and does not seem to be grasping the rule as presented in that part, the Teacher's Manual has additional words/sentences/tile activities that can be used for additional exposure or additional review of that component. 

Throughout the various parts of that lesson (and lessons can take just a couple of hours, or days or even a couple of weeks or more to complete, depending on the student and the lesson) the student is exposed to the new concept in many, many different ways so that it can be internalized and become automatically applied. If, by the end of the lesson, the child is NOT fluently reading/writing the words (nonsense AND real words) in that lesson, then you repeat the lesson with additional words that follow that rule/concept until reading/writing IS fluent for that rule as well as prior rules. There are tons of extra practice pages and games available on the Barton site if the ones in the packet aren't enough. There are many companies now that provide supplemental materials such as card games, board games, readers, etc. that support the levels of Barton and can be used to liven up the lesson, do additional review, help solidify concepts, etc. Some are free, some cost a little money and some cost a lot. At the end of each level you have the option to give a test to confirm they have internalized the rules for that level. If they don't do well in certain parts, it is clear which part they need review and you just go back and review that particular section, without repeating the entire level.

Grammar, punctuation and sight words are also addressed, but very gently in the early levels.
This program is supposed to replace ALL other Language Arts programs for the student (except for outside literature studies where the child either listens to audio books or the parent reads to them) until after Level 4, at which point a formal writing program that is separate from Barton can be used (she recommends the main program from the Institute for Excellence in Writing but there are many others to be found out there in internet land) and the student can be given some assigned readings through controlled sources. 
Over all, I find Barton to be a very thorough, effective way for a parent to successfully help their dyslexic child learn a better way to read and spell. I have not found, in all my years of research, a better system for a parent with no Orton Gillingham based training to implement on their own. I wish we had started with this program far sooner than we did.

Catherine is mother to two darling children, and gets around her business in the southern USA