Monday, April 27, 2015

Week In Review: Week 12

I seem to have skipped our final week {or two} from last term, but rather then worry about it I'm trudging forward to keep track of what we're doing this term! It's so fun to look back upon it all & realise just how much we accomplished over the course of our year, or even just on days when you're pretty sure you've accomplished nothing..

This past week was the lead up to the 100th Anniversary of the Landing At Gallipoli. This is a major part of Australian history & we took the week to really appreciate the sacrifices that were made at that particular time in Australian history.

We used the Anzac Unit Study I shared earlier. It was a simple unit, all be it emotional, with the books we chose to read. I'm not sure you can really study the pasts of any country & not find it a bumpy ride, or lacking of emotion.

Needless to say by the time Anzac Day arrived they were fully prepared to attend our local ceremony with a much greater understanding for what it was all about.

We started off our studies with a brief introduction of what sparked World War I. It's been a while since reading this book with them so it was a great reminder. Jayde is now super excited to learn he'll be using the book in full next year. Later in the week we also skipped ahead to the small bit of information shared inside about Gallipoli.

We spent a good deal of time this week mapping where various battles happened. This was a difficult task considering it all happened in such a small area, but they did the best they could with the map of Turkey we had. More importantly the names of the locations became very familiar to them, which was really important.

They had 2-3 vocabulary words to look up each day. Some were familiar to them & they enjoyed looking them up to see if they were right or not. to the rescue for us, I really need to purchase a proper dictionary, but we really do appreciate that nifty website!

We read bits & pieces of this book as well. While the entire book applies to Anzac day we chose to focus only on WWI & more importantly what happened in Gallipoli due to this being the 100th anniversary of the landing. We picked this book up a while back at a local used book store, but it's really lovely if you can lay hands on it. It covers various aspects of the Australian military, all wars they've been involved in up to the time of publishing, uniforms, & medals, etc.

These were our 2 read alouds this week. Lighthouse Girl is a lovely light read. It's based on a true story about the Breaksea Island Lighthouse. There's newspaper clippings & photos scattered throughout the book which bounces back & forth between journal entries & story telling. In the very back there's extra information about the heroine, Fay, & the author explains which portions of the book are true & which aren't.

The Donkey Who Carried The Wounded was a completely different level of emotional reading. I should have pre-warned, when sharing about our Anzac books, that it's also best for the older readers as there's some language inside & sharing of gruesome details as you are taken to the horrors of what unfolded for the young men during their stay in Gallipoli. Knowing the history of Simpson, we knew he'd not make it out alive, but those were still some really difficult chapters to read!

It was summed up on someone's timeline rather well, especially considering a certain child gasped audibly when we got to that portion of the story. The book was really well written, but we've yet to not enjoy a Jackie French book. I love the way she really brings history to life, but isn't willing to gloss over even the hard & ugly parts.

This was our latest addition to our Anzac books. I like to try & purchase a new one each year, & there were two on my list I went into the shop for. Imagine the look on the boys faces when this was what I came out with instead! One book was unavailable & the other book had a WWII focus & as this year our focus was WWI I found myself staring at the unusually small amount of books available. Our local book shop is normally really amazing about keeping the shelves full, but I was a bit disgruntled by their lack of books on this topic this past month.

On the other hand, One Minute's Silence has to be the most amazing Anza picture book for older children I have yet to read. The pictures inside are all done on the same fashion as the cover with the black & white drawings, the words are incredibly simple, but the meaning behind it is just beautifully covered.

The book stars out in a classroom of fidgety looking teens who don't seem to really have much interest in whatever is being taught. So the question is posed, "In a moment's silence can you imagine.." It speaks of the things we all think of when the moment of silence arises at the Anzac Services, but it goes beyond that to hit on some much deeper topics. It has the perspective from both the Anzacs & the Turkish side, & it left my boys deep in thought when I closed it up after reading it aloud to them. In fact, when we went to pull it out the next day, as it has a couple of beautiful maps inside, it was "missing" & turned in the room they'd slept in.

We watched a couple of different movies on YouTube this week as well. One told us about the history of the poppy flower from the Canadian point of view, while another told us about it from the Scottish point of view. We also watched an amazing movie at the end of the week which brought everything to life for the kids entitled Anzac For Schools.

They each potted 2 different kinds of poppy seeds, we had a third enroute, but I don't think anyone ever planted any. Mind you, I think they planted the seeds they did use too deep as they've yet to sprout up yet. We may need to start that experiment over & try it in a plastic baggie until we have some good sized seedlings happening.

They tore up the Readers Digest at the end of the week to make covers for their little notebooks. Morgan was happy to just have a two-page spread picture where as Jayden wanted all the little bits & bobs he could get. The young boy on the cover of his notebook was the last surviving person from Anzac, & at the time of his passing actually lived a few hours from us. The photo has caused great debate, all week, about what age each person in our home thinks he was when he enlisted.

The notebooks contain their maps, vocabulary work, research work, timelines, & any other bits they collected during their study. I loved this picture above on one of the boys timelines of the 75th anniversary.

We made unofficial Anzac Biscuits. They can't be "official" ones because ours had to be gluten & dairy free. They were very tasty despite our adaptions, all though I'd like to try them again with a few more adaptations to see if we can keep the crisp in them a bit longer.

We did our memory box each day this week too. It wasn't much in the line of math to review all their multiplication facts, but I really wanted to ease back into our full-time studies & this provided that opportunity. We also had spelling as normal which only caused minor angst for one, & not the one you'd expect either!

Saturday we went down for the annual mid-morning ceremony. We wondered if a lot of people hit the dawn ceremony because this is the first year we've been able to stand close enough to see the people actually talking. Jayden was especially smitten that he could see the guard around the cenotaph. We all had a huge fright when a loud voice behind us said, "Excuse me Sweetie.." An elderly woman was at my elbow & needed help down the steep hill, but we were so engrossed in what was going on we hadn't seen her standing there!

Next week it's back to our normal fuller schedule.

Friday, April 17, 2015

An Anzac Study

After pulling all the books off our shelf for Anzac day I opted to whip up a few plans for our family. Nothing super fancy, after all we tend to keep things relatively simple around here.

I thought I'd share them here because I know I'm always on the lookout for things to use with our Australian studies, & I'm sure others are as well.

Inside is a preplanned schedule that we'll be using, but also a blank schedule page to come up with your own plans if you'd prefer. I've scheduled research questions, geographical locations to be found around Gallipoli, vocabulary words to define, a couple of simple science projects {our garden needs sprucing up after all}, & of course the making of Anzac Biscuits.

I've also included links to art projects, a few simple videos, & our Anzac Pintrest boards, just incase the imbedded links don't work. I've also tucked in a few notebooking pages based on the activities inside that I've scheduled.

I've included a couple of vocabulary papers, one with HWOT lines & one without. 2 Nature Journaling pages if you choose to plant some poppies &/or sprout some Rosemary. There's also a comic book style timeline starting with the announcement of WWI & ending with the 100th Anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove. It's nothing fancy, but it goes along with the activity of making an illustrated timeline. My boys are very into writing & drawing their own comic books so I knew they'd love this project.

In the very back of the little study are some extra resource links if you're interested. Someone has put together a lovely little pack on Teacher's pay Teachers for the younger crowd as well as some of the middle students too. Links to the books we'll be using & so on.

If you're interested in downloading it feel free to snag it here. I'll be sharing goodies on & off throughout the week ahead on Facebook & will post a few of the lovelier ones here as well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Anzac Book Selections

Anzac is fast approaching, & as it races ever nearer I find myself looking over our bookshelves to see what titles I can pull out to read in the coming week ahead. We've slowly been building our Anzac Library, as well as the rest of our Aussie History library. Many books were acquired because of Jayden's fascination with the army & his love for all things surrounding it.

Anzac is only 11 days away, & as the new term speeds towards us accompanied by Anzac I find myself pouring over the Australian History shelves in our home library, scouring it for books on the topic. We’ve been building this particular section of our Aussie History library for a while, thanks to a little boy who cannot get enough of history, especially the portions which involve the army or branches thereof.

From a little boy’s perspective he looks over the endless books & sees courage & victory, action, & adventure; and it hits me that many of the young men who lied about their own ages to enlist in the Great War probably saw the very same things in their own imaginations. We have the advantage of knowing the end, the horrors & the glory, & while many tales of Anzac are filled with grief & sadness our little boy looks upon them & asks the simplest of questions, “.. but why?”

And so we open the books & we read. We watch the same tale open before us & we know the ending this time. The good, the bad, the horrible. We read it anyway, & we try to make sense of what happened. We listen to the speeches, & we recite the poems. We answer in unison, “Lest we forget!” & above all we want to shout, “Never again.” 

This little boy sees the ribbons & medals. He reads the stories & is drawn into them, imagining the goodness, the heroism, the victors. He watches the men parade up the street while we cheer them on, & he asks if any of them really did fight on that fateful day. It’s then that I always fall apart, the moment he asks about his Uncle & if he’ll ever have to go fight like that. I stand & ponder the same question. I have no answer, but then, he didn’t really expect one.

If you’re looking for some lovely reads to share with your family for Anzac here are a few of our favourites:

The Donkey Who Carried The Wounded — Written in the normal journal entry style the rest of the Animal Star books are written in, this book takes turns with narration from both human & animal as we see the story unfold from the eyes of both. A winner for the animal lover in our home. The book has a section in the back about the facts that the book is based on from the meaning of Anzac to the true Aussie slang used throughout the book.

History Of Australia — Chapter 21 is about The Great War & does a great job telling a non-fiction view of Australia’s roll. The pictures are all pen & ink, but for some you may wish to preview the picture on page 130 {fallen soldier bleeding} prior to letting littles peek inside. Author: Manning Clark, Meredith Hooper, Susanne Ferrier

Anzac Day — Each page within shares information about one particular battle or division of the military service. It covers Anzac through the Middle East controversy of the 90’s, as well as war memorials, military uniforms, & more. Author: Jill Bruce

Meet The Anzacs — This beautiful picture book tells how the Australian & New Zealand armies were formed & works it’s way through that fateful night.. Included in the back of the book is a timeline of events starting with the assassination & ending with the ceasefire. Author: Claire Saxby

An Anzac Tale — This book starts with the declaration of war & finishes with the the retreat of the few who survived. The book is written in comic book fashion with native Australian animals in full garb who happen to be the heroes & heroines of the story. It includes many true facts in the back of the book explaining where in the main text you will find the information in the story. There is also a small timeline in the back of the book. This is  one of the most red Anzac books in our home. Author: Ruth Starke & Greg Hofeld

Gallipoli — A simple little picture book with beautiful watercolour drawing inside. The book covers, in a more gentle fashion the unfolding of what happened from the leaving of the soldiers to their return back home. A note for the more sensitive: one of the young soldiers in the book loses his leg. You see him upon a stretcher with a bandage upon his leg that has red upon it. The next time he’s seen he’s home on crutches. Author: Kerry Greenwood & Annie White

See inside The First World War — A typical Usborne Flap Book that gets a lot of love & use around our home. The pages are thick & cover small tidbits of information & factoids. All pictures are tactful & gentle for the young, but for the more sensitive I’d urge you to preview the book first as there are a few pages with fallen soldiers, some with blood some without. Author: Rob Lloyd Jones