It's been weeks since I've done a Weekly Wrap-up. I've been in one of those months in which every minute seems to be eaten up by some kind of deadline.
But I'm breathing now, catching up on all the things I've let slide. For the past few weeks we've been studying the 1920s and 30s. We had one movie blitz week, in which we watched: Sergeant York, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, The Journey of Natty Gann, and also Cheaper by the Dozen (the 1950 one). We read Cheaper by the Dozen a couple of months ago but I waited forever for the movie come back in at the library. Ultimately, I ended up buying it as well as the sequel, Belles on Their Toes, which we haven't watched yet.
Sergeant York, which is the story of a poor farm boy from Tennessee who becomes a WWI hero, was phenomenal. This is a must-see for studying World War 1. We are going to try to work out a field trip to his home in Pall Mall, TN. It's about 2 hours from here, so we'll see what else we can do in that neck of the woods. We all absolutely loved this movie!
We've seen Kit Kittredge before but it was well worth watching again as we studied the Great Depression. Laurel took a whole 10-week American Girl history class that focused on Kit, but that was a couple of years ago. This was a great refresher. The movie really hits on a lot of Depression-era topics and is definitely one that appeals to kids and adults alike.
The Journey of Natty Gann tells the story of a Chicago girl (maybe 13 or 14) who decides to ride the rails to find her father, who took a job in Washington State and promised to send for her. This also provided a fantastic picture of a different aspect of the Depression. It was definitely darker and rougher than Kit Kittredge. There was some pretty rough language, which surprised me for a PG-rated Disney flick. But the whole focus on riding the rails, hobo camps, and the hobo's life was excellent.
We finished reading the American Adventures novel The Great Depression. As always in this series, the dialogue isn't great and the writing is formulaic and often cheesy, but the history itself is fantastic. My kids really like these books, and I try to keep my own opinion as an avid reader and writer out of my voice.
We've also been reading about the Depression from Landmark History of the American People and Usborne's World History, but the very best history lessons my kids had through all of this was their own grandparents and great-uncle. My uncle was visiting last week, and one afternoon the kids and I went over to my parents' house and said, "Please tell us about your memories of the Great Depression."
We spent over an hour listening to their stories. My mother and my uncle (that's them in the photo above) were city kids, and they told how their folks lost their house and moved into the apartment above their store, and how they'd see the breadlines and recognizing people they knew. My uncle talked about the hobo jungles on the other side of the tracks and how they wouldn't go down there. My dad (in the checked shirt), who grew up on a farm 10 miles away, said that the Depression really didn't affect them much. They were poor anyway and lived off the land. They had all the fruit and meat they wanted.
My parents often talk about "old times" around the supper table, but it was great for my kids (and me) to ask specific questions based on what we've been studying and to understand that they have the privilege of really knowing—and being known by—these precious people of "the greatest generation."
In other school-related news, our weekly Monday co-op classes are now finished until September! We're always happy when the year comes to end, although we enjoy it all while we're in the midst of it. I still have 3 weeks left of the World Lit/geography class that I teach on Fridays. With Monday Fun being over, we can make more progress toward "finishing," a term I use lightly and somewhat ironically. We are now reading up on World War II, starting with The Winged Watchman. Laurel has already spent 10 weeks reading about various experiences in WW2 during our first literature circle class last fall, so we aren't going to spend a huge amount of time on this time period. Of course, we also have my Dad for first-person narratives on the war.
I'll be looking for PG-rated movies to watch for my kids, so I'd welcome any suggestions!
Ah yes, one more thing. I had one of "those" encounters this week, but it all turned out OK. A woman I've recently met and learned to really enjoy and I had a conversation about homeschooling. She said that she had been a librarian in a small town out west and that all these homeschoolers would come in to check out books, and the moms had no business homeschooling--that they couldn't read or speak correctly, etc. etc. So I was able to talk to her about stereotyping and about how there certainly are undereducated (and/or ignorant) people who are homeschooling their kids; but that this segment represents only a small--but unfortunately media-attractive— portion of homeschoolers. Homeschoolers in this area, I emphasized, are largely (but not entirely, for sure) well-educated parents who, in fact, refuse to put their kids in a mediocre public school system. After all, I told her, our state historically ranks in the bottom 3-4 states in its public school scores over all. She conceded that, in fact, she would never put her kids in public schools had they raised them here. (Her kids are grown.) We talked about the large percentage of former public school teachers in our support group who are now homeschooling their kids. Anyway, I share that because I have a tendency to either get defensive in the face of comments like this or, more likely, to let the comment slide on by. But we ended up having a great discussion. She did assure me that I was an OK homeschooler. ;-)
Linked up at Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.