Wednesday, March 09, 2005

We've been fighting off some kind of bug, though none of us has been out right sick, just a bit off-kilter. The girls have been playing with "paper dolls," coloring and cutting out historical figures from some of their Dover coloring books that we've picked up on our travels. They've been coloring in dresses from Colonial and Civil War eras, and even Sam's been getting in on the action.

We've also been watching several DVDs from the library. We've watched Little Women and Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, both of which have given us lots of opportunity to talk about those historical moments. The girls loved being able to watch Meg and Jo get ready for the dance in Little Women, comparing the dresses to those that were in their coloring books. They were outraged that the teacher hit Amy, and we all cheered when Marmy made her speech about keeping her home.

Sherlock Holmes was fun, though a bit on the scary side for the kids. We had seen Jackie Chan's Shanghai Knights first, which made all kinds of references to Sherlock Holmes, even portraying a character supposed to be the author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, showing "how" he became a knight. Pretty funny all of the connections, and we laughed about the tall-tale nature of Shanghai Knights.

We watched Master and Commander, which was an amazing movie, packed with historical information. The kids were fascinated by life on board a ship, and they really identified with the character Lord Blakeney, because he was so young. The Napoleonic Wars serve as the movie's backdrop, creating another Napoleonic dot for the kids, which began with the movie The Count of Monte Cristo, connecting to the apocryphal story of Napoleon shooting off the nose of the sphinx, connecting to this movie.

We tracked the journey of the ship on our world map, adding yet another journey to those of Pocohantas, Amelia Eerhart, our own and others. We talked about the birth of Natural History, represented by the doctor's fascination with the Galapogos Islands, and Lord Blakeney's desire to follow in his footsteps as a "fighting naturalist." This led to discussions of biology, evolution, Darwin, and much more. The next day, we found a bug in the house and were looking it up in our book, when Em found a picture of a bug that disguises itself as a thorn--just as Doctor Maturin showed. I love this!

After the movie, we visited the Master and Commander website, which is filled with interactive information. The site has even more information about life on a tall ship, a captain's log, a detailed map of the journey, specifics about the different ranks and responsibilities. It's just amazing what's available these days!

Of course, we've also been doing other things this week as well--lots of claywork with sculpey, lots of painting--including arms and faces! Yesterday, Sam and Julia pulled out all of our cardboard slated for recycling and began building. Julia made a really cool dollhouse while Sam worked on a castle. At one point, Emily pulled out a measuring stick the kids had been given at the local hardware store, and they all began measuring each other, how high the boxes were, etc. Two days ago, the weather was glorious, so we spent most of the day outside, soaking in the sunshine and listening to Harry Potter on CD, drawing and playing. Life is one grand learning adventure!

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