Blimey. So cool. Tests have confirmed that what archaeologists found under a council car park last August are indeed the remains of King Richard III.
We were bitten by the archaeological bug more than 15 years ago – right at the outset of our homeschooling journey – when an Anglo-Saxon burial ground was discovered on the RAF Base we lived on. The dig was relatively open, protected only by a chain link fence. We could walk from our quarters over to the site to watch the progress and chat with the archaeologists from Cambridge University.
This love of archaeology has fueled our love of history and science. Every time a discovery has been made, we find ourselves rapt. One day maybe we will be blessed with the opportunity to visit more places of archaeological importance. It is such a gift to have pieces of our human history preserved underground, to have a glimpse into the lives of our forebears, to wonder at their every day lives, and to compare theirs to ours.
It is humbling to contemplate just how tenuous our own existence is when we consider than one meeting with misadventure would have prevents the branch of the family tree from which we sprang to ever have grown.
Follow the progress of the research into the burial site here.
November is winding down, bringing with it Thanksgiving… and the end to our liturgical year. The Sunday following Thanksgiving is the Feast of Christ the King. It is a gloriously triumphant farewell to our year, followed by a liturgically quiet week before entering the season of Advent. In our house, that week between Christ the King and the First Sunday of Advent is spent scrambling around looking for the Advent wreath and calendar, and for violet decorations.
It wasn’t so very long ago that we were also scrambling for Advent candles. And we always seemed to leave it until the very last minute and often had to improvise by purchasing coloured and scented votives at a grocery store. This often involved running to multiple grocery stores on the Friday before the First Sunday, after spending the previous two days cooking for Thanksgiving. That generally doesn’t make for a very happy or calm Mama.
I decided to cure my problem by making my own candles. And I had lots of help from Caroline, Sophie, James, and Jack. Measuring, measuring again, melting, colouring, wicking, pouring, and unmolding…
It is a lovely way to spend the afternoon – creating, chatting, drinking tea or cocoa. And learning about the process of making candles from bee to candlestick.
I have relatively recently discovered that Advent candles aren’t actually all that easy to come by, except online. And finding high-quality beeswax (vs. parafin) candles that are solid colour (not dip-dyed) is even more difficult. It seems that being caught out by the arrival of Advent is something of a pandemic, even among organized Catholic mothers. This year, we made sets available to other families and sold out so quickly that I didn’t even have time to post photos and descriptions in our store. We are pouring last minute sets this week – every one of them sold out in 9 hours. Next year, we’ll make lots more and earlier.
Learning how to tell time and to count money is an important milestone in a child’s education. It is as important as learning to dress oneself, to tie one’s shoes. It gives him a particular kind of independence and confidence. And there are other benefits as well. He will learn, gently and naturally, how to skip count (by fives, tens, and more); and about fractions.
Teaching time is a simple as can be. You’ll need a clock. You clock can be battery operated (without the batteries) or electric (unplugged). You can use a broken clock so long as the hands are still moveable, and will stay put when you set the time. Ours was purchased from a discount department store for under ten dollars. My only criterion was that the clock be analog and not digital. This clock is large enough to be read easily, yet small enough to be handled comfortably by small hands.
Explain the parts of the clock, show your child how the hands can be moved with the knob or dial, and – if you’d like – introduce him to “AM” and “PM”. If your child is, or will be, taking Latin, explaining the origins of those two labels will be a nice introduction and connection.
Next, demonstrate different times by demonstrating to your child how YOU make the different times with the clock, as shown on a series of pre-printed cards (which can be easily created with slips of paper or card and bright markers). I chose to demonstrate the quarter hours from twelve o’clock.
Let her have a go at moving the hands to get her accustomed to moving the dial – backward and forward:
Now let her try setting the time from a card:
Show the different ways in which a particular time might be expressed, including how the same time would look on a digital clock.
If you are a military family, it might be fun to add expressions for the twenty-four hour clock. You might even be able to find an analog clock that has twenty-four hours on it (usually printed in tandem to the usual twelve hours).
Now try another…
Make as many cards, and try as many different times as you are happy doing at one time.
Teaching a child to count money is just as simple. The only tools you need is a jar of change and possibly some small bills. We collect loose change from our wallets, and have a quart sized jar filled almost to the rim.
We tipped our jar of loot out into a lined tray. It keeps all of the coins from rolling away, and muffled the rather loud jingle.
I created labels for each denomination with its common name and its value. I also made labels to tell how many of each denomination equal one dollar. I then placed one of each type of coin below its label. This helps with the sorting activity.
Sorting coins by denomination helps familiarize your child with each type of coin by sight and touch.
Practice creating stacks of ten of each type of coin:
One dollar equivalents for each denomination.
Now, have him make equivalent change from each denomination. Place a one dollar bill on the left, with its label. On the right, place the label that tells what the equivalent in coins is. Here, Louis is counting nickels.
Dimes. With help from Sophie.
Dimes, neatly stacked. Always emphasize tidiness. Subconsciously, this instills a sense of care and good stewardship.
Now some pennies. Stacked neatly in groups of ten. This is sometimes a tedious activity for a child. Help from you, or from another sibling can make it more engaging.
James is helping here to pick out pennies from the pile. He feels like he is doing something meaningful to help, and he is also learning to distinguish pennies from other coins.
Ask questions like: “How many stacks of ten pennies do we need to make 100?”, “How many stacks have you completed?”, “How many more stack do you need to make?” These encourage skip counting, addition, and multiplication. Later, this will help the child relate to simple fractions and decimals.
Sophie counting the stacks of pennies, while James counts single pennies out for her to stack:
Keep the activity light and fun. If your child becomes bored or frustrated, gently suggest finishing another day and pick up your tools. This is an essential skill to learn. It’s a good idea if they have have memories associated with it. but that is true of all of childhood, isn’t it?
Encouraging care and tidiness when putting tools away is pretty important. This activity is one of those that can easily devovle into chaos, noise, and mess. “Gently, softly”, and soft praise for their care.
James putting away the coins. Using a jelly funnel makes it easier and less messy:
Josie tucks the neatly folded bills into the top of the jar. Learning to help and be neat starts early here. 🙂
The last Free Fun Friday of the summer season… Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was our second visit, and the weather was fantastic – sunny and warm. Well worth the rush around in the morning and the long, long drive.
The Wampanoag Homesite is the kids’ favourite part of the museum. The native use of nature appeals enormously to kids (and Mama, too). The kids tried out one of the mashoons (dugout canoe):
And we admired the detail of the head of one of the paddles (so lovingly carved):
And one of the native interpreters explained how mashoons, nets, harpoons, and fishing spears were made and used:
The kids are itching to try building their own models of Wampanoag summer and winter houses. Their larger winter house was called the “Nash Wetu” which means “Three Fires”. One of the more clever fire pit ideas I’ve come across, each fire pit represents one of the generations sheltered by the roof. It could comfortably fit our family with room to spare. Quite snug.
We ventured along the woodland path and up the 27 steps to the English Settlement. It is easy to imagine Native and English inhabitants fishing here:
The museum was crowded, and there was plenty to see, but I was most captivated by the details. The moss growing on a thatched roof:
A gossamer web hung from the eaves:
But then, of course, there is the view from the top of the hill:
The interpreters in both areas of the museum are fantastic, friendly, and remain in-character. That presents a wonderful challenge to visitors. I think that the folks appreciate carrying on a conversation with intrepid visitors. 🙂
Since our first visit, we have discovered that we are descended from two Mayflower passengers – John Howland and Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland. We were thrilled to “meet” John at one of the homes in the street. He was round back tending his cow, who was expecting to deliver a calf any day. We thanked him for hanging on tightly when he fell overboard. He told us to thank God for His provision. 😉 You know we do. If he had drowned, we wouldn’t be here right now. Our existence quite literally hung by a thread (or a rope).
Next time we visit Plymouth, we plan to visit the other Plimoth display, Mayflower II, as well as Pilgrim Hall for some more genealogy research, and the Jabez Howland House to see where Elizabeth lived after John’s passing.