Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday with Words - Boethius

Wednesday With Words

Recently I read an article about how Boethius influenced thinking in the middle ages and many great rulers copied his work “The Consolation of Philosophy” in times of trouble.  So, I decided to give it a read (although I am reading a more recent translation than the google books version).  WOW!  I really like it.  Basically it is a conversation about the whims of fortune as Lady Philosophy helps Boethius deal with his turn of luck.  (He uses the term wheel of fortune frequently).  In translation, it is not a difficult work nor is it long.  

As she asks him about his situation she puts it to him this way:
“As Homer tells us ‘ Speak out, don’t hold it, buried in your heart.”  If you want the physicians cure you must bear your wound. “
In Latin vulnus is wound.  From which we get vulnerability.  So, if we want the cure we must be vulnerable – which is basically what happens in the rest of the conversation.  He bears his wounded pride and she applies ‘medicine’.

I don’t need a library with comfortable chairs, ivory gewgaws, and big glass windows, but rather the workroom of your mind, for it isn’t the books that are important but the ideas in them, the opinions and principles of times gone by, which is what gives the books their value. 
And here is what philosophy says about the root of his illness:

“Tell me this.  Do you remember the purpose of things and the goal of Nature’s order?”
“I used to know that, but in my grief, I can’t remember.”
“Well, what is the source of all things?”
“God.” I said, albeit tentatively.
“But how can you remember the beginning of things and not remember their end?  You are distracted, it would appear, but not totally undone.  Tell me this.  Do you remember that you are a man?”
“Yes, of course.”
“And what is a man?” she asked.
“Are you asking me if I believe that man is a mortal, rational animal?  Both of those things are certainly true.”
“But are you not something more?”
“I don’t think so, no.”
After a brief pause, she said.  “I see.  And I understand the cause of your sickness.  You have forgotten what you are.  I see why and how you are ill, and I also see the way to cure you.  It is what you cannot remember that causes you to feel lost and to grieve about your exile and the loss of your property.  If you cannot remember the goal of all things, then you suppose that wicked men have power and luck.  And because you have forgotten how the world is ordered, you imagine that there is nothing but the vicissitudes of Fortune.  This is enough not only to cause serious illness but even death. 
 There is more, but not for today! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weekly Resource - Math Mammoth

Well our Internet had trouble over the weekend so I got crafty.  I made a curtain (without a clear idea of how to actually put it up) and some cutesy things as thank you gifts to our tutors at CC.  It was fun and it is always nice to have something DONE.  It also made me realize just how addicted I am to the Internet.   It was driving me crazy that I couldn't just look up a recipe, or a craft idea or whatever.  I also went to bed at 8 pm last night - that rarely happens if the Internet is working.

All that to say, the weekly resource is belated.

We have been using Math Mammoth for a year and a half now.  In terms of straight forward math it is as good as it gets on paper.  She starts new lessons with pictoral representations of the math concept (unit squares and ten bars) and instructs the children to cross out/ add, etc.  I appreciate that she isn't trying to use cutesy pictures for every problem but is using symbols similar to Montessori.  From there the kids are encouraged to draw their own representations if needed and then they work on doing the problem in their head - without a picture.  This is the progression of good math lessons.

Instructions are included in the student worktext so there isn't a separate teacher's manual. The student (with parent help if needed) is expected to read the information and work on solving the problems.  My son "gets" math so he typically just skips using the representations and just does the problem.  I expect my second son will probably use them more frequently,

She does include a few word problems and has started throwing in more "distractions" to ensure that the children are picking out the relevant information.  My son loves the puzzles.  The review information at the end of the chapter is helpful and the quiz/test follows a similar format.  She also covers clock time, calendar, counting money, measuring and similar concepts that are math but not straight addition and subtraction.   I am glad to have a "test" that I can give in math - although I really don't do tests in our other subjects.

This is not a program with manipulatives or one that requires lots of parent assistance.  It doesn't necessarily encourage a creative use of math. At the beginning of each chapter she does include some games and websites that might provide some more "fun" math experiences.  Honestly, I like that it is a straight forward core and then I can add what I want to it.   She does follow the more typical pattern of teaching addition and subtraction then moving into multiplication and division (as opposed to Montessori).   We haven't gotten to the parts that teach multiplication and beyond yet.

We plan to use the Light Blue Series until the end.  I also like it because I can print a new set of workbooks for each of my boys without paying more.  Right now (until Dec. 2., 2013) you can get a 28% discount on the program.   This program is also featured on homeschool buyers coop fairly frequently and can be as much as 50% off.  There are other parts of her program that help cover specific topic areas or needs, but we haven't used those.  If  my kids were in school and struggling with a particular concept or I wanted to have an easy way to review information over the summer I would probably use these resources in that situation.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday with Words - Hole in Holiness Part 1

Currently our community group meets as a large group twice a month and then as men and women during the other two weeks.  We have about 18 kids under age 10 in our group so there is no meaningful conversation happening when we gather as families - although we all enjoy singing and praying and fellowshipping.  It is a good balance and in our women's group we are reading Kevin DeYoung's The Hole in Our Holiness.

Here are a few thoughts from his work:

The world stands for everything that opposes the will of God.  In its simplest form, this means "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions." (1 John 2:16 mg).  Or put another way, worldliness is whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange. 

This might be why I have difficulty hanging in with some of the TV shows my husband chooses to watch.  They make extramarital affairs, children out of wedlock, etc. seem normal.

It sounds really spiritual to say God is interested in relationship, not in rules.  But it's not biblical.  From top to bottom the Bible is full of commands.  They aren't meant to stifle relationship with God, but to protect it, seal it and define it.  
I have heard this phrase before and am glad to have some thoughts about the role of rules in our lives now.  Later he even gives more specifics about the role of the law.

Christians often speak of three uses of the law.  The first is to lead us to Christ by convicting us of sin.  The second is to restrain wickedness in thew world.  The third use is to help us learn the nature of the Lord's will, acting as a kind of blueprint for holiness. 

From there he discusses how the third use is a point of debate for many Christians.  And here he taps into an important truth

If the possibility of holiness is so plain in the Bible, why do we find it so hard to believe?  Probably the biggest reason is because we equate obedience with perfection.  

God does not expect our good works to be flawless in order for them to be good. 
 Well, that pretty much sums up my parenting issues.  Instead of seeing the good, I want perfection. Ain't happening and it frustrates all of us.  Lord, give me your eyes to see the good and help me to remember that your sacrifice is sufficient to cover mine and my children's sins.

That's the first half of the book.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekly Resource - Montessori Math Beads

If you have thought about using montessori materials - especially the beads - I'd like to offer a few tips from experience.

First, you must check out the montessori materials site - they have mostly free items that you can print off and use at home.  Things like the stamp game, the place value cards, etc.  You can print them off onto cardstock (colored if necessary), laminate and use.  They are great for home or coop.

If you want a better idea of how to use the materials I always use this notebook as my starting point for primary students (up through basic one digit multiplication and division).  Basically in the left hand column is a list of all the primary materials in general order of presentation.  Then you can click on them and go to the specifics of how Montessori recommends you present the lesson.  Once you know the name of a specific lesson or material you can easily go to you tube and look for a presentation there as well.

Most people love Montessori because of the beads.  They really help kids grasp and play with numbers in a way that even cuisinaire rods can't really provide.  However, we are also not made out of money and can't buy ALL of the montessori math materials.  I have one crafty friend who tried to price out making the bead materials versus buying them and in the end she found that buying would probably be cheaper.  The question remains - what do I buy?

I would recommend purchasing either the checker board bead box (20 of each set of beads 1- 9) or the bead decanomial (which has 55 of each of the numbers 1 - 9).  If your set does not include ten bars you might need them to show exchanges.  You could also get the subtraction snake game box and a one extra color bead set and cover the bases for all of the activities listed below (snake game).  For at home use (unless you have a LOT of kids using them at once) I would say that the checker board bead box would do.

From here you can create:
  -   addition sentences or subtraction sentences with them.

  -  The addition and subtraction snake game.  You will need to get the white and black bars for addition and the gray bead bars for subtraction.
  - Use them for skip counting or multiples.  I haven't followed the montessori "way" of doing this.  With my kids I get a roll of calculator or receipt paper (thin and long) and have them roll it out next to their bead chain and then mark the multiples - 1x8 = 8, 2x8 = 16, etc.  They also use it to create short and long chains but use pre-printed pointers instead of having the student write it out. Here is the more standard way of introducing it in Montessori.

  -  showing the squares. Ask them to get 4 4's and arrange them in a square.  Count them up - that is the square of 4.   There are cubes available for purchase.  They are a little harder to make with the beads but you can show the idea with the smaller numbers.

  -  Teach multiplication of large numbers wit the checker board (which I would make out of felt if you want to use it - just remember color is important in montessori) can teach multiplication with the beads.  Here is a written step by step introduction and the online video.  Another more detailed explanation is here.

  - It can also be used with the decimal checker board.

Get creative and use them with the math curriculum you have on hand.  I do suggest you shop around because prices can vary WIDELY and quality isn't necessarily that different.  Some of these sets do include ten bars and some only include 1- 9.  You need to have some ten bars on hand if you plan to do any type of exchanging.  In the end, you can put together a whole set of montessori math materials for around $60.00 - if you want to use all the variety of beads they use.

In a montessori classroom all of these beads have to be available in individual sets so that a variety of students can work at one time.  However, in your home, you can easily set up the exercise that the student is working on and then change as needed.  In your home you don't have to worry about having every lesson available at the same time to meet the different needs of multiple students - you just need to pull out what your child is currently working with. Thus, one box of bead bars and a set of number tiles (these can easily be made) covers a lot of territory in your home.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tip Time - CC Cycle 2 Week 11

I realize I skipped last week.  I went to a women's retreat instead.  If I had planned ahead I would have had something - but that didn't happen.  So I will combine some thoughts.

Squares and Cubes - I highly recommend getting out unifix cubes or cuisinaire rods or montessori beads to help show this concept.  Basically if you want to show the square of seven you make seven rows of seven and look - it's a square!  This is very basic but honestly until seeing it in Montessori it had never clicked with me.  You could even do this on graph paper or with beans. Obviously it is a little more complicated to see the cube but you could probably do it with graph paper and make the little cube with the number on each side.  The visual image is worth a thousand words!

In two weeks our presentation topic is constellations to go with our science theme.  So, here is one fun resource I found about constellations The Storyland of Stars.  If you want something more in-depth you might check out Memoria Press's science curricula about this subject.  The study of astronomy is actually part of the quadrivium in the classical tradition.


If you are looking for some biographies to round out your studies you might look into what Jacob Abbott has written.  He has biographies for Alfred the Great, Peter the Great and William the Conqueror to name a few.  There are also some on librivox so if you are looking for something to listen to over Christmas (especially if you plan to take a long car trip) you might want to download them.

So there are a few thoughts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday with Words: An Evening Hymn

This poem was included in my son's Year 2 curriculum.  As I consider how to increase meaningful repetition in our lives I think this one might find it's way into our evening routine for a while.  I have enjoyed reviewing what the Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal) has to say about daily prayers and readings and what I have found about the liturgy of the hours online.  I am thinking about how to use them in our own lives to help mark our hours.   I am not sure that we can handle covering the whole book of Psalms on a monthly basis though.  From our house - if the wind is right - you can hear the bells of the local Catholic church (8, noon and five) and I LOVE it.  I am seeing the impact of simple repetition for my kids and I need to be more consistent so that we can all reap the benefits.

An Evening Hymn
by Thomas Ken

All praise to thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light; 
Keep me, O keep me, King of Kings,
Beneath thy own almighty wings. 

Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done;
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

O may my soul on Thee repose,
And may sweet sleep my eyelids close;
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekly Resource - Tips about Toy Rotation

I have realized that in our small space we have too much stuff.  My mom has hinted at toy rotation for a long time but I am finally getting the bug to actually get organized enough to do it.  When you have a lot of junk it can take a while to filter through it all.  I am doing this now in anticipation of Christmas and New Years.  I want to make sure we are getting gifts that the kids will use and not just add to our stuff.

Right now I am trying to set up some type of toy rotation plan.  Being around Montessori I know that everything should have its place - but honestly, that is one reason I could not be a teacher long term - I can't keep things in their place.  I am working on it though.  Here are some blogs that gave me some inspiration about cleaning up and paring down.

Simply Convivial - Here is the 31 day series on cleaning and organizing that got me on this new kick.  Her goal is to make things practical - not cutesy.  I truly appreciate that.

The why behind toy rotation.   Did you know that some people recommend no more than 10 toys per child at a time?  I don't know how we got to the point we are at but we are WAY beyond that.  No wonder my poor kids are overwhelmed.  Here are some specifics about how to do it and even more details.  Another mom writes about her plan and suggests maybe a five day rotation.  I'll have to think about that one.

Honestly, the overwhelming number of books in our household is probably one reason why my kids don't pick up ANY books and just flip through them.  They don't know where they are or what is appropriate for them to read.  They like library books in part because there are fewer of them to choose from and they know they are worth looking at.  I have NO idea how we will rotate or bring the book chaos under control (remember I did inherit a small school library) but it is a worthy challenge.

This weekend was the women's retreat at my church AND I got to meet with some long time spiritual mentors.  After all of that input I also realized that I need to spend more one on one time with my kids.  As I rearrange my schedule for the spring I hope to create about 10 to 15 minutes most days where I focus on one child and really listen and play with them.  This will require some organization - which is one reason to organize the toys.  This might be a lofty goal but I am going to try.  I am also thinking about how to incorporate more craft time - but that is a whole different ball game.

Here are my thoughts for what I might do right now:

1.  Divide toys into "play with mom" and "play by self".  Honestly, all the play with mom resources are like brand new because I just don't do that often and they aren't organized to grab and go.

2.  Organize the "play with mom" by child so that I can easily grab something when it is time and start playing.  Our focus time won't always be led by me but when I do want to play with something it will be available.  This might also help ensure that I am reading age appropriate books to my littlest - somehow I suspect Peter Pan is going right over his 20 month old head.

3.  Organize the "play by self (or with brothers)" into categories - puzzles, card games, board games, building toys, train/blocks, balls, dress up/make believe and maybe even books if I am feeling really put together.

4.  From there I would like to organize my toys into "rotation bins".  Each bin would have something from each of the categories that is age appropriate for the kids. The best idea that I found was to pull out everything in a category - say puzzles.  From there you would pick and choose from what you have and separate them into a rotation bin.  This allows you to consider how different toys might work together and really do the thinking once and put it all in one spot. Then you just pull them out when it's time to change.  This might also help me better organize some of my homeschooling materials into categories.   I hope it will also make it clear which things just need to find a new home!  There is a consignment sale coming up around here.

5.  For storage I might use under bed boxes and store them in my garage (or under my bed if I can get it clean enough).  I am falling in love with underbed boxes. Right now each of my two older boys use them as their "dresser".  Stacks aren't too high, they can see almost everything at once and it is contained.  I can stick a lid on it if I need to do so.  They are NOT under the beds (they would never get used if they were) - one is in the bottom of a closet and the other is under a loft bed.   My older son keeps most of his legos in one that is kept under the crib.  Again, he can see lots of his legos at once and it is easy to put it away and cover it if the youngest wanders in there (he is really only sleeps in there at night).

    If we have less to clean up and a better idea of where it all goes I think we might avoid some struggles around here.  So, I will let you know how the grand scheme goes.

Knowledge is not Power

A few years ago when KIPP (the Knowledge is Power Program) started schools in our area I was excited.  I actually know the leadership at a few of the local schools and did a special project with them years ago.  However, I was convicted by the title of their program - knowledge is not power. In fact, that realization is what started me on my journey into other approaches to education.  Since that time, God has gently led me to understand what true education is about.

Actually, touting that knowledge is power might be the core of what is wrong with our approach to education.  If How Children Succeed is accurate - it seems that KIPP is finding that out as well (I saw their rubrics for character at the training that I did this past week).   I actually had to stop reading How Children Succeed because I wanted the throw the book across the room at the arrogance of modern educators.  It seems they are now "discovering", after many experiments, that things like self control and empathy are really important too.  This isn't new information.  In my Mars' Hill group*, once upon a time, had a running joke about Emotional Intelligence - which was a forerunner to these "insightful" studies.  But, it isn't new.  The problem is that they have to base their focus on emotions and values on newfangled sociological and psychological studies instead of something like, say, the word of God.   Why would we create standards of behavior based on revealed truth that has stood the test of time when we can create studies involving radishes and cookies to teach us about the importance of self control and tone of voice?

This is why I love the classical tradition - here education is about wisdom and virtue.  But, when you deny the foundation of wisdom and virtue all you are left with is power.  This is not a new point but it is one that needs to be revisited frequently.  When there is no "higher power" dictating your morality then it seems like the school principal or maybe the superintendent is deciding which values are most important.  Why should a 13 year old care about that?  When your child is taught that a loving God who created them and desires what is best for them provides some thoughts about how we best live and move and have our being -somehow that carries much more weight.

I used to be a big proponent of character education in the schools.  But, without a higher moral authority it lacks any depth and in the end becomes relativistic.  It is probably still worth doing but we shouldn't be surprised when it fails.

So although I admire the mission and support my friends who work there, in the end we all know that teaching kids that knowledge is power on its own is insufficient.  Haven't we all learned that "with great power comes great responsibility".  In effect, power needs character.  I know that KIPP addresses this practically in a myriad of ways but ultimately, without anything higher than the superintendent, it is hard to see how character can move beyond the concept of someone else "imposing" their values.

Basically, I am trying to help myself undo years of flawed thinking that included lots of majoring on the minors.  I have read a lot of the research, but in the end the Bible speaks the truth and others are just trying to find a way to justify it through other means or negate it at their own peril.   I am glad that things like self control and empathy are making a comeback in the classroom - too bad we had to remove the source, play around with values clarification and other such nonsense to return to what centuries of educators have known.  I am doubtful that they will return to the classical techniques of teaching character, but we shall see.  Maybe studies will reveal that stories help develop this type of intelligence.

*   I was a part of a VERY nerdy group for a few years that consisted of listening to the Mars' Hill Audio tapes and then debating/ discussing them.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

And then there is repentance

I have heard both Andrew Kern and Bill St. Cyr (at a talk I attended) discuss the role of repentance in education - really as the bedrock of education.  Allowing yourself to be educated means living on the edge of what you know and it is hard and scary because it makes us feel out of control.  It requires repentance because to learn you have to admit one of two things:

I don't know. 
I was wrong. 

In an unsafe world that wants answers admitting these things is hard to do.  Aren't you supposed to know?  Especially as a homeschool mom you feel like you need to have your ducks in a row. Of course we don't want to be wrong.  This is why it is so important to create a safe space where mistakes are admitted and where we run to Jesus when we mess up.  How else can we learn if we can't say those phrases above?  This is also why it's hard to be a child; you constantly don't know and most of the time you are probably doing something wrong.

I am glad that God seems to answer quickly if I am willing to learn.  I have always thought that I learn pretty well from other's experience - but not when it comes to teaching.  I have to try it out for myself to see if it really works.  Thus I have tried traditional education, Montessori, Classical and flavors in between.

I am now repenting because I have put too much emphasis on memorizing facts.  This past week I finally got around to doing the first trimester testing of my son in an Ambleside fashion.  He did this last year and although he didn't like it, he was able to pull his thoughts together.  This year we have introduced CC and although I have enjoyed the memorizing together, I was really frustrated with his test.  I asked him a general question, "Tell me about the Middle Ages."  He spent all of his time trying to remember the jingle instead of reflecting on the books and stories (King Arthur, The Little Duke, etc.) that we have read about the time period.  I was confronted with the what others keep saying - memorization is not character building education.  It appears that I have short circuited our education by focusing on memorizing. He thought repetition of his memory work was sufficient and the response I was seeking.  Honestly, that is the least important aspect to me.  So, we will be reconsidering how we approach these things.

I have always taken a little pride in having a good timeline in my head, knowing lots of facts, etc. My husband and I are a GREAT trivial pursuit team.  But that is not wisdom and pride goes before the fall.  I am glad to have this revealed now so that I can repent and think about what real education is about.  Thank you to those bloggers who continue to proclaim this message (often because they are Charlotte Mason adherents).  I am getting it!

Memory has its place but I believe that story is truly more formative (Andrew Kern always talks about the 60+ chapters of story BEFORE the law).  Now, I need to make sure that my approach reflects that truth.  I am afraid that he thinks stories are just for fun but real learning is memorizing. Truly, it is the exact opposite.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday with Words - Membership and Organizations

Wednesday With Words

I finished Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry and there was one more idea that has stuck with me. I actually used it as a primary point in the training I did this afternoon.  One reason I enjoy Berry is because he places value in relationships and is able to portray that in memorable ways.  

This was our membership. . . This membership had an economic purpose and it had an economic result, but the purpose and the result were a lot more than economic. . . The work was freely given in exchange for work freely given.  There was no bookkeeping no accounting, no settling up.  What you owed was considered paid when you had done what needed doing.  Every account was paid in full by the understanding that when we were needed, we would go, and when we had need of others, or enough of them, would come.  In the long, anxious work of the tobacco harvest none of us considered that we were finished until everybody was finished.  In his old age Burley liked to count up the number of farms he had worked on in his life "and never took a cent of money."
The membership includes the dead.  

Later they return to this subject.

Andy said, "You're worried because they've left the membership." and he smiled, knowing we both knew whose word that was.  "they've gone over from the world of membership to the world of organization.  Nathan would say the world of employment."
And I said, "Yes. That's the trouble I have in mind."

One of the attractions of moving away into the life of employment, I think, is being disconnected and free, unbothered by membership.  It is a life of beginnings without memories, but it is a life too that ends without being remembered.  The life of membership with all its cumbers is traded away for the life of employment that makes itself free by forgetting you clean as a whistle when you are not of any more use. When they get to retirement age, Margaret and Mattie and Caleb [their children]  will be cast out of place and out of mind like worn-out replaceable parts, to be alone at the last and maybe soon forgotten.  
We live in a world that has a vague sense and longing for membership.  They feel that the world of organization is not enough but don't know what else is out there.  I really appreciate Berry giving vocabulary to these concepts. I think this is one reason I homeschool and work with coops - in an effort to expose my children to the idea of education and life as membership - not organization.  I struggle with how you can create a sense of community and membership in the midst of city and organization life.  Is it something of an era gone by or a vision worth striving for?  I just don't know.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekly Resource - Adventures in America

Last year my family used Elemental History's Adventures in America.   It provides a great list of read aloud books with an easy schedule to follow.  There are three lessons scheduled a week in addition to the chapters to read aloud.  Two of those days she has written a one page overview about an event or person in American history and the other day focuses on the state you are learning (in order of their admittance to the US).  Her overviews tell a good story and help put the living books into the larger narrative of American history.  We enjoyed the books she chose.  This is basically the only part we used last year.

In the future we might use the copywork sentences - they were a little too long for my son at the beginning of the year.  I also decided that we would memorize states and capitals at another time (next year we will use these resources during cycle 3 of CC).  She includes a nice outline map of each state which you could use for lots of different projects - not just putting together a state notebook.  She also provides a line drawn picture that matches the main theme of the lesson.  My oldest is NOT interested in coloring but the line drawings were very nice.  I did try to shrink them to fit four on a page and use them as a timeline.  I made the pictures but lacked the follow through to actually put up the timeline.  At the time I had a 3 yo and a newborn so we also skipped the art activities.  They are explained well and easy enough to do but crafty things are not my strong point. If you use the full curriculum, as outlined, in the end you will have read some great stories, have a wonderful notebook covering the first half of American history (with copywork sentences and colored pictures) and have done some fun craft projects along the way.  I think it is a great introduction to American history.

I expect to use this curriculum again once my middle child is in early elementary.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tip Time CC Cycle 2 Week 9


Apparently this is the high point of solar flares - an 11 year high.  So you might want to see the video here.

This is not a very original source - wikipedia - but it is a good way to remember the planets using your hands.

The planets are also a fun time to work on creating a mnemonic device of some type to help you remember the order.   Here are some to get you started thinking.

Geography/ History

I realize I am a little behind here but Land Ho is a book I found at the library that does a great job telling a little about each of the explorers and includes our geography for this week (since this is the area Columbus explored).   It does also show the Vikings' route which is one of our timeline issues.