Homeschooling the children takes forever each day. Forever. Why? Why does it take forever? (Whine.)
I paid attention to what we did today to try to find out. The problem was pretty clear about 3 seconds into our school day.
We started with History. The title of the chapter was “Alfred the Great”. He was a king in Medieval England. That reminded me of the Paul McCartney song Uncle Alfred. Only, the song is actually called Uncle Albert.
Oh well. It’s still catchy so we listened to it.
Why did we listen to a Beatles song? Because kids are born knowing nothing. They don’t have much to pin new bits of knowledge to. If you can make what you’re teaching them memorable, or give them pins to hook that knowledge to, they’ll remember it better. If the boys hear the Uncle Albert song in the future it’s possible they’ll remember that their mom made them listen to it because they were learning about King Alfred only she messed up the name. Doesn’t work every time, but every little bit helps.
After listening to Uncle Albert we learned that the Vikings attacked Alfred at Christmastime. I asked who else they know from history who attacked at Christmastime. Right–George Washington. That reminded me of a picture I saw the other day. So we popped online to look at it. Eeeewww. Yes, it’s been altered. I pulled this from a blog that I follow. I asked permission to use the picture and promised that I would link it back to him. So, could the two of you who read my blog, please click on this link so that he can get a couple more hits on his blog? Thanks.
Back to our history lesson. The book reads “Alfred was not expecting an invasion.” Well of course–no one expects a Christmas Invasion! (Except for Doctor Who fans.) That reminded me of the Monty Python “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition” skit. We watched part of it and I made a big deal of comparing it to No One Expects a Christmas Invasion. Pins, you know.
The book told us that Alfred hid from the Vikings all winter and waited until the crops were planted in the spring before summoning his army. We considered why that was important. Logan recalled from history lessons two years ago that whenever anyone tried to invade Russia someone or other always burned all the crops on the way in. Then, when winter hit and the invading army tried to leave, they starved on the way out.
Which reminded us of this quote from Vizzini in The Princess Bride:
“You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha…
We watched it.
We read that Alfred’s remains were never found, but pieces of his coffin were found in 1999. I searched for pictures of the coffin and stumbled across a brand new article from 2 months ago that they may have just found his bones after all.(!) I read it to the boys and we remembered the recent update on CNN Student News about finding King Richard III’s bones under a parking lot last year.
And finally, forever later, we were done history. None of the above was planned.
After an uneventful math lesson, each boy read a chapter from the bible. Boy8’s was about the walls of Jericho. Which, obviously, reminded us of the Veggie Tale song sung by the French Peas…
…which is clearly unabashedly copied from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail bit with the French hurling insults on King Arthur. We watched both clips and compared them. We’re going to be studying castles in a week or two, so this was timely.
I read the boys the proverb for the day which ended with:
No matter how much you know
or what plans you make,
you can’t defeat the Lord.
Even if your army has
horses ready for battle,
the Lord will always win.
Which reminded me of those aliens in Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy who tried to invade the Earth, but due to a miscalculation of scale they were swallowed up by a small dog when they arrived. See the correlation? Strong army thinks they’ll win, only to find out they’re actually puny. We watched a clip.
During lunch we watched part of the movie IQ, which is about Albert Einstein’s niece. We watched it deliberately so that when we study Albert Einstein sometime in the future, they’ll have something to pin that bit of knowledge to.
Earlier in the day, I’d noticed that the blogger who posted the picture of the seasick soldier crossing the Potomac had also posted a picture of Einstein. Here it is: (Here’s your last chance to click on the link to see the blog page where I stole this from. Go ahead, click. I told him you would.)
Fortunately for us, a couple of weeks ago I made them listen to M C Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This when we learned about the French king Charles Martel. Charles Martel means Charles the Hammer in English. The boys thought the E=MCHammer was particularly funny. See about the pins?
And finally, the boys’ writing curriculum teaches that in order to bring a report to a close, at the end you should refer to something from the beginning. So to bring this to a close: in the movie IQ, Meg Ryan called her uncle, Uncle Albert. The boys were delighted. “Hey! She called him Uncle Albert! We just heard that song!”
Haaands across the water (water). Haaands across the sky.