Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Quill Pen and George Washington

Our studies this summer have taken a turn for the schizophrenic--in science, we've been working on botany AND the brain; in geography, we've been working on Africa AND the United States; for literature, Will has been working on grammar AND Latin AND Tom Sawyer; and for history, we've been working on SOTW ancient history AND pioneer life AND the first presidents!

It's kind of like unit studies, but unit studies have started to feel claustrophobic, so here we are.

A day's requirement in a subject generally boils down to a book + a memory piece + a hands-on, contextual activity. For history the other day, then, I read the girls a picture book about George Washington (I'll put a list of my favorites at the bottom of this post), asked the girls to memorize the dates of his presidency (Sydney also memorized the fact that he was our first president; Willow already knows all of the presidents in order), and then let them play around again with quill pens:

It's been a year, almost exactly, since we last played with quill pens, and it was interesting to see that they still remembered it, and fun to see that they still enjoyed it: 

The big difference this time is that instead of making our own ink, earlier this year I took the girls to the little indie art supplies shop near campus and let them each pick out a color of real bottled ink. What a difference the quality of that one art supply makes! I noticed that both girls did a lot of exploring with line width and shading and color saturation, far beyond just exploring the feel of working with a quill pen, which I think was their main occupation last time.

It also increased the impact of that activity when I later brought out our copy of the Declaration of Independence--the girls were all, "They wrote like THAT with quill pens?!?" They were MUCH more impressed with the document than they otherwise would have been.

A calligraphy pen is clearly on my school supplies wish list these days.

Here are some of our favorite George Washington resources (so far):

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