Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Our Giant, Handmade Working Map of Europe

Our masterpiece!!!
In our house, all wall space is fair game. Nothing is sacred. Our paint isn't that nice, anyway. 

It's not like I'm desperate to cover every inch of blank wall, but more like I like my treasures to be out on display, used and enjoyed. They wear out that way, sometimes, and I'm sad when I toss them, but eh. The kids weren't going to want my old He-Man action figures, anyway. I honestly doubt they're going to want Mamma's china, and the other night when I told Will to stop pulling at a loose thread on my great-grandmother's quilt (which was on my bed, obviously, partly under the dog) because I wanted to keep it just the way Nana made it for as long as possible and hopefully pass it down to her someday, she just looked at me, looked at the quilt, then looked at me again, her face as clear as a bell on her opinions about any quilt that doesn't have dinosaurs or fighter jets or Medieval swords on it. Sigh...

Anyway, that doesn't just apply to heirlooms. I don't even know where I got this giant piece of fabric--I was quite the scavenger of free fabric back when I first started sewing and we were super poor (we're still poor these days, but not SUPER poor, and I have a huge fabric stash so I no longer scrounge)--but I was digging around the other day looking for some fabric to complete a Fibonacci squares quilt, found it, took a good look at it for the first time ever, liked that look, and hemmed it and hung it on bamboo in my bedroom:

Now that it's hanging there I actually don't *love* it, but it's colorful, and what else is safe to put right behind the treadmill? Not much, so there it will stay until I feel like doing something else with either it or that wall.

There's a similarly large and precarious space in our front hallway, next to our DIY aerial silks rig.

What is safe to put right next to an aerial silks rig? Not much!

Paper, tape, and canvas are about all I trust with that spot, so it's more often than not come to be the spot where large and unwieldy schoolwork projects in progress come to land. We had a map of Greece there for a year before our vacation there. We used to have a lot of kid-made horse breed posters there, I think. There might have even been another map of Europe there at some point.

Oh, we had a couple of kid-sized human body organ diagrams there for a long time. Those were so cool!

We're delving back into European history for another several months, until Will takes the AP European History exam next May, and we're combining it with European literature, geography, and art history. We REALLY need to study something non-Eurocentric next year...

So to ground and contextualize our studies, the kids and I made a giant, handmade working map of Europe. I printed the 8x8 map of Europe from Megamaps (my faaaaavorite homeschool resource!), and the kids helped me put it together in the most fiddly way possible, with Scotch tape only on the BACK side.

Because I wanted the kids to do this, you see, and this would not stick on tape on the front!

 The kids used our Crayola air brush machine, which is just about the best thing ever, to color the map using the four-color map coloring technique that we learned last year.

Mathematical map coloring is also one of my favorite things.

After the map was assembled, mounted, and colored in, the kids were in charge of labeling all of the countries and oceans, using their own research. I have recently begun instituting standards of craftsmanship, to combat tween/teen half-assedness, so I told them that I required labeling to be a 5/5 in craftsmanship, and threatened taking the map down and redoing it if it was not up to my standards.

They did a gorgeous job. Little do they know that now *I* know what I can expect from them, mwa-ha-ha!

That process took up a full four-day school week in the subject of European geography. This week, we started using Draw Europe, practicing one two-page spread a week and building on it by the week. We'll also cover countries in more detail when Draw Europe brings them in, which means that our next school week we get to learn awesome things about Russia!

Learning about Russia makes me very excited.

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