This week we studied the medieval history of Africa and the kingdoms that made Africa “heard-of” to Europeans of the time. The kingdoms of Songhay, Ghana, and Mali caused Africa to not seem as “dark” of a continent as it was labeled, as they became famous for their wealth in gold and salt. Timbuktu was the most well-known African city from this time.
The boys were disappointed that the history of South Africa or the countries south of the Saharan Desert is still dark to us, because the desert as well as jungles and mountains made it difficult to venture further into Africa. I told them more exploration into the interior would be done by a famous missionary, David Livingstone. I am often reminded during our studies of how much Christianity has changed the world. I hope our work here will help to make Africa less dark as well.
We played the “Salt and Gold: Fast Tax” game, in which the kids had to trade two pieces of salt or gold from one end of the house to the other. They could go the fast way by me (in the middle) and pay taxes (one piece) for the right to pass me, or they could go all the way around the house to avoid the tax. They lost points based on how much salt and gold they had at the end, and added points for every 20 seconds they took to finish their trades. The goal was to end with as few points as possible. It was a living example to all of us of the old adage, “Time is money!” The game also proved how Ghana became rich, because it was better to pay the taxes and save travel time than to run all the way around the house to save paying taxes on the cargo. Unfortunately I have no pictures of that because I was very busy collecting taxes and alternately scolding and encouraging two toddlers who wanted to be part of a game they couldn’t understand.
In science we finished a chapter on mollusks, which in my opinion, was solely interesting for its helpfulness in differentiating between shells you might find on the beach. We did an “experiment” on resonance, blowing across the mouthpieces of different bottles to make tones (to show how the air vibrates inside shells, which causes people to “hear the ocean”); but we didn’t have enough of the right kinds of bottles. Only one bottle made a pitch, so we experimented with filling it to different levels with water to hear the pitch change.
Caleb is reading The Whipping Boy right now, a personal favorite of mine. It is a higher reading level than I expected when I first picked it based on its pictures, font size, and size of the book: the language is a bit difficult, and some of the nuances he doesn’t quite understand. But we’re going slowly and with my help, he’s really enjoying the story of Prince Brat and Jemmy, his whipping boy.
Colin is beginning his last set of readers for kindergarten, and I’m happy with how he’s progressing in phonics. Handwriting is his nemesis. I reward him with bits of candy for each well-written word, and if he is not done with his handwriting page in 15 minutes, he gets no candy. That has helped a lot with his focus, if not his neatness! Today we laughed at him when I asked him, “Colin, what are you doing? Get to work!” He replied, “I had to stop and yawn.”
Callie and I play with “Letter of the Week” stuff when she wants. She can be independent but seems to like most of the little games. She doesn’t show much retention of the letters.
Our greatest joy is to hear that our children walk in truth, but a close runner-up is to hear that our parents are flying to Africa for a visit! In a few weeks, Seth’s dad is coming for a visit; and just last week we got the news that my parents may try a visit next year sometime. When we live farther than Timbuktu, that’s very exciting news! Come on over!