My son Gabriel and I have been busy these past few weeks creating a new unit study publication for sale - this one is on the Middle Ages and follows on from the Roman History unit study we already have. As Gabriel is a 6th grader and as I am always looking for innovative ways to ensure we never "go stale", I decided, this block, to consciously work with my son on the creation of a new publication and not, as I've done before, simply adapt things I'd done with him or his brother. Gabriel, who is very interested in our business, has really been enjoying this process.
So we looked at the Roman History unit study and talked about what this new one would look like - we discussed what to do about the color pictures. He knows, from listening in on many agonizing discussions his father and I have had about color photos (use them and raise the price considerably, don't use them and lose a lot of the aesthetics of the book) that there are important issues here. We decided on a strategy based on what we've done with our kindergarten book - print black and white in the book and put the color originals on the web site.
Then we discussed content - as an avid history fan, he already knows a lot about this historical time period, but we have had many interesting discussions: what would have happened if the Vikings had stayed in Scandinavia? Why did Christianity almost fade away in Europe in the Dark Ages? What does the term "Dark Ages" refer to? What was Europe like during this time? What was it like in the Middle East? What happened when these two cultures met? And, of course, as Gabriel is only 12, only a 6th grader, this wasn't heavy duty analysis - mainly I seek to give broad brush strokes of pictures of life during this time - and then gently raise questions. And purposefully not find answers to all of them - Gabriel knows that as he gets older he will find more answers, deeper answers.
So Gabriel has made a beautiful main lesson book - then we decided which pictures he needed to photograph with the digital camera and put on the computer - his Dad will show him how to put them on the web site and write appropriate captions. Gabriel so got into the photographing that he also took lots of pictures from other books he and his brother have created in the past - so at some point soon there will be a lot more to see on the Homeschooler's Work page on our web site!
Written work by Gabriel will also go into the unit study - a short piece about a messenger bringing the news to Saladin of the arrival of the latest wave of Crusaders and a review of several books he read. We haven't quite worked out this latter project - I think I will ask him to read or at least look at various books about Joan of Arc which I have gotten from the library and think about which ones he'd recommend to students using this unit study. He's a voracious reader, so that's quite a good assignment for him. And he has strong but balanced opinions about things like how useful or well written books are.
Well, we're almost finished with this project - our next block is on physics and I'm toying with the idea of doing a booklet on that - notes, really on what we did and what did or didn't work. And Gabriel and his Dad will be working on our Christopherus accounts, learning how to use our new software. Waldorf sixth grade math is based on business math so what better way to do it than to directly involve our boy in the our business?!