A Medieval Lapbook


OK, so we finally finished our lapbook on The Middle Ages. Whew! Good grief it was a doosey! I wish I could give you references for all of the sources we used, but the truth is I pretty much pieced it together from a variety of different websites and the rest I made up myself. However, if you're following The Well-Trained Mind or are using The Story of the World books, you might appreciate all of the work that went into this website (though she only posted on the first half of the second book - and all of the first):


But still...good stuff on her blog! You can even print off the notes!

I also picked up some inspiration from this lovely medieval lapbook.

And of course, the homeschool share website had mini books on Robin Hood, knights, castles, medieval medicines/cures, medieval bookmaking, and Vikings.

Here are a few highlights and features from our version:



So our book opens to a printout on Beowulf (couldn't resist...my absolute favorite), a medieval timeline (I cut out the study cards from the back of The Story of the World activity book and pasted them into a sort of timeline - see pic below), some info on monks, and an introduction to the Vikings.






The Viking pages (in red) open to reveal information on the Islamic empire, the Battle of Hastings, world religions, as well as other various Viking/English minibooks.



The blue page drops down and reveals more Viking information and minibooks on longhouses...


flat-bottom ships, Runes, trading, dragons...



and Norse mythology (wheeee! Ya gotta love it)....



The next set of pages refers to what's happening over in England. There are mini books on castles, siege engines, falcons, Robin Hood, kings, queens, feudalism...


Joan of Arc, etc...


The black page folds up and reveals more information on chivalry, weaponry, a Book of Hours, and a minibook on The Canterbury Tales (we took a few notes on each of the tales that we read - the Canterbury Tales is another favorite of mine - I know, I know, my poor kids).



Now, I'm not exactly sure how or where all of these last pages fit in but there's a page of minibooks on Christopher Columbus, another page on John and Richard, Kublai Khan, herbal remedies, medieval medicine...



the plague...


the Crusades, pilgrim badges, King Arthur, how to become a knight, and a few pictures of Ferdinand and Isabella...


Fold it all back up, and viola! The Middle Ages in a nutshell!


Only ours doesn't close...sigh...

We're now working on this lapbook which covers The Renaissance (Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth - sigh, more torture for my kids - Shakespeare, Leonardo, Galileo, and a few others). It will be smaller because it's covering a much smaller period of history, but also because we're kinda lapbooked out and ready for a break! After the break we'll finish up with one last lapbook on glass blowing, which we found on this same website here. Then we will be done done done with history (well, for this year anyway)! Yay!

Lessons From the Abyss

Well, it seems this new year is starting off much differently than our year did last year. Last year we moved out to the lake to get away from the city and see what life was like in a quieter, calmer, slower setting. We spent the year exploring the lake and making new friends...learning a completely different pace and reality of day to day living.

Unfortunately, it seems our ideals of reconnecting as a family were a bit unrealistic. Sometimes life zigs when you want it to zag. I look back on it all and think, well, hey, we tried. And we did. We tried. Our intentions were good. We knew all along it was a gamble...an unusual arrangement...a sacrifice for the kids. Any maybe a little bit for ourselves. But intentions aren't always enough.
And so, this new year brings with it some changes. Life continues for myself and the gypsy kiddos on the lake...with our garden and our chickens...and our peace and our quiet. But this time on our own. Which means I've had to do some soul-searching and come up with a way to support the lakeside life the girls and I have grown accustomed to. It's not a big life by any means, in fact, it's actually quite small...a snow globe, really. But it's a good enough snow globe. And while I've debated moving back to the city, and am still considering a move closer in...our little gypsy souls seem content here for now.

(Besides, our canoe is finally down by the water and I'm not about to haul it back up). Priorities.


Nevertheless, soul-searching and gut-wrenching were interchangeable at times during this process. There's quite a bit of fear that comes into play when you realize you need to find a job and the last entry on your resume dates back over a decade.

Then one day as the girls and I were driving thru a neighboring town I mentioned maybe working in one of the shops on Main Street. Both girls got very excited and said, "Yes! And we want to help work the store with you!" Hmmmm...it seems they were mis-understanding me. I meant I would work in someone else's shop. But, you see, a few years ago I had a children's toy/craft store that I owned and operated with the girls. It was such fun and we met such wonderful people at that store...and were completely heart-broken a few years later when we had to close. So, it makes sense that the girls would mis-understand when I say I'd like to work in another store.

They meant that I should open another store.

And so I did.

I am.

We are.

Once that seed was planted it was nearly impossible to stop it from growing.


You see, my greatest sadness in contemplating all of this was what would happen to our homeschool? How could I work full time and still homeschool? Their only request of me was please, don't put us back in public school. The idea of working again appealed to me on several levels. We were and are all ready for change. But not the public school kind of change. We had finally reached a level of comfort learning at home. Our routines were set.

My opening another store, however, would solve that problem. It would allow me to work again, and provide a place for the kids to study underfoot during the day. It makes sense. It feels right. Scary. Frightening. Terrifying, even. But right.

This time it's a thrift store. Resale. Consignment.

Almost everything I own came from a thrift store. I'm in my element with this. I feel connected.


The Thrifty Gypsy.

I can do this!

I think.

I hope.

Don't I have to try?

The unknown is such an abyss. It comes at us in waves filled with fear and worry. But it also brings with it an eensie teensie trickle of hope. And maybe even a tiny bit of freedom in the letting go it requires.


I'm learning, once again, to accept this abyss. To welcome it, even. And to accept also, that I can't can can't do it all. As much as I want to, and like to think I can, I simply have to cry uncle every now and then and allow others a chance in. To help. To be a part of the journey. To be a part of the solution. I think it must be a part of our motherly genetics to fight against this as much as we do. Why is it so hard?

But here's the truth. Deep down I really don't want to be that busy. I don't want to be overwhelmed more than not. I don't want to carry more than I can handle. Goodness, a younger me would read this and be horrified. Have I gotten lazy? I don't know. Maybe. I like to think I've just been there done that and am now looking at the balance of things, rather than some whacky wonky version of equality (or reality, for that matter).

Besides, what is it we're trying to prove, anyway?

And who's really paying attention?

I'm interested in things that connect me in some way, to a greater ideology or intention...whether that's where I spend my days working, what animals I raise, what food I eat or grow, what choices I make with and for my kids, whether I choose to live in a busy suburban city, or like a hermit on a lake...isn't that enough of a means to an end?

We have to pick our battles.

I really don't want any more chaos than that.

So, while I do need to work, I'm not yet ready to give up on my time with the kids. To compromise completely on the ideals and choices that have led us to where we are. I'm still knee-deep in that chapter. I will have to compromise some, and so will my children. We've made our pinky-swears and pledged our allegiances to those things that must change. And, we are all in agreement that I may not make much money in this new venture, which means it may be a few more years till we live in a house with a working dishwasher and cable TV. But I will, at least for the interim, follow through with my intentions (however limiting) and be content with wherever this journey takes us, for as long as we are all willing participants in it.

(Or until I decide I'm ready to haul the canoe out of the water.)

Thankfully, I have a supportive ex-husband who has agreed to take on some of the homeschool responsibilities. Since we will both be working full time now we've agreed he will teach math, Spanish, reading, and geography on his days. That leaves me with history, science, English, and art on mine. (Did I mention he's teaching math? Hey, whatever works, right?)

(Whew!)

So, yes, this year has started off quite differently. My store opens next week (gah!). There's a room in the back for the kids to study. There's a big yard and a bridge (and even horses nearby) for them to run around outside. There are customers for them to greet. A (hopefully) constant influx of items that need to be priced. Even the pup is excited to be a shop dog again. There are great people in our village supporting us and looking out for us...and I'm so very very thankful.

It's gonna be a challenging, good, no great, very interesting year. And I'm ready to embrace (or brace for) each and every lesson that continues to come at me. Life offers us a constant learning curve, doesn't it?

I really believe we reach our destinations simply by putting one foot in front of the other. (Some days that's all that's possible).

And trusting in the abyss (and the friends who help push you through it).

Some days you just have to close your eyes and drive straight through.

Ya know, like Tom Cruise.

No, not that Tom Cruise...

This Tom Cruise




"Pick a line you can drive thru." 
"You can drive through it, I know it in my heart."