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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

History : Patricians and Plebeians

I have Charlotte Mason to thank for being able to integrate reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, vocabulary and grammar into history and social studies. I rolled all that in within an hour of read aloud, discussion and written narration!

Well, this is just what we do regularly. Unconventional?... I know. But it works for us.

We are in the middle of our study of ancient Rome, using The Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber as our spine. We covered the period of the Roman Monarchy (750-500 BC) and are now into the period of the Roman Republic ( 500 BC-0). I interspersed our readings with commentaries from our Truthquest guide. These commentaries put us into perspective regarding how all these history go in line with biblical principles.

Here is my boys' narration of the two chapters we read today:

The Wrongs of the Poor

The poor plebeians were ill-treated by the rich patricians. When the plebeians had not enough money to pay their taxes, they had to borrow from the patricians. When the plebeians had not enough money to pay the patricians, the patricians were allowed to take their land and even sell them as slaves or put them in prison.

When the people from another city, the Volscians, attacked them, the plebeians were forced to go to battle. They didn’t want to fight for the patricians because the patricians were ill-treating them. The patricians promised the plebeians that when they come back from fighting, rules will be changed so that they will not be ill-treated anymore. When they came back, the patricians didn’t change any rules.

The Fable of the Stomach

Since the patricians didn’t keep their promise, the plebeians ran away to a mountain known as Sacred Mountain. Both the patricians and the plebeians suffered. The patricians had no farmers to till their land, no market men to buy food from and no merchants to buy articles from. The plebeians had only brought a bit of food with them, so they were starving. Yet the patricians couldn’t persuade them to come back. So they sent a wise man named Menenius to try convince them to come back.

Menenius observed that the plebeians didn’t understand the patricians’ long speeches. He decided to tell them a simple fable to show the plebeians what the situation is. The fable was about body parts. All the body parts didn’t want to work for the stomach, so the stomach ended up weak. The other parts of the body soon grew weak too. When the plebeians heard this story, they understood that they were the other parts of the body and the patricians were the stomach. So they all went back to Rome.

After that, new rules were made that pleased the plebeians. Officers were appointed to take care of the needs of the plebeians. They were called the Tribunes. The Tribunes can veto any law that is not fair to the plebeians. That means the Tribunes could disagree and stop the passing of any law that is ill-treating the plebeians.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Art : Oil Pastel Layering

[This project was done MANY months ago... ;-p]

Jan Van Eyck was known to be the first to experiment with oil paints and brought it to "perfection". Oils, unlike egg tempera (a common medium before van Eyck's time), gives paintings a certain kind of shine and lustre. Colours are thick and rich. Some of the characteristics of oil paints can be achieved using oil pastels. We experimented with more blending with oil pastels. In this series of pieces, I was trying to demonstrate the effect of layering.

All the pieces here are done on small postcard-sized paper. The adventage of small sized paper is that you try out techniques and complete a piece in a short time. Each took about 50 minutes to complete; a comfortable duration for my active 8 year olds.

This is one of my demo pieces... I was trying to show how putting a yellow under a green could give some interesting effect...

Boys gave it a try with many pieces from imagination. Here is one by B. He did manage to mix a few colours but have not really work one colour into another... Nevertheless a start in the right direction :-)

D attempted a beach scene. He was able to mash the colours more thoroughly in the sky and sun (pink?!) ...

For more practice, we googled for images using words like "sunset", "mountains" and "sky". (not much inspiring scenary here in Singapore I'm afraid) I preselected pictures that have some interesting colours but that are not too complicated. I was hoping to give my boys more practice in "getting the colour" with oil pastels.

[I have included the links to the photographs we used so you can make the comparison if you so want.]

This is D's country road winding through a scenic field in the Tuscany, Italy

B's picture of another country road.

I am always captivated by sunsets, so here's my attempt of Lake Audy in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada. This little exercise was really quite a challenge even for me ...

Boys are slowly getting the hang of it. I was pleasantly surprised one day when B suggested we capture a beautiful scenary on paper when we saw one. :-)

Here is a related website, an interactive landscape adventure - it is effective in bringing one to an awareness of how artists can create different moods and weather in a landscape.

There is more technical information on oil pastels here: How to use Oil Pastels
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