Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Masterpieces from the Bible (Image & Imagination #2)

Last week I started a new blog series, Image & Imagination, to explore how to stimulate our children's curiosity with pictures

I like to integrate fine art and Biblical themes when I teach, whether it is in my own home or in our home school co-op English or history classes.

Our 5th and 6th graders have been studying the early church in history class and reading through the book of Acts in English class.  In class this week, I showed them several pieces from the huge volume of Great Bible Stories and Master Paintings by Owen S. Rachleff, which was a gift from my late father-in-law in our early home schooling years.  I wish we had more time to take a long look at them!  Maybe next week...  You can look up these paintings on-line, keeping in mind that there are variations in titles.  I have linked some of them here:

Another masterpiece that I've been enjoying lately is "The Adoration of the Lamb of God" by Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck.  This picture has graced the front of our church bulletin every week in this liturgical season after Pentecost.  I wonder what painting will come next?

The painting you see above is not even the full piece of art.  It is a portion of the lower center panel in a polyptych (multi-panel) piece.

You can find wonderful commentaries on masterpiece paintings on-line.  Here are two which are particularly helpful for this piece:

For example, within its lengthy description, the latter of these sites notes, "Thus the central panel of the lower tier portrays the saints symbolizing the eight Beatitudes gathered round the altar where the sacrifice of the Lamb is taking place, at the centre of the heavenly garden which has sprung from His blood."

I encourage you to look at the sites I linked and study this painting and others. On my class blog in previous years, I posted several lessons which include a lot of Biblical art along with associated writing and literature assignments. 

Virginia Knowles

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Apostles' Creed

The Apostles' Creed

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried:
He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.

  • begotten - born
  • descended – went down
  • ascended – went up
  • thence – there
  • quick – living
  • Holy Ghost – Holy Spirit
  • catholic – universal or whole (not the same thing as the Roman Catholic church)
  • communion – fellowship
  • saints – believers in Jesus, all Christians
  • everlasting – lasting forever, eternal
  • trinity – three-in-one (This word is not in the creed, but the three persons in the one God are listed: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I have underlined them in the text.)

The first line in Latin and English:

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentemCreatorem coeli et terrae.
I believe in God the Father Almighty creator of heaven and earth.

In our home school co-op, the 5th-6th graders are using Mystery of History Volume 2 in their history class.  As their English teacher, I am trying to coordinate my assignments with what they are doing in history.  This week I noticed they are learning about The Apostles' Creed, so I decided to go over some of the unfamiliar words.  They will be reciting and copying the creed this week for homework.  Optionally, they may illustrate it and/or make it look like an old scroll.

Here are two helpful links to learn more about the history and significance of the Apostles' Creed, the most widely used statement of belief in the western church: 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Study Guide, Part 1 with Web Links


 In our home school co-op, the 5th-6th English class that I teach is reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.  We do about two chapters per week, and I am creating the study questions, writing assignments and activities as I go.  There are 17 chapters in the book, and so far I have finished up through chapter 8.  I'll post the other 9 chapters later on!

The study questions are a mix of simple recall and deeper reflection.  Occasionally, I refer to vocabulary words, grammar, punctuation, or literary devices.  Some of the writing assignments are geared for practical real life application, while others stimulate imagination and creativity.  If you have study questions or writing assignments to suggest, please add them in a comment!

At the bottom of this post, I have included several links to other on-line study guides for this book.  Some of them are suitable for older or younger children.  Quite the smorgasbord!  There is also a YouTube clip from the movie sound track.  You may want to watch the movie after reading the book and discuss how things are different or the same between them.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Study Questions and Writing Assignments
Part 1: Chapters 1-8

Chapter 1: Lucy Looks Into a Wardrobe

The main elements of a story are the characters, the setting (time and place), and the plot.


  1. List all of the characters mentioned in this chapter.
  2. Match the four children with these descriptions:

          ____________________ is sassy, grouchy and mocking.

          ____________________ is sentimental and nurturing.

          ____________________ is adventurous and intelligent leader.

          ____________________ is cautious but curious.


What is the historical time period? In 1940-1941, during World War 2, Nazi Germany bombed London and other British cities. Over 43,000 people died and 140,000 were injured. For their own safety, thousands children were sent to live in the country with relatives, friends, and even strangers. Author C.S. Lewis draws on his memories of hosting refugee children in his country home as he writes this book.
    3. List the three settings in this chapter.
    4. What are some of things that the children find in the rooms?
Writing Assignment

Imagine that you could design a dream house that reflects your own interests. It can be as large or as small as you want. Where will it be? What will it look like on the outside? Describe each room in your house. What will they be used for? What will they contain? 

Activity: Draw your dream house: what it looks like from the front, what one room looks like, a floor plan.  Download SketchUp for free and try designing a 3-D model of it.

Chapter 2: What Lucy Found There
  1. Tumnus, the Faun, asks Lucy if she is a Daughter of Eve? What does he mean by that? Why is Lucy confused?
  2. List the four different kinds of forest creatures who live in Narnia.
  3. What was Tumnus plotting when he lured Lucy into his cave and lulled her to sleep with food, stories, and flute playing?
  4. What could be the consequence if he did not carry through on his plan?
  5. What are three ways we can tell that Tumnus is remorseful and repentant?
Writing Assignment

Yesterday you wrote about a big house you would like to live in. Today, you are going to write about a small one. If you had an entire home to live in by yourself that was as small as Tumnus's cave room, what would it be like? Make a list of what would you need to live in your home and a few extra things that you would want. What are some practical ways you could “make do” in such a small space?


Plan to invite a friend over for a simple meal or dessert.  What will you serve? What activities will you do?  Think about what you can do to make your guest feel welcome and comfortable.

Chapter 3: Edmund and the Wardrobe
  1. Lucy thinks she has been gone for “hours and hours” but her brothers and sister say they saw her only a few minutes ago. Why?
  2. What do her brothers and sister think and do about what she has told them?
  3. When Edmund apologizes to Lucy for not believing her, is he showing true remorse? How do we know?
  4. A “sledge” is another word for sleigh, a vehicle that travels over the snow on runners. What kind of animals are pulling the sleigh, and who is driving it?
Creative Assignment

Draw a picture of the White Witch, also known as the Queen of Narnia. Or create your own villain or superhero and provide captions to describe what they can do.

Chapter 4: Turkish Delight
  1. How are the White Witch's inward attitudes different from her outer actions? What do we call this?
  2. How did the food and drink appear?
  3. Why did Edmund want more and more Turkish Delight? How did this affect his ability to think about what he was doing and saying?
  4. After flattering him by telling him how wonderful he is (when he actually isn't), what does the White Witch promise Edmund, and what must he do to get what is promised?
  5. Why does the White Witch want Edmund to keep it a secret?
Writing Assignment

Write a paragraph about something that a person your age might want to do or have more than anything. Tell why this might become addictive (something they can't seem to give up, even if they try) and what the consequences might be if they continue to give in to this strong desire. How could they overcome it?


Buy some Turkish Delight (which you might find at a Middle Eastern grocery store) and serve with a hot drink.

Chapter 5: Back on This Side of the Door
  1. Go on Edmund; tell them all about it.” A semi-colon is used to separate sections of the sentence. A semi-colon is stronger than a comma, but not as strong as a period. Write your own sentence with a semi-colon.
  2. Edmund is acting really nasty in this chapter. What are some synonyms (similar meaning words) of nasty that are used in this chapter to describe Edmund and his actions? (P.S. A word to compare how nasty something is is nastier and someone who is the most nasty is called nastiest. One sentence also says that he gave a little snigger, which is a short mocking laugh.
  3. Why did the Professor suggest that Lucy might actually be telling the truth? Give at least three reasons.
  4. The Professor also suggests only three possibilities about what Lucy is aying: that she is lying, that she is mad, or that she is telling the truth. That may be true in this situation, but in general life, there is actually a fourth possibility. Someone can be sincerely mistaken after being given misleading, confusing, or false information. They may not be accurate, but they are not intentionally deceiving anyone or being crazy. Tell of a time when this happened to you or someone you know.
  5. Why did all four children end up going into the wardrobe in this chapter?
Writing Assignment

The Professor suggests that Lucy is more credible (believable) than Edmund. If you want people to think that you are credible, what kind of character and actions do you need to have? Name a fairy tale or other commonly known story where someone lacked credibility? Why? What was the result?

Chapter 6: Into the Forest
  1. What did the children discover at the Faun's home?
  2. What is the “Queen's” first name?
  3. What is Lucy's response when Susan says they should go home? What does this say about her character?
  4. How did the children know which way to go to look for Tumnus?
Writing Assignment

In one paragraph, describe something that you have had to do that required risk or extra effort. What was the result?

Chapter 7: A Day with the Beavers
  1. Anthropomorphism is when an animal, plant, or deity is given human characteristics, behavior and language. Anthro means human and morph means change. List all of the animals and plants that act like humans in this chapter, and tell what they can do. Be as complete and as specific as you can, thinking especially of things that humans can do that animals and plants can't.
  2. List your three favorite animal characters that act like humans in other stories. Each one should be from a different story or series. (Disney movies are a good source for this!)
  3. Body language is an important part of communication, sometimes even more important than the actual words that you say. What did Mr. Beaver communicate by his gestures?
  4. What object did Mr. Beaver give to the four children to gain their trust?
  5. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16a says, But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” Thinking about those verses, why do you think each of the children subconsciously reacted in a different way to the mention of Aslan's name? You may have to ponder this question a little bit, or ask a parent for help.
  6. What do you think Edmund was thinking when he saw the two little hills?
  7. List five things that the children ate or drank at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. Which of these would you most enjoy?
Writing Assignment:

The author compares the children's reaction to the mention of Alsan's name to being in the middle of a dream and not understanding the details but somehow still grasping the significance of it. Write about an interesting, funny, or confusing dream or a nightmare that you remember. Do you think there was any meaning to it? For example, had you been thinking or wishing or worrying about something, and then dreamed about it?


Demonstrate body language with your gestures and facial expressions to show that you are angry, happy, sad, excited, confused, or that you want to be left alone.  Or play Charades!

Chapter 8: What Happened After Dinner
  1. What does Mr. Beaver think happened to Tumnus the Faun, and what does he say is the only hope for rescuing him?
  2. Copy the poem that Mr. Beaver quotes about Aslan.
  3. How do Mrs. and Mr. Beaver each reply when Lucy asks if Aslan is safe?
  4. Where will the children meet Aslan?
  5. What is the prophecy about the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve?
  6. Why did Mr. Beaver think that Edmund had betrayed them to the White Witch?
  7. What is the most immediate danger at the end of the chapter?
Writing Assignment:

Write a factual paragraph about beavers. Include an introduction sentence, one sentence each about what beavers look like, where they live, and what they eat, and then a concluding sentence.  


Play the Statues game -- all you need is four players and some space to move around!

Links to other study guides for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
From the soundtrack to the movie:

This post will be linked at:

Ripstick or Rat Face?

It's a rip stick, right?
Left by a child on the 
concrete patio at the play ground, 
it's ready to roll.

Or is it El Raton, the ominous rat 
with beady eyes and a furled brow?

In coming posts, lets talk about Image and Imagination.  Let's explore how to stimulate our children's curiosity with pictures, whether it is photos like the one above, or masterpiece art, or advertisements, or even random doodles. I think we can get some good writing prompts going!  I'd love to hear your ideas!

 P52 Photo Project  this week's theme "Hobbies"
P52 with Kent Weakley

Yes, I confess!  I posted two pictures for P52 this week!  You can find the other at on my at On Clouds, Hands, Oysters and Messy Humanity. 
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