Knowledge House Newsletter

Homeschool Information... Ideas... and Inspiration

March Holidays & Special Days - Click Here!

~ March 2015 ~

Dear Readers,

Happy March! We get two number holidays in a row this week: Friday the 13th and Pi Day!

Friday the 13th happens at least once every year, and the most we can possibly get is three. This year we had one in February, and there will be another one in November.

Friday the 13th is considered by many to be an especially unlucky day. Read National Geographic’s “Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History.

But the number 13 doesn’t have to be unlucky. See “13 Lucky Facts About the Number 13” (PDF download).

Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14. It's a great day to learn math facts while eating pizza and pie!

This year will be a special date & time: 3.14.15 9:26:53

Pi = 3.141592653

That only happens once every hundred years!

Pi is the number that represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It's an important constant in many mathematical equations.

For more information about the number Pi as well as ideas for celebrating Pi Day, visit the following Easy-as-Pi math pages:

Pi Facts:

Pi Fun:

Pi Day:

The Easy-as-Pi website also has a nice list of picture books that teach math concepts:

Teri's Sig

Featured Article

My Favorite Saint Patrick’s Day Movies

Only one week till Saint Patrick's Day! Watching these movies has become a tradition in our family at this time of year. The first two, The Secret of Roan Inish and The Quiet Man, were filmed on location in northern Ireland.

The Secret of Roan Inish is an enchanting tale based on an ancient Irish legend about a boy raised by seals. The name “Roan Inish” is Gaelic for “Island of the Seals.” Like the 1959 novel by Rosalie Fry titled “Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry,” The Secret of Roan Inish tells the story of a young girl, Fiona, whose mother dies so she is sent to live with her grandparents in the years immediately after WWII. A nearby abandoned island is at the center of a mystery that holds special significance for her family. This independent film was skillfully shot with beautiful windswept coastal scenery, lilting Celtic soundtrack, and real Irish actors. One thing that really inspired me was the work ethic of the two young characters! The Secret of Roan Inish is a wonderful family film for all ages. Buy at Amazon.

The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne, was filmed in 1952 by the famous director John Ford (whose birth name was Sean Aloysius O’Fearna). This classic film was a departure for Wayne and Ford, who were best known for Westerns. The entertaining 2-hour movie takes place in the lovely Irish countryside. The movie is a serious drama interspersed with many comedic moments. It has plenty of romance for the girls and action for the guys. (Including “one of the longest and most memorable knock-down, drag-out fights” ever choreographed on film!) Although personally I think the characters spend a little too much time in the local pub, I like how they demonstrate the proper Irish way of courtship – obtaining the family’s permission first, making an official announcement, and having a chaperone along at all times. It’s also interesting to see the amicable relationship portrayed between the local Roman Catholic church and Protestant church. Incidentally, John Wayne was of Irish and Scots-Irish descent. His red-headed co-star, Maureen O’Hara, was born in Dublin, Ireland. Buy at Amazon. Also available on Amazon Instant Video.

In both of the above movies, whenever a guest enters someone’s home they say “May God bless all in this house.” I wonder if that’s an Irish custom? If so, it’s a good one!

P.S. Read a review of my new favorite Saint Patrick's Day movie later in this issue!

Book(s) of the Month

Gardening For Wildlife

Gardening for Wildlife

Spring is a great time for getting outdoors and studying nature. This Spring why not create a wildlife habitat for birds, butterflies, and other creatures in your yard! My fully illustrated Gardening for Wildlife e-book will walk you through the process step by step. 28-pages ~ only $4.95!

Patrick Henry Study Guide

Patrick Henry Study Guide

This study guide contains a biography of the famous homeschooled patriot as well as vocabulary, discussion questions, writing questions, research questions, an overview of rhetorical techniques and literary devices, additional assignments and study questions. Includes a copy of “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” Practice your oratory skills by reciting it on March 23, the anniversary of Patrick Henry's famous speech. Makes a great Language Arts or American History unit study! 18 pages ~ only $4.95!

Famous Homeschoolers

Rose Wilder Lane

To celebrate Women's History Month which honors the great contributions that women have made in history, I've written a tribute to Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder. I was always a fan of the Little House books and TV series, but it wasn't until my adult years that I discovered what a fascinating and adventurous life Rose led herself. Besides being a writer and world traveler, she was one of the "founding mothers" of the Libertarian movement. Actually, it's quite uncanny how the politics at that time parallel those of today. You will see what I mean when you read Rose Wilder Lane's biography.

Reading Between the Lines

The Secret of Kells

“I have seen the book ... that turned darkness into light.”

These are some of the opening words spoken as a voice-over at the beginning of Tomm Moore’s The Secret of Kells, which began development in 1999 and was released in 2009.

This movie is not your typical animated film. It is a beautifully illuminated work of art in which Christianity and Celtic mythology come together in a kaleidoscope of color and exquisite detail that dazzle the eyes in an enchanting tale about the power of imagination and faith.

The Secret of Kells gives a fictionalized account of the creation of the Book of Kells, an extravagantly decorated illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. The setting is a monastery in 8th-century Ireland, where young Brendan has lived since Vikings killed his parents. Brendan is apprenticed in the scriptorium, the place where the copying and illuminating is done by the monks. One day Brother Aidan arrives and introduces Brendan to an important manuscript.

Aidan sends Brendan outside the monastery walls to obtain gall nuts for making ink. While there, Brendan gets lost and meets a forest fairy named Aisling. With her help, Brendan defeats the pagan god Crom Cruach and works to get the manuscript completed. But then Vikings invade and their leader takes the book’s bejeweled cover and scatters the pages. Before the Vikings can destroy Brendan and Aidan, Aisling’s black wolves attack the Vikings. Brendan and Aidan travel across Ireland and complete the book. The film closes with an animation of the illuminated pages. (The Vikings were portrayed as such monsters, it would have been nice if an epilogue stated that by 1000 AD most of the Vikings had converted to Christianity, making it clear that Christianity triumphed in the end.)

As it is, the story can be viewed from several different angles. On one hand, it’s about medieval Christian scholars courageously dedicated to preserving knowledge, creating books, and demonstrating reverence for God’s words through painstaking arts. (Although the movie focused more on the artistry and we never actually hear the Gospel.) On the other hand it’s a hero quest that takes place in a magical childhood world of fairies and demons. (There are some very scary scenes, so The Secret of Kells is not recommended for young children.) In addition, the movie is a visual homage to Ireland’s history, a coming-of-age story, and a parable about Christianity overtaking Celtic paganism in Ireland.

The Christian context is not as obvious as it could be, and there are Celtic pagan undercurrents in the film, but it’s not an attempt to reassert paganism over and above Christianity. Rather, in the spirit of C.S. Lewis who spoke about “shards of God’s truth” being found throughout creation, we see Celtic and Christian elements combined in brilliant ways. For example, there is the symbol of the infinite God in the unending Celtic knotwork, and the Trinity as seen in the shamrock and trefoil design. Saint Patrick himself used Celtic symbols to teach the people about Christian concepts, such as placing the cross of Jesus inside the Celtic circle of life.

As much as the story itself is captivating, the decorative details are what keep you riveted to the screen. It’s like you’re peering into a painting rather than watching a movie. Some of the action scenes are framed as though moving on the pages of a book, or through a triptych (three paneled picture). The richly embellished animation is a breath of fresh air from the typical Hollywood style of today. Some critics have compared The Secret of Kells to Hayao Miyazaki’s works such as Princess Mononoke. Filmmaker Tomm Moore was indeed inspired by Hayao Miyazaki, who based his visual style on traditional Japanese art and mythology. Moore decided to do something similar but with Irish myths and art.

The Secret of Kells is full of quirky humor and themes of friendship, courage, danger, struggle, and light overcoming darkness. Along the way you will be treated to Celtic music and Medieval Latin hymns. This movie with its Irish setting and Celtic design is a great way to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day while learning a little bit about Vikings, monasteries, and illuminated manuscripts. It may even inspire some artistic viewers to create their own illuminated manuscript! Buy the DVD/ Blu-Ray at Amazon. You can also watch it on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime members this month!

Learning Links

Pi Day Activities (Pi Day is March 14. A great day to learn math facts while eating pizza and pie!)

Saint Patrick's Day (Saint Patrick's Day, March 17th, is a national Irish holiday honoring Saint Patrick, the missionary credited with converting all the people of Ireland to Christianity in the 5th century.)

Think Green (A devotional article for Spring.)

Albert Einstein Biography (This famous mathematician was born on Pi Day! A self-educated genius who did poorly in school, his real studies were done at home.)

Robert Frost Biography (Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874. He was educated at home and also taught his own children at home.)

Patrick Henry Biography (Tutored by his father and uncle, Patrick Henry grew up to be an eloquent orator. He was the one who demanded that the Bill of Rights be added to the U.S. Constitution to limit its power more strictly, and to guarantee the protection of basic individual liberties.)

Freebie of the Month

"Give Me Liberty or Death" Speech - Print this out and practice your oratory skills by reciting it on March 23, the anniversary of Patrick Henry's famous speech.

(Requires Adobe Reader: click here for free download.)

Quote of the Month

"With still a week of winter, this wearing of the green seems rather out of season - it's rushing things, I mean. But maybe March is better when all is done and said: St Patrick brings a promise, a four-leaf-clover promise, a green-all-over promise of springtime just ahead!" ~Aileen Fisher, "Wearing of the Green"

A Note From Teri...

Here's an Irish Blessing for you...

“May flowers line your path and sunshine light your day.
May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue.
And may happiness fill your heart every day your whole life through.”

Happy Homeschooling!

Teri's Sig

P.S. Did you like this month's newsletter?

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