Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Around the World in Eighty Days - Unit Study Day 1

I seem to be bumping into Jules Verne quite a bit lately, and so decided to give in and plan a unit study. In my usual manner, I'm throwing this together as we go, but feel free to tag along.

Day 1 - Chapters 1-3

The first thing we did was to read some of the actual book. We rushed out to the library yesterday, and picked up a copy. You can read Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, entirely online if you like though. It can be found at Google Books. We also checked out an audio copy online through the Library to Go system (check with your local library if you're not sure what that is).

After we read through the first three chapters, I realized that this is going to be a study in vocabulary, as well as geography. We pulled out our dictionary, and printed out some theme related vocabulary worksheets from www.lessontutor.com/ees80printPT1.html . Our vocabulary study for the first three chapters includes: enigmatical, pernicious, avaricious, taciturn, viand, eccentric, grenadier, physiognomist, phlegmatic, chronometer, superfluous, rubicund, vagrant, chagrin, whimsical, edifice, whist, ponderous, stoical, almanac, scruples and tranquil.

Of course, since the book deals so heavily with travel, and with the culture of day, it seemed only right to ground our study in time and place. The matter of time we settled by watching an episode of 19th Century Turning Points in US History, that we found on Netflix, and then discussing, very briefly, the Victorian Age in England (any text or even Wikipedia, would do for this). So, we have the idea that Verne set this journey, at a time of discovery, when phones and electric lights were about to become a reality, but were still just beginning to take form.

As to setting the story in place, that was easily done thanks to the Internet, and a quick trip to London through Google Maps. Verne tells us that his main character, Phileas Fogg, lived on Saville Row, and spent much of his time at the Reform Club on Pall Mall. These are real places which can still be visited today. A quick look at the map, reveals the small space Fogg inhabited. I like Google Maps, because it allows a street view, that gives you the feeling of really being there.

We also visited the website of the Reform Club (the actual club does permit tours by application, but not for children under 12, and while there you are not allowed entry to any of the bathrooms).

Finally, to get to know the main character a little better, we decided to try out his favorite game - whist. You can find the rules of the game at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whist#Whist_rules. You can also try your luck against the computer at www.games.aol.com/game/whist. It's a four player game, so my husband and I played with the two oldest children last night. The rules are simple enough though, that I think we'll also teach the next youngest two, so the kids can play without us if they want. Whist is also a good game for fans of Jane Austin. It appears in several of her novels.

We took one quick linguistic turn, to check out the meaning of the name of Fogg's manservant, Passepartout. If my understanding of French is any good (which is a little suspect), it refers to a pass key, or the ability to move from situation to situation with ease.

That seemed to be enough for a beginning. Though, you might also want to google Richard Sheridan, Jules Leotard, Angelica Kauffmann, and the Barings Bank just to round out the first three chapters. All I have to say is wow! I hadn't realized how much mind candy we had been reading lately - this ought to prove to be an actually challenging unit study.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, those are some vocabulary words!!! Great idea. I read that books about 3 years ago. The older version of the movie is great too, with Pierce Bronson.