Thursday, December 19, 2013

Homeschool History, Religion, and Culture Studies (Part 7): Ancient Americas

Over the past few months, I have been studying the Ancient Americas (in other words, the civilizations and cultures of North, Central, and South America that existed before the arrival of Columbus and the Europeans). I attended a fabulous really fun and interesting class on this topic led by a very nice and clever professor from City University of New York, Wendy Raver. Every week, our class of about 10 homeschooled kids met at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the American Natural History Museum or the National Museum of the American Indian. We would talk about different Ancient American cultures and civilizations and look at amazing artifacts. We covered the aleo-Indians; first nation tribes in Canada; the Olmec, Mayan, Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, Toltec and Aztec in Mexico and Central America; the Chavin, Moche, Inkan and other Andean peoples in South America; and the ancient Caribbean.

Outside of class, my family and I read the relevant sections from Gloria Fiero's Humanistic Tradition (the book we always follow for our history studies) and then we read a bunch of books and watched some great documentaries.

And of course, my mum, Grandma, and I traveled to Guatemala last month and got to see the Ancient Maya ruins at Tikal!! We made a movie (see above) while we were there, inspired by the Popol Vuh: the ancient text of the Maya culture.


The Popol Vuh 
Charles C. Mann, Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491
Joy Hakim, A History of US: The First Americans: Prehistory-1600. Volume 1
Emma Carlson Berne, Christopher Columbus: The Voyage That Changed the World
Elizabeth Mann, Tikal
Laurie Coulter, Secrets in Stone: All About Maya Hieroglyphs
Dorothy Rhoads, The Corn Grows Ripe
Fiona MacDonald, Inca Town
Ted Lewin, Lost City: The Discovery of Machu Picchu
Vicki Cobb, This Place is High
Ann Cameron, The Most Beautiful Place in the World
Ann Cameron, Colibri

Documentaries and Movies

The Popol Vuh (episode of the Invitation to World Literature series on
Native America Before European Civilization (
Michael Woods' Conquistadors: Cortes
Michael Woods' Conquistadors: Pizarro
Michael Woods' Conquistadors: Orellano
Michael Woods' Conquistadors: Cabeza de Vaca
Werner Herzog, Aguirre Wrath of God
Secrets of the Ancients (BBC documentary about the Olmec)
Dawn of the Maya (

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Guatemala: Volcanoes, Ancient Maya Ruins, and Coatimundis!


I just got back from a really fun trip to Guatemala! I went with my mum and Grandma, Cati. I have been studying the Ancient Americas (more on that in the next post!) and so it was especially amazing to see the ancient Maya ruins (and other Mayan artifacts) at Tikal. We also visited Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and the famous Mayan market at Chichicastenango. One day, we climbed a volcano and I got to ride a horse and eat marshmallows that we roasted on hot volcanic rocks! Here are some photos and check out the video above.

In Antigua
My soccer friend
My horse was called Chopo!
Volcanic marshmallows

Fresh Tortillas!
View from breakfast at Lake Atitlan

In the jungle at Tikal

A cute coatimundi!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Books Not Billionaires!

Me and my friends are going to take part in a flash mob at noon on December 9th (2013) on the steps of the New York Public Library - you know, the really old beautiful one with the lions out front. There's a really bad plan to remove all the books from the research library and sell off the big Mid-Manhattan branch across the street, all to make room for another luxury tower on 5th Ave!

Most people don't know this is happening, so we're going to do some street theater. People are dressing up as either books or billionaires who want to kick them out of the library. Here's my costume that I made yesterday. You can make one too and join us!

Here are my friends making their book costumes!

And here are some other covers, all ready for the flash mob theater!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Save the Library!

My friends in the girl scouts are still trying to save the library where they meet in Brooklyn. We helped them make a new video! It's a follow up on the video we made earlier this year.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lego Creations

I have been making a lot of cool and fun Lego creations recently. This is my dragon.

Here he is breathing fire!

And here is a helicopter I made.

Finally, the Hogwart's Express!

And here's a stop motion movie I made with this Hogwart's train.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hedwig's Theme

I am learning to play "Hedwig's Theme" from the Harry Potter movies!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creepy Sleepy Hollow!

Last Saturday, I performed in a Reader's Theater production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Woodstock Library, NY. I played Brom Bones, the loveable rogue who plays tricks on poor Ichabod Crane. (Thanks, as always, to Lesley Sawhill, our director, who manages to stage such a fun and imaginative shows in a small space with limited resources!)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Summer Shakespeare: The Tempest

In July, I attended Shakespeare Summer Camp with New Genesis Productions. This was my third summer camp with NGP, and my fifth NGP performance! The show this year was the Tempest and I played Antonio, the evil brother of Prospero, *AND* I played Stephano, the drunken butler. It was really fun to play two very different characters! (scroll down to see the video) A huge thanks to Hillary Harvey for these fabulous photos!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Very Special Doll's House

My grandparents, mum, dad, and I just made this movie: A Doll's House. Look out for the doll's house in the video, which was made by my grandparents over 30 years ago!

And here are the interviews and bloopers!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Don Quixote de la Mancha!

Here is my newest movie: The Adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha! (thanks to my Grandma, Cati, for all the great props and access to a perfect film location!)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Italian Renaissance Art Tour!

In our recent Renaissance studies, we learned that St Francis of Assisi was foundational to the birth of Italian Renaissance art.

St Francis was not an artist himself, of course, but he helped bring about a new religious vision that emphasized the human and the personal. This new humanistic thinking gradually began to be reflected in works of art.

On our art tour of Italy in June (2013), we went to Assisi and saw the home of St Francis. We visited San Damiano, the little church which St Francis famously rebuilt...

...and inside we saw the crucifix that he said spoke to him.

We also visited the hermitage on top of Mount Subasio where St Francis lived, preached, and meditated.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Homeschool History, Religion, and Culture Studies (Part 6): Early and Italian Renaissance

So far, we have studied Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Romethe Hebrews, the birth of Christianity, the Middle Ages, and Hinduism and India. For the last five months we have been studying the Italian Renaissance and in June we went on the most amazing trip to Italy, where we saw so many of the most famous Renaissance art works (more on our trip later).

As usual, we used Gloria Fiero's Humanistic Tradition to start us off with our studies, but then we read and watched lots of other cool stuff too and went on tours of museums and churches both in NY and in Italy. 

The Decameron by Boccaccio
Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy

Art in Renaissance Italy, John Paoletti
The Very Short Introduction to the Renaissance by Jerry Brotton
The Very Short Introduction to the Renaissance Art by Geraldine Johnson


Great Courses, History of Western Art with Professor William Kloss (17 lectures on Renaissance art)


Medici's: Godfather's of the Renaissance - four episodes (PBS)
Art of the Western World - Episodes 1 to 8 (Michael Wood, BBC)
Renaissance - first three episodes (Andrew Graham Dixon, BBC 2)
Power of the Past, Art in Florence (Bill Moyers, PBS)
Private Life of a Masterpiece - episodes on Botticelli, Piero della Francesco, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Lippi (BBC)
Life of Leonardo da Vinci, 1971 Italian TV mini-series

Raphael: A Mortal God, BBC Documentary
The Divine Michelangelo, BBC Documentary

Tours and Museums:  

Renaissance art tour at the Metropolitan Museum, NY
Scuola Grande Di San Rocco, Venice
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice
San Pantaleone, Venice
Galleria dell'Academia, Venice
St Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace, Venice
Arena Chapel, Padua
Dante's Museum and Church, Florence
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
The Baptistry, Florence
Uffizi, Florence
Galleria dell'Academia, Florence
"The Springtime of the Renaissance," Special Exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence 
Museo Bargelo, Florence
Sante Croce, Florence
Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Brancacci Cappella, Florence
Basilica di San Francesco, Assisi
Basilica di Santa Chiara, Assisi
San Damiano, Assisi
Vatican Museums, Rome
St Peter's Basilica, Rome


Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Monster in the Hudson River??

 A group of NY homeschoolers thought that there might be a monster dwelling in the Hudson River. I went with them to investigate!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Save the Library!

My really good friend Nini and her friends in the Girl Scout's are trying to save a beautiful, old Brooklyn Library. Jojo and I made a movie about their campaign!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Who Stole the Carrots??

Introducing...Detective Bunnies!! I wrote, directed, and shot all of this movie on my own. Jojo just helped with the editing!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shakespeare Master Class

Last weekend, I was in "Shakespeare for a New Generation," a show by New Genesis Productions' 2013 Master Class. It was so fun! Watch this video to see my two monologues.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Story of Siddhartha - Part 3

The Story of Siddhartha series is finally done. This is Part 3 (above), but you can check out parts 1 and 2 below:


Part 2:

 Part 2:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Channeling Kandinsky!

I have been going to art classes at New York's Art Student's League with a really great teacher, Marilyn Friedman. This (above) is my drawing inspired by Kandinsky. Below is my version of Monet's Ducal Palace in Venice:

And here's a wolf I drew (we learned to draw fur without hard outlines):

 And here we used our imagination to extend another picture:

One week, we learned about cartoon drawing. This was my favorite class!

Jojo, Baba, and I are studying Renaissance art and architecture in preparation for our trip to Italy in June. Here is Florence's famous Duomo!

And my drawings of winter and spring were displayed on the walls at the Art Student's League!