Mythological Secrets of Greece: The Acropolis & Ancient Athens

We began our tour of Athens with a visit to the Acropolis, an ancient citadel located on an extremely rocky outcrop above the city of Athens, a sacred site since Mycenaen times. From atop the Acropolis, 360 degree views of the surrounding valley are seemingly endless.

Acropolis & Ancient Athens @EvaVarga.netWe could even see the Aegean Sea. It was easy to understand the importance of this site since Mycenaean times. Athenians worshipped their deities here in temples erected in their honor. The ground was uneven and marble slabs were dispersed amidst gravel. During the height of the Grecian empire the ground would have been solid marble. The marble walls adorned with brightly painted frescoes.

The Acropolis

Parthenon

Perched atop the Acropolis is the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena whom the people of Athens consider their patron, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power.

It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy, and western civilization.

Though critical to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure, it was unfortunate that the Greek Ministry of Culture was carrying out restoration and reconstruction projects during our visit and thus scaffolding marred our view. I enjoyed listening to our guide describe in detail the metopes and pediments that originally adorned the outer Parthenon.

Ancient Athens: The Parthenon @EvaVarga.netThe metopes of the Parthenon were a series of marble panels (92 originally) which are examples of the Classical Greek high-relief. The metopes of each side of the building had a different subject, and together with the pediments, Ionic frieze, and the statue of Athena Parthenos contained within the Parthenon, formed an elaborate program of sculptural decoration.

The sculptures of the pediments (gable ends) of the temple illustrated the history of the gods. The east pediment narrated the birth of Athena from the head of her father, Zeus. The west pediment depicted the contest between Athena and Poseidon during their competition for the honor of becoming the city’s patron.  Unfortunately, the centrepieces of the pediments were destroyed – only small corners remain.

Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike Built around 420BC, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis. Nike means victory in Greek, and Athena was worshipped in this form, as goddess of victory in war and wisdom. The citizens worshipped the goddess in hope of a successful outcome in the long Peloponnesian War fought on land and sea against the Spartans and their allies. (pictured at top in the photo collage)

Ancient Athens: Erqchtheion Temple @EvaVarga.netErechtheion

The Erechtheion was particularly impressive with the famous “Porch of the Maidens” (caryatids) disguising the supporting columns unobstructed on the south side. This ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.

It was built between 421 and 406 BC and derived its name from a shrine dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erichthonius. Others suggest it was built in honor of the legendary king Erechtheum, who was mentioned in Homer’s Iliad as a great king and ruler of Athens during the Archaic Period.

Surrounding Athens

Temple of Zeus

The temple, built in the second quarter of the fifth century BC, was a fully developed classical Greek temple of the Doric order. The temple housed the renowned statue of Zeus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was lost and destroyed during the fifth century AD and details of its form are known only from ancient Greek descriptions and representations on coins.

Ancient Athens: Temple of Zeus @EvaVarga.netThe temple was of peripteral form, with a frontal pronaos (porch), mirrored by a similar arrangement at the back of the building, the opisthodomos. The building sat on a crepidoma (platform) of three unequal steps, the exterior columns were positioned in a six by thirteen arrangement, two rows of seven columns divided the cella (interior) into three aisles.

The temple lies in ruins today perhaps due, in part, to the materials and design. The main structure of the building was constructed of a local limestone that was unattractive and of poor quality, and so it was coated with a thin layer of stucco to give it an appearance of marble to match the sculptural decoration. It was roofed with marble cut into the shape of tiles and thin enough to be translucent.

Panathinaikos Olympic Stadium @EvaVarga.netPanathinaiko Olympic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium and the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and was once again used as an Olympic venue in 2004.

Annually, it is the finishing point for the annual Athens Classic Marathon. It is also the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place.

We would have liked the afternoon free to explore the Placa – a lively region of downtown that remains architecturally unchanged. However, we had signed up for the optional Cape Sounion tour. We thus had to return to the hotel for a quick lunch before departing once more by coach.

Temple of Poseidon

In the late afternoon, we enjoyed a relaxing drive along the Athenian Riviera coast to the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea. Here we visited the splendid Temple of Poseidon which, like the Temple of Zeus, was constructed in the fifth century BC. In a maritime country like Greece, the god of the sea occupied a high position in the divine hierarchy. In power, Poseidon was considered second only to Zeus.

The ancient temple is perched above a 197-foot drop down to the Aegean Sea below and is surrounded on three sides by the sea. It is clear why the ancient Greeks had selected this location for the temple to honor Poseidon.

Ancient Athens: Temple of Poseidon @EvaVarga.netConstructed in 444–440 BC over the ruins of a temple dating from the Archaic period, the design of the temple is a typical hexastyle featuring a rectangular cella (interior), with a colonnade of 34 Doric columns quarried of white marble on all four sides. Today, only 15 columns still stand.

The area is steeped in Greek history and was once the site of the world’s first lighthouse. It was here that it is believed to be where King Aegeus threw himself from the rocky precipice, a 197 foot drop to the sea below, thereby lending his name to the Aegean Sea.

Ancient Greek religion was propitiatory in nature, essentially based on the notion that to avoid misfortune, one must constantly seek the favour of the relevant gods by prayers, gifts and sacrifices. To the ancient Greek, every natural feature (hill, lake, stream or wood) was controlled by a god.

Dinner at Psiri

We ended the evening with a delightful “meze style” dining experience at a wonderful restaurant located in the lively area of Psiri. Dining “meze style”, we were provided the opportunity to taste many Greek cuisine dishes, which were served in the center of the table for everyone to enjoy.

Seating was al fresco right next to the street – quite the experience as motorists zipped through the narrow street. Everything was delicious and our company was wonderful!

This is the first in a five-day hopscotch exploring the Mythological Secrets of Greece:

The Acropolis & Ancient Athens (this post)

The Island of Mykonos

The Island of Delos

The Lost City & Paradise in Santorini

Nea & Palea Kameni

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Find more homeschool related topics to explore at the iHomeschool Network’s Homeschool Hopscotch

 

Finishing Strong #112: Choosing Curriculum, Experiences Abroad, and ‘What NOT to Say’

Homeschooling is a unique experience. We can customize the education plan for each of our kiddos to celebrate their unique strengths while also building upon their academic and life skills at their own pace.

Our lifestyle choices and where we choose to live also play a major role in cultivating the educational experiences of our children. There is no perfect approach, no one-way-suits-all method to educating our children. We must all find or forge our own path. Sometimes that means taking detours along the way.

One of the things that makes our homeschool unique is that we love to travel and have been afforded the opportunity to do so by the lifestyle choices we made early on. While educating our children while traveling full time sounds appealing to me, it would never work for us as a family. We need to be close to home and to our parents who need our support. My husband’s line of work also requires his physical presence.

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As such, we have made travel a priority in our life. We do our best to experience other cultures while also learning more about our own nation’s rich history and geography.

Some time ago, I shared with you a series of posts I wrote highlighting our experiences in Italy, Falling in Love with Italy. Next week, I will be taking part in a 5-day hopscotch to bring you along on our journey through the Secrets of the Greek Islands. Come along and see what surprises we discovered along the way.


Finishing Strong #112

Finishing Strong

Welcome to Finishing Strong ~ a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids. Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home.

Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan and Susan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight. I know you will find the posts that have been shared with us inspiring!

Choosing Curriculum College Betsy’s post, Choosing Curriculum with College in Mind, was the most clicked post shared last week and it is no surprise as it coincides with the recent publication of her book, Homeschooling with College in Mind which I reviewed just the other day.

Learn more about Betsy’s book in my review, Homeschooling High School with College in Mind

STEM ConnectionsMy favorite post this past week was Make STEM Connections with Gravity Jousting from Heather at Blog She Wrote. The PITSCO science kit she reviews looks fabulous and I am strongly considering purchasing it. I know my kids would love it!

WWII BooksFor the past few years, I have coordinated a living history day for local students to showcase their interests and talents. Each year, my daughter has selected a woman who made an impact during WWII and I have thereby discovered her fascination with this historical period. I’ve thereby selected Mother of 3’s 35 More World War II Books for Children.

Check out my post Bringing History to Life with Living History Presentations for tips and ideas for coordinating a living history day in your area.

Things Not to SayNow that my daughter is swimming with the high school swim team and we are meeting new people, we are hearing these comments more often. Heidi’s post, Things You Should Never Say to Those That Homeschool High School, made me chuckle.

Homeschooling high school can be done! In my post, High School Forecasting, I share how we are coordinating CLEP exams and dual-enrollment coursework.

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As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
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  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

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100 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Europe: A Book Review & GIVEAWAY

I am so very excited! Several months ago, fellow travel blogger, Ashley Steel, reached out to me to inquire if my children would be interested in submitting their photography for a new book she was writing with Bill Richards. The focus of their new book was on traveling with kids in Europe and we had just returned from a three week excursion to Italy and Greece.

100 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Europe This post may contain affiliate links.

My kids were delighted to take part and submitted several photos each – their favorites from each of the two countries we had recently visited. We didn’t know which photographs would be selected and have been looking forward to the discovery.

Our wait is now over! Traveling with Kids in Europe is now available in paperback from Amazon. We couldn’t be happier with the final product. The layout of the book is fabulous and I just love how the children’s photographs are dispersed throughout the book to augment the many wonderful travel tips provided by Steel and Richards.

lovelocks

Traveling with Kids in Europe is divided into three sections: preparing for your trip (get the kids involved in planning and setting an itinerary), the trip itself (navigating the airport, finding your hotel, etc.), and finally logistical tips and safety (alerting your credit card company prior to departure). There is so much packed into this book.

While we can’t list all of the tourist activities across this exciting continent, we sow the seeds for what your trip can really be. Don’t settle for just the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and Big Ben. Explore Europe! Dance to street musicians, learn about politics, eat seven kinds of waffles, go punting, and see fairy tale scenery (literally!).

Whether you are new to foreign travel or are planning your first trip aboard, you’ll find ideas and suggestions to ensure your excursion is memorable and enjoyable!

sails
Traveling with Kids in Europe is a fabulous book full of great tips for traveling with kids. What I love best are the photographs on every page – taken by children of all ages as they traveled in Europe with their families. Though I could be partial – I just love seeing Europe from the perspective of the kids. Their creativity brings to life the culture of each country through the eyes of the young travelers themselves.

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You might also be interested in their earlier book, Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids. You can learn more about their works by visiting their website.

A Dozen or So Ideas for Family Time

When asked, children say the number one thing they want most from their parents is time. Parents don’t have to spend a lot of money to spend quality time with their children; any time spent together sharing an activity is considered quality time.

Children grow and change quickly, so family time is a wonderful time to get to know your child better. It builds strong family ties and creates lifelong memories. Family time also creates an environment that builds self-esteem and character in children.

family timeIdeas for Family Time

Here are a dozen things families with teens and preteens can do together as a family.

1. Eat Meals Together

Eating our meals together, especially our evening meal, had been a big part of my childhood. I always knew this was a tradition I wanted to continue when I had children of my own. Times have changed, however, and coming together for dinner is more difficult than it was in the 70s and 80s.

Parents are working longer hours. Kids are involved in more extracurricular activities – sports, school clubs, etc. We’ve thereby made family meals a priority. Though some nights we have to juggle, the majority of our evening meals are enjoyed with each of us seated at the dining room table.

2. Cook Meals Together

This is an endeavor we have only recently begun, but it certainly more fun to prepare a meal with one another than to do all the work oneself. The way our kitchen is laid out, only two people can be actively cooking or preparing a dish. There just isn’t space for more. When Patrick and I are cooking, the kids like to sit at the island and engage us in conversation. It helps to extend our family meal time.

3. Go for an Evening Walk

After we’ve cleaned up our meal and taken care of any pressing tasks demanding our attention, we often enjoy a short walk around the neighborhood. These strolls provide us a chance to catch up and focus on one another without distractions. Sometimes it’s just hubby and I – a great time to assure we are on the same page. Other times, it’s the four of us.

4. Take on a Challenge

Going for walks together is something we have always enjoyed. Shortly into the new year, we challenged ourselves to hike 52 different trails together as a family. We started the year strong, visiting new trail heads in parts of the state we had not previously explored.

One of the stipulations we made for ourselves is that all four of us needed to be there. In other words, Patrick and I can not count the hikes we did during our romantic weekend away to celebrate our anniversary. The kids can not count the hikes they do at summer camp. Illnesses, schedule conflicts, and other obligations have thereby set us back for a couple months.

5. Play a Board Game

It’s well-known that kids need plenty of exercise, but it can be hard to pry them off the couch and away from their electronic devices. One way to get them moving is to engage the whole family in games that are simple and fun. There are many spectacular games available today. Some of our favorites include: Carcassonne, Takenoko, Timeline, & Tokaido. Host a family board game night, invite your friends, and find new favorites. You’ll be glad you did.

classes6. Take a Class

My daughter and I have taken several classes together ranging from seaweed art and foraging for mushrooms. Each class has provided us with opportunities to bond with one another and share our passions.

I have long desired to take a dance class as a family but thus far, we haven’t been able to work this experience into our schedule. I haven’t given up, however, and will continue to hope. Other ideas include cooking classes, martial arts, swimming, creative writing, guitar lessons – wherever your heart leads.

7. Go Camping

In years past, we went camping on an annual basis to our favorite county park. As the kids have gotten older, they have expressed an interest in going more often. I love this for many reasons but namely because it enables us to squeeze in more hikes and detox from screen time. This year, we have camped twice already and three more weekends are planned.

We keep it simple – we tent camp and have agreed that an RV just isn’t necessary. We plan easy meals and cook over the open fire. Bring along a fun outdoor game like Bocce ball or Kübb (a Viking lawn game) and Let the Fun Begin.

8. Take a Road Trip

As a family, one of the things we most enjoy is traveling. In the past few years, we have been blessed to have the time and financial means to travel abroad regularly. As our financial circumstances have changed, we know we won’t travel as often or as far in the near future, but travel is something we have agreed is very important to us and we thereby make sacrifices in other areas to assure we can continue to explore our world.

While not everyone may desire to travel abroad, road trips are a fabulous experience; providing opportunities to connect with one another and to learn more about our nation’s history and natural areas.

9. Enjoy a Book

Whether we are going about our errands around town or enjoying a road trip across state borders, we always have an audio book in our car. This is a great way to squeeze in genres and classical literature that your children may not otherwise choose for themselves. I love the conversations that we have as a result of experiencing a great book together.

volunteer10. Volunteering

There are many volunteer opportunities for kids. When we first moved back to Oregon, Geneva expressed interest in volunteering at the art museum. As she is not yet 16, I am required to go with her. It has been a great experience for us both – exposing us to artists and mediums previously unfamiliar to us. It has also given me the opportunity to observe her professionally.

Likewise, both children and I volunteer together in a variety of capacities at the estuarine research reserve and marine learning center, providing us with experience doing real science (fish seines and annual counts, biomonitoring field work), education outreach, and interpretation. We have also enjoyed volunteering while on vacation.

11. See a Concert or Go to the Theatre

As a classically-minded homeschool family, we try to see a play at least once a year and hope to eventually see Shakespeare’s entire canon. We also try to see live concert events whenever possible. This is especially important to us as both kids are young musicians. While Geneva plays for self interest, Jeffrey has expressed a desire to possibly pursue it as a career. We are most looking forward to seeing The Piano Guys perform again next month.

12. Engage in a Friendly Competition

Whether you consider yourself an athlete or not, there are a wide range of entertaining “runs”. I am sure you’ve heard about them in social media: bubble runs, color runs, mud runs, etc. are all the rage. There is nothing competitive about them other than seeing who has the most color on them after the race! There’s no timing, no timing clock and no placement awards. Just a great excuse to come out and have fun with your friends, family and kids while doing something healthy!

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What do you do together as a family? Leave a comment below and share your favorite activities.

Join the other iHomeschool Network bloggers to learn How We Spend Family Time.

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5 Benefits of Local Science Museums & Nature Centers { BONUS :: Win a Family Pass }

When we travel as a family, one of the things that is always high on our itinerary are local science museums and nature centers. These local venues provide an intimate look at the natural world and ecosystems of the region. The perfect way to familiarize ourselves with the natural history and wildlife of the local area.

Science Museums & Nature Centers

First to mind are typically our National Parks and large-scale science museums like the Smithsonian, OMSI (in Portland, Oregon), or the Exploratorium (San Fransisco). The smaller museums are often overlooked for the educational opportunities they provide because they don’t have the advertising budget of larger venues. I want to encourage you to seek out these small, local museums and science centers.

Today, I highlight five benefits of local science museums. Best of all – I’m giving away one free family pass to The Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California.

science museums exhibitsHands-on Exhibits

You are likely already familiar with the hands-on exhibits, IMAX and planetarium shows that explore the wonders of science and the universe that are provided by science museums around the country. However, science museums provide so much more!

The mission of museums today is to stimulate curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups. Whether your visit is a family outing or a part of a school experience, the hands-on exhibits are the keystone of the museum.

Field Trips

The learning opportunities at science museums include field trips and school programs. Often, entrance fees are significantly reduced if visiting the museum in a large group. Consider coordinating an outing for your local homeschool community.

Perhaps your local science museum offers in-house classes or educational experiences with a trained volunteer or staff member? Reach out to your local museum education staff and inquire about their field trip programs. If they do not have programs in place, they may be happy to customize options to fit the needs of your class or school.

Adventure Tours :: Museum instructors and volunteers guide students through activities at the museum using the exhibits, grounds and classrooms.

Festivals :: Multiple stations are set up in and around the museum featuring hands-on activities and opportunities for learning. Students and chaperones explore in small groups.

Self-Guided Field Trips :: Some museums offer a self-guided field trip whereupon school groups pay a reduced admission rate and teachers and chaperones are admitted free.

Self-Guided Learning Expeditions :: Many museums offer materials which provide a focused course of exploration during your museum field trip. Developed with local teachers, each includes pre-visit activities which are built upon during the field trip and completed through post-visit activities in the classroom.

At larger museums often the education programs meet the Next Generation Science Standards as well as the Common Core Standards for Literacy and Math.

science museums festivalsCurriculum

Staff and volunteers of science museums often collaborate to develop education materials and public outreach for their visitors. These materials are often available online with the goal of increasing science literacy across the full spectrum of education, both in the classroom and in daily life, for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Discovery Classes :: Some museums offer classroom based programs that can either be held at the museum or at your school.

Traveling Trunks :: Traveling trunks are a great way to extend the learning experience and bring it back to the classroom. These curriculum-based learning units are designed to enliven classroom learning through authentic materials and hands-on lessons.

Look for ways you can expand upon what was learned at the museum by visiting local historic sites as I shared in my earlier post, Bonanza! Gold Rush Experiences.

Professional Development

Many science museums offer a range of professional development courses and workshops designed to strengthen teacher expertise and integrate hands-on science activities into the classroom. Many also offer formal classes and labs for students of all ages, professional development support for science teachers, and a broad range of formal and informal learning opportunities for visitors.

Teacher Training :: A variety of training programs are offered throughout the year for educators of grades kindergarten through 12. The sessions are designed to help teachers gain a deeper understanding of the region’s arts, culture, history and natural sciences.

science museums summer campSummer Camps

If you’ve been to camp, I’m sure you can list off numerous benefits of summer camp. But if you didn’t go to camp as a child, you may not realize just how good the experience is for children. Unplugging from devices, spending their day outdoors being physically active, making new friends, developing life skills, and growing more independent are just a few of the positives.

There are a multitude of summer camps sure to captivate kids of every interest—and your secret desire to enhance their education—from digging for fossils to programming robots, learning how to sail a boat or navigate across varied terrain with only a compass and a topographical map.

Here are just a few examples of camps available at science museums in California and Oregon:

Lawrence Hall of Science :: Lawrence Hall of Science camps are a great place to spend the summer. Where else can you build a wobbling robot, see how a chinchilla takes a bath, and visit the stars? Campers get inspired to explore, build, and create with new friends and cool tools!

OMSI :: Did you know Olympian swim suits were modeled after a shark’s skin? Look at nature differently as you build bio-mimicry challenges around a coastal campfire.  OR …Try your hand at everything from archaeology to web design this summer with brand new tech-based classes and junior overnight adventures.

High Desert Museum :: Offering a wide range of summer camps exploring animal science, astronomy, geology, and photography through fun and interactive activities and hands-on experiments.

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Our Well Traveled Family

I am so excited to begin this new venture. I have been blogging about our homeschooling journey for years. As we have begun to travel aboard more regularly as a family, I have had a burning desire to share our stories with the world.

I realize, however, that not everyone who visits my homeschool blog is interested in the details of our travel. It is for this reason that I was inspired to create Well Traveled Family and I am delighted that you are here.

Welcome to Well Traveled FamilyMy first memory of traveling abroad was a road trip with my parents to British Columbia when I was about 9 years old. I recall vividly how enthralled my brothers and I were watching an HO train traverse along the tracks of an elaborate model. I can visualize my father holding my hand as we meandered the pathways of the botanical gardens in Victoria.

In college, I spent a summer in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico teaching at a girl’s orphanage and working with the municipal government in a youth sports program. These experiences engrained in me the importance of connecting with one another through travel.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  ~ Mark Twain

When we travel, no matter how near or far, we share experiences and moments that shape our family. Each adventure – whether a day trip to the mountains or an international excursion – is a memory we share with one another.

No matter where we reside – initially in Oregon and now Northern California, we seek out adventures and opportunities to explore our surroundings. Not only does it give us something to do, it strengthens our family bond. When removed from the distractions of our work and other obligations of life, we are able to better connect with one another.

My goal for Well Traveled Family is share our experiences traveling as family in hopes of inspiring you to seek out new adventures. I will share anecdotes from our excursions as well as traveling tips and hidden gems we have discovered along the way.

Join us as sail away from the harbor and catch the trade winds.