Wednesday, November 26, 2014

By the Dawn's Early Light, The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner....

By the Dawn's Early Light is an unforgettable tale of how Francis Scott Key came to write "The Star-Spangled Banner".  Steven Kroll's picture book seems to be an accurate account of this trying time in the history of our nation.  I had no idea of the story behind the anthem and was utterly amazed by it.  The words of the song took on a new meaning after reading By the Dawn's Early Light.  And, not only is this a wonderful story, but Dan Andreasen's illustrations are absolutely gorgeous!  This is a story that should be told and Kroll's book is a great way to do it.  His book will captivate young and old Americans alike.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Old Ironsides, Americans Build a Fighting Ship....

Old Ironsides, Americans Build a Fighting Ship by David Weitzman gives a first hand account of the process used to build one of America's first navy frigates, the U.S.S. Constitution.  The story is told through the eyes of John Aylwin, a boy whose father is one of the ship's carpenters,  Weitzman's story will draw you in.  His black and white illustrations are phenomenal.

Coming off last year's study of the American Revolution, Old Ironsides...was the perfect segue to learn about our new nation at the turn of the century.   The process of building an American warship in the late 1790's was really quite amazing.  The Constitution weighed in at 1,576 tons, carried 44 guns, and was made from more than 1,000 trees.  Weitzman's description of selecting just the right oak trees for the masts, creating the casting of the cannon, and sewing more than two acres of sail are fascinating.  I highly recommend this picture book!    

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801

For years, I've collected Genevieve Foster books.  They're recommended on all the best reading lists.  I even assign them to my children to read, but I confess, I had not taken the plunge myself.  Oh, I've studied excerpts and read reviews, but I had not read one from cover to cover, until now, and I was pleasantly pleased.

The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801 by Genevieve Foster is a treat!  Foster brings major world events from 1801-1821 together in an interesting, understandable fashion.  These were the years of Napoleon's rise and fall.  Who knew that he played such a major role in so many events around the world!  From Richard Trevithick's "horseless carriage" to Robert Fulton's steam engine, from Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase to the Madison's and the War of 1812, and from Toussaint L'Ouverature's Haiti to Beethoven's symphonies, Napoleon's rule touched the lives of them all. 

I look forward to reading more of Foster's books in the future!  ....and so should you :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Toppling Towers of Books....

Riley and I were book saling fools last week :)  There were a couple of great used book sales in our area that we just couldn't pass up.  We are now in the process of sorting and culling for our upcoming Christmas Sale....stay tuned for that.

Can you imagine Riley's dismay, after taking a break from sorting and stacking, when she came to find Levi's handwork in toppling and commingling her piles...YIKES!  :(

Oh well, such is life here on Drywood Creek ;-)  She has since resorted and stacked her piles.  

A couple of  books that I was especially excited to find were Henry David Thoreau, A Man For Our Time by James Daugherty and Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred Holmes.  We are huge fans of Daugherty's work.  This particular book of Thoreau's writing was selected and illustrated by Daugherty.  I found the "Introduction" most fascinating.  

Thoreau was born in 1817 in Concord, MA.  He lived at a time when the American Constitution was young, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were breaking ground for wagon trains heading west, the iron horse was pushing progress to the Mississippi, Yankee clipper ships were bringing back exotic cargo, and gold was discovered in California.  To think, Thoreau's contemporaries, just to name a few, were Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I was particularly intrigued by the last lines of the author's introduction (words in brackets are mine)....

"He (Thoreau) was a victim of consumption and bravely endured a long illness.  In this last hours his aunt at his bedside asked that question always so dreadful to the Yankee soul: "Henry, have you made your peace with God?" 

"I did not know that we had ever quarreled," he said."  

In Badger Saints and Sinners, Holmes relates the adventures of people who helped shape Wisconsin history.  The inside cover flap states, "Mr. Holmes has had a most extensive contact with the men, the places, the factual sources out of which this book was produced.....Mr Holmes knew personally many of the people he writes about."  The book contains illustrations, maps, and photos archiving WI history.  I'm excited to have what appears to be a primary source living book on the history of our state. 

Oh the treasures!  It's what I love about used sales, you just never know what you'll find!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Charlotte Mason and the High School Years....

Yes, it is absolutely, positively possible to continue using Charlotte's methods through out the high school years!  Sonya Shafer did an excellent job of pulling it together in the last SCM Learning and Living DVD.  Shafer started off by reminding us to think about the big picture and to recommit our goals for each child in our homeschool.  I loved the quote she used...

"But the function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person; the more of a person, the better the work of whatever kind." - Charlotte Mason

This is a powerful reminder that we are educating born persons, not simply checking boxes or cramming facts, but creating thinking persons with good habits and character, who can discern truth and beauty. 

Shafer moved on to mention a couple of pitfalls we should avoid when teaching through the high school years.  I must confess to being guilty right off the bat.  I assigned too much reading too quickly, not allowing time to ruminate and think.  I am coming to realize the value in a slower reading schedule.  I hope to make adjustments in our future high school experiences. 

Next, Shafer covered things that stay the same in a Charlotte Mason high school education.  I can think of two things that fell by the wayside in our high school experience and they were oral narration and nature study.  Angel did still orally narrate occasionally, but not because I required it.  The narration was born out of excitement or a connection she made with a book she read.  Nature study totally did not happen in high school.  However, we were fairly new to CM's methods, therefore the habit wasn't developed early on so it was easy to drop.  Again, hopefully, things will be different the next time around. Of course, Shafer also taught what changes in a CM high school.

Much of what Shafer covered regarding grades, calculating credits, and transcripts was review for me.  I had previously posted quite a bit of the same information here

A couple of things that I really appreciated about this DVD finale was when Shafer explained how a Charlotte Mason education does and does not prepare a student.  The pros way out weighed the cons in my book.  The cons were very minor and things you could easily discuss or walk through with your student near graduation such as how to use a textbook or how to take standardized tests, among other things.  These are skills that certainly shouldn't take twelve years to teach.  You should be able to give your student a brief 101 before graduation so they can practice these skills in college.  

Sadly, our CM Study Group is finished meeting :(  ...But, it was encouraging and fun to start building a Charlotte Mason community in my area.  I heard many positive comments so I'm planning to continue with a Charlotte Mason book club in the new year, which I'm really looking forward to!  We will read and discuss Charlotte's six volume series, which I'm sure will be the subject of many posts here :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Commonplace Book....Carl Sandburg

"So came the birth of Abraham Lincoln that 12th of February in the year 1809 - in silence and pain from a wilderness mother on a bed of corn-husks and bearskins - with an early laughing child prophecy he would never come to much."  - Carl Sandburg, Abe Lincoln Grows Up

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving Picture Books

We're in for our first winter weather situation today here on Drywood Creek.  It looks like our area is expecting about 12 inches of snow over the next 36 hours with blowing and drifting.  What a great time to hunker down with a good book!  With the season of giving thanks upon us, I thought I'd share some of our favorite Thanksgiving titles for young children.

On the Mayflower by Kate Waters
Across the Wide and Dark Sea by Jean Van Leeuwen
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
Squanto and the Miracle Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
Giving Thanksgiving: The 1621 Harvest Feast by Kate Waters
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin - This is also a Five in a Row title.  You can see the lapbook Riley completed here
Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey - We actually read the original version of this book online here.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving titles?  Feel free to leave a comment below :)