Saturday, October 5, 2019

Summer & Fall 2019 Mother Culture...

I was looking back at old posts and realized, I didn't share my summer reading list so I will include progress here in this post along with the fall list. Click here to see where I left off in spring.

Summer Mother Culture

Upon reflection, I actually read quite a bit this summer all things considered. Reading in community is a big push for me. I love the accountability it brings, as well as the camaraderie. I find I am most productive when reading with a group.

Here's what I read this summer....

CM Study Group

I finished A Practical Guide to Culture by Stonestreet and Kunkle in August with my CM Study Group. There were a few nuggets in this book, particularly if you are a media friendly family, and maybe more so if you are involved in public school. However, some parts felt like preaching to the choir because sadly I'm not sure those that need to hear the message are the ones picking up the book. Stonestreet and Kunkle do tackle some difficult cultural issues such as pornography, sexual orientation, gender identity, and entertainment from a biblical perspective.

There is a rhythm to the chapters so each is written in the same format, beginning with introduction, followed by bullet points or numbered action points, and closing with a review. This makes A Practical Guide to Culture an easy read, as it's in an understandable format. There are also study guide questions at the end of each chapter, which makes it a great book club or study group book.

Overall, I did quite a bit of underlining in the book and will use it for a quick reference if needed. I would most likely not read the book a second time, but would recommend it to those looking for ways to glean ideas on handling the cultural pressures on our kids today.

Convivial Circle

In June, I finished reading Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott, in an effort to facilitate an online study group at Convivial Circle. I was really excited to finally read this book that had been on my list for some time. I've heard Andrew Kern, Martin Cothran, and Cindy Rollins all mention it at some point. Honestly, the book started really strong, but lagged for me toward the end. I don't know that Caldecott ever closed the circle in my mind. I was left wondering about a few points he brought up, but never finalized.

Overall, it was worthy in spite of being very philosophical. Maybe a second reading would better enlighten me. I would like to blog more about this book in the future.

Read Along

The kids, Steve, my father, and I set out to read The Pearl by John Steinbeck in August. We enjoyed our True Grit study so much that we wanted to continue. I believe dad, Riley, and possibly Steve finished, but Ruben and I did not. It's still on my nightstand and I aim to get back at it this winter.

Summer Schole Sisters

It's always so hard to see summer end, but I am left this year with extremely fond memories of reading Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset with my Summer Schole Sisters. Undset's trilogy had also been on my want to read list for some time...maybe since I first heard Wes Callihan mention it on a Schole Sisters podcast back in Episode 14. I have been thinking about Kristin periodically since finishing the book.

Kristin Lavransdatter is set in Medieval Norway. It is the story of a life beginning with Kristin as a young girl and ending with her death as a woman, wife, and mother of eight sons. I must confess, I was not hooked after Part I, The Wreath. Instead, I was actually annoyed by the ignorant ways of young lovers. However, Part II, The Wife persuaded me and Part III, The Cross, totally sealed the deal!! I can't recommend this book enough and will definitely read it again at some point.


Fall Mother Culture

CM Study Group

Our CM Study Group has moved on to When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy Today edited by Elaine Cooper. It's a series of essays from various educators contemplating the importance of a Charlotte Mason education and how to apply it one hundred years later. It's an older book, published in 2004, but certainly still relevant.

High School Book Club

Riley and I are starting a High School Book Club this year. It's a spin off of the High School Community I facilitated last year. However, we will simply read and discuss classic works this year at Riley's request and not include composition, current events, Shakespeare, and recitation. Our High School Community was fabulous, but a lot of work. Other members agreed and were not able to continue in the same format this year. This book club will follow more closely to the Middle School Socratic Book Clubs that I led a few years ago.

Riley was instrumental in choosing the five titles we will read. The two fall books are: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I'll save the winter reads for another post.

My fall list is short, but plentiful. I have many other books on my nightstand. However, with the Journey: An Education for Life retreat not too far off, I'm not adding any others until winter. I will actually be speaking about Mother Culture and my reading habits at this year's retreat!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

2019-2020 Year 2 Curriculum Preview....


I've been tardy in posting my curricula choices this year because I wanted to try some things before solidifying them. We are now three weeks into the 2019-2020 academic year. I've made a few changes, but am finally finding a rhythm.

Levi is in Year 2 by public school standards. However, he is young for his grade with a June birthday so having just turned seven, we are somewhere between 1st and 2nd grade. Honestly, last year started well, but if you've been a long time reader here, you know it dropped off after Ruben's accident in November. Ongoing medical appointments and therapies were very time consuming. Then in March, Levi broke his foot. Needless to say, strict academics as scheduled took a back seat. Although, that doesn't mean learning didn't happen. It was simply different than originally planned.

This fall, I picked up where Levi left off with math and phonics last spring. One of the beauties of home education is teaching the child where they are at, rather than teaching the curriculum and trying to make the child fit. I see no need to start with new curriculum because it's a new year. We will just continue what we were doing, then add in some history, literature, and enrichment. In addition, Levi will participate in homeschool choir and art first semester outside of our home, as well as, a Charlotte Mason co-op for early elementary homeschool students throughout the year. The topics covered there will be:

Memorize Psalm 23
Hymn Study
Composer Study
Artist Study
Geography
Science & Nature Study
Presentation (Show & Tell and Recitation)

Levi attended the CM co-op for the first time last week and really enjoyed it. It was kind of like a Morning Time in community. At the end, the kids were allowed to run around and have play time in the gym. I'm sure Levi would say that was his favorite part. :)

Regarding his studies at home, here is a list of resources I will draw from....

Bible, History, and Literature


Heart of Dakota Little Hearts for His Glory - parts and pieces with modifications
Holy Bible - King James Version
Devotions for the Children's Hour by Kenneth N. Taylor
History for Little Pilgrims (Christian Liberty Press)
History Stories for Children (Christian Liberty Press)
The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Grandfather Frog by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Buster Bear by Thornton Burgess

In addition, I'll be adding many picture and other literature books.

Reading and Phonics


Memoria Press First Start Reading - We started this last spring and I really like it because it's systematic phonics instruction with writing. The program is geared for Kindergarten-1st Grade. However, I feel it's better suited for 1st-2nd Grade because of the writing component. I don't use the program exactly as written, partly because Levi is an older student and partly because there is some busy work designed for classroom use. Overall, I think Memoria Press has a great phonics/reading program that's easily adaptable to Charlotte Mason's methods. There are five leveled workbooks in the program and we are just about finished with Book B. There is also a separate Phonics workbook and some readers. I anticipate finishing the entire series by the end of the academic year.

Penmanship and Copywork


In addition to the writing in Memoria Press First Start Reading, we will occasionally use the Draw, Write Now series for copywork. We started this last spring after reading The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Levi really likes to draw so it was a hit. Do you see the bee on the plant? ;-)



Mathematics


We also started Rod & Staff's Beginning Arithmetic 1 last spring and will continue with it this year. Memoria Press recommends this program as well. They use the first half of the book in Kindergarten and the second half in 1st grade with some other supplements. We will just continue through the book as written at a slightly quickened pace without supplement unless he hits a wall or begins to struggle. Levi loves math and seems to have a strong grasp. Honestly, it's been pretty easy so far, but I love the repetition in R&S so we will continue. I anticipate beginning the next level as soon as he finishes the first regardless of his age or grade.

Enrichment


Lastly, I absolutely LOVE Memoria Press's Enrichment program! They offer it at a Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grade level. However, I think it could be used for multiple ages throughout with some modifications. I may even include some of the resources in our Morning Time. Actually, some of the same resources are used all three years so they are intended for multi level use.

The Enrichment program covers things like Art, Music, Poetry, Literature, History & Culture, Science, and Nature Study through the use of Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. It more or less encompasses what one might include in Morning Time. The art cards are beautiful! Gyo Fujikawa's A Child's Book of Poems is amazing! There is a wonderful playlist through YouTube of classical music that I play while we are drawing, journaling, or doing copywork. Levi has enjoyed many of the pieces. Literature, History & Culture, and Science is taught through the best of the best picture books. Many are classics and/or Caldecott medal winners. We read several of the books from the Kindergarten Enrichment last year and will continue with the First Grade Enrichment this year. Again, I'm not worried about ages and grades. I look for beauty, interest, and resources that are developmentally appropriate.

Overall, I'm really excited about Levi's year ahead. I've been trying a few different schedules to see what works best. I started the first week pretty bare bones with Math and Phonics before adding the other subjects in Week 2 and 3. I will continue to add until we find the right balance. I'm also not afraid to cut if it gets to be too much. Fall is a very busy time of year for us so I will reassess after Term 1 to see what needs to be added or subtracted in Term 2, which is usually more laid back. I'm confident we will find our sweet spot!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Journey: An Education for Life Retreat - Registration is Open!!


I've been busy working behind the scenes on school and retreat planning. I'm so excited to announce that registration is now open for Journey: An Education for Life retreat!! Join us, Saturday, October 19th for a day of homeschool encouragement and Christian Classical Charlotte Mason inspired camaraderie in West Central Wisconsin. Encounter ideas on mother culture, how to cultivate rhythm in your day, and spark a love of learning. Find renewed energy to start the year strong and continue throughout your homeschool journey.

Terri Woods, homeschool mom of 9 from Alabama will be our feature speaker. She has over 20 years experience home educating and has spoke at several homeschool events, including Wild+Free. You can find her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/woodsermom/ and https://www.instagram.com/field_and_forage/ I will be speaking as well. You can register, see the schedule, and read speaker bios here. I'm still finalizing a couple breakout sessions, but will post those as soon as information becomes available. 

Lunch will be provided with regular and gluten free options. Living books will be available for purchase. Door prizes will be given. Thirty minutes will be allowed between sessions for transition, networking, brainstorming, bonding, and discussion among participants. I hope this retreat will be a day of encouragement, inspiration, calming, and fun for all involved. I'd LOVE to meet you there!!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Reflections on Year 8 Science with Sabbath Mood Homeschool...


Last week, I reviewed RileyAnn's Year 9 Science, where she used Ambleside Online. Today, I want to share Ruben's Year 8 Science and his use of Sabbath Mood Homeschool guides, combined with a couple AO books. First, a look at the books and resources and how I scheduled them....

Term 1

The Planets by Dava Sobel
SMH Astronomy - Form 3-4

Term 2

Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher - AO Year 7
SMH Physics - Form 3-4

Term 3

Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather by Eric Sloane
SMH Weather - Form 3-4

All Year

The Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp - AO Year 7

I chose the above term books and resources based on exposure and interest. What I mean by exposure is, Ruben didn't have much in the way of formal science in the areas of Astronomy, Physics, and Weather in the past so I wanted him to gain some base knowledge before high school. In addition, I read aloud The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson in our Morning Time, which is an AO Year 6 Science/Natural History book. I thought those three term topics, along with a study of the sea, would bode well for a general Earth Science course.

In addition, Ruben is extremely mechanical, having a natural bent toward physics and engineering. He is also interested in meteorology and the weather so I wanted to somehow tie those interests together. I feel the combination of books and resources we used this year accomplished that goal. On the other hand, in an effort not to be off balance with biology or a life science, I added The Lay of the Land, which Riley really enjoyed last year. Sharp was an American author, professor, and Methodist Episcopal minister, who wrote books about native birds and small animals. He was a naturalist of sorts, who wrote The Lay of the Land in 1908 about a variety of woodland critters and birds, of which, Ruben is familiar due to his passion for the outdoors.

Overall, Ruben had a very rich year of science. We/he enjoyed all the books with the exception of The Planets by Sobel, which I cannot recommend in good faith for a few reasons. I actually ended up stopping it and subbing out part way through the term. Instead, we used a combination of Album of Astronomy by Thomas McGowan and The New Astronomy Book by Danny Faulkner, published by Master Books, both of which I had on the shelf. We didn't read either from cover to cover, but rather pulled information that matched the notebook assignments and experiments in the Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide. McGowan's book does have some evolutionary content, but Faulkner's book is from a creationist perspective and the combination afforded a nice balance.

In my humble opinion, Secrets of the Universe is a MUST READ for middle or early high school or anyone looking to gain knowledge of physics. It's a wonderful introduction. Fleisher's writing is easily accessible and engaging. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for some time, making prices for the original book ridiculous. Fortunately, it has recently been reprinted by Living Book Press in 5 separate books. The Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide is not necessary as Ambleside Online offers a reading schedule in their Year 7 curriculum. However, I wanted a guide to add a bit more to Ruben's study. It gave him notebook suggestions, links to various websites for further study, discussion prompts, and experiments, which he read through, but didn't perform.

Ruben's favorite science book of the year was Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather. Sloane's writing is interesting and his illustrations are amazing! RileyAnn also enjoyed Eric Sloane's Weather Book when she read it as part of her AO Science study in 8th grade. In addition, we read Diary of an Early American Boy by Sloane several years ago as part of Sonlight. Apparently, Sloane wrote a series of six weather books over his life. We will most likely be adding others to our future science studies.

The Sabbath Mood Homeschool study guides include 33 lessons that you can either schedule three times a week for 11 weeks, followed by a 12th week of exams, which is what we did. Or, you could schedule a lesson once a week for an entire school year, breaking for exams at the end of each term. The exams are included in the study guide. Again, they are not necessary to the books. You could simply read and narrate or notebook on your own. However, they were easy enough to follow and I liked having them as a jumping off point. I appreciate the advance work Nicole William's did for me.

Basically, Ruben followed the guides by doing a different lesson Monday through Wednesday. Then he read a chapter from The Lay of the Land on Thursday. He studied a different book each term as noted above. After his reading, he created one notebook page each week as part of his written narration. As you may know, Ruben is dyslexic and struggles with writing. Often times, I would help him pick out a main idea to summarize after the reading or assign him a copywork passage from the reading to accompany his illustration. Here are samples....















Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Review of Form III-IV Science Using Ambleside Online


RileyAnn has officially completed AO Year 7 and AO Year 8 Science. I highly recommend it!! The Ambleside Advisory did a tremendous job of choosing a variety of living books and piecing together a wonderful introductory and preparatory science study for the upper years. Because Riley completed the study in her Year 8 & 9, I did make a few minor modifications and additions for high school, but nothing major. I'm not going to spend too much time on AO Year 7 because I did a reflection of that here, which also includes some of my thoughts on scientific literacy. Rather, I will share the books Riley's covered over the past two years, as well as samples of her notebooking pages to hopefully give you ideas.

Riley's Year 8 Book List Based off AO Year 7

Eric Sloane's Weather Book by Eric Sloane
Social Life in the Insect World by Jean Henri Fabre - (A book I substituted for AO's The Life of the Spider)
Secrets of the Universe: Discovering the Universal Laws of Science by Paul Fleisher - (This book has been reprinted by Living Book Press in 5 separate books.)
The Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean Henri Fabre
First Studies of Plant Life by George Francis Atkinson
Adventures with a Microscope by Richard Headstrom
Signs and Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy by Jay Ryan
Great Astronomers by R.S. Ball - (I highly recommend the linked edition!! It is a well done reprint with original illustrations.)

Riley's Year 9 Book List Book Based off AO Year 8

The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday - (Be sure to add the free online videos linked at AO)
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman
A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking 
The Microbe Hunters by Paul DeKruif
For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin - (I added with Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide.)

Overall, Riley enjoyed her study. She felt there was a nice variety of the sciences represented and she said she learned a little from each book. Her least favorites were those by Fabre, A Briefer History of Time, and The Chemical History of the Candle because the writing and subject matter was not as interesting to her. 

Like last year, the schedule was such that Riley read from two books per day, four days per week, and then completed one notebooking page per day from the book of her choice. Here is a sample of her work....

































I realize this is a lot of pages to showcase, but my hope is to allow you to see the variation of knowledge gleaned by this study throughout the year. I love the way AO mixed sciences in these years using living books. However, I will admit, initially, I was a bit skeptical, but after doing a variety of research a couple years ago, I realized the US is one of the few countries that segregates the sciences. Also, Charlotte Mason did not separate them, as she taught the various branches of science concurrently. 

In addition, I was very pleased with Riley's standardized test results this spring, which clearly showed she had mastered the different streams of science well enough to beat the test. This was especially interesting since the test was based on current common core standards, to which we have never adhered in our homeschool. 

In closing, I want to highly recommend the AO Science we used! I'm so glad we chose this route and hope to continue with a mix of science streams each year throughout high school. To those that worry about using old books that may be outdated, I say stop worrying. You can always Google updated information if you feel it necessary...we did not. Also remember, scientific literacy should be the goal. If you have a budding scientist, they will narrow their field and specialize in college, not middle and high school. Right now, providing a feast and allowing adequate time and space for your student to digest it should be your main concern. The AO Science choices afford you the opportunity to do just that.



Note: Ambleside Online is a FREE Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum. They offer schedules for Year 0-12, as well as a variety of resources to help parents educate their children. All opinions are my own and I am not being compensated by AO in any way. However, the books in my lists are linked to my Amazon affiliate account. I appreciate your consideration in clicking the links. By doing so and making a purchase, you are supporting my efforts here on this blog and in our homeschool. Thanks!