Friday, January 30, 2015

Real Living Math: A Fresh Approach to Teaching....

This post I wrote last year, was recently featured at Demme Learning....

As spring draws near and your math text starts feeling stale, try a fresh approach by cooking, drawing or playing store and a variety of games



This time of year, I start to feel restless anticipating the freshness of spring.  Here in the Midwest, it’s been snowing, blowing, and just plain cold for several months.  I long to shed my winter coat, for more daylight, green grass, and garden fresh produce. The excitement of new school books and supplies has long worn off.  If you’re like me, you’re counting down the lessons so you can trade your math text in for a dip of your toes in the creek.  In the mean time, I’m going to share some fresh ways to dump those winter doldrums using math.  “MATH?” you say.  Yup that’s right, math! 

Our 10 year old daughter has recently taken up cooking and baking.  She loves to measure, pour, decorate, and create.  Cooking is a really great way to learn math.  When following the recipes, she’s discovering fractions, measurement, time, and temperature.  At Christmas she re-calculated to double and triple recipes.   She started with cookies and cakes, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate.  For younger kids, you can start with something as simple as Jell-O or Rice Crispy Treats.  The important part is letting them do the measurements using math to learn. 

Our 8 year old son loves to draw.  He started with tracing stencils and is now experimenting with compasses, protractors, and various rulers to get just the right look.  He is realizing images are made up of all kinds of lines which form circles, squares, trapezoids, and triangles.  Geometry is a major part of drawing.  While waiting for warmer days, encourage your kids to create scenes of spring using a variety of lines and shapes.

Do you remember playing store when you were a kid?  This is a great way to teach decimals, money, and budget skills.  Give your child a set dollar amount and grocery list.  Let them look through the sale flyers and find the best bargains.  Or, assign monetary amounts to grocery items around the house and let them “shop”.  Our daughter loves historic dolls.  She has catalogs from her favorite company.  I give her an imaginary budget and she has fun making lists of accessories she could purchase with that amount.  It doesn’t take long for the child to figure out how to get the most for their money when it’s something they desire. 

Blow the dust off those game boards.  Games use a multitude of math skills including number recognition, sequencing, addition, subtraction, and counting money.  It’s a splendid way to get the whole family involved in math. There are a plethora of commercial math related games such as Rack-o, Shut the Box, Monopoly, and Dominoes on the market.  But don’t feel like you have to go out and purchase a pre-boxed game, you can make your own by using simple items around the house.  There is a wealth of games you can play using a basic deck of playing cards.  Search online or find books at your local public library with game ideas.  YouTube and Pinterest are super sources for finding game plans.  Any good math program should also have suggested games for reinforcing concepts in the teacher’s guide. 

As spring draws near and your math text starts feeling stale, try a fresh approach by cooking, drawing or playing store and a variety of games.  But, don’t let that snow melt without building a snowman or igloo.  It’s the perfect teachable moment to introduce spheres and cubes! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Book of Ruth....

I'm excited to say, I just finished my second mother culture book for the year!  Ruth by Stephen Davey is part of the Wisdom Commentary Series.  The Old Testament Book of Ruth is a love story that parallels the love of Christ for "His bride", as Davey puts it.   The story of Ruth is really quite beautiful.   She is a Moabite condemned by God's law who, in the end, is redeemed by Boaz because of her faith in Christ.  In chapter one, Davey writes, "The Book of Ruth demonstrates the grace of God, the love of Christ, the proof of Christ's lineage, and the witness that godliness is possible even in ungodly times."  I found his message to be a refreshing breath of hope.

Overall, I found Ruth inspirational.  Davey does get off on personal tangents from time to time, which was a minor distraction.  Also, I felt Ruth didn't finish as strong as it started.   Davey did not nail down the ending.  Even with the negative, I learned a great deal.  I would recommend this commentary.  It's an easy and informative read. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trail of Tears....

Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac is an easy reader I chose as a brief overview of the Cherokee Nation migration in 1838.  As white settlers moved west, the Cherokee Tribe was forced from their land.  They traveled 1,200 miles to Oklahoma.  In the photo above,  you can see Riley's map which she chose to draw to accompany her copywork. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Sale List - January 2015



I am a homeschooling mother with a real passion for books.  It's my mission to rescue great living books and get them in the hands of families that cherish books as much as we do.   Many of the living books I have for sale are duplicate copies of books in our personal library.   Many of these books are no longer in print, have disappeared from the public libraries, and are getting harder and harder to find.  Some of the books are new, most are used, and some are ex-library copies with the usual markings.  We are a smoke and pet free home. 

The books are divided into categories, alphabetical by popular publishers and curricula companies, and by subject.  I have tried to list recommended grades or ages where appropriate.  Anything history related is listed chronologically.  So if you know the time period you’d like to study, you can scroll to that section.  Photos of some of the curricula is available upon request.  ISBNs are also available where applicable.  (Some older books do not have ISBNs.)

There is no minimum order.  I accept PayPal.  I use media mail shipping and ship anywhere in the U.S.   Actual shipping is figured by weight on larger orders.  Please send questions or desired book list to m.greenebalts@yahoo.com for a shipping quote.  

Thanks for looking,

Melissa


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sunny Saturday...and Other Random Thoughts...

It was a gorgeous January Saturday here in WI!  The sun has been shining and melting snow the past couple of days.  We even have a patch of grass in our lawn :)

Meanwhile, it's been a busy week.  I thought I'd give a quick run down of some random thoughts...

Riley's Keepers of the Faith group met and made candy.  They made this Saltwater Taffy Recipe, Oreo Truffles, and Easy Fantasy Fudge.  I enjoyed taste testing ;-)

Ruben is still tutoring at our local Children's Dyslexia Center.  What a gift this has been!  He's reading and asking for books :)))  This week he read Getting to Know the U. S. Presidents, Zachary Taylor by Mike Venezia


Levi is absolutely hilarious in his own right!  He talks a mile a minute and says the funniest things.  He's been repeating Mother Goose rhymes and singing songs....too cute!

This week in Bible, we read about the plagues in Genesis.  In science, we read about Earth and Mars.  In history, we studied the Battle of the Alamo.  We also started reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and Jessie Benton Fremont, California Pioneer by Marguerite Higgins, both are Beautiful Feet recommendations. 

Around the web, I really appreciated this post by Brandy Vencel at Afterthoughts.....The Necessity of a Broad and Generous Curriculum.   I have not yet gotten to the Darwin quote by Charlotte in Vol 6, page 54, but it's a part of this month's CM Book Club reading.  I'm looking forward to our upcoming meeting on Feb. 6th!

I'm still contemplating Sarah's post at Amongst Lovely Things....How I (Finally) Beat My Sugar Cravings...  I totally agree with her statement about not being a foodie.  Overall, we eat a healthy balanced diet of homegrown and home cooked food.  I don't want to jump on any food bandwagons that are out there.  But of course, there are things I could clean up for my sake and my family's.  I've been researching the whole paleo thing for over a year. The jury is still out as to whether or not I want to commit.

Something else I've been debating is whether or not to commit to the 2015 Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate.  I'm super intrigued and can't stop clicking back there to see what everyone is reading.  The Willa Cather novel I just finished qualifies in several of the book categories.  My issue is, I'm very noncommittal regarding assigning a number to the amount of classic literatire I want to read.   As soon as I think about starting a book, I'm checking the copyright to see if it was published before 1965.  Oh, the crazy pressure we put on ourselves!

BTW, I've been working on a new book sale list and plan to post it Monday.  If you're in the planning stages or looking ahead to the next school year, consider checking back.  There's many great living books included!

That's all for now...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Footprints on the Moon....



I found Footprints on the Moon by Alexandra Siy as a recommendation in Simply Charlotte Mason's 106 Days of Creation Studies.  The book chronicles the history of moon exploration.  Initially, I was totally in awe of this book.  The photographs are fabulous!   Many are from NASA.  However, approx. four pages from the end, the author speculates the age of the moon and how it was formed.  Her theory is evolutionary and contrary to my worldview.  I was somewhat surprised by this information given SCM's recommendation in a "creation study" science course.  Either way, the photos are spectacular and worth taking a look.  Just be cautioned regarding the text if you are from the "young earth" camp.


While learning about the moon, the kids enjoyed Lesson 126 of the Earth Science study at Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.  After reading and researching, they drew and labeled the moon phases in their notebooks. 



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Commonplace Book....Vigen Guroian


[G. K.] Chesterton observes that when we grow up we tend to think that repetition is a sign of deadness, "like a piece of clockwork.  People feel that if the universe were personal it would vary, if the sun were alive it would dance."  To the contrary, "variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire.  A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue." Whereas repetition, far from signifying monotony and deadness, may signify delight, desire, and vitality…."A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.  Because children have unbounding vitality, because they are spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  They always say, 'Do it again' "because there is such delight in that thing or activity.  "It may be," Chesterton concludes, "that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy, for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.  The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore."  - Vigen Guroian (Introduction of Tending the Heart of Virtue)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

O Pioneers! - My First Willa Cather Novel....

I have been wanting to read a Willa Cather novel for years.  I'm not sure why I put it off.   Suddenly, it struck me, now is the time!.  So to kick off the new year, I started with O Pioneers!  When I closed the book, the only word that came to mind was, "WOW!"...and I mean this for better and worse.  Let's back up...

***SPOILER ALERT***

Alexandra Bergson is the daughter of a Swedish immigrant, who is orphaned in her early twenties.  On her father's death bed, he appoints Alexandra as caretaker of his 640-acre farm and her three younger brothers, Oscar, age nineteen, Lou, age seventeen, and little Emil.   Despite Oscar and Lou's constant criticism and doubt, as well as three years of drought, Alexandra is highly successful.  She acquires more property as well as a host of farmhands.  Eventually, she is able to divide off debt free shares for Oscar and Lou, who both marry and have families of their own.  Alexandra remains single and the dedicated leader of the estate.  She becomes a role model for others longing for success on the rugged plains of Nebraska. 

Alexandra's prosperity enables her to send her beloved youngest brother, Emil, to college only for him to come home and fall in love with childhood friend, Marie (Tovesky) Shabata, who is now a married woman.  After a twisted tryst ends in murder, Alexandra is finally able to find solace in her long time love, Carl Linstrum.

I fell in love with the book from the start.  So much so, that I talked The Farmer into reading our duplicate copy so we could have discussion ;-)  But, Emil's kiss at the Church of Sainte-Agnes dinner made me so mad, I almost couldn't finish reading.  I was thinking it would happen sooner or later, but the way Emil walked away afterward seemed arrogant and self serving. 

I was totally unprepared for the murder scene.  It was gruesome!  I felt like this sweet classic novel was plodding along...then, suddenly, I was reading a graphic horror novel.   It caught me out of nowhere.  Again, I set the book aside.  However, The Farmer got ahead of me reading and made a suggestion that Alexandra may hook up with Frank Shabata.  I had to continue!  Thankfully, his prediction did not come to fruition.  However in true Alexandra fashion, she did forgive him and promise to work toward his parole.  

Both The Farmer and I were disappointed with the ending.  We felt it left the reader hanging, particularly with such a horrific climax, the ending was a fall.  Overall, O Pioneers! was a good read.  I didn't have expectations to start.  Sometimes neutral is a good place to be.  I will read another Cather novel in the future, quite possibly My Antonia...or maybe you have a suggestion.  I LOVE comments!  Please let me know your favorite Cather novel and if you've read O Pioneers!, I'd like to hear your thoughts...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Andrew Jackson....


Andrew Jackson was my first Clara Ingram Judson book.  The kids chose it and I'm glad they did!

"Tall as a man at fourteen, fiery, red-headed Andrew Jackson served under his uncle, Major Robert Crawford, in the Revolutionary War, and later was captured by the British.  The war over, he moved "Up-West" with many other Americans who sought new homes and opportunities on the opening frontier.  "Old Hickory" was always a fighter, and this story of his adventurous career is exciting reading." - from the opening end paper

Judson tells the amazing story of Andrew Jackson, which reads like an adventure novel.  The first president born in a log cabin, he fought in the Revolutionary War, was captured by the British and then was orphaned, all by age sixteen.  Reared into manhood by his uncles, he went on to become a frontier lawyer, a general, and a judge before becoming the seventh president of the United States.  He survived two bullet wounds and the mark of a sword blow to his forehead.

Jackson married Rachel, the love of his life, who died of a heart attack three weeks before he won the presidency.  Though they had been married more than thirty years, the scandal surrounding their marriage was ammunition for Jackson's opponents.  His was an era "when political cartoons came of age".

Although Jackson was crude in many ways, he has become one of the greatest presidents of all times.  He was loved and respected by the common people.  In Judson's Forward, she says, "Looking back across the pages of United States history, five men stand out uniquely as great Americans - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.  Their lives span the years from our beginnings to the first World War, and each man in his own way made a distinguished contribution in the American struggle toward a land for the free."  Judson's story of Andrew Jackson, also known as "Old Hickory", shows his many contributions to this great nation.

Also, if you are looking for a picture book to teach younger children about Andrew Jackson, I highly recommend Robert Quackenbush's Who Let Muddy Boots Into The White House?, A Story of Andrew Jackson.   This lively biography covers Jackson's life in an easy to read format.  The last line of the Epilogue reads, "His faults were many, but he loved his country simply and with all his heart."  I think this is a great summary in the life of Andrew Jackson, who fought so passionately for the cause.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Commonplace Book...Charlotte Mason


"Enough, that the children have minds, and every man's mind is his means of living; but it is a great deal more.  Working men will have leisure in the future and how this leisure is to be employed is a question much discussed.  Now, no one can employ leisure fitly whose mind is not brought into active play every day; the small affairs of a man's own life supply no intellectual food and but small and monotonous intellectual exercise.  Science, history, philosophy, literature, must no longer be the luxuries of the 'educated' classes; all classes must be educated and sit down to these things of the mind as they do to their daily breadHistory must afford its pageants, science its wonders, literature its intimacies, philosophy its speculations, religion its assurances to every man, and his education must have prepared him for wanderings in these realms of gold." Charlotte Mason (Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education, pg 42-43)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Abe Lincoln Grows Up...

Abe Lincoln Grows Up by Carl Sandburg is drawn from the first twenty-seven chapters of Sandburg's original biography, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years.  Just as the title suggests, the book covers the early years of Lincoln's life.  Lincoln was raised poor, with a father who didn't believe in "eddication".   Therefore, he was self educated much to the chagrin of his father.  Abe's mother died when he was nine years old.  His father remarried widow Sarah Bush Johnston, whom Abe grew to love.

Though initially seen by neighbors and friends as lazy, Abe grew into a hard worker on the farm, felling trees, foraging for food, and floating flat boats to make earn extra.   After winning a wrestling match, he became famous for his long lean brawn. 

Abe Lincoln Grows Up is used in Beautiful Feet's Intermediate Early American History study.   Sandburg's work of prose is beautifully written as well as entertaining, though it did end abruptly.  When I finished reading, Riley said, "that's it?!"   I felt the same way.  At some point, I would like to read Sandburg's original biography.  For now, I do plan to read Abraham Lincoln by James Daugherty, another Beautiful Feet recommendation, aloud to the kids.  I understand it's a story of Lincoln's life in its entirety right through his assassination. 

I read Abe Lincoln Grows Up aloud slowly over a nine week period, reading other books in between when topics or people were mentioned, such as John James Audubon, Daniel Boone, Johnny Appleseed, and The Erie Canal.  It was fascinating to see how these people lived at the same time and in the same region.  Sandburg's incorporation of other events happening in America throughout Abe's life put me in mind of Genevieve Foster's ...World books.   

We love Beautiful Feet and their book recommendations!  Abe Lincoln Grows Up is another prime example of a living book.