Monday, September 29, 2014

A Boy and His Frog....

Levi LOVES frogs!  It seems every time he goes outside, he finds one...

I recently found an old series of Mercer Mayer books about a boy and his frog.  I bought them.  I couldn't resist!  They are so cute and reminded me of Levi.  They have pictures only, no words, and are just the right size for little hands.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saying Good Bye to the Flock...

It's been two weeks since that foggy morn when we loaded our small flock of nine into the back of a black Chevy pick-up truck.  After ten years, it was hard to say good-bye.  Riley struggled the most since they were her babies since she was a baby.  I remember her escaping the house in footie pajamas only to wander down by the pen.  We'd watch her climb the board fence.  First looking over, then slowly climbing down into the sheep pen.  There, she would talk and sing.  The sheep, in a trance like state, would gather round her.  She has always had a great love for the living. 

Now, the Farmer wants to use the pasture for a new project.  So with bittersweet tears, we waved good-bye to Wobbles, Sugar, Posy, Pansy, Pearl, Popcorn, Peanut, Uno, and Dos, but not before Riley captured an SD card full of memories...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Charlotte Mason on Habits...


At our last CM Study Group, we watched the SCM Learning and Living DVD titled, Laying Down the Rails: The Power of Good Habits.  In researching Charlotte's writings, I found many references to the power of good habits, including....

Habit, the Instrument by which Parents Work. - 'Habit is TEN natures!'  If I could but make others see with my eyes how much this saying should mean to the educator!  How habit, in the hands of the mother, is as his wheel to the potter, his knife to the caver, - the instrument by means of which she turns out the design she has already conceived in her brain.  - Charlotte Mason (Vol 1, Home Education, p 97)

The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. - Charlotte Mason (Vol 1, Home Education, p 136)

The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time, doing no more than keep watch over those already formed.  If she be appalled by the thought of overmuch labour, let her limit the number of good habits she will lay herself out to form.  The child who starts in life with, say, twenty good habits, begins with a certain capital which he will lay out to endless profit as the years go on.  - Charlotte Mason (Vol 1, Home Education, p 136)

This notion of instilling good habits was critical to Charlotte's philosophy.  It seems quite common sense to me and yet I find it very difficult to cultivate the habits I desire, not only in my children, but in myself.  I appreciate Charlotte's direction of "one habit at a time".  Habit training is definitely lifelong work. Rome wasn't built in a day! ....and so we keep plugging away :)

For further thoughts on habit training, you may consider this post at Simply Convivial.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Yellowstone Art many handicrafts!!

 My Photo

We went on the Yellowstone Art Trail and it was fabulous!!  Riley and I visited seven of the locations yesterday.  Ruben, Riley, and I finished touring the other six locations today.  We saw and spoke with a variety of artists including painters, potters, spinners, weavers, and woodworkers.  I cannot even pick a favorite because they were all so impressive.  And to think, there are so many wonderful artisans in my neighborhood, I had no idea! 

While on the tour, I was struck by a particular artist who hand hooks wool rugs among other things.  I was expressing my awe in all the talented folks along the trail and she said something about the importance of continuing to make "useful items".  Once again, I was reminded of Charlotte Mason and her idea of handicrafts. 

The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a.) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b.) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c.) that slipshod work should not be allowed; (d.) and that therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.” – Charlotte Mason Vol. 1 Home Education, p. 315

I believe the crafts we saw on the Yellowstone Art Trail are exactly the types of handicrafts that Charlotte would have thought worthy.  So many of these crafts are a lost art.  Many of our products here in the U.S. are mass produced and imported therefore, the young people have no idea where they come from or how they are made.   

After finishing the tour, I felt inspired to create.  I definitely see the importance of teaching our children to make useful things whether for themselves or to give/sell to others. Riley learned several useful skills last school year while participating in a Keepers of the Faith group.  I am so excited to continue that knowledge not only through Keepers this year, but possibly through apprenticing under some of the artisans we met on the tour.  I want to create a mosaic, hook a wool rug, and hand paint a Russian & Byzantine Icon.  :))

If you ever get the opportunity to follow the Yellowstone Art Trail, I highly recommend it!   

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Language Arts Connection...

Today, Riley and I made connections in language arts.  I just love that!  First we did Logic of English, in which we finished up lesson 4.  We've been spreading each lesson over 3 days.  Day one introduces/teaches any new concepts.  Day two we study spelling words and day three is spent on grammar.  Today was grammar day and we learned about three articles, "A", "An", and "The".  This also happened to be our first week using Michael Clay Thompson's Language Arts.  Riley is studying the Town Level, in which today she learned about the three articles listed above.  It was ironic that both programs covered this in the same day. 

One of the assignments in MCTLA was "Write a statement of twenty words, with as many nouns as possible.  Then write one of twenty words with as few nouns as possible.  Discuss the difference."  At first, I thought about skipping this, but I am so glad we didn't!!  Here is what Riley wrote on the white board...

The cat climbed the tree. The lamb said baa.  The cow said moo.  The pig laughed.  The cat did too.  

The fuzzy black cat ran up the big leafy tree.  The wooly white lamb jumped up and down saying baa. 

Next, I asked her which statement she liked best.  Initially she said she liked the first one because it was funny, rhymed, and mentioned more animals.  Then I had her close her eyes and I read the first sentence of each while she visualized the scene, then the second sentence of each, again while she visualized the scene.  She quickly changed her mind and decided the second statement was much better because it was more descriptive and helped you develop an image in your mind. 

It then occurred to me that in order to use many nouns, we had created short choppy sentences.  This prompted me to think of an exercise we did in our Charlotte Mason Study Group while watching the SCM Learning and Living DVD series.  On DVD number two, Sonya Shafer teaches about living books and narration.  She mentioned avoiding "twaddle" and how to tell it apart from a good book.  She talked about being careful to avoid books with short choppy sentences that are dumbed down.

The MCTLA exercise also made me think of Levi and the way he learned to talk.  When he first began speaking, he spoke primarily in nouns, naming things....cup, water, mommy, daddy, Riley, Ruben, tractor, kitty, etc.  He then progressed to adding a verb....drink water, play Riley, drive tractor, etc.  Eventually he added pronouns and some adjectives...I take you, I thirsty, I want tractor, etc.  This made me realize that short choppy sentences are really primitive.  They show up in early speech and again in early composition.

The point of all this being, it really solidifies the importance of staying away from "twaddle" with "short choppy sentences" and reinforces the idea of filling our children's mind, especially young children, with rich and interesting language, so that when they learn to speak and start composition, they have a rich vocabulary to draw from.  Hence creating much more interesting speech and composition. 

All this to say, so far I'm liking MCTLA and Logic of English.  And of course, I LOVE Charlotte Mason's methods!!  I'm pleased with the connections we are making :))

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Art, Music, and Mathematics with Charlotte Mason....


There are few subjects regarded with more respect and less confidence in our schools than this of 'Art'.  Of course, we say, children should have their artistic powers cultivated, especially those who have such powers, but how is the question.  The neat solution offered by South Kensington in the sixties, - freehand, drawing, perspective, drawing from the round, has long been rejected; but nothing definite has taken its place and we still see models of cones, cubes and so on, disposed so that the eye may take them in freely and that the hand may perhaps produce what the eye has seen. But we begin now to understand that art is not to be approached by such a macadamised road.  It is of the spirit, and in ways of the spirit must we make our attempt.  We recognise that the power of appreciating art and of producing to some extent an interpretation of what one sees is as universal as intelligence, imagination, nay, speech, the power of producing words.  But there must be knowledge and, in the first place, not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced; that is, children should learn pictures, line by line, group by group, by reading, not books, but pictures themselves.  A friendly picture-dealer supplies us with half a dozen beautiful little reproductions of the work of some single artist, term by term.  After a short story of the artist's life and a few sympathetic words about his trees or his skies, his river-paths or his figures, the little pictures are studied one at a time; that is, children learn, not merely to see a picture but to look at it, taking in every detail.  Then the picture is turned over and the children tell what they have seen, - a dog driving a flock of sheep along a road but nobody with the dog.  Ah, there is a boy lying down by the stream drinking.  It is morning as you can see by the light so the sheep are being driven to pasture, and so on; nothing is left out, the discarded plough, the crooked birch, the clouds beautiful in form and threatening rain, there is enough for half an hour's talk and memory in this little reproduction of a great picture and the children will know it wherever they see it, whether a signed proof, a copy in oils, or the original itself in one of our galleries. - Charlotte Mason (Vol 6, A Philosophy of Education, p 213-214)

In Charlotte's schools, students studied art for both expression and appreciation.  She describes her method of appreciation above, using picture study to get to know an artist.  The children then drew on this appreciation of art, as well as the beauty of their natural surroundings, to create their own masterpieces through painting, drawing, clay modeling, etc.  Charlotte also encouraged handicrafts as part of expression.  Whereby, the children would create useful items through knitting, sewing, carving, leathercraft, sculpting, etc.

The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a.) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b.) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c.) that slipshod work should not be allowed; (d.) and that therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass. – Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1 Home Education, p. 315)

We love Simply Charlotte Mason's Handicrafts Made Simple DVD series!  Riley is working through Hand Sewing.  


Music, the Great Joy we owe to Hearing. - Hearing should tell us a great many interesting things, but the great and perfect joy which we owe to him is Music.  Many great men have put their beautiful thoughts, not into books, or pictures, or buildings, but into musical score, to be sung with the voice or played on instruments, as so full are these musical compositions of the minds of their makers, that people who care for music can always tell who has composed the music, they hear, even if they have never heard the particular movement before. Thus, in a manner, the composer speaks to them, and they are perfectly happy in listening to what he has to say.  Quite little children can sometimes get a good deal of this power; indeed, I knew a boy of three yeas old who knew when his mother was playing 'Wagner,' for example.  She played to him a great deal, and he listened.  Some people have more power in this way than others, but we might all have far more than we possess if we listened.  

How to get the Hearing Ear. - Use every chance you get of hearing music (I do not mean only tunes, though these are very nice), and ask whose music has been played, and, by degrees, you will find out that one composer has one sort of thing to say to you, and another speaks other things; these messages of the musicians cannot be put into words, so there is no way of hearing them if we do not train our ear to listen. - Charlotte Mason (Vol. 4, Ourselves, p 30-31) 

Again Charlotte taught music through appreciation and expression.  The children studied various composers much in the same way as studying artists, by reading a brief biography about the composer and listening to some of their works.  The children also sang and learned to play piano as part of their music study.  

In Music their knowledge of theory and their ear-training should keep pace with their powers of execution. - Charlotte Mason (Vol 3, School Education, p. 302) 

In an effort to use Charlotte's methods in our homeschool, this year, I've incorporated singing and artist study.  The children and I are leaning to sing one hymn and one folksong per term.  The first term we are singing The Star Spangled Banner and Come Thou Fount.  We will also be reading about misc. artists and composers including Francis Scott Key, Benjamin West, and John James Audubon.  The children draw as part of their nature study and narration.  In addition, they produce handicrafts as noted above. 


The practical value of arithmetic to persons in every class of life goes without remark.  But the use of the study in practical life is the least of its uses.  The chief value of arithmetic, like that of the higher mathematics, lies in the training it affords to the reasoning powers, and in the habits of insight, readiness, accuracy, intellectual truthfulness it engenders.  There is no one subject in which good teaching effects more, as there is none in which slovenly teaching has more mischievous results.  Multiplication does not produce the 'right answer,' so the boy tries division; that again fails, but subtraction may get him out of the bog.  There is no must be to him; he does not see that one process, and one process only, can give the required result.  Now, a child who does not know what rule to apply to a simple problem within his grasp, has been ill taught from the first, although he may produce slatefuls of quite right sums in multiplication or long division.  - Charlotte Mason (Vol 1, Home Education, p 254) 

Let his arithmetic lesson be to the child a daily exercise in clear thinking and rapid, careful execution, and his mental growth will be as obvious as the sprouting seedling in the spring. - Charlotte Mason (Vol 1,
Home Education, p 261) 

Though Charlotte references mathematics many times in her six-volume series, there is not a lot of practical application.  I find her writing on this subject to be more philosophical.  This frustrates me since my black and white brain likes clear instruction, particularly in mathematics.  This is one subject, and may be the only subject, where I want Charlotte to tell me exactly how to teach x, y, and z.  

Some things I have come to learn over the years about Mason's teaching of mathematics are...

1. Charlotte used textbooks for math teaching.  She did not use living books for math.
2. Mathematics was used to train both mental and moral habits in Charlotte's schools.   
3. Children must learn the why behind the how.  Charlotte believed in starting mathematics teaching with manipulatives so children could see and physically manipulate the numbers. 
4. Charlotte believed the study of mathematics necessary, but she commented multiple times on being careful not to give math undue importance at the expense of a full and generous curriculum.  

But education should be a science of proportion, and any one subject that assumes undue importance does so at the expense of other subjects which a child's mind should deal with.....In a word our point is that Mathematics are to be studied for their own sake and not as they make for general intelligence and grasp of the mind...To sum up, Mathematics are a necessary part of every man's education; they must be taught by those who know; but they may not engross the time and attention of the scholar in such wise as to shut out any of the score of 'subjects,' a knowledge of which is his natural right.  - Charlotte Mason (Vol 6, A Philosophy of Education, p 231-233)

Simply Charlotte Mason published an invaluable book written by Richele Baburina titled Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching.  Baburina studied Charlotte's writings as well as several sources used by Charlotte's teachers and parents and then compiled the book as a means to practically apply Charlotte's methods to the teaching of mathematics.  I own the book, but shamefully have not given it the habit of full attention.  I'm adding this to my to-do-list ;-)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Year 4 & 5 Term 1 Checklists...

This is the final piece of our 2014-2015 curriculum posts. Last week, I gave a complete listing of the resources we will use this school year. This week, I posted our Year 5 Term 1 Schedule and our Year 4 Term 1 Schedule. Today, I will share the weekly checklists for years 4 & 5 to show how each resource is scheduled per day. You will notice that some subjects vary each day. Also, the number indicated before each subject is an estimated amount of time the subject will take. My attempt in creating these was in keeping with Charlotte Mason's method of cultivating the habit of attention with short lessons and varied order of subjects. We do not necessarily study each subject in the order listed.

Riley Year 5 Daily Checklist

Ruben Year 4 Daily Checklist

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Year 4, Term 1 Sample Schedule...

Monday, I posted RileyAnn's Term 1 schedule. Today, I'm posting Ruben's schedule. Again, the items in blue are things he will complete on his own. The black items we will complete together. As with each of our children, this schedule has been built to personally meet Ruben's needs. I LOVE this about homeschooling. We teach each child where they are at!! You may notice that Ruben does not have a "Free Reading" list. Due to his dyslexia, we do most subjects together. I pick and choose books according to his reading level, which fluctuates. Rather than trying to anticipate his future reading level, we will choose books weekly wherever he's at.

Drywood Creek Academy Year 4 Term 1 Schedule

Monday, September 8, 2014

Year 5, Term 1 Sample Schedule

Last week, I posted our 2014-2015 curricula.  Today I'm sharing Term 1 of RileyAnn's schedule to show how it all comes together. 
Blue indicates items Riley will complete on her own. Black items are subjects we work on together, some as a family, and some just her and I.

Drywood Creek Academy Year 5 Term 1 Schedule

Friday, September 5, 2014

2014-2015 Curriculum...

I've hesitated to post this because I don't want anyone to feel pressure.  Disclaimer....We do not do every subject daily and RileyAnn is not reading all the books listed at one time. 

Quite honestly, our first week of school didn't kick off quite as strongly as planned.  Life took over!  But, we will pick up and try again next week :)  So, without further ado, here are our 2014-2015 curriculum choices...

Family Study

Bible Study Guide for All Ages
Scripture Memory
Beautiful Feet Geography
Misc. History books covering approx. 1800-1865 - Lewis & Clark to the Civil War
God's Design for Heaven and Earth
Artist Study
Hymn Study
Folksong Study
Nature Study
Life Skills

RileyAnn Year 5

Plutarch using North's Translation and Anne White's Study Guides
This Country of Ours by H E Marshall
Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster
Of Courage Undaunted by James Daugherty
Narcissa Whitman by Jeanette Eaton
The Ocean of Truth by Joyce McPherson
Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day
Hitty Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Story of Clara Barton of the Red Cross by Jeanette Nolan
Beautiful Feet History of the Horse
Poetry for Young People Rudyard Kipling & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Study John Greenleaf Whittier & Paul Dunbar's Poetry
Michael Clay Thompson - Town Level
The Logic of English Essentials
Strayer-Upton Practical Arithmetics
Latina Christiana
Lambs Tales from Shakespeare
Book of Centuries

Ruben Year 4

The Story Book of Science by Jean Henri Fabre
Misc. reading books
Explode the Code
The Logic of English - Cursive
Daily Grams
Aesop's Fables
Misc. math - skills to include multiple digit addition/subtraction; multiplication tables; continuing time and money

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to School...

It's back to school week for many, including us here on Drywood Creek...though it's been a bit crazy with the holiday and misc. appointments.  We kicked off our studies for the 2014-2015 school year on a lighter note.  Riley loves it all and Ruben not so much.     

I also had the privilege of attending the  P.M.E.U. fall book discussion Tuesday evening.  Gathering with other homeschooling families is such a treat!!  The Farmer and I drove over 4 hours to attend.  I cherished our time alone together and was encouraged by the fellowship of other Charlotte Mason families.  

The discussion covered Ourselves Book I by Charlotte Mason (Vol. 4) pp. 179-203 regarding opinions, principles, and justice to ourselves.  After the book discussion, we were treated to application of theory by Nancy Kelly of Sage Parnassus.  Nancy spoke of the significance of the flowering rush, or the "Humble Plant", and its representation of humility in Mason's schools, referencing Ourselves, Book I, Part III, Ch 10, p 126-130.  I will not give away her talk in case you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak.  We also practiced written narration through drawing an illustration as well as oral narration.  It was an enjoyable evening. 

An Opinion worth having. - We may gather three rules, then, as to an opinion that is worth the having.  We must have thought about the subject and know something about it, as a gardener does about the weather; it must be our own opinion, and not caught up as a parrot catches up its phrases; and lastly, it must be disinterested, that is, it must not be influenced by our inclination. - Charlotte Mason, Ourselves, Vol. 4, Book 1, p 180