Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beautiful Feet, History of California...

Beautiful Feet History of California offers a literature approach on the history of the Golden State.  I'm using the guide this year as part of our 1800-1865 American History study, more particularly while studying the settlement of the western region of the United States.  Books used in the guide are:

Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
The Cruise of the Arctic Circle by Scott O'Dell
Zia by Scott O'Dell
Patty Reed's Doll by Rachel Laurgaard
Riders of the Pony Express by Ralph Moody
Jessie Benton Fremont: California Pioneer by Marguerite Higgins
By the Great Horned Spoon! by Sid Fleischman
Blue Willow by Doris Gates
Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi

I do not plan to read all the books recommended in the study this year.  We've read Columbus in the past and did not reread it.  Some of the early exploration material covered in The Cruise of the Arctic Circle we've also covered in the past so we will not be reading it at this time, though possibly in the future.  In the interest of time and ages of the kiddos, I'll be saving Riders of the Pony Express for our second rotation of this time period.  I'm looking instead at substituting other options regarding the Pony Express.  I will also hold off on Blue Willow since it's set in the 1930's and is beyond our time period for this year. 

History of California was designed for use with 4th through 6th graders, though I could see easily adapting it to older grades.  This guide meshes nicely with Beautiful Feet The Western Expansion, which I am also pulling from as part of our history study this year.  It too uses a plethora of wonderful literature. 

Whether you're looking for an in depth study of California or just supplements to your American history westward expansion study, I recommend Beautiful Feet History of California.  I trust Beautiful Feet's literature choices as they've proven to be some of the highest quality literature.  Many of the books recommended by Beautiful Feet are also included in the TruthQuest History guides.  In addition, some of them are Sonlight, WinterPromise, Heart of Dakota, and Veritas Press suggestions. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Commonplace Book.... Jean Henri Fabre

"Later, my children, you will find only too many people saying: This world is the product of chance no intelligence rules it, no Providence guides it.  To those people, my friends, show the snap-dragon's yellow spot.  If, less clear-sighted than the burly bumble-bee, they do not understand it, pity them: they have diseased brains." - The Story-Book of Science by Jean Henri Fabre, Ch LXII, p. 332-333

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pioneer Sampler....

The kids enjoyed Pioneer Sampler by Barbara Greenwood.  This book tells of the daily life of a pioneer family, the Robertsons, in 1840, on a backwoods farm.  Greenwood weaves together fact and fiction beginning with the first signs of spring and ending with a New Year celebration.  Each chapter starts with the fictionalized story of an event in the Robertson's life, then ends with facts describing how the pioneers really handled those day to day events, such as cooking food, making maple syrup, butchering a hog, harvesting crops, building a new house, etc.  There are recipes and instructions for sample activities, giving the reader an opportunity for hands on learning.

At 240 pages, Pioneer Sampler is not a single setting read.  Though we did not partake in the added activities, we did savor the reading over a month's time.   Heather Collins three color illustrations are a perfect compliment, giving detail without taking away from Greenwood's story.  I think Pioneer Sampler is a great supplement to any history program or you could use it as a spine for a unit study approach. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Day in the Life of our Homeschool...

As part of Sonlight's 25th Anniversary Blog Party, today I'm sharing a day in the life of our homeschool.  Back in February, I took note of our day, which turned out to be a pretty typical Monday.  Here is my log...

A Day in the Life - Monday 2-2-2015

4:00 a.m. wake up

4:30 a.m. realize I'm not falling back to sleep so I might as well rise

4:45 a.m. check e-mail and work on Beth Moore bible study

5:30 a.m. work on blog post & other misc. paper work

7:00 a.m. work on more Beth Moore bible study...yes, I'm behind :(

7:45 a.m. shower and dress

8:05 a.m. check to make sure Riley and Ruben are awake - Levi's been up for a while, he's currently in the shower after a dirty diaper

8:15 a.m. I work on laundry. Riley and Ruben take out garbage and compost, feed cats, shovel/sweep snow, etc.

8:30 a.m. the little boy we babysit arrives

8:45 a.m. bake banana bread

9:00 a.m. Riley and I eat breakfast, feeding the little boys

9:30 a.m. locate Ruben for breakfast and school (he's outside building a snow fort) - Riley begins working on math and other independent studies

10:05 a.m. start school with family studies including bible study, scripture memory, history, and copywork. - Ruben also worked on independent studies, including ST Math and cursive writing.  I read aloud from The Aesop for Children and The Story Book of Science. Ruben narrates.

12:00 p.m. grab lunch

12:30 p.m. leave to take Ruben to 1:00 appointment

3:00 p.m. Ruben has tutoring at the Children's Dyslexia Center

4:15 p.m. stop at grocery store on the way home

5:30 p.m. arrive home, put groceries away - praise Riley for supper in the oven :)

6:00 p.m. Levi wakes from nap - eat supper

6:45 p.m. The Farmer, Riley and Ruben went out to cover a load of wood, preparing for a snow storm tonight

7:00 p.m. kids take baths and showers in between working on chores, including dishes and sweeping the floors

9:00 p.m. kids brush teeth and get tucked into bed.  I read aloud to them. 

10:00 p.m. lights out for kids.  I work on paperwork, blog posts, lessons for tomorrow, etc.

11:00 p.m. my bedtime :)

Sonlight Blog Party

Monday, April 20, 2015

Returning from MACHE with Living Books...

Riley and I had a wonderful time at MACHE, but seeing Levi's face as I walked in the door upon arrival back home was priceless!  Home is always the best place to be :)  Yesterday was spent resting with family and unpacking our new treasures.  I actually cooked three square meals and it felt good! 

Speaking of treasures, I didn't realize Marguerite De Angeli produced a children's Old Testament.  Her illustrations are some of the best!!  It was my big splurge item...

Books that Build Character is a Beautiful Feet recommendation.  It offers more than 300 titles of books to capture a child's imagination and conscience...   

 I was excited to find a copy of Ann Voskamp's Christmas devotional....

The title The Rainbow Book of Nature caught my attention.  Sure enough, it was published by The World Publishing Company along with A Child's First Book of American History, which is another Beautiful Feet recommendation.  As would be expected, the illustrations are fabulous!   The boys were chomping at the bit to take a look...

Riley spotted this wonderful old copy of Daniel Boone by Esther Averill.   

She also found these two Initial Biographies by Genevieve Foster, one of which, has been reprinted and is recommended in Beautiful Feet's new Modern American and World study.   Initial Biographies provide a wonderful retelling of the life of an American President.  Foster wrote four including George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.  They are out of print, with the exception of the Theodore Roosevelt reprint mentioned above, but definitely worth collecting if you come across them. 

We spent most of the first day of the conference scouring the used book sale.  The second day we perused the vendor hall checking out the latest and greatest curricula.  I was able to spend some time looking at English Lessons Through Literature by Kathy Jo DeVore and I'm near certain, I'm going to try this with Ruben next fall as an introductory study of grammar.  I love that she uses quality literature to study English! 

I purchased Your Business Math and the handicraft Knitting DVD from Simply Charlotte Mason, which RileyAnn is very excited about!  The girls have used other Handicrafts Made Simple DVD's and really enjoyed them.  I also picked up a couple fact practice speed drill books hoping they will help solidify basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts for each kiddo. 

By using Charlotte Mason's methods, there is not much curricula necessary to purchase.  One is able to adapt most living books to meet the academic needs of each child by reading, narration, dictation, nature study, etc. to cover language arts, history, and science.   This is why we were able to focus on building our library with great used living books!  ...stay tuned for an updated book sale list I'll be releasing this week.  We have many duplicate treasures to share.

While at MACHE, I rubbed elbows with many Charlotte Mason enthusiasts.  I am encouraged to see Charlotte's methods exploding amongst the homeschool community.   I met several new people and it was super fun to spend time talking to other like minded moms!   Unfortunately, MACHE overall didn't provide any Charlotte Mason speakers this year.  However, as mentioned, Simply Charlotte Mason had a booth in the exhibit hall where we spent a couple hours over the course of the conference and there was plenty of CM excitement building in the used book sale. 

I'd love to hear about your conference attending experience.  Which speakers did you enjoy?  What new books/curricula did you find?  Please leave a comment below...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Encouragement to Stay the Course...It's Homeschool Conference Season!

We have less than six weeks left of our formal school year here on Drywood Creek!  As I near the finish line, with my tongue hanging out, I want to encourage you to remember slow and steady wins the race.

As part of the Sonlight 25th Anniversary Blog Party, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post sharing some of the best homeschool advice I'd been given over the years.  This includes not comparing yourself to others and letting your curriculum work for you.  Keeping these two themes in mind will help you to finish strong.  Also, Afterthoughts blogger, Brandy, posted a timely article last week, titled, Don't Get Your Head Turned, in which she said, 
It’s springtime, and sometimes it is hard to be self-disciplined. And people are starting to talk about shiny curriculum catalogs and conferences and planning for next year and and and. It is so easy to get your head turned.
On the cusp of homeschool conference season, I think it's important to remain steadfast in our goals so as not to get caught up in all the latest and greatest homeschool curricula.  I love all the new "shiny curriculum catalogs" that are arriving daily in my mail box.  But I totally understand getting wrapped up in it all and for some, this season is truly overwhelming, almost to the point of debilitation.  This is a perfect time to look back on the goals you've set for each child and focus on the strengths.  Reflection and prayer are great tools for relaxation. 

By the way, if you are planning to attend a homeschool conference this spring, here is a past post on Preparing for a Homeschool Convention.  I have my lists ready and bags packed so as not to get my head turned as we head off to the MACHE Conference this week.  I'm looking forward to checking out some new Simply Charlotte Mason items, as well as language arts possibilities for Ruben, and bible study options.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Sacredness of Personality...CM Principle 4

Principle 4

These principles (i.e., authority, and docility) are limited by the respect due to the personality of children which may not be encroached upon whether by the direct use of fear or love, suggestion or influence, or by undue play upon any one natural desire. 
A couple of weeks ago, our CM Study Group met to discuss Charlotte Mason's 4th Principle.  I'm embarrassed to say, as the leader, I was not able to finish the reading prior to the meeting....and, to my humiliation, the reading I did beforehand was from the wrong chapter.  Thankfully, we have a wonderful group of homeschool moms who all understand what it means to be stretched thin and I was given much grace.

I'm happy to report, I have since finished the correct assigned reading, Chapter 5, of Volume 6, A Philosophy of Education, in which Charlotte explains Principle 4.  This principle appears to be a continuation of Principle 3, regarding authority and docility.  

In Principle 4, Charlotte cautions us against using fear and love to coerce our children into the world of academia.  She states...
...fear is no longer the acknowledged basis of school discipline; we have methods more subtle than the mere terrors of the law.  Love is one of them.  The person of winning personality attracts his pupils (or hers) who will do anything for his sake and are fond and eager in all their ways, docile to that point where personality is submerged, and they live on the smiles, perish on the averted looks, of the adored teacher.  Parents look on with a smile and think that all is well; but Bob or Mary is losing that growing time which should make a self-dependent, self-ordered person, and is day by day becoming a parasite who can go only as he is carried, the easy prey of fanatic or demagogue.  This sort of encroachment upon the love of children offers as a motive, 'do this for my sake' ; wrong is to be avoided lest it grieve the teacher, good is to be done to pleasure him; for this end a boy learns his lessons, behaves properly, shows good will, produces a whole cataloge of schoolboy virtues and yet his character is being undermined. 
She further goes on to explain the child's detrimental desire for approval... 
...he is not happy unless mother or nurse approve of him...Nay, this desire for approval may get such possession of him that he thinks of nothing else; he must have approval whether from the worthless or the virtuous.
While reading, I greatly appreciated Charlotte's recommended avoidance of material rewards... 
...In the intellectual field, however, there is danger; and nothing worse could have happened to our schools than the system of marks, prizes, place-taking, by which many of them are practically governed.  A boy is so taken up with the desire to forge ahead that there is no time to think of anything else.  What he learns is not interesting to him; he works to get his remove.
...But so besotted is our educational thought that we believe children regard knowledge  rather as repulsive medicine than as inviting food.  Hence our dependence on marks, prizes, athletics, alluring presentation, any jam we can devise to disguise the powder.  The man who willfully goes on crutches has feeble incompetent legs; he who chooses to go blindfold has eyes that cannot bear the sun; he who lives on pap-meat has weak digestive powers, and he who's mind is sustained by the crutches of emulation and avarice looses that one stimulating power which is sufficient for his intellectual needs.  This atrophy of the desire of knowledge is the penalty our scholars pay because we have chosen to make them work for inferior ends. 
This system of rewarding a child with stickers and prizes for doing an assigned or expected task, is a great peeve of mine.  It brings on an attitude of not wanting to do something unless there is material compensation.  In essence, we handicap the child, giving a false sense of responsibility.  Rather, Charlotte calls us to guide our children to the natural desire for knowledge, saying,
But knowledge is delectable.  We have all the 'satiable curiosity' of Mr. Kipling's Elephant even when we content ourselves with the broken meats flung by the daily press.  Knowledge is to us as our mother's milk, we grow thereby and in the act of sucking are admirably content.  
Oh, that last line is beautifully poetic to me!  To think that knowledge would be pursued satisfyingly by our children for its own sake is indeed nourishment to one's soul.   I can't wait to read more to find out how Ms. Mason suggests the practical application of going about this.       

For further reading regarding Principle 4, see Brandy's article titled, Ideals: Loving Knowledge for its Own Sake.  I'm also pondering Brandy's thoughts on the word "suggestion" in her article, Charlotte Mason and Suggestion

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Beth Moore Bible Study...Children of the Day

I'm currently participating in my first Beth Moore Bible Study.  We're using Children of the Day to study 1 & 2 Thessalonians.  I'm learning a great deal!  And though I didn't plan it this way, it's very timely according to the season and other happenings in my life.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says,
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
I keep rereading this verse and every time, I am more encouraged.  Here we have Jesus' death and resurrection tied to the coming of our Lord to give us new life, as well as those who've gone before us.  It's a beautiful thought!

Paul wrote 1&2 Thessalonians around 50-51 AD, at the time of his second missionary journey, both from Corinth.  This was approximately 15 years prior to his persecution and death under Nero.  I didn't purposefully plan to read Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz at the same time as the Beth Moore bible study, but in the end, the two fit perfectly to aid in my understanding of Christian persecution at that time.

In Children of the Day, Moore offers various levels of participation, with level 3 being: "handwrite the two books to the Thessalonians".  Of course, this is directly in line with our Charlotte Mason study and her idea of copywork and commonplace journaling.  I've chosen to copy 1 & 2 Thessalonians in my best penmanship.  I find this slows me down in my reading and helps me to focus on each individual word.

Celebrating Holy Week, studying 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and reading a novel set in the same time period with the same characters seemed ironic when unplanned by me.  However, my dear friend says, "There is nothing ironic."  After pondering this, I think she's right.  God has my back and I believe He has a plan! 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Frontier Fort on the Oregon Trail...

A Frontier Fort on the Oregon Trail by Scott Steedman provides an interesting look at what it was like living in and around the frontier forts of the old west.  The beginning pages give background information on exploration and settlement of the 'New World'.  This lays the foundation for why forts were built and how.  The book continues through the 1800's, ending with the building of the railway, the Indian Wars, and a frontier town.

Mark Bergin's illustrations are realistic and helpful in guiding you through the construction of the forts.  A Frontier Fort... is a great pictorial read aloud for younger children or it could be read independently by about 4th grade and up.  It is a TruthQuest history recommendation that we enjoyed. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Birth of a Lamb...

I LOVE spring!  Although, it seems a little strange this year without spring lambs.  Last spring, Riley was fortunate enough to be able to catch the birth of a lamb on camera.

Even though we won't have lambs this spring, last week the kids got to experience birth when our neighbor's beef cattle were freshening in the pasture at the end of our driveway.  Three days in a row there was a precious new life.  God is good and the cycle of life is amazing! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Defining Charlotte...Virtue



Middle English vertu, virtu, from Anglo-French, from Latin virtut-, virtus = manly strength, manliness, excellence; virtue, from vir = man —First Known Use: 13th century

I felt compelled to study the word virtue after reading Tending the Heart of Virtue by Vigen Guroian.  According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, virtue is the good result that comes from something; morally good behavior or character.   I find it ironic that virtue stems from the Latin vir, meaning man.  Is man virtuous?! 

Virtue has two distinct meanings in the King James Bible.  It was formerly often used in the now obsolete sense of "manly power," "valor," "efficacy".  Virtue was also used in the sense of a mighty work, a miracle.  

I love this reference to virtue in 2 Peter 1:5-8
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Charlotte's words...
Virtues in which Children should be Trained.–- One more point: parents should take pains to have their own thoughts clear as to the manner of virtues they want their children to develop. Candour, fortitude, temperance, patience, meekness, courage, generosity, indeed the whole role of the virtues, would be stimulating subjects for thought and teaching, offering ample illustrations. One caution I should like to offer. A child's whole notion of religion is 'being good.' It is well that he should know that being good is not his whole duty to God, although it is so much of it; that the relationship of love and personal service, which he owes as a child to his Father, as a subject to his King, is even more than the 'being good' which gives our Almighty Father such pleasure in His children.  (Vol. 3, School Education, p. 136)