Thursday, May 28, 2015

California Gold Rush Titles...

While studying the California Gold Rush of 1848-1849, we read The Story of the Gold at Sutter's Mill by R. Conrad Stein, which is a Cornerstones of Freedom book, and California Gold Rush by Catherine E. Chambers, which is part of the Adventures in Frontier America series.  Each book gave factual information regarding the Gold Rush, with very little overlap.  Both books are illustrated, adding visual stimulation to the story.  I broke the reading into two days each.  Stein's book is a TruthQuest History recommendation.  In addition, we read By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman as our bedtime read aloud, which is a Beautiful Feet, TruthQuest, and Sonlight recommended book. 

We also studied Levi Strauss and "Snowshoe" John Thompson by reading, Mr. Blue Jeans, A Story of Levi Strauss by Maryann N. Weidt, a Creative Minds Biography, and Snowshoe Thompson by Nancy Smiler Levinson, an I Can Read Book.   Both of these men were significant to the Gold Rush.  The kids and I were intrigued by Levi Strauss.   He was a hard working humble man with a servant's heart.  

I didn't realize the Gold Rush was so short lived.  I love re-learning history with the kids!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


RileyAnn finished up her last Keepers of the Faith club meeting for the school year.  She learned many new handicrafts and life skills throughout the past two years including sewing, canning, cooking/baking, decoupage, card making, scrapbooking, first aid, and more!  These photos were from the February meeting where she made three types of candles: a container candle, beeswax candle, and a dipped candle...see it grow below.

Again, we know that the human hand is a wonderful and exquisite instrument to be used in a hundred movements exacting delicacy, direction and force; every such movement is a cause of joy as it leads to the pleasure of execution and the triumph of success.  We begin to understand this and make some efforts to train the young in the deft handling of tools and the practice of handicrafts. - Charlotte Mason in A Philosophy of Education 

Monday, May 25, 2015

"Americans paid a big price for this new thing called freedom."...from Andrew Jackson by Judson

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day.JPG

Andrew was fourteen and a half when he learned that his mother was dead.  He went into the house and sat down quietly.  It seemed that he could see her, bending over the fire, cooking.  See her knitting, weaving, tending her sister or the children.  And now she was gone.  Buried in an unmarked grave near Charles Town, the rider said.

One of the cousins came home in a few days and brought a new husband; they would stay, they said.  Then a man from town brought a package for Andrew Jackson.  He opened it and saw a dress of this mother's and a few trifling possessions. 

"Her Bible's not here," Andrew said in a dull voice.  "I'd like right well to have her Bible."  Then he turned and walked into the woods

"Shall we go fetch him?" the cousin said anxiously.  

"No. He wants his own," her husband answered.  "He's suffered too much for his years.  But Andy's got spunk.  He'll come back.  We'll be her with him then."

When Andrew Jackson came back to his kinfolk, they found him changed.  He was serious, willing to listen when his uncles talked.  Life in the Waxhaws had changed, too. 

Lord Cornwallis had been defeated at Yorktown in October, that year, 1781, though peace papers were not signed until September of 1783.  But people of the Carolinas could not wait for that.  When the fighting ended, those left alive moved back to their homes and farms.  Tories who had fought against the new republic or had been spies and informers, found themselves hated.  They moved to Canada or to England.

During the British stay in Charles Town officers had taken most of the nice homes - a usual wartime custom.  The evicted owners fled north into the "up-country" for refuge.  These city folk now moved back.  A few had lived in the Waxhaws region and would be missed.  Andrew had several friends he was sorry to see depart.  

"When you come to Charles Town, our house is your home," they told him.  Andrew promised.  But he did not expect to go to the city.  There were no cattle to sell.  

Days were filled with work.  Schools opened.  Andrew attended first one and then others as he lived with various relatives.  His Uncle Robert, James Crawford, and George McKemey were glad to have an extra hand.  but Andrew was restless.  The days of adjustment were hard for everyone. 

Waxhaw men, like many patriots over the country, were impoverished.  In the Carolinas houses had been damaged or burned to the ground.  Furniture, cooking utensils, tools, had been stolen or wantonly destroyed.  Countless things were needed - horses, cattle, chickens, grain, new buildings.  There was no money for buying and nothing to give in trade. 

"They say if  you make out an account the state will pay for what you lost," a neighbor reported.

"So I've heard," Uncle James said.  "I'm making a record now.  So is Robert." 

Major Robert Crawford had served  his country with distinction for seven years.  Now he had nothing left but his land.  He turned in a modest claim for part of his losses. The state treasurer fussed and trimmed it down.  The major was not surprised; he knew the state had very little money.  Finally he collected a small fraction of what the treasurer had agreed was a fair claim. 

Other Carolinians, hearing of such things, packed up and moved West.  Beyond the mountains they would find Indians, toil, and hardship, but they could make a new start.  Americans paid a big price for this new thing called freedom.

Andrew Jackson heard talk about these things, and it occurred to him that he too, was paying a price.  Not in money, for he had none to lose, but in something dearer, something that could never be replaced.  His mother and two brothers were dead.  Indeed, his father's death, though long before the war, was part of the price paid for Andrew to be born in a land where men were to have equality under the law.  - Excerpts taken from Chapters 3 & 4 of Andrew Jackson by Clara Ingram Judson

...In memory of those who served both here, in the U.S., and abroad for our precious gift of freedom.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Findings...Dyslexia & Math, You're Safe, I'm Here, & Building a Library....

I'm so sad that our desktop computer is on the fritz so I'm trying to make due with our laptop and I'm not liking it!  Yes, I'm old school and love my PC.  A broken desktop also leaves me no access to my photos :(

Anyway, I do have a few websites that intrigued me this week.   I was encouraged when I read Students with Dyslexia Solve Math Differently.  This is something I'm figuring out as I go, but to have research to back it, is huge!

The two articles that brought tears this week were....

4 Words to Help Calm an Anxious Child

I have used these words with my children, particularly when they were young and so vulnerable with their inability to reason, but it was the thought of our Heavenly Father using these words with me as an adult that brought tears.  At some point, we all need reassurance of our safety.

In a Mother's Library, Bound in Spirit and in Print
Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth over the merits of print versus digital books so many times, it’s as if I were in an abusive relationship with myself. But my mother’s passing and the sentimental value of her library have finally put an end to that debate in my head. It’s not that one is superior to the other. They each have their place in this modern world.
First off, my mom passed away 8 1/2 years ago and I still get weepy at the thought.  Secondly, this post is a beautiful testament to living books.  Some say I'm crazy for the arsenal of old books I've amassed, but to me it's the legacy I hope to leave our children.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Commonplace Book...Caroline Cowles Richards (1853)

April 1 -
...We go to school to Miss Zilpha Clark in her own house on Gibson Street...I like Abbie Clark the best of all the girls in school excepting of course my sister Anna.
Before I go to school every morning I read three chapters in the Bible.  I read three every day and five on Sunday and that takes me through the Bible in a year...
- A Nineteenth-Century Schoolgirl, The Diary of Caroline Cowles Richards, 1852-1955 edited by Kerry A. Graves, pg 13

Monday, May 18, 2015

Education is an Atmosphere...Simplicity is Key...

Principles 5a & 6

Seeing that we are limited by the respect due to the personality of children we can allow ourselves but three educational instruments - the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit and the presentation of living ideas.  Our motto is, - 'Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.'   When we say that education is an atmosphere we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a 'child environment' specially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere both as regards persons and things and should let him live freely among his proper conditions.  It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the 'child's' level.  

I keep reading the last part of this principle over and over.  It's comforting to me.  You see, I am a minimalist.  I don't like waste.  I become easily overwhelmed with busy and stuff.  I love beautifully clean, plain, and simple.  I find earth tones and nature's patterns aesthetically pleasing.  I love natural light, wide open spaces, green grass and blue skies...and Charlotte just gave me permission to relish in this simplicity for my children's sake. 
It is not an environment that these want, a set of artificial relations carefully constructed, but an atmosphere which nobody has been at pains to constitute.  It is there, about the child, his natural element, precisely as the atmosphere of the earth is about us.  It is thrown off, as it were, from persons and things, stirred by events, sweetened by love, ventilated, kept in motion, by the regulated action of common sense.  - Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education, p. 96
Charlotte felt a child's 'natural home atmosphere' was the best place for education.  I think this point is so important and that as home educators, we need to be careful not to create school at home.  Charlotte purports that allowing the child to live under natural conditions rather than a pint sized 'compounded environment' is best.   Letting our children walk beside us in the day to day while we cook, clean, garden, and go about our every day tasks is satisfying to children and an important part of education.

Charlotte further addresses our attitude and behavior as part of this atmosphere.  She maintains parents remain in authority over their homes, yet cautions us against playing our emotions. 
Children must face life as it is; if their parents are anxious and perturbed children feel it in the air.  "Mummie, Mummie, you aren't going to cry this time, are you?"  and a child's hug tries to take away the trouble.  By these things children live and we may not keep them in glass cases; if we do, they develop in succulence and softness and will not become plants of renown.  But due relations must be maintained; the parents are in authority, the children in obedience; and again, the strong may not lay their burdens on the weak; nor must we expect from children that effort of decision, the most fatiguing in our lives, of which the young should generally be relieved.  - Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education, p.97
Lastly, Charlotte again steers us toward the issue of 'love of knowledge' vs. 'love of marks', and material rewards.
We foresee happy days for children when all teachers know that no other exciting motive whatever is necessary to produce good work in each individual of however big a class than that love of knowledge which is natural to every child.  - Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education, p. 98
As we near the end of our 2014-2015 school year, I'm reassessing my thoughts on education based on what I'm learning through this study of Charlotte's 20 Principles.  I'm constantly struck by how common sense her ideals are, yet how far away we've gotten from this in current academia.  I'm looking forward to purging this summer as my desire is to focus simply on truth, beauty, and goodness in our home education.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Stout-Hearted Seven, Orphaned on the Oregon Trail...

We have read several books regarding The Oregon Trail, as well as, Marcus and Narcisssa Whitman, but The Stout-Hearted Seven, Orphaned on the Oregon Trail by Neta Lohnes Frazier was my favorite!  In the spring of 1844, the Henry and Naomi Sager family packed their important belongings into a covered wagon and joined hundreds of others for the journey west.  Both parents died and were buried along the trail.  Other pioneers helped the children get to Oregon Territory, where they lived with Marcus and Narcissa Whitman at the Oregon Mission of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches until an Indian Massacre in November of 1847.  After the massacre, the four remaining Sager girls were adopted into different families in the Pacific Northwest.  The Stout-Hearted a very fascinating and moving tale of the Sager adventure. 

In the book Forward, Frazier writes...
To tell the true story of the Sager children, as nearly as possible, has been my purpose in writing this book.  I have gone back to primary sources: Catherine's My Story, in manuscript form; Matilda's book, A Survivor's Recollections of the Whitman Massacre, published by the Esther Reed Chapter, Daughter so the American Revolution, Spokane, Washington; Elizabeth's interviews published from time to time in the Oregon Journal an Oregon Spectator, Portland, Oregon; and diaries of other members of the 1844 wagon train, published in Transactions of the Oregon Pioneers' Association, Portland.  Added to these were the letters of Narcissa and Marcus Whitman, published in many volumes of the Oregon Historical Quarterly, and in books written by Dr. Clifford M. Drury and published by the Arthur H. Clark Company, Glendale, California. Finally, and most useful, was personal information given me by two of Catherine's granddaughters, my friends Sadie Collins Armin, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Celista Collins Platz, Seattle, Washington.
Except for the necessary invention of dialogue and scenes, and an occasional shift in sequence to satisfy the needs of the story, all events in the book were related by one or more of the sisters, by the Whitmans, or by other contemporary persons, in conversations, letters, or diaries. 
Clearly the author went to great trouble making sure the Sager's story was accurate.  Indeed, her efforts provided a wonderful book to be understood and cherished by young and old.  The Stout-Hearted recommended in Beautiful Feet's Western Expansion guide as well as by me :)   

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Findings...Boys in Bibs, Ambleside Online on How it All Began...

I think this picture is hilariously cute!!  They look a little like Junior Samples :)

I haven't been online much this week so I'm afraid I don't have much to share.  I will tell you, I'm a book saling fool and I can't wait to release our new list of books in early June!  I have Landmarks, Childhood of Famous Americans, Signature Biographies, etc. 

I also purchased bags and bags of clothes today, while thrift saling, for a total of $48...Levi alone got 56 new articles of clothing!  I cannot justify buying new clothing when you can buy clean name brand second hand clothes for 25 & 50-cents.  I believe it was Carole Joy Seid who said, "Wear the old coat and buy the new book" there's a woman after my own heart :)

One finding I did want to share is this article on Archipelago titled Behind the Scenes.  It was a post written by Wendi Capehart., a member of the Ambleside Online Advisory Board, that shared some of the history of Ambleside Online, which is a totally FREE Charlotte Mason curricula, and how it all started.  I found it interesting...but then again, I love learning about the history of things!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Donner Party

A while back, we read Patty Reed's Doll as part of our California/Western Expansion study.  Over the weekend we watched the Ric Burns film, The Donner Party, which was originally aired on PBS as an American Experience documentary.  The film is 90 minutes in length and documents the journey of the Donner Party traveling to California.  Their story is heartbreaking!  Resorting to cannibalism to survive, it's not for the faint at heart.  Patty Reed's Doll does not tell about this part of their adventure so it is more appropriate for younger children than the film.   However, their story is an important part of American history and The Donner Party could be viewed by mature middle and high school students.  

From the back cover...
This haunting film tells the story of the ill-fated party of pioneers and their doomed attempt to get to California in 1846.  More than just a riveting tale of death, endurance and survival, the Donner Party's nightmarish journey penetrated to the very heart of the American dream at a crucial phase of the nation's "manifest destiny."  Touching some of the most powerful social, economic and political currents of the time, this extraordinary narrative remains one of the most compelling and enduring episodes to come out of the West. 
Though some of the incident is unimaginable, we enjoyed the film and found it very educational. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

"Children Should Have Their Artistic Powers Cultivated"...Charlotte Mason

Riley and Ruben took an art class this spring through our local homeschool group.  It was not so much an appreciation class as Charlotte Mason would have suggested, but a chance to experience creating art with a variety of mediums.  

One day a week, we traveled to the city for class.  On the same day, they also participated in homeschool choir, along with over 200 other homeschool students, as well as piano lessons at the local university.  It was our cultural arts day.  

RileyAnn enjoyed the above project so much that she created more of them at home.  Each student was given a three inch square to which they cut out two triangles, then reassembled in the shape of a bird.  Next, starting in the corner of a blank page, they laid the bird at different angles, tracing it as they went along.  Each student was then encouraged to color a bird or all if they chose.  

I love the way Ruben blended pastels below to form soft lines following his silhouette bird.  The kids also worked with a variety of paints and markers.  They tooled on metal foil and created pop art.  

While they were in class, I had the opportunity to visit with other like minded moms.  The kids visited with friends in and between class.  They both LOVED it, as did I!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

God's Design for Heaven and Earth...

We finished God's Design for Heaven and Earth by Answers in Genesis this week.  I had older editions of Our Planet Earth and Our Universe.  Then a friend borrowed us the new edition of Our Weather & Water.  I found pros and cons with each.  I love that the older edition is all inclusive.  The student reading, questions, activities, experiments, as well as teacher notes and answers are all in the same book in the original design.  This is a huge cost savings and in my opinion, it's more user friendly to have all the teaching material in one place.   On the other hand, the kids and I appreciated the color photos and updated space information in the new editions. 

Whether using old or new editions, I found the information in Seymour Simon's books made a great supplement.  Unfortunately, there is mild evolutionary content that you may want to skip over or be prepared to discuss with your kiddos.  Master Books also publishes a beautiful Wonders of Creation Science set with complementary topics to the God's Design series.  Although, I think they are geared more for middle and high school ages.  I pulled supplemental information from each book because reading them all cover to cover would be way overkill. 

Overall, Answers in Genesis provided a good study.  I personally preferred reading this series to the Apologia Young Explorer series, as did Ruben.  I found them to the point and easy to understand.  However, when going around the second time with Levi, I think I'll just read books like Seymour Simom's rather than scheduling a curriculum.  The longer I do this homeschooling thing, the more I'm convinced you don't need a formal curriculum for elementary science. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Findings...Animated Atlas, Book Lists, Metanarratives, and FREE Math...

I've decided to start a new series of posts on Fridays with random thoughts, happenings, and websites I find throughout the week.  I may also share precious photos of the kids....yes, I'm being totally prejudice ;-)  Anyway, here are links from this week...

At Animated Atlas, you will find a 10 minute presentation which illustrates the growth of the United States.  The kids and I enjoyed watching the nation grow and it was a good review of the US history we've covered so far.

I am so in love with One Thousand Books for Children, which was compiled by Penrhyn W. Coussens in 1911!  It has lists of great books from the 19th century.  Many of which you will find in the Ambleside Online schedules.  Some of which have been reprinted by Yesterdays Classics.

I was intrigued by this article and the concept of "metanarratives".   I think it's a good argument for the study of history and worldview in our homeschools.   Knowing our past may help us to better our futures.

Maria Miller, author of Math Mammoth, linked this Math Stars Newsletter in her math news.  Math Stars contain various math puzzles and challenges for students in grades 1-8, which actually look fun.  Miller suggested using one grade level lower for extra summer math practice. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Children of the Covered Wagon....Life on the Oregon Trail...

Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr is a sweet story with high adventure telling of pioneers heading west on the Oregon Trail.  Carr has woven her historically accurate tale around three children in a wagon train, Jerry, Myra, and Jim, who's families have set out for the Willamette Valley in 1844.  From the dust jacket flap...
Jerry was not so very big, but he was brave.  Jim was resourceful far beyond his years, and even being captured by the Indians did not daunt him.  Myra was thankful more than once for his quick wit and nimble feet.  
Young and old will delight in this classic novel, first published in 1934.  Levi was enthralled by Bob Kuhn's black and white illustrations, which add to the adventure.  Children of the Covered Wagon is recommended in the TruthQuest History guide and by Veritas Press.  I was blessed to find an old 1943 hardback copy with dust jacket years ago.  However, Carr's book is more readily available as a reprint from Christian Liberty Press.

I'm linking this post the 2015 Back to the Classics Challenge in the Forgotten Classic section.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Commonplace Book....Random Thoughts on the History of Education...

From The Rainbow Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers, pg 140-143...

Early education in America placed first emphasis on proper moral conduct.

Among the colonies, Massachusetts took the lead in education, passing a law in 1647 that required every town of fifty homeowners to establish a primary school and every town of one hundred homes to provide, in addition, a secondary or grammar school.  The following year, Dedham, Massachusetts, became the first community in American to tax property owners in order to support a local public school.  Boston already claimed the first Latin, or high school, established in 1635, where, by the age of fifteen, students were supposed to be ready for college after intensive instruction in Latin and less vigorous preparation in composition, literature, mathematics, modern languages, philosophy, and science. 

The "prevocation school," such as the academy established in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin was found only in the larger towns and concentrated on training pupils for "real life."  Another standard form of education in early America was "apprenticeship training," illustrated by Franklin's service to his father as a candlemaker and to his brother James as a printer's devil. 

From A Nineteenth-Century Schoolgirl, The Diary of Caroline Cowles Richards, 1852-1955 edited by Kerry A. Graves, pg 6-7...

During the 1800's, most boys and girls went to public elementary school until they were 10 to 12 years old.  They learned to read, write, and spell.  They studied grammar, math, geography, and history.  Students also took physical education classes.

Most children who studied beyond elementary school went to private schools.  Few public high schools existed before 1860.  Only middle- or upper-class families could afford to send their children to private high schools.  Many of these private high schools were boarding schools.

Boys and girls did not go to the same private schools. At the time, people thought boys and girls had different educational needs.  Boys attended private schools called academies.  At academies, boys learned composition, literature, history, math, religion, and foreign languages.  These classes prepared boys for college and jobs. 

Girls attended private schools called seminaries.  At seminaries, girls studied some of the same subjects boys did.  But girls also learned dance, drawing, and needlework at seminaries.  People thought these classes taught social skills and prepared girls to be good homemakers. 

pg 12...

During the 1800's, students used books called readers.  The stories in these books taught moral values, good manners, and religion.  Students used stories from their readers and from the Bible to learn reading and writing.  They memorized parts of the stories and recited them in class. 
McGuffey's Readers were the most popular readers.  William Holmes McGuffey was a minister and teacher.  From 1836 to 1857, McGuffey wrote six reading books and one spelling book for young students.  McGuffey's Readers became widely used in the mid-1800s and remained popular until the early 1900s.  

From Getting Started, Systematic Mathematics by Paul Ziegler...

I do not advise formal math education before 3rd grade.  Children are simply not ready for formal math instruction before that age.  First and second grade math textbooks did not exist before the 1960's.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Off to Hear Carole Joy Seid....

I'm off this morning to attend my first Carole Joy Seid seminar.  I listened to Carole speak with Sarah Mackenzie on the Read Aloud Revival and she definitely sounds like a kindred spirit.  Sarah's interview prompted me to buy Seid's new DVD series, Homeschool Made Simple.  You can get a good taste of it in the 30 minute sample offered by Compass Classroom.   I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but look forward to it!  I'm also looking forward to spending today with other like minded book lovers :)