Saturday, October 31, 2015

Imparting Knowledge, Part 1....

Principle 13: 

In devising a syllabus for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered: - 
     (a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body. 
     (b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e. curiosity).
     (c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.  

Our assigned reading this month was to finish Chapter 10 in A Philosophy of Education plus read Chapter 5 of For the Children's Sake.  Since this was over 130 pages of reading, our group decided to split the lesson into two months.  I personally read Section I, The Knowledge of God; Section II, The Knowledge of Man (a) History; (b) Literature; and (c) Morals and Economics: Citizenship before our October group discussion.  

In this chapter, it's easy to get wrapped up in studying the curriculum, as in which books Charlotte used in each form, but I think it's important to remember the purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of Charlotte's principles of education.  Try to focus more on the method as a means to meet the goal rather than which particular books she used. 

In principle 13, she gives three key points in her philosophy to impart the goal of knowledge.  First the syllabus must provide food for the mind.  Again we go back to this idea of pabulum, or nourishment for the mind.  Second, the syllabus should be varied creating curiosity or interest.  Third, the knowledge conveyed should be in literary form.  

Let's break it down and measure each section with the three key points...

The Knowledge of God

I love the way Charlotte starts this section!...
Of the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child, - the knowledge of God, of man, and of the universe, - the knowledge of God ranks first in importance, is indispensable, and most happy-making.  Mothers are on the whole more successful in communicating this knowledge than are teachers who know the children less well and have a narrower, poorer standard of measurement for their minds. (p. 158)
 Now to the key phrases in regard to teaching the knowledge of God ...
Now our objective in this most important part of education is to give the children the knowledge of God.  We need not go into the question of intuitive knowledge, but the expressed knowledge attainable by us has its source in the Bible, and perhaps we cannot do a greater indignity to children than to substitute our own or some other benevolent person's rendering for the fine English, poetic diction and lucid statement of the Bible.
Literature at its best is always direct and simple and a normal child of six listens with delight to the tales both of Old and New Testament read to him passage by passage, and by him narrated in turn, with delightful touches of native eloquence.  Religion has two aspects, the attitude of the will towards God which we understand by Christianity, and that perception of God which comes from a gradual slow-growing comprehension of the divine dealings with men.  (p. 160)
I should like to urge the importance of what may be called a poetic presentation of the life and teaching of Our Lord.  The young reader should experience in this study a curious and delightful sense of harmonious development, of the rounding out of each incident, of the progressive unfolding which characterises Our Lord's teaching; and, let me say here, the custom of narration lends itself surprisingly to this sort of poetic insight.  (p. 165-166) 
Probably very little hortatory teaching is desirable.  The danger of boring young listeners by such teaching is great, and there is also the further danger of provoking counter-opinions, even counter-convictions, in the innocent-looking audience.  On the whole we shall perhaps do well to allow the Scripture reading itself to point the moral.  (p. 166)
It seems to me that verse offers comparatively new medium in which to present the great theme. (p. 166)
Charlotte encourages teaching knowledge of God directly from the Bible itself.  The Bible is "poetic" and of literary form.  She advocates the use of narration to solidify comprehension.  Throughout this section, she gives sample narrations from various aged students.  Let the Bible speak and it alone will impart moral wisdom.

The Knowledge of Man

Charlotte gives many clear examples in this section on imparting the knowledge of history...
It is not too much to say that a rational well-considered patriotism depends on a pretty copious reading of history, and with this rational patriotism we desire out young people shall be informed rather than with the jingoism of the emotional patriot. (p. 170)
We know that young people are enormously interested in the subject and give concentrated attention if we give them the right books.  
It is our part to see that every child knows and can tell, whether by way of oral narrative or written essay.
A single reading is a condition insisted upon because a naturally desultory habit of mind leads us all to put off the effort of attention as long as a second or third chance of coping with our subject is to be hoped for.  (p. 171)
Whatever a child or grown-up person can tell, that we may be sure he knows, and what he cannot tell, he does not know. (p. 172-173) we may not ask questions to help the child to reason, paint fancy pictures to help him to imagine, draw out moral lessons to quicken his conscience.  These things take place as involuntarily as processes of digestion. (p. 174)
It will be observed that the work throughout the Forms is always chronologically progressive. (p. 177)
Perhaps the gravest defect in school curricula is that they fail to give a comprehensive, intelligent and interesting introduction to history.  To leave off or even to begin with the history of our own country is fatal.  We cannot live sanely unless we know that other peoples are as we are with a difference, that their history is as ours, with a difference, that they too have been represented by their poets and their artists, that they too have their literature and national life.   (p. 178)
It is never too late to mend but we may not delay to offer such a liberal and generous diet of History to every child in the country as shall give weight to his decisions, consideration to his actions and stability to his conduct; that stability, the lack of which has plunged us into many a stormy sea of unrest.
...the desire for knowledge for its own sake, on the other hand, finds satisfaction in knowledge itself. (p. 179)
I apologize for all the quotes in this post, but I really feel this chapter is the meat of Charlotte's philosophy.  She had some very distinct ideas regarding teaching history as she clearly felt it was a subject of great importance.  Charlotte proposed offering a liberal and generous diet of History to every child.

Throughout, she mentioned doing this by using biographies of persons connected with the time period studied and literature of the period.  She further states, "plays, novels, essays, 'lives', poems are all pressed into service and where it is possible, the architecture, painting, etc., which the period produced."

Charlotte was insistent on things like a single reading and narration.  She also suggested studying history chronologically and not beginning and ending with the history of our own country.

I loved the final paragraph in this section, which reads...
We live in times critical for everybody but eminently critical for teachers because it rests with them to decide whether personal or general good should be aimed at, or a means of general progress towards high thinking and plain living and therefore an instrument of the greatest national good. (p. 180)
We should all be striving for higher thinking and plain living!


Regarding literature, Charlotte says, "...the study of Literature goes pari passu with that of History."  I couldn't agree more!   Choose books with literary quality either written about or within the time period being studied.  You are killing two birds with one stone as they say.

Other wisdom from Charlotte regarding literature....
...I would remark on the evenness with which that power of children in dealing with books is developed.  We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programmes and each small guest assimilates what he can.  The child of genius and imagination gets greatly more than his duller comrade but all sit down to the same feast and each one gets according to his needs and powers.   (p. 182-183)
I think this quote deserves special attention.  If you have multiple children, you know they learn at different paces and have varied interests.  Charlotte understood that not all children were of the same mold.  Each has strengths and weaknesses.  Again, going back to that first principle, Children are born persons.   Each child is uniquely created in the likeness of God.

Charlotte didn't comment often on teaching children with learning disabilities or differences.  In her time, children with special needs were institutionalized and not in PNEU schools.  However, times have changed.  Today, more often than not, we keep our special needs kids in the home and there's no reason not to homeschool them and provide them with a liberal education, providing a broad and generous curriculum.

I liken the curriculum to food.  Whether your child is learning disabled or not, you will provide them with a variety of fruits and vegetables.  They will eventually acquire a taste and preference for certain fruits and vegetables.  However, once this happens, you will not stop serving a variety because each of your children will desire a different taste.  Sally may grow to love peas, Thomas asparagus, and little Johnny carrots.  In creating a syllabus for our children, it's the same.  We should provide a feast and allow each child to take what they are ready and able to digest.
There has been discussion in Elementary Schools as to whether an abridged edition would not give a better chance of getting through the novel set for a term, but strong arguments were brought forward at a conference of teachers in Gloucester in favour of a complete edition.  Children take pleasure in the 'dry' parts, descriptions, and the like, rendering these quite beautifully in their narrations. (p. 183)
The object of children's literary studies is not to give them precise information as to who wrote what in his reign of whom? - but to give them a sense of the spaciousness of the days, not only of great Elizabeth, but of all those times of which poets, historians and the makers of tales, have left us living pictures.  In such ways the children secure, not the sort of information which is of little cultural value, but wide spaces wherein imagination may take those holiday excursions deprived of which life is dreary; judgemnt, too, will turn over these folios of the mind and arrive at fairly just decisions about a given strike, the question of Poland, Indian Unrest.  Every man is called upon to be a statesman seeing that every man and woman, too, has a share in the government of the country; but statesmanship requires imaginative conceptions, formed upon pretty wide reading and some familiarity with historical precedents. (p. 184)
...but while we grown-up persons read and forget because we do not take the pains to know as we read, these young students have the powers of perfect recollection and just application because they have read with attention and concentration and have in every case reproduced what they have read in narration, or, the gist of some portion of it, in writing. (p. 185)
Again, with literature, we are choosing the best books and requiring narration.

Morals and Economics: Citizenship

Like Literature this subject, too, is ancillary to History.  In Form I, children begin to gather conclusions as to the general life of the community from tales, fables and the story of one or another great citizen.  In Form II, Citizenship becomes a definite subject rather from the point of view of what may be called the inspiration of citizenship than from that of the knowledge proper to a citizen, though the latter is by no means neglected. We find Plutarch's Lives exceedingly inspiring.  (p. 185)
In giving children the knowledge of men and affairs which we class under 'Citizenship' we have to face the problem of good and evil.  
Now Plutarch is like the Bible in this, that he does not label the actions of his people as good or bad but leaves the conscience and judgment of his readers to make that classification....Children recognise with incipient weariness the doctored tale as soon as it is begun to be told, but the human story with its evil and its good never flags in interest....Children like ourselves must see life whole if they are to profit.  At the same time, they must be protected from grossness and rudeness by means of the literary medium through which they are taught.  A daily newspaper is not on a level with Plutarch's Lives, nor with Andrew Lang's Tales of Troy and Greece, though possibly the same class of incidents may appear in both.  (p. 186-187)
Supply a boy with abundant mental pabulum, not in the way of desultory reading, (that is a sort of idleness which leads to mischief), but in the way of matter to be definitely known, give him much and sound food for his imagination, speculation, aspiration, and you have a wholesome-minded youth to whom work is a joy and games not a strain but a healthy relaxation and pleasure. (p. 189)
Using the three key points of Principle 13, we see that Charlotte remained true to teaching History, Literature, and Citizenship by providing pabulum and using varied books of literary form.  She followed through with narration, plain and simple.

In November, our group will continue reading through Chapter 10 and I will attempt a follow-up post detailing other subjects.   Here is Part 2 and Part 3

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Findings: Dyslexia Links

In keeping with October being National Dyslexia Awareness Month, this week I'm linking to some recent dyslexia posts and resources I've found...

6 Facts Every Parent of a Dyslexic Child Should Know gives current, no nonsense information regarding the facts of dyslexia.

Marianne Sunderland's Dyslexia FAQ's is an excellent resource for homeschooling kiddos with dyslexia!  She is the homeschooling mom of 8 children, 7 of which, are dyslexic.  Sunderland blogs at Abundant Life and Homeschooling with Dyslexia.

My Audio School is an amazing website with links to books on audio!  There is even a section with Ambleside Online books.

Our son is currently receiving tutoring at a local Children's Dyslexia Center.  He is nearly finished with the program and it has been a real gift.  Children's Dyslexia Centers, Inc., is a Scottish Rites Charity.  If you have a child with dyslexia, I would encourage you to look for a center in your area.

If you suspect your child is dyslexic or for more information on dyslexia, check out Dyslexia 101 or just click the "Dyslexia" tab at the top for a variety of posts.

Ruben is still into K'nex and Legos...

He really loves to build and create things!  Last spring, he designed a fire pit for me.  We roasted marshmallows and cooked over the open fire all summer.  It was great!

Dyslexia is not a disease.  It's a neurological learning difference.  It's not a death sentence.  However, there is no cure.  People with dyslexia are not stupid or lazy.  Instead, they are often hard working and with the right help, they can learn how to overcome their dyslexia.  Dyslexia is a gift.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Charlotte Mason and Dyslexia...

Some of you already know that I have dyslexic children.  Ruben has a formal diagnosis.  RileyAnn does not, but aside from reading, she shows many dyslexic tendencies.   I use the Charlotte Mason method of teaching and feel with a few simple modifications, it's the perfect method for students with dyslexia. I really believe it works! Charlotte's ideas on short lessons, habit training, living books, narration, and nature study give dyslexics the tools to thrive. Here's how I used Charlotte's methods with my children.

First off, let's break down language arts.  The goal of language arts is to be able to use language proficiently in order to communicate an idea.  It includes everything that relates to listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  According to Mirriam-Webster's online definition, dyslexia is "a variable often familial learning disability involving difficulties in acquiring and processing language that is typically manifested by a lack of proficiency in reading, spelling, and writing".  These areas of difficulty for a dyslexic, reading, spelling, and writing, obviously fall under this subject of language arts.  

Charlotte Mason's methods included: copywork, narration, prepared dictation, grammar, beginning reading, reading for instruction, recitation, and poetry.  Through these methods, she taught the language arts skills of handwriting, composition, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech, sentence structure, vocabulary, how to read, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and public speaking.  Some of the greatest modifications I have made to Charlotte's methods are in teaching reading and spelling.

I use copywork for handwriting practice.  It's also an aid in learning punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary, and spelling.  I say aid because research shows a proven method of teaching dyslexics to read, write and spell is the Orton-Gillingham method, which is explicit phonics using multi-sensory means, not necessarily a CM method.  Copywork alone would not be enough to teach a dyslexic to spell.  However, it's a great tool for the student to see how language flows as well as giving examples of good grammar.  I actually use All About Spelling to teach spelling. 

Something I love about the CM method is reading quality literature (living books) and narration with my dyslexics. Since dyslexia is not a cognitive delay linked to intelligence, they are very capable of understanding and appreciating literature far above their reading level.  I read aloud to them daily and they narrate or tell back in their own words what I read.   Since dyslexics often struggle with writing, oral narration allows the kids to think through the information and communicate it back in a way that truly reflects their intellectual ability.  They are not stifled by pencil/paper.  My kids narrate and do other work orally longer than Charlotte's recommended age, but eventually they do transition to pencil/paper. 

I use prepared dictation, again not necessarily only for spelling, but for sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, and listening comprehension.  I've just started a more formal prepared dictation with RileyAnn this year in 6th grade.  We are using Spelling Wisdom by Simply Charlotte Mason two days per week.  I typically have her write only one sentence from prepared dictation and use the rest of the passage for copywork.  Since memorization is often an issue for dyslexics, using only one sentence at a time takes the pressure off and allows the student to focus on accuracy of a shorter passage.  I have not used prepared dictation with Ruben thus far.    

RileyAnn has been studying grammar in some shape for the past couple of years as Charlotte proposed beginning the study of grammar around age 10.  I've used Sonlight Language Arts and Michael Clay Thompson Town Level with her.  I tried Easy Grammar with Ruben last year in 4th grade, but he was not ready.  A child should be reading and beginning to write before studying grammar.

This year, both children are working through Using Language Well.  So far, it's going well.  I will go back to Michael Clay Thompson at some point with RileyAnn, possibly next year.  I also have Winston Grammar, which is more multi-sensory, on my shelf and may use it with Ruben down the road.  I don't believe grammar is a subject to be studied annually throughout a child's entire academia, but rather it should be used as a tool to improve writing.  

Beginning Reading is probably the area I stray from Charlotte's methods most.  Charlotte used the look-say or sight reading method.  As mentioned above the Orton-Gilliingham method or multi-sensory explicit phonics instruction is a preferred method for teaching dyslexics to read.  Programs like All About Reading, Barton Reading and Spelling, and ABeCeDarian work well for dyslexics beginning to read.

Charlotte advocated getting children into reading their own books as soon as possible.  Since reading is a laborious task for dyslexics, I advocate reading aloud to your dyslexic student or the use of audio books.  I do think it's possible for a dyslexic student to work through a program like Ambleside Online in an auditory fashion.  When Reading for Instruction, the key is to find the most accessible way for the child to take in, process, and give back the information.

Charlotte was a huge proponent of poetry, Plutarch, and Shakespeare.   RileyAnn does read poetry on her own using the Poetry for Young People series.  She also read Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.  In addition, I read aloud poetry and Plutarch to both Riley and Ruben.  Ruben has not yet experienced Shakespeare.  I'm trying to decide whether I will read it aloud or use another audio source for him.

Something I love about the Charlotte Mason method is the integration of subjects.  I can incorporate many of the language arts methods listed above into history, science, Bible, geography, etc, while reading great living books.  Introducing students to people, places, and events through biographies, autobiographies, and historical fiction gives them ideas that build lasting connections rather than dry, isolated facts and dates, which will not stick in the dyslexic mind.

Lastly, Charlotte proposed teaching mathematics through the use of manipulatives rather than rote memorization and by giving the student practical examples of math in real life when it came to operations, fractions, measuring, money, etc.  This hands on, multi-sensory method is perfect for dyslexics.  It helps the child see the big picture and understand the why behind the how.  

Hopefully, I've shown you how to use the Charlotte Mason method successfully with dyslexics.  Through short lessons, varying the order of subjects, and with slight modifications, the Charlotte Mason method works!

For further explanation on using the Charlotte Mason method with dyslexics, check out The Best Homeschool Method for the Dyslexic Learner - Charlotte Mason by Marianne Sunderland or Charlotte Mason and Learning Disabilities at Gleams of Sunshine.  Ambleside Online also has a page dedicated to using Charlotte's methods with special needs students.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Findings: Habit Training, Curriculum Comparison Charts, Teaching from Rest...

Habit training seems a never ending task when rearing children, but did you know Charlotte proposed starting habit training with ourselves first!  Sonya Shafer's 3 Little Words for Habit Training gives a simple explanation on getting started.

In spite of my adoration of Charlotte Mason and her methods, I'm actually a curricula junkie and I absolutely love Rainbow Resource's Curriculum Comparison Charts.  If you are in the market for math, science, or some other supplemental material, these charts are a fabulous way to determine your options.

In case you haven't heard, Sarah Mackenzie, author and blogger at Amongst Lovely Things, is hosting an online book club to accompany her book, Teaching From Rest, A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace.  The club starts Monday, November 2nd at 6:30 PT and continues every Monday evening throughout November.   She is planning to post replays on Thursdays for those unable to attend.  Sarah is also offering a 20% discount on her book at Academic Press if you haven't already got your copy.  Just use coupon code TFRCLUB20.

Last week, I posted regarding The Importance of Puzzles in Preschool.  This week, I'm sharing my latest preschooler's fascination with scissors.  Levi loves to cut paper...yes, he did successfully cut a chunk of his hair as well, hence the reason I encourage him with scrap paper :)  He cuts garbage papers, envelopes, etc.  This occupies him for a good 20-30 minutes and allows me time to work with Riley and Ruben during our school hours.  No, I don't let him wander around with scissors.  He is "confined" to an area very near my feet, where I can supervise at all times....

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's Our Anniversary!...

Thank You...

I wrote my first blog post four years ago today.  So much has happened since that time.  Our adopted girls are both grown, graduated, and gone.  We've also been blessed with a second son.  Riley and Ruben have grown tremendously.  Click here to look how things have changed over the years!

On the other hand, some things never change.  We're still homeschooling.  We're still beef farming.  And, I'm grooving on Charlotte Mason more and more every day!

Without further ado, I really want to thank you all so much for logging on and reading my ramblings.  Four years later and well over 100,000 page views, I'm in awe.  I look forward to continuing here and am blessed by each and every one of you.

May you be blessed in return...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dyslexia Awareness...

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month.   As some of you know, our son was diagnosed with dyslexia back in 2012.  He has received one on one tutoring since 2013 at our local Scottish Rites Children's Dyslexia Center.  We are so grateful for the center!  Ruben has worked very hard and recently moved to the fifth and final level of the program.  He has been reading for some time, though it is still not a favorite task.  He is an auditory learner and much prefers me reading to him.  Recently, he started writing for "fun".  Spelling is still a challenge and may always be, but he has come so far!

If you or anyone you know suspects dyslexia, I encourage you to check out Dyslexia 101.

Dyslexia Myth Busters

One common misconception regarding dyslexia is that they read backward or reverse letters.  Many children reverse letters when first beginning to write.  This does not mean they are dyslexic.

Dyslexia only affects boys....FALSE!  Studies have proven that an equal number of boys and girls are affected by dyslexia.  However, boys are more often referred for testing because of their rambunctious behavior.

Dyslexics are lazy, lack intelligence and often perform poorly.  This is totally not true!  Dyslexia is not a cognitive deficiency.  It is neurological and occurs in people of average and above average intelligence.  Folks with dyslexia often are gifted in their field and show higher IQ's. They are typically hardworking in order to compensate for their dyslexia.

For more information regarding dyslexia, check out the International Dyslexia Association's website.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Findings...FREE PNEU Schedules and Smyth Bible Commentary

I only have a couple links for you this week, but I think they are extremely rich and valuable.  Years ago, I found this site called Charlotte's Daughters.  It lists the actual curricula used in the PNEU schools in years 1-12.  I love looking at the book lists, however, part of me is saddened by the dumbing down of our current educational system.  I'm thankful for homeschooling and the opportunity to choose!!

More recently, I found The Bible for School and Home by J. Paterson Smyth.  This little gem was used in the PNEU as part of the bible study.  Unfortunately, I could only access Vol. 1-3 online, when I was looking for Volume 4.  If anyone knows how to find The Prophets and Kings portion, please let me know!

I leave you with the many faces of Levi, from sweet to stinker in the snap of a flash....

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

TruthQuest History Update....

Recently, someone asked me if I'm still using TruthQuest History. The short answer is yes. The long answer contains the modifications I've made.

Since beginning TQ, I have mellowed considerably. We don't read as many books as we used to, but we are reading more quality books. This year, I'm using Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History as our spine and TQ as a supplement. BF helps me choose the best books. On the other hand, we don't cover as many subjects or people with BF. This is where I supplement with TQ. For example, when looking at the BF books we'll be reading this year, I see a possible gap containing immigration and pioneering in the late 1800's, early 1900's. Since this was a great settlement time here in WI and MN, I do plan to supplement with books and commentary from TQ American History for Young Students III. You can read more about the BF/TQ merger here.

Also since beginning TQ, I have split up our reading between "school time" and bedtime. This allows us more reading time and is working great. I typically read aloud to the kids anywhere from 4-6 nights per week. This year, we tend to read more literature at bedtime for our Socratic Book Club. However, history does spill over and often times, the two overlap. 

Another question a reader asked is whether I use TruthQuest History's Binder Builders or Timelines.  I do not.  Although, I have salivated over them.  I typically create my own notebook pages as we ride along.  This can get a little hairy at times and is more work on my part.  However, knowing my personality, I think I could get wrapped up in wanting to complete every page if I bought a package, which would be overkill.  I use Homeschool in the Woods' Time Traveler CD-Roms and History Pockets, along with misc. online resources to create pages for the kids.  Their notebooks also contain copy work as well as their original narrations and illustrations from our reading.  By creating my own pages and notebook assignments, I am able to modify things to fit each child's ability.  You can see samples and read more about our notebooks and how they've also morphed over time here.  

Please keep the questions coming.  I love this crazy journey we're on :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Importance of Puzzles in Preschool...

Levi loves puzzles!...and I think they are an important part of preschool play.   Puzzles promote thinking skills.  There is strategy involved in figuring out which piece fits where.  A child can see the importance of following a sequence as each piece fits into a certain place.  Puzzles also aid in the development of hand/eye coordination as the child practices placing pieces in a variety of positions until finding the right fit. 

Puzzles develop fine motor skills as little hands grasp pieces, manipulating them to and fro.  Some puzzles have wooden knobs that help with the development of pincer fingers.  All of them strengthen small muscles in the hand, which are needed for penmanship.  Both boys love floor puzzles, which also allow for use of gross motor skills. 

I love wooden puzzles like the ones created by Melissa & Doug!  They are hand crafted and high quality.  Remember the old cardboard puzzles...the board would warp, the pieces would bend, eventually breaking off.  After a short time, it was near impossible to make everything fit.  This does not happen with wooden puzzles.  They are sturdy and hold up to the test of time.  I have had part of the wooden puzzle picture peel off, but you can still fit the pieces together.

I believe puzzles help develop the habit of attention.  In the photos below, Levi is 2 3/4 years of age. (He looks like a baby compared to now :(  Anyway, he did not look up, nor pay any attention as the pictures were being snapped.  He was deep in concentration.  I love the look of satisfaction in the last photo where he's admiring the finished product.  Puzzles in preschool are important!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Findings: Commonplacing, Go Set a Watchman, Reading Aloud (and gorgeous staircase)...

Oh, don't miss Jennifer Dow's Introduction to Commonplacing post.  I was inspired!  I've made many feeble attempts at commonplacing, but in the end, it usually falls by the wayside.  I really want to be better....maybe this is something to work toward in the new year...

Have you read Harper Lee's prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird?  I have not...yet, but plan to in the future.  In the meantime, I was intrigued by Missy Andrews' Matters of Conscience – Reactions to Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman.  In light of all the hype, I was thinking some of the same things.  It was a rough draft people...of course, it wasn't polished! 

Here's a good reminder about The Benefits of Reading Aloud.  Most of all, I love the steps in the photo!! If I had stairs, I would like to paint them like that :)

Do you wonder what others are reading?  Here's a short Youtube clip by Carole Joy Seid with her latest recommendations.   It's funny, I just bought Gilead at our local Goodwill, but was thinking maybe I paid too much for it and should take it back.  Now, I think I may keep it!

I love this photo of the boys, which I've titled, "Summer's End"...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Getting Started with BF Modern American and World History....

We are in our sixth week of the 2015-2016 school year.  I want to share a little bit about our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study.  The guide itself is much more aesthetically pleasing than the brown cover, comb bound guides of the past.  Initially, I was a bit worried about the spine cracking.  However, it seems to lay flat and so far has hung together well.  The color images, historic artwork, and short author biographies are a wonderful addition!

I'm using the study with a 5th and 6th grader.  I will be reading all the books aloud because up to this point, we have studied history as a family combining Riley and Ruben.  This is our sixth and final year of our first history rotation, which makes BF Modern American and World History the perfect fit, covering the Civil War to Modern Times.

In the beginning, the study was a bit of a struggle because we were starting cold in the middle of A Child's First Book of American History.  When Lesson 1 began with assigning four chapters from A Child's First..., plus two chapters of Across Five Aprils, which were approx. 20 pages each, I was overwhelmed!  This was a couple hours worth of reading!  I knew then and there it would have to be split up.

Eventually, we worked through A Child's First and started reading one chapter of Across Five Aprils during our scheduled school time and one at bedtime.  This worked much better, especially since Across Five Aprils is such a fabulous book!  I didn't want to cut it or save it for later.  The kids were constantly begging for more!  It was truly one of the best books I've read in some time.

Anyway, following Across Five Aprils, we read The Perilous Road.  Both book are coming of age stories set during the Civil War.  However, Across Five Aprils is set in Southern Illinois and The Perilous Road is set in Tennessee.  Each protagonist is for a different side of the war, one being a Confederate and the other being for the Union. The Perilous Road is a much easier read, but, it's still a realistic telling of life during that time.

In addition to reading, we are notebooking.  I have pulled in notebooking pages from Home School in the Woods' Time Travelers CD-Rom, The Civil War.  I have also printed pages from various Dover Coloring Books and The American Civil War History Pockets.  Riley and Ruben enjoy notebooking and pre-printed pages are easier for Ruben since there's more coloring and not as much writing involved.  Due to dyslexia, much of his comprehension work is done through oral narration and discussion, but the notebook gives a place for copywork and is a nice momentous portfolio to look back on.  I'm including photos of misc. notebook pages completed so far.

Overall the BF Modern American and World History study is going great!  We are just starting Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass.  I plan to continue giving updates regarding this study every 4-6 weeks throughout the school year.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Perilous Road...

The Perilous Road by William O. Steele is the story of young Chris Brabson, a boy living in Tennessee at the time of the Civil War.  Chris hates the Yankees and can't understand why his brother Jethro decides to fight on the Union side.  Eventually, Chris spies for the Confederates only to later find out Jethro is a part of the wagon train that's going to be ambushed.  The story takes a major turn when Chris tries to find Jethro and warn him of the upcoming raid, hoping to save his life. Chris gets caught in a horrific battle and soon realizes that nothing is clear cut in war.

Steele's coming of age story was a hit here on the home front.   Ruben was begging for more.  The Perilous Road was the second book we read for our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study, following Across Five Aprils.   It is also on the Sonlight and TruthQuest History list.

Below is Ruben's essay on how Chris's attitude changed toward the Yankees over the course of the story...

The Perilous Road
By Ruben
October 5, 2015

    Chris hated the Yankees because he thought they were arrogant and snotty.  The Yankees took Chris’ buckskin shirt and stole the food that he worked hard for.  His brother Jethro joined up with the Yankees and Chris didn’t like that. 
     Chris told his friend, Silas, to get the Rebs.  The Feds were camped in the valley. Chris was feeling bad that his brother may get killed in the valley because he was a wagoneer.  He didn’t know his brother was still in training for a few months.  So, he was going to go to the valley where the Feds were camped to find Jethro and tell him that the Rebs were coming so that he could escape. 
     When Chris went to the Fed’s camp, he met some guys that were talking around the campfire and singing.  One of them bought him some gingersnaps.  One of them gave him an apple.  Chris fell asleep and one of the wagoneers laid him in his wagon. 
     Then the Rebs came and the wagoneer tried to escape, but the wagon he was in tipped over because he was going too fast across a rutted and bumpy field.  Chris escaped into the woods.  He tripped over the leg of the soldier that had bought him the gingersnaps.  The soldier was now dead, lying in the weeds.  He found the soldier that gave him the apple with a wound in his chest.  Chris asked him if he needed anything and he said he wanted water.  Chris found an empty coffee pot and he went to a spring and filled it with water.  He took it to the soldier. 
     Through it all, Chris realized that a lot of the Yankees were just like him.  They liked to hunt and farm.  They had families. 
     Chris eventually got back to his cabin.  His dad and Silas had been looking for him.  Chris told his father everything he had done.  Chris was relieved to hear that his brother was safe and the battle had nothing to do with him.  Chris no longer hated the Yankees.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Archimedes and the Door of Science....

We recently finished reading Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick as part of the Beautiful Feet History of Science program.  Bendick's biography is chock full of science and mathematical ideas that could easily be the spine of a science study in and of itself. As Bendick explains Archimedes contributions to physics, astronomy, and mathematics, the reader begins to see how important he was not only in history, but today, in modern times as well.  In addition to the biographical information, there is experiments for the reader to perform.  Bendick's illustrations aid the text.  Archimedes and the Door of Science is also a suggested book for Sonlight Core G and Ambleside Online Year 6.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Findings: Morning Basket with Pam Barnhill & Brandy Vencel, Banning Negativity, Carole Joy Seid...

This week, I listened to Pam Barnhill's Morning Basket podcast with Brandy Vencel.   I have gleaned from both of these gals and found that our Circle Time/Morning Basket is a combination of both.

Speaking of Brandy, did you see she and Mystie Winckler are hosting a free webinar on how to work your homeschool plan?  It's next Friday.   Click the image to sign up.  If you can't make it, they'll send you a replay link afterward to watch at your leisure. 


I like the banned words idea in The Vocabulary of Vision by Heidi White.  I have one who constantly "hates" everything.  I think I may try to employ this tactic.

I also listened to Pam Barnhill and Carole Joy Seid last weekend while I was updating our sale book lists.  I appreciate Carole Joy's love of living books. 

It's hard to believe it's October already!  We had our first frost here on Drywood Creek this week, which seemed a bit late this year.  School is progressing, though we got a little off schedule this week due to extra business.  Aside from book learning, we had lots of life skills going on :)

Did you see the lunar eclipse last Sunday night?  Riley and Ruben laid wrapped in blankets under the stars, until falling asleep around 11:00 p.m.  It was quite spectacular and made for a wonderful nature study!