Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: Reflecting Back...

Out with the old and in with the new...this is my thought today.  As the year comes to a close, I've been reflecting back on 2015 starting with A Time for Rest.  It's funny when you read your own words, you can still feel the emotion that was sparked at the time they were penned.  Thankfully for me, 2015 was a year of rest and tremendous growth.  I am still a work in progress, but time does not stand still.

....and neither do the children.  In paging through the year's photos, I am amazed by my blindness at the changes that happened right before my eyes on a daily basis.  Each child has added inches, laughter and tears.

Beginning 2015
Ending 2015

Thanks to you, this blog has grown tremendously as well.  The page views doubled in 2015!  Here are the top five posts you've made popular this year....

1. A Visual American History Timeline of Books - This post received by far the most hits this year.  The timelines were a wild success...thank you!

2. Charlotte Mason Book Club - Start Here - I had no idea when I kicked off this series how studying Charlotte's 20 Principles would change my thinking.

3. Stop Teaching to the Test and Start Cultivating Affinities - Cultivating affinities is something I'll be working on in 2016.

4. Our Book of Centuries....with FREE Templates - I love giving gifts and it was wonderful to see so many taking advantage of these templates.  May you be blessed....

5. Education is a Life...Providing Pabulum for the Mind - This post has really stuck with me.  Simply saying, "Education is a life." seems very cliche to me now.  Providing pabulum as part of that education is rich.  I will be pondering this into the New Year.

Many memories were sparked when I scrolled back through some of the books we read in 2015, beginning with Einstein Never Used Flashcards and ending with Jotaham's Journey.  These books played a huge roll in our growth and the shaping of personhood.  It was especially fun reviewing the 2015 Back to the Classics Challenge Wrap Up.  My dream is that someday all will see and appreciate the importance of these timeless books.

Christmas 2015

As we close out 2015, my wish is that you may be reminded of the wonder of Christmas morning each day throughout the New Year. Thank you for your readership.  I look forward to hanging with you in 2016.  Blessings to you God speed....


Monday, December 28, 2015

Narration is Natural...

Principles 14 & 15

As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should 'tell back' after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read.  

A single reading is insisted on, because children have naturally great power of attention; but this force is dissipated by the re-reading of passages, and also, by questioning, summarizing, and the like.  

Acting upon these and some other points in the behaviour of mind, we find that the educability of children is enormously greater than has hitherto been supposed, and is but little dependent on such circumstances as heredity and environment.  

Nor is the accuracy of this statement limited to clever children or to children of the educated classes: thousands of children in Elementary Schools respond freely to this method, which is based on the behaviour of mind.  

I believe narration is natural, as did Charlotte Mason.  Just today, Levi came to The Farmer and I telling us all about a show he'd finished watching.  At age 3 1/2 he could easily put his thoughts into words, sequencing events, and enthusiastically sharing what he had learned.  Charlotte tells us...
Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child's mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education.....This amazing gift with which normal children are born is allowed to lie fallow in their education. (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 231)
I've written more extensively about The Art of Narration in the past so I will suffice to add a few quotes and comments here, simply to highlight the basics.  There are some things to keep in mind to encourage a great start with narration....
Until he is six, let Bobbie narrate only when and what he has a mind to.  He must not be called upon to tell anything. (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 231)
The points to be borne in mind are, that he should have no book which is not a child's classic; and that, given the right book, it must not be diluted with talk or broken up with questions, but given to the boy in fit portions as wholesome meat for his mind, in the full trust that a child's mind is able to deal with its proper food.   (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 232)
Charlotte does elaborate on advancing narration to composition only after the child has mastered oral narration.
If we would believe it, composition is as natural as jumping and running to children who have been allowed due use of books.  They should narrate in the first place and they will compose, later, readily enough; but they should not be taught 'composition'.  (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 247)
In addition, Charlotte mentions the importance of narration as an aid to public speaking...
To secure the power of speaking, I think it would be well if the habit of narration were more encouraged, in place of written composition.  On the whole, it is more useful to be able to speak than to write, and the man or woman who is able to do the former can generally do the latter. (School Education, Vol. 3, pg. 88) 
Now that we are nearly through Charlotte's 20 Principles, I'm seeing that narration is a super important part of her philosophy.   At this point, if someone asked me to narrow Charlotte's philosophy to three main ideas, I would say children are born persons; living books provide pabulum for the mind, and narration is a natural means to better speaking and writing.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015...

Silly kids trying to get Christmas photos...

Merry Christmas from the gang at Drywood Creek...

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2

Monday, December 21, 2015

Jotham's Journey, A Storybook for Advent....

I've had Arnold Ytreeide books on the shelf for years, but for some reason I've never used them.  This year seemed like a good time to give one a try.  We are nearly finished reading Jotham's Journey. This Advent storybook reads like an adventure novel.  The kids were captivated from day one.  I particularly like the lesson or commentary at the end, which links bible verses and provokes thought regarding character.

Of course lighting the Advent candles is a novelty the kids also love.  Each night, usually after supper, the kids take turns lighting the appropriate candle(s).  Then I read the assigned pages.  We have brief discussion or they narrate.  They blow out the candles and it's over until the next evening.  The first reading begins on the first Sunday of Advent and the final reading ends on Christmas Eve.  The readings take anywhere from 10-20 minutes each night.  

To date, there are four books in Ytreeide's Advent series. You would only read one per year so this provides four years worth of study.  Jotham's Journey was written and intended to be the first book.  However, each book is independent in and of itself so you don't have to read one to understand the others.

Jotham's Journey is a hit in our home.  Take a look here to see other Christmas books we've read in the past.   What are your favorite Christmas reads?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Findings: SCM Q&A, From Muslim to Christian, Life in Charts...

I am excited to share with you Sonya Shafer's Simply Charlotte Mason Answers Your Questions.  This new YouTube series looks fabulous, not only for beginners in the CM method, but also for those of us who've been doing this a while and just need reassurance or some fresh ideas.  Each clip looks to be anywhere from 2-5 minutes in length, which is very doable for busy moms ;-)

This week I happened to catch part of a Focus on the Family broadcast one morning on my local christian radio station.  I was moved to tears by the testimony of Tass Saada, who was a former assassin in cahoots with Yasser Arafat.  So much so, that I went back and listened to part 1 and part 2 of the program. The story of how God's love called this Muslim man to Christianity is profound!  I felt inspired to share...
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1 
...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, out hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.  Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:55-25 
I also found The Tail End fascinating.  Author Tim Urban really puts life in perspective.  I'm visual, so seeing the span of life laid out in chart form had a huge impact on me.  It all seems so small in the big picture.  I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment.

The kids had their choir concert last week.  It was fabulous!  Here's a little peek at them beforehand...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Commonplace Book: Pittypat and Tippytoe...

Pittypat and Tippytoe
By Eugene Field

All day long they come and go---
Pittypat and Tippytoe;
   Footprints up and down the hall,
      Playthings scattered on the floor,
   Finger-marks along the wall,
      Tell-tale smudges on the door---
By these presents you shall know
Pittypat and Tippytoe.

How they riot at their play!
And a dozen times a day
   In they troop, demanding bread---
      Only buttered bread will do,
   And the butter must be spread
      Inches thick with sugar too!
And I never can say "No,
Pittypat and Tippytoe!"

Sometimes there are griefs to soothe,
Sometimes ruffled brows to smooth;
   For (I much regret to say)
      Tippytoe and Pittypat
   Sometimes interrupt their play
      With an internecine spat;
Fie, for shame! to quarrel so---
Pittypat and Tippytoe!

Oh the thousand worrying things
Every day recurrent brings!
   Hands to scrub and hair to brush,
      Search for playthings gone amiss,
   Many a wee complaint to hush,
      Many a little bump to kiss;
Life seems one vain, fleeting show
To Pittypat and Tippytoe!

And when day is at an end,
There are little duds to mend;
   Little frocks are strangely torn,
      Little shoes great holes reveal,
   Little hose, but one day worn,
      Rudely yawn at toe and heel!
Who but you could work such woe,
Pittypat and Tippytoe?

But when comes this thought to me:
"Some there are that childless be,"
   Stealing to their little beds,
      With a love I cannot speak,
   Tenderly I stroke their heads---
      Fondly kiss each velvet cheek.
God help those who do not know
A Pittypat or Tippytoe!

On the floor and down the hall,
Rudely smutched upon the wall,
   There are proofs in every kind
      Of the havoc they have wrought,
   And upon my heart you 'd find
      Just such trade-marks, if you sought;
Oh, how glad I am 't is so,
Pittypat and Tippytoe!

Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 Back to the Classics Challenge Wrap Up....

I finished up the 2015 Back to the Classics Challenge!  I read books in nine of the twelve categories, including....

1. 19th Century Classic - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

2. 20th Century Classic - Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

3. Classic by a Woman Author - O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

4. Very Long Classic Novel - Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz

5. Classic Novella - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

6. Classic with a Person's Name in the Title - Andrew Jackson by Clara Ingram Judson

7. Forgotten Classic -  Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr

8. Non-fiction Classic - Abe Lincoln Grows Up by Carl Sandburg

9. Children's Classic - Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The three categories I didn't complete were Classic in Translation, Humorous or Satirical Classic, and Classic Play.  In my quest for 'mother culture', I'm planning to link up the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge.  I encourage you to give it a try!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Findings: Encouraging Lifelong Readers, On Teaching Mathematics, Spelling Lists, BF Special....

Five Habits to Encourage Lifelong Readers offers five habits you can begin now to naturally help your child develop a love of reading.

I watched this video on Math Curriculum by Paul Ziegler and it makes sense to me.  The first 9 minutes are really geared toward anyone wanting to learn more about teaching mathematics.  The last couple of minutes are more exclusive to his Systematic Mathematics program, which we've been considering.

In Spelling Lists That Make Sense, Marie Rippel of All About Learning Press explains different ways to teach/test spelling.  I think her post is helpful and she gives a logical argument on how to teach spelling.

Lastly, did you see that Beautiful Feet is running a Christmas special on their Albert Marrin collection?  It looks like a great deal with a $35 savings!

Thanking God for this girl, who recently cut 12 inches off her mane to donate...

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Nourishing Traditions Bone Broth...

I've been making homemade soups for years.  However, after talking with other moms at our Charlotte Mason Book Club, I decided to try making bone broth, the base for a variety of soups, a little differently. Attempting to extract more of the bone marrow for health purposes, I cooked the chicken carcass in a roaster with apple cider vinegar and vegetables based on a method found in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

I used the bones from an organic chicken, organic apple cider vinegar and vegetables grown organically in our garden.  After cooking the brew most of the day, I discarded the bones and vegetables, leaving just the broth behind.  I then used it to make chicken noodle soup.  Unfortunately, the kids and I didn't like it as well as my usual soup.  I'm not sure if the vinegar gave it a different flavor, because that's really the only difference from how I usually make the broth, or what else it could have been.

Either way, I've been infatuated with Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook for some time.  After checking it out from the library too many times, I recently bought it on Amazon's Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale.  I'm looking forward to trying other recipes and ideas from the book.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Christmas Carol....

Our November Socratic Book Club read was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  I had seen several renditions of the movie over the years, but never read Dickens' actual novel.  Truth be told, this was the first Dickens novel I actually read.

A Christmas Carol is the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge finding the true meaning of Christmas.  Scrooge is cantankerous, crabby, cold hearted, and a down right miserable man.  Then one Christmas Eve, after being visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future in a series of dreams, Scrooge awakens to become a changed man.

Once again, I used SparkNotes as advance preparation for our discussion.  I introduced the term allegory and conflicts such as man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. God; man vs. self, and man vs. society.  I also reviewed protagonist/antagonist and The Five Elements of Fiction: Story Chart.  The discussion was great!  Most of the students were engaged and a couple even had a thoughtful debate in response to a question posed.

A Christmas Carol is an important piece of literature that should be required reading.  Many words and phrases from this Dickens classic have become common language in our society.  "Scrooge" is used  in reference to a miserly person.  We say "Bah humbug" when referring to nonsense.  In spite of the archaic 19th Century British writing, A Christmas Carol has a Lexile Measure of 1080 and should be easily readable by most middle and high school students.

When choosing a copy of A Christmas Carol, I recommend an unabridged edition.  Ours was an old hardback illustrated by Arthur Rackham.   Unfortunately, the spine fell apart while I was reading, but I love the illustrations so much that I plan to keep it and hopefully, someday, repair it.

Also, Adam Andrews from Center for Lit is currently offering a free audio of A Christmas Carol for live streaming.

Overall, we loved A Christmas Carol!  SPOILER ALERTI will leave you with the final paragraph....
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total-Abstinence Principle ever afterwards; and it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.  May that be truly said of us, and all of us!  And so as Tiny Tim observed God bless Us, Every One!
BTW, I'm using A Christmas Carol as my Classic Novella in the 2015 Back to the Classics Challenge.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday Findings: Literary Advent, A Delectable Education, Civil War Presentation....

DO NOT MISS THESE POSTS....Missy Andrews is hosting A Literary Advent at the Center for Lit blog and I'm really enjoying them!

Here on the home front, we started reading Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide last Sunday evening for Advent.  The kids are enthralled by the story.  Each day, we all anxiously await the next day's reading.

I've also been listening to the podcasts at A Delectable Education.  I appreciate the fact that they are 20 minutes or less in length.  It's like a quick shot to get you through your day :)

Did you see Amazon's Cyber Monday deal with 30% off the purchase of one book?  Today is the last day.  I purchased a couple books in order to meet the $35 free shipping requirement.  I always get so excited about the prospect of new books, I can hardly wait for their arrival!

A few weeks ago, we had an opportunity to attend a Civil War presentation and it was fabulous!  It fit right into our history study.  The presenter was a wealth of knowledge and had an arsenal of artifacts he passed around for the kids to examine including guns, swords, medical equipment, slave tags, cannon balls, photographs, period money, etc.   RileyAnn was even called upon to model an artillery uniform...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Imparting Knowledge, Part 3, Including the Sciences....

Continuing on from Imparting Knowledge, Part 1 and Imparting Knowledge, Part 2, Including the Arts, where we are studying...

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.

The Knowledge of the Universe

Books dealing with science as with history, say, should be of a literary character, and we should probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text-books which swell publishers' lists and nearly all the chalk expended so freely on our blackboards.  (Vol. 6, p. 218)
They are expected to do a great deal of out-of-door work in which they are assisted by The Changing Year, admirable month by month studies of what is to be seen out-of-doors.  They keep records and drawings in the Nature Note Book and make special studies of their own for the particular season with drawings and notes.  (Vol. 6, p. 219)
The only sound method of teaching science is to afford a due combination of field or laboratory work, with such literary comments and amplifications as the subject affords. ....Certainly these note books do a good deal to bring science within the range of common thought and experience; we are anxious not to make science a utilitarian subject. (Vol. 6, p. 223) 
Charlotte was a huge advocate for children playing outside.  She felt in this, they would become acquainted with God's world. Nature study was a part of every PNEU student's life.  Charlotte suggested visiting the same places in various seasons so the children could make connections and see what happened to nature in the changing scenes.  Children were allowed to collect specimens in order to later draw them in their notebooks.   Charlotte said we should avoid nature lectures, instead use living books and continue with narration.  However, please note this is a subject, in which, Charlotte did use some textbooks at the high school level.

There are two rational ways of teaching Geography. The first is the inferential method, a good deal in vogue at the present time; by it the pupil learns certain geographical principles which he is expected to apply universally. This method seems to me defective for two reasons. It is apt to be misleading as in every particular case the general principle is open to modifications; also, local colour and personal and historical interests are wanting and the scholar does not form an intellectual and imaginative conception of the region he is learning about. The second which might be called the panoramic method unrolls the landscape of the world, region by region, before the eyes of the scholar with in every region its own conditions of climate, its productions, its people, their industries and their history. This way of teaching the most delightful of all subjects has the effect of giving to a map of a country or region the brilliancy of colour and the wealth of detail which a panorama might afford, together with a sense of proportion and a knowledge of general principles. I believe that pictures are not of very great use in this study. We all know that the pictures which abide with us are those which the imagination constructs from written descriptions. (Vol. 6, p. 227-228)
Here Charlotte is referring to the use of living books so the child could see the region, its people, their industries and their history for themselves.  She also believed geography began with first hand knowledge of the world around the child, right out their own front door.  This could be connected with nature study in that you're out walking the surrounding hills/mountains or playing in the local streams/rivers, seeing and feeling the lay of the land.

Charlotte, herself, wrote geography books.  She also thought highly of map work in the geography study.
Great attention is paid to map work; that is, before reading a lesson children have found the places mentioned in that lesson on a map and know where they are, relatively to other places, to given parallels, meridians. (Vol. 6, p. 224
Something of literary character is preserved in the Geography lessons. The new feature in these is the study of maps which should be very thorough.  For the rest of the single reading and narration as described in connection with other work is sufficient in this subject also.  (Vol. 6, p. 227)
...vivid descriptions, geographical  principles, historical associations and industrial details, are afforded which should make, as we say, an impression, should secure that the region traversed becomes an imaginative possession as well as affording data for reasonable judgments.  (Vol. 6, p. 228)
When studying geography, it's important to keep it in context as it relates to other subjects, studying people and places as you read a variety of books.  Charlotte did relate geography to current events as well with older students.


I find Charlotte's beginning paragraph on Mathematics poetic.  I've read it over and over again.  This whole section is very philosophical in nature.  There is very little practical application here.
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 mind.  (Vol. 6, p. 232)
Mathematics is one area of the Charlotte Mason method that frustrates me.  Maybe because it's a subject I feel inadequate to teach, not because I'm a math failure, but because no matter which approach I take, it's a subject in which our children struggle.  It's a subject that gives me anxiety, not because my children struggle, but because I lack the patience to wait upon maturity. I want Charlotte to tell me exactly what to do!  It should be black and white.  The rest of her method seems very clear to me, but math is so vague.

I will get off my soapbox now...(ahem!).  Maybe one of you will enlighten me in the comments section.  For now, here are some quotes I found intriguing and pulled from the reading....
Once again, though we do not live on gymnastics, the mind like the body, is invigorated by regular spells of hard exercise.  
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. Arithmetic, Mathematics, are exceedingly easy to examine upon and so long as education is regulated by examinations so long shall we have teaching, directed not to awaken a sense of awe in contemplating a self-existing science, but father to secure exactness and ingenuity in the treatment of problems.  (Vol. 6, p. 231)
Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the text-book and few subjects are worse taught; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas, what Coleridge calls, the 'Captain' ideas, which should quicken imagination.  
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.  (Vol. 6, p. 233)
Here are notes I've made regarding math based on Charlotte's writings and For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay....

     - Continue to focus on a broad and liberal education, keeping math in its place among a variety of other subjects
     - Study Mathematics for its own sake
     - Short lessons
     - Study in the beginning of the day - first subject
     - Explain the concept having the child tell back (narration)
     - Student needs practice to gain confidence
     - Begin with concrete teaching before abstract
     - Use manipulatives

Physical Development, Handicrafts
It is unnecessary, too, to say anything about games, dancing, physical exercises, needlework and other handicrafts as the methods employed in these are not exceptional.  (Vol. 6, p. 233-234)
And with this, Charlotte closes Chapter X.  I do hope you will read Charlotte's actual writings in addition to these posts so as to make your own connections regarding her method.  Do not let this series be a substitution, but a stepping stone.     

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Imparting Knowledge, Part 2, Including the Arts....

Continuing on from Imparting Knowledge, Part 1, where we are studying...

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.

The Knowledge of Man

According to Charlotte Mason, various subjects are interrelated.  Composition is no exception.  Charlotte believed the art of composition was the art of telling, or more simply, narration.  Composition was taught through narration, not as a separate subject until the very upper Forms, but not too muchlest the young scholars be saddled, with a stilted style which may encumber them for life (Vol. 6, p. 193).
Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject.  The exercise affords very great pleasure to children, perhaps we all like to tell what we know, and in proportion as their composition is entirely artless, it is in the same degree artistic and any child is apt to produce a style to be envied for its vigour and grace.  But let me again say there must be no attempt to teach composition.  (Vol. 6, p. 192)
Composition in the form of narration was started orally around age six and was continued orally throughout the child's academic career.  Narration started paragraph by paragraph, building up to chapter by chapter. In Form II, oral narration slowly changed to written narration or transcribing thoughts.  Charlotte believed great narration/composition was built from reading a feast of great books.  A couple other key points to remember about narration/composition are...
Corrections must not be made during the act of narration, nor must any interruption be allowed.
Children must not be teased or instructed about the use of stops or capital letters.  These things too come by nature to the child who reads...From their earliest days they should get the habit of reading literature which they should take hold of for themselves, much or little, in their own way.  As the object of every writer is to explain himself in his own book, the child and the author must be trusted together without the intervention of the middle-man.  (Vol. 6, p. 191-192)
They should be asked to write upon subjects which have interested them keenly. (Vol. 6, p. 193)

In this section, Charlotte refers to teaching English grammar as well as foreign languages.  Regarding English grammar, she says....
English is rather a logical study dealing with sentences and the positions that words occupy in them than with words and what they are in their own right.  Therefore it is better that a child should begin with a sentence and not with the parts of speech, that is, he should learn a little of what is called analysis before he learns to parse.....Every sentence has two parts, (I), the thing we speak of , and (2), what we say about it.  (Vol. 6, p. 209)
But a child cannot dream parts of speech, and any grown-up twaddle attempting to personify such abstractions offends a small person who with all his love of play and nonsense has a serious mind.  (Vol. 6, p. 210)
Charlotte doesn't give a great deal more in how to instruct English grammar, saying, But these are matters familiar to all teachers and we have nothing new in the teaching of grammar to suggest; but we probably gain in the fact that our scholars pay full attention to grammar, as to all other lessons. Charlotte finished off this section briefly mentioning the teaching of French grammar, among other foreign languages.

Art & Music
Here, Charlotte describes picture study...
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.  (Vol. 6, p. 212)
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.   (Vol. 6, p. 214)
There is no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, but the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves.  As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it.  In the region of art as elsewhere we shut out the middleman.  
...these picture studies do not afford much material for actual drawing; they are never copied lest an attempt to copy should lessen a child's reference for great work.  (Vol. 6, p. 215)
Toward the end of the section Charlotte quotes from an address by Mrs. Howard Glover at the Ambleside Conference of the Parents' Union in 1922 regarding music appreciation.  In part of that speech, Mrs. Glover states, "Musical Appreciation, of course, has nothing to do with playing the piano."  

In her other volumes, Charlotte associates music study/appreciation with composer study, being similar to an artist study, in that, you choose one composer for each term, of which, to read a short biography.  At the same time, incorporate the composer's music into your life.  This should not be contrived as in, "OK kids, today we're going to listen to Johann Sebastian Bach's Magnificat."  Rather, play the artist's music throughout the day in your home.  Let it be in the background while you're washing dishes, sorting laundry, or mopping the floor.  Start with short catchy tunes as children love to dance and make merry. Singing hymns was also a part of music study.

Given the nature, length, and breadth of Chapter X, I will conclude here today, continuing with the final installment tomorrow, covering The Knowledge of the Universe.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

BF Modern American & World History Term One Review....

After finishing our first term of the 2015-2016 school year, I thought I'd give an update on the Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study we're using.   Part way through the term, I gave an introduction/overview of the program.  Since, we finished up the term on lesson twenty-seven.  I originally scheduled history three days per week, hoping to finish the term with lesson thirty-six.  However, the assigned readings are very long so I had to split some of the lessons over two days.  At this point, it looks as though the study may take more than one school year to complete unless we add history a fourth day per week.

So far, the books have been wonderful!  We've read five books in their entirety, including: Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, The Perilous Road by William O. Steele, a Frederick Douglass substitution, Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson, and Theodore Roosevelt by Genevieve Foster.  We've also read assigned chapters of A Child's First Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers.

As noted, I did substitute one book.  The BF study uses Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass.  However, after reading aloud the Preface and a Letter, I could see the kids were not ready for it.  After a bit of research, I opted to substitute Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom by Margaret Davidson.  I think Douglass' original Narrative... is fabulous, but I felt it was more suited for upper middle school or high school.  The kids will definitely be reading it at some point down the road.  For now, Davidson's book was a good fit!

Here is a narration Riley wrote after we read Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom...
Frederick Bailey was born in February 1818, no one knows the exact date, he was a slave.  Frederick wanted to be free.  He decided to run away to the north.  Frederick disguised himself as a sailor and got aboard a train.  He rode the train to New York.  He found a safe house there.  While in New York, Frederick got married.  He and his new wife moved to Massachusetts.  Frederick changed his last name to Douglass to be safe from slave catchers.  He was an abolitionist.  He fought for freedom for the millions of slaves that were not free yet.  He and his wife Anna, and their five children, ran a safe house on the Underground Railroad.  Frederick gave many speeches against slave owners and even talked to President Lincoln.  He died February 20, 1895.  He was seventy-seven years old.  
The kids are not loving A Child's First Book of American History.  However, I think it does a great job of filling in the gaps.  It's sort of a spine book and Daugherty's illustration are a treat.  Across Five Aprils is still my favorite with Foster's Theodore Roosevelt falling second.  We learned a great deal about Roosevelt from this Initial Biography.  I highly recommend it and am thrilled to see Beautiful Feet bring it back in print!

Overall, the study is going well.  History is still the kids favorite subject.  Below are a few more samples of their notebook pages....

Today, we are back from break, starting term two with The Wright Brothers, Pioneers of American Aviation by Quentin Reynolds.  I haven't done much reading on the Wright brothers and am looking forward to learning more about them :)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Book Sale....

It's official!!  We're offering a four day book sale starting today, Black Friday, Nov 27 and ending Monday, Nov 30th.  Purchase any book priced $2 or greater and take $1 off that book.  Purchase five books, that's a $5 savings....ten books, $10!!  You get the point, the greater the purchase, the greater the savings!   Here are the lists....

Please send questions, comments, or requests via the contact form on the right.  Prices do not include shipping.  I accept PayPal and ship anywhere in the U.S. via media mail.  

By the way, if you need suggestions for a chronological living book history study, check out A Visual American History Timeline of Books.  

Thanks for your consideration,

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

George Washington Carver, A Life in Poems....

Last month, we read Carver, a life in poems by Marilyn Nelson as part of the Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study.  It's a biography of George Washington Carver written as a collection of poems.

From the jacket flap...
Carver was born a slave in Missouri about 1864 and was raised by the childless white couple who had owned his mother.  In 1877 he left home in search of an education, eventually earning a master's degree... 
Carver was quite an amazing man!   In 1877, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to start the agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute.  It was here, that he spent his life seeking solutions to the poverty among landless black farmers.  He was a humble, yet determined botanist and inventor with a bent for art and music.  He was also a gifted teacher that touched the lives of many.

At first glance, one might think Nelson's book is simplistic or for younger students.  On the contrary, there is much depth here and the content in a couple of the poem's includes advanced topics, as in a scene from Goliath regarding a lynching that was particularly graphic.  The Sweet-Hearts also references a suicide.

I had never read a collection of biographical poetry before.  It was interesting.  Now, having read through it once and getting the hang of it, I think it would behoove me to go back and reread it at a later date for more understanding.

All in all, Carver, a life in poems, seems a fitting choice to learn about the life of George Washington Carver.  There are black and white photos throughout the book and dated historic notes at the bottom of several poems.  Carver grew up in a time of great racial injustice.  Throughout which, he made significant contributions to society.   Nelson's collection of poems shows the complexity of Carver's life and times.

Monday, November 23, 2015

'The Story' Bible Study...

Have you seen the Journal and Doodle Bible Studies created by Kari Denker at Stone Soup for Five?  They look amazing!!  I was first introduced to Kari's site and doodle drawings, I believe, through a post by Mystie Winckler at Simplified Organization.  Then I watched their Bullet Journal Workshop and really wanted to try it.  I've been doing a bit of research and am considering a bullet journal for the new year.

In my research, I watched several videos at Kari's YouTube Channel.  I was especially inspired by the Journal and Doodle Through the Bible Q&A.  I am so intrigued by the bible doodles and wanted to start now.  So when I recently began a new bible study with a wonderful group of ladies from church, I set out to doodle my way through it.

We're reading The Story by Randy Frazee.  Each week we have assigned reading and then come together for a time of fellowship and discussion after watching a short video segment.  As I'm reading throughout the week, I journal/doodle through The Story.  I must confess, I was very nervous about beginning.  I'm a little OCD and was worried about "screwing it up".  I didn't have any special supplies and don't really have the funding to go buy any.  In the end, I figured if it didn't meet my expectations, I could just throw it away so I decided to start with things we had around the house.  I chose a simple composition notebook, adding a label to cover "College Ruled" and all that jazz.

Like in a bullet journal, I started my bible journal with an index.  I intend to go back when the journal is full and fill in the page numbers with a brief description of what's on each page.  This could make for an easy reference in future studies.

I left approx. three blank pages for the index, before starting in with my first bible journal doodles...

I'm actually really excited about the way it's turning out.  Sometimes, I read and get distracted, forgetting what I read.  Bible journaling has helped me to slow down and ponder God's Word.  I use the journal to not only doodle, but to copy Scripture passages, and bullet points about each story.

By the way, today, Kari is releasing a new Advent study called, The Promises, Old Testament Prophecies and Their Fulfillment in Christ.  I can't wait to take a closer look!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015-2016 Term 1 Review...

We finished up term one of our 2015-2016 school year this week.  I'm really looking forward to having next week off! Overall it went well, but there are a few things I'm changing, namely our Bible study.  We also finished up a couple subjects so I'm working to fill in gaps. Here's the lowdown...

Circle Time (Family Study)

Beautiful Feet Modern American & World History (3 days/week)
TruthQuest History for Young Americans II & III (supplement)

I was hoping to get through 3 lessons per week in the BF Modern American guide.  However, the assigned readings are quite long, especially in addition to our other readings so two lessons per week became the reality.  I will write more about this in a separate post. And, truth be told, I rarely cracked the TQ History guide. Since we were having trouble finishing our BF history reading, there was no need to add more. We will continue with the BF study with a goal of 2-3 lessons per week, using the TQ guide for reference.   

Bible Study
TruthQuest History - Beginnings (4 days/week)
Herein is Love, Genesis, A Commentary for Children by Nancy Ganz (3/4 days/week)

This study completely fell by the wayside around week four of the term.  A combination of the Bible, Beginnings, and commentary was overkill.  The kids would rather read straight from the Bible and forgo all the commentary...surprise, surprise (ahem).  

Church History
Peril & Peace, Volume 1: Chronicles of the Ancient Church by Mindy and Brandon Withrow (supplement)
Trial & Triumph by Richard M. Hannula (2 days/week)

Once again, reading from both proved to be too much.  We will continue to read from Trial and Triumph two days per week, scrapping the Withrow series.  

Missionary Study
Hero Tales & YWAM missionary books by Benge (1 day/week)

We started by reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Hero Tales.  After completion, we started listening to a YWAM audio on George Muller.  We are enjoying it!  We listen to a chapter a week while traveling to choir.  When this book is finished, we'll listen to another biography.  

I shared my notebook regarding Charlotte Mason's method on teaching Knowledge of God a couple of weeks ago.  From now on, we will stick to Charlotte's plan for Bible Study including reading directly from the Bible, continuing Trial and Triumph for church history as well as some sort of missionary story.

Composer Study - Johannes Brahms (1st term - 1 day/week)
The Young Brahms by Sybil Deucher

We finished this excellent book!  I hope to rotate to an artist study for Term Two.

Beautiful Feet History of Science (2 days/week)

It's going well!  You can read more here.  

Natural History
Wild Animals I Have Known by Seton (1st term - 1 day/week)

So far, we read half the book which included four animals.  We will continue this into Term Two, finishing up the final four animals.  

Beautiful Feet Geography (finish from last year - 1st term - Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling - 1 day/week)

We finished Minn, which concluded our Beautiful Feet Geography study.  I will be writing a separate post on this wonderful program.  I'm looking into a CM type geography study to finish out the school year.  This will include map work for North America and possibly a state study of Wisconsin.  I'm still working out the details, but will let you know what I come up with.

Timoleon (finish from last year - 1st term - 1 day/week)

We have one lesson left of Timoleon and then will continue the second term with the comparison of Aemilius Paulus.

Picture Study
Nature Study

The kids (mostly Riley) completed a weekly nature study on their own.  We did not do anything for picture study or health.  As mentioned above, I plan to replace our composer study with a picture/artist study for Term Two.  I've also decided to hold off on health until next year when we study the human body for science. 

RileyAnn Year 6 

Alexander Graham Bell Invents the Telephone by Katherine Shippen
Carry a Big Stick: The Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt by George Grant 
Captains Courageous by Kipling

Riley finished the above three titles this term.  I have chosen three new titles for Term Two.  She will also continue to read from the following three titles throughout the school year until they are completed:

The Story of Mankind by Van Loon
Story of the World 4 by Susan Wise Bauer
Apologia Land Animals of the Sixth Day

She finished her study of Robert Frost using a book from the Poetry for Young People series and will start a new poet in Term Two. 

When I backed out of  Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts for Riley, I decided to plug in Simply Charlotte Mason's new Using Language Well.  It's an English and grammar program with writing points to aid in written narration/composition.  It accompanies their Spelling Wisdom program.   Riley is also still working through All About Spelling.

She is absolutely loving Simply Charlotte Mason Business Math - Pet Store!  As a matter of fact, she's nearly done so I'm looking at what to do next.  She's also working through the Life of Fred series and Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales by Theoni Pappas.  

Ruben Year 5

Ruben is working his way through Story of the World 4 by Susan Wise Bauer on audio.  He listens to the assigned chapters on the way to tutoring.  I am looking into books I can assign him to read on his own for the second and third term.

He is also studying Using Language Well & Spelling Wisdom by Simply Charlotte Mason.  It's been a very gentle introduction to English so far.  I have not started a formal spelling program with him yet because I don't want to interfere or cause confusion with his tutoring at the Children's Dyslexia Center.

Ruben also finished Poetry for Young People - Walt Whitman so we'll start a new poet for second term.

For math, he was using ST Math and Life of Fred.  However, ST is not working out for him.  He loves Fred, but I'm not confident that it's enough.  Once again, I'm researching math for both our kiddos.  

In summary, the books we read together this term include:

The Young Brahms by Sybil Deucher
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
**Trial & Triumph by Richard Hannula
**Hero Tales, Volume II
**A Child's First Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers
Buffalo Bill by D'Aulaire
**Wild Animals I Have Known by Seton
**George Muller by Janet & Geoff Benge
DaVinci by Mike Venezia
Frederick Douglas Fights for Freedom by Margaret Davidson
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Theodore Roosevelt by Genevieve Foster

** Denotes books we didn't read in their entirety. 

In addition, we saw the play Alice and Wonderland, went on a church hayride, participated in the 5th/6th Grade Socratic Book Club I'm leading, and visited Sea Life Aquarium.  The kids take part in a homeschool choir and we attended a few field trips including a Civil War presentation and a hydro plant tour. Now that I'm looking back, I conclude it was great term!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Findings: Attitude and Organization, Explaining the CM Method, Free Gift for Reading, Stories of Gratitude....

I listened to this podcast last weekend, Cultivating the Lovely Podcast 002: Attitude and Organization with Mystie Winckler   Pam and Mystie brought up many good points.

Sonya Shafer posted a great and timely article on Explaining the Charlotte Mason Method to Your Relatives.   It looks like she'll be following up with another post on how to handle the naysayers.  You know these conversations often come up at the holidays.

A friend sent me this link on how Kids can earn free T-shirts and certificates from MENSA for reading.  The book lists actually look good with many classics and living books.  They would make an excellent reference for free reading or library lists.

Have you met Nick Vujicic at Attitude is Altitude?  He was born with no limbs and suffered from depression early on until giving his life to God.  His story is remarkable!  I found him at this Stories of Gratitude website.

Speaking of gratitude, look at this kissable face....