Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Hobbit...

I have always detested fantasy, whether it be books or movies, it just isn't my genre.  I struggle to get into something that can't really happen.  To some, it may seem narrow minded.  Although, once you're over forty, you care less about what others think...ha!  On the other hand, I didn't want my disdain to sour our children's taste for fantastical literature.  So, I chose The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien for our January Socratic Book Club discussion.

Because I've heard many sing praises of Tolkien and it was on the Ambleside Online Year 6 Literature list, I figured The Hobbit was as good a choice as any.  And, I must say, I was not disappointed.  Actually, I was utterly surprised and quite pleased.  Tolkien did not disappoint.

The Hobbit was originally published in 1937, while J. R. R. Tolkien was a professor at Oxford University.  In late 1932 when he finished the manuscript, he lent it to friends, including his co-worker, C. S. Lewis, who encouraged him to publish his work.  Both Tolkien and Lewis studied and taught the literature of medieval romance.  According to an article at Christianity Today...
The two friends were interested in the literature of the romantic period because many of the poems and stories attempted to convey the supernatural, the "otherworldly"—and thus provided a window into spiritual things. Lewis explored romantic themes like joy and longing, and Tolkien emphasized the nature of people as storytelling beings who by telling stories reflect the creative powers of God. But they both rejected an "instinctive" approach to the imagination. Many romantic writers were interested in a kind of nature mysticism. They looked within themselves and at the world around them and sought flashes of insight into "the nature of things"—illuminations of truth that could not be explained, reasoned, or systematized. But Lewis and Tolkien insisted that the reason and the imagination must be integrated. In any understanding of truth, the whole person must be involved.
Early in the story, I fell in love with Bilbo Baggins.   His quest for courage and character made him a sympathetic "Everyman" protagonist.  Despite his reluctance to entertain the dwarves and go along on their adventure, he remained hospitable and warmhearted.  I found the loyalty of his character very appealing.  He was honest and steadfast in doing what was right even in difficult situations.

The Hobbit made for wonderful conversation with the kids since we all read it together.  Actually, we listened to the majority of it on audio.  I must confess the narrator, Rob Inglis, was what first drew me into the story.  His voice and ability to dramatize the characters was absolutely fabulous!!  Just take a listen here to see what I mean.

In addition, if you'd like to hear a bit of Socratic discussion, hop on over the Center for Lit and listen to their Junior High Lit class discussion.  It is about two hours long so be sure you set aside some time.  The first hour is a bit slow, but the second hour is much better and hopefully will give you food for thought.


RileyAnn was very disappointed when Thorin Oakenshield died.  I personally didn't really feel that bad.. This led to a great conversation about his character and good versus evil.  I believe Thorin had to die given his greed.  This gave the treasure and Lonely Mountain to Dain and the dwarves of the Iron Hills.  After all the years of oppression, they were finally able to overcome.  She totally understood.  We were both heart warmed with Thorin's farewell to Bilbo on his deathbed.  In the end, there was forgiveness for an honored friendship.

Since finishing the book, we are working through The Hobbit DVD's.  I had no idea it was going to be a 9 hour venture.  We just finished The Desolation of Smaug and so far have not been disappointed.  Peter Jackson's tale has held fairly true to Tolkien's treasure.  Of course, it's made for Hollywood so the special effects can be a bit much, but the story itself is good.  However, I would definitely read Tolkien's original work before watching the movies!!  There is something very special about developing images in your own mind's eye.

The Hobbit is a Sonlight recommendation in addition to AO.  Since reading the book, I can finally understand the fascination.  Tolkien's fantasy novel is definitely not to be missed.

By the way, I'll be linking this post to the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge as my Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Dystopian Classic.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Findings: Weekly Wrap-Up; Plethora of Podcasts; One Year of Start Here...

Our school week went along fairly smoothly this week.  We finished up our Winslow Homer artist/picture study after reading through A Weekend with Winslow Homer and studying some of his artwork.

Recently, RileyAnn asked if she could go back to "regular math".  She said, she was getting a bit tired of the story in Life of Fred.  Earlier this year, she completed Simply Charlotte Mason's Your Business Math, running a pet store.  She also read through Fractals, Googols, and other Mathematical Tales by Theonni Pappas and is just about finished with Mathematicians Are People Too by Dale Seymour Publications.  I was shocked when she asked, but thrilled to see a new level of maturity.  She has since picked up her old Math-U-See Gamma book where she left off approx. 5 lessons before completion.  We've been refreshing on multiple digit multiplication and long division.

Apparently, I've been on a podcast/webinar frenzy as I've listened to several this week, including:

Reading to Kids with Special Needs - Sarah Mackenzie and Cheryl Swope at Read Aloud Revival

Let's Talk Planning - Mystie Winckler, Jen McIntosh, and Dawn Hanigan at Simplified Organization

The Mason Jar #7: Katie Hudgins - Cindy Rollins and Katie Hudgins at CiRCE Institute

A series of podcasts, including #11-#17, at A Delectable Education

The Four Language Arts - Andrew Pudewa at IEW

I'm looking forward to Adam Andrews follow-up on Christian Books and Christian Reading.  For now, I'm pondering the first part.

I can't believe it's already been one year since we started reading A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason and using Brandy Vencel's Start Here to study Charlotte's 20 Principles!  You will find monthly posts regarding our study up until now here.

I've decided to dig into the archives and do a bit of photo flashback this week.  Last year at this time, RileyAnn talked Levi into dressing up in bathrobe attire with her dolls.  After all, what are little brothers for :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Self-Governance, An Ordering of the Will...

Principles 16a and 17

There are two guides to moral and intellectual self-management to offer to children, [the first] we may call 'the way of the will'....

The way of the will: Children should be taught, (a) to distinguish between 'I want' and 'I will.' (b) That the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will.  (c) That the best way to turn out thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting. (d) That after a little rest in this way, the will returns to its work with new vigour.  (This adjunct of the will  is familiar to us as diversion, whose office it is to ease us for a time from will effort, that we may 'will' again with added power.  The use of suggestion as an aid to the will is to be deprecated as tending to stultify and stereotype character.  It would seem that spontaneity is a condition of development, and that human nature needs the discipline of failure as well as of success.)

I remember a time when I believed a strong-willed child was simply stubborn and tenacious, not necessarily a bad thing, but rather more irritating than troublesome.  However, since my Charlotte Mason education, in addition to studying scripture, I have come to see the seriousness of the problem at hand and how a strong will is in fact, a weak will.  

Initially when I read this chapter, it didn't spark much thought.  Even at our CM Book Study, the attending mothers felt we had already hashed these principles over in the discussion of habit training.  However, in now taking a closer look, re-reading portions to write this post, I see there is more to the story.  In essence, I believe we habit train to order the will...but, I think I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, Charlotte starts the chapter...
The great things of life, life itself, are not easy of definition.  The Will, we are told, is 'the sole practical faculty of man.'  But who is to define the Will?  We are told again that 'the Will is the man'; and yet most men go through life without a single definite act of willing.   Habit, convention, the customs of the world have done so much for us that we get up, dress, breakfast, follow our morning's occupations, our later relaxations, without an act of choice.  For this much at any rate we know about the will.  Its function is to choose, to decide, and there seems to be no doubt that the greater becomes the effort of decision the weaker grows the general will.  (Vol. 6, p. 128-129)
So, a habit is based on routine, a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.  The will is the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.  It's a decision or a choice.  Later in the same opening paragraph, Charlotte goes on to state....
But the one achievement possible and necessary for every man is character; and character is as finely wrought metal beaten into shape and beauty by the repeated and accustomed action of will.  We who teach should make it clear to ourselves that our aim in education is less conduct than character; conduct may be arrived at as we have seen, by indirect routes, but it is of value to the world only as it has its source in character. (Vol. 6, p. 129)
In other words, character is shaped by the will.  Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.  Conduct is the manner in which a person behaves, especially on a particular occasion or in a particular context.  I envision conduct to be more closely aligned with habits.  It can be influenced, but it's also rooted in character.  If you are of shady character, your conduct or behavior, having it's source, will shine through in a negative light.  On the contrary, if you have upstanding character, your conduct will support it. 

Charlotte begins the second paragraph with this...
Every assault upon the flesh and spirit of man is an attack whoever insidious upon this personality, his will; but a new Armageddon is upon us in so far as that the attack is no longer indirect but is aimed consciously and directly at the will, which is the man; and we shall escape becoming a nation of imbeciles only because there will always be person of good will amongst up who will resist  the general trend.  The office of parents and teacher is to turn out such persons of good will;... (Vol. 6, p. 129)
It is our duty as parents and home educators to produce children of "good will".  I believe providing a broad and liberal education is the key in doing so.  By exposing the child to truth, beauty, and goodness through the best literature, art, music, etc., we will cultivate affinities toward a will that is true, good and beautiful.  Being born a person, whose mind is an instrument of his education, the child is able to digest what is honest, lovely, and of good report.
For right thinking is by no means a matter of self-expression.  Right thought flows upon the stimulus of an idea, and ideas are stored as we have seen in books and pictures and the lives of men and nations; these instruct the conscience and stimulate the will, and man or child 'chooses'.  (Vol. 6, p. 130) 
This quote is directly in line with providing pabulum or nourishment for the mind.  When our students read the Bible, Plutarch, Ourselves, it is providing food for thought, giving the child options in order to strengthen the will.  This is the purpose of education!  Charlotte asserts that the way of the will is not automatic.  It must be trained.

Self- Governance

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. 
Proverbs 16:32

Charlotte uses the example of Jacob and Esau to demonstrate guiding the will...
He...measures Esau with a considering eye, finds him more attractive than Jacob who yet wins higher approval; perceives that Esau is wilful but that Jacob has a strong will, and through this and many other examples, recognises that a strong will is not synonymous with 'being good,' nor with a determination to have your own way.  He learns to distribute the characters he comes across in his reading on either side of a line, those who are wilful and those who are governed by will; and this line by no means separates between the bad and good.  
It does divide, however, between the impulsive, self-pleasing, self-seeking, and the persons who have an aim beyond and outside of themselves, even though it be an aim appalling as that of Milton's Satan.  It follows for him that he must not only will, but will with a view to an object outside himself...  
It is well that children should know that while the turbulent person is not ruled by will at all but by impulse, the movement of his passions or desires, yet it is possible to have a constant will with unworthy or evil ends, or, ever to have a steady will towards a good end and to compass that end by unworthy means...   
The boy must learn too that the will is subject to solicitations all round, from the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life; that will does not act alone; it takes the whole man to will and a man wills wisely, justly and strongly, in proportion as all his powers are in training and under instruction...  (Vol. 6, p. 132-133)
I remember studying this idea of self-governance while using Beautiful Feet's Early American History guide.  We were reading Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire.  Over the course of his life, Leif became strong and cunning.  He learned early how to navigate his own ship and went to visit the King of Norway.  Leif showed great respect upon his arrival, practicing good manners and courtesy, remembering the counsel of his father.  On the other hand, Leif's father, Erik the Red, was hot-tempered and lacked self-control.  It was not difficult for the children to quickly catch which character was self-governed and the importance of this concept based on the results of each character's actions.  

While reading, I was also reminded of one of the very first homeschool meetings I ever attended.  A veteran mother was speaking about child rearing and biblical teaching, among other things.  She said she taught her children early on, "There are two choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self."  I thought it was quite clever and never forgot it.  You can imagine my surprise upon reading p. 135 where Charlotte wrote...
There are two services open to us all, the service of God, (including that of man) and the service of self.  
I was brought right back to the living room of the host of that early homeschool gathering.

Unfortunately, this post is getting much longer than I intended.  Charlotte left us many gold nuggets, I could go on, but I will suffice to say providing an education based on the liberal arts is intended to bring about the improvement, discipline, or free development of the mind or spirit, in which,there will be ordering of the will.  It does take time, but it is well for us to plant the seeds.  I will leave you with one last quote from p. 137...
The ordering of the will is not an affair of sudden resolve; it is the outcome of a slow and ordered education in which precept and example flow in from the lives and thoughts of other men, men of antiquity and men of the hour, as unconsciously and spontaneously as the air we breathe.  But the moment of choice is immediate and the act of the will voluntary; and the object of education is to prepare us for this immediate choice and voluntary action which every day presents.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sergeant York, A Humble Man of God....

We finished reading Sergeant York by John Perry as part of our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study.
When Sergeant York came home to a hero's welcome in 1919, his was the biggest ticker-tape parade in New York history up to that time.  Day after day his name appeared in the New York Times.  He was an international celebrity.  Today most Americans younger than fifty have never heard of him...  (p. 157)
Sadly, I was among most Americans younger than fifty who had never heard of Sgt. Alvin C. York.  This line in the story really bothered Ruben as York's character had a huge impact on him....really on all of us.

York was a humble backwoods farmer from TN, who turned from the grips of alcohol to God.  He not only singlehandedly broke up a machine gun nest and captured 132 German soldiers toward the end of WWI, but his speeches helped rally people in support of the U.S. entering WWII.  Upon his return from WWI, he fought relentlessly for the education of poor children in TN.

Perry's book is part of the Christian Encounters series.  His story is told from "exclusive interviews with the sergeant's three surviving children and information drawn from battlefield eyewitness reports and original film studio archives...".  There are excerpts from York's personal journal throughout.

As part of the BF final project after reading Sergeant York, Ruben dictated a biographical sketch to me while I typed.  Then he and I worked together to finalize the following...
Alvin C. York was born in Pall Mall, TN on December 13, 1887. He grew to be a backwoods farmer and hunter. In his early years, he was a drunkard, but after his father died, at his mother’s request, he became a Christian. York started going to church and met Pastor Pile, who became a close friend to him.

In 1917, York was drafted to serve in the army to fight against Germany during WWI. He didn’t like the thought of going to war and killing people, but after he thought about it for a while, he felt God was calling him to go to war and fight for his country.

I wouldn’t like to go to war and fight other people. I wouldn’t like the thought of getting killed. God tells us in the bible, “Do not kill.” However, I think York did the right thing by going to fight for his country.

York served in France. On October 8, 1918, he became famous for the battle at Hill 223. It was here, he encountered a German Machine Gun nest. York killed 20 German soldiers and captured 132 more. He also took 32 machine guns. From that day forward, York became an international hero and was awarded Medals of Honor. He declined fame and fortune and just wanted to get back home to his family and farm in Tennessee.

York knew Gracie Williams all his life, but when he was a drunkard, she didn’t like him. After York became a Christian, he and Gracie fell in love. After the war, in 1919, they married and went on to have ten children.

York wanted to start a school for backwoods Tennessee children who didn’t have enough money to go to school. York struggled financially throughout his life and nearly went bankrupt trying to build the school.

Finally, after twenty years of declining finances and fame, York agreed to have a movie made in his honor. He wanted to raise money for the school. His only condition was that Gary Cooper must play the role of York.

One month before the movie premiere, York gave one of his most compelling speeches at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. As the world was on the brink of WWII, he encouraged America to fight to keep its liberty. He stated,
“We are standing at a crossroads in history. The important capitals of the world in a few years will either be Berlin and Moscow, or Washington and London. I for one prefer Congress and Parliament to Hitler’s Reichstag and Stalin’s Kremlin. And because we were, for a time, side by side, I know this Unknown Soldier does too.
We owe it to him to renew that lease on liberty he helped us to get.
May God help us to be equal to the test.”
The movie was a success. York earned money to build his school and pay off some debt. America went on to fight in WWII.

After declining health, Sergeant Alvin C. York died on September 2, 1964. Gracie died twenty years later. York’s school is still standing in operation today.
Upon finishing Sergeant York the book, we watched Sergeant York, the movie starring Gary Cooper.  Of course, it strayed a bit from Perry's book, but it was still well done and a great family movie night film.  If you haven't already studied Sergeant Alvin C. York, I would highly encourage you to do so.  Even though Riley and I enjoyed his character immensely, I think he would resonate best with boys.

By the way, Sergeant York and His People by Sam K. Cowan; Sergeant York and The Great War by Tom Skeyhill, and Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy by John Perry are all listed on A Visual American History Timeline of Books, though I have not yet read them.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Findings: Pageant of History, Beginning Ideas on Homeschool, Dyslexic Strengths, On Teaching Writing....

I've been having a bit of trouble getting started these past few weeks.  Here in WI, the daylight really doesn't come until 7:30-8:00 a.m., which I attribute to our lazy start.  Although, I can tell we are gaining daylight in the late afternoon/evening. We are still managing to cover our academic subjects, but unfortunately, not much else.

On the other hand, I've been thinking about which direction to take in the fall, when I have a rising 7th grader, 6th grader, and 4-year old.  As I gear up for the Midwest Great Homeschool Convention, I'm trying to devise my plan.  I'll post more about that over the coming months.

I just finished listening to the first podcast, Why Study History, in the Knowledge of Man series at A Delectable Education.  I was inspired to listen after reading Emily Kiser's post at the Charlotte Mason Institute titled, An Essay Towards a Charlotte Mason History Curriculum.  I'm always intrigued by the practical application of Charlotte's methods, particularly throughout each subject.

I adore Letter 1 - Learning Not School by Nadene.  Her beginning ideas of homeschool sound much like mine.  My, how time changes us :)

Marianne Sunderland brings up an excellent point about focusing on the positive in 4 Little Known Strengths of Dyslexia.  Often times, dyslexics are judged for the things they can't do, rather than the gifts they have.

Mystie Winckler wrote an extensive post on How to Teach Writing Without a Curriculum.  The post is very long, but there are some gold nuggets there.  I look forward to her future post on beginning grammar.

Everyday play...

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Wright Brothers, Pioneers of American Aviation...

Chapter 1 Learning from Mother 
Susan Wright wasn't like other mothers.
She was younger and prettier than most other mothers, and she liked to laugh and she liked to play games with her three youngest children: Wilbur, who was eleven; Orville, who was seven; and Katharine, who was four.
The other mothers would shake their heads and say, "Susan Wright spoils those children; lets'em do anything they want.  No good will come of it."
But Susan Wright only laughed.  In the summer she'd pack a picnic lunch and she, the two boys, and little Kate (no one ever called her Katharine) would go and spend a day in the woods.  Mrs. Wright knew the name of every bird and she could tell a bird by his song.  Wilbur and Orville learned to tell birds too... 
 ...That was another thing about Susan Wright.  Most other mothers would have thought that this was foolish talk.  Most other mothers would have said, "Oh, don't be silly, who ever heard of such nonsense!"  But not Susan Wright.  She knew that even an eleven-year-old boy can have ideas of his own, and just because they happened to come from and eleven-year-old head-well, that didn't make them foolish She never treated her children as if they were babies, and perhaps that's why they liked to go fishing with her or on picnics with her.  And that's why they kept asking her questions.  
And so begins The Wright Brothers, Pioneers of American Aviation by Quentin Reynolds.   We fell in love with the Wright Brothers after reading this Landmark title as part of our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study.  Inspired by their mathematically gifted mother right from the start, Wilbur and Orville loved building things from the fastest sled in town to the highest flying kite and the fastest bicycle.  But their real dream was to someday fly.  As they grew into young men, they spent years perfecting their plan until one day their dream turned into reality.

While reading The Wright Brothers, several things struck me about Wilbur and Orville Wright.  Aside from their ingenuity, they were diligent, dedicated, and hardworking.  When they set their mind to an invention, it usually always materialized into success.  The boys made enough money from odd jobs to finance their projects/experiments and only occasionally borrowed money short term from their mother and no one else.  In the end, their perseverance paid off.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were also largely self-educated.  After a hockey injury forced Wilbur to drop out of school, he continued to study math and science on his own free will.  He was a mechanical genius who understood how things worked.  Orville dropped out of high school to start a printing press business.  He was a little more of a free spirit and always trying to think of ways to improve Wilbur's inventions. Both boys were avid readers with inquiring minds.

The Wright brothers were family oriented.  They loved their mother and sister Kate dearly, as well as each other.  Wilbur didn't stop to think twice when folks heckled him about hanging out with his younger brother.  He loved Orville and believed he was one of the few who understood his thinking.  When Orville became ill, Wilbur sat by his bedside and read him books about gliders and flying. Sadly, neither Wilbur, nor Orville ever married or had children.  It appears they were more interested in flying than socialization.

We learned a great deal about the Wright brothers from Reynolds' book.  After reading, Riley and Ruben each chose a different brother and wrote a short character sketch including three character traits exhibited by that individual.  I used some of their ideas in the description above.

Overall, we enjoyed the book.  I look forward to reading it again some day with Levi.  The Wright Brothers is also a TruthQuest History recommendation.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

He's Graduating!!

We are so excited to share that Ruben is graduating from the Children's Dyslexia Center!  He's had approx. 155 lessons over the past 2 1/2 years and it has not been easy, but we are very proud of his diligence and hard work.  He finished his lessons in December and will have a formal graduation in May!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Findings: Acceptance As We Stress Over Resolutions; Considerations in Switching Curricula; Helping Dyslexics Become Independent Learners...

I LOVE Ann Voskamp's Dear Daughters & Women post for when you want women to have the gift of acceptance & beauty & meaning.  As we stress over New Year's resolutions and our quest for bigger, better, faster, Voskamp's message brings perspective...
The person who gets her principles from the Word — doesn’t crave approving words from the world.
This time of year I get really antsy about curricula and homeschooling in general.  Winter in WI is long and it's just so fun looking at books.  Five Things to Consider When You're Thinking of Changing Your Homeschool Curriculum really made me stop and think.

Marianne at Homeschooling with Dyslexia wrote a fabulous article on How to Help Students With Dyslexia Become Independent Learners.  Now that Ruben is reading, I'm working on transitioning him to a greater level of independence.

Leftover Christmas photos, where the best loved present was Levi's $3 harmonica...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Update on Plutarch Lives...

We finished studying Plutarch's Timoleon and have now moved on to Aemilius Paulus.  I'm still using Anne White's Study Notes from Ambleside Online.  Before we started, I printed the notes and bound them with the ProClick binder.  For me, it is much easier to grab my hard copy than to bring it up online every week.

We study Plutarch every Tuesday.  I usually review from the previous week, read the introduction aloud, and we discuss any potential new vocabulary words.  Then I read aloud the assigned section, stopping after 1-2 paragraphs for discussion/narration.  Originally, I read straight through and asked for narration at the end, but this was very difficult, even for me, so I have since broke it into smaller chunks and make more frequent stops. This seems to work much better.

While the kids are narrating, I make notes.  The notes are primarily from their dictation as well as our discussion.  I read it back to them at the very end and they make additions/corrections.  I then use those notes for review the following week.

Overall, our Plutarch study usually takes anywhere from 15-25 minutes, depending on the length and breadth of the passage.  Unfortunately, our kids are really bucking Plutarch.  It's one of their least favorite subjects. Initially, I thought it would pass with time and as their understanding grew.  I even thought there was a small light at the end of Timoleon.  However, they have continued their negativity as we are about half way through Aemilius Paulus.  I attribute this to the level of difficulty of the study.  I do plan to finish Aemilius Paulus, however, I will not start a third life this year.  We will pick up Plutarch again at some point in the future.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Beautiful Feet Geography...

We finished up Beautiful Feet Geography.  It was bittersweet.  I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing things.  However, the Holling C. Holling books used in this study grew to become dear friends and I hated to see them go.  I have wonderful memories of swimming with Paddle and Minn, soaring above the ocean with Seabird and sheltering from the sun in the safe shadows of the Tree in the Trail.  As they say, "Parting is such sweet sorrow"...

The BF Geography study has 39 lessons total and can be finished in one year by completing approx. one lesson per week or in a semester by completing 2-3 lessons per week.  It's intended for use in 3rd-7th grade.  I did obtain a copy of the new guide since the above photo was taken.  There are some significant changes in the new guide including color photos, maps, web links, and additional book suggestions.

There is no particular order, in which, one must read the Holling books.  I actually read one book per twelve week term over four terms, rearranging them to fit with our history study.  Last year, 2014-2015, we read Paddle to the Sea for Term 1; Tree in the Trail for Term 2; and Seabird for Term 3.  This year, 2015-2016, we finished up the study with Minn of the Mississippi in our first term.  Though the Holling books are pictures books, do not be fooled.  They are very in depth and actually written for upper grade school age students with Lexile scores ranging from approx. 800-1000.  They make excellent read aloud books with absolutely fabulous illustrations!

In our study, we completed one lesson per week.  Riley and Ruben kept notebooks, in which, they illustrated, copied vocabulary words, and completed map work.  Here are a few photos...

Beautiful Feet does produce large wall maps for each book, however, I wanted each student to have their own map that could be added to their notebook so I found something online that I could cut and paste to a Word document.  I then printed them and they completed the map work activities as we went along.  They then pasted them in their notebooks as we finished each book at the end of each term.

Overall, the Beautiful Feet Geography study is wonderful!  It's primary focus is U.S. Geography, however, Seabird does cover some world geography.  This is one study that I look forward to repeating with Levi when the time is right.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Findings: Importance of Living Books, Including Hard Books, Science for High School...

Friday Findings is back!  I took a couple unannounced weeks off over the holidays, but we're back on and running today...

In Draw Your Own Conclusions, Dr. Donna Johnson makes a valid point about living books and living ideas. Sometimes just letting the child mull over it for their own sake is better than required discussion where we can persuade....ummm, something to ponder.

I love Why Your Children Should Include Hard Books by Brandy Vencel!  She spoke my thoughts.  Struggle is not always bad.  It builds character :)

Following the Path of Discovery looks like a really cool website for older students!  It offers hands on science activities for high school students as well as instruction to recreate famous experiments and inventions.

I don't normally come to you asking for money, however, just before Christmas a local homeschooling friend/family found out her husband has (ALL) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  He is the father of four, who recently started a new job so the family was in transition.  A Continue to Give site has been set up for the family.  If you feel led to donate or share, you will find their information here. Thanks!

The kids posing as a wiseman, Mary, and toddler Jesus waiting for their debut in the church Christmas play...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cathy Duffy's Top Picks...

I've been a huge Cathy Duffy fan since I first learned of her curriculum reviews.  I remember checking out 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum several times when I first started homeschooling.  You can imagine my delight when I found my own copy at a used curriculum sale.  Since, I have also acquired 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.  These books are very well organized, whether you're new to homeschooling or just want to research a new curriculum.

In 2015, Cathy Duffy released a third edition titled, 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, which I recently borrowed from our local public library.  The layout of the book is basically the same.  However, there was a change to the "Approaches to Education" survey.  The preference questions and approaches to homeschool are unmoved but the scoring system is all together different.  Also, there is no Foreign Language section in 102 Top Picks...  Overall, it's still the same great resource and my favorite go to when I'm in the market for a new program.  Duffy's website is also invaluable.  However, you still need the book to get a full review on her top picks.

I don't know about you, but this time of year, I get antsy at the thought of upcoming homeschool conventions.  The curricula catalogs are also starting to pour in.  Prior to convention and book sales, I like to have my research done so I can make informed decisions.  Being prepared with list in hand, helps me reduce impulse buys.  Using the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling frees up many actual curricula decisions because we don't use a great amount of texts.  However, a book like Cathy Duffy's Top Picks is helpful when I am in the market.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Missionary Study: George Muller...

This year I've added Missionary Study to our list of subjects.  For the first term, I chose George Muller.  A friend borrowed us the YWAM audio CD for George Muller, The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans by Janet & Geoff Benge.  We listened to it on Thursdays while traveling to and from our homeschool choir.  There were 17 chapters and the audio had a running time of 4:39 hours over the course of four CDs.

The story of George Muller is a compelling testimony a prodigal brought to faith.  Muller's early years as a common thief and the life of the party gave no indication of how the Lord would use him later in life to provide for the orphans of Bristol.  This wonderful biography shows that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  Muller's transformation and trust in God in his later years was truly amazing.  By his faith, the Lord provided.

George Muller was our first YWAM  biography, but we would definitely recommend it and read another.  I very much enjoyed the audio format, which is not my typical preference.  The narrator added to the mood of the story.

Part way through the story, the kids remembered me reading The Bandit of Ashley Downs, A Trailblazer Book by Dave & Neta Jackson.  I read it aloud several years ago as part of Sonlight.  It is fascinating to me the way they make connections without poking and prodding, but simply reading and allowing them to digest.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ramblings About a Yearly Planner....

Happy New Year!  Welcome 2016!  I've been trying to think of a word to focus on this year and just can't seem to put my finger on any one in particular.  Maybe this is not the year for one word, but many.  Either way, I love new beginnings.  To me, a new year signals a fresh start.  A year with no mistakes....yet ;-)

I'm in the process of deciding on a monthly planner.  I want paper and not digital.  In the past, I've typically bought a planner from the dollar store and it worked great.  This year, when I went to purchase one, they were sold out.  Apparently, everyone thinks they work great.

I've also looked at planners at local retail stores and online.  However, I can never find the perfect fit.  I want a two-page spread for each month with lines in each date square.  This is where I write all our appointments and commitments.  I'm not a week-at-a-glance kind of girl.  I want the big picture...the whole month-at-a-glance.  I also want a place for misc. notes, book lists, and important contacts.  I don't need financial planning space, shopping lists, weights and measures, etc.  It shouldn't be so complicated.

One time, I felt creative and colorful so I made a planner.  In the end, I couldn't justify the cost of cardstock, ink, and time that it took to make it.  I stopped designing and went back to the dollar store planner.

A few months back, I heard about bullet journaling through a webinar with Mystie Winckler and Kari Denker.  I'm thinking this may be the year to give it a try.  You see, I love paper and notebooking.  I love pens, tabs, and post-its.  I'm also a lover of lists.  I think bullet journaling just may be the solution to my planner struggle.

I'm going to use a simple sewn composition book because I have a plethora of them.  I'm still trying to decide on an index.  I think I'll leave the first page blank just in case.  Next, I'm going to make a monthly two-page spread for each month.  In between each monthly spread, I plan to leave blank pages for lists like book lists, meal planning lists, thanksgiving lists, blog post lists, etc., and whatever other kind of journaling ails me.  I'll post a follow-up at some point throughout the year to let you know how it's going.  I'm actually getting excited at the prospect!

May your year ahead be blessed.