Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Homeschool Audit...

I just finished Mystie Winckler's Homeschool Audit guide!  I meant to do it sooner since we finished our 2015-2016 academic year over six weeks ago, but time got away.  After completion, I feel this is one of those things that's better late than never.  More importantly is to complete it before you start planning the upcoming year.

To get started, you should download the guide, then watch Myste's one hour workshop.  If you watch the workshop, you'll want to download the chat log as well.  If you don't have time for the workshop, the guide is quintessential.  You can also read about Mystie's audit results here.

Auditing My Situation

My points seem a bit high at 42, which was interesting and relieving at the same time.  As many other homeschooling moms, I have feelings of underachieving, like I'm failing my kids, and not doing enough.  However, when I sat down and looked back at what we accomplished this year, I was amazed, scoring 16 points for each thing I taught wonder I'm exhausted!  I will be looking at ways to combine subjects, foster greater independence, and possibly co-op some of these subjects for the upcoming year.

I also added 10 points for our struggle with dyslexia, which affects many areas of our homeschool.  I scored 5 points for out-of-the-house activities including field trips, plays, Socratic Book Club, choir, art, and dyslexia tutoring.  Ruben has since graduated from the Children's Dyslexia Center so this eliminates 2 days per week of running, which will be really helpful in the upcoming year.

Auditing My Year

Overall it was a solid year.  I'm extremely pleased with Ruben's progression in reading and Riley's level of maturity in assuming greater responsibility within her studies.  Both kids love history and literature so we will definitely continue to study most subjects using a living book approach.  

One thing I need to work on is helping Ruben develop his interests, skills, and hobbies.  In his free time, he's currently most interested in watching TV and spending time on the computer much to my chagrin.  I will be looking for ways to redirect him, most likely by limiting screen time, so hopefully he can find a more constructive hobby of interest.  A second area of struggle continues to be math.

Auditing My Schedule

Planning and scheduling are strengths for me.  Because it's something I enjoy, I spend a great deal of time creating and organizing my plan.  Unfortunately, I am not always the best implementer of my plan.  However, having a printed plan, schooling four days per week, and giving Riley more independent studies worked out very well this year.  We developed a habit of routine and the kids knew early on what was expected of them.

The problem is that I like to fit everything in a nice little efficient compact box.  Sadly, due to the messiness of life, my best laid plans often run over the sides of that box.  I love what Mystie said in the workshop about budgeting time.  If you have three hours scheduled, then plan for five.  This really resonated with me.  In a perfect world, we could easily complete our scheduled plan in a short amount of time, but because of life's everyday interruptions...(two 3-year olds, being self-employed, etc.), I often felt pressured to hurry up and finish 'school' so life could take over.  I will be sitting down to look at the specific time slots in our day in hopes of becoming more efficient and capitalizing on the best use of our time.

Auditing My Stuff

Most of our school stuff has a home so this wasn't a problem.  We are fortunate to have a designated 'school room' on the back of our garage so I don't have to deal with school stuff throughout the house.  However, being the bibliophile that I am, we have outgrown our space due to books.  Now, you will never hear me say that one can have too many books, but I will say I don't have enough shelves/walls for all my books :)  I need to find a way to either box some up and rotate or build more shelves.  Truth be told, the clutter in our home is books and it actually felt stressful to me for the first time ever this year.  Is there such a thing as book lover's anonymous?


Auditing My Flow

Because we educate using Charlotte Mason's method, which includes short lessons, time spent per subject is not an issue.  Also, because we complete the bulk of our schooling in the morning in one chunk, there aren't a lot of transition issues.  Although, I did find two big problems in this area.  One being, getting Ruben started.  He is not a morning person and really lacks motivation when it comes to academics because it's difficult for him...and no one likes to do hard things!  This is a big part of why Riley asked for more independent studies.  She likes to get up in the morning and get started on her work so she can have free time to pursue her other interests.  As noted above, I need to work with Ruben on how to pursue a hobby.

The second struggle I found in this area is my need to follow-up to be sure that Riley has her independent work done before she goes off to 'play'.  There were several times I found her doing crafts, designing American Girl outfits, reading a pleasure book, only to learn that she hadn't finished her math lesson or was saving an assigned reading for "later".  As our kids become more independent, it's easy for us to back off and go tackle our list of 150 other things to do.  However, I learned that I need to be more diligent in checking up to be sure that the independent work is getting done in a timely fashion.

Auditing My Relationships

The last part of the audit was the most difficult for me.  I left several questions unanswered due to the fact that I felt these were questions that needed some pondering.  Heart issues cannot be solved overnight.   For the most part, I feel I have an excellent and healthy relationship with my kids.  However, as a fallible human being, I want to be sure that my view isn't skewed.  Also, because we're on the cusp of having teenagers, I want to seriously consider and be ready for come what may.  Are conflicts avoidable when hormones are raging?...ahem.   Ask me ten years from now.

Working through this audit has not only helped me pin point areas I need to improve on, but it was a healthy shot of reassurance to see our strengths and all that we accomplished over the past year.  I believe my findings will be very helpful as I plunge into planning for the upcoming academic year.

Have you completed a homeschool audit?  If so, I'd love to hear about your experience.  Feel free to share in the comments...

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Findings: Great Books for Sale, Independent Children, Boys with Attitude, The Homegrown Preschooler....

I've started planning the upcoming school year this week.  It's so exciting!  I love the possibility of new books.  If you're looking for history or literature, either for summer reads or the upcoming academic year, be sure to check out our book sale lists.  I actually added a few to the history list yesterday.  Also, Beautiful Feet posted their Publishing History on Wednesday, which was fascinating.  I didn't realize they were responsible for bringing a few of those books back in print.  Way to go BF!

Brandy Vencel wrote a great post last week on The Importance of Independent Children {A Low-Energy Moms Post}.   I couldn't agree more with her points.  She took the words right out of my mouth :))

I appreciated Boys and their Attitudes since I have an 11-year old boy entering this lovely phase, not to mention a 4-year old tag along....sigh.  It looks like I need to poke around Amy's bog as she appears to have wisdom in this area.

I recently checked out The Homegrown Preschooler, Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live by Kathy H. Lee & Lesli M. Richards based on a recommendation by Pam Barnhill.  I believe it's the preschool curricula they chose for her co-op.

The Homegrown Preschooler gives many helpful tips and tricks for teaching preschoolers at home.  Given this is not my first go around with preschool, I personally didn't find as many new ideas as I'd hoped.  Although, it was a good refresher and reminder to keep it simple.  At this age, it's important to foster a love of learning by creating wonder in everyday things.  The Homegrown Preschooler provides organizational tips, recipes, and activities to help you keep it simple.

Speaking of which, here's our homegrown preschooler...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New Books!...

Oh, I love it when new books arrive in the mail!  It's almost better than Christmas :)  I'm in planning mode and will start posting more about it in July, but I thought I'd give you a sneak peak at some things that were dropped at our door this week....

We will be heading back to Ancient history this fall.  RileyAnn will use the Beautiful Feet Ancient History study guide in conjunction with a few Ambleside Online books, as well as some others I need to weed through.  I haven't started her plan on paper yet, since I'm currently working on Ruben's.

Shakespeare and Nature Study are two areas I aim to improve on this year.  I've heard nothing but wonderful things about Ken Ludwig's How to Teach your Children Shakespeare so I thought we'd give it a try.

I first saw The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups by Gina Ingoglia in Ohio at the Great Homeschool Convention.  It's a Memoria Press recommendation that I instantly fell in love with.  The simple text is just right in providing knowledge for the novice, yet not dumbed down.  And, the illustrations are fabulous!  They look perfect for imitation in our nature journals.

Lastly, a friend recently showed me The Curious Nature Guide by Clare Walker Leslie and it was also love at first sight.  The pictures are a mix of photographs and nature illustrations.  From the inside cover flap...
Every page of this book is an invitation, a stunning offering of illustrations, watercolors, photographs, intriguing facts, and thoughtful moments. 
This is exactly how I feel when I look though it.  Also, every few pages has a "Try This", which are little tips for getting out in nature. Walker's suggestions are very doable even for the overwhelmed mom.  I love paging through this book and actually feel excited about nature study.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Updated Five in a Row and Misc. Literature Sale Books....

Updated 11-23-2016

Below you will find our latest list of literature, including Five in a Row titles, picture, and chapter books. Some of the books are ex-library and some are from a private collection.  There are many classic and living books.  Some are out of print.  Many are duplicate copies from our personal library. Let me know if you need recommendations or have any questions.

I've tried to include an abbreviated code on books I know are used in a particular program.  The prices do not reflect shipping. I accept PayPal and ship media mail within the U.S.  Please use the contact form on the right side bar to send inquires and desired list.

Thanks so much for your consideration,

BFIAR - Before Five in a Row
FIAR - Five in a Row
AO - Ambleside Online
BF - Beautiful Feet
HoD - Heart of Dakota
MFW - My Father's World
SL - Sonlight
TQ - TruthQuest
VP - Veritas Press

Five in a Row

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown BFIAR BF $3

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown BFIAR $3

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss BFIAR $3 each

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say (hardcover w/Mylar, ex-library) Vol. 1 $4

A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert Vol. 2 $4 each

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney Vol. 2 AO BF $4 each

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf Vol. 2 AO BF $4 each

When I Was Young and in the Mountain by Cynthia Rylant Vol. 2 AO BF $4 each

Gramma’s Walk by Anna Grossnickle Hines (hardcover) Vol. 2 $4

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter Vol. 2 $4

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (hardcover w/Mylar, ex-library) Vol. 4 $4

Misc. Chapter & Picture Books – Classics & Living Books

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (hardcover w/jacket) $3

Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham (FIAR author – hardcover) $3

Red Light, Green Light by Margaret Wise Brown FIAR author $3

A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman FIAR author $3

The Boats on the River by Marjorie Flack FIAR author $4

Madeline in London by Ludwig Bemelman FIAR author $2

London Bridge is Falling Down by Peter Spier (hardcover) $3

Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb by James Herriot (hardcover w/jacket) $4

Moses the Kitten by James Herriot (hardcover w/jacket) $3

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children (hardcover w/Mylar, ex-library) AO $8

Journey Cake, Ho! By Ruth Sawyer (1953 hardcover) $4

Cranberry Birthday by Wende & Harry Devlin (hardcover) $4

The Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet $3

Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure by Bill Peet (hardcover) $3

Mooncake by Frank Asch $2

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni $2

Father Bear Comes Home by Else Holmelund Minarik $2

My Friend Mac by Lynd Ward $4

April’s Kitten by Clare Turlay Newberry $3

The Little Goat by Judy Dunn $2

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag $3

The Real Mother Goose SL $3

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle $3

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and Other Farmyard Tales by Beatrix Potter (hardcover) FIAR author $4

The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (hardcover) VP FIAR author $4 each

Peter Rabbit and Other Stories by Beatrix Potter (hardcover) FIAR author $4

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse and Other Mouse Stories by Beatrix Potter (hardcover) FIAR author $4

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter (hardcover) FIAR author $2

The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck by Beatrix Potter (hardcover) FIAR author $2

Beatrix Potter (four green 5.5x4 inch hardcover books - acceptable to good condition) $5 set
-       The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse
-       The Tale of Peter Rabbit (loose spine)
-       The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
-       Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes
-       The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (white hardcover)

Beatrix Potter (eight white 5.5x4 inch hardcover books – great condition) $25 set
-       The Tale of Peter Rabbit
-       The Tale of Gloucester
-       The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
-       The Tale of Two Bad Mice
-       The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (softcover)
-       The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
-       The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
-       The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse

Many Moons by James Thurber $2

Blaze and the Forest Fire by C. W. Anderson $3 each

Blaze and the Mountain Lion by C. W. Anderson (hardcover, ex-library) $6 each

Blaze and the Lost Quarry by C. W. Anderson (hardcover, ex-library) $6

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak $3

Curious George by H. A. Rey (hardcover, ex-library) $4

Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A. Rey (hardcover, ex-library) $4

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving retold and illustrated by Will Moses (hardcover) $4

Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (hardcover illustrated by Maude and Miska Petersham) $5 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, illustrated by C. Walter Hodges (hardcover, ex-library) $5

The Tinderbox – Hans Christian Andersen adapted & Illustrated by Barry Moser (hardcover) $2

The Nightingale Hans Christian Andersen (hardcover) $2

Rumpelstiltskin by the Brothers Grimm and Jacqueline Ayer (hardcover) $3

The Nutcracker adapted and illustrated by Warren Chappell (hardcover) $5

A Classic Treasury of Nursery Songs & Rhymes illustrated by Tracey Moroney (hardcover) $2

Keeping Christmas, An Edwardian Age Memoir by William F. Stricker (hardcover w/jacket) $1

The Kingfisher Book of Great Girl Stories chosen by Rosemary Sandberg (hardcover) $2

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell retold by Betty Evans and Audrey Daly $2

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll retold by Joan Collins $2

The Adventures of Robin Hood retold by John Grant $2

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson retold by Joyce Faraday $2

A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard AO $4 each

The Rooster Crows, A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles by Maud and Miska Petersham $4 each

The Hopeful Trout and Other Limericks by John Ciardi SL 3/D $2

All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth SL 5/F $3

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson SL AO 10 VP $4 each

The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley (hardcover w/Mylar dust jacket) $3

Poetry for Young People Carl Sandburg AO $4

Poetry for Young People Emily Dickinson AO $4

Poetry for Young People American Poetry AO $4

Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris (hardcover, ex-library) AO SL $8

Oxford School Shakespeare – The Winter’s Tale $4

Barron’s Shakespeare Made Easy – Romeo & Juliet SL 200 VP $3

Macbeth by William Shakespeare VP $3

Our Town by Thornton Wilder SL Core 400 $3

Bulfinch’s Mythology (1964 hardcover) AO $10

Heroes & Monsters of Greek Myth by Evslin, Evslin, & Hoopes $2

Aesop’s Fables retold by Ann McGovern VP $3

Aesop’s Fables (Magnum complete and unabridged) $3

Beowulf by Seamus Heaney MFW SL $4

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie by Peter and Connie Roop (hardcover) SL TQ $3

Barry, The Bravest Saint Bernard by Lynn Hall $3

The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr SL $3

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams SL $3

Hill of Fire by Thomas Lewis SL $3

Clara and the Bookwagon by Nancy Smiler Levinson $3

Owls at Home by Arnold Lobel SL $3

The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla SL 2/C $3 each

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner SL 3/D HoD $3 each

A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban (hardcover) $3

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett SL A/K $2

Caleb’s Story by Patricia MacLachlan $2

26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie DePaola Old SL $2

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown $1

Stanley’s Christmas Adventure by Jeff Brown $1

Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald $3

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald $3

Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace $3

Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace $3

Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace (hardcover) $4

William Holmes McGuffey, Schoolmaster to the Nation by Dolores P. Sullivan (hardcover) $1

McGuffey and His Readers by John H. Westerhoff III $1

Native Son by Richard Wright (hardcover) $3

Native Son by Richard Wright $2

The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis AO 4 $2

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis AO 4 $2

The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (hardcover) AO 4 $2

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (+ Finding Christ in C. S. Lewis’ the Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian) AO $3

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (hardcover) AO $4

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien AO 7 $4

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien AO 7 $4

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (The Prydain Chronicles book 1) AO $3

Taran Wanderer (The Prydain Chronicles book 4) by Lloyd Alexander AO $3 each

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (The Prydain Chronicles) AO $3

The Kestrel by Lloyd Alexander (hardcover) $2

Westmark by Lloyd Alexander (hardcover) $3

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (hardcover) SL 4/E AO 4 $5 each

Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey $2 each

East of Eden by John Steinbeck $2

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck $2 each

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck $2

The Pearl by John Steinbeck $2 each

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck (hardcover) $2

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck SL $4

Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer $3

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson SL AO 4 $2

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George SL Core 100 $3

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George SL Core 400 $3

Dragonwings by Laurence Yep $3

The Star Fisher by Laurence Yep $2

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski SL 1/2/B/C TQ $4 each

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggins TQ AO5 $3

Civil Disobedience and Other Essays by Henry David Thoreau VP AO 12 $1

The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson $2

The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting SL K/A $3

Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter AO 8 $3 each

The Most Wonderful Doll in the World by Phyllis McGinley $3

The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit $3

The Seventeenth Swap by Eloise McGraw SL $3

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher SL AO $4

The Giver by Lois Lowry $3

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth $3

Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark (hardcover) SL 3/D $3

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell SL $3

The Family under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson SL K/A BF $3 each

Selected Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe (hardcover) $3

Tales of Suspense by Edgar Allen Poe (hardcover) $3

Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine by Colin Chapman $3

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois SL 2/C VP $3

The Adventure of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain SL Core 100 VP AO $3 each

The Prince and the Pauper by by Mark Twain AO 5/6 $3

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens SL 7/H AO10 VP $3

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Puffin Classics Edition SL 7/H AO10 VP $3

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens AO 5 SL $3 each

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson AO 4 VP $3 each

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson SL Core 200 AO 5 VP $3 each

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson SL 7/H/W $3 each

Lord of the Flies by William Golding SL 530 AO 11/12 $3

A Voice in the Wind by Kathryn Lasky (Starbuck Family Adventure) $2

The Night Journey by Kathryn Lasky $1

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli $1

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (hardcover) AO 2 $4 each

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte SL Core 200 AO VP $3

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken SL 5/E $3

Schoolhouse in the Woods by Rebecca Caudill (1949 hardcover) $5

White Fang by Jack London (hardcover) $3

The Call of the Wild by Jack London $3

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell & The Call of the Wild by Jack London (hardcover Companion Library) SL BF $3

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell BF $3

National Velvet by Enid Bagnold $3

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg SL 5/E VP $3 each

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg SL Core 400 $3

Moby Dick by Herman Melville VP $2 each

The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars SL Core 200 $3

Trouble River by Betsy Byars $3

The Moffats by Eleanor Estes AO $3

The Moffat Museum by Eleanor Estes (hardcover) $4

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes SL B/C/2/3 $3 each

Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward (hardcover) $4

Red Sails to Capri by Ann Weil SL B/C/2 $3

Star of Light by Patricia St. John (original 1953) MFW SL 5/F $5 each

The Wizzard of Oz by L. Frank Baum SL $3 each

Irish Red by Jim Kjelgaard $2

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley AO 10 SL $3

Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge (hardcover) $2

The Republic by Plato $3

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel AO 8 $4

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings VP $3

Hans Brinker – or- The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge AO 5 $3 each

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll SL 530 $3 each

Pippi Goes on Board by Astrid Lindgren $2

A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer $1

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan $2

The Watson’s Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis $2

Ride a Northbound Horse by Richard Wormser $1

Earthquake by Matt Christopher $1

Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert $2

The Search for Belle Prater by Ruth White (hardcover) $1

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne SL TQ $3

More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell AO 7 SL $3

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett AO SL $3 each

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett AO SL $3

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster SL $3 each

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald SL $3

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan SL $3

Madeleine L’Engle $4 set
-       A Wrinkle in Time
-       A Wind in the Door

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (hardcover w/jacket) $3

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne $3 each

Death Be Not Proud, A Memoir by John Gunther $3 each

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley AO SL Core 300 VP $3 each

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde $2

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (hardcover) $4

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall $3

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. SL $3

1984 by George Orwell $3

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy AO $3

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis AO $3

The Swiss Family Robinson by J.D. Wyss AO $3

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley AO $4

The Lion in the Box by Marguerite De Angeli (hardcover, ex-library) $4

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (hardcover) $4

The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry (hardcover) $4

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert $3

Remembered by Tamera Alexander $2

Fatal Harvest by Catherine Palmer $2

The Perfect Life by Robin Lee Hatcher $2

Sister of Holmes County by Wanda Brunstetter – 3 in 1 hardcover $5

Daughters of Lancaster County by Wanda Brunstetter $4 set
-       The Storekeeper’s Daughter
-       The Quilter’s Daughter
-       The Bishops Daughter

Annie’s People by Beverly Lewis $4 set
-       The Preacher’s Daughter
-       The Englisher
-       The Brethren

Stolen Lives, Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir $1

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry $1

Ladybird Book (hardcover) $2 set
-       A Ladybird First Picture Book
-       A First Ladybird Key Words Picture Dictionary
-       A Second Picture Dictionary

Ladybird Book (hardcover) $4 set
-       The Enormous Turnip
-       Magic Porridge Pot
-       Princess & the Pea

Ladybird Book (hardcover) $5 set
-       Animal Stories for Under Fives
-       Bedtime Rhymes
-       Storytime for 3 Year Olds
-       Storytime for 4 Year Olds

-       Storytime for 5 Year Olds

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Findings: Audible, Review of For the Children's Sake, and Plutarch....

Taking a walk down memory lane today, some of you long time readers may remember a poem I wrote back in 2012, Four Weeks and Four Decades.  I can't believe our baby is four years old this week!

I really appreciated Why We Fell In Love With Audio Books From Audible.   I recently went for the 30 day free Audible trial and received two credits.  One of which, I used on Anna Karenina so I can listen as well as read, depending on my mood and of course, time.  I'm still trying to decide which book to pick for the second credit.  I'm kind of doing a test run to see how it all works as I'm thinking Audible may be an option for Ruben in the future.

Last week, Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles reviewed For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. Whether you're new to homeschooling or new to the Charlotte Mason method, For the Children's Sake is a good place to start.  I've read it twice and I'm sure I will do so again at some point.

Brush Up on Plutarch! with Nancy Kelly.  If you haven't tried Plutarch yet in your homeschool, I would highly encourage it.  Nancy has links at the bottom of her post with a wealth of information on how to go about it.  I also listened to her interview on A Delectable Education podcast and found it not only helpful, but very encouraging.

RileyAnn loves to bake and now that school's out, she's had more time to craft her creations...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Contemplating an Archipelago Blog Post, The Value of the Perception of Beauty...

I was reading The Value of the Perception of Beauty over at Archipelago and had some thoughts I wanted to share for possible discussion.  If you'd like to participate, first go here and read the post.  Then come back and read the rest of this.  We can talk in the comments section....
An ideal for our children—good, useful, beautiful. The Moral alone not sufficient. The Useful alone not sufficient. The Beautiful alone not sufficient. We want a full life. Do these three form an impossible ideal? (1st paragraph)
This sounds so much like the truth, beauty and goodness of a classical education.  I had not thought about one not being sufficient without the other.  And, do these three form an impossible ideal?
The brain, a highly sensitive receptacle hundredth of a second photographic plate not so quick. The five senses are our means of contact with the world outside us. Small inlets. for light waves, sound waves, they are all touch in a way. Each of the senses supplies what the other four are deficient in. But by the combination of the five we get a broad idea of what things are. The eye supplies most of our information. Two of these have great arts dependent upon them—The ear art. Music. The art of the eye—the resemblant arts, painting, sculpture, architecture, and all the lesser arts. (2nd paragraph)
Oh, how I loved this idea of the five senses coming together as individual parts creating the whole.  It reminded me of that parable about the blind men and the elephant where each feels a different part of the elephant and then compares the experience only to find complete disagreement about what the elephant must look like.
...In teaching it [music] we only teach accuracy of ear and vague feeling. We do not take children to the sea and draw their attention to the wave sounds, or into the woods to hear the Wind’s voice, and the chorus of birds in Spring. Or make them listen to the modulations of the human voice from the musical point of view.
Though we know these are some of the sources of inspiration for the composer. We deal with the teaching of that art as if it were purely abstract. If it be purely abstract why have we Pastoral Symphonies, Moonlight Sonatas, and Harmonious Blacksmiths? Might we not gain if we studied the natural sounds definitely Composers teach us the unity of sounds embodying human emotions. (3rd and 4th paragraphs)
Again, I had not thought of this!  But, really, it makes perfect sense.  I wonder if this was part of Charlotte's plan with nature study, not only to see and learn about science, but to feel with all the senses, so as to gain appreciation and recognize rhythms and patterns.  Charlotte does write extensively about the effects of nature, particularly on young children, in Part II, Out-of-Door Life for the Children, of Volume 1 Home Education...
Nature's Teaching. - Watch a child standing at gaze at some sight new to him - a plough at work, occupied as is a babe at the breast; he is, in fact, taking in the intellectual food which the working faculty of his brain at this period requires.  In his early years the child is all eyes; he observes, or, more truly, he perceives, calling sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing to his aid, that he may learn all that is discoverable by him about every new thing that comes under his notice....that the ideas of form and solidity are not obtained by sight at all, but are the judgments of experience....but Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him. (pg. 65-66)
In the next paragraph, she gives an example...
The child who has been made to observe how high in the heavens the sun is at noon on a summer's day, how low at noon on a day in mid-winter, is able to conceive of the great heat of the tropics under a vertical sun, and to understand that the climate of a place depends greatly upon the mean height the sun reaches above the horizon. (pg. 66)
On page 68, Charlotte wrote a section titled, The Sense of Beauty comes from Early Contact with Nature, which I believe is exactly what the notetaker was referring to.  In the first sentence of paragraph 6, the notes say,
Think of the abundance of beautiful things which nature has laid before us.
It seems to be a re-wording or very closely aligned with Charlotte's title/heading.

Lastly, I found a great deal of wisdom in paragraphs 8-11.  I actually have been thinking about drawing and nature study in regard to our homeschool.  These are things my children love and yet, I lack to allow for. It really started to register after observing the Classical Conversations Challenge A program.  In talking over our observations, RileyAnn told me that she would love to be allowed more time for drawing in her studies across the curriculum.  I'm brainstorming on how to make this possible.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!  Please feel free to comment below...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Learning About Classical Conversations...

Early this spring I had a chance to attend a Classical Conversations (CC) meeting.  Some local homeschooling moms started a CC community in my area last fall with Foundations.  They are looking to expand and plan to begin Essentials and Challenge A this fall.  After attending the initial meeting, I observed classes at all three levels and attended a day of a Parent Practicum to better understand the program.  I aim to explain here what I learned throughout this process.

Classical Conversations was started by Leigh Bortins.  It's a home-centered learning community that assists parents and educators in using the classical model.  Students attend parent/tutor led classes one day a week.  Parents are then given tools, resources, and support material to use in their homeschool for the rest of the week.

There are three levels of CC, Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge.  CC promotes a Christian worldview and believes there are three key components to a great education, classical, Christian, and Community.  Below are my observation notes...


- grammar-stage program for children age twelve and under and their parents
- meets from 9:15 a.m. to noon, weekly for two semesters of twelve weeks each
- curriculum based on three year history cycle (Ancient, Medieval, American)
- subjects cover History and Geography, Science, Timeline, Art, Music, English, Latin, Math, Bible Memory
- allows up to eight students per group/class
- lessons based on Foundations Curriculum Guide

The Foundations class I observed was tutored by a local homeschooling mom who'd been trained in the CC method.  The schedule went as follows:

9:15 a.m. Large Group Opening: families take turns opening with prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and a family presentation.  The director leads recitation of Scripture memory.

9:30 a.m. Fine Arts continued in large group.  The students, led by parent tutors sang "Orchestra Song" as a group.  Then moved into individual classes for continuing study.  This particular week, they were wrapping up Handel and beginning Bach.  The student's listened to "The Well Tempered Clavier" and learned about the harpsichord and fugue.

10:00 a.m. Science studied geology and minerals.  Reviewed the Scientific Method and performed an experiment.

10:30 a.m. New Grammar, which included memory work for seven subjects (History Sentence, Timeline, Geography, Math, English, Latin, Science).  The goal is to repeat each piece of information seven times throughout the class.  The memory work for that particular day went something like this:

History: John Cabot and Samuel de Champlain explored Canada and the St. Lawrence River.  Creation of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670, eventually led to war between Britain and France.  The maple leaf is the symbol of Canada.

Timeline: WWII and President Franklin Roosevelt, Stalin of the USSR and the Katyn Massacre, The United Nations formed, The Cold War, Gandhi and India's independence, Jewish state established, Mao and Communist victory in China

Geography: Canadian Provinces (1867) Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

Math: The Associative Law for Addition: (a + b) + c = a + (b + c)
          The Associative Law for Multiplication: (a x b) x c = a x (b x c)

English: A linking verb makes an assertion by joining two words

Latin: 4th Declension Noun-endings (recite chart showing these)

Science: What are the five main circles of latitude?  Arctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Antarctic Circle

11:00 a.m. Presentation and snack.  Each student gave a 2-3 minute presentation on the topic of their choice.

11:30 a.m. Review that day's lesson and memory work from six weeks prior.  Tutor asks questions and students answer like trivia.        

12:00 p.m. Lunch with family


- bridge between grammar and dialectic stage for kids in 4th - 6th grade and their parents
- meets from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., weekly following Foundations class, for two semesters of twelve weeks each
- allows up to sixteen students per group/class
- subjects cover Language Arts, Writing (IEW History Based Writing Lessons), and Math
- lessons based on Essentials of the English Language Curriculum Guide, which is a complete language arts program

I observed an Essentials program about an hour from our home that was again tutored by a homeschool mom.  I think Essentials had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, this tutor clearly struggled not only with teaching the lesson, but also to engage the students.  In all fairness, it was their last day of the school year.   A typical Essentials schedule would go as follows:

1:00 p.m. Grammar parsing and diagramming.  Tutor wrote a sentence on the board.  Students identified parts of speech and diagrammed the sentence.

1:45 p.m. Math games.  Students went into a gymnasium and played a math drill game

2:15 p.m. IEW History-Based Writing Lessons, which again would follow the three year history cycle mentioned above.  Students had an option of sharing/presenting the paper they wrote.

3:00 Adjourn


- designed for students twelve years and older in the dialectic and rhetoric stages and their parents
- meets from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., weekly for two semesters of fifteen weeks each
- subjects cover Gammar (Latin), Exposition and Composition, Debate, Research, Rhetoric, and Logic (Math) in one hour increments
- there are six Challenge levels, Challenge A, B I, II, III, and IV
- each Challenge program has a different focus with the aim being increased responsibility for the student

I observed a Challenge A class about two hours from our home.  This particular teacher was dynamic!  As all tutors, she was a CC trained homeschool mom.  The schedule went as follows:

8:30 a.m. Logic based on Saxon Math 8/7, however, not all students were using this program.  The tutor taught a lesson from Saxon, but students in Challenge are allowed to use an alternative math program.  One particular student with learning disabilities came an hour late so as to skip this portion, but be involved in the rest of the day.

9:30 a.m. Exposition & Composition. The students read a variety of assigned literature for this class.  Then learn to write papers using The Lost Tools of Writing by the CiRCE Institute.  Each piece of literature is read and studied/written about over a three week period.  Students picked a problem from the story to write about.  They read/presented their papers to the class.  This particular day they were finishing up A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos and beginning Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi.  The tutor also drew upon a CC exclusive titled Words Aptly Spoken for discussion questions.

10:30 a.m. Logic. Students discussed 4-5 fallacies from The Fallacy Detectives.  The tutor clarified any questions regarding the fallacies.  She also presented examples of the fallacies being studied in the form of cartoons/comics.  Then she read a bible verse and the group discussed it.

11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Lunch break in which all Challenge students gathered to eat and converse.  They even had time to play a quick board game together.

12:00 p.m. Grammar was studied using Henle First Year Latin.

1:00 p.m. Debate was studied through geography.  The students were finishing the continent of Africa.  They began the class with 20 minutes of silent drawing time, where they were to draw everything they could remember about Africa, including countries, geographic features, and water.  Next, the tutor introduced Australia by discussing random facts and drawing it on a white board for students to copy.   She included territories, capitals, geographic features, Oceania, New Zealand, seas, oceans, and Tasmania

2:00 p.m. Research is what I would call science.  Again the students started the class with a twenty minute silent drawing time.  Only this time, it was everything they could remember about the human skeleton.  After that, the tutor introduced neurons by discussion.  Then she drew and labeled a neuron on the white board for the students to copy.

3:00 p.m. Adjourn.

Based on my observations, I have mixed feelings about Classical Conversations for a variety of reasons.  I love the idea of community, as in like minded individuals studying similarly together. I think CC provides a great community for parents and students alike.  It was clear, the students in the classes I observed had developed friendships.  I also appreciate that CC is Christian based.  I'm happy to see alternative support for those who fear homeschooling through high school.  I like some of the resources used as well as some of the methods at the Challenge level.  Parent support is outstanding in the CC community.  They even offer free annual Parent Practicums to encourage and empower parents in homeschool leadership.  You do not have to join CC to attend.

We will not be joining the CC community.  I'm not particularly fond of the rote memorization method used at the Foundations level.   We choose to provide a broad and liberal education through the use of living books in order for the child to develop the science of relations.  CC is aligned with the neoclassical stages of development based on Dorothy Sayers' essay, which I'm still on the fence over.   I'm a free spirit that loves to plan and pick curricula so I'm not crazy about someone else governing my choices.  In my observations, I also experienced a variety of tutors and as with anything, the leader can make or break it.  I really liked the content and method of the Essentials program, but I saw first hand a tutor that was unable to bring it home.  Lastly, CC is cost prohibitive for our family.

I feel good about the time and energy I put into researching CC.  I learned a great deal and met some fabulous homeschool families.  I actually bought some of the CC Prescripts handwriting books and I do plan to incorporate a few of the methods I saw in the CC classes.  RileyAnn observed Challenge A with me.  She and I both liked the drawing portions as well as the book study and writing.  I bought The Lost Tools of Writing at the Great Homeschool Convention and am trying to decide how to implement it.  I also liked the Essentials of the English Language Curriculum Guide and wonder if it would work for use with Ruben.  The jury is still out on this one.

I think CC would be a great option for families looking for a mentor or guidance in structuring their day.  It may work for a mom who needs help planning her curriculum.  As mentioned, I also think it's a great alternative for those looking for high school homeschooling assistance.