Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oranges and Lemons

My children came back from church one afternoon this past year playing a game that went something like this:

Down by the banks of the hanky panky
Bullfrog jumped from bank to bank
Hip hop soda pop, hey Mr. William and he went kerplop!

They sat in a circle, criss cross applesauce and had their hands facing upwards on their knees, right hand resting in the left hand of the person on their right. As they sang the song, one person would slap their right hand towards their left hand, and slap the right hand of the person on their left. The slapping would go around and whoever it landed on at 'kerplop!' would be out.

I was amazed at how quickly they had picked it up and wonder at how these songs have a way of traveling orally from generation to generation. I remember as a child sitting in the back of the school bus in Japan on the way to the American school hand clapping with a friend to 'Miss Mary Mack'.

Charlotte talked about these types of games that she had seen played in England in her time:

Before Puritan innovations made us a staid and circumspect people, English lads and lasses of all ages danced out little dramas on the village green, accompanying themselves with the words and airs of just such rondes as the French children sing to-day. We have a few of them left still––to be heard at Sunday-school treats and other gatherings of the children,––and they are well worth preserving: 'There came three dukes a-riding, a-riding, a-riding': 'Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement's'; 'Here we come gathering nuts in May'; 'What has my poor prisoner done?' and many more, all set to delightful sing-song airs that little feet trip to merrily, the more so for the pleasant titillation of the words––dukes, nuts, oranges,––who could not go to the tune of such ideas?

The promoters of the kindergarten system have done much to introduce games of this, or rather of a more educational kind; but is it not a fact that the singing games of the kindergarten are apt to be somewhat inane? Also, it is doubtful how far the prettiest plays, learnt at school and from a teacher, will take hold of the children as do the games which have been passed on from hand to hand through an endless chain of children, and are not be found in the print-books at all.

It seems the games we know are more likely to have come out of the latter description here. But as you are anxiously preparing for academics with your little ones, perhaps teaching your children some of these games would be another way to enrich their year.

Here is a link to a book called "A Dictionary of British Folklore" http://books.google.com/books?id=e4ohsoURGnEC&lpg=PA338&ots=RxuavsWfZY&dq=Burne that has a large list of nursery rhymes/games that have been observed. (Warning: There are kissing games and lyrics mentioning chopping off of heads and such so obviously, use discretion as needed.)

Here is a video about the rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons' which Mason mentions in her quote above:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thoughts on YR4 and the Book of Centuries

With the next school year looming in the very near future, and an eldest daughter heading into YR4, I am scrambling to get my act together and figure out what all she is doing.

For those of you who may not be familiar with AO YR4, there are several new things to become acquainted with: Full length Shakespeare plays, Plutarch's lives, Grammar, Latin (we're trying this one), and the Book of Centuries.

This is not a year I'm going to get away with flying by the seat of my pants! There is planning and decision making to be done; which is probably why some find it a daunting year. So much so that AO actually has a YR3.5.

I've never had a child in YR4 and I don't really know how it will be for us, so I'm just going in with the attitude that, so long as we try our best, it's alright. I'm not measuring my success by 'getting it all done' because I also have a 4 month old, a son in YR2 and an almost 4yo to consider. Plus my daughter is still transitioning to reading her own books and writing, so if we don't finish it all, I'm not getting in a wreck about it. That would be missing the entire point, completely. Let's keep the main thing the main thing shall we?

Well, I spent a few hours on the phone with Kristine into the wee hours of the night (morning really) trying to figure out what to do for the Book of Centuries. This PNEU article says about the BOC:
Though "The Book of Centuries" as such has only been part of the P.U.S. programme since 1915, its earlier form of a "Museum Note Book" dates back to 1906. The late Mrs. Epps advocated in her "British Museum for Children" the keeping of a note-book, each page representing a century, in which one could draw sketches of objects in the Museums, and write notes of the principal events.
So, from everything I've gotten thus far, the idea seems to me to have a book where the child records one-word on a given person, thing, or event of significance on one side of a notebook, and a blank page on the opposing page they draw sketches of objects related to that century, whether from a museum or a book or a website anymore I suppose.

It seems simple enough, and it's in the details that I get confused.

Kristine and I had both thought of buying this one which we read about on a Childlight blog post here, but without a picture of the actual pages and limited information on the layout, we both hesitated to pull the trigger on it.

We also looked at Simply Charlotte Mason's 'My Book of Centuries', which included a 'brief narrative page' and a 'noteworthy page', which didn't appear to be mentioned by the PNEU or seen in Eve Andersen's BOC. I also wasn't too crazy about the categorizing of things on the noteworthy page ('Prominent Men & Women', 'Wars & Politics', Art & Music', etc.). It just seems too compartmentalized and directed to me. I like the simplicity of the 2 page spread, but that's just my personal preference. Another thing I don't like is having 'www.simplycharlottemason.com' on every page. A minor, I know, but I am just so petty like that! And don't get me wrong, they *should* have that on there because it's their product. I just don't want it on my daughter's.

As we talked, some things that came up were:

Where should a BOC start? Creation? 4000 B.C.? 5000B.C.? Laurie Bestvater's site doesn't say where her BOC starts. S.C.M.'s printable one starts at 4000B.C. The PNEU article here says:

...we must turn to the beginning of the book and head the first lined page "Prehistoric Periods." On this it is as well to write a list of the four periods—Palaeolithic or Old Stone, Neolithic or New Stone, Bronze, and Early Iron, explaining what is meant by each.
I have not seen any discussion on these time periods and whether there is no mention of them or how they are being dealt with in the BOC's now.

And what about B.C. and A.D. or B.C.E. and C.E. (Common Era)? I'd never heard of Common Era until I looked at Laurie Bestvater's Book of Centuries where she mentions using B.C.E. and C.E.. SCM's and Eve Andersen's uses B.C. and A.D.

Now this is the kicker that's got me - are the pages ruled or blank? Or is one side ruled, one side blank? Eve Andersen's is ruled on one side and blank on the other, which is what the PNEU article recommends. SCM's 'My book of Centuries' has a grid on one side and blank for the drawing page, their printable one is blank on both sides, Laurie Bestvater's - from what I've heard - has alternating shading grey/white on one side, blank on the other. 'The Book of Centuries and How to Keep One' PNEU article example here (link courtesy of Laurie Bestvater's post here.) is blank on both sides with one horizontal line drawn through the century, but vertical column lines are assumed, not drawn.

Although I like the way the PNEU article example looks, blank on both sides, my 9yo daughter is going to need some kind of lines to guide her writing.

Am I the only one challenged trying to figure this all out? More likely these are minors and you're not as concerned with it all. Yes, I know there are four letter words for people like me - NUTS!

Would you believe I spent no less than an hour looking on the Moleskin website looking for the right notebook?! I could not find one of those hardback notebooks with the elastic that holds it shut with lines on one side, blank on the other that had thick enough paper to prevent Sharpie finepoint pens from bleeding through.

I also checked on Tokyo Pen Shop's site - because I always loved browsing Japanese Stationary stores when I lived in Tokyo - but I didn't find one there either.

So as my search proved futile, I thought: "Forget it, I'll just make one and print it at Fedex Office."

I was going to make very faint grey lines to mark the rows and columns and have a really nice cover page with parchment type background. Well, two hours of attempting to format different headers and backgrounds in one MS Word file and I was DONE. I think I'd have a better chance of programming a simpler word processor before I ever figure that out.

So now I'm thinking I really NEED to find a notebook with lines on one side and blank on the other that is nice enough for her to keep forever. It's going to be a very special book. Once I find it, I think I'll hand write in all the centuries, leaving room for maps, etc. as detailed in this PNEU article here.

I know, don't major on the minors, but it also feels like such a big deal because it's a lifetime book; something that will hopefully be dear to my children that will sit on their bookshelves someday when they are grown men and women. And I really don't want to have to change books ever once we start, so I do want to get it right.

I do wonder though if many of us who are scouring the articles on BOC's aren't ending up very much like the lady who always cut off the ends of the ham. You know the story where she cuts the ends off the ham every holiday and when asked why she said because Mom did, so they check with Mom and she says she did because Grandma did, so they check with Grandma and turns out she did because her oven was so small she couldn't fit a ham in it!

So, I think I'm back to keeping the main thing the main thing. I'd love to hear what you're doing for BOC!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

YR4 Term 1 Schedule

I finally got around to finishing my YR4 daughter's schedule for Term 1. Most of the work was in figuring out how our day would flow and then splitting up the readings, particularly Robinson Crusoe.

I have the Junior Deluxe Edition, which has no chapters, making it very time consuming to split the readings for the week.

It's done, for now. And it's not set in stone. I may find after the first week that I want her to listen to Robinson Crusoe on librivox instead and I'll read Storybook of Science with her; not sure. In any case, it's a start and we'll massage it as we go.

This is the schedule I will give my 9 (almost 10) yo daughter. Mine will look very similar, but will also have my YR2 son's readings and time slots for my 3yo's 'school' and nap. I plan on posting that here when it is done also. Her readings are in blue because I color code each child's work which helps me keep things straight.

I posted it to Scribd so feel free to download and use it, although you would have to double check page numbers because they may vary depending upon which version of the books you have.

Oh, and you'd have to change my daughter's name to your child's name ;)

If you see any errors, feel free to let me know.

Also, for the record, the way we do Japanese is NOT CM. Foreign language is meant to be worked on daily; we're just not there.

And I don't list composer study or handcrafts because these aren't done on a schedule for me - I play composer music and work on handcrafts with them when the opportunities arise rather than at a set time every week.

Please keep in mind that this is a YR4 schedule so if you're doing YR0 or YR1 and looking at this schedule, thinking it would work for you - it could, but practically none of what is on here applies to YR0 and only some to YR1 so you would need to pare it down significantly. Please check AO to see what is appropriate for your child's age.

Also, while it may seem overwhelming - and yes, I admit I did feel overwhelmed at first - many of the things on the schedule are very short. Scripture memory takes less than 10 minutes, singing a hymn takes less than 10 minutes, art study takes no more than 15 minutes so while it seems like A LOT, (and this is me reasoning myself into what my will has already decided) it is just many bite size pieces.

It is wide and varied and it's all a part of setting their feet in a large room.

Check back with us in 12 weeks and we'll see how we're doing :)

AO YR4 Schedule

The Clothing of Thought

I'm working through my daughter's YR4 AO schedule, and I noticed that in The Story Book of Science, a book I'm really looking forward to after hearing Kristine rave about it, Chapter 19 titled 'The Book' is skipped entirely.

Well, curiosity does kill the cat doesn't it?

I nosed through it and here's a snippet:

"I am sorry, my dear child, but I must undeceive you. Grammar cannot teach one to write. It teaches us to make a verb agree with its subject, an adjective with a substantive, and other things of that kind. It is very useful, I admit, for nothing is more displeasing than to violate the rules of language; but that does not impart the gift of writing. There are people whose memories are crammed with rules of grammar, who, like you, stop short at the first word.

"Language is in some sort the clothing of thought. We cannot clothe what does not exist; we cannot speak or write what we do not find in our minds. Thought dictates and the pen writes. When the head is furnished with ideas, and usage, still more than grammar, has taught us the rules of language, we have all that is necessary to write excellent things correctly. But, again, if ideas are wanting, if there is nothing in the head, what can you write? How are these ideas to be acquired? By study, reading, and conversation with people better instructed than we."

The clothing of thought...

A lovely way to put it isn't it? And I couldn't help but notice how this rings of CM.

Before they are ten, children who have been in the habit of using books will write good, vigorous English with ease and freedom; that is, if they have not been hampered by instructions. It is well for them not even to learn rules for the placing of full stops and capitals until they notice how these things occur in their books. Our business is to provide children with material in their lessons, and leave the handling of such material to themselves. If we would believe it, composition is as natural as jumping and running to children who have been allowed due use of books. ~Vol. 1, p. 247

I wonder why AO chose to skip it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yet Another Schedule

My, this blog has been sorely neglected! Time is just an extremely rare commodity these days, but all for good reasons :)

A while back I mentioned I was reading the book "A Mother's Rule of Life, How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul" by Holly Pierlot. I've been enjoying it slowly and most of it is her story, through which she shares gems of wisdom that you would otherwise have to suffer and struggle in order to learn yourself.

Now, 122 pages into the book, she's gotten to the crux of what I picked up the book for - 'Working Out Your Essentials', and offers up a starting point:
What exactly do your children need to do? For daily hygiene? To deal with their clothing? Their personal prayer? Sports and hobbies? Friends? Catechism and Mass and Confession? Homework or schooling? Sleep and rest? Exercise? Make lists, and write these down.
Pure genius. So obvious! Why wouldn't you start here? Yet somehow its foundational simplicity has managed to evade me for years as I struggled to make room for it all - particularly the clean and orderly home part of it ;)

If you aren't Catholic - which I am not - you would just change those areas to what you do.

So I spent about an hour scribbling lists off the top of my head and put it all together in a weekly schedule of sorts. It isn't a final schedule (is there such a thing?), there will be many adjustments and lots of fine tuning as I go. But I just wanted to start, and start with the basics.

So here's what I came up with. Feel free to upload it and adjust it to your own needs if you see any use for it in your home.

Weekly Schedule

Our school schedule is separate from this, although I did include some of the things we do all together. As you can see, I have no times since I don't do well with strict time schedules. That's just me.

She recommends making lists of what is involved in every task for them so they know exactly *what* to do. I LOVE this part of it because it makes what is expected of them clear. It eliminates the "what else Mommy?". For now I made a list for after-meal cleanup, which is marked with a * on the schedule and mapped out for them on the second page.

I also made a revolving list of things to be done on Saturdays on the second page. This way things like washing sheets, etc. that don't need to be done weekly, are still being done. Again, this is just a start, which I wanted to keep 'light' until somewhat of a habit is established, at which time I can shift some of the items from my Saturday list (like toilet cleaning) to the more regular weekly time slots. I focused on the major trouble areas first.

I added "Clean Floor" first thing in the morning - meaning they clean the floor in their room, which is where most of the mess ends up, and "5 Minute Tidy up" before bed - because that's usually all it takes for them to quickly clean up the mess that was made that day. Just these 2 things alone have put a big dent in the mess in our home.

I just know this is IT, the schedule I've always been waiting for, the one that will finally bring complete order to our home and peace to our souls!

And if you laugh at that like my husband did - you're gonna get it! ;)