Thursday, November 6, 2014

YR7 Commonplace Book Entries

Smart Sept. 2, 2014

My dad gave me one dollar bill 'cause I'm his smartest son,
and I swapped it for two shiny quarters 'cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters and traded them to Lou
for three dimes - I guess she don't know, three's more then two!

Ivanhoe Sept. 16, 2014

"Silence, maiden; thy tongue outruns thy discretion."

1 Samuel 16

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward apperance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Weather Book

Knowledge alone is the being of nature,
Giving a soul to her manifold features
~Bayard Taylor

How to be your own selfish pig

"No man can live without a world view; therefore, there is no man who is not a philosopher." ~Francis Schaeffer

Grammar of Poetry

Remove the outside, cook the inside, eat the outside, throw away the inside.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Adventures with a Microscope - House Fly

New for us this year (AmblesideOnline YR7) is Adventures with a Microscope.

Today, our daughter chose the chapter on how the fly walks on the ceiling. Instructions are to catch a house fly in a jar and use chloroform to kill it. We didn't have any chloroform so she caught one and we covered the jar in plastic wrap, secured it with a rubber band, and popped it in the freezer.  

She asked me to help her remove an eye with a scalpel - um. okay. Oh the situations we homeschooling moms find ourselves in! It got rather bloody, but we managed. 

Here are its claws and the sticky pads which allow it to walk on walls.

And here is its wing structure. 

One good thing about the microscope is that the dust from our container that stuck to the fly is unidentifiable as such ;-p

YR7 students choose 3 of these adventures per term. Additional adventure possibilities exist in what we find locally, like our beaches. Even though it won't be in the book, it potentially means more when it's something we live among and see in our pattern of life. 

She could look up the anatomy of bryozoa or a sand crab and craft a similar adventure. YR8 will bring even more adventures.  

What benefits her in these adventures, I think, is that she has a level of choice, and it is her learning and discovery. She craftily caught the fly right here in our home. And I am here to help as she needs - like hacking a fly's eye off - otherwise, she manages what she is capable of. 

I showed her all the functions of the microscope and how to switch the lens to the camera to take pictures for future reference. When I told her the slide container had a labeling system, she also decided to keep a slide of each to begin a collection to share with friends. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Fat Cat and other Poems

Some fun and interesting poems found scribbled in a child's notebook...

The Fat Cat

There was a fat cat
who found a hat right in
the middle of the street.
He picked it up with
a good enough pluck to pick
up an overweight horse!

That horse neighed until
he was bade to dance
with an Irish jade

And that fat cat sat
atop his hat watching the horse neigh and bray
'til he was done with
his jig and jade.

Naughty Cat

Kitty cat, kitty cat sleeping
on my head
Why can't you sleep on that
side of the bed?


Spring has come, and all flowers
are bloomed
Winter has gone and all
his storms are doomed.
Summer will come still on
the run, of course without

Day and Night

When the sun rises,
the birds too must rise.
When the moon rises,
the birds must say their

For a Younger Brother

Tap a tap-tap, goes the
rain on my hat.
With a rap a rap-rap-er-doo.
So I'll take a hap with
the rain on my hat, in the
middle of winter blue.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Consider This: Charlotte Mason and The Classical Tradition

Have you ever wondered how CM compares to a Classical Education? We hear so much about Classical Ed in Southern California with Classical Conversations, and the church we attend is actually a classical school during the week where some of my friends work and many of the children my kids know attend.

So where does CM fit in to it all?

We read the classics; unabridged.
We study Latin.
We read Shakespeare, Plutarch.
It seems classical enough... but always more obscure in the educational realm and somehow not quite legitimately academic enough to be considered "classical."

Truth be told, my general understanding of the difference lay somewhere between today's classical educators' application of the trivium - i.e., the three stages of a child's learning - memorizing declensions, and the fact that CMers do outdoor nature study while classical students seem to study nature in their classrooms.

All that is changing now, thanks to Karen Glass' soon-to-be released book, Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition.

In this simple, straightforward, well-researched book Karen maps out the foundations as well as some of the fallacies of classical education, resetting our course towards intrinsic truths in education and inspiring us to pick up this vital torch for the children's sake. Brimming with quotes for our commonplace books, Consider This widens our view of the Charlotte Mason education we know, aligning her philosophy with some of the greatest thinkers of all time. And whether Charlotte Mason's pedagogy ever comes to be called "classical" or not, as a CM educator, you will be inspired knowing that the education you bring to your children has its foundation in "understanding that grows bright gazing on many truths." Consider This will be right next to For The Children's Sake in my recommended reading for people new to her methods.

Currently, the release date is set to October 25, 2014. To be notified of any updates you can subscribe on Karen's website at www.karenglass.net. We will also be reading through Karen's book at our local CM meeting beginning in November (if the book is released as scheduled).

Friday, May 30, 2014

Our 3yo and The Children's Art

While CM may not quite call this a 'fit incantation', it still does seem to confirm Arthur Burrell's point, as quoted in CM's Vol. 1, p. 222 - 223:

"There is hardly any 'subject' so educative and so elevating as that which Mr Burrell has happily described as 'The Children's Art.' All children have it in them to recite; it is an imprisoned gift waiting to be delivered, like Ariel from the pine."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival - May 20, 2014

Welcome to the May 20th, 2014 Edition of the 
Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!

This is the carnival's second month on the theme "A Master Thought". You can find the first at Dewey's Treehouse here

In this section, we find Charlotte Mason making a distinction between teaching good habits, both intellectual and moral, and the extreme of that idea; that doing such-and-such will produce a top-notch quality child.  
The third conceivable view, 'Education is a discipline,' has always had its votaries, and has them still. That the discipline of the habits of the good life, both intellectual and moral, forms a good third of education, we all believe. The excess occurs when we imagine that certain qualities of character and conduct run out, a prepared product like carded wool, from this or that educational machine, mathematics or classics, science or athletics; that is, when the notion of the development of the so-called faculties takes the place of the more physiologically true notion of the formation of intellectual habits.
The difference does not seem to be great; but two streams that rise within a foot of one another may water different countries and fall into different seas, and a broad divergence in practice often arises from what appears to be a small difference in conception, in matters educational. The father of Plutarch had him learn his Horner that he might get heroic ideas of life. Had the boy been put through his Homer as a classical grind, as a machine for the development of faculty, a pedant would have come out, and not a man of the world in touch with life at many points, capable of bringing men and affairs to the touchstone of a sane and generous mind. It seems to me that this notion of the discipline which should develop 'faculty' has tended to produce rather one-sided men, with the limitations which belong to abnormal development. ~Vol. 3 pg 151

"...in touch with life at many points..." 

In case you missed it last month, here is a description by "H.E. Wix" from the L'Umile Pianta on just what that looked like in Charlotte Mason's Elementary Schools: They Live Closer to Life

From Harvest Community School, Toebiters and the Three Faces of Education!
"Some believe atmosphere depends upon classroom decorations, appealing graphics in textbooks, modern technology, and kid-friendly books that entertain while educating. However, we think bringing the world down to a "child's level" dulls the mind."

From journey-and-destination we have Notebooks for Nature Study, Science, Bible, Poetry & Hymn Study "I thought I'd share some of what we've done with various notebooks over the past 15 years." 

From Dewey's Treehouse, If you've read Ivanhoe and want to laugh. A book review of Knight's Castle, by Edward Eager. 

From All Things Bright and Beautiful we have Jacob von Rueysdale - A Cottage and a Hayrick by a River, Georg Philipp Telemann - Musique de Table, A.A.Milne - Vespers "Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day. And what was the other I had to say?"

From rarefied, Sloyd Pinwheels. "I am now convinced that kids today need handwork more than ever."

From Joyous Lessons, Second Grade in Our Home :: Fine Arts "I'm already planning how to fit art into our days for next year. I'll have an infant again, which always makes things a bit challenging, but I'm hopeful!"

From Letters from NebbyCharlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Wrapping Up "Charlotte gives a very broad definition of knowledge. It is this knowledge which she believes has become so lacking in her day and, if anything, is even more so in our own"

From Simply.... Writing and Sharing........In Which I Ponder the Impact of a CM Education "How information is received can have a direct bearing on how much the student may care about that knowledge. In order for information to have a personal context that engages the student, there has to be a sense of ownership."

From fisher.academy.international., The Need for Balance. A Craving for Unity. "This is the way things are. As persons fashioned after an infinite God, we are complex beings. We must consider ALL our intricately interwoven parts when we think about educating persons."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sunflowers like God

After a recent trip to the Spotlight Awards where a handful of phenomenally talented kids, out of countless thousands, win prestigious awards and scholarships, one of my children the following morning, observing the flowers blooming out front, said:

Superstars are like Morning Glories, they bloom for one morning.
Sunflowers are like God, they're eternal. 

That was enough for me :)

They live closer to life

This is a really inspiring description from the April 1923 L'Umile Pianta of what one "H.E. Wix" described as the distinguishing points of Charlotte Mason's elementary schools:

What is it that distinguishes P.N.E.U. Elementary Schools from the ordinary School? It is a difficult question to answer, primarily because the “ordinary school” is indefinable. Many persons think that all “ordinary” elementary schools follow a similar clearly defined curriculum and that the teachers teach after a set plan. But it is not so. Nowhere is there more variety of method, syllabus, or “atmosphere.” There are, for example, schools where amazingly good compositions are freely and easily written – not as a result of wide reading, but rather of careful teaching, sometimes on the same lines as those followed in French schools. There are also schools where literature is really read and enjoyed, where history lives, where good story books are numerous, where the children even keep nature notebooks.  
And yet, the least satisfactory P.N.E.U. School has something which these others lack, even the best of them – what is it?  
It is not easy to lay one’s finger on, nor easy to express. Is it that these P.N.E.U. children are fuller of humble enthusiasms for all the great things of life? Is it that they – maybe only dimly realize that every new thread of knowledge leads them on to a further appreciation of the knowledge which is indivisible? Or can it best be summed up in: “they live closer to life?”

Wix goes on to describe how children and teachers travel great distances to see performances and Ms. Mason herself. And as it is in memorium, it concludes...

Perhaps the most visible gift that P.N.E.U. schools owe to Miss Mason is happiness; happiness in learning, happiness in teaching and the consequent happiness in giving and in living. A real joy in knowledge, a love of it as of a friend, is a lasting treasure. Too often it is merely as a “means to an end” that children are taught to acquire a necessary amount of information. But to a P.N.E.U. child knowledge is “lovely.”
 What is the distinction? It's not how much they know, but how much they care... knowledge is lovely... they live closer to life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Changing Landscape - Growing in Distance

The Voyage of Life - Youth by Thomas Cole, 1842

As we head past the transition between my reading most of the books to my oldest daughter and her reading her own school books - which happened progressively during YR4 & YR5 - I found myself a little sad at the prospect of her reading her own books; ones I'd never read, without me. I know some moms do, but I don't keep up with all her readings and I realized she is in uncharted territory and I'm not right next to her reading along like I used to be - the landscape is changing.

She still narrates to me for school, (sometimes if I'm not available she'll narrate to her little sister) and writes out her narrations a couple times a week. And we do still read together - this term we are reading the Iliad most days and Shakespeare and Plutarch on Fridays with her YR4 brother. But it isn't the same as reading with her.

I now spend most of that same time I used to spend with her, sharing readings with my YR4 son - The Incredible Journey, George Washington's World, Abigail Adams - he reads a paragraph, I read a paragraph, and teaching my six-year-old daughter to read. I've ditched the dry phonics books this time around and am so happy to be over that hump in my homeschooling career. We also have our almost three-year-old who joins in the mix at every turn of the day.

What I've found now on this side of the transition with my oldest is that, while it is a little sad not to be reading all of her books with her, it's a whole new enjoyable season. The books she reads and the ideas she gains from them are not unknown to me as I expected. Rather, they are the substance of the many conversations we have together throughout the day - in the car, during meals, sitting on the couch at night; she shares her thoughts, ideas, and opinions with us.

There is interest, curiosity, awe, humor, indignation, and living thoughts forming about all the things that go on around her and in her books, and there are poems about wanting her cat to sleep on the other side of the bed. What I thought would turn into a sort of distancing between us at this point has instead grown into a new, even more rewarding companionship. She is turning out to be a companion of the most interesting and wholly living sort, and we are so grateful for the living ideas that have fed this amazing person and helped form this rewarding relationship we are blessed to have with her.

While I do look enviously at her carrying her stack of books to go read - Galileo, Story of the Romans, The Sea Around Us, David Livingstone - as I change another diaper and read through Minn of the Mississippi for the second time, I am thankful for this new season and recall the advice a friend told us once a long time ago, "Your kids are going to be older, a lot longer than they are younger."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Magnanimous Way of Living

Do you ever find the truths behind the Charlotte Mason method peering at you in your books through the lives of others? I do. They really aren't her truths after all, she herself would say so; they were, and always will be, His truths.

"Shelley offers us the key to education when he speaks of 'understanding that grows bright gazing on many truths.'" ~Vol. 6, p.157

Here are a couple that caught my attention this week...

"'Green, green forest stretching as far as the eye can see on three sides, rising in mighty billows up the mountains, leaving bare only the rocky tops; high climbing, low dipping forest. A valley, like the trough of the wave of forest green.... In front the trees drop sharply down, like a cliff dropping to the sea, the green, green sea of the forest.' And the pool, the joy of their ravine, 'jade-green, clear, wonderful water-green, and when the angels are in a very kind mood they send a blue kingfisher to fish there. Then the pool is something quite too lovely for this everyday earth, and sets one thinking what the pools must be amog the green woods of Paradise. Then, too, it is deep, deep enough for diving, and its floor of clean white sand, the powdered dust of mountains. In this pool we, the holiday children and whoever is up with them, daily turn into water-babies.... If you have troubles, the pool washes them off. Worries are just kissed away.'" ~A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael

"I did not come to Schlonwitz in a glad or hopeful frame of mind.... but then everything turned out quite different from what I had feared. Instead of entering the stuffy world of theological bigotry, I found myself in one which combined much of what I loved and needed, clear theological work in companionship with others, who never let one be wounded by feeling one's own incompetence, but who made the work a joy; brotherhood under the Word which united us all without respect of person; and at the same time an appreciation of all that gives charm to the fallen creation; music, literature, sport and the beauty of the earth; a magnanimous way of living..." ~one of Bonhoeffer's ordinands in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

And last but not least, I love this quote posted by Brandy on the AO FB page this week:

"Another writes: 'On my arrival at Ambleside I was interviewed by Miss Mason who asked me for what purpose I had come. I replied: "I have come to learn to teach." Then Miss Mason said: "My dear, you have come here to learn to live."'" ~Essex Cholmondley in The Story of Charlotte Mason

Living truths. For ours and the children's sake.

Friday, February 28, 2014

YR6 Nature Journal Entries

Here are some nature journal entries from YR6 as we attempt to transition to Special Studies this year. Whether we are doing what CM truly intended or not, is hard to know. And I sometimes have to squelch the comparison bug that peers its ugly head when I see what others are doing. But as I read her and her students' writings, PR articles, and books she has recommended as reference on the subject, I am reminded that we are training a scientific mind, and inspiring a soul, not stuffing information.

Science.––Science herself, whose business it is to discover to us what we call the laws of Nature, is a teacher upon whom the conscience, seeking for instruction, must wait sedulously. The rash conclusions and reckless statements of the person who has had no scientific training make him mischievous in society––a source of superstition and prejudice. 
Scientific training is not the same thing as information about certain scientific subjects. No one in these days can escape random information about radium, wireless telegraphy, heredity, and much else; but windfalls of this sort do not train the mind in exact observation, impartial record, great and humble expectation, patience, reverence, and humility, the sense that any minute natural object enfolds immense secrets––laws after which we are still only feeling our way.  

Science distinguished from Information.––This scientific attitude of mind should fit us to behave ourselves quietly, think justly, and walk humbly with our God. But we may not confound a glib knowledge of scientific text-books with the patient investigation carried on by ourselves of some one order of natural objects; and it is this sort of investigation, in one direction or another, that is due from each of us. We can only cover a mere inch of the field of Science, it is true; but the attitude of mind we get in our own little bit of work helps us to the understanding of what is being done elsewhere, and we no longer conduct ourselves in this world of wonders like a gaping rustic at a fair. 

Patient Observation.––Let me again say that this is due from us, and is not a thing we may take up or leave alone as we think fit. Let each of us undertake the patient, unflagging, day-by-day observation of the behaviour of sparrow, spider, teazel, of clouds or winds, recording what we ourselves have seen, correcting our records as we learn to be more accurate, and being very chary of conclusions. All we find out may be old knowledge, and is most likely already recorded in books; vol 4 pg 102 but, for us, it is new, our own discovery, our personal knowledge, a little bit of the world's real work which we have attempted and done. However little work we do in this kind, we gain by it some of the power to appreciate, not merely beauty, but fitness, adaptation, processes. Reverence and awe grow upon us, and we are brought into a truer relation with the Almighty Worker.

~Vol. 4, p.100 - 101