May 26, 2011

Discovering Spring

We went on our first nature hike of the spring this morning. Max came sleepy-eyed into my bedroom where I was typing on the computer and said, "Guess what I want to do?" "What?" I said, "I want to draw in my nature notebook!" That was enough for me, I have waited a long time to hear that said. So after breakfast we were off, back packs loaded with supplies and hats on heads we were ready. We have a little valley that is a 10 minute walk from our house. It is kind of off the beaten path and it has loads of things for the kids to discover. we go there often year 'round. Today I discovered the beauty of the rocks and a small herd of goats.

The boys also made entries in their journals and then ran up the rocks to see what else they could find.

Max's Entry.

Zak's entry. TJ didn't want to show his.
On the way home we stopped to gather some leaves on a bush/tree we have seen several times. This time I was intrigued, the leaves have been turning colors and I am wondering now if they are always turning colors. It is spring and not fall and they are still so colorful,  hmmmm. I'll have to look this one up. All the leaves have a different pattern of colors and places on the leaves where they are turning colors. The boys plan to draw them once we get home.

Zak's Cool finds.

TJ's cool finds.

A lotcus, another of TJ's finds for the day.
Max's Cool finds.

My cool finds, recorded in my journal with a note to myself to find out about this odd bush/tree we saw. This morning out looking at nature took us a little over an hour door to door. But what fun we had!

Why I absolutely love naute study!
  • We get to discover things we haven't seen before, even though we have been going to the same place for 3 years now. (I found a flower I didn't notice last year) Nature is always changing.
  • It is a part of our week where we all get outside and see what finds us...we aren't in control.
  • We get to draw and paint cool things we see.
  • It costs next to nothing.
  • We all are on the same level observing and sharing with each other what we find.
  • There is beauty in everything.
  • Nature relaxes us.
  • Beauty inspires us and compels us to take her with us...thus sketching. Sketching helps us see more beauty.
  • My two loves of art and nature are experienced together.
  • I feel great after having been out, having seen cool things, having collected something worth while with my pen or my camera.
  • I feel like a successful mom when we spend time with nature.
  • My kids also feel great! They are all smiles. I never have to push them to join in.
  • I feel God is pleased when we enjoy His creation, like Eric Liddle felt God's pleasure when he ran.
  • There is nature everywhere, and we can always find something of interest to fascinate us.
  • I am never at a loss at what to record in my nature journal. The blank paper is not scary anymore.
  • Copying the master artist and creator God, is making me more relaxed and more creative.
  • It heals tired emotions.
  • It inspires better living.
  • It is awesome!

Edouard Manet

Max has this painting by Manet above his bed. At the beginning of the year I showed the boys several prints of impressionist artist which once they picked their favorite one, I promised to have it framed. Max chose Carnations and Clematis in a Chrystal Vase . 'It's real and has sharp edges." He said, "The others are all fuzzy, I don't like them." His opinion happened to be very right on. Manet was known for his precise detail and precision. We learned he also liked to paint upside down. Interesting.

Our picture study this time was quite simple and straight forward. We copied several of Manet's paintigs via coloring pages. This coloring of 'The Fifer' was done by Max.

Zak's Coloring of 'At the Railway Station.'

Max's first experiment with water color pencils. 'Argentuiel' coloring page can be found here.

T.J.'s Artist Bio Sheet. The stickers are from Dover.

May 25, 2011

Gettin' Out There Again

The rains have finally come, and this means that where we live, everythig is in bloom once again. Things are coming alive and that makes us think more about nature study. We have a structured science lesson three times a week and in that we have learned alot about plants. But I am missing the spontaniety and freedom of nature study. So, to begin again this season we happened upon the idea of doing a nature notebook. The boys the past few years have just not been interested, so I have had ot wait. It is worth it! This year they are drawing up a storm.
We decided upon this type of field notebook because it was simple, I had the materials already at hand, and pages can be removed and/or added easily by releasing the rubber-band around the stick. (we keep extra rubber bands in our backpacks incase the first one breaks) You will need the following to make one. The tutorial for making it can be found here.

"The field notebook is a veritable gold mine for the nature study teacher to work in securing voluntary and happy observations from the pupils concerning their out-of-doors interests. It is a friendly gate which admits the teacher to a knowledge of what the child sees and cares for. Through it she may discover where the child's attention impinges upon the realm of nature and thus may know where to find the starting point for cultivating larger intelligence and wider interests." Anna Comstock Hand Book of Nature Study pg 14

The boys decorated their own covers. Now this little book is theirs. I will not critique it, only encourage them to use it. I will not tell them what to put into it, only admire what they have chosen to observe and record. I love getting out of the way and seeing what they will do.

For fun, we made this very simple vase to collect and admire the small flowers growing wild in our back yard. The idea for this came from Botany for All Ages by Jorie Hunkin pg 61

May 21, 2011

Lessons from Rollo

Rollo is a six year old boy whom Jacob Abbott wrote about in the 19th century. We have been reading one of the stories about him, Rollo at Work. I purchased it from Yesterday’s classics but it can be found at Project Gutenberg for free.

Rollo through various episodes in his everyday life is learning the great difference between ‘work’ and ‘play.’ It is just the right book for my oldest son who is 7 years old to hear. Rollo and Max are typical boys, loving life, loving amusement, and loving play. They desire to do work, but have not yet been trained to know how to go about it so as to succeed. Some ideas they have make work harder, some ideas lead them away from work and back to play. In this little set of stories Max is learning some very valuable things. Max is learning to distinguish between work and play. What is work, and when is it time to work. What is play and when is it time to play.

In the first chapter, ‘Labor Lost’ Rollo is excited to tell his father that he wants to work and is a good worker. So His father gives him a job to pick up wood chips behind the house and put them into a bin or to stack some wood in the barn. Here is how Rollo went about it.

“Rollo sat down on the chips, and began picking them up, all around him, and throwing them into his basket. He soon filled it up, and then lugged it in, emptied it into the chip-bin, and then returned, and began to fill it again.
He had not got his basket more than half full the second time, before he came upon some very large chips, which were so square and flat, that he thought they would be good to build houses with. He thought he would just try them a little, and began to stand them up in such a manner as to make the four walls of a house. He found, however, an unexpected difficulty; for although the chips were large and square, yet the edges were so sharp that they would not stand up very well.
Some time was spent in trying experiments with them in various ways; but he could not succeed very well; so he began again industriously to put them into his basket.
When he got the basket nearly full, the second time, he thought he was tired and that it would be a good plan to take a little time for rest; and he would go and see Jonas a little while.
Now his various interruptions and delays, his conversation with his mother, the delay in getting the basket, and his house-building, had occupied considerable time; so that, when he went back to Jonas, it was full half an hour from the time when he left him; and he found that Jonas had finished mending the wheelbarrow, and had put it in its place, and was just going away himself into the field.
“Well, Rollo,” said he, “How do you get along with your work?”
“O, very well,” said Rollo; “I have been picking up chips all the time since I went away from you.”
Rollo did not mean to tell a falsehood. But he was not aware how much of his time he had idled away.
“And how many have you got in?” said Jonas.
“Guess,” said Rollo.
“Six baskets full,” said Jonas.
“No,” said Rollo.
“No; not so many.”
“How many, then?” said Jonas, who began to be tired of guessing.
“Two; that is, I have got one in, and the other is almost full.”
“Only two?” said Jonas. “Then you cannot have worked very steadily. Come here and I will show you how to work.” pg 9-10

Sound familiar? I think all of us at one time in our life were much like Rollo. It is often hard for all of us to learn how to work, what attitudes to have towards it, and in what way to go about it so that we are productive and can have the satisfaction of a job well done. By the way Max is really enjoying this book. He likes to hear of other little boys doing the same things he does. He likes to see Rollo suceed. Along the way the characters in the story are giving Max alot of good advice. Max isn't resenting this but is happy to know better just what is the right way to do things. The story is drawing him in and educationg him.

Rollo goes on to ditch the basket altogether and try the wheelbarrow. After all, that would haul much more at a time and be faster. He spends a lot of time filling the wheelbarrow up with his basket and then begins to wheel it towards to the bin. Along the way the wheel gets stuck in a hole. It tips and half the wood chips fall to the ground. Instead of using his basket to do what he could to solve the problem, he goes and looks for help. He asks Jonas, but Jonas is busy and can not help. He asks his mother, and eventually she gives in to help but he then reaches the step into the barn where the bin is and the wheel barrow will not go up over it. In dismay he abandons the wheelbarrow and starts to stack the wood.

“Rollo stood looking at him for some time, wishing that he was going too. But he knew that he must not go without his mother's leave, and that, if he should go in to ask her, Jonas would have gone so far that he should not be able to overtake him. So he went back to his wood-pile.
He piled a little more, and as he piled he wondered what Jonas meant by telling him to put the largest ends outwards. He took up a stick which had a knot on one end, which made that end much the largest, and laid it on both ways, first with the knot back against the side of the shed, and then with the knot in front, towards himself. He did not see but that the stick lay as steadily in one position as in the other.
“Jonas was mistaken,” said he. “It is a great deal better to put the big ends back. Then they are out of sight; all the old knots are hid, and the pile looks handsomer in front.”
So he went on, putting the sticks upon the pile with the biggest ends back against the shed. By this means the back side of the pile began soon to be the highest, and the wood slanted forward, so that, when it was up nearly as high as his head, it leaned forward so as to be quite unsteady. Rollo could not imagine what made his pile act so. He thought he would put on one stick more, and then leave it. But, as he was putting on this stick, he found that the whole pile was very unsteady. He put his hand upon it, and shook it a little, to see if it was going to fall, when he found it was coming down right upon him, and had just time to spring back before it fell.
He did not get clear, however; for, as he stepped suddenly back, he tumbled over the wood which was lying on the ground, and fell over backwards; and a large part of the pile came down upon him.
He screamed out with fright and pain, for he bruised himself a little in falling; though the wood which fell upon him was so small and light that it did not do much serious injury.
Rollo stopped crying pretty soon, and went into the house; and that evening, when his father came home, he went to him, and said,
“Father, you were right, after all; I don't know how to work any better than Elky.” (Elky is a young colt that his father is breaking)pg 20-21

Throughout this book Max is learning some good lessons about working from Rollo:

1. Work is something we do for a useful end. Play is for our amusement. You should not get them confused and try to find amusement in work.

2. It is dangerous to neglect or postpone doing one’s duty. We cannot always depend on repairing the mischief.

3. There is great pleasure in doing work when it is properly done. The pleasure comes later when the work is done.

4. While you are doing your work, it requires exertion and self-denial, and some times the sameness of work is tiresome, but the wise worker perseveres through it.

5. Do not change from one thing to another looking for amusement. Work steadily forward, and do not rush or you will tire before the work is done.

We liked this book so much I have begun to Read Rollo at Play. Beyond that there are more, Rollo Learning to Read, Rollo at school. Rollo's experiements, Rollo's Philosophy, Rollo Travels Eurpoe and more.

"Now, my little son," said his father, putting him down and patting his head, "you have got a great deal to learn before you become a man; but then you have got some years to learn it in; that is a comfort. But now it is time for you to go to bed; so good night." pg 91

May 20, 2011

Professor Pig Teaches Us About Stacks of Magic Numbers

If you recall, Magic numbers are factors of ten. Professor Pig uses pancakes to teach us about adding past ten using magic number pairs.

This lesson which incorporates the beginning concept of the abacus by using the abacus flash cards, and a homemade simple abacus (below), was a great introduction to our next big theme in math which is how to use the abacus. I purchased three Japanese Abacuses and corresponding workbooks from Malaysia for next year, but with this wonderful introduction we have jumped ahead and begun the basics of calculating with an abacus now.

To make this abacus you need:
  • One piece of elastic thread
  • 20 beads, 10 each of 2 colors
  • a permanent marker or paint
  • A book larger enough for the beads and space to move them.
The 49 game is also a simple introduction towards to the abacus. It was a big hit with the boys. Here is how it is played.

Each player will need: 4 pennies, 1 nickle, and 4 dimes

The players will not really have to add numbers,just slide them around the board. Following the correct rules for placement of the coins will automatically give them the answer.
The object of this game is to get 49 cents, 1 nickle, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies add up to 49 cents. For this game use either the tetrahedron die or the cubic die you made in lesson 2. The cubic die will give  you slightly faster game by allowing higher numbers.
Before laying, practice placing the coins on the board. You put down one penny at a time until 4 pennies are on the board. When you put the nickel down, you must at the same time sweep all the pennies off the boad. Then you can add four more pennies. Whne you get to 10 cents, you put down the dime then sweep the nickel and four pennies of the board. Tell them it is one move: "place and sweep" Make sure the players understand that every time they put down a nickel they must sweep off all the penies, and every time they put down a dime they must sweep off all the nickles and pennies. The game is incredibly straight forward. Just roll the dice and they earn that many cents for their board. The first player to get 49 cents wins!

There is one more lesson by Professor Pig called the 'The nine trick' which we will get to before the year is out. But for now the abacus has arrested our attention. Click click click and away we go...

Honey Bees

Our honey bee lapbooks in the making.

Lapbook covers in order...Zak's then Tj's and finally Max's cover. They are all so different. I love it!

The bee hive cover is free clip art found here.

Bee hive pictures coincide with a narrative about how the bees make the wax. The book is a simple one. I took heavy black paper and folded it in half. Then I cut bright yellow printer paper to fit the book. To bind it I punched hole with a hole pucher and tied it together with black embroidary floss.

The 'kinds of bees' mini books pictures are found here, and the info about the bees found in The First Book of bees by Albert Tibbits.

Life cycle of the bee wheel is from Homeschool Share

The anatomy of the bee mini book found here.

The honey harvesting process mini books, 9 in all are found here.

A friend gave us this fun kit to make bees wax candles. The boys are standing behind the candle they made.

I created this copywork notebook. It's FREE at Currclick!

The boys are just about finished with it. They like to work on it while I read.
We read the following books during this mini unit:

The Adventires of Maya the Bee or with comprehension question here.

and we watched...City of the Bees. One of the Moddy Science Videos

Narration...The Foundation Stone of Learning

“Narration is considered the sum total of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and practice of education. She had discovered narration as the foundation stone of learning." –Maryellen St. Cyr from  When Children Love to Learn pg 128

I love the simplicity and the amazing results I have read about it with the method of narration. Could it be that it is so simple? Could it be that there is really no need for the fast paced, high glossed images, kid friendly type hype materials that are on the market today? Could it be that narration really feeds the mind the ideas it needs? Could Charlotte be right again?

I believe so.

This coming fall I plan to add narrations to our lessons regularly and with purpose. I plan to make it more central, and use it steadily until the boys really are getting it. I have loved this aspect of Charlotte Mason’s method for education ever since I read about it 4 years ago, but then of course my twins were only a year old and my oldest was 3. One can’t really try it out just yet. As the boys grew I have dabbled with it, oft and on giving it a try here and there. My oldest who is 7 years old typifies the little boy who just can not see the reason to repeat again what we just read. Mommy don’t you know it? It hasn’t made sense to him yet. My twins, who are 5 this year, took to it right away. TJ can repeat whole phrases from the passage, and Zak dives right in with added embellishments from his own imagination, just for fun he says. However, Charlotte says to wait to make it regular in your education until age six. The twins will be six this summer, so next year we can begin full on.

Since I have very little experience with narration the following are just a few quotes and stories to inspire.

“Narration is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education. A creative fiat calls it forth. 'Let him narrate'; and the child narrates, fluently, copiously, in ordered sequence, with fit and graphic details, with a just choice of words, without verbosity or tautology, so sonn as he can speak with ease.” CM Home Education Vol. 1 pg. 231

“Children brought up narrating living books “see” what they have conceived in their minds, producing manifold benefits to them as narrators.” –Maryellen St. Cyr from, When Children love to learn pg 138

The benefits of narration are many. This list is from When Children love to Learn pg 138.

• Provides much more exercise for the mind than is possible under other circumstances.

• Crystallizes a number of impressions, psychological, completing a chain of experiences.

• Adds to a storehouse of information that can be referred to, built upon, and assimilated to equal the sum of a child’s knowledge on a topic.

• Gives an opportunity to secure attention, interest, and concentration on a great many subjects.

• Creates the habit of getting mental nourishment from books.

• Presents the child with a wide vocabulary, and her vocabulary increases as she narrates.

• Develops discrimination and love for books

• Forms a capacity, character, countenance, initiative, and sense of responsibility in students as good, thoughtful people.

• Grants generous enthusiasms, keen sympathies, wide outlooks, and sound judgment because students are treated as beings of discourse, responsible for knowing.

• Kindles the imagination.

• Develops the style and rhythm for writing in quantity and quality.

These two examples, from When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper are from teachers who used of narration in their classrooms.

“I have seen the benefits of using narration in history. I would present the history lesson to the students as a story with many details and references on the maps. Throughout my telling of the story, I would have the students narrate back to me. It was remarkable how they remembered the tiny details and even pointed to the map as they were retelling events. Then at the end of the lesson they would narrate the whole story in their “Book of Centuries.” Because they had narrated the story in smaller sections, they were able then to write a complete and thorough summary of the story. They did so with great accuracy and attention to details. I believe if they had not narrated throughout the whole process of the lesson, they would not have been able to write such detailed, accurate summaries. This comprehension was not short termed. On tests weeks later they were able to answer essay questions covering all the King’s success, reason for war, and other broad questions. Again they would write with great attention to details and summarize points not typical for a fifth grader. Narration greatly improved their comprehension of history. -Mischa Gunn a fifth grade teacher.

“Narration is an excellent tool to assess a child’s understanding. Many times it is difficult to determine how much a child is absorbing strictly through observation, for often the child who is quiet and seems to be listening has not understood as much as a fidgety child has. Narration makes a child an active, responsible party in the learning process. At The kindergarten level, some students have not had to be accountable for listening for a prolonged period of time. The short, colorful picture books and fast paced TV programs that children are accustomed to, do not allow them to internalize what they have seen or heard. However, narration does this and should be used as soon as possible in developing the habit of attentiveness in children. _Carol James Kindergarten Teacher

I am inspired to get going, how about you?

How to get started...Advice from Maryellen St. Cyr from When Children Love to Learn. pg 129
  • Prepare the passage carefully beforehand, thus making sure that all the explanations and use of background material (vocabulary, dates, and geography) precede the reading and narration.
  • Write all difficult proper nouns on the blackboard prior to the lesson. One should never stop in the middle of the reading to explain the meaning of a word or particular map work.
  • Read the literature once. The child listens carefully with a view to narrate. It is impossible to fix attention on that which we have heard before and know we shall hear again.
  • Regulate the length of the passage to be read to the age of the children and the nature of the book. Narrate less before you narrate more. If you read a fairy story, you will find that the children will be able to narrate a page or two if a single incident is described. With a closely packed book, one to two paragraphs between narrations are sufficient. Older children will be able to tackle longer passages, but the same principle should be applied; the length varies with the nature of the book.
  • Never interrupt or prompt a person narrating even if a person mispronounces a word. Persons soon forget what they were going to say next when interrupted.
  • Correct any mistakes after the narration through your instruction or the prompting of other students. After a child is finished narrating, you may say, "Does anyone have something to add to the narration?"
  • Begin a lesson with a short narration of the previous lesson.
  • Use written narration after a child is fluent with oral narration.
For an extensive list of creative ways to do narration go to Simply Charlotte Mason.

"We must never forget that without narration the mind will starve; whatever disciplinary exercises we use, they should be in addtion to and never instead of narration." Charlotte Mason

May 18, 2011


“A well-trained habit can overcome many inherited natures. If only I could express how much this means to anyone who wants well trained children! If only every mother understood how habit, in her knowing hand, is as useful as a tool as the wheel to the potter, or the knife to the carver. With this instrument-habit-she can conceive of what she wants her child to be like, and then she can help him to become that!...That forming good habits is what an education is made of.” Charlotte Mason Vol. 1

As I am not a person who likes to take control of things, or who likes to get others to do my bidding I wasn’t as excited as I could have been by this quote. In my old life before homeschooling, my unsaid motto was “be and let be”. That was before I was responsible for another’s education.

“But, knowing all this, and knowing that it’s possible to form habits in a child that make him feel and do specific things, is this such a good thing? Doesn’t this take away the child’s free will and turn him into a machine? Whether habits are planned and created consciously, or allowed to be haphazardly filled in by chance, they are habits all the same. Habits rule 99% of everything we do. Parent’s aren’t turning children into creatures of habit, they already are creatures of habit, it’s part of our human nature.” Vol. 1

I have wizened these past few years and the quote above encouraged me to start instilling them in our family life. I now had a responsibility to prayerfully consider what habits to instill in my three boys.

Some habits we have been able to make a habit and some are still in formation. We have aimed at these three: The habit of obedience, the habit of attention, and the habit of perfect execution.

The Habit of Obedience:
This habit has been a personal struggle for me, just as it is for TJ in the picture above to learn to eat his vegetables. Charlotte sums up the underlying reason for my struggle in this quote,

“There is no need to berate the child, or threaten him, or use any manner of violence, because the parent is invested with authority which the child intuitively recognizes. It is enough to say, “Do this,’ in a quiet, authoritative tone, and expect it to be done. The mother often loses her hold over her children because they detect in the tone of her voice that she does not expect them to obey her behests; she does not think enough of her position; has not sufficient confidence in her own authority.” Vol. 1 p162

I have always been a follower or a loaner. It has been a new role for me to lead my children especially in the subjects of education where I feel out of place. Learning to teach and to lead has taken me to my knees and to the Lord many a time for His help and wisdom for the current moment. I have learned that I am not alone in the classroom or when leading, Jesus is with me. He has encouraged me many times, given me wisdom, and the right perspective in a given situation which has made all the difference. Slowly, and by degrees I have trusted Jesus more and in the end found my role as teacher and leader changing as He is more involved. I had to admit I couldn’t do it all by myself.

I ask myself these questions often to keep me on track. (found in Laying Down the Rails by Sonya Shaffer)

  • Do I make obedience top priority, even more important than academics?
  • Am I treating willfulness the same as disobedience?
  • Do I realize I am on assignment from God to teach my child to obey?
  • Is my child moving towards a desire to obey?
  • Do I expect my child to obey?
  • Am I trying to use a quiet firm voice when telling my child to obey?
  • Do I insist on prompt, cheerful, and lasting obedience every time?
  • Am I learning to give a command that I do not intend to see carried out to the full?
  • Am I gracious enough to yield occasionally in matters that are not crucial if my child appeals respectfully?
  • Am I seeking to teach my child obedience by the time he is one year old?
The Habit of Attention:

In developing this habit I have had great success and great failure. Success when I have adhered to what Charlotte has to say and failure almost to the degree I veered off into my own erroneous ideas.

*Keep lessons varied-no problem but some days a lot of work. Once I got the resources lined up, the variety seemed endless. How many different ways can there be to practice math facts? Loads of ways we found. The same became true with the other lessons, it was simply a matter of doing some looking around.

*Keep lessons to 20 minutes. –fine except when I get too interested in the topic and want to cram it down their throats with my enthusiasm. I have learned an important lesson here. My mom gave me a great picture which illustrates for me the power and necessity of short lessons. She said children can take in quite a bit of information if it is given in the right way. They are like narrow necked bottles with wide bottoms. Can you picture those kind? If you pour in a narrow stream slowly, over time you will fill the bottle. But, if you pour the information in too fast with too much volume it spills out over the sides and runs onto the floor. The bottle remains empty. I have kept this picture in mind as I am preparing and giving lessons.

*Alternate lessons so the brain has a chance to rest. –easy peasy.

*Never let your children dawdle over a lesson, put it aside for a dissimilar lesson, then return to it with freshened wits. – in our case I hard a hard time trusting Charlotte on this one. I have reaped bad rewards with one of my boys who was becoming quite a dawdler before I risked it, and tried Charlotte’s way. Now we are on the road to less dwaddling, her way is working. I could not believe the bright eyed attention I got when I gave him frequent breaks in the routine and then returned with a fresh mind to go at it again.

The Habit of Perfect Execution:

“Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as attainable.” Lord Chesterfield

My husband holds to this in all he does. He never asks himself if he can do this or that, rather he asks, “is this a worthy endeavor” then he works hard and sees how close he can get to perfection. His way of looking at life has been rubbing off on me too. When I read about this habit I was thrilled to put it into place in out homeschool.

• I encourage my boys to do all their work carefully, slowly and to their best ability. Whether it is making a mini book for our lap books or to write their letters.

• I never let them off just because they are a child, but rather encourage them to do their best.

• I am careful that I don’t assign things which are too hard for them, but I have made mistakes here. When that happens I humbly admit it and reassign the work so it is more within their range.

• As much as possible I have the boys check their own work and see where their mistakes lie.

• We are all ready to give each other a good hive five for the good work that s done.

• Our aim is to accomplish something perfect in each lesson.

• Our lessons are short.

I would surely be overwhelmed by all the habits that could be taught if not for Charlotte's kind and true words here.

“Once again, we are reminded of the clock who was overwhelmed anticipating how many ‘ticks’ were to be ticked in his future. But only the next tick needs to be thought about, and he will always be given one second long enough to tick that tick. In the same way, the mother only needs to concern herself with the one habit she’s working on. She will also need to keep an alert guard over the habits already corrected, but that’s easy and no trouble at all. If the thought of all those habits that still lay ahead are too much to think about, she should make a list of just a few habits to work on, maybe twenty. A child who grows up with twenty good habits is already starting life on the right foot. The mother who knows herself well enough to doubt whether she can persist in habit training can take courage in knowing that even the act of training habits can become a habit!” Vol. 1

Thank You Charlotte.

May 16, 2011

Living Life to the Full....Faith

Photo by Evgeni Dinev

Much-Afraid is on her way with the Chief shepherd to the High places. They have been hiking up through the foothills enjoying the song of the brook and the melody of the birds. As they cross a river Much Afraid sees the pathway that begins to lead up, and remembers that this is where the Chief Shepherd will leave her. It is here that she meets two companions Sorrow and Suffering whom the shepherd has chosen himself to lead her onward and upward to the High places where she will receive a new name, develop hinds feet and the seed of love planted in her heart will bloom and she will be loved in return. Much-Afraid pauses, and looks back over the valley below where her relatives the fearings live. Where she once lived. She remembered the peaceful little cottage and the peace and quiet of the daily work that she had left behind to join the Chief Shepherd on this adventure to the high places.

"As the scenes form her past rose before her, tears began to prick her eyes, and the thorn of love pricked in her heart, but almost at once she turned to the Shepherd and said thankfully, “I will trust you and do whatever you want.”
“Then, as she looked up in his face, he smiled most sweetly and said something he had never said before, “you have one real beauty, Much-Afraid, you have such trustful eyes. Trust is one of the most beautiful things in the world. When I look at the trust in your eyes I find you more beautiful to look upon than many a lovely queen.” Hinds Feet in High Places Pg 64

It is not so easy to trust God when is feels as if He is not there, when it appears He has abandoned us to sorrows, or sufferings, when His presence is not tangible or visible. And when like in the story of Much-Afraid’s journey the Chief Shepherd actually and purposefully leaves us and chooses not Joy and Peace for our companions but Sorrow and suffering. Faith is choosing against hope. Faith can often be cold blooded.

“I will trust you and do whatever you want.”

“Faith is a wonderful thing, something that every believer possesses. It takes the pressure off us to perform and initiate His works, and places the emphasis on God, the Creator of the actions. When told by God that his wife was going to have a baby, Abraham immediately looked to himself and said, “I don’t think I can father a baby.” He looked over at Sarah and said, “I know she cannot have a baby.” The he looked up to God and said, “When are we having a baby?”
We have so many promises from God, which we must learn to greet with the same sequence of responses as Abraham’s. We first look to ourselves and know they are impossible. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” 1 Peter 2:9 How can it be, Lord? We know it it is impossible for us to achieve such a stature. Next, we ought to look to around us and realize that no other person can help us attain that, either. But then as men of faith we look to God and thank Him that it is true; we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation.” Side Tracked in the Wilderness Pg 68

Yesterday my temper threatened to blow. I had been disrespected and treated poorly. I was hurt, angry and fuming. I looked for possible avenues to overcome the rage which threatened to overcome me and explode on the people near me. Onto the ones who had offended. I knew this was wrong but I was escalating. The feels were stronger than my love or my resolve to do what is right. I stepped back, took a walk. As I walked I remembered a truth that did not feel good but I knew it was right. I am dead. Can a dead man be offended? Can a dead man feel hurt? But I was, but I did! I have made a habit of choosing to believe what the Bible says even if it seems way out there. So I said to myself, ‘I am dead.” No fanfare or emotions to bring assent just to say it. I am dead. It is a cold blooded statement of faith. It counts. If I am dead, how would I live out these net few moments? Then I went about my day listening for the gentle voice of the Shepherd, and slowly imperceptibly my wrath subsided. Soon a new thought was in my mind, a way to resolve the issue. I applied it. I was free. Joy came in like a flood! When you are not feeling guilty over sin, when shame is not entangling your feet, when you find God has indeed made a way of escape for you, when you live out the truth that sin does not have power over you any more, you really live. You live life to the full. Victory brings life, peace and lots of joy!
photo by Andy Newson
 "In all the world I have no one but you. Help me to follow you, even though it seems impossible. Help me to trust you as much as I long to love you.” As he heard these words the Shepherd suddenly lifted his head and laughed-a laugh full of exultation and triumph and delight. It echoed round the rockey walls of the little canyon in which they stood until for a moment or two it seemed as though the whole mountain range was laughing with him. The echoes bounded higher and higher leaping from rock to rock, and from crag to crag, up to the highest summits, until it seemed as though the last faint echoes of it were running into heaven itself.
When the last note had faded into silence, his voice said softly, “Thou art fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” Then he added, “Fear not much afraid, only believe. I promise that you shall not be put to shame.” Hinds Feet in High Places pg 68

I love this picture of Christ...I can just hear him shouting Yippppeeeee! When I chose to believe Him, and take Him at His word. He'll shout it for you too.

May 15, 2011

Instruments of the Orchestra!

"You know mom, I love the coral reef and I am always interested in science but do you know what I love more than those? Instruments!"
That is what Max said when we started to look at the instruments of the Orchestra. To get an overview we went online. The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is a very good and a very fun way to have an introduction to the instruments in the orchestra, their families and lots of info bites to tease you into learning more. Did I say how much we all enjoyed it?

 Then to look more closely at each instrument we began reading The Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine. He incuded so much fun information I was inspired to create some copywork to go along with it. The copywork covers the double bass, violin, viola, cello, flute, piccolo, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, tuba, french horn, bass drum, snare drum, glockenspiel, triangle, cymbals, tam-tam, gong, timpani, xylophone, piano, harpsichord, organ, saxophone, harp, and the tubular bells.

We loved the CD that goes along with The Story of the Orchestra. The pieces of music on it highlight each of the instruments. We listened to the music while doing the copy work. The CD can also be handy for Instrument Bingo. Play the music and place a token on the instrument it is highlighting. We varied the lessons by playing bingo, dominoes, go fish, and concentration with the copywork and reading.

(We did color a few instruments but they were cut out and used up before I got any pictures of them.)

 Lastly we put this seating chart of the orchestra together. It is part of the "Composer's" Hands on Activity Pack from Homeschool in the woods.  This was very helpful for the boys to see where each instrument sat while playing in the orchestra.  There are cards for each instrument and instructions so you can placeinstruments in according to which ones were in the orchestra as it grew and  changed over the years. We had just learned about Beethvoven so we set up the orchestra as it was composed in the Classical period.

We have not finished with the instruments...but, it is time for a break, and a new venue. Onto Bach! Then we will return and learn more.