Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Only in homeschool...

Why is teaching Dollygirl such a unique experience?

Because only Dollygirl could take a science lesson on the food chain and spend most of it discussing the fact that cows eat producers
and lions eat consumers.

Math, how it's going, and Heather's helpful math post

Heather at To Sow a Seed has a good homeschool math post this week.  That might not sound like enough to get you to click over there, but trust me, she has some important things to say both about math and about homeschooling.

Right now Dollygirl is doing a mixture of Saxon Algebra 1/2 (2nd edition), Key to Geometry, and Balance Benders; also Money Matters by Larry Burkett, but that is more consumer education and citizenship than math.

I know how you're supposed to do Saxon.  That's not how we're doing it.  That would be exactly how to make Dollygirl never want to do math again.  The closest comparison I can make is that I'm teaching it much like I did Miquon, minus the Cuisenaire rods.  There are topics that Dollygirl is already very good at; there are new things she needs practice with.  During a math lesson (which doesn't mean One Saxon Lesson), I try to go over something new or to expand on a concept we've been working on (right now it's rate problems and unit multipliers); we might do some sample problems together on that, or do a few other questions on more familiar topics, such as finding the lowest common multiple or changing improper fractions to mixed numbers.  She might do those orally (if they're that sort of question), might do them on scratch paper (the same idea as working at the blackboard).  I watch while she's working those out and offer a little direction if she needs it; we check the Solutions Manual and if everything lines up, we move on; if not, we go back to the point where she got off track.

Then I usually assign either a few word problems, or, depending on what's in the Saxon lesson, a certain number of the shorter-type questions such as "solve for x."  So it might take us a few days to get through one Saxon lesson, or we might stop partway through and move on, or we might do a whole problem set and then skip the next, or we might even go back to a very early lesson for some arithmetic review.

(I always took Ruth Beechick seriously when she said "teach the child, not the book.")

Back yard nature

It's gray and windy, but the wind isn't cold now, it's just spring wind.

The robin was back on our porch again, ready for attempt number two or three at building a nest over the light.  I watched him (I think it was a him) fly back and forth a few times with clumps of dried grass, messing around, kind of stomping and flapping the stuff down, flying off for more.  I hated to have to tell him that the eviction notice would be posted as soon as Mr. Fixit got home from his errands.

Just then a gust of wind blew the half-made nest to the ground, and the robin (intuitively?) did not return.

Also seen:  a very bad squirrel with his head inside our bird feeder, stuffing his face as fast as he could.  A chipmunk.  Lots of violets.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Quote for the day: Work or play?

"The Parents' Review School, in its workings, clearly demonstrates that, instead of work and play being diametrically opposed, they may supplement and stimulate each other, and that work can yield such healthy interest that its results may be seen in an added zest to play. And may we not believe that a lesson which has been translated into play is a lesson assimilated?

 "When the story of the Dauntless Three [that's "Horatius at the Bridge"] has been rehearsed upon a narrow railway bridge; when the story of the "Caudine Forks" [probably referring to what they had read in Mrs. Beesly's Stories from the History of Rome] has been chosen by a small convalescent as a drama capable of illustration with a few toy soldiers and carefully arranged bed clothes; when one is shown a tableau representing in miniature the discovery of the relics of Sir John Franklin's fated expedition, may we not cheerfully endorse the claim made by the Parent's Review School? When we find a boy of eight listening with appreciative interest to Tennyson's Defence of Lucknow, or Mrs. Browning's Cry of the Children, may we not hope that the seed have been sown of that healthy interest in literature and knowledge which will bring forth abundant fruit in after days?"  ~~ A Wide Curriculum for Young Children," by Miss Kathleen Warren, in The Parents' ReviewVolume 14, 1903, pgs. 920-925, on the Ambleside Online website

On the school menu this week (Dollygirl's Grade 7)

Tuesday (the lunchtime concerts are now over for the season)

Old Testament:  continue Numbers, about Miriam's punishment and the spies

Poems: This Crosse-Tree Here, a spacial poem by Robert Herrick

General Science:  begin Module 12, about food, energy, and combustion


Music history:  Robert and Clara Schumann


Saxon Algebra 1/2

Return of the King


New Testament:  continue the Gospel of Mark

Backyard Nature (notebooks)




English History:  The Magna Charta (use Century Chart)


Balance Benders Level 3

Saxon Algebra 1/2


Basic Bible Studies:  finish the study on God the Son, and/or begin the next one about the Holy Spirit

Composition:  watch the sampler DVD we didn't get to yet

Architecture:  more definitions of "Gothic," and Perpendicular Tracery


General Science:  continue the basic ideas of producers/consumers (and decomposers), and how combustion works

Plutarch:  do some catching up on Cicero, and use the Book of Centuries

Key to Geometry

Return of the King


Basic Bible Studies:  see Thursday

How to Read a Book:  continue the idea of "unity" in a story or a book


Money Matters workbook

Picture Talk:  Jan Vermeer (make an entry in the Book of Centuries)

History:  continue from Wednesday


Key to Geometry

Shakespeare's King John: start Act III

What's for supper?

Easter Monday dinner menu:

Hillbilly Housewife's Salmon Patties
Rice, Green Beans
Spring Rolls

Thrift store book finds

One of the for-profit stores near here had a half-off-everything sale today, so we braved the lines and crowds and went.

This is what I found:

A Child's Garden of Verses, illustrated by Brian Wildsmith; this was a 1976 printing so not a first edition, but still nice.

The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, edited by Alison Lurie

The Orchard Book of Stories From the Ballet, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Christmas Handbook, by Malcolm Bird & Alan Dart

Frugal Luxuries, by Tracey McBride


With the Snow Queen, a book of short stories by Joanne Greenberg.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pease porridge...not. (Charlotte Mason, Brave New World, and Hiding the Good Stuff)

"...as soon as a young child begins his education he does so as a student. Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving. I am jealous for the children; every modern educational movement tends to belittle them intellectually..."  Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education
I'm thinking about Tammy's wonderful post about children who startled a park nature guide by recognizing the holes made by a yellow-bellied sapsucker.  About Jemimah's drawing of Mendel's peas, and about a Good Friday church service we attended that included parts of Handel's Messiah and a picture talk on Ghirlandaio's The Procession to Cavalry, and that was--coincidentally?--partially planned by former homeschoolers.  This coming school week our list of topics includes learning how food becomes energy; why King John signed the Magna Charta; and how the Hobbits finally scoured the Shire.  We are planning on revisiting the nature-walk pond.  We may get Dad to demonstrate Vermeer's camera obscura (an early picture projector).  (This is not a boast about the superiority of our own homeschool; it's just our attempt at a generous curriculum.)

And with all this wealth of things to look at and read and think about and draw, why is it that much of the teaching in public schools seems more like the dish of peas that the Clerk of Copmanhurst (a.k.a. Friar Tuck) sets before the hungry Black Knight; the miserly, fraudulent little meal that he claims miraculously sustains him?  The Black Knight is quick to see through it.  He guesses that the Clerk must have more food--probably something illegally come by--in the cupboard, and he gradually convinces him to share what he has hidden.

But why do we, through our institutions, so equally mistrust young students that we attempt to deceive them with a bit of "pease" instead of the real food that is so readily available?  As my friend the DHM recently pointed out, medical doctors are not necessarily nutrition experts, and their advice on the proper feeding of infants is often outdated or faulty, but they are often unwilling to admit that or to accept advice from other sources--even, it seems, nutritionists (according to that story).  Is it possible that, similarly, those involved in the administration of schools may ignore the fact that what's served on the educational table is unpalatable or at least inadequate?

Or is it deliberate deception?
"The Controller, meanwhile, had crossed to the other side of the room and was unlocking a large safe set into the wall between the bookshelves. The heavy door swung open. Rummaging in the darkness within, "It's a subject," he said, "that has always had a great interest for me." He pulled out a thick black volume. "You've never read this, for example." The Savage took it. "The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments," he read aloud from the title-page. "Nor this." It was a small book and had lost its cover. "The Imitation of Christ." "Nor this." He handed out another volume. "The Varieties of Religious Experience. By William James." "And I've got plenty more," Mustapha Mond continued, resuming his seat. "A whole collection of pornographic old books. God in the safe and Ford on the shelves...."
"But if you know about God, why don't you tell them?" asked the Savage indignantly. "Why don't you give them these books about God?" 
"For the same reason as we don't give them Othello: they're old; they're about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now." 
"But God doesn't change." 
"Men do, though." 
"What difference does that make?" 
"All the difference in the world," said Mustapha Mond. He got up again and walked to the safe. "There was a man called Cardinal Newman," he said. "A cardinal," he exclaimed parenthetically, "was a kind of Arch-Community-Songster." 
"'I Pandulph, of fair Milan, cardinal.' I've read about them in Shakespeare." 
"Of course you have. Well, as I was saying, there was a man called Cardinal Newman. Ah, here's the book." He pulled it out.... and began to read. "'We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property…'"  ~~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Resurrection Sunday

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Faberge Easter Eggs...in Polish

This is the egg-decorating packet we bought at the Euro grocery.
The directions are in Polish.  Sadly, Krakovianka is not nearby to translate.  But I did find a video that shows exactly how to do "Easter Egg Sleeves."

So there you go.  Wesołego Alleluja i smacznego święconego!

Back yard nature: we like you, but go somewhere else

That title could apply to several things around here, including rabbits. However, in this case it's a male robin who was determined to build a nest right over the light on our back porch.  He spent all yesterday morning at it, and then Mr. Fixit spoiled everything (in the robin's opinion) by taking the broom to the avian handicrafts. It's not that we don't appreciate the up-close opportunity for bird study, but letting them build right there means that we can't use the porch till they've moved on--so, that would be a no.  We are happy to let them build on the drainpipes, just not right on the porch.

But he was back this morning to try again.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What can you do with lemon chips?

In the aisle with the Easter jelly beans, Bulk Barn is selling lemon-flavored baking chips--that is, yellow "chocolate chips." What can you do with them?  Lemon-chip cookies somehow just don't sound right. But I think you could use them in the sort of fudge we make at Christmas (mostly melted chocolate and sweetened condensed milk), or in other baking recipes that use ingredients like coconut.  I bought only seven ounces, not enough to make fudge.  These no-bake cookies are what I came up with instead.

Lemon Macaroons for Easter

In a bowl, combine (amounts are approximate) 1 to 1 1/2 cups graham crumbs, 1 cup quick oats, 1 cup unsweetened coconut.  (The oats were because I was short on graham crumbs, but I think they gave some needed bulk to the cookies.)

In a small saucepan, heat 1/3 cup milk, but do not boil it.  When it is quite warm, stir in 6 or 7 ounces lemon chips and stir until melted.  Combine with the dry ingredients.  Let sit for a couple of minutes to thicken.  Push by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper-covered tray.  Chill until set.

Free for Kindle right now

These books are free on the Amazon.com Kindle store right now; you can download them to the free Kindle app that you can also find at Amazon.  Check first before "purchasing," though, because their free status can change quickly or may be different where you live.

Quote for the day: Good Friday

"It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Team Hoyt hangs it up: a story to remember

If you've never heard of Team Hoyt...don't watch the video here until you've read the transcript of the news story.  Okay?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wednesday school plans (Dollygirl's Grade 7, Term 3)

Book of Numbers, Chapter 11: the Israelites complain about manna, manna, nothing but manna, so God sends them meat; but they are also punished for complaining.

Key to Geometry, booklet 1, about lines and line segments

Making a chart for the 13th century: still working out the details for that one.

The Spring of the Year: "An Old Apple Tree."  I really love the "tree toad" part of this chapter.  Here's a snippet, but you really should read the whole thing.
"Seating myself comfortably at the foot of the tree, I wait. The toad comes forth to the edge of his hole above me, settles himself comfortably, and waits. And the lesson begins. The quiet of the summer evening steals out with the wood-shadows and softly covers the fields. We do not stir. An hour passes. We do not stir. Not to stir is the lesson--one of the primary lessons in this course with the toad. 
"The dusk thickens. The grasshoppers begin to strum; the owl slips out and drifts away; a whip-poor-will drops on the bare knoll near me, clucks and shouts and shouts again, his rapid repetition a thousand times repeated by the voices that call to one another down the long empty aisles of the swamp; a big moth whirs about my head and is gone; a bat flits squeaking past; a firefly blazes, is blotted out by the darkness, blazes again, and so passes, his tiny lantern flashing into a night that seems the darker for his quick, unsteady glow. We do not stir. It is a hard lesson. By all my other teachers I had been taught every manner of stirring, and this strange exercise of being still takes me where my body is weakest, and puts me almost out of breath. 
"What! out of breath by keeping still? Yes, because I had been hurrying hither and thither, doing this and that--doing them so fast for so many years that I no longer understood how to sit down and keep still and do nothing inside of me as well as outside. Of course _you_ know how to keep still, for you are children. And so perhaps you do not need to take lessons of teacher Toad. But I do, for I am grown up, and a man, with a world of things to do, a great many of which I do not need to do at all--if only I would let the toad teach me all he knows."
Easy Grammar Plus: continue predicate nominatives

Handwriting practice

Ivanhoe: King John's nobles have a secret meeting. There's a good part coming up where the Black Knight makes a new friend (see picture below), but we may not get that far today.
Isn't that an awesome illustration? It's by George Cruikshank, 1837.

Carnival of Homeschooling: The Thousand Flowers Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is inspired by Spunky Homeschool's post Common Core Curriculum is coming. "Time is short. School districts are scrambling. Tests are coming. The situation is 'near-impossible,'" Spunky warns. She also refers to a study in Education Week where curriculum researchers state, "Letting a thousand flowers bloom isn't consistent with ensuring that all teachers are using high-quality and well-aligned materials."

Apparently I've been living under a bit of a rock, because I had never heard that quotation about the thousand flowers and had to look it up. It is a misquotation of a policy of Chairman Mao Zedong: "Let a hundred flowers blossom."  At that time (1957), the Chinese government was actually encouraging constructive criticism from various respected thinkers, and that was the official (and very springlike) way of saying it.

In Ontario, homeschoolers are not required to test or to teach particular subjects or to particular standards. Puzzled non-homeschoolers say, "But then how do they know/you know that you are doing it right?"  They are often quick to agree (with each other) that there needs to be more standardization, that homeschoolers should be more accountable to authorities, and so on.  Their minds are obviously wandering to the exceptional cases where an abused child "slipped through the cracks," or where teenagers doing nothing educational at all are excused by their parents in the name of homeschooling. However, and I try to explain this whenever I do get the chance, the fact that we have that right is exactly the point. The freedom to learn at home, without undue interference, is much like a thousand flowers blossoming. Who would want every petal to turn out exactly the same?

Well, maybe some people would, and this is the concern of Spunky and others.  I don't usually get all political on this blog, but I have to say that those quality-control "concerns" are almost always more about control than about quality or about real concern. They are nanny-state rhetoric for standardization, in education and in other areas as well.  How can "the state" be sure that unregulated  home schools are doing a good job?  Well, it can't be sure...and it shouldn't be. Thank God for the freedom to succeed or fail, and to accept the challenge of that freedom as part of our responsibility to our own children..

And the Carnival of Homeschooling, in all its diversity, is a perfect illustration of that freedom. Let a hundred or a thousand or a million flowers blossom!

Photo by Mr. Fixit.  Copyright 2014 Dewey's Treehouse.

A Net In Time Schooling presents Five days of Doing Science: Day Three - Field  Trips
(I also liked their Day Five: Looking with a science eye.)

A Peaceful Day presents The Science Notebook."Jemimah's science study has been one of the great successes of this year so far, and a lot of that is due to her science notebook."

The Common Room presents Nature Study Goals for the Early Years.

Fisher Academy International presents Nature Study Q&A!

At the HSBA Post, contributor North Laurel writes about Character Training and Books. "Every situation and circumstance we encounter builds, tears down, repairs the character of our person. Children are even more susceptible to this process, I think; they are more fragile and yet more resilient. It’s important to give them worthwhile examples as best we can."

Especially for Canadians: Teatime with Annie Kate reviews Jacques Cartier, Finder of the St. Lawrence. (LINK FIXED)

Melissa Wiley describes the book review of a lifetime in Mid-April.

Dewey's Treehouse points out an unexpected benefit of being a home educator in The Many Uses of Homeschooling.

Natural Born Learners presents Cheap Unschooling. "When you are unschooling your family you are offering them an opportunity to marinate in curiosities and adventures and quests."

The Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers present a review of Fort Magic.

Home*School*Home presents a photo post: Creativity This Week. (Watch for the amigurumi bunny.)

Our Curious Home presents a Pretty/Funny/Happy/Real post about science, art, math, and a ballet recital.

Homeschool Cheer asks if you are Looking for Friends for your Homeschool Child?

SolaGratiaMom presents Egg-Stravaganza! "I wanted to share our end of the year blow out -Wonderful Wednesday party!  I have to say that I don't think I have laughed that hard and much, in a very long time!"

The Thinking Mother presents The Reputation of Homeschooling Affects Homeschooled Kids.  "The headmaster has negative opinions of homeschoolers as she said that they have admitted them in the past and they withdrew after one or two years. She cited the 'mothers did not want to let go of control.'"

Project-Based Homeschooling presents What I've been reading: deeper learning and moving past education as job placement.  " Why do we even need terms like 'authentic learning' and 'deeper learning'? Because, as you know, all learning experiences are not equal. All learning is not equally effective or lasting or useful or relevant. We call everything that happens in school 'learning,' but how much of that do you remember? Use? How much of it do you carry into the future and how much of it do you discard like a flyer pressed into your hand on the street by a guy dressed like a giant hot dog?"

Journey-and-Destination presents Preparing Homeschoolers for University/College Writing. "Our daughter is in her fourth year of a double degree - Bachelor of Education/Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English - and is employed by her university to tutor first and second year university students. Much of her time is taken up with helping them with basic things that should have been covered before they left school."

Why Homeschool? presents Two Down, Two To Go. "While during their high school years our oldest two daughters both took online classes, the two of them have taken very different paths on their road to higher education."

And finally, some thoughts from the next generation at To Sow a Seed:  On Being Homeschooled, by a Soon-to-be Grad.

That's it for this week's Carnival of Homeschooling.  Next week's host blog will be the HSBA Post.

Snow in April

Today, 15 April
Snow ending this morning then mainly cloudy with 40 percent chance of flurries. Amount 5 cm. Wind northwest 30 km/h. Temperature falling to minus 5 this afternoon. UV index 5 or moderate.
Tonight, 15 April
Clearing late this evening. Wind northwest 30 km/h becoming light late this evening. Low minus 8.
Wednesday, 16 April
Mainly sunny. High plus 5.

(It never fails, does it?)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Back Yard Nature: Two firsts today

In our back yard:

First dandelion.

First violets.

Spring is definitely here.

Photo from Wikipedia.

From the not-so-long-ago archives: Teaching in the CM Classroom

First posted February 2013.  Reposted because I needed the reminder.

"Ask me, ask me": Teaching in the CM Classroom

"Conference Lessons, Class II," by K.M. Claxton, Parents' Review Volume 26, no. 8, August 1915, pgs. 569-573

Charlotte Mason's form of education is often seen, in fact promoted, as simple, natural, and relaxed.  At one time it was misunderstood by many homeschoolers to be just one step short of unschooling.  In some ways, the "simple and relaxed" idea is quite true.  It definitely takes the pressure off a teacher to understand that the act of learning has to happen in the child's mind; that education is not all about detailed lesson plans and clever activities.  It takes some pressure off the children to realize that they're not expected to complete pages of busywork, and that they're being asked to tell back what they understood from a reading, not answer a slew of questions.

However, there's another side to CM-style lessons that we, being mostly limited to hundred-year-old written descriptions of the curriculum and classes, can sometimes miss.  I haven't yet seen the DVDs of CM teacher Eve Anderson, and the link to the Perimeter Schools site that was offering them seems to be non-functional, so I guess I won't be seeing them anytime soon either.  But from what I've heard, her presentation, for instance, of a Picture Study lesson on Vermeer, was something of a surprise:  CM homeschoolers have commented on how much she talked before she let the children look at the picture.

This lines up quite well with K.M. Claxton's description of what she called a "Picture Talk" lesson, given in 1915 to a demonstration class of 17 (!) children ages 8 to 11 (see the link at the top of this post).  The term's painter was Raphael, and the painting was "The Miraculous Draught of Fishes."

First off, she asked what the children already knew about Raphael (they had already started their term's work so would have done at least a couple of art lessons.)
Second, she told them a story about the history of the painting.  (The story as told in this online book may be closer to the way that Miss Claxton told it.)
Third, she read them the story about the fishes, from the Gospel of St. Luke.
THEN, only then, the children studied the painting and described it.
Miss Claxton gave "a few appreciative words" about the painting.
Finally, the children drew "the chief lines of the composition."

This pattern of asking, and then presenting a bit of something to get the students interested in the lesson, seems a lot to ask of a homeschool parent who might have several children doing different lessons, who might not have read all the books ahead of time, and who and might or might not have any idea herself about the history of any particular Raphael painting; but it seems also to be, unfortunately, the way the Parents' Union School did things.  We can't cross it out just because it is more work for us or because we don't like it.  The original Programmes don't specify or explain much about this, they just give book titles and page counts; but considering that we have seen both a "live" example (Eve Anderson) and written examples (e.g. Miss Claxton), it seems that if we don't present at least some of our lessons in this way, our students will be missing out.  Note the difference here, though, between what Charlotte Mason called "getting up a lesson," meaning that the teacher was the lecturer for the whole lesson, and these outlines, which do require some preparation or a bit of research ahead of time, but which are still book-centered.

Here are more examples from the morning that Miss Claxton spent with these 17 youngsters, none of whom she had ever seen or taught before:

In Natural History, the term's book was Life and Her Children, by Arabella Buckley(Full text available here.) 

The asking: The children told her what insects they were studying, gave her some examples, and told her the four stages in the life cycle of these insects.  She told them that today they would be learning about different kinds of Two-Winged Insects or "Flies," and asked the children to name the kinds of flies that they knew.

The hook:  Miss Claxton had (bravely, we think) toted along two daddy-long-legs in a jar, and had the children look at some details of their anatomy.

The reading, starting on page 262 (sounds like the children read):  

These "balancers" tell us that the two-winged flies, the gnats, mosquitoes, midges, bluebottles, house-flies, and cattle-flies, are not made on a different plan from the four-winged insects, but are merely flies whose hind wings have lost their size and power, while the front ones have become stronger and larger. This has evidently been no disadvantage in their case, for they have flourished well in the world, and myriads are to be found in every town and country, while their different ways of living are almost as various as there are kinds of fly. Some, such as the daddy-long-legs, suck the juices of plants, some suck animal blood, some live on decaying matter ; while in not a few cases, as among the gadflies, the father is a peaceable sucker of honey while the mother is bloodthirsty.

Among the gnats and mosquitoes the father dies so soon that he does not feed at all, while the mother has a mouth made of sharp lancets, with which she pierces the skin of her victim and then sucks up the juices through the lips. Among the botflies, however, which are so much dreaded by horses and cattle, it is not with the mouth in feeding that the wound is made. In this case the mother has a scaly pointed instrument in the tail,"" which she thrusts into the flesh of the animal so as to lay her eggs beneath its skin, where the young grub feeds and undergoes its change into a fly.

For we must remember that every fly we see has had its young maggot life and its time of rest. Our common house-fly was hatched in a dust heap or a dung heap, or among decaying vegetables, and fed in early life on far less tasty food than it finds in our houses. The bluebottle was hatched in a piece of meat, and fed there as a grub ; and the gadfly began its life inside a horse, its careful mother having placed her eggs on some part of the horse's body which he was sure to lick and so to carry the young grub to its natural warm home. 
 At this point they narrated what had been read so far.  Miss Claxton showed them drawings of the life cycle of the gnat.  They were allowed to examine these and discuss them.

Then two children read this section out loud:  

But of all early lives that of the gnat is probably the most romantic, and certainly more pleasant than those of most flies. When the mother is ready to lay her eggs she flies to the nearest quiet water, and there, collecting the eggs together with her long hind legs, glues them into a little boat-shaped mass and leaves them to float. In a very short time the eggs are hatched and the young grubs swim briskly about, whirling round some tufts of hair which grow on their mouths, and so driving microscopic animals and plants down their throats. Curiously enough they all swim head downwards and tail upwards (g, Fig. 90), and the secret of this is that they are air-breathing animals and have a small tube at the end of their tail, which they thrust above water to take in air.

This goes on for about a fortnight, when, after they have changed their skins three times, they are ready to remodel their bodies. Then on casting their skin for the fourth time they come out shorter and bent and swathed up, but still able to swim about though not to eat. Meanwhile a most curious change has taken place. The tail tube has gone, and two little tubes (p t, Fig. 90) have grown on the top of the back, and through them the tiny pupa now draws in its breath as it wanders along. At last the time comes for the gnat to come forth, and the pupa stretches itself out near the top of the water, with its shoulders a little raised out of it. Then the skin begins to split, and the true head of the gnat appears and gradually rises, drawing up the body out of its case. This is a moment of extreme danger, for if the boat-like skin were to tip over it would carry the gnat with it, and in this way hundreds are drowned but if the gnat can draw out its legs in safety the danger is over. Leaning down to the water he rests his tiny feet upon it, unfolds and dries his beautiful scale-covered wings, and flies away in safety.
Finally Miss Claxton showed them some empty pupa cases, and asked them to narrate the life-history of the gnat, which they did.  They all promised to go out and look for gnat eggs and larvae.

The world history lesson that Miss Claxton taught was based on two chapters of The Awakening of Europe, one of the Story of the World volumes by M.B. Synge.  I won't go over all the things she asked them (you can read the article yourself), but she did have a few questions about what they already knew.  She described one of the main characters and showed them a portrait.  I think because it was a one-shot class, she decided to read to them first from Chapter 1, and had them narrate.  Then she showed them a map (drawn on the blackboard) with certain towns marked, and as well as pointing them out, she mentioned which ones had been in the news recently (this was during World War I).  Then she read them the later chapter on "The Siege of Leyden" and possibly a bit from the next chapter (it's not quite clear where she stopped.)  The lesson finished with another narration.

The pattern begins to appear, and you know, it's something that's not all that hard for us in the 21st century to copy--easier, in some ways.  I don't have to fill up boxes of clipped pictures, or spend that time hand-drawing a map. At the click of the keyboard, I can access the portrait of a king, the map of a battle site, or the photograph (if I can't find the real thing) of a gnat pupa.  Do you notice how relatively short the readings are, too?  This is not onerous study.  And we all know that a lesson should be narrated, right?  However, it does seem also to be expected that the children are going to be able to tell you the what's and who's of what they've learned previously, and I think sometimes we, the parent-teachers, might slip back in that area.  It's okay to ask them.  Miss Claxton said so.

(It's also interesting to compare Miss Claxton's notes with those of another teacher using different chapters, same books.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Reminder about the Carnival of Homeschooling

We are hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling, and the deadline is tomorrow night (Monday).  I don't have too many submissions yet, so I may have to come around asking some of you for help. If you have a post you'd like to submit, the directions are here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Term Three Week Four: Dollygirl's School Plans (a short week)

A four-day school week because of Good Friday.


Book of Numbers.  Use Book of Centuries.

Saxon Algebra 1/2 

Hair and Skin: A Nutritional Viewpoint (Text: Nutrition 101)

The Easy Grammar Plus

Fix It..Write

Map drills (online)


Music history:  after Schubert?


Gospel of Mark.  Keep notebook.

Saxon Algebra 1/2

Hair and Skin:  see Monday

Balance Benders Level 3

History of England: "John and Arthur"

Fix It...Write

Poetry: "find the metre"

Return of the King


Book of Numbers.  Use Book of Centuries.

Key to Geometry

Something new in history:  Beginning a Century Chart

The Spring of the Year: "The Apple Tree"

The Easy Grammar Plus

Ourselves Book II: continue with the perils of the uninstructed conscience

Fix It...Write

Poetry: "find the metre"



Basic Bible Studies: "God the Son"

History of England:  what charters are

Picture study:  Jan Vermeer, painting #3.  Use Book of Centuries.

Key to Geometry

Gothic Architecture: more distinguishing features

Money Matters workbook

Shakespeare's King John:  continue Act II

Friday, April 11, 2014

What's for supper? (Cleaning out the fridge and cupboard)

Tonight's what's-in-your-hand dinner menu:

Chicken Cacciatore (chicken breasts, onions, and canned sauce)
Egg noodles
Three small frozen panzerotti (call them hors d'oeuvres)
Odds and ends of green things
Pickles and olives

Oranges, cut up
Cottage pudding made with the end of a jar of jam
And (for snacks)
A small pan of Rice Krispie Squares, made with the end of a box of cereal

Tomorrow: groceries.

The many uses of homeschooling

I did a conference workshop last weekend and mentioned that reading Architecture Shown to the Children can improve your ability at crosswords (words like APSE).  They thought I was joking.

A couple of days ago I posted about Gothic architecture and ogees.

The crossword in today's paper has the clue, "Pointed arch."  Which has come up before, but this time I didn't have to look it up:  OGEE.

So there you go.  Homeschooling has its advantages.

A bird we hear a lot here: Cardinals

A well done three-minute video that also explains how birds sing:

Back yard nature: Sparrows

Outside the window this morning:  sparrows, up close and personal.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dollygirl's Nature Walk Photos

(From yesterday's nature walk)

Winterberry holly bush with berries.

All photos by Dollygirl. Copyright 2014 Dewey's Treehouse.

Linked from Nature Study Q&A and April Link-Up at Fisher Academy International.

A walk by the pond (our nature outing)

A short drive away from us, there's an old fieldstone farmhouse that is now part of a university campus. Behind the farmhouse, there's a nature trail around a large pond.  That's where we went this afternoon.  It's still pretty cold, and not much is sprouting or hatching or moving much around the pond, but we did have a good (although muddy) very-early-spring walk.  We saw several things to note down, and things we'd like to come back and look at again in a couple of weeks:
Tamarack (larch) trees, with cones but no needles. (More about them here.)

Winterberry holly--at least, we're pretty sure that's what it was.  Bright red juicy berries still on the bush from last fall, but no spring growth on it yet--maybe some buds.

A muskrat swam up to the edge of the water and then disappeared, probably into a hole in the bank.  Mr. Fixit and Dollygirl disagreed on whether it had a tail like a beaver or like a muskrat, but it was acting more like a muskrat.

Lots of ducks and geese, and robins, and a blue heron further out.

A few daffodils coming up at the front of the farmhouse.

There were a few little bits of green here and there, but it was a hard winter and I think spring is having a struggle.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

End-of-the-week school plans (Dollygirl's Grade Seven)


The Age of Chivalry: "Taliesin"

Key to Geometry

Grammar of Poetry:  scanning practice (take bits of two poems and identify their meter)

General Science:  Skin and Hair

Fix It...Write (penmanship practice)

Plutarch's Life of Cicero, finish lesson 2 (very short) and start lesson 3

Map drills (Seterra, online)

King John, continue Act II

Afternoon Activities:  see the term's extra activities such as homemaking and crafts


Basic Bible Studies #15, A New Relationship with God the Son

BrainBox Game: The World

Key to Geometry

The Easy Grammar Plus

Picture Study:  Jan Vermeer, #2

Grammar of Poetry:  scanning practice (take bits of two poems and identify their meter)

History of England: The Crusade (continuing with Richard). Draw something in the Book of Centuries.

Money Matters

Composition time  (if you want, use the demo disk from One Year Adventure Novel that we picked up at the homeschool conference)

What's for supper?

Tonight's dinner menu:

2 Hungarian smoked sausages, baked with a casserole of brown rice and barley  (Whoah, that sausage turned out to be spicy.)
Spinach and feta perogies
Carrot sticks

Homemade butterscotch pudding...and here's the recipe.

Butterscotch Pudding (Source: Food to Grow On, by Susan Mendelson and Rena Mendelson, 1994)

1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups whole or 2% milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan.  Whisk in milk, and cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  (Keep stirring so it doesn't stick or burn.).  Stir 1/2 cup pudding mixture into the egg yolks, then stir that mixture back into the pot and cook for two more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.  Pour into serving bowl or Pyrex pan, and cover with plastic wrap to keep skin from forming, unless you just like skin.  Chill for an hour before serving.

(Note: this recipe makes only about three servings, or four quite small ones.  But you can increase the amounts.)

Wednesday school plans

Opening hymn

Old Testament:  Book of Numbers, chapter 9: The Second Passover; The Fiery Cloud

Fix It...Write workpage

Architecture Shown to the Children: Introduction to Gothic architecture...did you ever notice that an ogee looks a lot like the top of a Dairy Queen cone?

Work in Saxon Algebra 1/2 (orally and do a problem with Mom--finish the lesson for homework)

Finish painting cardboard bunkbed for the dolls (with Mr. Fixit)

Easy Grammar Plus: introduce predicate nominatives

Balance Benders Book 3


The Grammar of Poetry: a bit of review

Nature Afternoon!

Carnivals this week

The latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up at North Laurel Home and School.   It is the first of two on Charlotte Mason's "Some unconsidered Aspects of Religious Training -  Chapter 13 of School Education."  The next one (on the same theme) will be posted April 22nd.

Petticoat Government hosted this week's Carnival of Homeschooling, and we are next up!  Please send submissions by next Monday evening if you'd like to participate.

Another graduation, more music

One of the homeschooling families we have been friends with for a long time has a daughter the Apprentice's age, and she is also graduating from university this year.  Last night was her Piano Performance graduation recital.  I picked out these clips of some of her pieces.  The first one is Chopin; the second is "Twelve for Ten: Prelude-Fugue for Glenn Gould" by Canadian composer Heather Schmidt.

Related Posts with Thumbnails