Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: School plans on a Wet October Day

Opening prayers and hymns for Reformation  Day

Read a bit of The Accidental Voyage (A chapter titled "Mr. Pipes in Tights" sounds pretty scary)

Origami Frogs:

Science reading (continue Apologia General Science, Module 5)

Easy Grammar Plus: continue past participles of irregular verbs (now that's really scary)

Origami:  Masu Boxes (paper candy containers)

Math e-book:  questions 12-15 on percentages

Poems (read aloud)

The Two Towers

If time (but I'm not counting on it):  Picture Talk (Corot #4) or Nature Notebooks (probably too wet to go out)  or check out our new Rock Corner.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's for supper? Chicken tortilla bake

Tonight's dinner menu:

Chicken Tortilla Bake, made from (browned) ground chicken, torn-up whole wheat tortillas, a can of green chilies, some cheese, and homemade enchilada sauce.  Layer in casserole, bake covered till bubbly and tortillas are soft.  Let sit a few minutes before serving.  Serve with choice of Tex-Mex toppings (I like sliced olives).

Reheated rice, broccoli

Vanilla microwave cake, vanilla ice cream, and warm sauce made from frozen raspberries and apple butter.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What's for supper? Pizza-flavoured barley and sausage

Tonight's dinner menu:

Casserole made of:  barley, cooked in water that was about one-quarter leftover pizza sauce; a package of thin Italian sausages; a handful of late cherry tomatoes from our garden; sliced celery and mushrooms added during the last twenty minutes.  Bake for about an hour and a half or until the barley and the sausage are both done. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you want.

(and the leftovers make good soup)

Lettuce, cucumber

Pumpkin-Spice Bread from the bread machine (a yeast bread, not a quick loaf), with apple butter.

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: Just one school-plans post for this week

For this week of Reformation Day, Hallowe'en, and All Saints' Day, I'm just going to post this once about school plans.  And if something goes awry or we have a great awakening, I'll come back later.

A couple of good hymns for this week, besides the obvious "A Mighty Fortress":  "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation," sung to either "Regent Square" (a.k.a. Angels From the Realms of Glory) or the somewhat fancier "Westminster Abbey" by Purcell; "O God, We Praise Thee," based on the Te Deum laudamus.  The interesting thing we discovered for ourselves is that the words to "O God, We Praise Thee" are very similar to "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name"; and by reading the authors and sources beside the hymns (I can't help it, I always do), the reason is simple: "Holy God" is based on the same Latin hymn.

(Did you know you can still buy The (1969) Mennonite Hymnal?  With shaped notes, even. All our home copies were bought, somewhat battered, at thrift shops; I didn't know you could buy new ones.)

Apologia General Science:  A couple of sick days and other interruptions meant that the boats-in-the-bathtub experiment from Module 3 never got done, and that one's actually fun (not to mention satisfyingly wet and messy), so I didn't want Dollygirl to skip it completely.  She also still has to write the test for that module.  We are skipping Module 4 (about levers and other simple machines, which we've done already), and I want to do Module 5 together all this week even if she's still finishing Module 3 at other times.  Module 5 is kind of, well, different than you'd expect a chapter to be about Archaeology and Paleontology.  Mostly it ends up being about evidence for theories and things you'd like to prove, such as ancient manuscripts (i.e. the Bible).  In Module 6, we'll seriously get into rocks, but Module 5 is more something to read together and discuss.

Stuff to read:  Sigurd the Volsung, Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Ourselves, the architecture chapter we never finished (same interruptions).

Math:  Continuing Beat Algebra Before It Beats You.

Those are the most important things for this week.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday rummage sale stuff, and a nature-study booklist bonus

You get the bonus first this time!  The photo above was found on this website, where (along with other nice photos), there's a 1955 list of then-recent "science books for children," taken from the Kansas School Naturalist.  And if you back up on the website, there are other issues of the magazine, some as early as that one, some much later.  They can be read online or downloaded in PDF format.

We went to the annual end-of-October rummage sale, in the last hour when you get to fill a bag.  So if these finds seem somewhat eclectic, miscellaneous, weird, it's because I just put in anything that looked like it had potential.  Very unusually for this sale, and especially in the last hour, they had LOTS of books, so that's mostly what I got.  Dollygirl dropped in some dolly stuff too.

Four paperback Grace Livingston Hill novels

A very nice Dayrunner Collegiate Organizer, something I needed (I am between planners at the moment)

Word Mastermind

The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman

Penny, by Hal Borland (about his basset hound)

Hymns for Schools, With Supplement, selected by G. Roy Fenwick, undated older softcover

A Book of Country Things, Told by Walter Needham, Recorded by Barrows Mussey

A Nature Book: Activities and Projects For Children, by Helen Jill Fletcher, 1954 (the inside title page calls it just The Nature Book)

Pattern Poetry, Part IV: Poems of Yesterday and Today, compiled by Richard Wilson; 1939 printing

Yet another copy of Poems and Prayers for the Very Young

Extra copy of The Daughter of Time

My First History of Canada, by Donalda Dickie (OOP classic)

An issue of Cross Stitch Crazy magazine

And a few Scholastic books:
What Do They Do When It Rains?, by Norman Bridwell, TW 1487
Georgie and the Robbers, by Robert Bright, TJ 1511
Little House in the Big Woods, TX 1983 (did you know the Little House books were done in older Scholastic versions? I didn't.)

(All this, plus Dollygirl's stuff, came to $4 plus another 50 cents for the bag.  I think it was money well spent.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What's for supper? Cold day, warm food

On our "calendar of firsts" would be the first (short) snowfall of the year.  Tonight's dinner menu:

Reuben Chicken, made with bone-in chicken breasts (that is, sauerkraut in the bottom of the casserole, then chicken, then some Thousand Island dressing; bake till done)
Sweet potatoes
Whole wheat bread from the bread machine

Banana cake made with this muffin recipe (muffin batter baked in a 9 x 13 pan; we leave out the chocolate chips)

Striped Apple Crisp

by The Apprentice

The last time I tried to make an apple crisp I followed a recipe in a cookbook which shall remain nameless, and it was the worst apple crisp I had ever eaten in my life. After a year and a half, last week I finally recovered from my apple crisp trauma and found a promising looking online recipe. Halfway through preparing it I realized that this recipe would not meet my expectations either. Clearly some people have very different ideas of what that dessert should taste like. So I just made one up and figured it would either be horrible or exactly what I was looking for. Luckily, it turned out to be the best apple crisp I had ever tasted.

Striped Apple Crisp


Apple layer

2 medium sized red apples
1 medium sized green apple
2 T lemon juice

Oat layer

1/4 c butter (soft or melted) or oil
1/2 c oats (doesn't matter what kind)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Crumb layer

2 T butter or oil
1/4 c brown sugar
scant 1/2 c flour (I would recommend white flour)
1/4 t cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Wash apples. Leaving skins on, slice thinly and cut the slices in half for easier eating. Layer (red, green, red) in an ungreased 8x8 or 9x9 pan and sprinkle with lemon juice.
3. Mix oat layer ingredients and spread evenly over apple layer.
4. Mix crumb layer ingredients and cover previous layers. At this point you should not be able to see the apples.
5. Bake for 30 min covered.
6. Remove cover and bake for additional 15 min to crisp the top.

Makes four decent servings.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: Week Seven, Plans for Thursday

Music Theory:  watch a short You-tube video explaining the Dorian mode.  I really like these David Michael Celtic harp videos; they're very straightforward.  Did you know that Scarborough Fair is an example of Dorian mode?

Vocabulary Building: Play Rummy Roots card game

Math: Beat Algebra Before It Beats You, by Hal Torrance.  "Students using this book will get practice in arithmetic and solving word problems, with a little geometry and pre-algebra mixed in. It’s an almost entirely problems-based approach designed to address a student’s skills gap and allow them to advance."

Science Experiments (and lab reports) (postponed from previous days)

The Accidental Voyage (our Mr. Pipes book) (postponed from earlier in the week)

Easy Grammar Plus: Continue the "helping verbs" section you started yesterday.

Plutarch's Life of Coriolanus, Lesson 7

Powerglide French:  work with Mom today.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Seven, Week Seven: Wednesday plans

Book of Acts, Chapter 12.  "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him."

How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler: "Inspectional Reading I: Systematic Skimming or Pre-reading." How to use detective skills on an unfamiliar book. "First, you do not know whether you want to read the book.  You do not know whether it deserves an analytical reading....Second, let us assume--and this is very often the case--that you have only a limited time in which to find all this out."
Discovering Mathematical Thought, by Hal Torrance"At a particular horse show people bring in their extra equipment for making trades. Boots, bits, saddle pads, and saddles are all actively traded at the show. If you wanted to trade for a saddle but had no bits to trade, what would be another combination that would work?"  (The relative value of the items is shown in a diagram.)

First History of France, by Louise Creighton:   "Charles the Great was not only a mighty conqueror, he worked hard to give good government to all his vast dominions.  He placed counts in the different provinces, to judge wrongdoers and to collect the taxes. He bade them treat every one with moderation, and be the defenders of the widows and orphans.  He...used to gather all the chief nobles, bishops, and abbots round him, to discuss the laws which he and his advisers had drawn up, which were called capitularies. With all those who came together Charles talked freely, trying to learn from each the condition of his country, joking with the young, and treating the old with respect and reverence."

Dictation prepared from First History of France.

Natural history: reading TBA.

Sewing time

Sigurd the Volsung, by William Morris (edited for schools)

THERE was a dwelling of Kings ere the world was waxen old ;
Dukes were the door- wards there, and the roofs were thatched
with gold :
Earls were the wrights that wrought it, and silver nailed its doors;
Earls' wives were the weaving-women, queens' daughters strewed
its floors,
And the masters of its song-craft were the mightiest men that cast
The sails of the storm of battle adown the bickering blast.
There dwelt men merry-hearted, and in hope exceeding great
Met the good days and the evil as they went the way of fate...

Easy Grammar Plus: finish work on direct objects, begin unit on verbs.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The L'Harmas Charlotte Mason Retreat: All You Wanted to Know?

1. Irony: a Charlotte Mason weekend was the first time I a) helped navigate the drive down to Kingsville with a GPS, and b) plugged my iPad into the free WiFi in the hotel so I could send an email home. Welcome to the 21st century.
(photo found here)

2.  The Windsor/Essex Charlotte Mason Education group outdid themselves (is that ungrammatical?) in making everybody feel welcome, providing wonderful homemade food, and turning a church foyer into an amazing CM environment full of wooden apple boxes, books, and nature collections.  Education is an atmosphere...
3.  The leaves of the Manitoba maple don't look like any other maple leaves I've ever seen.  (What we learned during nature time.)  I also found out that you can confuse it with poison ivy!  (We don't have Manitoba maples in our part of Ontario.)
4.  People, people, people.  People from the U.S. and all over Southern Ontario (oh, and I forgot, one from Quebec).  People I knew, but mostly people I didn't...or at least hadn't met in person.  People I am very glad to have talked to and hope to connect with again.

5.  We had lots of talk about Charlotte Mason and notebooks...notebooks as kind of organic things that reflect individuality and choice...if a student is allowed to make his own choices about what gets included, and if the notebooks have value, are kept, treasured, reflected on.

6.  I had been thinking about cloisters since last week, ever since we started the "Romanesque" chapter of Architecture Shown to the Children.  Then suddenly, Friday night, one of the speakers mentioned quiet, peaceful, sacramental spaces...physical ones or inner ones...maybe a place where we listen for the divine voice?  If the majority of the educational world is an anxious, busy place, then maybe a Charlotte Mason-inspired approach of living ideas and leisure could be compared to a garden sanctuary like the one pictured above.

Just a thought.

7.  Can we do this again next year?

Dollygirl's Grade Seven, Week Seven: Plans for Monday

Opening time: Hymns

Ourselves: finish "Courage."  "Then there is what we may call the Courage of our Capacity––the courage which assures us that we can do the particular work which comes in our way, and will not lend an ear to the craven fear which reminds us of failures in the past and unfitness in the present."

Grammar of Poetry:  Lesson 7: Meter, Part 1.  Marking stressed syllables in nursery rhymes.  Also watch just the first few minutes of this talk on how the rhythm of poetry is more than just something mathematical, something you can analyze and count:  it is something that changes us, that we allow to change us.  Then each choose a poem and listen (don't analyze, just listen) for its rhythm.

Math: Finish Discovering Mathematical Thought this week...going through some challenges that review the concepts already covered.

English History: Saxon-era saint stories that we missed last week.

A History of Music for Young People:  Chapter 3, "The Early Days."  "At the same time as church musicians were exploring polyphony there was growing up, in France and Germany, a great love of melodious, poetic song among the knights and the nobility.  These aristocrats had not only to be able to ride horses, joust with lances, and rescue damsels in distress, they must also be able to compose tender little songs, both words and music, and sing them themselves, accompanying themselves on the lute or the harp."

Christian Studies: Book of Acts, Chapter11

Easy Grammar Plus: One page per day

Powerglide French

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: A Very Short Week (last update)

Tuesday, what actually happened

 Mennonite Hymnal #28, O God We Praise Thee, to the tune of Tallis' Ordinal

Discovering Mathematical Thought: "Estimation can provide the structure necessary before you even begin the process of trying to use computation to solve a math problem. Consider the following problem. A horse owner...[wants] to select a water tank that is adequate for the needs of the horses. In warm, but not hot conditions a horse may consume up to forty quarts of water per day. So a herd of five horses will need access to a minimum of about how many total gallons per day per day?"  And what if water tanks only come in 50-, 100-, and 200-gallon sizes--what size would you buy? (Work through some of the followup problems as well.)

Unexpected Nature Study By Nose:  The SPCA came to rescue an injured skunk stuck in a window well of the house next door. What always happens, happened.  You could smell it even in our house with the windows closed. [UPDATE: the skunk thing got way more complicated than expected...let's just say that the rescue mission was ultimately not successful.]

Church Volunteer Project:  Dollygirl and Mama Squirrel were not at all unhappy to leave the house for the rest of the morning to help with a library project at church.

Easy Grammar Plus:  we worked line-by-line on two pages as a preview of tomorrow's test

English Literature:  The Search for King Arthur, by Christopher Hibbert.  Section about the Round Table fad that started in the early thirteenth century.

Apologia General Science: Started Module 3, about experimental variables.

Unexpected need for chewing gum:  Five minutes into Module 3, Dollygirl realized we were lacking a vital ingredient for the experiments in that chapter.  Since Mr. Fixit was on his way out the door to drop off a package at the post office/pharmacy and then to pick up Ponytails from high school, she grabbed her jacket and the science book, promising to read the rest of it in the van.

Wednesday Plans

The Bronze Bow
Memory work
Balance Benders
Architecture Shown to the Children, Chapter IV, "Romanesque Architecture," postponed from Tuesday
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?
Grammar:  test on prepositions
The Sword and the Circle:  start "The Kitchen Knight"
Crafts time

Thursday Plans

The Bronze Bow
Ourselves: "Courage"
Memory work
Math--continue work on estimation
Science: continue Module 3
Plutarch's Life of Coriolanus
Poems and readalouds
Crafts time

Friday Plans for when Mom's Away:

The Accidental Voyage: finish chapter 4
Science: continue Module 3
Work on geography project.

Thanksgiving cookie plate

Our contribution to a family dinner (along with bean salad and turkey).
The round cookies with blobs of white chocolate in the middle are Cappuccino Thumbprints.

The cake-type bars (iced ones near the middle, plain ones around the edge) are Peter's Pumpkin Bars.

The maple leaf cookies are Dare Ultimate Maple Leaf.

Photos (except for Dare cookie package) by Mr. Fixit.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Samantha's new nightgown

Nightgown sewn by Mama Squirrel.  Fabric, vintage cotton sheet plus yard-saled trims (including the crocheted flower). Pattern from Sew the Essential Wardrobe for 18-inch Dolls, by Joan Hinds and Jean Becker.  Photo by Dollygirl.

(The pattern said to put elastic around the wrist end of the sleeves, but I left it off, wanting to leave them loose.  I am going to finish them off with some overcast stitches, maybe in lavender to match the flower.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thanksgiving Sunday: Our Unchanging God

Pastor Martin Rinkart is one of my all-time Christian heroes.

I found these thoughts by David Shibley on the CharismaNews website.

"The Year of the Great Pestilence (1637) saw every pastor in the city except Rinkart succumb to the horrific conditions. As the sole surviving clergyman in Eilenburg, it fell upon Rinkart to conduct funeral services for up to 50 people per day. In May of that terrible year, Rinkart’s own wife died.

"Rinkart lived in a world palled by death and despair. Yet his faith in Christ held firm. He did not give in to bitterness. Even after living through three hellish decades he never lost his confidence in the goodness and faithfulness of God.

"Pastor Rinkart could identify with Job. After losing his family, his health, his money and his position in society, Job still declared His trust in God: “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15, HCSB). Martin Rinkart profoundly understood Jeremiah’s unflinching faith. Looking on a scene of collapsed hopes and a privileged nation that now lay pillaged, Jeremiah still declared, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-24, ESV).

"How did Pastor Rinkart keep his faith and his sanity? He refused to be defined by his circumstances. He determined to focus, not on his circumstances, but on the unchanging character of a merciful God."

Friday, October 11, 2013

When CMers get together, or, Mama Squirrel's upcoming weekend off

This is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada.  Around here it's also Oktoberfest.
Next weekend is the 44th Migration Festival in Kingsville, Ontario (not far from Detroit).

But that's not why Mama Squirrel is going there.  There's something else going on in Kingsville next Friday and Saturday.
"Welcome to our 1st Annual Charlotte Mason Retreat at l'HaRMaS.  
A gathering
 where we will look closely,
think deeply and consider ideas 
as they unfold through presentations and conversations."

CMers from the U.S. and Canada will be getting together to talk, listen, look at nature notebooks, and hear about Laurie Bestvater's fear of bathmats.  Really.
If you're going, I'll see you there!

What to make with a white sheet, besides a Hallowe'en costume

White sheets are good for stuff besides putting on beds and Hallowe'en costumes.

We had a giant-sized vintage cotton percale treasure, that came with the house (along with a number of other things).

A year ago I used some of it to make a doll pinafore.
Then we used some big pieces of it to make doll chair slipcovers.
This week we finished the sheet off, more or less.  I made a ribbons-and-lace nightgown for Dollygirl's Samantha (the girliest-girl of her dolls), and then cut ten handkerchiefs out of what was left. (I told you it was a big sheet.)
I machine-hemmed some of the hankies for Mr. Fixit, and Dollygirl is going to finish off the rest with different-coloured thread so that she has some of her own.  There are a few little scraps left, so Dollygirl was thinking...dolly hankies?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Use-what-you-choose homeschooling (Part Five--Last one!)

From Part Four:
"A vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books (also here), for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of "those first-born affinities that fit our new existence to existing things." ~~ Charlotte Mason

I started out here reminiscing about how homeschoolers used to depend on in-print curriculum reviews, but that there weren't so many of them that you couldn't make a reasonable choice; especially on a tight budget. And now the sky seems to be the limit.
I also pointed out that if you got stuck choosing, you might find at least temporary help by plugging in to pre-written booklists and schedules.  Which aren't at all bad things, and they're certainly better than (like the Duchess) throwing everything in the bowl and hoping for the best.
But if you feel like you're stuck blindly following recipes; if you want to get more adventurous, if for whatever reason you find yourself in a place where you need to do things differently...maybe you have a child with an unusual learning style, or a spouse with an unpredictable work schedule, or thirteen daughters named
Madeleine, Gwendolyn, Jane and Clothilde,
Caroline, Genevieve, Maude and Mathilde,
Willibald, Guinevere, Joan and Brunhilde,
And the youngest of all was the baby, Gunhilde...what was I saying...oh yes, as Peg Bracken said, then you are "for it."
Choosing and using is not really such a mystery.  You just need to follow sound educational principles and, so to speak, write your own recipe but don't let it send you up on a sky-high mountain of cake batter.  And I warn you that, as soon as you beckon them, hordes of Principles, Systems, and Methods, right, wrong, beautiful, silly, contradictory, and time-wasting ones, will immediately swarm your castle and beg admittance.

But as Charlotte Mason said, it's up to you which ideas you choose to let through the gates.  Invite the good ones in, and drop the portcullis on the rest.

Books, we've talked about, and we can keep on talking about them forever, because they're so central and they're getting so quickly shut out of this culture. Remember what Ray Bradbury said in Fahrenheit 451, that it wasn't really necessary to make books illegal, because most people had already stopped reading, didn't care anyway?  You don't have to bite people's cell phones in half to make your point; reading for knowledge, and going beyond the elementary reading stage (see How to Read a Book), is a little less hard on the orthodontics.  Search for treasures, and don't limit the search to "children's areas."

"Things, e.g.––
          i. Natural obstacles for physical contention, climbing, swimming, walking, etc.
          ii. Material to work in––wood, leather, clay, etc.
          iii. Natural objects in situ––birds, plants, streams, stones, etc,
          iv. Objects of art.
          v. Scientific apparatus, etc."  ~~ Charlotte Mason

In other words, explore the kingdom.  I know, I know, what was a simple list for her seems full of contentious obstacles for some of us:  clay's messy, wood takes tools, streams are wet, and what's with that et cetera at the end?  But, to put it in a better way, we gain something, even maybe something Charlotte didn't have, by having to make a conscious choice to make the natural, messy, and risky available to our children.

And you know how Charlotte Mason finishes off the "Educational Manifesto" from which I drew that last bit about Books and Things?
There is reason to believe that these principles are workable in all schools, Elementary and Secondary; that they tend in the working to simplification, economy, and discipline.
Simplification!  Economy!  Not to mention discipline!  This is not about overwhelming anybody.  It's about making and sticking to some basic, good choices.  The good stuff is all around us. Remember at the beginning of the first post I complained that technology has made things too complicated?  Well, yes, that's true, but if we know where to look and where to say "stop," we can make the most of it.

Illustrations from The Duchess Bakes a Cake, by Virginia Kahl.

Use-what-you-choose homeschooling (Part Four, one more to come)

From Part Three:

We have principles, tools, and a whole world to explore.
It means that we can stop worrying what the lady at church thinks.
It also means that we have a greater understanding and purpose when we do choose learning materials. 

So what does one need for teaching?  (Also here)

One or more persons, also known as children (also here)
The principle of authority, used wisely
The principle of obedience, taught well
The respect due to the personality of children
Three educational instruments--the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit (also here), and the presentation of living ideas (also here)
All the knowledge that is proper to children, communicated in well-chosen language
A vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books (also here), for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of "those first-born affinities that fit our new existence to existing things."
The way of the will (also here)
The way of reason (also here)
The Divine Spirit who has constant access to their spirits; their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.

~~ Charlotte Mason, "20 Principles," found in Towards a Philosophy of Education and elsewhere

One more post to come.

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: Week Six, Stretched Out

We are almost halfway through the fall term, ready to begin Week Six (of twelve).  When I was planning out the year, I noticed that, over the next two weeks, we have a public-school teacher's day (which we usually take off), a holiday for Thanksgiving, and another day when I won't be here to do school (I'll post about that later).  It was easier to say "let's do Week Six over two weeks" than to try to stick to the usual schedule.

So this is the plan for this week...Week Six, Part One.

Write answers to the study questions for General Science Module 2
French test
Developing Mathematical Thought: Module 7, Treasure map with a piece missing, and similar exercises afterwards
Memory work, including the hymn you are memorizing from The Accidental Voyage
Geography:  continue reading Morton's journey through England
Book of Acts
Math: Balance Benders
Study for science (or write the test, optional this time)
Geography:  work on notes and illustrations
The Accidental Voyage:  continue the chapter about St. Ambrose
Math: Module 8, Proportion (where do you put the eyes when you're drawing a face?)
Memory work
English History:  Chapter IV, "How the Saxons became English / English became Christians"
Natural history:  A Field Guide to Your Own Back Yard, on fall birds
Music:  types of instruments (History of Music)
Book of Acts (should be done chapter 10 by the end of next week)
Math: Module 9, A Picture for a Formula (what's behind the Pythagorean theorem, which we've looked at already more than once)
History:  finish Chapter IV if needed.
Natural history, see Wednesday
Music:  types of instruments
Thanksgiving Weekend homework
The Sword and the Circle, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Use-what-you-choose homeschooling (Part Three of Five)

From Part Two:

"However, the trouble with following a premade plan, even a good plan, is that you can get caught up in the plan itself, and miss the bigger picture. 'I just want to get dinner on the stove' is a practical approach, but we miss out on something important if we never wonder what we're eating, where it came from."

Are we eating well?

Are we eating enough, not too much?

To reverse the education/food analogy, is our (literal) eating part of a "great conversation" of human history, agricultural practices, heritage, ecology?  Does it celebrate the earth God made and the things that grow on it?  Does it inspire stewardship, community, joy, and gratitude?  Does it make us want to come back for another meal?

Are we teaching well?  Are the students getting the right mind-food? Enough, not too much?  Are we teaching celebration, community, ecology, the great conversation?  Or is it just "math on the table?"  And what does that have to do with use-what-you-choose, whether we buy packaged curriculum, follow someone's plan in a book, scrounge through online freebies, or create something completely original? (Which might then become a book for someone else to follow...)

I could repeat what others have said about the meaning of education, but I want to offer a couple of links instead.  Brandy at Afterthoughts is running a 31-day series of Charlotte Mason posts, and today's post on the Three Educational Tools fits in well with the questions I just asked.  There's a recent post at the Archipelago blog called Studying the Principles Behind the Method.  To homeschool our children with sound educational principles in place means that, though the materials might seem random or ragtag, the philosophy and methods are not.

It means that we homeschool with more than a twenty-year-old B.A., a pile of thrift-shopped books, and a limited amount of time on You-tube.  We have principles, tools, and a whole world to explore.

It means that we can stop worrying what the lady at church thinks.

It also means that we have a greater understanding and purpose when we do choose learning materials.

Part Four is here.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Use-what-you-choose homeschooling (Part Two)

From Part One:

"The key to frugal homeschooling used to be use-what-you-have.  Now it's use-what-you-choose.  Like shopping at one of those monster supermarkets with fifty kinds of beef jerky, you can suffer classic middle-of-the-aisle paralysis.  You might end up with too much, too little, the wrong thing,  You, or your students, might have no idea what to do with it.  The lady you talked to at church might even be right when she wonders how homeschoolers can know what they're supposed to teach without someone standing guard over them.  Oh, for the good old low-tech days..."

So what do the food shopping experts tell you to do before you get to the monster supermarket?  Make a plan, of course.  Examine the wad of flyers weighing down the newspaper; look through your shelf of cookbooks for recipes using "pork shoulder," and if that fails, start a search of the mega-recipes websites. Don't forget to list all your coupons and price-matches, just to hold things up longer at the checkout.  Do we see a pattern here?  There are still too many options, and you're still going to end up serving frozen fries and chicken fingers, or whatever your default meal is.  

Homeschooling applications?  "The more catalogues (or websites) the better" isn't necessarily true, if you're not sure what you want in the first place.  And this is the big one, if you're broke or just frugal: not even if the resources are very cheap or free.  Because planning and teaching time isn't free.  Neither is bookshelf space, or printer paper and toner, or (for some of us) downloading costs.  As Uncle Eric repeats often, TANSTAAFL.

Okay then.  What's the next obvious thing to do, if you can't narrow down your own dinner plan? Follow somebody else's, right? and the more specific, the better.  Buy one of those 30-day menu cookbooks that includes grocery lists and prep timetables.  Follow the online menu plans of a kindred spirit, or rip them out of Woman's Day or Vegetarian Times. You know what? It can't hurt. You probably wouldn't want to follow somebody else's choices forever, but it can get you jumpstarted.  

Homeschooling applications?  As I've already said, it's a big, big world of curriculum, and if you have the money, you can order up anything from a virtual school or correspondence course (the most extreme forms of using somebody else's plan); to a box full of every last thing you need*, including pencils (Calvert School is the classic example, but in Canada we also have a family-run business called Tree of Life School); to one book with suggestions for each grade, each subject (The Well-Trained Mind).  Of course there are also the free options, like reading other homeschoolers' blogs, or borrowing a book like Rebecca Rupp's year-by-year guide from the library, or even (if you're desperate) looking at government expectations for public schools.  If you're stuck in indecision, go ahead and do what they do.  You might have to improvise here and there (can't do this, don't have that book), but you can at least get an idea of how homeschooling seems to work for somebody out there.  Who knows?--you might find you like whatever plan it is so much that you stay forever.

That's one way to do it.

However, the trouble with following a premade plan, even a good plan, is that you can get caught up in the plan itself, and miss the bigger picture.  "I just want to get dinner on the stove" is a practical approach, but we miss out on something important if we never wonder what we're eating, where it came from.

More in Part Three.

*Just as a point of interest, did you know that the creators of Ambleside Online referred to it early on as "Charlotte Mason in a box?"

Friday, October 04, 2013

Use-what-you-choose homeschooling: not as easy as it sounds. (Part One)

Looking for the rest of this series?  Part Two is here. Part Three is here. Part Four is here. Part Five is here.

When our Apprentice (now in university) was small, homeschoolers depended on product descriptions in hard-copy catalogues.  They grabbed up printed magazines, and books of reviews, by people who made a specialty out of knowing all there was to know about just about every known homeschooling product.  (Mary Pride and Cathy Duffy, to name two.)  Fifteen or twenty years ago, undertaking a project like that was actually feasible.

Around the same time, Diane Moos wrote a one-page article about frugal homeschooling, in response to a friend's request for an extremely low-budget sixth-grade curriculum.  Aside from a few helpful suggestions of low-cost resources (such as Spectrum Math), Diane's basic approach was "Bible and a library card."  You might update that now to "Bible and an app," but it's still good advice.

The difference, though, is that, back then, the new homeschooler could have made the most of what she had, but she wouldn't have been overwhelmed by choice, at least not on fifty dollars.  For fifty dollars, you could put together something quite decent, especially using thrift shops and used curriculum.  But once you had it, you had it, if that makes sense.  The math book, if you didn't like it, wasn't going to transform into something else.  Whatever maps and illustrations were in the science or history book, that's what you used, unless you uncovered a stack of National Geographics, or lived near a great library full of books to supplement.  Still, that would probably be enough to keep most kids busy.  If all else failed, as Diana Waring said,  you could take them to the zoo.

However, in the past decade, technology has transformed not only the how of homeschool, but the what. The friend with the fifty-dollar budget would undoubtedly now have at least a computer, and the Internet, if not an e-reader or a phone that does tricks.  And on the Internet she would find, at prices ranging from free to moderate to ridiculous, just about everything anyone could need for teaching.  I don't mean only online classes, tutors, and math drills for kids, but entire libraries from textbooks to classics; full-length movies; virtual tours; music and paintings to download; forums, groups, reviews, booklists, lesson plans, scope and sequences, rubrics, printables, manipulatives. Stuff that's already online, stuff you can order online, stuff you can put online. The whole magic box.  Just add crayons...but of course you can order those too, from cheapo to beeswax.   If you have decent Internet service (and hopefully a printer), the educational world is yours, no matter how tiny the budget.

So what's the problem?

The key to frugal homeschooling used to be use-what-you-have.  Now it's use-what-you-choose.  Like shopping at one of those monster supermarkets with fifty kinds of beef jerky, you can suffer classic middle-of-the-aisle paralysis.  You might end up with too much, too little, the wrong thing,  You, or your students, might have no idea what to do with it.  The lady you talked to at church might even be right when she wonders how homeschoolers can know what they're supposed to teach without someone standing guard over them.  Oh, for the good old low-tech days...

Linked from the Carnival of Homeschooling at The Common Room.

What's for supper? Fall-type Food

Tonight's dinner menu:

Slow cooker filled in layers: sauerkraut, frozen barley cubes, kielbasa-type sausage, whole mushrooms, and sliced celery added later on.  I unloaded the sausage, mushrooms and celery into a serving bowl, and served the sauerkraut-barley layer separately.

Cheese perogies

Pumpkin-spice yeast bread, from a recipe in the bread-machine owner's manual.  I hadn't tried this one before, but it's a keeper. Ponytails says it would be good with apple butter.

Almonds and mini rice cakes

Vanilla pudding, thawed blueberries

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Plutarch and The Simpsons: who knew?

"Of course, Homer isn't always familiar with the names of such classical figures:
"Lisa: That's Latin, Dad--the language of Plutarch.
"Homer: Mickey Mouse's dog?
"But stop snickering, Lisa: the language of Plutarch was Greek."

~~ Homer Simpson's Figures of Speech, on

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: Thursday Plans

Opening songs and memory work

Ourselves, "A Grateful Heart Makes a Full Return" and "The Reproach of Ingratitude."

How to Read a Book, chapter 2, “Levels of Reading” (the whole chapter is only five pages).  "We do want to stress, however, that most people, even many quite good readers, are unaware of the value of inspectional reading.  They start a book on page one and plow steadily through it, without even reading the table of contents.  They are thus faced with the task of achieving a superficial knowledge of the book at the same time that they are trying to understand it. That compounds the difficulty."

Play "Number Rainbow," a game we learned years ago from Peggy Kaye's Games for Learning.  If the object of the game is to roll two dice and cover squares numbered from 2 to 12, why is it easier to cover the numbers in the middle?  In Discovering Mathematical Thought, we have a similar discussion of probability, also using dice. Homework: work through the questions raised in this section.

History of France, Chapter 2, “Gaul becomes France.

Science: flashlight experiment left over from yesterday.

Picture Study:  Camille Corot, "Chartres Cathedral," 1830

Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus, Lesson 5.  Discussion question:  "Why was the showing of battle scars the usual way of campaigning for public office?  Martius/Coriolanus had his fair share of scars; why then did he lose the election?"

Powerglide French:  keep reviewing the work so far, with the unit test on Friday or Monday.