Saturday, May 31, 2014

Looking Ahead in School: some plans for Grade Eight

It is early yet, but I do have some plans laid out for Dollygirl's Grade Eight.

More or less, it's Ambleside Online's Year Eight, which focuses on the Renaissance and Reformation period up through the 1600’s.  You can see the AO plan here.

The biggest change we will make is to continue using H.O. Arnold-Forster's History of England in place of Churchill's history.  We own Churchill; the Apprentice used it; I've re-examined it; and I still think we'll be better off with the younger-focused book, particularly if Dollygirl is to do her own work in history.[UPDATE: we used A-F in the first term and then transitioned into Churchill.]

We'll also use Van Loon's Story of Mankind, and George Brown's vintage high school textbook Building The Canadian Nation.

For geography, we have a choice of Christopher Columbus or Cartier Sails the St. Lawrence in the first term.  In the second and third terms, I am looking at Journey to the Source of the Nile (Ondaatje), about an attempt to follow in the footsteps of nineteenth-century explorers. Another book with more Ontario interest is The Bruce Beckons, about the Lake Huron area; and I'm hoping to re-subscribe to Canadian Geographic, which is a good source of stories on current issues.

Science will include Apologia General Science, for a study of human physiology, and Physical Science, the modules on the atmosphere, water, weather, etc.  We will also read through Parker's book Exploring the World Around You, which unfortunately is a bit on the dry side, but I make everybody here read it because it contains important concepts and vocabulary about ecosystems.  The physiology study will be supplemented with Exploring the History of Medicine (same series, more interesting) and Dr. Paul Brand's book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.

Charlotte Mason had students at this level study plant life in detail, almost every term.  The English students used Marie Stopes' book on plants; in the late 1920’s, some international substitutions were offered, including First Studies of Plant Life (Atkinson) for the U.S. students.  (Both books can be viewed at  I found that a book we own,  ABC's of Nature, covers many of Stopes' plant topics, so we will probably use that for grade eight. But I like Stopes' chapter "The Geography of Plants," and I am hoping to include that later in the year.

We will be using most of the English and literature resources listed on the AO website.  Our choice for grammar is The Easy Grammar Plus, the second half of the book.  For "composition" we will use some of Jill Dixon's Write With the Best Volume II, mainly the parts on essay writing.  I like the fact that the lessons use Paine's "Common Sense" and Bacon's "On Education" as models, and the emphasis on essay writing also ties in well with the Unsolved Problems chapters in Whatever Happened to Justice?  (We usually get through just some of those chapters in the third term,  and I have the girls choose one "hot topic" to write about.)  Dixon also encourages students to read through Strunk and White's Elements of Style, so we will do that.

The devotional books for grade eight will be the ones from the Year Seven list, not the Year Eight, since she hasn't read any of them yet. One addition to Bible studies will be read the Reader's Digest book The Bible Through the Ages.  It's a good overview not only of Bible history but of how methods of communication changed over the centuries, from the oral tradition through hand-copying and later to printing. 

And those are the plans so far!

Frugal Finds and Fixes: When Yard Sales are Social

FINDS:  We stopped at two yard sales this morning, and both of them turned out to be held by people we know.  Not close friends, but acquaintances we haven't seen for a long time.  Which makes it awkward when they have something you want but you think it's a bit overpriced, and if they were either good friends or complete strangers you'd feel better about haggling, but since they're not, you're stuck. But anyway, you figure the difference is worth it because you get to catch up and chat.

So between the two, for slightly more than I would ideally have paid, but still not so bad, I brought home:

A 2-liter slow cooker, the half-family size that The Apprentice uses in her apartment.  Good for smaller amounts of things.
A slipcovered copy of Stephen Leacock's book Canada: The Foundations of its Future.

A whole stack of gift wrap paper, vintage and otherwise

(and this is the best part)

A 36-piece set of Prismacolor Art Stix, older but unused.  New sets are listed on Chapters for about $70.  I paid a tenth of that.

Mr. Fixit found a small oil lamp.  He has been adding to our stash of those ever since last winter's power outages.  They can be quite handy and they feel a bit safer than candles.

FIXES:  Ponytails' school backpack was coming apart in several spots.  It's the type that looks like an army or Scout knapsack, made of heavy khaki fabric with a thin lining.  The lining ripped at the bottom of the pack, at two places in the inside zipper pocket, and at the seam near the top.  We solved the pocket problem by just zipping it shut--it can't be used, but that was easier than mending it.  The bottom of the lining just needed a row of machine stitching to put it back together--appearance wasn't an issue.  The last bit, I had to be a little more careful with, but it still worked fine just to fold over the ragged part and stitch it down, and anyway the outside stitches will normally be covered by the flap of the pack.  So: two quick seams and hopefully now it will last through the last month of school!

Friday, May 30, 2014

School: what's left on Friday?

O Canada and God Save the Queen, because it's Friday.
Read together from Down to Earth
Reading and activities from How Math Works:  read some of "Circles and Wavy Lines" on page 132.  Find the center of a circle (page 136).  Play the "game of Sim."

Basic Bible Studies by Francis Schaeffer

Map Drills online
Science:  use DK Chemistry to talk more generally about metals, non-metals, and things like that.

Winding up our music study (listening to some Chopin)

(set from the MGM movie)
Ivanhoe:  the big climax of the siege.  

Writing time.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

School, school, school: short and sweet.

Plans for today:

1.  Read some of Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming.

2.  History lesson: "Bannockburn."  June 2014 marks the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn. (Note about this video: there are a couple of (re-enacted) battleaxes that come a bit close to reality, but it doesn't appear that anyone got hurt.)

3.  Guitar.

4.  Science game.

5.  Shakespeare.

6.  Geometry.

7.  French.

8.  Writing time.

9.  Start working on Castle, by David Macaulay.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

School plans for Wednesday

What are we doing in school today?

1.  Opening time: hymn.  A little devotional I found about sand!

2.  How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients:  pages 78-79, "Count on Your Computer."  (Another way we use silicon!

2b.  Play the Periodic Table Board Game.

3.  Shakespeare's King John

4.  Key to Geometry, Booklet 2.  More about circles.

5.  Plutarch's Life of Cicero

6.  Writing Time

7.  French Smart 7: Unit 2: Marine Life (and grammar exercises using that vocabulary)

8.  Picture Talk: Jan Vermeer

9.  Ivanhoe

10.  Handicrafts: In Honour of Samantha and 1904: sewing and other special things this week.

School plans for Tuesday (Amended)

School plans for today:
In the news: Today's Google Doodle marks Rachel Carson's 107th birthday.
Balance Benders Level 3 

English (Scottish) History: continue Arnold-Forster's History of England on page 198, "The Fight for the Scottish Crown."  Use Bullock's Historical Map of Scotland.  Entry in Book of Centuries.

This video is one I want to save until we're further on in the story--it's unusual because it was a co-operative effort and involved Scottish primary-school children as actors and artists.

Money Matters for Teens: "How to Spend Money Wisely." (How Marketers Play Their Side of the Game.)

How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients.  Today's work was supposed to be Oceans and Seas, but it makes more sense to follow up from what we did yesterday (Sand) and read "Let's Be Clear About Glass." And this video is very cool too.

Composition and Grammar

The White Mountains

Handicrafts: In Honour of Samantha and 1904: sewing and other special things this week.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

School Plans for Monday: "Do Something About It."

Thought for the Week:
"Mrs Mary Mead... attended Fairfield PNEU School near Bristol, which offered training for future missionaries and governesses. Here she came under the influence of an inspirational headmistress, Barbara Lambert, who instilled in her charges a great zest for life and the belief that one should not sit on the sidelines but should 'do something about it.' Mary still remembers at the age of 7 being led on a nature trail to Bourton Coombe and waiting patiently to catch sight of a great spotted woodpecker." (Bristol University commendation on Mrs. Mead's receiving her M.A.)
Monday: Samantha the Doll's Birthday
Opening hymn and poem

Old Testament: Book of Numbers, chapters 20-21, the death of Aaron; a battle with the Caananites; the bronze snake.  What do we know about Aaron's tomb?  Briefer version here.  Something about snakes of the desert.  What happened to the bronze snake? See 2 Kings 18:4.

How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients, pages 26-27, "Lost in the Desert."  How much of the earth's surface do deserts cover?  What makes up sand?  Why aren't deserts always hot?  "What makes a desert a desert isn't sand or sunshine (or even camels), but the lack of one chemical substance..."  We also talked about silica gel.

Handicrafts: In Honour of Samantha and 1904: sewing and other special things this week

French Smart 7: Unit 2: Marine Life

English (Scottish) History:  Scotland: Over the Border. 

Key to Geometry, Booklet 2 (about circles) 

Shakespeare's King John

Review lesson from Grammar of Poetry

Baking:  mini biscuits with cinnamon-sugar on top (for sand)

Teatime with Samantha:  Finish the first chapter of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Friday, May 23, 2014

School plans for Friday

School plans for today:

O Canada, because it's Friday

Current events:  seahorses, flightless birds, and fighting malaria

Basic Bible Studies: the new relationship we have with other believers

History of Music for Young People, chapter 8:  two parts, Brahms and Chopin.  No, I know you can't reasonably cover two composers in one lesson, but this chapter talks about both of them.

French memory verse

Money Matters for Teens: "How to Make Money with Money." 

History of France: start the Flemish Wars (Err, that is, start reading about them, not set them off)

Show me what you are doing on the guitar

Natural science reading we missed yesterday

Readaloud: The White Mountains

How to Make a Universe,: pages 22-25, about rocks and volcanoes.  Science notebook page.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, by Ian Fleming, "Adventure Number One"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

School plans for Thursday

Opening time;  Hymns; read a couple of pages from Down to Earth

Ourselves Book II: "Instructors of Conscience"

Balance Benders Level 3

Science Part One:  Play The Periodic Table Game (printable board game from Ellen McHenry)

Picture Talk:  Jan Vermeer, The Geographer

Ivanhoechapter 29

Prepared dictation from Ivanhoe:  It was not until evening was nearly closed that Ivanhoe was restored to consciousness of his situation. He awoke from a broken slumber, under the confused impressions which are naturally attendant on the recovery from a state of insensibility. He was unable for some time to recall exactly to memory the circumstances which had preceded his fall in the lists, or to make out any connected chain of the events in which he had been engaged upon the yesterday. A sense of wounds and injury, joined to great weakness and exhaustion, was mingled with the recollection of blows dealt and received, of steeds rushing upon each other, overthrowing and overthrown---of shouts and clashing of arms, and all the heady tumult of a confused fight. An effort to draw aside the curtain of his conch was in some degree successful, although rendered difficult by the pain of his wound.
To his great surprise he found himself in a room magnificently furnished, but having cushions instead of chairs to rest upon, and in other respects partaking so much of Oriental costume, that he began to doubt whether he had not, during his sleep, been transported back again to the land of Palestine. 
Science Part Two:  How to Make a Universe, pages 16-17, about hydrogen and stars;  pages 18-21, about elements of the earth and our atmosphere

French Smart 7, Unit 2; practice French memory verse.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

School plans for Wednesday

School plans for today:

Current events: animals in the news today, including a newborn giraffe,  a rescued fawn, and a swarm of honeybees

Read a couple of pages together from Down to Earth (these are short miscellaneous pieces and poems about childhood gardens)

Gospel of Mark: read independently, keep notebook

Key to Geometry, Booklet 2: Circles, pages 7-11

The Spring of the Year - "The Buzzard of the Bear Swamp."  Look for pictures of turkey buzzards.

Handwriting:  Finish Fix It...Write.

Plutarch's Life of Cicero: lesson 7. "Is it better to be eloquent, or to be truthful? Can you be both? (Remember Lesson Three? "For Cicero only of all men in Rome made the Romans know, how much eloquence doth grace and beautify that which is honest, and how invincible right and justice are, being eloquently set forth.")"

Poems and The Grammar of Poetry (review)

French; French memory verse

Readalouds: The White Mountains

Science: How to Build a Universe 
Part One: review yesterday's work, and read pages 12-13: "The type of bonding and the way that the atoms in an element, molecule, or compound are arranged greatly influences the properties of a chemical substance and therefore its uses."
Part Two: Read pages 58-59, How fireworks work.  Watch a video about making fireworks (probably Popular Mechanics for Kids, Season 2 episode called "Boom").  Notebook a firework?

Chores for vacationing neighbours

School plans for Tuesday

School plans for today:

Opening time, hymn, current events
Old Testament: Book of Numbers
Gardening: read Down to Earth, by Michael J. Rosen, pages 7-16
Key to Geometry, Booklet 2: Circles, pages 3-6 (or more)
English History:  some of pages 187-194. Edward I: England at War. The Breaking of Wales.
Geography: map drills with Seterra
Shakespeare's King John: continue
Guitar practice time with Dad
Poetry: read poems aloud AND review lessons from Grammar of Poetry
Ivanhoe: chapter 27
French memory verse

Science: begin study of the elements and the periodic table, using How to Make a Universe:
• A short (graphic) introduction from DK Chemistry, and a quick look through today's paper for mentions of chemistry and elements (I noticed several!)
• Reading from pages 6-7 followed by narration
• Study the periodic table on pages 8-9, and read pages 10-11 followed by narration
•Biography (included in text): Dimitri Mendeleev
• Notebook page (self-written)

Chores for vacationing neighbour

Sunday, May 18, 2014

If you've read Ivanhoe and want to laugh


Dollygirl and I are partway through Ivanhoe, to the part where the castle is being besieged by...basically everybody who's not in the castle.  When the Black Knight was mentioned, she calmly stated, "That's King Richard in disguise."  Well, I know Dollygirl is very astute in these matters--she'd already nailed Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, but I was surprised she'd just figured that one out.  "Oh, I read it in the Betsy-Tacy book you gave me for my birthday," she said.  Oh yes...Betsy has to read Ivanhoe too.

Well, that's not such a big leap anyway, and it doesn't spoil the story at all to know who the Black Knight really is. And it's still going to take us at least a couple of weeks to finish the novel. But if you have finished it already (or your kids have) and you want something fun to end the school year, pick up a copy of Edward Eager's Knight's Castle, published in 1956.  Edward Eager, if you don't know already, was a big fan of E. Nesbit, and this is a very Nesbit sort of book: about wishes and magic gone slightly askew.  Some children playing "Ivanhoe" with a toy castle (they've just been to see the MGM movie) wake up at night to find that their props have come to life, and that they're now in the story as well.  Except that the story seems to be rewriting itself, and it's up to the children, especially the main character Roger, to fix what's gone wrong.

The book contains lots of cheesy "varlet" dialogue (what some people call Howard Pyle-esque).  It also includes a Saxon-Norman baseball game, an Ivanhoe who's obsessed with science fiction novels, a can of peas, and the U.S. Marines. There's a more serious sub-plot about the children's father who is in the hospital, and if there's anything I'm a little iffy about, it's his "magic cure" that depends on Roger's wish (granted only if the quest is successful).  It raises the ante of the plot, and I'm not saying the wish isn't well-earned, but, like those movies where children "wish" their separated parents back together, it's not perhaps very sensitive toward those whose real-life wishes don't come true.

Anyway, that complaint aside, it's very funny and has held up surprisingly well.  You really do have to have read Ivanhoe or at least seen a film version to enjoy it, and be warned that there are some Ivanhoe spoilers too--how the book ended and so on.  So keep it for an end-of-Scott treat.

(Oh, one warning for those who do not allow books with witches etc.: the two girls in the story call themselves witches and sorceresses, but only as a means of explaining themselves to the Ivanhoe characters.)

There's another review of the book here.

Raisin Squares for a church potluck

RAISIN OR DATE BARS (More with Less Cookbook)
Today we are having a potluck lunch at church.  We're taking some sandwiches, a quinoa-black bean salad, and a batch of these raisin bars, which I call Raisin Squares because they're different from the Hillbilly Housewife's Raisin Bars (those are more cake-type, these are like date squares but without all the chopping).

Make one of these fillings:
Raisin Filling:
  2 1/2 cups raisins 
  3/4 cup water 
  1/4 cup sugar 
  3 tbsp. lemon juice 
  2 tbsp. cornstarch   
Date Filling:
  3 cups chopped dates 
  1 1/2 c water 
Combine filling ingredients and cook over low heat until thick.  The recipe says to let the filling cool, but I don't usually have time and they still turn out fine.
  3/4 cup margarine or equivalent in preferred fat or oil
  3/4 cup brown sugar 
  1 tsp. salt (seems like a lot, you could try less)
  1/2 tsp. baking soda 
  1 3/4 cup flour 
  1 1/2 cup rolled oats (I use the quick type)
Mix well until crumbly.  Firmly press half the crumb mixture into a 9 x13" greased pan. 
Spread cooled filling over top; it may seem like not quite enough, depending on how thick your filling is, but just do your best to get it spread around.. At this point I like to sprinkle the filling with a spoonful of cinnamon-sugar, but that's optional.  Cover with remaining crumb mixture, patting down lightly. 
Bake at 400 [F] for 25-30   minutes. (I bake them at 375 degrees because our oven runs hot, and they are usually done in about 20 minutes, so watch them.) Cut into bars while warm. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Nature Walk by the Pond

The last month has seen a great change in the weather and the foliage.  Spring is still dragging itself a bit, but at least all the leaves are coming out.  We revisited the pond today, and Mr. Fixit took some photos to compare with those he and Dollygirl took early in April.  (I don't have photos of the birds we saw today: mainly red-winged blackbirds, ducks and geese.)

Dollygirl's holly bush photo taken in April (at least that's what we think it is):
Holly bush taken today:
Tamarack in early April:
Tamarack taken today:
And this is the coolest thing: I think we've found our blossoming shad bush! (Also called serviceberry: Dallas Lore Sharp's favourite sign of spring.  And if it isn't serviceberry, it''s something pretty close.)
All photos by Mr. Fixit and Dollygirl.  Copyright 2014 Dewey's Treehouse.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Back yard nature: House finch!

Outside our basement window this wet morning: at least two red house finches, industriously eating the dandelions that have gone to seed. A couple of yellow finches too.

Noontime Addition: the finches are now giving a concert.  Very chirpy-chirpy-tweeters, tuneful but extremely loud!  Father Robin is sulking on the picnic table...the runner-up in the music contest?

Photo found here.

A thought for the day: on clutter and stuff

I just read a list on Yahoo of things that people should really throw out.

Well, I'm not too guilty of keeping mateless (?) shoes or unworn clothes. My dried herbs still have their smell and taste, most of them.  I can think of only a couple of questionable jars in the fridge, and they'll probably be cleaned out quite soon.  On the other hand, I don't see the point of decanting every dry food item into glass jars because you don't like the look of cardboard boxes.  Then what would you read at the breakfast table?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Back yard, front yard, all yard nature

In back yard nature news:   the blossoms have come out on the apple trees and the maples.  All at once, making up for lost time.  Not so good for the allergy-prone, but at least the pale green is a change from bare gray.

Photo by Mr. Fixit.

How to grow a young scientist (Dorothy Hodgkin, today's Google Doodle honoree)

Have you noticed today's Google Doodle?  It's in honour of Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994), the developer of protein crystallography.  She developed a way of showing how things like insulin are constructed--because scientists had to be able to see the structure of it before they could work with it.

"Though born in the twentieth century, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin had a typical late-nineteenth century upbringing. She was born in Cairo, Egypt, then a British colony. When Hodgkin was four, the family was back in England and World War I broke out. The parents returned to Egypt, leaving the children with family and governesses for four years. Hodgkin found an interest in chemistry and crystals, a popular hobby for women of leisure in the 1800s. But on her sixteenth birthday, she received a book by William Henry Bragg (a Nobelist in physics) about using x-rays to analyze crystals. She had found her life's work."  ( article)

"Her mother, Grace Mary Crowfoot (born Hood) was actively involved in all her father's work, and became an authority in her own right on early weaving techniques. She [Dorothy's mother] was also a very good botanist and drew in her spare time the illustrations to the official Flora of the Sudan. Dorothy Crowfoot spent one season between school and university with her parents, excavating at Jerash and drawing mosaic pavements, and she enjoyed the experience so much, that she seriously considered giving up chemistry for archaeology.  She became interested in chemistry and in crystals at about the age of 10, and this interest was encouraged by Dr. A.F. Joseph, a friend of her parents in the Sudan, who gave her chemicals and helped her during her stay there to analyse ilmenite. Most of her childhood she spent with her sisters at Geldeston in Norfolk, from where she went by day to the Sir John Leman School, Beccles, from 1921-28. One other girl, Norah Pusey, and Dorothy Crowfoot were allowed to join the boys doing chemistry at school, with Miss Deeley as their teacher; by the end of her school career, she had decided to study chemistry and possibly biochemistry at university."  (Nobel Prize biographical article)

"I first met the subject of X-ray diffraction of crystals in the pages of the book W. H. Bragg wrote for school children in 1925, 'Concerning the Nature of Things'. [More about Bragg] In this he wrote: "Broadly speaking, the discovery of X-rays has increased the keenness of our vision over ten thousand times and we can now 'see' the individual atoms and mo1ecules." I also first learnt at the same time about biochemistry which provided me with the molecules it seemed most desirable to 'see'. At Oxford, seriously studying chemistry, with Robinson 
and Hinshelwood among my professors, I became captivated by the edifices chemists had raised through experiment and imagination-but still I had a lurking question. Would it not be better if one could really 'see' whether molecules as complicated as the sterols, or strychnine were just as experiment suggested? The process of 'seeing' with X-rays was clearly more difficult to apply to such systems than my early reading of Bragg had suggested; it was with some hesitation that I began my first piece of research work with H. M. Powell on thallium dialkyl halides, substances remote from, yet curiously connected with, my later subjects for research."  (Her Nobel Prize acceptance speech)

More here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dollygirl's School Plans: Term 3, Week 8

"We are aware that our own discursive talk is usually a waste of time and a strain on the scholars' attention, so we (of the P.N.E.U.) confine ourselves to affording two things,––knowledge, and a keen sympathy in the interest roused by that knowledge. It is our part to see that every child knows and can tell, whether by way of oral narrative or written essay."  ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education
(Daily opening time: hymns, poetry, current events)
Old Testament: Book of Numbers
Saxon Algebra 1/2
History of England: Who was Henry III?
French, using Complete French Smart 7 workbook
Apologia General Science:  how do "calories" relate to the ideas about food consumption and combustion we have been discussing?
Shakespeare's King John
Grammar: a review passage drawn from literature (but definitely easier than the last one we did)
Ourselves Book II: how reading philosophy helps instruct the conscience
"Perhaps the gravest defect in school curricula is that they fail to give a comprehensive, intelligent and interesting introduction to history."  ~~ Philosophy of Education
New Testament: Gospel of Mark
Saxon Algebra 1/2
Money Matters for Teens
Plutarch's Life of Cicero (we are doing two Plutarch lessons this week)
Map quizzes with Seterra Onlinne
The White Mountains
Handwriting with Fix It...Write
History: work on Century Chart
"...the desire for knowledge for its own sake, on the other hand, finds satisfaction in knowledge itself."  ~~ Philosophy of Education
Old Testament: Book of Numbers
Money Matters for Teens
History of Music for Young People: lesson on Mendelssohn we missed last week
Apologia General Science: about metabolic rates in humans and animals
A little more grammar practice
University of Waterloo Gauss mathematics competition
"These young students have the powers of perfect recollection and just application because they have read with attention and concentration and have in every case reproduced what they have read in narration, or, the gist of some portion of it, in writing." ~~ Philosophy of Education 
New Testament: Gospel of Mark
The Spring of the Year: chapter on phoebes that was missed last week
History of England: about Henry III and parliaments
Picture Talk: Jan Vermeer
Key to Geometry
The White Mountains
"Children recognise with incipient weariness the doctored tale as soon as it is begun to be told, but the human story with its evil and its good never flags in interest." ~~ Philosophy of Education
Basic Bible Studies by Francis Schaeffer
Balance Benders Level 3
Apologia General Science: finishing off Module 12, about life and energy
Plutarch's Life of Cicero
Transcription (copywork)
Key to Geometry
French History: reading more from De Joinville's Memoirs of the Crusades
Notes in the Book of Centuries

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Back yard nature: the short lives of dandelions

We had a couple of early dandelions awhile back, but they're all out in full force now.  Here is what puzzles me: of those that blossomed early this week, some are already white fluff and seeds.  How can dandelions be so short-lived?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Friday School Plans: Slightly amended for a (promised) warm day

Basic Bible Studies: The Holy Spirit

Architecture Shown to the Children: finish "Gothic Architecture"

Key to Geometry: work through several pages.

How to Read a Book: conclusion of the section on "unity," summing up a book with a few main thoughts.

The White Mountains

Lots of time for blogging, sewing, going outside, and then cleaning up the dining room for a family party this weekend

Quote for the Day: St. Louis on Food, Drink, and Clothing

"Of his meat he was so sober, that on no day of my life did I ever hear him order special meats, as many rich men are wont to do; but he ate patiently whatever his cooks had made ready, and was set before him....He put water into his wine by measure, according as he saw that the strength of the wine would suffer it....[he told me that] if I drink pure wine in my old age, I should get drunk every night, and that it was too foul a thing for a brave man to get drunk.

"He said that men ought to clothe and arm their bodies in such wise that men of worth and age would never say, this man has done too much, nor young men say, this man has done too little.  And I repeated this saying to the father of the king that now is [Philip], when speaking of the embroidered coats of arms that are made nowadays; and I told him that never, during our voyage oversea, had I seen embroidered coats, either belonging to the king or to any one else.  And the king that now is  told me that he had such suits, with arms embroidered, as had cost him eight hundred pounds parisis.  And I told him he would have employed the money to better purpose if he had given it to God, and had had his suits made of good taffeta (satin) ornamented with his arms, as his father had done." ~~ Sieur de Joinville, Memoirs of the Crusades

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Homeschooling, guru worship, and commitment

A local newspaper columnist published a piece today about, of all things, food trucks.  You know, mobile cafes, burgers on wheels.  She mused, "No one wants to be tied down.  Everybody wants to do what they want, when they want...Churches are selling their buildings...fewer want to subscribe to a newspaper...It's harder and harder to get a commitment for anything." What does that have to do with food trucks?  That we will grab a sandwich and go, but at the expense of sit-down places that have some "commitment" to the community.

Now, I'm not so sure that she isn't stretching the idea of bricks-and-mortar diners as cornerstones of community--after all, they can close up shop and disappear almost as easily as food trucks.  In a small town, you may get Rosie the waitress and Joe the grocer year after year, but here in the city you are more likely to find that the local coffee shop or corner store is suddenly under new ownership--again--and that all the old staff are gone as well. (Mr. Fixit's favourite family-run sub shop changed hands and is now a pale vestige of its former mayonnaise-laden self.)  And I have nothing in particular against food trucks.  But I appreciate her lament over the general lack of commitment in society.

And I hear a similar "aversion to commitment" from some homeschoolers who have trouble understanding a willingness to stick with one particular educational philosophy.  If you centre on one philosophy or method, you risk being called closed-minded.  You may be told that since what works for one child does not always work for another, there can be no overall approach that is "best." You may even have your religious faith questioned, because studying one person too much might mean you are respecting them more than God, or their books as more valuable than the Bible.

Well, it might.  It could also mean that what you have found seems to work, that it contains common sense, that it lines up with your worldview, that it enriches and supports your faith rather than distorting it.  It could mean that you are opting for focus rather than fashion.

Yes, it might mean you're not adventurous or willing to try new things.  Or it could just mean that you've found a road and that's the way you're travelling.  If we're headed to Lake Ontario, we don't have time to worry that we're not going to see Point Pelee or Wasaga Beach.

In an age of pluralism and "wanting it all" that extends, as our columnist says, across everything from  marriage to group memberships, from investments to the taco truck, embedding yourself into any particular anything or anywhere seems risky.  Choosing one thing over another implies that we have already judged the rest negatively. Public schoolers get defensive around homeschoolers, even when we haven't said anything bad about school, because we have committed ourselves, at least for a time, to a different choice.  Non-Christians can't understand how Christians can be so arrogant as to think that one belief is true and others are not.  The presence of one vegetarian can throw a wet blanket on a whole tableful of steak-eaters.

But it is not arrogance that allows commitment to an idea. It's not about us. It is simply being convinced of the value and truth of the idea itself. 

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: Plans for this week

 Jean-Fran├žois Millet, The Seamstress
Daily opening time:  hymns, poems, current events


Current Events: The Ontario premier has announced an election for next month.

Old Testament: Book of Numbers. Write the best-guess date for these events in your Book of Centuries.

Handwriting, using Fix It...Write, Day 15 (the lessons are labelled by days)

Ivanhoe: Read chapter XXI (we read the whole thing), mostly about Cedric and Athelstane being imprisoned in Front-de-Boeuf's castle.  Cedric tells stories about King Harold, but Athelstane just wants his lunch.

English History: "How the Law Protects the Weak"; "Magna Charta and the Seamstress" (Dollygirl read that part to herself and then had a doll act it out)

Saxon Algebra 1/2 Second Edition, Lesson 45. Go over the new material in this lesson. Do the practice problems together. By yourself, work through the practice set problems 1-6. For Question 3, review the method for solving rate (ratio) problems. For Question 4, make sure you are clear on the place value of decimal numbers (go back to Lesson 6 if you need to review).

Literature-based grammar (review concepts covered this year).  "In the midst of this jolly company, Robin Hood and his men passed on into the town.  Here all was hubbub and merriment.  On every side were gay booths of colored canvas with floating flags and streamers, wherein cakes and barley sugar and many another good thing were for sale.  Tumblers were tumbling on the green, bag-pipes screeching, lads and lassies dancing, and within a ring in the town square a wrestling match was toward.  But Robin and his good fellows pressed on out the further gate of the town to the place reserved for the archery contest."  (My Book House)  In each sentence (where the constructions allow), cross out any prepositional phrases; underline the subject of the sentence, and double-underline the verb or verb phrase.  Look for direct and indirect objects. Look for examples of past, present or future progressive tense (forms of to be plus the present participle).

Apologia General Science: what proteins are, how they work. (pages 306, 307)

Music history: watched "Liszt's Rhapsody."

New read aloud: started The White Mountains, by John Christopher.

Tuesday (This was the original plan--but Tuesday's school is going to be cut down somewhat because we are going on a "field trip.")

New Testament: Gospel of Mark

Ourselves Book II, on History and Philosophy, pages 74-75. Why history? "He who reads history in this way, not to pass examinations, nor to obtain culture, or even for his own pleasure...but because he knows it to be his duty to his country to have some intelligent knowledge of the past, of other lands as well as of his own, must add solid worth to the nation that owns him. It is something to prepare for the uses of the State a just, liberal and enlightened patriotism in the breast of a single citizen."
"Believing that he is in the world to lay hold of all he can of those possessions which endure; that full, happy living, expansion, expression, resourcefulness, power of initiative, serviceableness––in a word, character, for him, depends upon how far he apprehends the relationships proper to him and how many of them he seizes, we should be gravely uneasy when his education leaves a young person with prejudices and caring for 'events' (in the sporting sense) rather than with interests and pursuits." ~~ Charlotte Mason, School Education

Dictation, from A History of Music for Young People (about Liszt)

Ivanhoe: finish Chapter XXI

Balance Benders Level 3

Natural History: Spring of the Year, "Palace in the Pig-Pen," about phoebes.  Look up phoebes online--what do they sound like? Look like?

Saxon Math, Lesson 45 Review the new material from yesterday. "On the board," work questions 7-10. Turn one of those questions into a word problem. For homework, do Problems 11-15.

Plutarch's Life of Cicero, Lesson 5. Cicero is put in the position of having to pass sentence on the conspirators. 
"We should like to add a word...emphasising the habit of reading as a chief acquirement of school life. It is only those who have read who do read."  ~~ Charlotte Mason, School Education


Old Testament: Book of Numbers.

Picture Talk: Vermeer.

Ourselves Book II, pages 75-76. Why philosophy? "The history of thought will bring us abundant evidence of the fallibility of reason; therefore, there is no certainty that what proves itself to us must be right."

General Science: pages 308-310. Finish reading about proteins.  Read the two review paragraphs and special points on page 308. Answer the two questions on page 308.  If there is time: do Experiment 12.3: Body Temperature. If you take your own temperature after getting quite hot or cold, will there be any difference in the readings? (Optional: watch "The Magic School Bus Gets Cold Feet.")

English History and Book of Centuries:  "Things New and Old;" "The Famous Fifteen"

Handwriting, Day 16

Saxon Math, Lesson 45. "On the board," work questions 16 and 17 (multiplying and dividing mixed numbers). Review the "unit multipliers" work by doing questions 25 and 29 "on the board." (No homework!)

End-of-term special readaloud: The White Mountains.


New Testament: Gospel of Mark

Key to Geometry: work through several pages.

Map Drills: Seterra Online

Shakespeare's King John

Transcription (copywork)

Money Matters for Teens: Keeping Track of All That Money

French History: read from de Joinville, Memoirs of the Crusades.  
"Thus, in readings on the period of the Armada, we should not devote the contemporary arithmetic lessons to calculations as to the amount of food necessary to sustain the Spanish fleet, because this is an arbitrary and not an inherent connection; but we should read such history, travels, and literature as would make the Spanish Armada live in the mind."  ~~ Charlotte Mason, School Education

End-of-term special readaloud: The White Mountains.


Basic Bible Studies: The Holy Spirit

Handwriting, Day 17

Ivanhoe: Chapter XXII

General Science: pages 311-312, Calories and Food.

Key to Geometry: work through several pages.

How to Read a Book: conclusion of the section on "unity," summing up a book with a few main thoughts.

Music history: What about Mendelssohn?

Friday, May 02, 2014

Dollygirl's Grade Seven: Friday School Plans (Updated and Annotated)

And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children. ~~ Charlotte Mason, School Education
Basic Bible Studies: The Holy Spirit. Use the NIV Bible Dictionary when needed.

Discuss Sunday reading options (or other devotional reading choices)
In this great work we seek and assuredly find the co-operation of the Divine Spirit, whom we recognise, in a sense rather new to modern thought, as the supreme Educator of mankind in things that have been called secular, fully as much as in those that have been called sacred. ~~ CM, School Education
How to Read a Book (Adler)

Handwriting practice

Spring of the Year: A list of things to hear in the spring
Ivanhoe: Cedric and his party have been attacked in the forest; "Locksley" tells Gurth and Wamba that he will do what he can to help.
I venture to propose one or two principles in the matter of school-books, and shall leave the far more difficult part, the application of those principles, to the reader. ~~ CM, School Education
First History of France, chapter 8 (we ended up reading the whole chapter): Louis VIII ("Lewis the Dolphin" in Shakespeare's King John), and Louis IX, also known as St. Louis.

Key to Geometry: work through several pages.  Be careful naming the triangles!

Apologia General Science: Reading about the positive and negative side of fats. Homework Read the online article I will send you about good snacks featuring complex carbohydrates. Choose two of the combinations that you like, and make sure we get those foods or the ingredients when we go shopping on the weekend.
I think we should have a great educational revolution once we ceased to regard ourselves as assortments of so-called faculties, and realised ourselves as persons whose great business it is to get in touch with other persons of all sorts and condition; of all countries and climes, of all times, past and present. History would become entrancing, literature a magic mirror for the discovery of other minds, the study of sociology a duty and a delight. We should tend to become responsive and wise, humble and reverent, recognising the duties and the joys of the full human life. We cannot of course overtake such a programme of work, but we can keep it in view; and I suppose every life is moulded upon its ideal. ~~ CM, School Education