Saturday, August 30, 2014

Surplus store stop

Magnetic whiteboard tile, $6.99.  Eraser so I don't have to use tissues, .99.  12 watercolours in tubes, $2.99.

For any of you locals, it's the place with the Spitfire perched on the roof.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Did Richard do it?

Josephine Tey convinced me (years ago) that Richard III was maligned and innocent.  Since then I've discovered that not everyone agrees with her logic.  The Year of Three Kings, 1483 was published in 1983,and  written by Giles St Aubyn, one of those who weren't as convinced.  It is my last intensive teacher-read before the school year starts; I'm about halfway through, and I'm finding it good straightforward history--though not as easy to get through as Tey's fictional approach.

(Funny what things come back to you.  As soon as I read the name Lovell, I remembered the rhyme from Daughter of Time about "The Cat, the Rat, and Lovell our dog," and I was pretty pleased with myself for getting that right when Catesby and Ratcliffe turned up a few pages later.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

In which we get a blogger award

The Duchess of Burgundy Carrots has given us a Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Thank you!

The rules of acceptance involve making a list of things that you, whoever you are, might not know about me (Mama Squirrel, since I take on most of the blogging duties at the Treehouse).  I did something like that a few years ago, but here are a few different ones.

1.  You know how when you take a babysitting class you have to take a doll or a teddy along for practice? Our first (and only) prenatal instructor asked us to bring a doll, but since we didn't have any visible children yet, we didn't own any suitable toys.  So I sewed a big stuffed baby and we used him/her to practice burping and diapering.  I don't remember if he/she ever got a name...we were having trouble just deciding on names for real babies.

2.  I have a dress that I bought when Mr. Fixit and I were dating. It still fits, and I would like to wear it once in awhile (if only for fun), but it was missing a gold-coloured button, and there were no extras inside or as decoration that I could swipe.  Today I was going through the button bag, hoping that maybe I had just dropped that missing one in with the others.  I came up with one that was close in size and even had a gold rim, but the centre of it was a sort of yellow enamel. About ten seconds after Ponytails said "Marker?," I thought of the metallic Sharpies that appeared in my Christmas stocking.  With that bit of gold markering, and switching the position of the new one to the very bottom, it's no longer obvious that there's been a "button hack"; and I can wear the dress again. (The photo makes it look like the second-from-the-bottom is different, but it's just the lighting.)
3. If you ask me to pick something from Tim Horton's, nutritional thoughts and messiness aside, I would probably pick a Dutchie.  I spent the first formative years of my squirrelhood around the corner from an early Tim's, and Dutchies are a hangover from those times.

I am going to pass on re-passing the award, not because I don't know any good bloggers but because some of them have already gotten similar awards and the rest are busy getting ready for school and other things.  But thank you again to the Carrot Duchy.

Fast and frugal: Black Bean Dip

Something I thought of and made all within about five minutes: combine approximately equal parts of black beans (cooked or canned, drained and rinsed) and salsa.  Run through a Ninja or whatever mashing device you use.  I heated the beans first in the microwave so they'd blend better and so the dip would be warm. Serve with chips or carrot sticks.  The leftovers are going in a pot of chili tonight.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Teacher training this week (one week till school starts)

One week to finish my "summer education?"

Old Mortality is on hold, temporarily, and that's okay; it's not on the schedule until the third term anyway.

I am in the middle of several library books, trying to finish them all at once.  I'm also reading The End of Ignorance, not from the library but one that I had postponed reading for too long.  It is both method-confirming and method-changing...kind of like a driving clinic that tells you how well you're doing but then points out all the times you were looking at something else or taking too long to make a turn.  I don't drive but I can still make a driving simile, right?  There are so many places where John Mighton echoes Charlotte Mason on education, it's uncanny.  (I know I said that a few years ago.  I still think so.)

There are several John Mighton and JUMP Math videos on You-Tube, but I particularly like this one.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What's for supper? What's in the fridge?

Tonight's dinner menu, using what we had and working around what we didn't:

Macaroni skillet with cheese, celery and green peppers
Broccoli Slaw, made with a bag of "broccoli slaw" from the store plus oil and vinegar dressing

Chocolate microwave cake
Strawberry sauce made with part of a jar of "hot strawberry jam" we got at the vegetable stand (whoo!).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's up at the Treehouse?

Ponytails has been working (scooping ice cream) and parking-lot driving with Mr. Fixit.

The Apprentice has been working out of town and we haven't seen her much lately, but she's coming for a visit today.

Dollygirl Lydia has been working on trying to replace a worn-out swimsuit.  Which isn't easy.  Even in the summer. But she did finally find one so that she can go swimming with The Apprentice.

Mama Squirrel has been working on school stuff, both for the Treehouse and for online projects.  Today Mr. Fixit has promised to get the Fruit of Her Labours printed out (that means the school plan for the year).

Mr. Fixt, as usual, has been working on the things he works on. Recently that's included doing colour developing in the kitchen sink. Really, you can, or at least he can. Technology is wonderful.

 (Phone photo found here.)  (Car photo found here.)  (Camera photo found here.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To come together

Megan Hoyt posted recently about Prov.en.der's Clockwise Retreat at Harvest Community School.  So did Tammy Glaser.  It sounds like a wonderful time--but really, when have you heard of a Charlotte Mason retreat or conference recently that wasn't amazing?  There seems to be a spirit of both humility and generosity that shines out at these events, alongside the practical and theoretical stuff.  Classical education in action, if you like. Maybe it's because we didn't have anything like this for so many years; maybe it's because CMers spend so much time talking about respecting individuals, working on this with our families, that we come alongside each other in the same way; maybe it's because we talk about atmosphere, and it spreads into the plans and details for group events.  Not that I'm trying to over-idealize cottage schoolers, homeschoolers, CMers, or CM--nothing is perfect.  But there is a strong sense of "look what we're doing--and it works!" in these settings, rather than people trying to out-expert each other.

And when we go back in time...I was reminded of this Parents' Review article by Helen E. Wix, which was given as a "paper" (what we'd probably call a seminar now) to a group of Sunday School teachers in 1917. How boring?  No!  Miss Wix gives a wonderful step-by-step description of how she prepared (and rehearsed!) a typical lesson.  I can imagine something very similar to this being shared at a meeting of Charlotte Mason friends today:
It is nothing less than wonderful how lessons given in this way are remembered from week to week. Children that I have taught often remember, far better than I do, the lesson they had from me—I should say with me—a week ago. This is natural, for they did the work; I listened and cheered on; they had to concentrate their whole minds on the story; in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, it would only be read once, and then, in the narration, what concentration is needed! Try for yourselves; read a page or two of an interesting book, and then narrate it to yourself. It is not memory; it is concentrated attention, and if you did it constantly you would be amazed how your powers of concentration would increase. But you read only once, remember!...
No more set answers to set questions, no more jerky monosyllables, but a good, flowing account of what was read in good English—you remember they narrate "in the Bible words as much as possible"—and what finer English is there? ~~ Helen E. Wix, "The P.N.E.U. Method in Sunday Schools"
Isn't it amazing that if, say, Helen E. Wix showed up at one of today's CM gatherings, we'd probably find we had more in common with her than not?

(Just to mention, Miss Wix remained involved with the P.N.E.U. for many years: the Ambleside Online website has another article written by her and published in a 1957 Parents' Review.   So she's really not so far back there with the dinosaurs.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Henrietta's House (Book Review)

Henrietta's House (also titled The Blue Hills), by Elizabeth Goudge.  1945, Hodder & Stoughton (later Duckworth).  Third book in the Torminster Saga, to follow A City of Bells and The Sister of the Angels.  Thoughts and description on the Elizabeth Goudge website.

Henrietta's House is pure Elizabeth Goudge, all the way through. There's just no way you could mistake it for anything else.  It belongs squarely in her low fantasy-anything-could-happen realm along with The Little White Horse, seems to be written for about the same age group, and in fact it was published the year before LWH.  I wonder if she was working on both books at once, or if LWH grew out of the ideas in Henrietta. (There is some information on the writing of the book at the link above.)

In any case, Henrietta's House is a fairly short novel (about 150 pages), set at the end of horse-and-carriage days.  Henrietta is a sensitive young girl living with old, strict relatives because her poet father is almost never around.  Like Susan in Miracle on 34th Street, she wants a house; not because she has nowhere to live, but because she dreams of a true "home," where (she assumes) her father will also stay put.

She's not the only one around with dreams and wishes. Unusually, for a book that seems to be aimed at children, most of the other characters are adults, and some of them are quite old--too old, children might think, to be making wishes.  But this is the day that everybody's wishes, improbably enough, come true.  It's her adopted brother's birthday, and he invites a somewhat motley crew of oldsters to a picnic in Foxglove Combe, along with a young aunt and uncle who shock everyone with their new motorcar.  But the vehicles (including the car) all take wrong turns and get separated on the way to the picnic, and by the time they're reunited at the end, each person has had some kind of adventure and/or awakening.

They meet up, one by one, with a large, cross old man who has a bad habit of sticking pins in wax figures (foreshadowing a similar theme in Linnets and Valerians?), but who also seems to be drawn from The Selfish Giant.  Who is he, and does he fit in somehow with the old local legends of robbers and hermits?  And who was that other old man who came into the bookshop and bought up the entire list of Henrietta's favourite books?  (If you want to see the list, you'll have to read the book.  There were a few I'd never heard of.)

Considering the themes that Goudge explores in her WWII/postwar novels, such as hunger (physical, emotional, spiritual) and feelings of displacement aggravated by war and shortages, books like LWH and this one seem like her version of comfort food.  The motorcar, for instance, somehow disappears at the end of the story: everyone agreed it didn't belong.  There are shops with all the books you want, kitchens with all the nicest kinds of food, and characters who...even the bad ones...can reform if they can just remember where they left their hearts.

Henrietta's House  is the third in a trilogy, but it can also stand just fine on its own. (But now I want to go back and read the first two.)

Cindy's "Retirement"

Run, do not walk, over to Ordo Amoris, and glean what you can, because Cindy is closing up shop, and the blog will be deleted at the end of the week.

Teacher training this week

Still reading:

Why Geology Matters
Charlotte Mason's Formation of Character (re-reading)
Old Mortality

Just started:

The One World School House: Education Reimagined, by Salman Khan

Hoping to get to:

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World, by Mark Frauenfelder

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What does a Year Eight week look like? (Lydia's Grade Eight)

In past years we have tried a LOT of school-organizing methods. Some of them were aimed at Mama Squirrel (keeping a binder of what was to be done next for each subject), and some were meant more for the Squirrelings (workboxing).  By the time the Apprentice and Ponytails reached Grade Eight, it was time for them to take on more responsibility, and to have more opportunity to schedule their own time.  That might seem to fly in the face of Charlotte Mason's strictly-timetabled daily work, but it didn't end up being as haphazard as it sounds; we did settle into a general routine, worked around independent / group / "With Mom" times.  For our older girls, giving them a checklist for the week turned out to be good preparation for managing their schoolwork in public high school.

Dollygirl Lydia and I will be doing the core subjects together, or partly together, and reading some books out loud. I've written out plans based on what we've been able to get done in the past, oomphed a bit for Grade Eight but again taking into account that doing more independently (and having to do more written work) might actually cut down on the number of pages read.  But that's okay.

So here's a sample of the plans for Grade Eight.  The little circles are for checkmarks.

Dollygirl's Lydia's plan for Week One (with annotations)

Commonplace Books, Copywork, and Recitations (Memory Work)
o Copy passages from poetry, plays, and the other books read
o Practice Scripture passage(s):
o Practice poem(s):
o Other memory work:

o Oral narrations of readings
o Reader's Journal: one page, twice a week, on any of your readings
o Keep Book of Centuries and/or other notebooks handy as you read or listen; make entries at the end
o Other kinds of narrations: dramatic, musical, artistic...

Bible and Church History 
Matthew 8; Psalm 112, 113; Proverbs 4:14-27  (Use Bible Reader's Companion as a commentary and study guide--you can write in the book.)
o   o   o   o   o

Read Beautiful Girlhood [last-minute change]
o 2 chapters/week

Read The Bible Through the Ages
o 10 pages/wk (starting on page 11): Introduction, The World of the Patriarchs

World History
Keep a Book of Centuries with all history studied (Bible, English, Canadian, etc.)

Read History of England by H.O. Arnold-Forster
o 35. Henry VII: (1) The Tudors, (2).The King's Title, (3)  Lambert Simnel; or, Carpenter, King, and Kitchen Boy; (4). Perkin Warbeck

Read The Golden Book of the Renaissance
o page 7-bottom of  21

Read Mythology by Edith Hamilton
o ten pages/week

Read Westward Ho!  (see online study notes)
o chapters 1, 2

o England in Literature,  Sir Thomas Wyatt, pages 132-133 [read together]

Read The Roar on the Other Side: a guide for student poets
o  Introduction

Plays: A Man for All Seasons
o spread over the term

Grammar and Composition
Read How to Read a Book, Coming to Terms With an Author [read together]
o page 96-half of 106. Words vs. Terms; Finding the Key Words; Technical Word and Special Vocabularies.  "In this chapter so far, there have been only a few important words: 'word,' 'term,' 'ambiguity,' 'communication,' and perhaps one or two more  Of these, 'term' is clearly the most important; all the others are important in relation to it."

Earth Science
Read Exploring Creation With Physical Science,  Module 1: The Basics (spread over 4 weeks)
o Read Student Notes on Pages i & ii
o Experiment 1.1 "Atoms and Molecules."
o Write up the experiment for your lab notebook.

Ecology and Nature Study
Read [Reader's Digest] How Nature Works
o  pages 30-31, Ecology.  This is a two-page version of what you will be studying throughout the year in [Gary Parker's] Exploring the World Around You.

Keeping a Nature Journal
o p. 33 Where to roam with your journal
o  Roam somewhere and make at least one entry

Read Kon Tiki: Edition for Young People
o Chapter 1: How it All Began.   Study questions at the end of these notes.
o Chapter 2: An Expedition is Born.   Study questions.

Keep a calendar of current events in the back of your BoC.

Read Ourselves Book II, Section III, The Function of Conscience.[read together]
o page 109-114, Chapter XVII, Conviction of Sin.  "Then, when conscience says nothing we are all right? you ask.  By no means, for the verdict of conscience depends upon what we know and what we habitually allow."

Read Whatever Happened to Justice 
o  Introduction
o chapter 1, The Cause is Law

Read Plutarch's Life of Marcus Crassus [read together]
o one lesson


o  Balance Benders Level 3: do two per week
Mathematics: A Human Endeavor.  Chapter One, Mathematical ways of thinking
Lesson One
o Introductory problems
o The path of a billard ball, Set I, Questions 1-8, on graph paper
o The path of a billard ball, Set I, Questions 9-15
o The path of a billard ball,  Set II, Questions 1-14
o  Optional: Set III (using a mirror)
Lesson Two
o Introductory problems
o  More billiard ball mathematics, Set I, Questions 1-11

French: French Smart 7 
o Story unit 1: A monkey fable
o  Folk song to learn: Ram'nez Vos Moutons, included in Canada: A New Land, page 130

Composer Study
o Wagner: Siegfried Idyll (orchestral)

Picture Study: Titian
o  The Descent of the Holy Ghost (c. 1545)

Be a Girl Guide Challenge
o Know how to make two different knots to join two ropes together.  (Guide Handbook page 202).
o Make notes in your Enquire Within notebook.

o [probably making fabric flowers]

Three weeks until school starts, and the Squirrelings grow up

Seems like just yesterday we were posting those countdown photos of the dolls...a whole year has gone by. It's kind of funny that there are three of them sitting on the couch, much like the three Squirrelings.

The Apprentice will be experiencing, for the first time in her memory, a September when she will NOT be starting school.  (Except for the year Ponytails was born and we delayed school until Canadian Thanksgiving.)

Ponytails, whose first blog posts here looked like this, has a part-time job and is going into her last year of high school.

And Dollygirl (a.k.a. Crayons)  is now a little bit taller than I am, and recently acquired an adult-sized bike. This week I gave away all the multiplication flash cards and our set of Monopoly Junior.  (She wants to keep the Pirate Snakes and Ladders game, though.)

Monday, August 04, 2014

Teacher training this week

Still reading:

Why Geology Matters, by Doug Macdougall
Old Mortality, by Sir Walter Scott

Planning to read or reread:

Time as History, by George Grant (CBC Massey Lectures 1969)  (short book)
Formation of Character, by Charlotte Mason (that will probably keep me busy until school starts)
Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves


TED Talk: Charles Leadbeater, Education innovation in the slums.

"So time and again, I found people like this. This is an amazing guy, Sebastiao Rocha, in Belo Horizonte, in the third largest city in Brazil. He's invented more than 200 games to teach virtually any subject under the sun. In the schools and communities that Taio works in, the day always starts in a circle and always starts from a question. Imagine an education system that started from questions, not from knowledge to be imparted, or started from a game, not from a lesson, or started from the premise that you have to engage people first before you can possibly teach them. Our education systems, you do all that stuff afterward, if you're lucky, sport, drama, music."  ~~ Charles Leadbeater