Friday, October 31, 2014

What's for supper? That was easy.

Tonight's menu:
Carrot fries
Leftover chicken cacciatore
Leftover pasta and spinach mixed with cheese and yogurt
Leftover sausage slices

For those who like to read bookshelves sideways (photo post)

The Mason Circle (L'Harmas posts)

Mr. Fixit and I, having watched all the Foyle's War episodes, have turned to the somewhat-related miniseries The Bletchley Circle.  It's about a group of women, formerly wartime codebreakers at Bletchley Park, who reunite several years later and solve crimes.  During the war, they felt like they were doing something real and important; since then things have been too quiet.

Behind a front of knitting and discussing Charles Dickens, the women of the Bletchley Circle come together to use their brains.  At first it's hard to persuade them to take risks, to act. At one point even the boldest of them says that they shouldn't be pursuing a murderer; that's a job for the authorities. 
What does that have to do with Charlotte Mason email lists and Facebook groups?  With little meetups to share nature notebooks and talk about Shakespeare? And with L'Harmas, a bunch of apparently nice, middleclass moms (and a couple of dads; men aren't excluded) spending a Friday night and a Saturday at a small-town Canadian church?  Or with other similar goings-on in the United States? And maybe someday in Australia?
Francis Schaeffer said that in God's kingdom, there are no little people, just people God uses. 
We're of different ages, from different countries. Some of us are still in the trenches, actively homeschooling.  Others are older, have found post-homeschool life a bit dull and are finding ways to branch out. We want to be challenged and we also feel a need to serve, help, brighten our corners. We think learning is something to celebrate. But like the Bletchley group, more things happen when we connect and work together...and sometimes play together.  We learn from each other. We learn to take care of each other.

And sometimes we shake things up, bypass the experts. Because, as in The Bletchley Circle, if they're not going to do's up to us. We begin by taking the risk of homeschooling, then by connecting with each other, by putting thoughts on paper, speaking to groups. Some of us find ourselves taking bigger risks, doing things we hadn't planned on: homeschooling through high school. Organizing communities, opening schools. Reaching out to more parents and children, looking beyond our families.
Maybe you could call it The Mason Circle. Because we don't want life to be "ordinary" either.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dr Tongue's 3-D House of Grade Eight (Some fun for Friday)

(If you read on a feed, you miss the subject lines!)

Plans for October 31st:

1.  Poetry: Shakespeare's Sonnets 71 and 73. ("Bare Ruined Choirs")

2.  Out of the Silent Planet, one chapter
3.  Nature notebook scavenger hunt, if it's not raining

4.  Plutarch's Life of Crassus, Lesson 8.  "But now as Crassus was passing his army upon the bridge he had made over the river of Euphrates, there fell out sudden strange and terrible cracks of thunder, with fearful flashes of lightning full in the soldiers' faces: moreover, out of a great black cloud came a wonderful storm and tempest of wind upon the bridge, that the marvellous force thereof overthrew a great part of the bridge, and carried it quite away. Besides all this, the place where he appointed to lodge, was twice stricken with two great thunder claps. One of his great horse in like case, being bravely furnished and set out, took the bit in his teeth, and leapt into the river with his rider on his back, who were both drowned, and never seen after. They say also, that the first eagle and ensign that was to be taken up when they marched, turned back of itself, without any hands laid upon it. Further it fortuned that as they were distributing the victuals unto the soldiers, after they had all passed over the bridge, the first thing that was given them, was salt and water lentils, which the Romans take for a token of death and mourning, because they use it at the funerals of the dead." (Who needs horror movies?)

5.  Musical Interlude 1: Sofia Opera's Flash Mob, Ride of the Valkyries (3 minutes long)

6.  Reformation Day and Church History: Martin Luther's Defense before the Diet of Worms. Such an interesting connection: who was the Holy Roman Emperor before whom Luther appeared?  Hint: Titian painted him twice in 1548.

7.  Musical Interlude 2: Verdi vs. Wagner (6 minutes long)

8.  Latin Lesson.  Play Concentration with some seasonal vocabulary: "cucurbita" (pumpkin), "vespertilio" (bat), "cornix" (crow).

9.  Extra readings as needed (finish up any history or science readings).

10.  Choice of board games.

Sometimes I bake things: Pumpkin butter pie

I've posted a recipe before for apple butter or pumpkin butter pie, but this is a different one.  I had some homemade pumpkin butter, and I thought it would be good in a pie, but I didn't have any cream of tartar. I also didn't feel like whipping egg whites for our special Thanksgiving-style pumpkin pie..

So I decided to use the recipe for Squash Pie, or Sweet Potato Pie.. I adapted it a bit to the amount of pumpkin butter I had--used a bit less milk and sugar, didn't add any extra spices.  The edges got a bit dark, but that often happens. And as you can see, it's already half gone.

Drawn from the P.U.S.: picture talk on Titian

A Teacher's Notes for Titian's "Equestrian Portrait of Charles V" (also called "Emperor Charles V on Horseback" or "Charles V at Mühlberg.")  (Lesson adapted from this Parents' Review Article by K.M. Claxton, 1915.)

1.  Ask the student what she knows about Titian.
Possible answers:  Titian was the greatest painter of 16th-century Venice.  He was believed to have lived to be 100, but he was more likely about 90 years old when he died. He painted religious art and portraits of princes and emperors all over Europe.

2.  What is the painting?  
Created between April and September 1548 while Titian was at the imperial court of Augsburg, it is a tribute to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, following his victory in the April 1547 Battle of Mühlberg against the Protestant armies. (Wikipedia article)
3. Who was Charles V?  See "Subject" in this article from The Guardian (really useful). 

4. The history of the picture:  
Some sources say that Titian was the official court painter for Charles V., but he seems to have had a special freedom to travel and to paint other subjects, and he is described as almost more of a personal friend of the Emperor.  Read this passage from Titian's Portraits through Aretino's Lens, by Luba Freedman: "Certainly Titian was not the only artist ever to have been admitted to the court and to have become a favourite of rulers, but his close relationship with the emperor was unusual for the time...Aretino opines that this privilege was bestowed on Titian not only because of his talent in painting but also because of his virtuous agent of the Duke of Urbino..also reported that Titian had become the august favourite and even had a room near the emperor so he could converse privately with his patron. That this privilege was exceptional can be seen in a letter of Nov 10, the skeptical Giovanni Della Casa: “Messer Titian has spent a long time with His Imperial Majesty painting his portrait, and seems to have had plenty of opportunities to talk with him, while he was painting and so on"...In thinking about the relationship between Titian and Charles V, one should keep in mind...that he had priority over most persons in attendance upon the emperor, for he was an independent citizen of the Venetian Republic, and as such served Charles only by special invitation. Titian was in no sense a court painter dependent on imperial favor. His independence may have played a part in his unique approach to portraying the emperor."

5.  After studying the picture for several minutes, the student describes it out loud. 
6.  Then we read a few appreciative words on the life and energy displayed, on the beauty of the forms, and on the beautiful shading of the picture.

"The portrait in part gains its impact by its directness and sense of contained power: the horse's strength seems just in check, and Charles' brilliantly shining armour and the painting's deep reds are reminders of battle and heroism." (Wikipedia article)  See also the "Distinguishing Features" section of the article from The Guardian. I especially like the part about "Charles V rides out of the woods, across a sweeping landscape, in front of one of Titian's most unforgettable skies..."

7.  The student draws the chief lines of the composition.

8. A final note:  Titian's seventeenth-century biographer Carlo Ridolfi recounts an anecdote concerning their relationship..."It is told of Titian that while he was painting the portrait, he dropped a brush, which the emperor picked up, and bowing low, Titian declared: 'Sire, one of your servants does not deserve such an honour.' To this Charles replied: 'Titian deserves to be served by Caesar.'"  Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret painted this scene in 1808 ("Charles V Picking Up Titian's Paintbrush"). (Quote and painting found here.)

In this way delight (L'Harmas posts)

Some final thoughts from Laurie Bestvater's talk (I'm not cribbing here, just thinking about it)

You cannot stop God from speaking.  Jesus said that if the children's praises were silenced, the rocks would cry out in their place.  
I read that although Bibles were confiscated in Russia under Communist rule, the authorities forgot to ban some of the country's great novelists, like Dostoevsky. "For example, a character in one of his novels meets a young peasant woman with a baby. When the baby smiles for the first time, the woman makes the Sign of the Cross. When asked why she made this sign, the woman answers: ``All the joy that a mother feels when she sees her child smiling for the first time... God feels every time He sees... a sinner praying to him from the bottom of his heart."  (found here)

God's voice has a way of capturing our hearts, inspiring deep reactions and also actions. We learn to listen for that voice, and to see it as well.  We may seem to hear and see most clearly at certain times, at certain places, or through the words of certain authors that seem to bring us through magic doorways (sometimes found at the back of old wardrobes).  Mark Patrick Hederman calls those times and places "thresholds, where the very pores are kept open between the visible and the invisible."

And as teachers, what does all that have to do with the way we want students to learn?

We encourage the relationship between authors and readers. We direct students to the doorway, but we don't shove them through it.

We use lessons as an instrument for building relationships.

We allow grace to come as and when it will. "Grace is not so poor a thing that it cannot present itself in any number of ways,' writes Marilynne Robinson in Gilead.

We count on delight.
And in this way delight is necessary for happiness. For it is caused by the appetite being at rest in the good attained ~~ St. Thomas Aquinas
Tomorrow: one last post about L'Harmas, Charlotte Mason, and what happens when CM homeschoolers meet up. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Let the wild rumpus start (L'Harmas posts)

Have you seen the movie Hop? (Terrible reviews, but it did have its moments.) The main character is an out-of-work young man named Fred.  Fred's sister takes pity on him and sets up a job interview. Fred mumbles that he'll think about it.  His sister says, "You don't think about it. You shave, you shower, and you show up."  At the least, right?

Sometimes it does start with showing up, being there, human beans getting involved. I'm thinking of the kids who showed up to play in Roxaboxen, and in Maurice Sendak's The Sign on Rosie's Door. Somebody (Marian, Rosie) had ideas...but the others had to come too.
Laurie Bestvater asked a question (at L'Harmas) that came out of her son's studies in political science. What is the moment when an idea leads to some kind of action, positive or negative?  If the air is charged with something about to happen, how do you get from thinking about it to doing something about it?  What moves you from just considering an idea to acting on it?

And when it's an idea that you're taking in, from someone or somewhere else, how do you define that moment of learning, the lightbulb flash?   If there's an element of mystery about how this happens, what is our part as teachers?  Is it something we can control, or do we just help set up the conditions for that to happen? Charlotte Mason had some things to say about not getting in the way of the Holy Spirit, even in religious instruction.
On the other hand, are there things that teachers and parents do (or hopefully don't do) that kill the mystery, that strip the body down to the bones?  Last  Friday, Lydia and I read this in Adler's How to Read a Book:  "The vice of 'verbalism' can be defined as the bad habit of using words without regard for the thoughts they should convey and without awareness of the experiences to which they should refer...'verbalism' is the besetting sin of those who fail to read analytically. [Note that 'analytically' is used here in a positive sense, meaning the reader searches for the big ideas in an argument by noting the key words, terms, and sentences, and not in the synthesis vs. analysis argument of classical education.] Such readers never get beyond the words ...lack of such discipline results in slavery to words rather than mastery of them."

As Laurie pointed out, another way of killing books (and the enjoyment of reading) is to drag them to pieces in unit studies (or blog posts). Or to give multiple-choice tests on them. (Do you notice that that test is part of a unit on Imagination?)

Roxaboxen is set in Arizona.  It mentions cactus and ocotillo. It gives us an idea of what it was like to play outdoors in a desert climate. But it is not a botany or geography book, any more than Miss Rumphius is a scientific study of lupines. The text has to be taken on its own terms. (That is where synthesis, not analysis in its pulling-apart sense, becomes important.)

Dallas Willard said that the Kingdom of God means that God is doing something, and that He invites us to join in whatever this thing is that he is doing, this divine conspiracy.  There's a clear invitation but also a certain sense of mystery, something that calls to us, something that we can give to our children so clearly that they themselves dream of a place they've never seen.  As our friend Cindy says, that "thing" is more often found in poetry than in grammar lessons, unless, again, our 'verbalism' destroys the poem that "should not mean but be."

In The Sign on Rosie's Door, Rosie entices her friends into spending a hot afternoon sitting on her cellar door with her, waiting for someone called "Magic Man" to show up.
"That evening, when their mothers asked them what they had done all afternoon, they said they had done so much there wasn't even enough time to do it in and they were going to do it all over again tomorrow.  'Good!' all their mothers said." ~~ Maurice Sendak, The Sign on Rosie's Door

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sweet home Ontari-ama (L'Harmas posts)

Leaves all down now on the red maple

Melanie Walker-Malone may be a less familiar name to some Treehouse readers.  I met Melanie for the first time at last year's L'Harmas, while I was still trying to wrap my head around the idea that people would actually come up HERE for a conference, from down THERE.

This year Melanie's talk was about the world-famous and inspiring people who were born in her home state, Alabama, and how learning about the heroes right around you often creates wider connections.  For instance, Helen Keller, from Alabama, had a close connection with Alexander Graham Bell, and when we were chatting after her talk Melanie mentioned that she (Melanie) had been to the Bell Historic Site in Nova Scotia.  But she didn't know that there's also a Bell Homestead in Brantford, Ontario, much closer to us, where the first telephone calls were made! So the connections continue to grow.

Melanie mentioned not only people but local resources; in her case, marble which is quarried nearby and used in Birmingham for everything from statues to kitchen islands. Teaching children to recognize their "own" rocks, wood, whatever, is another way to get them to notice what's around them in a new way.  A building, a wall, a monument that they would have passed over before, takes on new meaning when they know not only who or what it represents, but also why the material was chosen, where it came from.

So guess what I found online today? A local geologist has put together a self-guided walking tour of some of the city buildings, pointing out what they're made of, where fossils are embedded in stone walls, and so on.  Anybody local who wants to know, contact me and I'll send you the link.  Is that cool or what?
Our front steps and retaining wall

Little ideas...they just hatch out and hop all over the place.

Tammy Glaser (and the DHM) on teaching the whole child (L'Harmas posts)

One of the keynote speakers at this year's L'Harmas weekend was Tammy Glaser.  Most Treehouse readers know who Tammy is. (She also brought her daughter Pamela with her, and we got to see Pamela's artwork.) Many of you will also know that she has been involved with a small school, so she has been getting the chance to see how CM works with even more shapes and sizes and styles of children.

Tammy talked about teaching vs. what you might call therapizing. The Deputy Headmistress posted on a similar theme, awhile back, saying, 'Intimidated by the condescending attitude of the perky expert, who spoke kindly but loftily to all of us as though we were small and more than unusually dim children, we found ourselves responding by feeling small and dim and mentally shrinking down to her expectations."

If we are to teach with things and thoughts, then the teacher--of any student, including one with particular limitations--needs to know what potential things and thoughts are in the lesson, what might be in the way, and how we can get around those obstacles, make the lesson meaningful...and not make anybody feel small and dim.  Sometimes, in a classroom, that just means doing what teachers have always done: seating one child away from chattering friends or other distractions, or putting another one right up front to keep an eye on them.  It might mean letting certain children "break the rules"--letting them narrate a picture talk with the picture in front of them instead of hidden.  In a one-on-one situation, there's even more room for taking things as slow or making things as concrete as they need to be for that student.

And, to take something else away from what Tammy said, that makes outdoor time even more valuable for all children.  What sorts of things happen...naturally...on nature walks, during outdoor play time, in an afternoon at the beach? What happens when you encounter a real praying mantis? How can you match that in a therapy room?

We want to give everyone access to real things, big thoughts. It might help to remember that "a person's a person no matter how small," but only in the sense, maybe, of physical size or chronological age.  Because nobody wants to feel small and dim.

Another post you might like:  Illegal Moves.

More posts about L'Harmas 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sometimes I make other things

Crocheted tote bag, made to cover up an older bag that was getting of these.
That way I could still use the webbing handles and the strength of the canvas fabric, but it just looks better.

What's for supper?

Tonight's menu:

Spinach-tortilla lasagna.  Meat-eaters' option: put your serving of lasagna on some browned ground beef.

Sweet potato slices, leftover salad

Baked apples from the Old Farmhouse orchard in Kingsville.

Lydia's Grade Eight, Week Nine (school plans)

What's up for school this week?

We are starting Module 3 in Apologia Physical Science, "The Atmosphere."

We are also reading a chapter called "Light and the Rhythms of Life" in Exploring the World Around You.  It's about migration and hibernation, which seems like a good topic for this time of year.  The page to read in Keeping a Nature Journal is "Autumn Changes."

In How to Read a Book we will be "Finding the Arguments."

In history, we get into the reign of Elizabeth.  In History of English Literature there are two chapters about the life of Shakespeare.  Since the end of the week is Reformation Day, we will also be reading a speech by Martin Luther.

And in How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig, we have chapter 9, "That does not compute."  What happens when people are viewed or treated as machines?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

School plans for Friday: a short day

1. If it's nice enough, work on nature notebooks.

2. Finish ecology lesson for the week: coral reefs and estuaries.
2b. Chapter from Cousteau's The Silent World.  We are not reading the whole book, just this chapter.

3. Watch the You-tube movie of Maupassant's "The Necklace."  (In French.)

4. One lesson from Plutarch.

5. Probably a chapter from Out of the Silent Planet.

6. Lydia is going to work on her math and science in the afternoon, after Mama Squirrel has gone to the L'Harmas retreat.

Mama Squirrel's nature notebook

Lydia's Grade Eight: The last French lesson

Yesterday's lesson on "The Necklace" was straightforward: we read the two pages about how Mme Loisel borrowed a diamond necklace, had fun at the party, and then, back at home, found that the necklace was missing.
I did a doodled presentation of jewels, happiness/sadness, and a little horse-drawn taxicab on the white board (see photo), to use as a reference while I read through the story.  Lydia read a couple of paragraphs afterward, for practice, and I asked her to narrate.  ("Ooh la la, des diamants!")

Today is the fourth and last lesson.  For the sake of length, we are going to skip the details about them trying to find the necklace and borrow the money to pay for a replacement.  But we will go through some housework vocabulary with the help of Cinderella (French You-tube video, Les Harpies); write out some adjective phrases (see below), and read the portion of the Prayer of St. Francis I included in the first lesson.  And then we will read and narrate the rest of the story, from the point where their lifestyle changes drastically.

A list of household vocabulary:
la bonne: the maid
une mansarde:  a garret apartment
les travaux, les besognes: the duties
le ménage: the housework
la cuisine: the cooking
laver / faire la vaisselle: wash / do the dishes
une casserole: a pot
les mains rouges: red hands, dishpan hands
le linge sale: dirty laundry
les ordures: the garbage
laver les planchers: scrub the floors

More adjectives:  Say that he or she seems... (il / elle semble...)  Say that he or she has become... (il / elle est devenu(e)...)
odieux (odieuse)
vieux (vieille)
mal peignée (uncombed, bad hair day)

And a bonus for tomorrow:  the film, with captions too, in French! (On You-tube, La Parure: un film de Claude Chabrol)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lydia's Grade Eight: Today we are listening to Wagner's Lohengrin

"Even the feeling of "unremembered pleasure"--for it is possible to have the spring of association touched so lightly that one recovers the feeling of former pleasure without recovering the sensation, or the image, which produced the sensation, but merely just the vague feeling of the pleasure, as when one hears the word Lohengrin and does not wait, as it were, to recover the sensation of musical delight, but just catches a waft of the pleasure which the sensation brought--intangible, indefinite as they are, produce that glow of the heart which warms a good man to 'acts of kindness and of love,' as little, as nameless, and as unremembered as the feelings out of which they spring." ~~ Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, page 197

"I just happened to be on the same bus as a party of young German children going back after the performance and they unanimously told their teacher they had enjoyed it and said out loud their favourite moments. More tellingly the teacher told one of her charges how he had shown he could concentrate for over an hour watching an opera and now she wanted him to do that in class. There was a reply from another adult in the party – possibly not an actual colleague – to the effect that perhaps the teacher should learn to sing!" ~~ "Bayreuth Opens Up Wagner to a Younger Audience", by Jim Pritchard, at Seen and Heard International (2014)


"Lohengrin," chapter in Stories of Favorite Operas, by Clyde Robert Bulla (free to read online!).  Retold for children.

Daily Telegraph article: "The opera novice: Wagner's Lohengrin," with one or two omissions.  You-tube video of the overture, at that link. You-tube video of Elsa's Procession to the Cathedrral.  And the Wedding March!  This description is interesting too, and goes a little more into the specific songs.

Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin, You-tube link above.  Does this sound familiar?

Many would find this offensive, but the Prelude to Act I was used (most ironically) in a scene from Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, made in 1940, where the title character dances with a large globe.

It's also interesting to search You-tube for examples of Liszt's piano transcriptions of Wagner's music. We can imagine Mrs. Howard Glover, the first CM Music Appreciation mama, playing it in much the same way for her son.  "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" seems popular.

Sometimes I make things, again: Crocheted tablet case

I have a Samsung tablet so that I can take my cyberwanderings to places other than the basement.  But it didn't have anything to protect it.

I also had a partly-made crocheted cushion cover that I'd gotten bored with.  Folded in half, it was slightly too big for the tablet, but with some careful cutting and the help of the sewing machine, it worked.  I added trim on the flap, and a button to hold it closed.

Cost: basically free, since the piece of crocheting was just sitting around.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Check these out: family-friendly opera books, free online

Do you want to introduce your children to opera, particularly Richard Wagner, but worry about the often questionable content of the stories?  Clyde Robert Bulla, children's writer of many subjects, came to the rescue half a century ago, and two of his books are available for free on  We have had a copy of his Stories of Favorite Operas for years, and I think Lydia read some of the stories when, even with them family-friendlied up, she was a bit young for some of what is, still, not always meant for the nursery crowd.  Still, with Bulla, you know you are on fairly trustworthy ground; you are not going to get anything beyond general fairy-tales-and-legends sorts of violence and misbehaviour.

So, keeping that in mind, here are the links:

Stories of Favorite Operas (contains several by Wagner)

The Ring and the Fire (Bulla's retelling of Wagner's Ring Cycle operas).

What's for supper? Euro/Chinese (with photos)

Inspiration: Chow Mein recipe from the More With Less Cookbook
Thawed poppy-seed bread
Brown rice
Vegetable chow mein, made with a mix of Europe's Best Nature's Balance and Zen Garden frozen vegetables (on sale for $2 a bag this week).  Almonds at the table.
Ukrainian pork dumplings from the Euro store.
Orange slices.

More French lessons: The Necklace, continued

I. Subject: French Narration.
 Group: Languages. Class III. Time: 30 minutes

I. To give the children more facility in understanding French, when they hear it spoken and also in expressing themselves in it.
II. To teach them some new words and expressions.
III. To improve their pronunciation.
IV. To strengthen the habit of attention.
V. To have the following passage narrated by the children.


Passage Chosen: from Guy de Maupassant, "La Parure" ("The Necklace"), the scene at dinner where M. Loisel brings a party invitation and Mme Loisel insists she has nothing to wear.

Review work from yesterday:

1.  You are given a small pile of adjective cards, words that mean things like charming, distinguished, lazy, unhappy.  Sort them into two piles: positive and negative.

2.  Tell the story so far in English.

(Repeated from yesterday) CM steps in a French reading/narration lesson

Step I.—Read the passage slowly and distinctly, stopping frequently to make sure that the pupils understand. Write the new words and expressions on the board and give their meanings.  Yesterday I had things written out aheaad of time; today we will use the white board and write as we go.
Step II.—Let the pupils repeat the story in English.
Step III.—Read the passage straight through.
Step IV.—Let the pupils read the passage, paying special attention to the pronunciation. Since part of this passage is conversation between the Loisels, one person can be M. Loisel and the other can be his wife.
Step V.—Have the passage narrated in French, helping the children when necessary with questions. Speak as much French as possible throughout, but always make sure that the pupils understand.

 la soupière

Monday, October 20, 2014

Drawn from the P.U.S.: a French lesson on The Necklace

Based on the opening passage of "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant.

I. Subject: French Narration.
Group: Languages. Class III. Time: 30 minutes

I. To give the children more facility in understanding French, when they hear it spoken and also in expressing themselves in it.
II. To teach them some new words and expressions.
III. To improve their pronunciation.
IV. To strengthen the habit of attention.
V. To have the following passage narrated by the children.


Passage Chosen: Guy de Maupassant, "La Parure" ("The Necklace").
C'était une de ces jolies et charmantes filles, nées, comme par une erreur du destin, dans une famille d'employés. Elle n'avait pas de dot, pas d'espérances, aucun moyen d'être connue, comprise, aimée, épousée par un homme riche et distingué; et elle se laissa marier avec un petit commis du ministère de l'Instruction publique.

Elle fut simple, ne pouvant être parée, mais malheureuse comme une déclassée; car les femmes n'ont point de caste ni de race, leur beauté, leur grâce et leur charme leur servant de naissance et de famille. Leur finesse native, leur instinct d'élégance, leur souplesse d'esprit sont leur seule hiérarchie, et font des filles du peuple les égales des plus grandes dames.*

Step I.—Read the passage slowly and distinctly, stopping frequently to make sure that the children understand. Write the new words and expressions on the board [I wrote them out] and give their meanings.
Step II.—Let the children repeat the story in English.
Step III.—Read the passage straight through.
Step IV.—Let the children read the passage, paying special attention to the pronunciation.
Step V.—Have the passage narrated in French, helping the children when necessary with questions. Speak as much French as possible throughout, but always make sure that the pupils understand.

Step VI.--In closing, read part of The Prayer of St. Francis in French, watching for the vocabulary from this lesson.

Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu'à consoler, à être compris qu'à comprendre,  à être aimé qu'à aimer, car c'est en donnant qu'on reçoit,
c'est en s'oubliant qu'on trouve, c'est en pardonnant qu'on est pardonné,
c'est en mourant qu'on ressuscite à l'éternelle vie. 

  * Translation (not mine):  She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Drawn from the P.U.S.: how Charlotte Mason might have introduced aquatic ecosystems

Subject: Aquatic Ecosystems

Group: Science. Class III. Time: depends, can be split over two or three sessions.
Books used: The World Around You, by Gary Parker. The Usborne Living World Encyclopedia. Philip's Atlas of the Oceans. Optional: The Silent World, by J.Y. Cousteau and Frederic Dumas.

I. To introduce the concept of aquatic (vs. terrestrial) ecosystems
II. To describe inland and marine ecosystems.

III. To notice the common thread of this chapter: how each system is designed to support life

Introduction: review terms such as ecosystem, biotic and abiotic factors.  Name and describe some terrestrial ecosystems (rainforest, grassland, etc.).
Section One:  Lakes and Ponds, particularly about seasonal turnover. This section in The World Around You is written rather briefly; I prefer "Lake Turnover, How it Works" by R. Karl.

Hands-on demonstration of water density, with hot and cold water plus food colouring:  Lake Turnover, from Science North.  Draw a page for your science notebook, noting how seasonal turnover helps to sustain life in lakes.

Final notes on this section: rivers as a mixture of ecosystems (life in a river depends on factors such as what's on the bottom).

Section Two:  Marine Ecosystems, i.e. Oceans.  Look at the Vertical Distribution illustration on page 86 of the Atlas of the Oceans, showing the different depth zones. Read pages 25-27 in Parker, on the same topic.  Look at pages 22-23 in the Living World Encyclopedia, "The ocean surface," and pages 26-27, "The depths of the ocean."  Narrate, creatively, graphically, or otherwise.

Section Three:  Read pages 27-28 in Parker. Use the illustrated pages in The Living World Encyclopedia to look at Coral Reefs, Shorelines, and Estuaries.  Narrate, noting especially how life is sustained in different parts of the ocean and in special systems such as estuaries.

Bonus reading:  Chapter 13, "Beyond the Barrier," in The Silent World.(about coral reefs)

Bonus field trip:  Take a fall trip to the pond.
Adapted from Class Notes, as printed in various Parents' Reviews.

Lydia's Grade Eight, Week Eight: Air, Fire, and Water?

Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman for St. George and the Dragon, by Barbara Cooney

Reading together:

How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig, chapter 8, "You don't think anyone's going to hell, do you?"  An intense, serious chapter with big questions.  Read in two parts.

Exploring the World Around You (ecology): "Aquatic Ecosystems."

How to Read a Book: "Finding the Propositions."

Whatever Happened to Justice?, "Economic Calculation."  What makes a free trade?

Keep reading Out of the Silent Planet (from the AO Free Reads list)

Things to read alone:

Assigned Bible readings: 1 Samuel, Matthew, Psalms, Proverbs

Physical Science: finish Module 2, "Air."

Read The Bible Through the Ages, and make entries in the Book of Centuries. This week's topics are The Oracles of Isaiah, Baruch, and Jeremiah; The Making of Parchment; the Babylonian Captivity.

Read this week's English history, about Queen Mary, from either Churchill's New World or Arnold-Forster's History.  Book of Centuries.

Three chapters from History of English Literature, two about Spenser, one about theaters.  Three chapters from Westward Ho!  

Other things to do:

Music of Wagner

Math: "The Sequence of Squares."

French and Latin lessons

Know how to use and care for the stove and some of the small appliances in your home.  Keep notes in an Enquire Within notebook.

Make entries in your Reader's Journal, and at least one Nature Notebook entry.  This might be a good time to take a fall walk around the pond.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sometimes I make things

My fabric stash is down to almost nothing, but I found enough orange broadcloth and green calico to make a fall decoration.  The flower trims were thrifted awhile back.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Whole Different Week in the Life (Friday): Lydia's Grade Eight

President Johnson cartoon by Thomas Nast
A good quote for today: "Perhaps you are beginning to see how essential a part of reading it is to be perplexed and know it.  Wonder is the beginning of wisdom in learning from books as well as from nature." (Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book.  Italics his.)  
Another one, also Adler: "But when you are reading for understanding it is not...novelty that you are seeking. Your interest in the author himself, or in his language, or in the world in which he wrote, is one thing; your concern to understand his ideas is quite another." 
Things to do on Friday, not necessarily in order:

1.  How to Read a Book, pages 121-124, "Finding the Key Sentences."  Listen for the clues Adler provides for locating key sentences.  Read this week's chapter from How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig, and choose the key sentences (no particular number, but I would suggest somewhere between three and six).  Explain why you chose these.

2.  Watch the rest of A Man for All Seasons   

3.  Get out the fabric box and do fabric flower handicrafts while watching the movie.

4.  Finish some math.

5.  Read the next two chapters of Out of the Silent Planet.

6.  Read the last bit of "Air Pollution" (Apologia Physical Science, Module 2).

7.  Do any extra readings (or grammar pages) not caught up yet.

8.  Make entries in the Book of Centuries.

9.  Finish the writing-a-speech unit and prepare to deliver it next Monday.

10.  Play Seterra Online (map drills) for 10 minutes.

What's for supper? Stuffed potatoes or potato casserole?

Tonight's dinner menu:

I found a Baked Potato Casserole recipe in the $5 Dinners One-Dish cookbook, then realized it was just a variation on this Taste of Home stuffed potato dish.  Same ingredients, different way of doing it, plus $5 Dinners adds chopped ham.  The potatoes are baking in the toaster oven, but I'm still deciding whether to put the broccoli, potato innards and cheese into the potato shells, or just bake them together in one dish.  Went with the casserole--it's kind of like a giant broken-open baked potato with toppings.  Left the ham out, steaming Euro wieners on the side.
Dessert:  Thinking about gingerbread, after the potatoes come out. We still have a bit of whipped cream left from Thanksgiving...and blueberries!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Whole Different Week in the Life (Thursday): Lydia's Grade Eight

Ourselves Book II, pages 129-130, "Will and Wilfulness."  What is, or isn't, a true act of the Will? "What of the person who always contrives to get his own way, whether he get it by means of stormy scenes, crafty management, sly evasion, or dogged persistence?....As a matter of fact, persons of these four classes may get each their own way, with as little action of the Will as is exercised by the casual person who lets things slide."

Start new readaloud:  Out of the Silent Planet., chapter 1.

Nature Journalling:
*Janet Marsh's Nature Diary, entries for Oct. 15, 16
*Keeping a Nature Journal: "Appreciating the Gifts of Each Day" (kind of like nature Twittering) *Keeping a Nature Journal: "Seasonal Changes": choose something autumnal and draw it in your notebook

Extra readings, including Bible

Speech Writing unit
The Easy Grammar Plus
Math: Geometric and Binary Sequences (all week)

Physical Science, "Air Pollution," read pages 45-48.

Read and discuss the excerpts from The Sky's Not Falling! Why it's OK to Chill about Global Warming, by Holly Fretwell.

Watch the rest of A Man For All Seasons. We didn't get to this, but we'll watch it tomorrow.

In the housekeeping category:  Lydia decided that because the rest of her room looks so good now, she needed to work on her closet shelf as well.  She reappeared some time and a couple of stuffed garbage bags later.  (It's a big shelf.) 

What's for supper? Tastes of fall

Tonight's menu:

Lentil-rice soup with a bit of bite (in the slow cooker).  Leftovers to freeze in small lunch containers.
Peasant Bread, one loaf with poppy seeds and one with sesame; bacon for bacon sandwiches.
 Corn on the cob
Local apples.