Monday, April 24, 2006

New location

I have moved this blog to a new location but will leave this one up for archives. You can now find us here:

Hope you'll come visit :)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

April - National Poetry Month

Josh and I had a fun time with a picture book I found in our library and used to celebrate April as National Poetry Month. The book is titled Paint Me a Poem: Poems Inspired by Masterpieces of Art by Justine Rowden. One side of the book is a picture of a masterpiece and on the other side the author has written a poem inspired by that painting. Some of the poems were silly and fun and some were more thoughtful. Some rhymed and some were free verse.

I had Josh try his hand at doing this very same thing. As we were ending our study of the painter Jan Vermeer, I had him write a poem about his favorite Vermeer painting, A Lady Writing. (We became very familiar with this painting after reading the book Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.)

Here is his poem:

Letters can hold secrets just like the thick gray fog.
Sometimes smothering secrets
That make you want to hide yourself in that thick gray fog.
But still others can hold secrets that make that face of yours
turn a cheery red,
That make you want to jump out of that thick gray fog and
Smile to the unknowing world
That does not know what secrets lay just behind that pleasant face of yours
That made that smile so.
Now before I go,
I would like to ask you,
What secrets wait for you in this letter from me.

Word of the Week


1. characterized by or acting with speed and efficiency

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Life-long Learners

There has been alot of talk lately on homeschool blogs and groups about the different philosophies/methods of homeschooling and the implementation of said methods. This has led me to do some inward searching regarding our own journey.

Looking back at the progression after 8 years now of "doing this" it is interesting to see how we have evolved in practice especially. My reason for homeschooling has never wavered from the beginning; I want my children to be life-long learners. I want them to be interested, passionate and excited beings about life and all we learn from it. I want them to have the skills/abilities to go in search of information/answers to questions they have. I still want that for all of my children today, even the ones who are no longer "in school". When we first began homeschooling people would ask question after question about "how we did this thing" and more importantly "why?". My answer was that, for our family, learning new things was just "par for the course" as they say. We are a family that is constantly reading, watching, doing, in any and all aspects of life. I thought it was only right that we continue this. Why did it have to change just because my children were "school age"? I had begun to think outside the box and have stretched that thinking more and more each year we continue on.

We have tried many a "practical" way of doing things. I have found that for us it seems to be an ebb and a flow type of learning and living. I mean this in the sense that at times we look more structured and at others we look more "unschooling". It works for us. I know my son and am able to see what he needs at that particular time of his life, thus the ebb and flow. This not only applies to him but also to me as his mother and guide/mentor. I do not use the term teacher because for us many times my son is the one who ends up teaching me!

I have found many of the philosophies of Charlotte Mason very much in tune with my own thinking. It is important to me that whatever we are looking into at the time that my son "make it his own". He sometimes gets something totally different from myself and in sharing these things with each other we are both enriched. Neither is right or wrong. We take from them those things that speak to us as individuals.

There has also been much talk about the whole notion of "strewing" or a laying out of things that may interest your child. I have found for our family we have a very "direct" way of strewing with each other. Each of us will find something that they think is interesting and wishes to share. Another member of the family may find it also very interesting and go off to find out more or may listen and that is enough. There is much discussion and such sharing that goes on in our family as a daily part of our lives. If any of us just set things out they would probably go unnoticed but in this direct way of sharing we broaden ourselves and each other in many areas. I have to laugh when adults ask my son, who just turned 12, how he got interested in birding at such a young age. Let me explain that this interest has turned into a life passion for him at this time and he is much the more knowledgable one than any other member of the family. The reason for the laughter; when asked this question he proceeds to tell them that one day his mom was reading a book on Thoreau (someone she is very interested in and who she was using as a main character of a children's book she was beginning to write). She shared a bit of information on how he became so familiar with the birds during his time at Walden Pond that they would come and eat out of his hand. This intrigued him and he went outside with some bird seed to see if he could do the same. Thus, an avid birder was born as a result of this "direct strewing/sharing" of something from another family member.

Life-long learning - the homeschool journey that our family is on together sharing in our lives and interests daily.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Nail in My Pocket

Our studies for the day.
A nail in our pocket.
As a reminder.
As a prayer.

Monday, April 10, 2006

This morning we were paid a visit....

by Peter the Rabbit. Well, at least that's who Josh and I say it was, as we seem to have Beatrix Potter "on the brain" lately. We are still enjoying Susan Wittig Albert's, The Tale of Hill Top Farm and it is such an appropriate read this time of year with Spring here and with Easter coming fast.

Melissa Wiley, over at Here in the Bonny Glen, has this great post on "seasonal reading". We too find ourselves reading and re-reading certain books during the cyclical seasons of the year, hence Beatrix Potter and all her "little" books including Peter the Rabbit at this time of year say "Spring" to us!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Shakespeare Studies in our Home

Following Charlotte Mason's advice on studying Shakespeare has been a truly enriching experience for my son and I. We generally start off with reading a version of E. Nesbit's, Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare or a Lamb's, Tales from Shakespeare. Both of these versions are retellings that can easily be understood by children. These give a basic understandign of the story line of the play.

I found a wonderful resource at the library, DK's Essential Shakespeare Handbook, that has added much to our play studies. This book by Leslie Dunton-Downer and Alan Riding is a comprehensive overview of each of the plays along with background information on Shakespeare's own life and the writing of his plays. For each play you are given; background information on the history of the play itself as well as actual historical events that may pertain, a listing and explanation of the play's characters, a plot summary broken down into each act with actual quotes from the play scattered through each act's summary, examples of performances of said play as well as video recomendations. Each play also has sections titled Reading the play and Beyond the play.

Josh and I just finished Henry V and had a wonderful time with it. We used lines from the play as copywork and dictation. We watched a video version of the play and had to laugh when at first we had a hard time with the language and yet by the end of the video we were able to understand more and more. The difficulty of the language of Shakepeare's plays sometimes can be very daunting and yet I find that the more we read them the more we come to understand and recognize this rich and beautiful language. We also studied the history of Henry V and compared actual historical accounts to Shakepeare's play. As we were reading another book for fun, The Tale of Holly How by Susan Albert Wittig, which I talked about in this earlier post, we came across a section in which Josh was pleased to recognize Henry V's, St.Crispin's Day speech, albeit the wording had been changed a little. Had we not ever studied Henry V he would have not been able to make such a connection.

We have studied other plays and with each find something unique for that play whether it be a picture book about the play such as Bruce Coville's wonderful William Shakepeare's Hamlet or being able to go to see a production of Macbeth at his sister's high school.

We both have enjoyed Gary Blackwood's, Shakespeare Stealer Series, a series of three juvenile fiction books about Shakespeare and a young boy who joins his troop.

The study of Shakepeare has not only enriched our homeschooling studies but our lives as well.