Thursday, August 26, 2004

recent forays into the quest for knowledge

The other day Lauren and I went to the library to get some of the picture books I want to read for our history studies. We picked up a bunch of marine biology and ocean books for Josh who has been devouring them. He took the book Awesome Ocean Science:Investigation the Scerets of the Underwater World by Cindy A. Littlefield to bed with him the other night. Yesterday morning he told me how much he is enjoying it and wanted to do some of the experiments in it. When Lauren and I returned from getting her haircut he asked if we could do some of the experiments from the book so he gathered the various materials needed and we had a great time trying out a few of the things from the book. We did this for an hour or so. He told me that he had read one of the picture books I had found for him at the library and loved it. The title is Dog of the Sea Waves by James Rumford. It is a fictional account of the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands and the friendship between a seal and a young boy. I remembered that I had gotten another book about the same five brothers who are in this book by the same author so I read that one to him. It is called The Island below the Stars. He thought the first book was better but enjoyed this one also. This book is also based on the discovery of the islands. He told me that I should read the first one since it was better and he had read that one to himself. I had to laugh because after I had retrieved the book from our library shelf and sat down to start reading he asked what I was doing. I told him I was taking his advice and was going to read the book. He looked at me and said, "Mom, I wanted you to read it aloud to me too." LOL

While helping me gather books at the library the other day, Lauren noticed that I had gotten a book on Rachel Carson for Josh. She asked about who she was and I explained she was a marine biologist and one of the first leading environmental advocats. She was intrigued so ended up getting a biography of her for herself. After the experiments and while I was reading to Josh the books on the Hawaiian Islands Lauren was reading the biography of Carson she had taken out. Josh asked for the book I had taken out for him on Carson titled Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson by Amy Ehrlich which he read to himself. He then asked for the book we have Girls Who Looked Under Rocks by Jeannine Atkins. He remembered me telling him there is a short story about Carson in this book. Boy was it quiet while all this silent reading was going on! LOL

Josh has been asking me each night to read a chapter from Carry On Mr Bowditch. We only have two more chapters till we finish the book and he pleaded with me last night can we PLEASE finish it this morning! It is a great book so this morning we'll be reading.

You may notice that alot of the books I have mentioned are children's picture (illustrated) books. Many people frown on letting older children read these. I think that they are such an important part of our studies that I'm the one that searches them out to read to Josh. These books are written within the structure of fewer words. They guarantee that you will learn a tremendous amount of information within this structure. They are definitely NOT just for little kids. The best ones are the ones that hold adults interest as well. It is an inviting and interesting way to learn about many different topics. We round these out with other books but I will always rely on the beauty of the picture book for reading also.

reorganizing my educational philosophy thoughts

This past week or so I have been doing alot of thinking on which direction I want our studies to take this year. I have decided that we are going to try and have a literature led learning for this term and see how it all works out. I am going to use what we normally would use, literature, but I am going to "saturate" us in it. I'll use some spine books for factual background but they will be just that, background. For the core part of our studies for world history and american history we will be reading historical fiction, picture books and original source documents. Science will be the same. Language arts will be with Julie Bogart's literature subscription, The Arrow. Documentation will be drawings, narrations, experiments etc. This is where I have a harder time though. Josh is not one who enjoys the written process but I want him to learn that this is part of the communication of ideas, oral along with written. He has been talking much in the recent past about becoming a marine biologist. I have shared with him that in this career field there is much writing for articles and research. Math too is very important to this field of science so he needs all these things to be well prepared. Hopefully this will spur him on with a better attitude in these particular areas of our studies.

I am also hearing more and more about the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy from various places. I am interested in getting the book written on this topic by Oliver DeMille of George Wythe College. They say that it is very easy to blend Charlotte Mason theories with this philosophy so I am intrigued to learn more. Hopefully I'll be able to order the book soon to take a look at this.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

children's picture books

This post is dedicated to my good friend Jan who has orientation today for the preschoolers she is teaching this year. She has a GREAT website that you can get to from my side links called Miss Jan's Space. Check it out! Hope the kids and you have a FANTASTIC day Jan! She is an AMAZING teacher after all it was from her that I learned all about green milk on St. Patty's day. LOL My kids loved playing at her house across the street because she always did the neatest things with them and of course her kids had the coolest toys, real ones that let you use your imagination!

Somehow all this talk about preschoolers is so appropriate because as I have been getting our school year organized I keep coming across articles and posts on my egroups which deal with education through literature and in using children's picture books in this regard. Many people think that this type of book is just for reading to little ones but they are greatly mistaken. Josh and I have always read MANY picture books to start off studies that we do and during the course of whatever we are learning. They are fantastically written and have a tremendous amount of information that is delivered in a very short amount of reading time. It "whets our whistles" for whatever topic we are on. Lately I have been starting to record and compile a list of the books we use because I have yet to find a general reference guide book for this. A to Zoo is the closest thing I have come upon and yet that is not very extensive. Each time we have a new topic I go online and root through library titles, lists from internet sites etc to try and come up with a list of books to choose from.
I am imagining a book that lists a topic say the Revolutionary War and under that you would have titles of picture books that deal with this topic. I was lucky this morning to find a post in one of my homeschool groups in which someone sent titled A Picture Book Study of American History: The French and Indian Wars to the Progressive Era (1689-1900). Under each topic such as The French and Indian Wars, The Revoltutionary War,Westward Expansion etc she had listed a number of picture books on that topic. I felt like it was Christmas morning because Josh and I are going to cover the time period of Westward Expansion on in our American History studies this year. Boy did I get a pen and go online to the library's website quick to look up a bunch of these titles. LOL This is exactly what kind of information I envision a book to contain including other various types of topics one studies in learning such as music, art, science, math etc.

Josh and I read a tremendous amount of literature in regard to whatever we are studying. I do like to counter this with some sort of spine book such as What your --- grader needs to know or the History of US books etc. Using narration and other such Charlotte Mason tools along with our reading rounds out our learning experience very well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

political science 101

Well we had political science class tonight and I don't think Josh even realized it. John Kerry is here in Las Vegas and there was a rally at the Thomas Mack Center at UNLV. They were expecting 8,000 and there ended up being over 13,000 there to listen to him speak. Josh was NOT really interested when I told him about all of us going but when we finally got inside (we waited for about 1 1/2 hours just to get into the seating area of the arena and much of that time was spent standing in line outside in Las Vegas summer sun and HEAT) he said to me "Mom, this is so cool!" He listened as we stood some more because by the time we got into the arena seating area there weren't any for all of us to sit together so we went down to the floor area. He was most excited about what Kerry had to say on the environmental issues. As he wants to be a marine biologist or a wildlife specialist someday these are things that are really close to his heart and even at 10 years of age he has VERY strong opinions on the earth and its inhabitants both animal and human. I had to leave off posting for a minute just now because Lauren yelled that we were on the news! It's exciting to see my kids become more informed about the things that really affect them. I want them to know why they stand for something not just spout back things others tell them. I have encouraged them to look up information from MANY different sources. These are the times that I relish learning and experiencing things as a family. Well, I'll try and write more about our experience tomorrow. Lauren is wanting to use the computer.

Here's a link to John Kerry's site for anyone interested: