Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Moment in Our Homeschool

11:45 AM, and SA(9) is reading about Phaeton in Bullfinch's Mythology.

JJ(7) is writing a Thank You card for some Christmas gifts he received. He also folded the envelope.

MM(5) and AJ(3) are playing on the floor with Megabloks. AJ is not yet dressed.

This morning, we have already read and narrated from Robinson Crusoe, reviewed our hymn, Bible memory, and catechism, read the Bible and prayed, done chores (inside and outside), reviewed poetry (Emily Dickinson), sung our folk song (The Riddle Song), done picture study (Thomas Davies), read and narrated from a biography of Joseph Brant (Canadian history), and done math (multiplying decimals for SA). It's almost lunch time, and after that the boys will go out and play in the snow.

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Four Most-Shared Posts

These are the posts that I personally share the most often in response to questions people ask in Charlotte Mason Facebook groups that I'm a part of.
I hope you enjoy them!

Charlotte Mason and Preschool Priorities 1: The Outdoor Life for the Children
This post is part of a series of five posts for mothers of preschoolers. I wrote them in 2014, with my children aged five, three, and one. I had recently started to read Charlotte Mason's own writings, and was zealous to encourage every mother of preschoolers to read Charlotte Mason.
Here is the series:
Why Read Charlotte Mason as a Mother of Preschoolers?
Encouragement for Mothers of Preschoolers
Charlotte Mason and Preschool Priorities 1: The Outdoor Life for the Children
Charlotte Mason and Preschool Priorities 2: Habits
Education is Bigger than You Think

Education is a Not-So-Perfect Atmosphere
When I first started homeschooling, I struggled with trying to create a Charlotte Mason atmosphere. Understanding that the atmosphere she is talking about is one "that no one has been at pains to constitute" helped me to relax.

 A Timeline That Works for UsA Timeline that Works for Us
I still use a version of this timeline with a slight difference: I now create columns for each century to keep it a little neater. I still love this one, though, and it worked well for us in Form 1 (Grades 1-3).

Minimalism for Homeschooling Book Lovers
When I say "minimalism," I mean removing the clutter of books that are not living books and do not bring you joy. I share this post a lot, and it still represents the ideal that I am constantly working towards. My husband prefers that I call it curating rather than minimizing, and I suppose that is more accurate. We have a LOT of books! What can I say? They make us happy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Reading Goals of 2017 and 2018

This year, I started out with big reading plans. Here's how I did with them:

1. Learn from C.S. Lewis
At the beginning of the year, I lined up all of our C.S. Lewis books in chronological order. At the time, I said "I'm pretty sure I will not get through all of them this year." Well, I didn't. I got through five, and am still working through another two.

The Pilgrim's Regress (1933)
Out of the Silent Planet (1938)
The Problem of Pain (1940)
The Screwtape Letters (1942)
Perelandra (1943)

The Abolition of Man (1943) (in progress)
That Hideous Strength (1945) (in progress)

Now that I know my pace, I am setting a new goal of reading seven more C.S. Lewis books in 2018 in addition to finishing the ones in progress.

The Great Divorce (1945)
George MacDonald: An Anthology (1946)
Miracles (1947)
The Weight of Glory (1948)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
Prince Caspian (1951)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

2. Keep up with my book clubs.
I read some good books with my book clubs this year! With them, I finished 
The Iliad
The Brothers Karamazov
The Innocence of Father Brown
Northanger Abbey
Oliver Twist
The Man Who Was Thursday

In 2018, we are continuing with The Odyssey and reading Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I anticipate we will read an additional four or five classics or other worthy books.

3. Keep reading Charlotte Mason.
I finished following Brandy Vencel's study guide Start Here with an online study group. It was great! Using it, I read For the Children's Sake and most of Charlotte Mason's Volume 6. Then, in the summer I read through Charlotte Mason's Volume 3 again: School Education

I also read Laurie Bestvater's The Living Page. What a great addition to any Charlotte Mason library! It is carefully researched, beautifully written, and clearly demonstrated.

In 2018, I plan to read Charlotte Mason's Volume 2: Parents and Children. Also, in our local Charlotte Mason study group, we're watching the video series from Ambleside Schools International and reading the accompanying study guides which contain passages from Charlotte Mason's volumes.

4. Pre-read at least some of next year's school books for SA.
Well, I did do this, but often it was the night before. In other words, I did not get very far ahead of him. At all. But still, I read some excellent books. Some of my favourites were:
Robinson Crusoe (almost finished)
Romulus (Plutarch)

Looking ahead into 2018, I know I need to allot a significant amount of time to pre-reading, especially considering that SA is now at an age that he will be reading most of his school books on his own. Beginning Term 2 of Year 4, I will be reading
"Twelfth Night"
Publicola (Plutarch)
George Washington's World
The Ocean of Truth
Madam How and Lady Why (already in progress)
Age of Fable (in progress)
Great Canadian Adventures (in progress)

And of course, later in 2018 I will be beginning Ambleside Online Year 5 as well. By necessity, this will likely become my primary reading goal. 

5. Read through the ever-expanding list of books people have recommended and/or lent to me.
I didn't do very well with this in 2017. I have so much to read, I often don't prioritize books that other people want me to read. The one I did manage to finish was probably one of my least favourite books of the year (Wild at Heart). So I'm going to change this goal in 2018:

5. Read books on my own shelves that I have been wanting to read but just haven't gotten to yet.
Krakatoa (Winchester) (in progress)
John Adams (McCullough)
Respectable Sins (Bridges)
As these are all pretty hefty, I doubt I'll get through more than four or five on this list. Still, it's good to set a goal, as if I don't, I may not read any of them.

I know I haven't listed any light reading, and not much fiction. That's not because I won't be reading any. Those just tend to be more spontaneous choices. I will also probably be reading a fair amount of books on health this year, but I can't tell exactly what direction that will take at this point. (psoriasis, autoimmune disease, diet...)

This is almost an afterthought for me this year...I love the idea of it, but with so much else to read I'm not sure how far I'll get. Still, I would like to check off the categories of a "Light" reader (and it's great that I can use books that I'm already reading for other goals to check off several of them.). The categories are:
A biography
A book about Christian Living
A book published in 2018
A book by an author who is no longer alive
A novel
A book for teens or young adults
A book more than 100 years old
A book targeted at the opposite gender
A book your best friend recommends
A book with at least 400 pages
A book of your choice
A book about theology
A book about current events

Do you make reading plans, or do you just read whatever comes your way? I like planning for about half of my reading, and allowing the rest to be more spontaneous.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Join Our "Starting the Day" Chat Tomorrow

I'm excited to announce a fun, free video chat hosted by Mystie Winckler of Simplified Organization along with 4 other moms, including me! We're going to talk about starting the day - tips, hacks, troubleshooting, and confessions. The chat will be happening at 9 AM PST tomorrow (that's 1:00 PM if anyone is in Atlantic time with me.). You can register here.

The participants:
  • Nelleke is married to a pastor and homeschools four sons in Prince Edward Island.
  • Mystie and her husband are second-generation homeschoolers, now homeschooling their brood of 5 (ages 14-5) classically, learning to repent and rejoice every step of the way.
  • Nina + her husband raise two little menfolk on an island in the PNW for the glory of Christ alone.
  • Stefani is a Christ-following, classically homeschooling mother of three, ISTJ, and recovering perfectionist.
  • Hailey lives with her hubby and 5 children in the Southern California desert and loves to eat tacos, wear lipstick, and go hiking, in no particular order.
I'm not joining this chat as an expert, or because I always get my mornings right. This will be a time of sharing what works for us (and what doesn't). You can join us in the chatbox with your own questions and tips.

If you can't make it tomorrow, registrants will receive the free replay link.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Great Canadian Adventures {Canadian Living Book Review}

At first glance, Great Canadian Adventures is not a living book. Published by Reader's Digest in 1976, it is a compilation of 48 stories from the history of Canada. The editors clearly state that "we have amended some of the original texts, by rearranging and abridging the material..."

However, this book gives us access to many first-hand accounts that are not available anywhere else unless you want to go hunting in archives. While some of the stories are taken from published works, these published works are ones that I desperately want to be introduced to as a Canadian Charlotte Mason homeschooler. Of course, this book also has multiple authors, another living book no-no. However, these are all excellent authors, including such figures as Stephen Leacock, W.O. Mitchell, Pierre Berton and Farley Mowat. This book is well-written from cover to cover, and I suspect that the editors are to be thanked for the readability of the first-hand accounts.

I am using Great Canadian Adventures now for my Year 4 and Year 2 students. I think it is an ideal supplement to a "spine" (chronological) text, particularly for grades 4-6 and up. Do your own due diligence before handing it to your children, though. There is violence, as you might expect, as well as some strong language.

The main obstacle for use in a Charlotte Mason homeschool is that the stories are not presented strictly chronologically. Instead, they are divided by subject (pioneers, explorers, sailors, war, etc.). I have gone through it and listed each chapter chronologically for my own use. I'll share my list below for those of you who are blessed enough to find this gem.

Like many good books, this book is out of print. I found mine at a second-hand store. You may also be able to find it through bookfinder.com. The ISBN is 0888500513.

For more Canadian resources, check out my page CM in Canada.

Great Canadian Adventures

Indexed in chronological order

11th Century
The Quest for Vinland (p. 122)
Subject: Norse settlements, Leif Eriksson
Place: Present-day Newfoundland and Labrador
Years: around 1000
Author: Farley Mowat, condensed from Westviking

17th Century
Champlain, the Father of Canada (p. 140)
Subject: Samuel de Champlain
Places: Acadia, Quebec
Years: 1603-1635
Author: Morris Bishop

Mutiny in James Bay (p. 160)
Subject: Henry Hudson, Abacuk Pricket (a servant on board the Discovery)
Places: James Bay
Years: 1610-1611
Author: Abacuk Pricket (eyewitness), edited by Farley Mowat

Huronia’s Immortal Scoundrel (p. 17)
Subject: Etienne Brule, first coureur de bois
Place: New France
Years: 1608-1632
Author: Herbert Cranston

Martyrs of the Wilderness (p. 618)
Subject: French Jesuit Missionaries; Jean de Brebeuf
Place: New France
Years: 1626-1650
Author: Francis Parkman

The Epic Feud Over Acadia (p. 29)
Subject: Charles and Marie de La Tour, Charles d’Aulnay, Acadia
Place: both sides of the Bay of Fundy (present-day NS and NB)
Year: 1645
Author: Francis Parkman: adapted from The Old Regime in Canada

John Gyles’ Amazing Ordeal (p. 38)
Subject: John Gyles, Conflict between New France and New England, First Nations.
Place: Pemaquid (in present-day Maine), Meductic (in present-day NB)
Years: 1689-1698
Author: Stuart Trueman
A 9-year-old Puritan boy from New England seized by the Malecites and remains with them for 9 years. Based on Gyles’ own memoirs.

The Battle for Hudson Bay (p. 338)
Subject: Iberville; French and English struggle for the Hudson Bay fur trade
Place: Fort York, west side of Hudson Bay
Year: 1697
Author: Nellie M. Crouse

18th Century
The Lost Treasure of Le Chameau (p. 513)
Subject: Le Chameau, a ship from France, is shipwrecked with treasure
Place: Atlantic Ocean, near Fortress Louisbourg
Time: 1725 and 1961 (when it was discovered)
Author: not mentioned. Condensed from Canada Illustrated.

Escape from Michilimackinack (p. 58)
Subject: 23-year-old Alexander Henry, Pontiac’s Conspiracy
Place: British Fort Michilimackinac, between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan
Year: 1763
Author: Alexander Henry (first-hand account)

Search for the Coppermine (p. 462)
Subject: Samuel Hearne
Place: Fort Prince of Wales (present-day Churchill, Manitoba); Canada’s north
Year: 1769
Author: Stephen Leacock (excerpted from Adventurers of the Far North)

Ensign Prenties’ Dispatches
Subject: Shipwreck on Cape Breton Island; American Revolutionary War.
Place: Gulf of St. Lawrence
Year: 1780
Author: Walter Prentiss (first-hand account), edited by G. G. Campbell
British ensign is sent with dispatches from Quebec to New York and is shipwrecked on the way.

The Birchbark Brigades (p. 72)
Subject: French Canadian voyageurs, The North West Company
Places: from Montreal to Lake Winnipeg
Years: late 1700’s to 1821
Author: “the editors”
Despite the fact that this account is drawn together by “editors,” it quotes extensively from several first-hand accounts.

The Rover, Private Ship of War (p. 474)
Subject: Privateers (Pirates) from Nova Scotia
Place: The Spanish Main
Year: 1800
Author: Thomas H. Raddall

19th Century
Down the Roaring Fraser (p. 172)
Subject: Simon Fraser, North West Company, Fraser River
Place: The Fraser River
Year: 1808
Author: Bruce Hutchinson

Lieutenant Worsley’s Revenge (p. 346)
Subject: The War of 1812
Place: Fort Michilimackinac, between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron
Year: 1814
Author: C. H. J. Snider

A Voyage to a New Land (p. 220)
Subject: William Bell family, immigration from Scotland to Upper Canada
Place: A ship on the Atlantic
Year: 1817
Author: William Bell (first-hand account)

Winter Without End (p. 180)
Subject: Sir John Ross, Captain of the first steam-powered ship used in search for the North-west passage
Place: Canada’s North
Year: 1829
Author: Sir John Ross (extract from journal), edited by Farley Mowat

Roughing it in the Bush (p. 83)
Subject: Susanna Moodie
Place: Upper Canada, near Cobourg; Douro Township, northeast of Peterborough
Years: 1832-1837
Author: Susanna Moodie, taken from Roughing it in the Bush

Franklin’s Last Voyage (p. 207)
Subject: Sir John Franklin, search for the North-west Passage
Place: Canadian Arctic
Year: 1845
Author: Fred Bosworth

Overland to the Cariboo (p. 488)
Subject: The Cariboo Gold Rush
Place: British Columbia
Year: 1862
Author: Bruce Hutchison

The Damnedest Man That Ever Came Over the Cariboo Road (p. 522)
Subject: Judge Matthew Begbie; The Cariboo Gold Rush
Place: British Columbia
Years: 1858-1894
Author: Bruce Hutchison

The Saga of “Rudder” Churchill (p. 254)
Subject: George Churchill; stamina and resourcefulness of Nova Scotia mariners
Place: A ship in the Atlantic
Year: 1866-1867
Author: Archibald MacMechan

Tales of the Plains Crees (p. 98)
Subject: Chief Thunderchild, Cree life before they were forced onto reserves in the 1870's.
Place: North Saskatchewan River area
Year: 1867
Author: Edward Ahenakew (as told by Chief Thunderchild), edited by Ruth Matheson Buck

Confessions of a Secret Agent (p. 356)
Subject: Second Fenian conspiracy; Henri le Caron, a spy
Places: United States and Upper Canada
Years: 1868-1870
Author: Henri Le Caron (first-hand account)

Memoirs of a Master Detective (p. 566)
Subject: John Wilson Murray, detective for the province of Ontario
Place: Ontario
Years: 1873-1887
Author: John Wilson Murray

The Great Ship (p. 270)
Subject: The William D. Lawrence, biggest ship in the Bluenose fleet of Canadian vessels
Place: Maitland, NS
Year: 1874
Author: Joseph Schull

Wild and Woolly Days (p. 548)
Subject: Sam Steele, one of the first to join the North West Mounted Police
Place: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta
Years: 1873-1885
Author: Samuel Benfield Steele (first-hand account)

The March West (p. 532)
Subject: The North West Mounted Police
Place: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta
Year: 1874
Author: Ronald Atkin

The Wreck of the Codseeker (p. 261)
Subject: Shipwreck
Place: East of Cape Sable, NS.
Year: 1877
Author: William M. Murphy (adapted)

The Captain’s Boat (p. 283)
Subject: Nova Scotia skipper Capt. Henry MacArthur is shipwrecked with his family and crew
Place: People are from Maitland, NS. Story takes place on a ship in the Pacific Ocean
Year: 1881
Author: Archibald MacMechan

Van Horne Moves the Troops West (p. 368)
Subject: Metis rebellion; Canadian Pacific Railway
Place: North of Lake Superior; Saskatchewan
Year: 1885
Author: Pierre Berton

The Stampeders (p. 499)
Subject: Klondike gold rush
Place: Chilkoot Pass: Alaska/British Columbia border
Year: 1897-1898
Author: Pierre Berton

A Tibetan Tragedy (p.644)
Subject: Dr. Susie Carson Rijnhart, Canadian Christian missionary to Tibet
Place: Tibet, China
Year: 1898
Author: Susie Carson Rijnhart

20th Century
Isaac Barr’s Fiasco (p. 109)
Subject: Rev. Isaac Barr, British settlement in Western Canada
Place: Saskatchewan
Years: 1847-1937
Author: W. O. Mitchell

West with Thomas Wilby on the All-Red Route (p. 664)
Subject: Thomas Wilby, first man to take a car across Canada
Place: Halifax to Vancouver
Year: 1912
Author: Hugh Durnford and Glenn Baechler

Death on the Ice (p. 294)
Subject: The Great Newfoundland sealing disaster
Place: Newfoundland
Year: 1914
Author: Cassie Brown and Harold Horwood

Bombardment (p. 376)
Subject: WWI; in the trenches
Place: France and Belgium
Years: 1914-1918
Author: Charles Yale Harrison
Excerpt from Harrison’s novel Generals Die in Bed, based on his experience in the trenches of WWI.

The Courage of Early Morning (p. 392)
Subject: William Avery “Billy” Bishop, WWI Flying Ace
Place: France; England; Owen Sound, Ontario
Year: 1917
Author: William Arthur Bishop

The Mad Trapper of Rat River (p. 584)
Subject: Albert Johnson, outlaw
Place: Canadian Arctic
Year: 1931-1932
Author: Dick North

Frontline Surgeon (p. 678)
Subject: Norman Bethune
Place: Spain
Years: 1936-1939
Author: Sydney Gordon and Ted Allan (with extensive quotation from Bethune’s journal)

The St. Roch and the Northwest Passage
Subject: Henry Larsen navigates the Northwest Passage from west to east.
Place: The Canadian Arctic
Year: 1940-1942
Author: Henry A. Larsen

‘Bonjour, tout le mond a la maison d’Alphonse’ (p. 402)
Subject: WWII; Sgt. Maj. Lucien Dumais
Place: France, Britain
Years: 1943-1944
Author: Lucien Dumais

Haida, the Deadly Destroyer (p. 428)
Subject: WWII; Royal Canadian Navy
Place: Atlantic Ocean
Year: 1944
Author: William Sclater

The Two Jacks (p. 444)
Subject: WWII; Allied invasion; Jack Veness and Jack Fairweather from NB
Place: France
Year: 1944
Author: Will R. Bird

Through Nightmare to Freedom (p. 695)
Subject: Igor Gouzenko, exposed Canadian Soviet spy network
Place: Ottawa, ON
Year: 1945
Author: Igor Gouzenko

Two Who Refused to Die (p. 716)
Subject: Ralph Flores and Helen Klaben; Survival in the Canadian North after a plane crash
Place: British Columbia, Yukon
Year: 1963
Author: Thomas Whiteside

Doomsday Flight 812 (p. 600)
Subject: Paul Joseph Cini; Hijacking of a DC-8 airplane
Place: Calgary, then in the air
Year: 1971
Author: Paul King

Monday, October 23, 2017

Using Children's Books for French Language Study

As a supplement to our French curriculum this term we have been reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar in French. I borrowed La Chenille Qui Fait Des Trous from the library, and we have been watching it on YouTube weekly so the children hear it read with a good accent. What's nice about this book for beginning French students is that it has a fair amount of repetition. It also includes numbers from 1-5, the days of the week, and the names of several fruit and different kinds of food.

The only drawback to this particular choice could have been that it is not an exact translation (The title is translated back into English as The Caterpillar that Makes Holes). However, the vocabulary is simple enough that we haven't found it to be a problem.

It was so fun last week to hear AJ(2) on the couch with the English version of the book saying, "Look Mama! Un papillon!" He also likes pointing out "la chenille" on every page.

My choice for the second six weeks of our term was going to be Georges va au Zoo (Curious George Goes to the Zoo), but sadly it is not on YouTube. I'm not sure if I want to read it to the boys myself. I could do it, but my French accent is not that great. (My husband has told me that I put emphasis on all the wrong syllables, and gave me an impression of how this would sound if I did it in English. My confidence is gone!)

Does anyone out there have any good ideas for other children's books I can use in this way? We really enjoyed doing this with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I'd like to keep going.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Enthusiasm for Year 4

I love Ambleside Online Year 4 more than any year so far. I was learning a lot in Years 1-3, but Year 4 is a whole new ball game. We get to read Shakespeare now, and Plutarch! I am learning so much, never mind SA(9). I have to stop myself from starting to discuss things in the middle of the reading.

Don't get me wrong, it's hard work, too. I have never put so much effort into pre-reading and scaffolding the readings for my student. ("Scaffolding" is removing obstacles between student and author before the reading, for example, providing definitions and showing maps. The object is for the child to form his own relationship with the author and his subject without too much talking on the teacher's part.) Strangely, while the books are making my brain work overtime, they do not seem more or less challenging to SA than to me. As Charlotte Mason says, he makes the connections "proper to him" and I make the ones proper to me, and we are both learning and growing. I think it's AMAZING that living books allow that to happen.

Almost everything is new to me. I have never read Shakespeare or Plutarch, and my only exposure to Greek Mythology (Age of Fable) so far has been the IliadMadam How and Lady Why is a very interesting way to think of science, and we're having very good discussions over it. I know that I'm talking too much in our lessons (I do try to restrain myself), but at the same time my own enthusiasm for the books is not a bad thing to be modeling. In any case, SA is liking them all. 

My only problem is that I am not giving enough to SA to read independently in his lesson time. He reads The Storybook of Science on his own. I know I could easily hand him Robinson Crusoe, but I love that book! So far I can't resist sharing it with all the boys by reading aloud. I could also give him Madam How and Lady Why, but I feel like discussion flows more naturally when we've just read it together. Maybe I need to get over this so he can do more "digging" for himself. I know we need to work towards more independence for him or I'll drown next year, when I will have three students for the first time.

Is anyone else out there having the amazing experience of learning together with your children? Isn't it wonderful?

Linked with Mason for Me at BRC Banter: