Monday, May 23, 2016

Spring is Here!

I love the natural learning that takes place in the Spring and Summer....  "Look what I found, Mom!"as they dash in from outside, "Come out and see!"  or "What do you think this flower is, Mom?"

R age 12 collected a small container of tadpoles from the pond right by our church and brought them home to grow in a gallon jar.  She put broken up bits of lettuce in the top and the tadpoles have been eating and growing. 

We're trying to get ant farms established in glass gallon jars.  J age 10 found a whole bunch of teeny tiny ants in an old can in the woods along with some little white eggs and what he thinks is the queen so we're started! We have our gallon jar full of sand with a pop can in the middle filled with water and a cotton ball in the opening.  Then we put a drop of honey on the top of the can for them to eat.  We wrapped our jar with black paper and will take it off one of these days and see if there are any tunnels visible.  We have tulle rubber banded over the mouth of the jar so they can't escape.

We're planting seeds of many kinds including lemon, avocado, mango and a pineapple top.  We live in the north so probably won't get fruit but will enjoy the foliage. Should be fun to see what we get.  We'll start work in the vegetable garden soon and each of the children has their own flower bed to work in. 

Winter in Minnesota being long, the Spring and Summer seem especially dear.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

An AO Conference I'd love to attend...

I've been following Ambleside Online informally for a few years now and Charlotte Mason for many more.  I'd love to go to a conference like this someday!  For now, I'm just putting my name in for a drawing for a mug and tote.  If you're interested in the conference here is a link:  http://preview.tinyurl.com/AOConferenceHeartofAO.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Science Stories - Marie Curie's Search for Radium

 J-10 just read a wonderful biography called Marie Curie's Search for Radium by Beverly Birch that I had picked up at a used book sale. He really enjoyed it.  Every page has a beautiful painting by Christian Birmingham. The text is interesting and the paintings are lovely. I picked up Pastuer's Fight against Microbes at the same sale.  It is also illustrated by Christian Birmingham.  I noticed in the back of the book that there are two other titles by Beverly Birch in this series.  These two are illustrated by Robin Bell Corefield.  So if you're looking for easy science biographies that are interesting and beautiful I recommend these, published in the U.S. by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.  Here is a link to Dealoz books by Beverly Birch.
 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Learning Science Along With My Children

One of the things I love about a Charlotte Mason education is that I get to keep learning right along with my children.  There is so very much to discover and understand about God's wonderful world, so many things to explore and learn!

I feel blessed to have a microscope now.  My husband bought one a few years back with money his Mom gave him for his birthday. Years ago we didn't have this privilege.  Today J-10 was looking for insect eggs on the backs of dead leaves as we are studying life-cycles in insects using Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  I recommend this book.  Anna (who is grown up and a mama herself now) says that Apologia's elementary science, with all their hands on projects, was her favorite science.  As an adult I am still learning with them and enjoying the text and their narrations for their science notebooks.  We've used three or four others in this series and I can recommend every one.

 S-17 and M-14 are in Apologia Biology this  year.  We are only on the third chapter, but we've learned a lot and were again using the microscope today  to look at a mushroom.  We're studying Kingdom Fungi. I didn't realize it would turn out to be helpful but this Fall we focused on mushrooms gathering them on our weekly nature walks for a month or so studying the many different kinds we could find (and there were lots!) and recording them in our nature journals.








 
 So it's fun now to be learning about how they reproduce and the more intricate hidden details as well as the nomenclature. With it being winter we had to use a store-bought mushroom for our study.  M-14 wondered if it would have spores since it was from the store rather than out in nature.  She said she thought they might irradiate it or something that would kill the living parts.  The mushrooms we used weren't very open, but we could see what certainly looked like spores - tiny perfectly round shapes that looked like minature brownish sesame seeds spread all along the gills.  I'm not sure I'll ever need my new knowledge that mushrooms are in Kingdom Fungi-Phylum Basidiomycota, or if I'll even remember that long name next year, but I'm pretty sure I'll remember how they grow and reproduce!




Cry the Beloved Country

M-14 is reading Cry the Beloved Country this year.  I haven't read it since I was in high school, so I've been reading it again, so we can discuss it.  She got ahead of me, but I finally caught up today....  There is a lot of pain, along with a lot of beauty in this book and terrific insight into the problems in South Africa.  It's a moving and beautifully written story.  M isn't so sure she likes it - it's challenging reading.  I re-read aloud for her one passage from today's reading that I really liked.  She hasn't been very enthusiastic about  narrating this particular book - perhaps because it is a challenging read, but even if she just takes away a sense of the struggles and challenges in South Africa it will have been worth her efforts.  I think though, that she can't help but be influenced by passages like this:  "Therefore I shall devote myself, my time, my energy, my talents, to the service of South Africa.  I shall no longer ask myself if this or that is expedient, but only if it is right.  I shall do this, not because I am noble or unselfish, but because life slips away, and because I need for the rest of my journey a star that will not play false to me, a compass that will not lie.  I shall do this, not because I cannot find it in me to do anything else.  I am lost when I balance this against that, I am lost when I ask if this is safe, I am lost when I ask if men, white men or  black men, Englishmen or Afrikaners, Gentiles or Jews, will approve.  Therefore I shall try to do what is right, and to speak what is true." 
 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

School in December - Focus on the Birth of Christ

I've decided to change up our routine for the month of December so we can concentrate on celebrating the birth of Christ.  I went to the library yesterday and chose Christmas story books and craft project books.  I made out assignment sheets and check off lists for our four students for the month.  Only the oldest wants to continue with her normal weekly readings, the rest will read stories and books related to Christmas. We'll still continue with math otherwise we'll focus our other subjects on the birth of Christ. We will be listening daily to Christmas stories on Librivox.  The youngest is hoping to download a collection of stories on his new MP3 player.  There are so many it is hard to know where to start. 

Last night I read our first Christmas storybook to the two youngest, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, a beautiful story with lovely paintings! Other titles I got from our local library include, The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, Room for a Little One: a Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell,  Madeline's Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans, The Little Boy's Christmas Gift by John Spiers, The Nutcracker retold by Anthea Bell and Christmas Song of the North by Marsha Bonicatto.  I haven't read all of these yet, but they each looked promising. 

 I'm hoping to read some longer books aloud, including The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which is a wonderfully hilarious tale of a church Christmas pageant.  The nativity is seen through the eyes of a poor, unchurched family who comes to participate.  Sometimes we become too used to the Christmas story and forget the wonder of it.  I found a couple of books listed at Living Books Library under their Christmas heading and ordered some from our state inter-library loan including a couple by Alta Halverson Seymour who is a new author to me.  She has written Christmas stories set in different countries.  I'm looking forward to trying them.

Dickens' A Christmas Carol, has become a tradition for us.There are many wonderfully illustrated editions.  I'll choose a couple from our library.

  After reading it we'll watch a video of a musical called "The Gospel According to Scrooge".  My sister and niece perform in this well-done production of this wonderful musical.  We purchased our copies for $10 each through DTV20, 831 Main Street South, SaukCentre, MN 56378 or you can call 320-351-7288.  It was performed a few years ago so I'm not sure if they still have it, but it is well worth the $10 and has become a tradition for us to watch. 

 
Speaking of films, we plan to watch "It's a Wonderful Life".  Which has been a tradition for my sister's family for years.  



For picture study we will be looking at about a dozen paintings of the Annunciation to the Shepherds.  You can follow along with us on my art, music and poetry blog, All Things Bright and Beautiful.

We're also hoping to each make some sort of artistic expression of the angel's announcement to the shepherds.

I've asked the children to begin planning a book that they will write and illustrate this month.  It can be a poem, the story of Christmas (they will each be writing this narrative sometime during the month for writing anyway) or a story about someone celebrating Christmas.  It will be fun putting the books together and even more fun to read and reread them through the years. 

There are several pieces of classical music including Handel's Messiah I hope to enjoy together as a family.  You can find these on my blog along with the picture study and poems for the season.  

Just found a wonderful resource for an advent devotional using hymns.  It has links to youtube videos of each song.  I downloaded it free this morning and we listened to the first two days to catch up. You can find it here




I found three books of carols, two for piano and one for guitar.  Our students are not very advanced yet, but may find a song or two they want to learn to share with the family on Christmas Eve.   And I just found a site for printing free Christmas Piano Pieces.  It looks like they have some nice easy to play pieces.

Other projects may include modeling a clay manger scene, painting, stitching projects and making wrapping paper, cards and gifts.  I'm really looking forward to this joyous season! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Drawing Birds with John Muir Laws

https://i2.wp.com/www.johnmuirlaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Drawing-Birds-Cover-small.jpg?resize=360%2C462I've been using Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, and enjoying it very much.  This week we added some bird drawing lessons and I was impressed with the results.  The book we used is The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds.  This book is packed full of wonderful information, diagrams and assignments.  I think it could be used for a whole year of art and science lessons just in itself.  I highly recommend it. We have used some of John Muir Laws You-tube videos on drawing from nature and found them helpful.  This week we did a two-page demonstration--assignment with 18 steps to drawing a warbler from this book.  The book has comprehensive information on bird anatomy along with detailed art lessons specifically geared for drawing birds.