Friday, October 26, 2012

Nebby recently wrote A Few Thoughts on Writing and it got me thinking.  You can read it here and my comment in response below. 

  Dear Nebby: I agree that Charlotte Mason’s approach to writing is successful and much easier and more sensible than most writing programs. Years ago I used Understanding Writing and it gave me good insight into where I was going with writing. She covers her subject from a Christ-centered and God honoring perspective which I appreciated. Eventually I had the confidence to work on my own. If someone wants a formal program I can recommend it at least as a good starting place but I don’t think it is necessary. There are two parts to writing – the mechanics of getting words neatly on the page. This includes handwriting, punctuation and capitalization. The second part is the content. Oral narration is the foundation of this skill and this is where Charlotte’s method works so beautifully to develop good writers. As their ability to get it down on paper increases or they develop typing skills to keep up with their thoughts they can put this together with the mechanical part. I do like to have my children write something every day whether it is copy work, a letter, a nature journal entry, or a written narration. I think that any type of journaling works well for reluctant writers and used it more when more of my students were boys (only the youngest of my five current students is a boy). I have found that my girls write naturally and voraciously and that my boys tended to be more reluctant but were usually willing to keep a journal of current happenings. They tended to be more concrete and less creative in their writing. Overall I try to keep in mind the two parts of writing – mechanics and composition as I assign writing. Both parts need development. One friend whose children have beautiful handwriting simply has her children carefully color a coloring book picture each day in their first couple of grades developing their fine motor skills. As stated earlier children who compose their thoughts for an oral narration are practicing writing skills. Sometimes I type out my children’s narrations and read it back to them or have them illustrate it and let them keep it in their notebooks. Thanks for the great post and from my experience you can be confident that Charlotte’s method works well to develop writing skills.

Potato Print Wrapping Paper

Our craft project for the week was potato print wrapping paper.  We had fun cutting shapes in the potatoes adding paint to the potato shape and then printing it on brown paper.

We happened to have block print ink by Speedball on hand but we have used tempra paint in the past and I imagine acrylic craft paints would work too. 

Mary wanted an angel so we printed a simple image of an angel with a trumpet from Google Images then she cut her potato out around it and it turned out very nicely.  We also cut up brown paper grocery sacks and made little gift cards to match. 

  This simple project was fun for all ages and the wrapping paper will come in handy. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hazel Soan's African Watercolours

Hazel Soan's African Watercolours

Young Ones - Hazel Soan

I've been enjoying again a book I found at the library and thought others might enjoy it, too. This book is a surprising mix of watercolor how-to, travel in Africa and a nature notebook.  Hazel Soan takes us on a safari through southern Africa.  As she travels around the south-western corner of the continent she describes the setting and animals she is seeing as well as sharing her wonderful watercolor paintings.  To top it off, her book is full of instruction in watercolor painting.  Each chapter covers a different stop on their safari and is commenced with a brief poem by the author.  Here is a sample from her chapter titled, The Lake of Drowned Trees: Kariba- 
Tall and trim, sharp and fine
lines, rigid with the passing time;
monographs to Noah's flood
shedding arboreal 
High above the eagle soars,
sears the skies above the shores;
charting branches for his perch,
remembering the olive search.

She then describes the area, followed by a couple pages of painting instruction and finally each chapter ends with a two-page spread called Safari Sketchbook, which is pictures and text from her sketchbook with a brief campfire tale of some experience they had.  The book is worth browsing through just for the wonderful paintings.

Life Giving Water by Hazel Soan

Parade by Hazel Soan