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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

sketch tuesday: float

I LOVED the theme this week.  Lily pads are one of my FAVORITE floating things EVER.

One of the reasons I love Monet is because he painted lily pads...

One of the reasons I love the botanical garden in Trujillo is because of the lily pads...

and I SO loved making my sketch of lily pads!

I must say that interest has been somewhat waning on the whole sketch tuesday thing, because I refuse to make it a forced thing with my kids.  But this week, the two older boys really spent a good amount of time on theirs... what a worthwhile way to spend a quiet part of the morning!

{check out all the other entries here}

Ambleside Online, Geography {part two}

I just knew that you all were just sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for the sequel to the really long post with lots of book titles on it...  and I will not let you down!  ;)

Geography covered by region (AOy1-8): 

Now, you'll note some of the regions have more resources listed than others, that is in part due to the fact that several years list several book options.  From my estimation of things, The Book of Marvels in Y5, really adds a LOT to AO Geography...  Oh, and with exception to Kim in Y5 I haven't listed books under other categories such as Literature that might also add to the overall study of Geography **(see note below). Also, see AO's rotation for covering basic geography in years 1-6, here & click over to each year's booklist on the AO site to support them with your amazon-linked purchases, if you will!

I've also purposefully left out AO y9-11 because there is such a wide variety of books available, and much is left to parent/student discrimination/discretion.  :)  Feel free to mention certain geographical locations covered in any of those titles in the comments as well..  (see this post for complete list of Ambleside Online Geography titles - Years 1-11)

N. America:
(Y1) The Great Lakes (Canada/U.S. ) [Paddle-to-the-Sea by H.C. Holling]
(Y2) U.S. states of the Southwest [Tree in the Trail by Holling]
U.S. east coast, around South America, west coast of U.S. and to the Orient.[Seabird, Holling]
(Y4) Mississippi River; US States along river; Gulf of Mexico [Minn of the Mississippi, Holling]
(Y5) (The Bay Bridge, California), (San Francisco, California), (Yosemite Falls, California), (The Grand Canyon, Colorado/Arizona), (Boulder Dam, Colorado River), (Niagara Falls, Canada/New York), (New York City), (Washington DC) [Book of Marvels: The Occident, by Richard Halliburton]
(Y5) (Gulf of Mexico), (central Mexico), (Chicen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico) [Book of Marvels: The Occident, by Richard Halliburton]
(Y5) ch5 (American colonies); ch6 (Washington DC); ch7 (New England); ch8 (New York); ch9 (New England); ch10 (Great Lakes USA); ch11 (Mississippi River); ch12 (Florida); ch13 (western US); ch14 (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone western US); ch15 (California); ch16 (Alaska); ch17 (Canada); ch18 (Mexico); ch19 (Central America) [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]

(Y5) (Haiti), The Panama Canal (Central America), (Machu Picchu, Peru), Iguaza Falls (Argentina/Brazil), (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), [Book of Marvels: The Occident, by Richard Halliburton]
(Y5) ch20 (Caribbean, Cuba, Haiti, etc) ch21 (Ecuador, Peru); ch22 (Amazon River, Brazil); ch23 (Argentina, Chile) [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]
(Y7) Spain, Atlantic Ocean, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Canary Islands, Cuba, Lesser Antilles, Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Trinidad, Venezuela, Central America [Christopher Columbus, Mariner
by Samuel Eliot Morison] OR [The Life of Christopher Columbus by Edward Everett Hale]
(Y7) Peru, South America, Pacific Ocean, Pacific Islands [Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl ]

(Y5) (Timbuctoo, western Africa), (spray from Victoria Falls, south Africa) [Second Book of Marvels: The Orient, by Richard Halliburton, 1938]
(Y5) ch64 (Egyptian pyramids); ch65 (Morocco, Sahara Desert); ch66 (Africa, Livingstone); ch67 (African jungles); ch68 (South African diamonds)  [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]
(Y6) Mid-Southern Africa [The Story of David Livingstone, Vautier Golding]

(Y3) Mediterranean Sea, Italy, Adriatic Sea, China, South (east) Asia, tiny bit of former USSR? [Marco Polo, see AO site for recommended authors]
(Y5) Gibraltar (Spain), Carcassonne (castle in southern France),Mount St. Michael (castle in northern France), (Reims Cathedral, France), The Tiger of the Alps (Matterhorn, Switzerland), The Monastery of St. Bernard (Switzerland/Italy), St. Peter's (Rome, central Italy), (Mt. Vesuvius, southern Italy), (Pompeii, southern Italy), (Blue Grotto, Capri, off Italy), (Athens, Greece), (Simopetra, Orthodox monastery, Mount Athos, northern Greece), (Moscow), (Santa Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey)
[Book of Marvels: The Occident, by Richard Halliburton]
(Y5) ch25, 26 (England); ch27 (Wales, Ireland); ch28, 29 (France); ch30 (Belgium, Holland); ch31 (Gibraltar, Granada); ch32 (Madrid, Portugal); ch33 (Switzerland); ch34 (Venice); ch35 (Florence); ch36 (Rome, St. Peter's); ch37 (Mt. Vesuvius); ch38 (Germany); ch39 (Denmark); ch40 (Scandinavia); ch41 (Norway, Sweden); ch42 (tip of Norway); ch43 (Russia); ch44 (southern Russia, Caspian Sea,); ch45 (Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia); ch46 (Greece); ch47 (Turkey) [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]
(Y7) North along the west coast of Ireland [The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin]
(Y7) Britain, places in beloved storybooks (Winnie-the-Pooh Country),(Robert Louis Stevenson’s childhood home), (Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons), the River Thames, looking for Toad Hall by Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows, Pook’s Hill (on Rudyard Kipling’s farm), the heights of Tintagel, etc. [How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger]

Middle East:
(Y5) Middle East [How the Heather Looks, by Voskamp]
(Y5) The Travels of Demetrius (Greece and Ephesus, Turkey), (King Mausolus's tomb, western Turkey),
The Colossus (Rhodes, off Turkey), The Pharos (lighthouse, Alexandria, Egypt), (Sphinx and Pyramids, Egypt), The Pyramids Today (Cairo, Egypt), The Labyrinth (Knossos, Crete), (Mecca, Saudi Arabia), (Petra, Holy Land), The Dead Sea (Holy Land), (Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem), (Solomon's Temple, Jerusalem), (Temple of Jupiter, Syria), (Queen of Palmyra, Syria), (Bagdad, Persia/Iraq), Babylon (Iraq)[Second Book of Marvels: The Orient, by Richard Halliburton, 1938]
(Y5) ch47 (Turkey); ch48 (Asian camels); ch49 (Asia Minor); ch50 (the Holy Land); ch51 (Jerusalem, Israel); ch52 (Nineveh, Bagdad); ch53 (Arabia, Mohammed); ch54 (Persia/Iran)

(Y3) Mediterranean Sea, Italy, Adriatic Sea, China, South (east) Asia, tiny bit of former USSR? [Marco Polo, see AO site for recommended authors]
(Y5) (Madrasa College and Isfahan, Persia), (Udaipur, western India), (Palace in Udaipur, western India), (Taj Majal, Agra, India), (Taj Majal, Agra, India), (Mt. Everest, Nepal/Tibet), (Lhasa, Tibet), (Bhuddist Dalai Lama, Lhasa, Tibet), (Hindu temple, Madura, southern India), (Indo-China temple, Angkor, Cambodia), (Great Wall, China), (Fujiyama, Japan), [Second Book of Marvels: The Orient, by Richard Halliburton, 1938]
(Y5) ch48 (Asian camels); ch49 (Asia Minor); ch55 (Calcutta, India); ch56 (Bombay, Hindus); ch57 (Siam, Thailand, Burma); ch58 (Tibet); ch59 (China); ch60 (China); ch61 (Siberia); ch62 (Japan); ch63 (Fuji, Japan)  [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]
(Y5) India [Kim, Rudyard Kipling]

Australia/Oceania: ?!?!?!?
(Y5) ch69 (Australia)  [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]
What in the world?!?  You Aussie ladies have got the right to protest!
Give some suggestions here, PLEASE!! 

Atlantic Voyages:
(Y5) ch 24 (Atlantic Ocean) [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]

(Y7) North along the west coast of Ireland, then north-west and north to thread through the Hebridean islands, north again to the Faroes, then west to Iceland, west again to Greenland, then south-west along the coast and the edge of the Arctic pack ice to Labrador and Newfoundland. [The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin]
(Y7) Spain, Atlantic Ocean, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Canary Islands, Cuba, Lesser Antilles, Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Trinidad, Venezuela, Central America [Christopher Columbus, Mariner
by Samuel Eliot Morison] OR [The Life of Christopher Columbus by Edward Everett Hale]

Pacific Voyages:

(Y5) ch70 (South Sea Islands, Hawaii) [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]
(Y7) Peru, South America, Pacific Ocean, Pacific Islands [Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl ]

General Geography: understanding oceans, topography, mountains, atmosphere, etc.
(Y4)  ch1 (General Earth Intro); ch1, 2 (Atmosphere); ch3 (Continents); ch4 (Oceans); ch5 (Seasons, Climates, Weather); ch6, ch7 (Inner Earth, Core, Tectonics); ch8 (Volcanoes); ch9, ch10 (Latitude, Longitude) [A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth, Ann Voskamp]
(Y5) ch1 (the world from space); ch2 (mentions millions of years evolution); ch3 (cross section of the earth); ch4 (all the people on earth) [A Child's Geography of the World, Hillyer]

**Please point out any errors you see, and/or any additions in the comments...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tips for a successful school day

After about 5 years of teaching my children, I have finally figured out ahead of time what will help me to have a good day!  I've experienced huge motivation to get my act together after too many days when everything that could have HAS gone wrong, everyone's upset and I feel that I'm failing miserably in this daunting task called homeschooling.  In the last 4 years I've been somewhat consistent at implementing these changes and I can attest to their awesome improvements!

very hilarious, OLD photo!  awwww...

So, here's a list of things, that if I can manage to accomplish all these things, I am pretty much guaranteed a successful day of learning in our house.

1. Wake up on time 
For me sadly, this is no small thing. I am the queen of sleeping in. For years I've not thought it possible for me to consistently wake up early. I do think my body needs more sleep than some to stay healthy, and for this to happen realistically, I have to get to bed at a regular hour the night before. Truthfully, this has taken a few years to realize how really important this is and how it affects my attitude and even my outlook on life.

2. Read the Word of God

Taking time to focus my day, my attitude, my priorities. Vital. I do this before I even get out of bed.

3. Turn things over to Him

I recognize that I will mess everything up if left all to myself (constant reliance on the Spirit throughout the day, I need LOTS of reminders). This is VERY important.  - Included here, is the fact that I must be willing to turn things back over to Him if they start getting crazy...  :)

4. Get dressed and shod...

... and not just sweatpants and t-shirts, when I'm really dressed I feel better and if someone comes to the door, or I have to run out quick, I'm ready. In our line of work and in this country, people show up at ANY time and it used to be such a frustration for me... but NOT anymore, 'cause I'm ready for 'em ;) Now if I only could manage to have a meal ready at all times... heheh.
Being nicely dressed whether or not I have plans to leave the house, I've found, has helped my Beloved to relate to me in a manner I really like as well. I dress everyday with him in mind.

5. Establish the kids in their own morning routine.

I'm actually in the middle of implementing this right now. My kids wake up before the crack of dawn, NO MATTER WHAT time they went to bed. They would wake up and play (boys play loud) and then play until lunch time if left to themselves. I would regularly get frustrated when I called them down to breakfast that they weren't dressed and their room was a mess. Now, I've created a checklist of things for them to do before 8am - breakfast. I now just need to get them a clock for their room to make sure it's all done on time, and without reminders!

6. Have plan in place for breakfast, the night before.

This could be as simple as just knowing what we're going to eat, or it could mean actually preparing it ahead and having the table all set.

7. Do not turn on the computer before starting school

I know myself. I have a hard time just checking mail! In my mail there are ads that I just have to read, my AmblesideOnline or Spell to Write & Read and MathUsee yahoo groups to browse, and then there are notes to respond to and links to freebies and all the rest, and before I know it, I'm late starting... again.

8. Keep the little kids nearby at all times.

This is vital to a peaceful day. If the kids are nearby, I can sense when trouble is afoot. When I get busy or distracted and they are left to themselves, I discover little messes around the house made by sneaky, hungry kiddos. Not to mention, I get frustrated at the frequent sometimes fierce combats that ensue upstairs that cause me to have to run up to play policewoman before someone is killed. If they are with me, this doesn't happen. We like being together :)

9. Having a plan 

Sounds obvious, but... Knowing what I'm supposed to be teaching and what the kids are supposed to be learning and doing each day, let alone at certain checkpoints throughout the day, is absolutely essential. I need several planning days a year (speaking of which I haven't had one for...TOO long - no wonder I'm a mess ;), in order to keep on top of all of the kiddos learning requirements. I actually benefit from having a daily schedule that keeps all of life a little more trackable.

10. Keep 'em busy!

My Beloved and I have had a tumultuous last year with moving back here to Peru, hosting various guests - some with moderate stays, and just the extreme busy-ness of ministry and cross-cultural dealings. We don't have TV, and limit movies to once a week or so. The kids don't play outside in the neighborhood because it is unsafe... all this has meant many days where school consists simply of the basics and the kids are left with lots of free time. While free time cultivates creativity perhaps, my kids creativity doesn't seem to need any cultivation, it's in full bloom! What they need more of is direction. So, making sure their assignments are clear, giving them work to do around the house, and even providing directed play or project ideas has been very helpful. This includes keeping the little ones busy while we do school with the older ones. Having toddler and preschool activities on hand at all times has helped immensely.

So there you have it :) That's what we do...

What do you do? 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ambleside Online, Geography

Please see each AO year's booklist pages for specifics and links to resources for Geography selections (years are linked below)... 

 *See this post for AO Geography titles listed by region.* Also, see AO's rotation for covering basic Geography topics in years 1-6 here.

**Note from Fisher Academy, this information is based on AO's curriculum and is not intended to replace use of the AO site; only to enhance usability.  I have only pre-read the books up until year six so far.  Therefore, these books are listed here not because of personal recommendation, nor do I necessarily personally approve of all the books (especially those recommended as alternatives to later years, which may contain some mature content - see notes to the individual titles).
**Note from the AO Advisory: While previewing the content of mountains of books for the HEO high school years, we've been constantly aware that we cannot predict how far across that bridge other people's children may be. Families vary greatly in their views on sheltering, protecting and preparing for adulthood, so it would be futile for us to attempt to be the censor or guardian (the bridge troll?) for all House of Education Online scholars. We set a very high standard for HEO materials, and we've gone the extra mile and beyond to create and provide a Year 11 prototype that reflects excellence. However by no means do we claim to have done all the work for you! It remains the homeschool parent's job, most particularly on the high school level, to assume full responsibility for matching your child's sensitivities and sensibilities, and your family's standards, with the books you select for study.

Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling

Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling
Seabird by Holling C. Holling

Marco Polo (various authors - see website for recommendations)

Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling

Explore the Holy Land by Ann Voskamp,
OR The Book of Marvels: The Occident and/or Second Book of Marvels: The Orient by Richard Halliburton
OR A Child's Geography of the World by Virgil Hillyer, both out of print but wonderful if you have access to them.

The Story of David Livingstone by Vautier Golding. This book could be covered in one term, leaving time to use another resource (perhaps one of the options from Year 5). Or, you may prefer to use Missionary Travels by David Livingstone, although some students have found it very dry. Livingstone's journeys were selected for their geography of Africa, so map work is vital.

* ** The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin (there is a documentary about this journey)
*** How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger (You will love this book and may therefore look for more by the same author for your child to read. Please exercise caution in doing so.)

Map Drills

Ten minutes of map drills each week, locating places from the week's reading on a map.
Mapwork for Roman Britain and Ireland. Northern Gaul outline maps also available.
For those who would like a way to find modern town names.
An overall quiz on Medieval locations.
Europe as it was in the timeframe covered in Year 7 studies.
The most straightforward outline maps of modern world.
Some easy-to-read maps of Europe in the Year 7 timeframe.
Blank outline map of Late Medieval Europe.
An extra note: Will and Ariel Durant's history series volume for this time period contains excellent maps inside the covers that portray the geographical locations pertaining to Year 7 studies.

* Christopher Columbus, Mariner by Samuel Eliot Morison (This book, especially ch 11, will require parental screening) OR The Life of Christopher Columbus by Edward Everett Hale
** *** Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
OR ** The Discovery of Muscovy etc. by Richard Hakluyt and
*** The Discovery of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh

Alternative suggestions are listed on page of geography options (**see end of this post).

Map Drills
Ten minutes of map drills each week - websites available
Locate places from the day's reading on a map

{The list of Geography book selections below will carry through all four HEO high school years. Please plan accordingly.}

If you wish to match your geography to the time period for year 9, we suggest you choose one to three of the following:

* London to Land's End by Daniel Defoe
** A book about the Lewis & Clark Expedition - Two suggestions are Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose,
and Lewis and Clark by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns. (Preview any other titles, as many books on this subject contain graphic material.)
*** A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson (the one online is called A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland) currently in print, approximately 133 pages (will vary by edition).

If you wish your geography to be more current, select from our page of geography options. (**see end of this post).  (The 36-week schedule uses The Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton, and Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler.) 

Map Drills
Ten minutes of map drills each week - websites available. Geosafari (available now on CD-rom) would be sufficient.
Locate places from the day's reading on a map
Explore foreign places relevant in news and current events. (See our notes about The World and I under current events. This is a rich resource for this purpose also.)
Many countries have a tourism department, and writing to their embassies for free brochures, maps, and other travel information might be an inexpensive way to supplement geography studies.

If you wish to match your geography to the time period for year 10, we suggest you choose from the following:

Eothen by Alexander Kinglake

*** The Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman

For those who wish their geography to be more up-to-date (you may, of course, combine options, using a geography book contemporary to Year 10 one term and a more modern text in another term), select from our list of geography options (**see end of this post).

Map Drills
Ten minutes of map drills each week - websites available. Geosafari (available now on CD-rom) would be sufficient.
Locate places from the day's reading on a map
Explore foreign places relevant in news and current events. (See our notes about The World and I under current events. This is a rich resource for this purpose also.)
Many countries have a tourism department, and writing to their embassies for free brochures, maps, and other travel information might be an inexpensive way to supplement geography studies.

BOOKS - The first and last titles have been especially recommended by at least one Advisory member, but since this is a salad bar, you might prefer to choose one of the other geography options (**see end of this post), all of which were published in the 20th century.

The World: Travels 1950-2000 by Jan Morris, formerly James - well written, but there's a brief non-graphic mention of the author's gender-change operation in chapter 18, titled "Casablanca." The chapter is very short and can be skipped or removed. This book should be spread over all three terms. (This book is divided over the year in AO's posted 36-week schedule as the only geography selection)

* Endurance - The Endurance set out on the very eve of WWI--in fact, war was declared but the Prime Minister wanted the expedition to continue. Very exciting tale of survival and exploration, scientific expeditions, polar exploration, human ingenuity
OR South by Sir Ernest Shackleton - Shackleton's exploration of the South Pole on The Endurance; travel, geography, adventure

** Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes - great geography book, but the movie of the same name isn't recommended

Alternative suggestions are listed on page of geography options (**see those listed below).

Ambleside Online Geography Options 

(as listed and linked from AO here)

--Books by H.V. Morton such as In Search of England, In the Steps of St. Paul, A Traveller in Rome. Morton set the standard for travel books.

--The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder--Excellent as a literary advent calendar. A journey in time as well as distance, more historical and philosophical than religious.

--Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton--Great book for a glimpse into South Africa. Contains especially deep ideas that would be valuable for young people to confront. Fits particularly well in term 3 of Year 10.

--Dervla Murphy's books, such as Full Tilt. She sees the world on a bicycle. Fascinating reading, well written, and quite current. Also somewhat anti-Christian in flavor. Pre--reading recommended.

--Tracks by Robyn Davidson. A young woman crosses Australia by camel. Well written, interesting, definitely needs pre-reading (she sometimes travels nude).

--My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Most of Durrell's books are travel stories with conservation-minded animal collection as the purpose. They also work well as nature reading.

--Travel books such as Lonely Planet and Insight Guides. These will need a bit more parental involvement as certain readings will be a waste of time, and others less than edifying (descriptions of red light districts, for example).

--Heidi's Alp: One Family's Search for Storybook Europe by Christina Hardyment. Well written travel guide tracing the roots of children's books from Hans Brinker's Holland, to Hans Christian Anderson's Denmark and Germany. Pre-reading recommended (includes a passage about castration).

--Naturalist by E.O. Wilson. His autobiography; well written. Theme: how his childhood interests and adventures developed into his (spectacular) adult career. Also, his Journey to the Ants is a popular book on the travel and research behind his Pulitzer prize winning book Ants. Please preview.

--Dove by Robin Lee Graham. Preview, read aloud, or save for a more mature student.

--Peace Child by Don Richardson. Mr. Richardson was a missionary who brought the gospel to a cannibalistic tribe. An amazing story of a stone age tribe's first contacts with the outside world in the early 1960's.

--Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler (this is used in AO Year 9's 36-week schedule)

--Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton - please preview (this is used in AO Year 9's 36-week schedule)

--Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins - In the 1970's, Jenkins set out discouraged with life and determined to find meaning in his existence by walking due west. The places he sees and people he meets along the way help him find answers. Sequels are Looking for Alaska, Walk Across China and The Walk West, which was co-written by his wife, Barbara Jenkins.

--Bill Bryson books (as readalouds)

The Advisory hasn't looked at these, but they come highly recommended and are worth pursuing (as listed and linked from AO here):

The Geography Behind History by Gordon East
The Last Secrets of the Silk Road by Alexandra Tolstoy
Chasing the Sea by Tom Bissell
Waugh Abroad by Evelyn Waugh
1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler's Life List, by Patricia Schultz
Almost Heaven by Martin Fletcher
The Hills is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith

Other older travel books (as listed and linked from AO here):

For those watching the budget, these are online as free etexts!
- Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World by Mark Twain
- In the South Seas by Robert Louis Stevenson, Neil Rennie (Editor)
- Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum
- Mariner of St. Malo: A Chronicle of the Voyages of Jacques Cartier (1500's) by Stephen Leacock

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nature Journal Inspiration

Nature study has changed my life.  Not simply because I now know more about toads, turtles, birds, insects and plants than I ever thought I would (though I am very glad for all that).  I'm not even referring to the hour each week to go outside and complete some kind of assignment (though there's absolutely nothing wrong with that...)  Neither am I talking about nature walks, or making regular entries in a nature journal. 

After several years of nature study, I am different because I have been awakened.  I can see.  And I am absolutely smitten by the beauty I've discovered.

That's what nature study has done to me.  
"In the early years we are not to teach nature as science, we are not to teach it primarily for method or for drill: we are to teach it for loving - and this is nature study.  On these points I make no compromise."
LH Bailey

There is nothing quite like a sense of wonder when it comes to discovering the minute alongside the grandiose beauty in the world around us.  Oh such delights are waiting for us!

When we discover something wonderful... wouldn't we like to remember it?  A nature journal is great for that! The emphasis is on the experience, the enjoyment of nature, observation and asking questions, not so much on the recording.  What we record in a journal is only the outward sign of the inward workings  ;)
"A field notebook may be made a joy to the pupil and a help to the teacher.  Any kind of blank book will do for this, except that it should not be too large to be carried in the pocket, and it should always have the pencil attached."
Anna Comstock

Here's how we started:

I actually made our own first books.  I didn't have very high hopes of finding anything of very good quality in the small mountain town in Peru where we lived in those days.  Plus, I didn't want to spend a lot of money if the boys weren't even going to use them.  Also, I would have been hesitant to let them mess them up if they had cost me a lot of money... I'm annoying like that.  :)  So, we made our own, and they've become real treasures to us for more than just the fact that they are homemade.

Can you seriously believe that these pictures are from 2005?!
I just knew they'd come in handy one of these days!! ;) heheh.

So, the books belong to the kids.  They decorate the outside, and they do all the drawings inside... with no criticism, no corrections... all theirs. For a LONG time, they weren't really into making entries.  I didn't fuss.  I just pulled mine out, and likely as not, they'd appear with theirs some time later as well.

Just recently actually have we graduated to store bought journals.  I bought them from Miller Pads and Paper.  They are perfect.  Not necessarily for watercolor, but definitely for sketching.  Charlotte Mason emphasized giving the children quality art materials, but I didn't always have access to quality.  Nor did my budget always allow for it.  But one can never go wrong with a sturdy blank book and a set of good colored pencils.  Just last year we ventured into watercolor for a bit, and now are back to the pencils until we can learn some more.  We had a few too many really satisfying sketches ruined by a bit too much water!  I'm hoping to learn more about dry brush very soon (yes, Richele, I need to review your post again ;)

"Too much have we emphasized drawing as an art; it may be an art, if the one who draws is an artist; but if he is not an artist, he still has a right to draw if it pleases him to do so.  We might as well declare that a child should not speak unless he put his words into poetry, as to declare that he should not draw because his drawings are not artistic."
Anna Comstock

Helpful Links:

One of our nature study posts from about 4 years ago!  hah! the kids are so small!  :)
Bloggy friends who've posted on their nature journals lately... Pebblekeeper, Barb, and Richele
This officially my first Outdoor Hour Challenge post, I believe.  Hooray!
Simple Nature Journal squidoo
HONS - free online in many formats here.

I snagged the following AWESOME link from Megan over at Contented Sparrow (check out her inspiring post first!) then... Vintage Nature Readers Galore!  Check them both out :)

So how 'bout it?  Are you inspired yet?  

Go ahead, pick up a notebook and some pencils and head out to see what you can see, see, see!
Oh, and if you get a chance, I'd love to hear all about it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ah. ah. ahhh... PLUTARCH!! ...bless you! *UPDATE!*


Plutarch is now available for FREE on kindle!

I just love my kindle.

Here it is in three volumes:

You may or may not want to read the previous Plutarch post in search of seemingly elusive cheap audio... it was rather confusing and hair-brained :)  so maybe you'd better not go... ;)

*Image courtesy of GoFish

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Composer: Beethoven - free download

whoops!  I forgot to put this on the last post...
I made a Beethoven coloring sheet:

download it here

(right click and 'save as...' or click on the link to print it off)


Composer Study: Beethoven

This term's composer is the notorious Beethoven.  Ever heard of him?  heheh.  I know.  Kinda obvious.

But just to clarify, I'm not referring to the dog.
(I'm sure there are actually kids out there these days, who would in fact need me to explain this... sad.  Yay, for homeschooling!)

I actually think I'd heard of Beethoven even before I knew classical music for the first time.  Beethoven, after all, is kind of a memorable name.  I even remember where I was when I learned about him... or at least where I was when I contemplated him for the first time.  It was in front of a baby grand piano at my friend's house when I was young.  I remember marveling about the art of composing... how to hear all those notes of different instruments in your head at the same time and for them to make into something beautiful... yes.  I was awed.  In fact, I still am.  Composing is AMAZING to me.

I even had dreams growing up about composers.  Dreams that I still remember.  weird.  Or else it is memories of what I envisioned while reading a book from long ago... either way, I remember it vividly.

But, I'll spare you the details and get on with this post.

You're welcome.

So this term's composer studies are focusing on Beethoven... surely you guessed that already ;)

Here are the AO selections (all free downloads)...

Piano Sonata 8 (Pathetique) Opus 13
Piano Sonata 14 (Moonlight) Op 27
Symphony No. 3 (Erocia-meaning 'heroic') Opus 55
String Quartets opus 59, no.1-3 (Razumovsky Quartets)
          they look like this (click ctrl+F to find on the page):
Quartetto d'Archi in Fa maggiore op. 59 n° 1
Quartetto d'Archi in Mi minore op. 59 n° 2
Quartetto d'Archi in Do maggiore op. 59 n° 3
Piano Concerto 5 (Emporer) Op 73 - sheet music here
Symphony No. 9  Opus 125 (the one with Ode to Joy at the end)
           it looks like this (at the way bottom of the page):
Sinfonia n° 9 in Re minore op. 125
(thanks goes to Kathy on the AO list for several of these links!)

Here's a link to a playlist on GrooveShark that has all these selections to listen online.  Thanks Phyllis!

A book we're reading:

Helpful tips:
This term I discovered a REALLY helpful thing that I'd never thought of before.  There are 6 selections per term (see above) and as there are 12 weeks per term, that means you can make it nice and straight forward by studying each selection for 2 weeks!  (Well, yes, it is obvious... but it takes me a while sometimes to catch on.)
*AO terms are as follows, Term 1 / Sept-Nov; Term 2 / Jan-Mar; Term 3 / Apr-June

Helpful links:
Ludwig van Beethoven - classics for kids
AWESOME resource - by arts alive! canada (39 pages - pg11-35 has info in kid-friendly format and workbook activities, if you're into those)
Beethoven squidoo w/ LOTS of info
Mini-unit study from HomeschoolShare with coloring sheet, copywork selections and other notebook pages... if your kids like that sort of thing) - having the book is not necessary to using the resources.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

handwriting... who cares?!

I have some posts scrambling around in my head trying to get out, and yet life keeps happening and they're shut up inside for another day...  but here's one that pretty much just snuck out. 
*(question: uh, how does one say 'sneak out' in the past tense?  ...sneaked out just does NOT sound right.)

Below, I will be posting a picture of some of my boys' handwriting/copywork samples from this past week.  I know that once you see my boys' handwriting you will be able to say to yourself, heh! ... my kid IS normal!  So, let's just go ahead and get this out in the open... My kids are not over-acheiver homeschooler super-human specimans who have impeccable handwriting (...are you okay with that?  will you still read my blog sometimes?) Now that I've made my confession, you can admit it too, and we'll all breathe a sigh of relief because we all know exactly what to expect of each other... normalness.


I'm glad we got that out of the way...
OKAY.  Moving right along...

Please take into account that Siah has yet to be introduced 
into the rigors of Fisher academia and has had 
no prior training in how to write (well, very little anyway). 
All things considered, I am actually quite proud of this sample. 
*including the fact that he writes his name almost perfectly backwards... ;)

While, this sample is a far cry from what I taught him using Cursive First, 
I actually am kind of proud of this sample too. I mean, my son has with no real 
coaching on the matter, officially developed 'manly handwriting'. 
It IS legible. It IS small. It is much like many a man's writing I've seen. 
and I'm okay with that... :)

Now, a certain other child of mine (who alas, disallowed his sample from being posted) is of the opinion that neat handwriting is not really very necessary as it is becoming somewhat of a lost art. He reasons that typing skills are much more necessary. And how might you think I responded to that?  I said the teacherly thing. of course. I sung the praises of having neat handwriting, how admirable a trait it is, and I did not fail to mention that I write notes when I'm studying my Bible in the morning by hand, and that I journal by hand, and...
Well, I'm curious, what would you have said?

So how would you rate your kids' handwriting on a scale of 1 - 10? 

Is there a difference between your girl's and boy's handwriting?

Does anyone even care about handwriting nowadays?
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