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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Current Events: Q&A

image courtesy of lusi

I love this. I've been trying to figure out how to introduce current events to my children without overwhelming them with all the negativity in the news. They are just little kids; it seems wrong somehow to burden them with things that are too much for them to handle emotionally yet. How do you decide?

I'm in the same boat. I think it's good to shelter our kids from a good deal of negativity in the world when they're very little, but at the same time, as they grow, we don't want to continue by over-incubating and in so doing make it difficult for our children to adjust to life outside any protective shell we've created for them. ;)

This is why when the kids are very young, we read fairy tales and fables (the real kind with a moral, not just the prettified versions we have nowadays via disney). They learn about the stark realities of life from story. Read more about the role of fairy tales in the education of the young, here.

As to the way I think we go about introducing our younger children to what's going on in the world, without scaring the living daylights out of them, ;) is through natural family conversation, or as CM called it, "table talk". We might choose a current article from World Magazine for example and read it aloud at the dinner table, or just discuss what's happening in the world at a family meal. When the children are small, I imagine much of this would take place between parents as children grow into the conversations. Here's how CM describes it:
"Allowing that it rests with the parents to give their children grounds for sound opinions on men and movements, books and events, when are they to get opportunity for this sort of culture? Whenever they fall into talk with, or in the presence of, their children; but especially at table––other opportunities come by chance, but this is to be relied on...

This is the opportunity to keep the young people informed upon the topics of the day,––who has made a weighty speech; who has written a book, what its merits and defects; what wars and rumours of wars are there; who has painted a good picture, and what are the characteristics of his style. The Times newspaper and a good weekly or monthly review will furnish material for talk every day in the week. The father who opens the talk need not be afraid he will have to sustain a monologue; indeed, he had better avoid prosing; and nothing is more delightful than the eager way the children toss the ball to and fro. They want to know the ins and outs of everything, recollect something which illustrates the point, and inevitably corner the thing talked about for investigation––is it "right," or "wrong," "good," or "bad"; while the parents display their tact in leading their children to form just opinions without laying down the law for them. The boys and girls are engaged with the past, both in their school-work and their home reading, and any effort to bring them abreast of the times is gratifying to them; and it has a vivifying effect on their studies."
As for school studies, CM didn't have students reading current events (it seems) until grades 7-9.
Here's what grades 7-9 (form III & IV) were doing, quoted from here:
-Read on Tuesdays some subject in "Literature" or on the news of the week or on some historical or allegorical subject, etc. Write on Thursdays a resume.
-Verses (note metre of poems set for this term) on current events and on characters in the term's reading, upon heroic deeds, or, on autumn and winter scenes.
-Narrative poems on striking events.

Grades 10-12 (forms V & VI) did the following, quoted from vol 6 pg 194...
"Here is an example of a programme set for a term's work in these two Forms,––"A good précis; Letters to The Times on topics of the day; subjects taken from the term's work in history and literature; or notes on a picture study; dialogues between characters occurring in your literature and history studies; ballads on current events; (VI) essays on events and questions of the day; a patriotic play in verse or prose." Here are questions set for another term,––"Write a paean, rhymed or in blank verse, on the Prince of Wales's tour in the Dominions." "An essay, dated 1930, on the imagined work of the League of Nations." Form V, "Write a woeful ballad touching the condition of Ireland, or, a poem on the King's garden party to the V.C.'s." "An essay on the present condition of England, or, on President Wilson."
 The aforementioned literary assignments (patriotic play, poem, essay, woeful ballad, etc) would have been composed in response to their reading of current events on the League of Nations, Ireland, King's garden party, present condition of England or President Wilson. 

image courtesy of vlambi

In conclusion:
My current events posts are for my older boys who are studying AOy7. They read through 2-3 current events articles and document them in their narration notebooks as, "This Week in History". In the next year or so, I'll have them transition into writing more creatively about what they read of the world today and the related issues they are thinking through.

At the dinner table, we often discuss what the boys have been reading when my husband is home. This has been so much fun! In hindsight, I wish I'd done this more often, in an informal, conversational way with the kids even when they were smaller, as is mentioned above in the "table talk" quote. I'm currently aiming for at least one dinner time conversation a week with the family about current events (thursdays?). I'll bring this up very informally, and should hopefully not ever seem contrived. I've realized how easy it can be, now that I'm looking through the headlines for my boys, to pick out a weekly theme for conversation. Most often though, it usually comes about because the boys are interested in what they've just read and naturally bring it up as the hot topic at dinner time! :)

Stephanie, I hope these ideas will help you to formulate your own thoughts and plans for working with your family! :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Current Events: 12/28

In the news this week (as in other weeks), is the Stop Online Piracy Act...  so have at it! ;)

Lines Drawn on Antipiracy Bills - **

Daily Report: Congress Considers Bills to Prevent Piracy - **

Explainer: understanding Sopa (animated explanation of the issue) - **

Daily Report: The Boycott Against SOPA Supporters - **

Piracy vs. privacy in the online world - **

Online Piracy and SOPA: Beware of Unintended Consequences -

The news ... illustrated - world magazine's political cartoons **

Interesting thoughts on technology in 2011

2011: The year when it became the norm for the device in your pocket to be the center of your world -

Your Brain on Computers, Attached to Technology and Paying a Price -

Your Brain on Cellphones: Effects Present, Consequences Unknown

Your Brain on Computers, Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain

How Digital Technology Has Changed the Brain, "By their 20s, young people will have spent more than 30,000 hours on the Internet and playing video games. That's not such a bad thing..." -

The articles are in the order I would recommend them read in. I've starred the articles my boys will actually get to choose from. :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Greetings from Fisher Academy!

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

And a Happy New Year!

PS. This is among our very first attempts at recording and publishing our recitations. Being eager to share something for Christmas, we didn't spend as much time as we could have. Also, I wasn't as faithful with the actual recitation lessons as I would have liked this term... we've had to forego some things as we've transitioned back to Peru and back into schooling. Besides, we must all start somewhere ;) Keep in mind, recitation is not necessarily memorization :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Folksong: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Lion 006

"Mbube" (Zulu: lion) was written in the 1920s by Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin, who worked for the Gallo Record Company as a cleaner and record packer, and who performed with a choir, The Evening Birds. According to South African journalist Rian Malan:

"Mbube" wasn't the most remarkable tune, but there was something terribly compelling about the underlying chant, a dense meshing of low male voices above which Solomon yodelled and howled for two exhilarating minutes, occasionally making it up as he went along. The third take was the great one, but it achieved immortality only in its dying seconds, when Solly took a deep breath, opened his mouth and improvised the melody that the world now associates with these words:

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.[1]
It went on to earn at least 15 million US dollars in royalties from covers and film licensing. Then, in the mid-nineties, it became a pop "supernova" (in the words of South African writer Rian Malan) when licensed to Walt Disney for use in the film The Lion King, its spin-off TV series and live musical, prompting a lawsuit on behalf of the impoverished descendants of Solomon Linda. [1]
Family of 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' Writer to Get Millions


Conveniently, this is a folksong we're already familiar with for the most part, so we won't have to spend much time on it considering we're a month behind and it's the day before the day before Christmas... though in comparison our December weather is a lot more African (as in tropical), than it would be in N.America this month! :)

This is our favorite youtube version:

Helpful links:
AO Folksongs
The Lion Sleeps Tonight - wikipedia

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Current Events: 12/21

I know, it's almost Christmas and we are still schooling... isn't all of life education though? Even if we weren't sticking with our reading assignments and other interesting pursuits, we'd still be learning something else, right? :) We're slowly catching up after a very strange school year. We should be pretty much on track by the end of the next term... we're hoping :)

Even so, we are very much enjoying the holiday season...

The kids taking part in the Christmas production and festivities at church!

So, without further ado, my boys, you may choose any 2-3 articles from the following categories:

North Korea leadership transition:
North Korea Leader Dies in State -
Analysis of North Korea After Kim -
Kim Jong-il death: 'Nature mourns' N Korea leader -
US says Transition Smooth so far as North Korea Claims Kim Death Sparks Natural Wonders

Latest trip to space:
Multinational Crew Blasts off for Space Station
Soyuz rocket blasts off for International Space Station - {video}
Smooth Start to Latest Space Mision


Because I simply can't bear to leave this post without more holiday cheering, I leave you with this:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Book of Centuries: a pictoral update

I wrote some two months ago about our Book of Centuries, which in a way is new to us this year, thanks to talks this past summer by the lovely Laurie Bestvater. Previously, we only kept a communal timeline notebook (the littles still add to this one), but this year my boys have been keeping their own; adding entries on a weekly sometimes daily basis.

Javen's 4th century A.D.

...a detail from one of Javen's pages

She inspired us all at the Living Education Retreat in Windom, MN to use the Book of Centuries along with a number of other books as "forms of vitality" for our children. Though I'm quite sure I don't know how one could not make one's own while the children make theirs... so of course I had to have one too :)

Here's my 20th century, shows all of our immediate family's birthdays :)

Charlotte says,
"One thing at any rate we know with certainty, that no teaching, no information becomes knowledge to any of us until the individual mind has acted upon it, translated it, transformed, absorbed it, to reappear, like our bodily food, in forms of vitality. Therefore, teaching, talk and tale, however lucid or fascinating, effect nothing until self-activity be set up; that is, self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature."

This was Cullen's sketch after a visit to a local museum. 
I think it is awesome!


I LOVE the term "form of vitality", don't you?
What does it make you think of as related to education?


Friday, December 16, 2011

Reflections on the Messiah for Advent

We've been so enjoying our Advent readings thus far into this Christmas season. Among our readings are, Ann's book, AO Christmas poetry, and we've also been enjoying reading/listening to Handel's Messiah. All the words are taken straight from Scripture, starting with prophecy of the coming Messiah, interwoven with passages of his birth, life, death and resurrection! It's beautiful. I'd heard it before, but before now I'd never read along, so I hadn't really heard it, if you know what I mean.

As we are about halfway through (or at least halfway to Christmas – we'll be catching up, see below), I'm making a few notes of observations you and I might find helpful in the future. :)

  • We take turns reading the selection out loud before listening to the selection. After listening, on occasion, we'll talk about how the sound or tone or particular instruments leant to our understanding of the passage. Most days, we don't discuss, we just enjoy the music.
  • It would be more meaningful for everyone to be able to read along. For that purpose, I've made a handy-dandy printable so that should help (we tried using our Bibles, but it's a different version, and that seemed to throw the littles for a loop – literally. I found them not listening at all, instead they were actually throwing themselves into loops by flailing their limbs and contorting their bodies into fantastical positions).
  • Encourage self-expression. We take turns at director of the symphony or as the opera singers. It can make things VERY interesting. ;) Warning: this activity may lead to the aforementioned flailing limb-type activity, jumping up and down, and even cartwheels. Just sayin'.
  • It's better to listen to a smallish section at a time rather than attempt several sections (thanks Miss Charlotte!) This may seem fairly obvious to long-time CMers, but really, if you want to listen to several sections per day, or if you get behind and want to catch up, spread them out throughout the day rather than piling them all on top of one another. The kids might actually enjoy it that way, and you will too. And, you will avoid finding yourself frustrated that they will. not. sit. still. for. just. one. more. accompagnato. I know this can happen. I may or may not be speaking from personal experience... ;)

I hope your Christmas is bright as you bask in His Light!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some sights & sounds of Christmas

Enjoy some Christmas cheer!

We have some Australian friends who make videos who
just happen to look and sound EXACTLY like these adorable kids!! :)

Audrey Assad and Chris Tomlin


Monday, December 12, 2011

Look what came in the mail today!

Hip, hip, hooray!! Our friends sent us some WORLD magazines!!

We were all super excited about the contents of this package!!
As soon as I opened it up, Javen said, "OH! I LOVE those magazines!!"

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Laurio family!! :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Little Drummer Boy... {christian teenaged boy version}

This. is. awesome.

16 year old drummer boy, sings, plays, edits and produces video...
Read this first.

Sean Quigley. You are my boys' latest hero (mine too). Thank you.

"The catchy video also pays tribute to the song's message about the true spirit of Christmas. That resonated deeply with Quigley, a Christian teen who plays drums in his local church."

"I played my drum for Him, pah rum pah pah pum.
I played my best for Him, pah rum pah pah pum,
rum pah pah pum, rum pah pah pum, rum pah pah pum.
And then He smiled at me, pah rum pah pah pum
Me and my drum."

...I'm pretty sure He's still smiling, Sean. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fisher Days

For some time now I've arranged our school by the day of the week. Have you seen that little ditty on my sidebar? Several people have asked about that, and it's time I updated and clarified :)
Oh, here it is:

It helps me to keep my head about me to have a loose idea of what we want to accomplish each day. I divide our work into subjects, which are designated to a certain day of the week. It doesn't mean we only do these things on the specified day of the week and no other... it just helps to know that everything will, or at least potentially could get done sometime during the week if all else gets crazy and unpredictable. Does that make sense? Schedules or checklists exist to serve me, I do not exist to serve the schedule! ;)
  • monday - science & natural history
  • tuesday - literature & poetry
  • wednesday - biography & geography
  • thursday - history
  • friday - leftovers
Friday is left free so that anything we don't get done during the week is done that day :)

When I only had two children in any given AO year, it was VERY simple, I didn't even have to write it out, and we rarely had to look at a schedule. We got into the habit quite quickly knowing which books were read on which day. 

This year, as I have four, it is a HUGE help to have the subjects divided by day... here are my thoughts about using this list in the different years:

y2: I pretty much arrange the littles' entire day, every day (they still have plenty of free playtime in which I get to practice masterly inactivity). The amount of work in this combined year (see below) doesn't reflect a normal AO year. Even though their year is combined, there are several things that I only do with one or the other that I didn't put there on the list below.

y7: The bigger kids have arranged their schedules as they see fit when it comes to which books are read on which day at whatever time of day. :) But there are still quite a few things I help them with or am in some great way still involved. Their subjects that I am needed for are arranged by day. I commit to make myself available for those subjects at some time that day (usually before lunch). If they don't take advantage on that day, it gets pushed 'til Friday, or if neither of those, will have to be based on my availability at another time (meaning it may not get done that week).

Here's an example of our days:

Click to download

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Current Events: 12/7

A continuation of stories from previous weeks:

Occupy Protests:
People vs. Profits? -
Dozens arrested in Occupy D.C. protests -
Read the Occupy D.C. website... interesting to read this side -
70 arrested as police clear Occupy camp in San Francisco and dismantle around 100 tents -
*For older students: Are Occupy Wall Street and corporate fat cats the same? (Parents, please use discretion when watching this video) -

Newly Elected Egyptian Government:
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says it does not seek power struggle with ruling military council -
Muslim Brotherhood top winner in Egyptian election -

Political cartoons are an interesting way to think look at current events... many themes probably go right over the students heads?
Political Cartoons - 

I'm interested to know what you think about using these!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Handicrafty Christmas

Wanna know what we'll {hopefully} be making to give as gifts this year?!
We only have one week!!  We'll be traveling again very soon.
Here are some hints... :) Close your eyes if you expect a gift from us! ;)

More ideas with these patterns for simple projects:
Simple project patterns
Super simple stocking & ornament pattern
Rag Doll Pattern - (adorable, but not free)
Tissue Holder

Handicraft inspiration from my friends:

Kids Handmade Holiday: Holiday Gifts Kids Can Make - Crafty Crow

Naomi in CA shared the following via the AO yahoo group, and I asked her if I could post it here also!
She said yes. :)

Google 'tutorials' on youtube:
Soap Carving
Cat's Cradle String
Flower Pressing
Finger Knitting

Helpful Links:
AmblesideOnline' s Handicraft page
Keeper's of the Faith Handicraft Kits - an online knitting community with many free knitting and crochet patterns.
Embroidery for kids - courtesy of Katie Sahid
Handcraft ideas for a last minute pull together party - from Greta Eskridge including large colorful pom poms, healthy popsicles, cupcake decorations and personalized gift bags. So simple!
On Wire Sculpting 

Specific Projects:
No tape no staple booklets your kids can make. For making up their own picture books, copywork books, gifts for friends and family.
Dancing Deer Toy - courtesy of Common Room
Marble Run Toy - courtesy of Common Room
Woodpecker Oscillating Toy - courtesy of Common Room
Wire Crochet Basket
Colorful Tissue Paper Windows - your little ones can make

And here's a link to Naomi's blog posts on handicrafts with more ideas!
Her co-op has had a couple of REALLY cool craft shows!  Check them out!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Composer Study: Handel {for Christmas!}

Image courtesy of wikipedia

After reading this post by Cindy Rollins over at the Circe Institute, I was truly inspired to use Handel's Messiah as part of our anticipation of Advent this year. I wouldn't mind if it became a yearly tradition either!

I'm so excited.

I downloaded the Libretto (text of the Messiah), checked to make sure I have the complete version on mp3 by comparing the Libretto with the music (many music versions are abridged I found out!!).

Tomorrow, during our Bible/devo time, I'll read from the Libretto and we'll listen to parts 1, 2 & 3 to begin. Then every weekday we'll do the same (a couple of parts) until Christmas Day, when I hope and plan to listen to the whole thing as part of our day.

Like Cindy, mentioned, some parts are smaller and so even if we miss some days (as is inevitable at this time of year!), we can make it up easily.

Download here for free, or buy Handel's Messiah on CD

For further reading:
Wiki on Handel's Messiah
An online study course ( on Handel's Messiah - Libretto and Online listening guide + Assignment

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Visual Latin {a giveaway!}

Home educating magazine is having a giveaway for Visual Latin curriculum! 
I've looked at the free lessons w/ my boys... we liked it. :) It's one I'd definitely want to look at further!

I actually have looked at this VERY recently, downloaded and watched the lessons. Here's what we liked:
  • the 4 intro and 2 first lessons are free to try on their site! (I love it when businesses express confidence in their product by giving sizable free trials - a good product will sell itself!)
  • there are a TON of freebies also on the site - vocab cards, worksheets, etc
  • the curriculum is fully downloadable!!
  • the videos are SHORT and INTERESTING.
  • the guy in the videos is nice and subtly funny.
  • it's evident that the guy loves languages.
  • he makes some little mistakes, but recovers well, which just serves to make it real.
  • the well organized site and professional videos are done by two homeschool families.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Reading... without books!

We have been anticipating Advent during December for several years now.  It has been such a wonderful way to focus our hearts on the truth behind all of Christmas!! Every day, we do just a little remembering. This is our third time using Ann's book (it's free and beautifully done & you can download and print it off wherever you are. Again and again. For example, if you are not where you thought you'd be this Christmas season, and you find you have absolutely no Christmas things, don't worry, just download and print! It never hurt anyone to have several copies!):

Every Christmas season, another of our FAVORITE traditions is reading aloud around the Christmas tree all lit up. We stay up very late at night, that is, because the stories are just SO good! Hours after bedtime, you can find us cuddling with pillows, blankies and each other in that sleepy magical aura of Christmas tree lights. And we continually poke those sleepyheads who just. can't.. keep... their.... eyes...... open....... because we want to read more and we don't want anyone to miss anything!! We read this story right off the screen until a quarter past ten tonight... about a boy whose Christmas outlook looked rather bleak (like ours might this year with no decorations or Christmas books or... if I think too long I'll remember just what all we're missing, so I'll stop now.)
Of course IF we had our basket of delights (a basket full of our favorite Christmas books that normally boasts the prime spot right next to the Christmas tree every year), I would want to do this project:

A book countdown with reusable wrappings...
But as it is, we have no basket o' books, so I'll be choosing from
the holiday stories listed at AO this year!  How convenient.
We'll probably even sing some songs from this free e-book!

And I decided to buy the book above on the kindle to splurge a little in light of our sad state of affairs in the holiday library category. We may be lacking in books, but we've lost nothing in the merrymaking category. I've heard this story is great fun. I'm looking forward to reading it next! :)

Do you have any favorite holiday stories?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Current Events: 12/1

This was a difficult week to choose articles. If you'll notice the amount of links, it is not because there are so many interesting articles, but rather, I couldn't decide which would be engaging enough to focus our attention on. My goal is having a variety of opinions/sources on any given subject. I'm gonna let my boys look over the headlines this week and choose which of the three divisions they'd like to read about for their This Week in History narration. 

Iran in the news:
Britain evacuates all embassy staff after Iran protesters storm compounds -
EU imposes sanctions on Iran over embassy storming -
Europeans stiffen sanctions on Iran after embassy attack -
Who's Blowing Up Iran? - PJ Media, Michael Ledeen
Iran Declares House Churches a Threat -
News from Iran, Somalia and Slovakia -
Watchdog Reveals Iran's Nucular Arms Work - (subscription required)

Politics or Economics?: Tax Increases for the wealthy
End Welfare for the Wealthy -
Should the Rich be Condemned? -
Cut the Payroll Tax - National Review Online
Congress Bickers Toward Year-end Compromise -
The Iron Law for Tax Cuts -

NBA: The Lockout is over
NBA teams to open facilities to players Thursday -
The NBA is Back and so is Steve Nash -
Jordan the Player vs. Jordan the Owner, One of the many lockout storylines coming to a close

For fun:
Peru's in the news @ CNN, Student News (video)
White House Decks the Halls - (photos)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hymn Study: He Leadeth Me

We sang this hymn during October (it was scheduled for September, I think!) and I never did post this... until now. :) I figure it's nice to have all this in one place, so I'm posting it anyway.

He Leadeth Me:

Click here to Listen, Download [ Real Audio | Mp3 ] and/or Print [ Lyrics | Sheet Music ].

Helpful Links:
Hymns in public domain (in both word or pdf formats):
English Hymns in the Commons:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Folksong: The Ash Grove

Because of furlough and moving, we started this school year off late, but we're not really even trying to catch up.  So even though The Ash Grove is supposed to be the folksong for October according to the AO Folksong schedule, we're quite fond of doing things at our own pace. We're singing Ash Grove right now! 

I put together a page for our Family Music Book and thought y'all might like to use it too.  Here it is, another fine Fisher Academy printable: The Ash Grove

Here are the chords for guitar:
Part A

Part B

Helpful Links:
My favorite Ash Grove link from
Youtube for sing-along (lyrics are on the screen & he sings quite slow, so it's easy to keep up!)
Lively musical rendition with bagpipes
Guitar Chords

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Links... oh no!

So, you know how you almost get tired of Christmas music by the time Christmas actually rolls around as it has actually become the background music to all of life in the months of November/December; it's playing in every store, on every radio station, in the house, in the car, while every single person alive seems to be humming one of the tunes because they can't get them out of their heads?! Well, I have a feeling it's going to seem the same with holiday related blog posts. It's already begun. Everyone is posting about Holidays. Already. I promise to do my best not to contribute any more to the sheer inundation unless absolutely necessary.  This is my one frivolous holiday post... 'kay?  The following links are just some fun stuff I've seen lately (and only the beginning since we haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet!!), and mostly because I wanted to announce the The Holiday edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!!

A Peruvian turkey
In the States you choose your turkey by going to the store that has the lowest price per pound and rummaging in the freezer section for a clean plastic covered prepared "bird" with a weight appropriate to the number of guests. It probably even comes in a bag with a handle to carry it home.  In Tarapoto, you choose your turkey like this...

My parents-in-love perusing the options :)

Thanksgiving last year in the jungle w/ Micah's parents 
and the Martijn and Martine family! 

Featured Holiday Links!! 
**On Thanksgiving in the Common Room!** This blog is A WINNER at the HSBAwards 2011!
The Holiday edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

On Simplicity:
Unwrapping the Holidays
O Christmas Tree
Serenity for Little Ones during the Holidays
Plan Your Peaceful Christmas
Simplifying the Holidays: Focus on Giving

Christ-centered Holidays:
Christ-centered Christmas Dialogue
3 simple practices for a peaceful advent

Food Related:
I'm taking pies to our Thanksgiving gathering. I'll use this pie crust recipe and maybe make this cheesecake?!  I'll be making pumpkin pies for sure... I'm not so sure I'm brave enough to try something SO new when I don't even have an oven!!  I'll be borrowing one to cook at least 2 pies!! :) hilarious.
Here are some more Thanksgiving recipes for future reference, since I'm quite sure you've already got your menu planned by now!!  Don't these pumpkin pops look AWESOME!?!  I'm tempted not to use any of my canned pumpkin puree for the pies and use it all for these!!  Oh so tempting.

Check out this free e-book!!

I am not crafty. This is the ONLY even remotely crafty thing we're doing this year.
It's an 'I'm thankful for...' paper chain!  So much fun. :)

Source: via amy in peru on Pinterest

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And the winner is...

I love contests.
I love giving things.
I want to do it WAY more often.
It's really pretty easy and really really fun!! ;)

So. There were 8 entries and the number drawn at was #3!!  The third comment was Penney Douglas'!  Yay, Penney!  You'll want to send me an e-mail because you've won this really fantabulous Metropolitan Museum of Art 2012 Page-a-Day Calendar to put under YOUR Christmas tree!!

Thanks to everyone for playing!  :)  We will have to do this again sometime!

Monday, November 21, 2011

This Week In History: Links for 11/21

My good friend Nancy wondered out loud in the comments of this post, if I knew of anywhere online where Current Events articles might be gathered on certain news headlines from varying viewpoints... I don't. There should be! Until I find one, or as I am able, I'll be posting our links as I accumulate them!  :)

image courtesy of: ba1969

This week's links:
A Greek Tragedy: Ending the Entitlement Mentality - Chuck Colson
What is a tax increase? - World Magazine
Panel set to fail to cut deficit $1.2 trillion - Associated Press via yahoo
Video: Explain it to me: Super Committee @

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Unwrapping the Holidays

Traditions are like gift wrap.
Every time a couple leaves and cleaves, a new family is formed and they begin to dress up their own traditions, including those special traditions focused around the holidays. It may be difficult to create your own style if you are a family that lives close by both sets of parents, having to share time between families on holidays. Yet, living far away has it's challenges too! Matter of fact, living in another culture, a different hemisphere and far away from grandparents and other family has deeply impacted not only how our family celebrates the holidays, but how we think about them.

First of all, holidays come wrapped in all different colors and sizes in other countries. For one, in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is during summer... and it's HOT! (just stop and think of how many North American traditions have to do with being cold outside!) Thanksgiving is hardly heard of here in Peru while I think New Years is bigger here than in the US. Easter, Mother's Day and Independence Day are quite popular in Latin America and are celebrated with much ado. Even birthdays are made special, in that the birthday girl is so lucky she gets to prepare a meal for all her visitors! (I, the Queen of October 19th, admittedly have trouble with that one!)

Now, I grew up probably similar to the majority of you, thinking that the winter holidays were all about family, turkey, eating as much as possible, Christmas trees, decorations, lights, prettily wrapped presents (and lots of them!) and having a day full of as many pleasant things as possible. Well? Isn't that what most of us thought, or maybe still think? It is certainly what commercialism would have us believe. However, as a grown up I've certainly had a Holiday or two that were not all they were wrapped up to be! How often do we realize, that many people in the world have nothing and do nothing on our “most important days of the year”. I know, it seems exaggerated, but it's true.

Somehow, our experiences have taught us that Holidays are more than all that.
But if Holidays are not all about traditions, then what?

Our families are far away, the cranberry sauce comes airmail if at all, and there's absolutely NO hope of a white Christmas... until recently, turkeys weren't to be found before the middle of December, and in the early years, unless you brought or made your own decorations, including your own artificial tree (a somewhat recent luxury), you'd be out of luck there too. So, if holiday fun is based solely on the external, we should go cry in the corner every year during the holidays. But we don't. And here's why: that would be ridiculous. Oh, that and we've realized that holidays are a lot more than just the pretty wrappings. Sure, there can be a whole lot of fun involved, and over the years we have had some really special holidays here with our 'missionary family'. But, what we find under all that gift wrap is, that certain days are special because for us they have deeper meaning.

The treasure of Thanksgiving is a whole season to give thanks to God for all He has given us. The rest is the curly ribbon on top! And sure, we want to be thankful all year round, but having one day when we can REALLY remember... this is good for us! The same goes for Christmas, we unwrap the Gift of the God who keeps His promises, His Son who will someday come again! Of course we want to remember Him every day of the year, but why not be extra doubly reminded at Christmas?! Sure, we can do all of this without a whole lot of poof and floof. But, truth be told, all of us know that a little floof here and curly ribbon there is not going to hurt anyone. :) The floof simply serves to remind us...

Notice Stove Top stuffing, the pumpkin, olives and cranberry?! 
My mouth is watering. Whoever sent it a couple years ago, may they be forever blessed!

So, bring on the turkey and twinkly lights and the presents or whatever floof you've got and let's remember...
GOD is very very good! :)

Giveaway... only 3 more days!

Don't forget to submit your Holiday posts to the upcoming CM blog carnival... 
and comment here to win a 2012 Art Calendar!

The deadline for carnival submissions is Monday @ 5pm. 
Winner will be announced November 22!
{For more details see this post!}

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Current Events: Our Method

Did you know that 1.73 people die while 4.13 are born every. single. second?  In the same fraction of time, 73 items are ordered over at, and 50,000 e-mails are sent by yahoo alone.  In an age when it is virtually impossible to stay current on what is happening, as we are constantly inundated with information available on the instant from every corner of the earth with most anything you could possibly think of being googled at any hour of the day...

How does one discern what really matters? 
How do we remain current and not waste a ton of time?

Time Cover Story: How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live (in 140 characters of less)

Current Events. This year marks the first time I have put today's world in the hands of my older children. They've read books, they've talked with grown ups, but this is the first time they themselves will come face to face with the world as presented through the media. It isn't a safe or pretty place. In particular, because of the nature of the internet, and folly being only a mouse click away, it is vital that they not be left to their own devices or be given too much liberality when it comes to sifting through the headlines.

Dealing with Time and Developing Discernment. 

With so much information at their fingertips, how are they to know what to read? Obviously, if they pick something that simply isn't important, all is not lost; discernment will come with time. There is the good, there is seemingly a lot more of the bad, there is the appropriate and an unfortunate amount of the inappropriate. Someday, they will choose. all. by. themselves. EEK! At some point in time they will probably read things I'd rather they hadn't. Can we just come to terms with that? (no, believe me, I'd rather not)

In the meantime, I will try to teach them how to go about the choosing. After all, we are in the world, even if we are not of it. An understanding of which might just be the key to developing proper discernment. :)

However, with one computer, our main concern at this point is time. And all of our news sources online as they are, we don't have a lot of time to spare :)

The time factor:
  • Limiting time. This is a tool that I use as a grown up ALL of the time. I commonly limit the time I have to finish a certain task. I take 30min to read in the morning. We start school at 9am, for example. It is when I do NOT limit my time that I end up wasting hours upon hours getting super side-tracked or just plain lazy. A timer with a LOUD and annoying beep is a very helpful tool for practicing self control ;)
  • Limiting the sources was also a big help.  Limiting them even more will be even better. For now. In this way, I can use Masterly Inactivity, instead of hovering, pestering, or generally showing myself as a control freak. :)
  • They might also find that following a certain interest over the course of several weeks would be very interesting - discoveries made within a certain branch of Science, political issues, war and it's outworkings, a particular country in the news, etc. 
The discernment factor:
  • I thought that narrowing the selection would be a good way to keep them from being overwhelmed with the flood of information as well as time limits (they had 2 sites to choose from). It worked alright in that regard. But even with the limited choices, how were they to discern for themselves what items were worth their time? This is a big deal. I find that for myself, sensational headlines often draw my attention much quicker than the world happenings that really are affecting history.  
  • For now, I will be their discernment filter. I will choose for them. As we go along, I will dialogue with them about what is worthy of their time and what clearly is not. Later on, I will ask them to join me in deciding what news is pertinent for them to read. When I see a maturity and responsibility in this, I'll be happy to simply guide their choices. How long does this process take? Hah! I could foresee it being within a year's time, or several... it absolutely depends on the student!
So for now, here's what we do:
  1. I can usually tell, from family conversation about what is happening in the world and knowing my children well, what will interest them. Based on what the news is, I've picked 4-5 articles for them to choose from (this way I can print them off!).
  2. I like to add an article about the same event from more than one viewpoint/news source. I would love to always have a conservative print magazine (World) to compare with the more liberal media. 
  3. At some point, once we have some experience with this subject under our belts, I will graduate my kids to selecting their own articles from well-known and trusted sites. This will probably not take place until we have more than one computer between the 7 of us ;)

Anonymous Wall Street Protest

The links for this week:

Wall Street Protestors Decry “Gilded Age”
Better Late Than Never
Occupy Portland Summary : Protesters march, begin to fill Pioneer Courthouse Square :
Occupy Portland: Photo Essay :
Occupy Movement Reaches Critical Stage :

Editorial Cartoons at World Magazine :
Food Stamps Surge :

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Upcoming CM carnival on Holidays?! & A Giveaway?!

Okay so if you've been paying attention, you may have noticed there's been a slight change of theme... okay a dramatic change!  Yep. We're changing themes for the upcoming carnival, and to celebrate, I'm going to give away your first gift of the season!  *Read on.

Please join us at the upcoming CM blog carnival sharing about Holidays at Your House!  
Carnival will be hosted in the Piney Woods... talk about fitting for the season!

Doesn't this little guy look festive?
No, he is not included in the giveaway. 

You might want to post what Charlotte Mason-y things you do during holidays... maybe you could teach us about how Charlotte Mason might have had us use our holidays.  You might post about whatever holiday traditions you have in your family!  If you have a favorite holiday post you'd like to direct us to... do it!  It's up to you :)  Seems to me that you could include Thanksgiving and/or Christmas holidays! Or any other holiday during the months of November/December for that matter!  The only stipulation you must keep in mind however is, that this is a Charlotte Mason blog carnival!  Which of course we all know just makes it that much better fun! ;)

Or, of course, if you just want to post what's going on in your CM world, please do.**
As always, themes are completely optional.

*Now, here's the really fun part!  Submit a *Holiday-related* post to the upcoming CM blog carnival and you will be halfway to earning one entry in my drawing to win this really fantabulous Metropolitan Museum of Art 2012 Page-a-Day Calendar to put under YOUR Christmas tree!!  Did you know that usually in the past these awesome calendars have already sold out at amazon by this date!? Get yours for free here!  ;)  In your *Holiday-related* post, mention this contest and link to this post to earn your entry in the drawing.

It's as easy as that: Submit your Holiday-related post, include a link to the contest & then leave a comment here to tell me you did it!  :)  Fun.

You can submit your posts here! ::

Earn an extra entry by liking my page on fb (see sidebar).
Earn an extra entry if you become a brand new follower of this blog (leave separate comments for each).
In order to qualify for the extras, you have to have earned your first entry - see above.

Upcoming CM Blog Carnival :: Holidays - 11/22
Optional Reading:
CM volume: v5, p109ff :: A Happy Christmas To You!
PR articles: Holiday Amusements

You can submit your posts here! ::

PS. This IS your friendly bi-weekly blog carnival reminder!
If you'd like to receive regular reminders by e-mail about the carnival, please send an e-mail to :)

**We love ALL CM-related posts EVERY carnival!! However only Holiday-related posts will qualify for the giveaway this time :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Are you a missionary, lady?

If you are a missionary, lady, have I got news for you! Another very nice missionary lady is having a giveaway just for us other missionary ladies on her blog! I hardly dare tell you for fear of a stampede, that she's going to send one of us a holiday care package with Thanksgiving AND Christmas goodies in it!!  Sound too good to be true?  Check out Mrs. John in Ghana's most amazing fun idea!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

To work on this week...


Shorter Readings
(divide up longer readings over several days – will help with concentration (read for understanding vs. to finish the reading), and will improve narrations (narrate after each section of the reading vs. trying to remember all the way back to the beginning)
Vary Activities
(read for 20-40 min; do nature study, read, or sing hymn, etc. - this will help with quality of concentration, overall brain function, as well as help each study serve as a source of variety and delight)


Get Work Done B4 Lunchtime
(alternating reading and doing, finish all school related tasks early with exception to the mommy-read books which may be read at quiet time or bedtime)
Start Bedtime Readings at 7:30pm
(if not, this just doesn't get done... everyone is too tired (including mommy ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our Combined Year 1/2 with Ambleside Online!

The early Pioneer father looked out into the unexplored valley below him, as (today in this blog post) you and I will be gazing over the brink of a historic year for our homeschool (as you may come to notice, we're also learning about similes today ;). As a mother hen scurries around gathering her chicks like a mad woman... oh. wait, those things might not be dissimilar enough to be a true simile... ;) and no, most days are NOT in the mad woman category, anyway.  (only about every other... ;) just kidding OF COURSE)

This is the year that we have officially added Siah (7yo) into the AO rotation, and he will be doing not only y1, but y1 & y2!! Oh yeah! {high five} Well... not really both years. He'll be doing a combination of the two years in order to be able to slide up to y3 next spring with Bria. I'm very excited about that for lots of reasons. We shall see to those in this post.

Reasons for Combining:
  • When I contemplate having all 4 children (someday 5) in separate AO years with our travel schedule/lifestyle, I begin to shake like a whole forest of leaves... under heavy storm!
  • Because I combined the two older boys from the beginning, it's as normal as bread for breakfast in our house to share years.
  • Siah was a much earlier reader than his brothers were and will be able to read many of his books independently this year (thus justifying for me, helping him along in y3 at 7.5yo). - I do not normally recommend this. I like to have a nice young 7yo at in y1! But, I think it's going to work for us. I plan to modify when necessary.
  • Siah has become a very good narrator under the unofficial tutorship of his older siblings.
  • Bria had her y2 abruptly interrupted by a long furlough, so she's perfectly set up to do a combined year with Siah (she'll read some books from the second half of y2, that I've decided he won't have to read, while he's listening to the books she's already heard).
  • I can keep them together on the booklist, but at their own levels in math, copywork, dictation, etc.

Here's a sneak peek, click the link to see the whole thing.

Here's the proposed schedule, we're currently in week 4. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Religious Studies {vol 1}

Welcome to the November 8, 2011 edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!

blog carnival:  where like-minded bloggers come together and share posts on along a common thread. 
~ that's my very own definition ;)

Our common thread is also our friend and mentor, Charlotte Mason. :)  There are many encouraging posts once again this time around the carnival.  Please stop by the different blogs and make sure to say hello!  The carnival will be taking on it's beloved rotation around the blog-o-sphere once again as several volunteers contacted me saying they'd love to host us, so I'm excited we'll be going a-visiting!!  Please see the schedule page for information about the when and what of upcoming carnivals. :)

It's time again to grab that cuppa somethin' good and enjoy the rich variety and beauty in CM homes around the world!  Enjoy!

A living education is...

nak presents Science Narration Journals & Walnuts Plumping

Tiger's Mum presents Degas and the ballet

Cindy West presents Fungi Study

Laura Grace Weldon presents Fun Theory  

Michelle presents The Charlotte Mason Method Inspires Me 

Richele McFarlin presents Teaching Shakespeare to Young Children

Jimmie presents Thirteen Ways to Reuse a Page a Day Art Calendar

Pamela Jorrick presents Art Every Day Challenge

Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op presents Self-Control, NutureShock, Tools of the Mind & Homeschoolers

Barb-Harmony Art Mom presents Our October Bird List and Sparrow Study Using the Handbook of Nature Study

AnnieKate presents Mother Culture

{  About a year ago, several regular carnival bloggers agreed that we might add optional themes for those bloggers who would like some added inspiration on what to blog about, an idea for further CM study, and/or in order to have a place of reference for the future when looking for specific CM topics. I've really enjoyed having the topic, but have also worried that many people have perceived it as a limit to the carnival instead of an enhancement.  Please know that the theme serves only as a suggestion, not in anyway a limit!  }

Some religious studies:

Brandy@Afterthoughts presents Bible Lessons, CM-Style {Part I} & Bible Lessons, CM-Style (Part II)

Nadene presents Memory Verse Cards for Victory, Prayer & Purity | Practical Pages & Memorizing Scripture the Simply Charlotte Mason Way (free printables!)

Nebby presents Psalm 24  

Amy Dumas presents The Closest of All Relationships

Barb presents Habit: Remembering The Thoughts Of God

The next CMBCarnival will be:
Book of Centuries/Timelines (a form of vitality) - 11/22
(to be hosted at our favorite online treehouse!!)
Suggested Reading:
CM vol.6 p169-180 & vol.4 p.36-38
Parent's Review articles: The Book of Centuries & The Teaching of Chronology

PS. Be on the look out, because we have a few giveaways planned for some of the upcoming carnivals!! ;)

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's my party and I'll vote if I want to! ;)

Wow! I think it is SO fun that someone(s) nominated this blog for the Homeschool Blog Awards!  Thank you :)  I'm so excited about one nomination in particular: Best Homeschooling Methods...  I wholeheartedly agree!  A living education as advocated by Charlotte Mason herself is the BEST!  Join with me and make her principles famous?! 

I've made the difficult decision to vote for myself oh, I mean, Fisher Academy in Best Homeschooling Methods category!! (We've also been nominated for Best Nature Study, and Favorite Homeschool Mom - hah! you guys are too much! seriously. I laughed out loud on this last one. I'm flattered though :)

Here's why:
  1. Charlotte Mason is the BEST and I want her method of delightful, living education to be famous!!
  2. It's fun to win stuff!!
  3. There are so many great blogs, it's probable I won't win anyway, so I might as well get one vote!! ;)
You can vote for Fisher Academy or any number of my friends' wonderful blogs here (I counted at least eight CM bloggy buddies on there, so we have a good chance of winning between us!):

You can only vote for Fisher Academy in one of the following categories...
Best Homeschooling Methods Blog
Best Nature Study, and Favorite Homeschool Mom

Have fun, and enjoy the party!! ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Folksong: Aiken Drum

The Van Tutt Family Singers has performed the AO Folksong for September for your viewing enjoyment! It's a little late... but I'm sure that's okay ;)

This is the modern (silly) rendering of a more traditional folksong. See the AO Folksong page for more information about this year's folksongs :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Language Arts {vol 1}

Welcome to the latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!
In this edition, we'll be looking at the place of Copywork, Dictation and Composition in a CM education.

Copywork: (also known as transcription)
"The earliest practice in writing proper for children of seven or eight should be, not letter writing or dictation, but transcription, slow and beautiful work... Transcription should be an introduction to spelling. Children should be encouraged to look at the word, see a picture of it with their eyes shut, and then write from memory." v1 p239
"Here the object aimed at is to let the child get a correct picture of the word, and the passages to be dictated (not words without their context) are therefore carefully prepared, so that no misspelt word shall leave its impress on the brain."  Mrs. Franklin
Composition:  (also known as narration! v1 p248 & v6 p191)
"Oral composition is the habit of the school from the age of six to eighteen." v6 p270
Are you ready? Grab your cup of tea and spend a while with us looking at the following aspects of a Living Education...

Clara presents Does using the Charlotte Mason method of teaching writing through copywork, dictation, and narration really work?

Jennifer Mackintosh presents Wildflowers and Marbles: Considering - Charlotte Mason and Our Approach to Language Arts.  *She's written a series, so make sure to look for the link w/in the post! :)

Sarah presents What Composition at This Age? posted at All That's Goood.

Queen of Carrots presents A Few Ideas for Copywork.

"The child can simultaneously with reading make up words with loose letters, and copy them so that spelling, dictation and reading can go hand in hand." Mrs. Franklin in 
The Home Training of Children.

Lanaya presents Perfection in Letter Formation.

Barb presents Copywork and Dictation in High School? Simply Charlotte Mason Giveaway! - She's giving away two copies!

Traci Brooks presents Composition Comes By Nature.

amy in peru presents Narration, just a part of the whole & Copywork: an assignment

We will continue a supervised copywork lesson once a week even in year 7, 
until I notice we've regained mastery over some laziness that has seemed to creep in once again.

Amy Dumas presents Dictation - It Really Works! posted at Ambling.

Nancy Kelly presents My Calendar of Firsts.

4sweetums presents What Tools Do You Need to Homeschool?.

Jimmie presents Q & A: Did Charlotte Mason Espouse Notebooking?.

In the picture above, the boys are copying from an electronic version of Spelling Wisdom Book 3, and here Bria's using Book 1. Her attention has improved significantly over the last 2 weeks of school! 
I'm so proud of her! ;)

Tricia Hodges presents Tree Reflection: A Pastels Tutorial.

Cindy West presents The Study of a Twig.

Andrea @ Mosaic Ideas presents Mosaic Ideas for All Ages.

Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op presents What Really Makes Our Kids Happy?.

The next CMBCarnival will be:
Religious Studies - 11/8
Suggested Reading:
CM vol.3 p137ff & vol.6 p.159-169
Parent's Review article: A Boy's Religion & The Development of the Religious Instinct in the Child

Submit your posts here!
Would you like to submit related photos or art to the upcoming carnival?  In keeping with the theme, I'd love to use other CMer's things, if your items are chosen, full credit will be given.  If you are interested, please send an e-mail to: charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com.
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