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Friday, August 31, 2012

Speaking of languages...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about teaching a foreign language (lately = means over the last year or so ;) I've been studying Gouin, talking to friends and thinking a lot.

Speaking of foreign languages, we have some experience in this area, and are constantly gaining more. We all speak English for example! ;) Yep. It's true. Then there's one language (Spanish), that some years ago, was foreign, has become familiar, and now flows for us. These days, we are getting to know another couple of languages that are still, in varying degrees, foreign to us (French & Latin).

It's been fun. and hard. and fulfilling. and frustrating. all that.

Read more about our language studies here.

Based on the recommendation of a good friend, I found the link and checked out the following program and it looks really good for a basic start in Spanish. She follows a lot of the same principles that I've been reading about via Charlotte Mason, Gouin and what seems to me most natural about learning a language. She is a Spanish teacher herself and offers the help of a native Spanish speaker as well. Andrea is offering an intro price of $7 for the first 5 lessons (normal price will be $37).
Please check out:

Make sure to tell her I sent you!
I don't make a commission, but I'd love to know how many of you go there because of this post! ;)

helpful quote:
"Again, it is incontestable that the ear, and not the eye, is the physical organ for apprehending a language, just as truly as it is by the mouth, and not the ear, we appropriate food." vol 1 pg 303

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Economics... I should wonder.

I have a feeling this is gonna be good...

I just bought it myself.
Sale ends soon. Today?

While you're there you might check this out...


I just finished my plans for using Visual Latin this year.
We just have 2 weeks more of Getting Started with Latin.
(Latin Year 2 downloads are on sale for $25 --> $17)


helpful links:
Latin: What we do.
Purchase Visual Latin.
Purchase Getting Started with Latin. Also available on Kindle!

{though I do make a buck or two if you click & purchase through my links, rest assured that I would NOT link to something I wouldn't use (or at least think worth a try) just to make a few.}

Friday, August 24, 2012

Q&A: Book Organization

"I would like to know how you organize your AO books. I've put colored stickers on the spines for year we need the books. Do you sort them more than that?"

Something about books affects me. Certainly, when it comes to thinking about books AND organizing them, I get a little bit weak. A warm fuzzy kind of feeling creeps pleasantly over me. I may fall into a sort of daze. On the other hand, when there are books to buy (think childlightusa or library sale), these are the moments I dream about, I get completely befuddled and can think of nothing else 'til I can look through and buy as many as I can possibly carry (this is often severely limited by ever stricter baggage limits. such a sadness.) Scheming and rescheming about how I will arrange my books so I can look at them, is something I would like to do more often. Daily, in fact. But then again that's impractical. I do sometimes sit and gaze at my bookshelves though.

Happiness, yes. Idolatry... Lord have mercy, no.

So, when it comes to actually placing them on the bookshelves, I sort mine loosely thus:

* When at all possible, I have a bookshelf or three purely for all the books we could possibly use for school. My husband's books take up another bookshelf or two, mine another, books for lending on another, etc. the more the merrier. :) These are spread throughout the house.

* My own books go in a combination of places - they have a shelf all their own, but the ones I'm currently reading, or planning to be currently reading, or wish I could be currently reading go somewhere close to my bed. in a precarious pile. The book I am actually reading at the moment goes everywhere with me. and I really mean, everywhere.

...these are just the school books!

On the school bookshelf, then:

* by the working AO years we're in (this year there's a shelf for y3 & also for y8)
* by theme (nature study - field guides, etc.; history; languages; poetry; music; art, etc.)
* picture books & those for my blessed y0 child (on a shelf low down, easy to grab)
* free reads and other living books, alongside all other AO books from previous

* I do this every. time. we. move. (and we move frequently :)

* I actually did do the whole color-stickers-w/-printed-labels elaborate scheme at one point, but have since found that i've pretty much memorized which books are where, and otherwise rely heavily on a printed booklist which has all the AO/HEO books listed (and database software, thanks dad!) .

* I do NOT however keep the books for the immediate upcoming years/terms out and accessible. those stay hidden (yep, hidden) until the week before a new year or new term begins. that way the kids are super excited to look over their new books :)

* I have been known to sort my shelves by color, which is an absolutely constant source of delight to my very eyeballs every time I walk into the room. honestly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's that time of year again... for homeschool planning!

It's like this every year. New books, new notebooks, new kids... well, almost. At least they act like new kids with a gleam in their eyes when they know it's getting close to a new school year.

It's fun to change things up. It's fun to start afresh. At least, we think so! :)

But in order for the new school year to actually be, and more importantly, keep being fun for me (and not a steamroller called stress that smashes over me forwards and back daily for the next thirty-six weeks), I must have a plan. I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort (even if strangely enough, I am married to the personified version of the aforesaid term, who pulls most everything off gorgeously in his own way).


It's one of my favorite things to do. And here I'm going to chat about how I went about it this year. Because if there's anything more fun than planning, it's thinking all about how you just planned and how you'll most likely plan again someday. ;)

a preview of our books... book organization post coming soon :)

This year, I'm heading into a new-to-me year with AmblesideOnline. We've used AO through all the years (even if I dabbled before that eccentrically, oh I mean eclectically). Thankfully, even after all these eight years, I can still say that I love AO! AmblesideOnline, as written by the ever faithful Advisory, has been the framework from which I have worked, learning to have confidence in myself and in following my heart by gradually applying more and more of Charlotte Mason's enduring principles in our homeschool.

Enough gush, right?

this is the big bedroom/school room/living room of our house... 
yep, all five kids share a room, but I'm pretty sure they still don't feel too cramped. :)

So, a new year. We'll be delving into years 3 and 8, as outlined by AO. I've taught year 3 before (five years ago!), but to two different students.  Year 8's all new. 

Where to begin?
I still hold on tightly to my Homeschool Planning Day tradition as outlined here and here, but I'm going to talk about a couple more things that I did this year, that were helpful to me and hopefully will be helpful to someone else as well.

Before I got started, I read my own posts here. Super helpful. Yep. I actually write this blog for my own use! Since I'm looking back, I might as well point out that I like this particular planning post a lot. It makes me smile. Can I just say, I love my life!?

Second, I make a list of all the things I want to think about for this term. Things to add, things to improve, or things that need thinking about. I keep adding to this master list throughout the whole process. Matter of fact, I'm two weeks into the schoolyear and I'm still adding/editing! Sometimes I start out with a paper list, but I usually have to convert to the computer for ease of the copy/paste feature.

My list looks something like this (but w/ cooler fonts and lots more in between):
2 print...
2 kindle...
2 buy...
bible & devo...
and on and on and on for pages...
Under each subject's heading, I quickly list what I know I need to do, and then I think of more things I need to do, even the smallest details...  I put them all there, crossing off as I finish them.

Sometimes I start at the AO booklist page for the year I'm planning.
So for example, if I haven't done so before now, I download all the ebooks for the year in question (y3 & y8). I will have already ordered and received all the books for this year, sometime back around the end of the previous year (or on our latest furlough, or before our most recent guests came down bearing suitcases, whichever comes first).

Or I may start with one of the subjects, whichever strikes my fancy. Let's take nature study for instance. I go to the AO page for Nature Study, skim it for links and to pick up whatever I may have missed. I open tons of tabs and I make more notes. I go down my list of to-do's for that subject and add some to come back to, if necessary, when I get home.

Next, I pick whatever sounds most interesting. If that were Shakespeare, I'd open and keep up the AO Shakespeare page, which shows the rotation of which play/term and might have other helpful links. On my list, under Shakespeare it says: Cymbeline. Look up bbc videos on amazon streaming or use librivox audio, print scripts. While I'm looking these up, I'm reading online reviews on Cymbeline and figuring out whether or not we'll go ahead with the videos and deciding if my plan of reading the parts aloud with all the kids is appropriate. I think about Shakespeare. I download Shakespeare's Complete Works. I download Act I from And then I'm done. for now.

So I go on to Plutarch or Nature Study or Music or whatever else, until I get everything thought about and downloaded. Or until my time runs out. :)

The newest helpful thing that I've done this year is basically a major expansion of the list I've been talking about. Every time I opened an AO page with info on term selections, I went ahead and copy/pasted that info into my master list. Under Shakespeare I now see this:
use audio from  *downloaded
**King Lear
***Measure for Measure
Poetry looks currently looks like this:
*William Blake *downloaded
**Sara Teasdale and Hilda Conkling *downloaded
***Henry Wadsworth Longfellow *downloaded
*12 Shakespeare sonnets *downloaded
Fierce Wars & Faithful Loves *purchased from amazon - priority mail...  (why do I always want to type fierce loves and faithful wars?!)
**John Donne *downloaded
***John Milton *downloaded
Under music I have the following with their lyrics all copy/pasted in (I've printed a couple copies of those pages to hand out as songbooks!):
read wiki for bkgd info on folksongs & hymns
singing (harmonies and rounds)...
folksongs for 2012-13...
folksongs for y8...
Now I know what I have yet to do to be ready this term, I know what's coming up next term, AND I can use this same document as a starting place for my next Homeschool Planning Dayt! I love planning ahead! ;)

There you have it. Aren't lists fun?!

This year with all my planning, I worked for one whole day, my official Homeschool Planning Day, at a local restaurant with free wifi. I then spent most of another whole day at home (organizing books, printing and loading up the kindle, etc) and then several hours the next couple of days until Sunday that week, tying up loose ends. Monday I felt pretty ready. And we were. Everything went great!

i love our school table.

We're two weeks into the year now, and though I'm still having to pull a couple little things together, it's been SO. much. fun. Even though the planning was grueling, and I was pretty tired, I'm ever so glad I did it all in advance. Having everything set and ready to go helps me to be able to relax and really spread the banquet each day instead of scrambling every morning (or all day long) to keep up. :)

So. I hope this helps! I know it has already been huge for me AND will come in real handy next Homeschool Planning Day! :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

CM on French

French should be acquired as English is, not as a grammar, but as a living speech. To train the ear to distinguish and the lips to produce the French vocables is a valuable part of the education of the senses, and one which can hardly be undertaken too soon.
As regards French, for instance, our difficulties are twofold––the want of a vocabulary, and a certain awkwardness in producing unfamiliar sounds. It is evident that both these hindrances should be removed in early childhood. The child should never see French words in print until he has learned to say them with as much ease and readiness as if they were English. The desire to give printed combinations of letters the sounds they would bear in English words is the real cause of our national difficulty in pronouncing French. Again, the child's vocabulary should increase steadily, say, at the rate of half a dozen words a day. Think of fifteen hundred words in a year! The child who has that number of words, and knows how to apply them, can speak French. Of course, his teacher, will take care that, in giving words, she gives idioms also, and that as he learns new words, they are put into sentences and kept in use from day to day. A note-book in which she enters the child's new words and sentences will easily enable the teacher to do this. The young child has no foolish shame about saying French words––he pronounces them as simply as if they were English.
But it is very important that he should acquire a pure accent from the first. It is not often advisable that young English children should be put into the hands of a French governess or nurse; but would it not be possible for half a dozen families, say, to engage a French lady, who would give half an hour daily to each family?
(...text in the following passage goes on about Guoin's study 
in regard to teaching language... also very interesting ;)

helpful notes:
  • train the ear to distinguish sounds
  • train lips to produce sounds with a pure accent
  • acquire a true accent by hearing
  • learn vocabulary (in context of sentences and idioms)... steadily increasing acquired words daily
  • use newly learned words, phrases, sentences and idioms daily
  • teacher may use a notebook to record new words and sentences
  • making use of a native speaker would be the ideal

*image courtesy of gleidson sávio
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