Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Books

Gilgamesh's favorite puzzle. It's an I-Spy type thing where you find the doodads from the margins in the house and yard. Lots of fun even after it's all put together. :) It was a laid back day after yesterday's huge learning haul, and we did lots of puzzles, learning videos, and just plain reading.

I did a bunch of internet research on classical education last night. I was due for a refresher. So I've got some great links to share before I go on about our day.

Schola: Resources for Classical Education - it won't directly link, but the left margin has a link that reads:
4. Resources. Click on that and you'll get the superduper page of links, including Preparing the Young

The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers. 

For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of "subjects"; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished. We dole out lip-service to the importance of education--lip- service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school-leaving age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.
She strongly recommends Latin as a Grammar stage subject, so I did a little digging and found this: Getting Started with Latin. I'm seriously considering this, but not for right, right now. Do any of you do Latin as part of your homeschool? What's your experience been?

For history, Greenleaf Press offers books for teaching chronologically, which is crucial to a classical education. The Well-trained Mind suggests four years for each stage, with each cycle increasing in complexity: 

Year 1 (grades 1, 5, and 9): Ancients (5000 B.C. - A.D. 400)
Year 2 (grades 2, 6, and 10): Medieval- early Renaissance (400-1600)
Year 3 (grades 3, 7, and 11): Late Renaissance- early modern (1600-1850)
Year 4 (grades 4, 8, and 12): Modern (1850- present)

Literature and Science should follow these parameters, too (Biology in the Ancients, Earth science in the Medieval, and Chemistry in the late Renaissance, with Physics and Computer science only during the study of the Modern era).

Most school programs don't actually teach history this way, although science does tend to follow this sequence. For instance, when I was in school, I learned first about my own neighborhood, my state, and my country's history. This is great, but I think kids can handle the 4th of July and Ancient Egypt simultaneously, especially since elementary subjects are covered rather lightly.

Memoria Press offers classically-leaning books in all language studies. I was impressed by the organization of this online catalog, though I'm not sure about the prices. Foreign language study does tend to be expensive, but I'll have to price check.

Since we'll be starting in first grade (though not for a whole year, at least) with the Ancients, I'm studying up on my own church's ancient records with the Maxwell Institute resources. This is BYU's ancient records research department (not the official delineation). They offer many free resources for learning about Bible times, Book of Mormon times, and the lesser-known times in between where primary records are scarce or barely readable. Though we can never know exactly what happened historically (heck, we can't even know exactly what happened at Pearl Harbor or 9-11 or the assassination of JFK), I think studying these things is important and worthwhile. I never appreciated history until Mr. Helsel at Mt. View showed me it wasn't dry and boring. I hope to share history with my kids in a way that's just as vibrant and fascinating to them. That means I have to read the boring articles and find the gems for them. :) I think it's worth it, though

That's it for the links I have to share.

Now for today's run-down (Tuesday):

We built words and practiced counting by tens (with raisins). Actually, it was funny because I was putting something in the crockpot for dinner and when I pulled out the raisins, Gilgamesh got really excited and sat down at the table for math. How do you say no to that? p.s. we need more raisins.

We read the Cat in the Hat book: Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body, and Gilgamesh paid close attention to the part about blood cells. He had been introduced previously to the idea of germs as bad things in our bodies, so when I showed him the white and red blood cells, he thought they were bad, too. I explained that the red blood cells made our blood red and carried food nutrients and oxygen to every part of our bodies, while the white blood cells were like soldiers, fighting off the bad germs. Science and reading all in one. Love it when that happens!

He continues to practice his writing. Today he wrote, "I love you," and "Gilgamesh getting big." Except he wrote his real name instead of the knight name and he spelled 'getting' really creatively. It's not the first time he's tried to write a word he doesn't know how to write yet. I love that he's constantly challenging himself. And of course I tell him how those big words are actually spelled so he can fix them if he wants. He makes good use of his eraser.

He cut up some shapes, including a heart, and asked me to show him how to cut out an 'M.' He's getting better with his manual dexterity every day. Art is definitely his thing. I'm thinking we need to get him back to the Draw Write Now books he was too young for last year. The last time we tried it, he drew a sheep, a chicken, and a pig and you could actually tell what they were. When it comes to art, he likes to take instruction, but he's very sensitive to criticism, so I'm learning to be more patient when he makes his own lines that look nothing like the sample drawing. :) For those of you who are parents, you know patience is an ever-evolving thing, and only the strictest practice of it helps it to grow. Everything else makes it shorter than ever.

We did not make our igloo today, mostly because Mom was distracted by other things. Instead, we watched computer animated videos on of the development of an egg into a human baby. Gilgamesh is fascinated by this process. He's learning about it because some of his friends from church are getting new siblings and we've talked about him getting new brothers or sisters someday (even though this is not imminent). The other day after we went to the store, we were driving home when he said, "Then I'll say, 'Ten babies please.' And we'll get ten seat belts and ten car seats." It came out of the blue that day, but actually wasn't the first time he talked about getting ten new babies. I have no idea where he got this number, but he's a very social kid and I think he just wants a ton of brothers and sisters to play with. This is definitely a quote I'm putting in his quote book, though. :)

This evening, I went to a baby shower (told you, lots of new babies at church), and Daddy played Kinect games with Gilgamesh. In homeschooling lingo, we call that recess/P.E. Nice, huh?

So even on days when Mom is busy and fails at the structure side of school, we still learn new things and have a lot of fun in the process. Keeping a strict schedule is going to take some practice for me. I've been out of any kind of rigid structure since my first pregnancy when I quit my job and devoted myself full-time to the chaos that is child-raising.

I think I've got a pretty good system in place now, and all I need to do is practice it.

Morning: up at 6:30am, breakfast for the kids, write my writing blog, read and comment on others' blogs.
Mid-morning: start with freetime play and transition into the first subjects of the day, reading, math, writing, etc. per the pocket chart.
Noon: lunch and naptime
Afternoon: any remaining learning projects, exercise/outdoor play, and otherwise free play (this is usually when the boys want to watch Leapfrog or Word World or Dora.)
Evening: dinner, play/read with Dad, pray, kids go to bed
Update my homeschool blog (which is why it is now 1am)

Hope you enjoyed the links and my attempts at ordering the chaos of our lives after the fact. Tomorrow I'll cover Sonlight books: the ones I love vs. the ones in which I merely see educational value.

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