Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Minn of the Mississippi, Chapter 1

I sound like I am very distracted while giving this narration and that's because I was!  I recorded this with a baby on my lap in the nursery at church. 

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules for this curriculum can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

This Country of Ours, Chapter 29 (part 1)

Massachusetts  was a colony founded by aristocrats, people that were very well off who were used to ruling over others and having people under them obey.  They believed that a few people were meant to rule the many and the many were meant to obey.  One of these men was Governor Winthrop.  But one man, a minister named Thomas Hooker, disagreed with this and he and his congregation decided that they wanted to go and start their own settlement based on their views.  They had heard of adventurers who reported that the land of the Connecticut Valley was good land so they planned to move to that area.  The people of Boston did not like this idea at all for several reasons: 1) They didn't want to loose such an eloquent minister.  2) There was concern about Danes who had already settled that area. 3) The King had not given them permission to settle that land.

Nevertheless, they were resolved to go so Thomas Hooker and his congregation sent their furniture by boat and they began walking, with their families and their livestock, the hundreds of miles.  It took them a fortnight to travel this distance, partly because there were no roads or paths on their journey and partly because they traveled at a leisurely pace, allowing their livestock to graze freely along the way.  They named their new settlement Hartford.

After a time other groups of people settled the area, creating the towns of Wethersfield and Winthrop.  At first, they were still considered as part of the Massachusetts colony but before long they went about setting up a republic of their own and drew up their own set of rules that they would govern themselves by. One change they made is that they did away with religious tests so that a man did not have to be a member of any church to have the right to vote.  They did all this without mentioning the King or Governor in any of their writings.  They eventually became the colony of Connecticut.

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules for this curriculum can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Robinson Crusoe, Chapter 2

Robinson Crusoe was born in York in the year 1632 to a family who were not rich and not poor but were in the middle station.  His father was an immigrant and had a trade but since Robinson Crusoe was the 3rd son he had not been placed in a trade yet so he got it into his head that he wanted to go adventure at sea.  His father did not like this idea and one day had a talk with him, telling him, in no uncertain terms that he would not support his son's desires to go to sea.  He told his son that he should stay home and live a good life by learning a trade and by the fact that his family was respectable; he would have enough to get by comfortably so that he was never wanting for necessities but not so much that he would be embarrassed by pride and ambition.  His father thought that this middle station was the best place to be, and that both lower class people and even kings envied this position.  He made a very emotion plea to his son, saying that he could not let him go without making it known that he did not approve of his adventures.  He even said that the Lord would not bless his plans to leave home, and this was to be a prophetic statement.  This talk ended in tears from his father, saying that he could not speak about it any longer because his heart was too full.

Robinson Crusoe's mind was actually changed after this talk - for a few days at least, then he began dreaming of adventures again.  So he went to discuss the matter with his mother on a day when she was in a particularly good mood, but the good mood did nothing to soften her response.  She told him the same as his father - that it would lead to his ruin and he should stay home and be happy with the comfortable life he would be provided.  She said that she would not go against his father's words.  He found out later that she did go and speak to his father about their conversation that day.

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules for this curriculum can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Math and a Checklist

Sigh.  I took a math pretest.  It was............not good.  I said I was going to be honest, even if it was embarrassing, but I didn't really think it was going to be this bad.  I went with Math U See simply because that is what my children use so I will just not write in it and it can be used in the future again.  I really don't want to be spending money on this for myself so this purchase was justifiable.    Anyhow, I was about to tell you what level my test placed me at..........well, the good news first: I know the basics.  Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing - these I have down.  Everything after that.........not so much.  I could not for the life of me remember how to multiply or divide fractions!  I mean, I'm sure it will all come back with a quick review, but still, I was pretty disappointed with myself.  I have always loved math.  I think it is beautiful in a very unique way.  I found something I wrote way back in 2012 about why we study the things we do and here is some of what I think of math:
"Furthermore, in studying math we learn principles that God has built into His creation.  In math we see most clearly the timelessness of truth.  Two plus two always equals four. Math shows us that real truth does not change.  Math opens our eyes to the magnificent order and perfection of creation, and therefore its Creator.  Math helps us to understand our infinite God."

But looking on the bright side - I now get to rediscover all of this beautiful math that I once knew.  Here is a link to the math program I will be using.
Math-U-See Epsilon
I will work on this for 30-60 minutes three times a week.  I don't expect it to take long to work through, just enough to refresh my memory (I hope). 

Also, I created a checklist on Google Sheets so that I, and anyone else who is wanting to follow along, can keep track of my progress.  It has tabs at the bottom numbered with the week that I am working on.

My math materials won't be here for a few days so I think I'll go ahead and get started with some review at Khan Academy.

Trial and Triumph, Chapter 28

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules for this curriculum can be found at AmblesideOnline.

The Story Book of Science, Chapter 2

Everyone was sitting around, leisurely playing or working at something when the youngest boy, Emile, asked Ambroisine to tell a story to amuse them.  She immediately began to tell the story of an ant and a grasshopper who were trying to cross a frozen river.  The grasshopper jumped across and then tried to instruct the ant to do the same but, of course, he could not and instead he slipped an broke his leg.  Then the story began into one of those long chain stories that young children like so much; this story was meant to show that no matter how strong a creature is, there is always one who is stronger.   The young boy quickly was bored with her story and asked her to tell a true story.  Now Uncle Paul chimed in and said that true stories about God's creation were better than man made stories because God is a much better story teller than man.  He said he had a true story about ants to tell, if they cared to hear it - which they all did.  

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

The Story Book of Science, Chapter 1

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Poor Richard, Chapter 1

Milk Street - Boston
Wherein a New Arrival Comes to a Family on Beacon Hill - 1706

Boston, in the year 1706, was a lively and growing city near the water filled with merchant shops.  Just outside of town sat a cowherd whose duty it was to keep watch over the cows of the townspeople during the day until the boys of the families came to retrieve them before dark.  The scene on any give day was the same - the cowherd sitting under the tree on Beacon Hill and the boys playing below around the trees.  Even though the town was still young, it had a good bit of history.  The very elm that the cowherd sat under was the same one that Mary Dyer and the Quakers had been hanged from.

Josiah Franklin and his second wife, Abiah, (his first wife died after their arrival to Boston from Banbury, England) lived in this busy town with their 15 children, 5 of them from his first wife and 10 from Abiah.  Anywhere you went in town there seemed to be a Franklin child playing nearby, there were so many.  Most of the neighbors had completely lost count of how many children the Franklins had.  Their home had a blue ball hanging in front of the door and when they moved houses the blue ball came with them.  Abiah was a good mother and kept the children until they were old enough to go with their father to learn a trade and learn to be useful in the world.  Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of Josiah and Abiah, but he had two younger sisters.  

Josiah was a candle-maker by trade.  His original trade, a dyer, was not much use to him in Boston so he learned candle-making some time after he arrived with which he made a good living by keeping the town of Boston lighted.  He was a very religious man and frequently made long prayers, especially before dinner.  Dinner time at the Franklins was a time for the family to gather together and have discussions and share ideas, often inviting friends and neighbors to join them.  Benjamin remembers a time when there were as many as thirteen children around the table at once.  Abiah would ensure that all the children were clean before sitting down to dinner at which time the father would say one of his long prayers.  

Benjamin was especially bored by these long prayers.  One day while he was helping his father salt the pork of a pig he suggested that his father say a prayer now over the entire pig so that he didn’t have to do it each day at dinner time.  His father didn’t like this idea at all but it showed early on Benjamin’s desire to improve thing, and make things easier and more efficient in life.  So since he was destined to be bored during these prayer times he ended up spending this time studying the wall maps in the dining room out of the corners of his eyes.  

*Year 4, Week 1

Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Joshua 1

Moses died and God put Joshua in his place.  He said that just as Moses had been so shall he be and just as God had been with Moses so shall he be with Joshua.  God told Joshua that he was to gather up the people and take them into the land that was to be theirs.  Every place that their sandals touched was to be their inheritance, just as the Lord had promised to their ancestors.  God also reminded Joshua that he was to take the law and keep the law, just as Moses had been commanded to do, and in so doing, would be rewarded by the Lord making the people prosperous.  Joshua told the people of the tribes all of this and they agreed that they would follow Joshua just as they followed Moses.  Anyone that would not follow Joshua’s commands, they would put to death.

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Age of Fable: Preface

The author began by telling us that if the only types of education that can be considered useful are those that serve to gain us more money or social status, then the subject of Mythology cannot be counted as useful.  But if those things that serve to make us happy and enrich our inner lives can also count as useful then we must count Mythology along with the more practical studies.

Mythology is like a gateway that allows us access to great literature of the past and present.  So much of classic literature makes references and allusions to mythology that a lack of knowledge of the subject causes us, in the best cases, to lose some meaning behind many great works, and in the worst case, makes certain literature incomprehensible.  The options that the author saw available up to his time did not really help the situation; one could make a study of reading the translated myths in their entirety, but that in itself is time consuming and will find a reader lost with many phrases that he does not understand because they are referencing yet another myth.  Still, one could obtain a reference dictionary and work their way through the myths with it always on hand, but for all but the most devoted students this will quickly lead to fatigue and cause the student to give up referencing and so lose much of the imagery of the story.  

The author’s solution is this book, The Age of Fable, in which he has retold poetic mythology in prose. But his translation is not a word for word translation since in doing that we would lose all the beauty of the original.  Instead he has recreated the stories using the beautiful language of our own time (or his own time, which was in the late 1700’s) allowing us to still have the vivid and captivating imagery that is alluded to in other classic works of literature and he assures us that for this reason his book is not meant for the learned person but rather the student.  He ends the preface with a quote from Coleridge’s Piccolomini about the timelessness of the imagery found in the Greek and Roman Myths.

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Educating Myself With AmblesideOnline

I started using Charlotte Mason's educational methods with my children in 2010.  When I heard about Miss Mason's methods and philosophies I wished that I had been educated like that and I knew that this was how I was going to lead my children to a great education.  But I was very overwhelmed with all the lofty ideas Charlotte talked about in her 6 volume Homeschool Series, written over her lifetime as an educator.  How was I, as a busy mother of 4 (at the time - we have since added another) ever going to find the time to seek out the very best books in History, Science, Biographies, Poetry, and Literature , and then plan them all out into a coherent curriculum for my children who deserve no less than the best for their education - especially since I feel strongly that my own government education was severely lacking.  Then I found Ambleside Online and knew that God had answered my prayers. 

Here was a fully prepared curriculum created by a group of women who had done the hard work of finding the best of the best in each subject and even had it all laid out for me.  All I had to do was gather the books and follow the plan.  So easy!  Well, if you have been homeschooling for longer than a week then you know it's never quite that simple and things don't ever work out just as we plan them.  I had so much to learn about the how and why of simple things like: Narration, Picture Study, Nature Study, Short Lessons, Complete Attention.  I have spent the past 5 years reading and learning all about CM's methods and philosophies but while I was learning I was jumping right in and applying the new ideas I came across in my kids' lives.  You know  what the most important thing I have learned so far has been?  That there is a lot I don't know.  But I want to know. 

I am currently doing years 1, 2, and 3 of AO with my children and I have learned more history in this time than I did in my entire school career.  I am making connections to the stories, and so are my kids and it is amazing.  I am enjoying furthering my education by going through AO with them but I have lately been feeling like I need to do something just for me too.  So I have decided to start my own education and work through the Ambleside Online years for myself. 

"Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature"

After looking at the years I have decided that year 4 is a good starting point for me.  I feel a little embarrassed to admit that I am starting my education at a 4th grade level but you know, it's not about where I am starting, but about where I hope to go that's important.   You can view AO's Year 4 Booklist and Reading Schedule.   I am going to try to follow the schedule as much as I can, while giving myself some grace if I get behind.  I do have a home, a husband, and 5 children to care for, after all.  I will be posting all of my Narrations here which, in the beginning, I am expecting to be very simple and I am not going to judge myself much on the writing yet.  Just like for my little ones who are new to narration, in the beginning we just get it out any way we can and work on developing style later.  Some of my narrations will be written while some may be audio or video.

This week's books!

I am also going to get myself a math curriculum (I am going to have to take a placement test and ashamed as I may be, I will disclose to here which program and level I am starting) and will keep a commonplace notebook and a timeline/book of centuries.  I will continue to study French with my children and Latin with my son, although in the future I hope to dive deeper into these languages on my own - perhaps a Community college class.  My handicraft will probably be one that I am already proficient at but could always use more practice: Knitting or crocheting.  I will have a free read going and do Artist and Composer studies and Memory work, Folk songs, and hymns with my kids.  I need to get myself a nature journal and begin learning to draw - I do not feel adequate in this area at all.  I will continue with Plutarch and Shakespeare with my oldest son.  This is my plan.  I will be back later to let you know what reality actually allows, but in the meantime feel free to leave me a comment of encouragement or even jump in and learn along with me.  I would love the company of someone to share in talking to me about these beautiful living books.