Friday, July 31, 2009

Toolbox Studies: Progym 2

It seems like ages since we have had a writing toolbox. And I have to admit that I was very tempted to change this one as well we are still waiting for the mountain to clear and the skis to come out for day two on the mountain.

But I don't want to keep juggling things back, so its a progym toolbox. Additional detail for adding in description could be found in Classical composition.

  • Day 1 Belling the Cat by Aesop. Review: basic questions, outline and Theon's six (person, place, action, time, cause, manner).

    In response to the writing exercise from week one of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe it would be fun to expand what we are doing by breaking a simple story into its Theon's categories and then work on describing in detail the person, place, action and time. For today outline the story and analyze for Theon's 6 then retell it emphasising the time.

  • Day 2 For a warm up discuss how we can describe people. Get each child to write a description of someone that we all know and then read it out to everyone.

    Continue with yesterdays story. This time in the retelling describe the characters in order to give emphasis.

  • Day 3 Warm up - have each cild describe the setting in front of them, or a setting within the house in as much detail as they can. Have the older ones ting about making it a warm friendly place, or a cold scary place. ( I porbably wont have any takers for the latter. )

    Then retell Mondays story this time describing the setting.

  • Day 4 Warm up - think of an action that you did this morning and describe it. Read it out loud and see if anyone can recognise the action.

    Imitate the model this time describing the action.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

For Encouragement

When I went to the heart conference the weekend was a mix of laughter and encouragement. Time to laugh at the funny side of homeschooling and a time to be lifted up and remember the point of it all. Rosie Boom, who has been listed on my sidebar ever since is a wonderful lady. Both her and her twin sister ministered to my heart all weekend encouraging and strengthening us with their very different but very Christ centered journeys.

Rosie posted three songs that she performed at the retreat on her blog yesterday - hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Homeschooling blues As the Twig is Bent and the Shepherds Call

Monday, July 27, 2009

Should I be worried....

Its started off as a fairly strange week...

Sunday morning at Church we had the 6 monthly fire drill...a bit of a nuisance but its a fire drill, we all presume they aren't real and obediently head outside.

This afternoon in a picture postcard day on the mountain. blue sky, lots of snow, no wind, great skiing, a mum, three kids one of which has just panicked at the new slope ... and a volcanic lahar warning, sirens, instructions, very helpful mountain medics... a lahar drill.

When we got home we had an answer phone message that we have an appointment at the kids dental clinic..for tomorrow... should I be worried at what she will find,

Or is their some other more serious drill for planned for tomorrow. After all this is some coincidence.

Maybe I should spend more time this week drilling the kids Latin, or math or spelling words.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Planning for sanity.

This topic came up on one of my email groups. I've been thinking that having found something that works for me it was time to post it... so here's another post on planning for the northern summer planning frenzy.

Up until the current year, OK the current five months, I've carefully planned out chapter and amount for every one of my kids school work on an excel spreadsheet, included an overview of activities etc, put in break weeks to allow catch up on the things that we would fall behind in or just life happening.

Unfortunately my kids have never appreciated the wisdom of keeping to the plan... NEVER! And after years of struggling with the multiple weeks of being behind, the grumpiness of re-hashing the plans fortnightly, and the weeks when it just doesn't work I've finally accepted that this isn't what its meant to look like for us. It simply isn't what God wants me or my family to do.

Fortunately there are a lot of ladies with blogs and in email groups that have encouraged me to trust God, listen to God and move forward. Slowly I am.

So for the last 5 months we have been moving to a far simpler plan. I still divide up the course work for Latin, Math and Greek into weekly chunks. Or rather I work out how many lessons, or how much a week we need to cover so I can let the kids know when we are done, or when we are crawling...or recognize when someone is staring at the same maths problem or Latin translation for over a week.

For Language Arts and Humanities. I prepared a list of 40 weeks of topics. Normally determined by whatever we are using as a spine. Then each week I grab the next topic - or the next appropriate topic and plan out what we are doing while curled up at my daughters ballet lesson. Simple. Because I've enjoyed the format, the big chunks get planned out on a blog and a copy pasted in my planning book. That way its flexible, it sits pretty on my computer inviting me to come, think, plan. The kids tend to like these all together subjects so there isn't normally a problem on doing them, and if we don;t get through the terms chunk we can roll it into the next session.

I plan in one week blocks - one week of Poetry, one week of grammar, one week of history ... week long blocks that might break all the conventional wisdom of how to educate, but which simplify out how much we have to think about. We nicknamed the language art topics as our toolbox, the humanities subjects notebook studies . I can see it being renamed in the next wee while. In that week we dig deep, review heaps, have fun. We have time to play games with grammar (diagramming counts as games doesn't it) practice skills, work together. The plans take into account how we are feeling, what worked last time, what we remembered, what we still need to work on.

We work on one area or skill for 4 days of 1 -2 hour blocks. We're fairly flexible with what we do, if the kids have an idea for an assignment, or something jumps out of the text as useful to do we follow that, otherwise we follow whatever spine or activity book I have on hand. On the last day of the week the kids have a simple but lengthy assignment to integrate what we have learned. They have to produce on piece of writing - essay, narration, description or poetry. One peice of Art work. The content comes from our humanities studies, the tools from our ongoing toolbox studies.

I don't always grab the next thing - like this week I've taken the softest options I can - after a day's skiing coming off the mountain and getting back into school is hard, the disruption of not getting back into school is probably worse - so we'll grab the next literature book and enjoy, pick up art and have fun. Hopefully by lunchtime feel ready to cope with something meatier. OK its not as easy as having ready made plans that you pull of the shelf. But I can plan around things that are happening at dad's school, tiredness, ballet exams, skiing..etc. When the standard week changes I'm not scrambling to pick up the pieces.

It lets us have a flexible schedule - we have always kept to the school terms .. hubby is a teacher so it seemed right. Now realizing that hubby as a teacher gets excluded from our days because of it, and well he spends most of the holidays planning, we're getting more flexible mainly not being held to ten weeks on two off gives me a chance to stop when life gets busy rather than press on and get stressed.

Each day I remember that God has a plan, a good plan, with just enough for each day, time for all the aspects of our life, time to be.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Notebook Studies: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Part 2

  • Day 1 The Spell begins to break, Aslan is nearer Chapters 10-11. Despite the fact that Christmas has no meaning in Narnia - shouldn't they be celebrating Aslan's birth? CS Lewis includes a reference to Father Christmas in the story. Why might he have done so.

  • Day 2 Chapters 12 - 13 The first battle & The deal,
    Look at the idea of atonement - use a dictionary to define the term and Substitutionary. What does substitutionary atonement mean. Discuss what it means for us as Christians. How is this seen in the story. What is the curse in the story, what is the curse in the world.

  • Day 3 Chapters 14 - 15 Deep magic and deeper magic.
    Read worldview section. Discuss the similarities and differences between the work of Christ on the cross and the death and resurrection of Aslan.

  • Day 4 Chapters 16-17 These last two chapters allow Narnia Game and Medieval Dinner. To finish the term. Use the medieval meal ideas from the Veritas Press Middle Ages CD, incorporating a cheese board, the beef stew and trenchers, Wassial (non-alcoholic version of spiced wine) Given that it is Narnia we can enjoy a more English fruit cake to finish the meal or an old fashioned plum pudding and custard. (It lets us have the quirks of post war Oxford meets middle ages)
Writing and Art: Write an Econium about Aslan and his sacrifice on the stone table. For the comparision portion consider how the sacrifice of Aslan is similar to and different than Christ’s sacrifice for his people.

Aslan is not a tame lion, but he is good. Explain this statement using examples from the book. How does this relate to our experience of God.

Or Creative writing exercise. Write your own story based on the idea of stepping through a wardrobe into another world. Imagine what that world would look like. What people or creatures would you come across. What problem would you encounter and solve, or what purpose would your time there have. Use Theons 6 to plan your story.

For Art I would equally like to center on the stone table or on an impression of what the atonement was about. We should see an inclusion ofthe ideas of value and line in our work.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Toolbox Studies: Value in Art

Josh - this is a hugh improvement on his art Josh has always opted for stick figures so its been fun seeing him grow in this.

  • Monday:
    Artist: Durer : Praying Hands

    Discuss value, prepare a value scale help us understand the concept. Apply the idea by looking at a scene using value as a means of providing contrast and communicating the nature of the object being drawn.

    "Greek Ship" - by Josh

  • Tuesday:
    Artist: Durer : The Knight, Death and the Devil
    Look at the pictures we drew in the previous lesson. Did we manage to use value in our drawing. Find a picture to copy and using our value scale try to reproduce the drawing in pencil, using value to portray the various changes in color.

    "The Woodbasket" by Beth

  • Wednesday:
    Artist: Durer : Self Portrait
    Looking at value between colors in relation to other colors. Discuss. Draw a picture to give to someone special. Choose a subject that they are fond of. Remember to continue to work on value as you draw.

  • Thursday Artist: Durer : The Hare. for the end of this art lesson choose one of the pictures that we have studied and imitate it. See if you can spot any of the elements of art that we have previously discussed.

    "Paint Brush" by Beth Taken off the cover of Dutch Colour.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Patchwork of Days

Outside my window,

Lovely snow covered mountains waiting to call us to find ski gear and enjoy.

I am listening to...
The voices of my children discussing the meter of Ben Franklin at the kitchen table behind me.

I am thankful for...

Christian writers and blogs that provide support and encouragement in God's word to counter the effects of the ideas of the emergent church.

From the learning rooms...
A fun week, looking at the cultures of Ancient India, China and Africa...

From the kitchen...

Excuses to experiment with different foods in the kitchen. Our Sat cleebration dinner this week will have African flavours...should be fun.

I am wearing...

Jeans and a lilac jersey, comfy and casual.

I am reading...

Seed Catalogs and gardening books...looking forward to planting our vege garden.

I am praying for...

A renewed sense of the Gospel in our local church and christian community.

On of my favourite things...

Watching a fantail play among the trees of our garden.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

A slow relaxed re-entry back into school routines for everyone.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

In the tradition of the
Simple Womans Daybook

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A week off

Last weeks plans roll over into this week. We ended up crashing out after one day of school and instead did the autumn pruning, cleared the marking pile, and prepared the section for spring.

So instead of maths, Latin, Greek, history and poetry...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Toolbox studies: Poetry 2

I'm planning for a short week, hopefully fun, as its still public school holidays and the kids know it. We also have a trip to the family farm something the kids always look forward to. Its a balance between keeping it moving so we don't get bored and well scratchy and having fun.

I'm hoping we can cover another lesson in poetry. This includes a bit of a catch up for my engineer he missed the first poetry toolbox, after being required to keep up in his other work.

Our model poem, keeping with Classical Writing poetry is Ben Franklin.

  • Monday - Day one careful reading, work analysis, oral narration, stanzas. I need to decide if we will use the poem for copy-work or choose something from history.

  • Tuesday - Review rhyme and look at the rhyme scheme for the model. Look at a Rhyming dictionary and play slug in the jug, or the rhyme game.

  • Wednesday - Review Poetic Meter add Iambic meter to definitions, look at our current poems meter, Imitate meter using the Swarm of bees. (If we have to cut down to 3 days this isn't the one to shorten.)
  • Thursday - Review stanza, look for the central thought for the stanza, write summary sentences.

Where is the Joy?

I found this quote from J I Packer,

"If anyone asks us how men may know God, we can at once produce the right formula - that we come to know God through Jesus Christ the Lord, in virtue of His cross and mediation, on the basis of His word of promise, but the power of the Holy Spirit, via a personal exercise of faith. Yet the gaiety, goodness, and unfetteredness of spirit which are the marks of those who know God are rare among us - rarer perhaps than they are in some other Christian circles where, by comparison evangelical truth is less clearly and fully known."

Yes - to drink of the joy of celebrating our salvation, of celebrating His love for us, of knowing that the God of the Universe is concerned with my daily life.

From Psalm 42:5 NRSV

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

With Grace to guide us and the evidence of his handiwork around us I haven't got any excuse to not delight in the work of God's hands.

Knowing God - Packer

In the last few weeks I've given up on hearing a biblical sermon at our local church. I'd love to move churches, but so far we haven't had much success in finding the right place.

The emergent church philosophy seems to have taken most of our churches by storm, or well the old liberalism is still got enough of a grip that we're picking up the pieces after the sermon... at least where we are the kids ministry is solid, encouraging and the kids and I have friends there.

So until God says move, we'll be hanging in the background, and strengthening our devotional life at home.

My Bible reading is becoming more encouraging and we've a settled pattern of devotions which I am enjoying.. But I need to re ground myself in what is true..It has been a long time since solid teaching has made its way to my ears. So its time to raid the bookshelves and spend Sunday's curled up with a good book. The first one - "Knowing God" by J I Packer....

Small Successes

Its been a great week for achieving those things I normally brush aside. With hubby home for the mid-winter school break, and the kids in light school, we've spent the last two weeks semi crashed out studying swimming creatures, I've managed the following....


  1. My marking pile is cleared, off my desk and apart from some tardy corrections...we are up to date...YES!

  2. We used the lighter week to sort out my artists room. She loves people, keeps every gift, and hates tidying up. The last couple of clean ups have been find a box and store it to sort later - well latter came this week. We now have several semi-sorted boxes, but at least she can find the things she is looking for.

  3. We planted the last of our fruit trees, a nectarine and grapes. Sorted the space for the vegetable garden - or rather hubby did and planted strawberries. I'm looking forward to spring.
More importantly the changes in the last few weeks have given me a feeling of being back in control, able to chill when needed with the kids and now a feeling like I'm not snowed under with good things people are waiting for me to do.

Thanks to the ladies who thought up this neat post idea - the original idea is here . To participate, just write up a list of 3 of your recent Small Successes and post it on your blog along with the Small Successes button (go here to get the code). You are not required to use the button, but please do link back to the main post here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Relaxed Week: Swimming Creatures

After the Heart Retreat I really didn't have the energy or feel the need to rush back into our daily plan. We also had a homeschool ski trip booked, which God had other plans for - no snow, no sunshine. So at the start of the week I picked up the Swimming Creatures book we put aside at the start of the year and we have meandered through the chapters.

  • Monday: We started with Chapter one looking at the types of swimming creatures, the currents in the oceans, tides. After lunch we started on Whales, using several of the lapbook templates from Homeschool Share lapbooking. Lots of paper and fun.

  • Tuesday we finished off Whales and moved onto Seals and Sea Cows. Again the Homeschool share lapbook has a unit on Manatees and we used several of their materials.

  • Wednesday we moved onto the aquatic reptiles and amphibians, again expanding our time with a lapbook project on Sea Turtles.

  • Thursday we looked at prehistoric sea creatures, I had thought this would be a quick session that we worked through quickly and moved on from, it wasn't. There was an interesting exercise at the end of the study using Venn diagrams to consider what the Leviathan of the bible might be. It seemed like a useful project in getting them to use this tool to evaluate ideas and options.

  • Originally our ski day this will give us a chance to look at fish. I would like to finish sharks are well, but I don't think we will make it that far.
As a gap week it's been more refreshing than our usual non school weeks. I've caught up on some rest and am back up to my daughter in Latin. I'm glad we took it off. Now to manage what we do next week.