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30 September 2011

Exotic Music

This afternoon Monkey asked me, "What's a gong?" We ran across the word in phonics. I explained, but a gong must be heard to understand, so when we were done reading we visited YouTube. Turns out there's quite a bit of exotic music on there, and we had a good time.

24 September 2011

Sunday Scripture

And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

Enos 1:4

It Strengthens My Resolve

... to stay home. Even were we to not homeschool, this council is crystal clear:

One of the great tragedies of our day is the confusion in the minds of some which would cause mothers to go to work in the marketplace. Satan, that master of deceit, would have us believe that when we have problems with our children, the answer may be a nicer home in a finer neighborhood, that they might have their own bedroom, or better quality clothes, and maybe their own car. Satan would have us believe that money or the things money can buy are more important in the home than mother.

Now there are some mothers with school-age children who are the breadwinners of their family and they must work; they are the exception. Fathers and mothers, before you decide you need a second income and that mother must go to work out of the home, may I plead with you: first go to the Lord in prayer and receive his divine approbation. Be sure he says yes. Mothers with children and teenagers at home, before you go out of your homes to work, please count the cost as carefully as you count the profit. Earning a few dollars more for luxuries cloaked in the masquerade of necessity or a so-called opportunity for self-development of talents in the business world, a chance to get away from the mundane responsibilities of the home these are all satanic substitutes for clear thinking. They are counterfeit thoughts that subvert the responsibilities of motherhood. As you count the costs of mother working out of the home, please consider the following:

A mother gone when her children need her most or one who is too tired from a day spent in employment. Far better for a boy or girl to go to school in last year's shirts or hand-me-down dresses that are clean even though not in the height of fashion and come home to find mother there, than for a boy or girl to go to school in finer and newer clothes and come home to a new TV or a baby-sitter because Mother is away working.
-H. Burke Peterson, CR, Apr. 1974, p. 43

23 September 2011

Classical Homeschooling Carnival #19

Welcome to the latest edition of the Classical Homeschooling Carnival! We have a number of fun and inspiring posts this time around. Check them out:


Delightful Children's Books has a rather extensive collection of books this time, in the wrap-up of her globally themed event, Read Around the World. Looks like they had a great time!

Nadene and her kids are having a blast Playing with Poetry - ideograms, to be precise - at Practical Pages.

Photo courtesy of Delightful Children's Books.


Jay3fer reminds us not to put away the toys too soon in Cuisenaire Rods for Big(ger) Kids. She walks us through their use of the rods to figure out the area of a book cover, over at Adventures in Mama-Land.

Here on Baby Steps, I've been pondering what math really is, and concluding that It's Not What I Thought.

Mary tells about her adventures with Phony Poop in her son's digestive system lesson. I'm pretty sure that's one he'll remember for a loooong old time! She's blogging at Winecup Christian Academy.

Photo courtesy of Winecup Christian Academy.


At Blah, Blah, Blog, Pamela shares her memories of the morning of September 11th.

That's it! Thanks for stopping by! Past posts and future hosts for the Classical Homeschooling Carnival can be found on our index page. If you've got a post that would inspire the Classical Education community, please stop by our submission page and share it with us!

22 September 2011

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up, and there are some fun posts in it this week. Here are a few that I enjoyed:

Sage Parnassus shares a nostalgic poem about the bees.

The Homeschool Lifestyle -- pointing out the blessing of "extra" time with our children.

Cookie's Domain has a nice post about bird study resources. Some we're familiar with, others I haven't seen before.

20 September 2011

Math, Math, and More Math

I was feeling a little behind where I wanted to be - we had missed a few days and were out of sync with my schedule, particularly in Math. So we took 2 days and just focused on getting back to where my lesson plans said we ought to be in math. Happily, Math is one of Monkey's favorite things to do, so this was no chore at all.

Working on teen numbers as 10 + ____
We practiced finding the missing partners.

Here's a fun variant on Go Fish, called Go To the Dump, that I think we'll be doing in the next while to practice math facts. We did it once already with partners of 10, but I put too many combinations in, and Monkey is still really slow. I think that next time I'll put in only 2 or 3 pairs - 9/1, 8/2, and maybe 7/3. Then he'll get more intense repetition on the partners we're working with and can start to remember them out of his head a little better.

I've been thinking a lot about math lately, and we've got the first of the Miqon books on the way, we're going to add it to the Math Expressions that we're doing. The Cuisenaire Rods are already here, and so is the Lab Sheet Annotations book that's supposed to help me figure out what to do with the worksheets. But I don't actually have the worksheets, and I don't have the rest of the instructional materials for me to figure out this system. I've been looking at blog posts about other folks' experiences with it, though, and I like this idea for making it kid-directed. Very interesting. This looks like an entirely different take on math. Math with lots of toys. Jennifer, of Adventures in Mama-Land, says not to put away the toys too soon.

In fact, there's this whole thread at TWTM forums on how to drill math facts, but fun. I'm thinking that I'll be needing some of these games. Sure wish someone had made drilling facts fun for me when I was little! I just remember being so frustrated with those goofy timed tests. 100 problems in less than 5 minutes. Ugh.

19 September 2011

What a Look!

My brother sat down and started talking to Raven at Nana and Grandpa's house the other day. For his efforts, he was rewarded with The Look.

Aquarium Trip

We went to see my sister and her husband, and they took us to their local Aquarium. What fun! And, it counts as school, since we're studying animals on science. Here are some of the pictures:

We saw the beluga whales - the baby was nursing while we were there!

There were all sorts of fun critters to see.

18 September 2011

Sunday Scripture

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.
Mosiah 4:9-10

16 September 2011

It's Not What I Thought

Numbers and counting. Throw in some rather arbitrary and abstract rules for moving those numbers around and you've got algebra. Advanced algebra's sine and cosine stuff was pure gibberish, but I remembered enough formulas long enough to do alright in the class. Geometry's proofs at least made sense. They had no practical value, but at least they made sense. I enjoyed the challenge posed by getting all the steps right in the long proofs. Trig completely defeated me.

This is math.

It all started over with teaching Math to Monkey. Only he didn't get the memo, so he had no idea that math is a "chore." That boy just inhales everything I show him about numbers. Has since he was pretty little. And because he was (is) so little, I've been careful to keep plenty of physical objects around to play with as we discuss the numbers. We've been as much playing as anything, often the numbers have been relatively incidental. For a while we were moseying through the book - we're working with Math Expressions - but lately I've been feeling like a skipped stone: no sooner do I land us in a section of the book than he comprehends it and we're off again, trying to keep up with where he's at. I asked him the other day if I'd even given him "hard math." He said no. So off I went to my forums. What do you do with a mathy kid anyway??

Turns out, you change your thinking.

I'd seen, and felt drawn to, cuisenaire rods whenever I saw them mentioned in the forums. Some people that are clearly very mathy seem to like them. A lot. But I never could figure out what you are supposed to do with them. They're sort of mysterious. So you build a staircase. That's nice. Now what?

I dunno. So I never bought them. But when Monkey started moving so quickly through our math book that I started feeling like a skipped stone, I went and searched the forums for information about them. There's plenty. I ended up reading a thread from last January.

One of the women asked her daughter, "Define 8." Now, me, I would have said something absolutely brilliant, had someone asked me that: "8 is... 8." That's all it is, what's to define? Her daughter said a whole lot more:

5+3, 6+2, 7+1, 8+0, 4+4 ("and all the opposites"), 1+2+2+3, 2x4, 4x2, 16/2, 24/3, 32/4, 40/5, 18-10, and eight ones.

It blew my mind, as did the discussion of "sixness" and how to go about teaching it - or if it was even necessary to fully explore "sixness." These people were discussing, as givens, ideas I'd never encountered, and the whole shape of my perception of math and numbers started to change as I was reading. I had some questions, so I started my own thread and learned some more.  The people who responded were as concerned about the relationships between the numbers as they were about the answers to the questions. What a different attitude from the "show your work - and it better be the same as the book or it's wrong" type instruction I received! Then they offered me a link to a mathematician's comments on the matter. Being a musician, the opening had my attention right away:

A musician wakes from a terrible nightmare. In his dream he finds himself in a society where music education has been made mandatory. “We are helping our students become more competitive in an increasingly sound-filled world.” Educators, school systems, and the state are put in charge of this vital project. Studies are commissioned, committees are formed, and decisions are made— all without the advice or participation of a single working musician or composer.

Since musicians are known to set down their ideas in the form of sheet music, these curious black dots and lines must constitute the “language of music.” It is imperative that students become fluent in this language if they are to attain any degree of musical competence; indeed, it would be ludicrous to expect a child to sing a song or play an instrument without having a thorough grounding in music notation and theory. Playing and listening to music, let alone composing an original piece, are considered very advanced topics and are generally put off until college, and more often graduate school. ...

In their wisdom, educators soon realize that even very young children can be given this kind of musical instruction. In fact it is considered quite shameful if one’s third-grader hasn’t completely memorized his circle of fifths. “I’ll have to get my son a music tutor. He simply won’t apply himself to his music homework. He says it’s boring. He just sits there staring out the window, humming tunes to himself and making up silly songs.” ...

“To tell you the truth, most students just aren’t very good at music. They are bored in class, their skills are terrible, and their homework is barely legible. Most of them couldn’t care less about how important music is in today’s world; they just want to take the minimum number of music courses and be done with it. I guess there are just music people and non-music people. I had this one kid, though, man was she sensational! Her sheets were impeccable— every note in the right place, perfect calligraphy, sharps, flats, just beautiful. She’s going to make one hell of a musician someday. ...”

This I can understand. Music as an art, as something that must be felt, experienced, and enjoyed is a concept I readily understand and agree with. Lockhart goes on to say that Math is the same way.

The first thing to understand is that mathematics is an art. The difference between math and the other arts, such as music and painting, is that our culture does not recognize it as such. ... Nevertheless, the fact is that there is nothing as dreamy and poetic, nothing as radical, subversive, and psychedelic, as mathematics. It is every bit as mind blowing as cosmology or physics (mathematicians conceived of black holes long before astronomers actually found any), and allows more freedom of expression than poetry, art, or music (which depend heavily on properties of the physical universe). Mathematics is the purest of the arts, as well as the most misunderstood. (pg 3)

Ah-ha! This is what motivates my brother when he talked about solving a millennium problem. This is what makes people major in math! They're playing! (Incidentally, I saw one of those math people commenting on how much she enjoys her homework now. I believe that she just changed her major to mathematics, rather than math education.)This is what brings my brother-in-law so much enjoyment that he learned how to move a number to base 3 and then base 2... in his head. (He did that the day that I was teasing him about having a huge number of kids. If you change bases, then 8 isn't so many!)

The trick, then, is to discover how this is done so that Monkey and I can do it together.

I think this lady is onto something:

15 September 2011

Pyramid Documentary

Oh the things you can do with a few clicks of the mouse! We've been studying ancient Egypt, and I discovered that not only does Hulu have this National Geographic documentary, but they'll even let me embed it here! How cool that? We'll be watching it tomorrow morning.

08 September 2011

Peacocks and Robins


We're making our own "cuneiform" tablets today, and I wanted to show Monkey a little bit about something a little more authentic than what we're doing. I've got some video of him working on his tablet. Hopefully I can get that - and all a little of the other cool stuff I'd like to post - up here soon! Finding time for my blog has been tough lately. But here's the clips I'll be showing Monkey this afternoon, after he wakes up from his nap.

05 September 2011

Yummy Ideas

This looks tasty. I'm thinking about it. I think making cheese would be fun. Besides, the clip is funny. More toward the end, but it's in there.

Then there's this recipe for a cold cereal replacement. I'd love to replace our cold cereals with something more healthy. Only the hot cereals I've tried, my family won't eat. And muffins don't go over very well, not for breakfast. But cold cereal... it's not healthy. Tastes good, and it's what we usually eat, but it's not good for you. Nikki has a recipe for a replacement that I'm thinking about trying. And it's peanut butter. What's not to like? Nikki actually mentions a cookbook I have: Nurturing Traditions. The guy that wrote it is out there. Way out there. Comes across like a nutjob. But I've done some independent research, and the stuff he says about wheat and whole grains makes sense. It appears that his science is good. Plus, the recipes in the book, the ones I've tried anyway, are pretty tasty. Except he says you ought to eat organ meats. Liver and stuff. That doesn't sound very tasty. But his bread recipes? They work. The technique for this cereal is similar to the book. Who knows? Maybe it'd be something my family would eat.

And there's this one. Making Mozzarella. Man, that's interesting. I need to find a book about making cheese.

01 September 2011

Adam and Eve Taught their Children to Write

Next for history, we'll be doing Story of the World chapter 3: The First Writing. The chapter teaches that hieroglyphics and cuneiform are the earliest writing, but modern revelation teaches us that Adam and Eve were taught to write. We'll be adding this revealed information to the lesson on early writing. I thought I'd share what I'm substituting for the first paragraph in the book. I'm putting it into a story format so that it will fit seamlessly with the SOTW and we can then go right into the discussion of hieroglyphs and cuneiform. We'll be using a  coloring sheet from the Children's Friend, and also adding a list of the Ancient Patriarchs to our memory work.

Adam and Eve were taught to write by the Lord, and they wrote down the things that happened to their family in their Book of Remembrance. They recorded the things the Lord taught them, and they taught their children to read and write so they would be able to learn and remember those important things. (Moses 6:5-6) As their family grew, many of them listened to Adam and Eve, learned the gospel, and became great men of God. They included Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, and Noah. (Genesis 5; Doctrine & Covenants 107:53; Moses 6)

Coloring Sheet: 
Adam and Eve Taught Their Children

Additional Reading:
How the Bible Came to Be, part 1 - includes a little blurb about new archaeological evidence

Patriarchs memory work:


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