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30 September 2017

Japanese Storytime

Miss Kitty(4) grabbed this book off the bookshelf for storytime tonight. These books are much more difficult - I have to have my phone handy for frequent dictionary checks, and once I know the words, I get to explain them to the kids. BUT. More and more I can put part of those explanations in Japanese (yay me!) and usually, with a little bit of pointing and pantomime, the kids can figure out what I'm telling them (yay them!). And the parts I can do in Japanese are growing. It's exciting.

There's so much good in that: my vocabulary is growing and my comfort level with speaking (at least to my kids) is growing. And, which they answer in English still probably 95% of the time when we do this, their receptive language, the Japanese they understand if they hear it, is also clearly growing. This is wonderful: receptive skills precede expressive skills in learning your native language, and I see no reason to expect that it would work any differently in an adopted language. Some exciting milestones happening here!

We didn't read the whole thing; dictionary checks and explanations were still too frequent to get very far in a single sitting. But we read about snow (on the other side of the window), snow that both fell and piled up over night. And we read about putting clothing on: socks and boots, scarves and mittens, and Miss Piglet's favorite coat. And we read about stepping into snow where your foot sinks right down and leaves behind footprints. Japanese has such a beautiful way of describing things. And -and this might be the best part of all- the kids protested when I stopped. Even with needing to pause to look things up, they were still really into it. And so I promised that I'd put it on the schedule for Monday during school.

Pretty darn awesome.

25 September 2017

Captain Bayley's Heir Audio Drama {Crew Review}

Captain Bayley's Heir

I was excited when I saw that there was to be a second review for Heirloom Audio Productions, because we enjoyed the first title that we did for them, In the Reign of Terror, was so much fun, and I was excited to listen to a second title, Captain Bayley's Heir, when we were given the opportunity. Captain Bayley's Heir is an audio drama on 2 CDs, and there is a downloadable study guide to go with with, which is part of their Live the Adventure Club. In addition to the study guide, the club has the soundtrack, extra activities, old time radio dramas, and a number of other features. Captain Bayley's Heir is based on a book of the same title, by G.A. Henty.

The main story is about Frank, a student at Westminster, who is falsely accused of theft, and of his adventures in leaving London for America and the American goldrush. In addition, there is also the tragic story of the missing daughter of Captain Bayley, Frank's uncle -- who is played by John Rhys Davies, and his voice is just delicious. Davies also played Gimli in The Lord of the Rings, but here, where it's just his deep, rich voice, I think I like him even better.

The story sometimes gets intense: the wagon train, as many were, was attacked by Indians. I was really impressed with how this was handled in the story: the listener's sympathies automatically follow the main character, and he is appalled that they should be attacking and killing the settlers crossing the Great Plains. However, one of the experienced trailmen he is traveling with asks him some searching questions ending with, "What would you do, in their place?" Frank does not answer, but there is certainly food for thought there. (The study guide looks closely at this scene.) In the course of the attack, Frank kills one of the men that has attacked the wagons. This is also handled very well, allowing the listener to see the turmoil that it causes Frank, though without dwelling unduly on it. It's an intense scene. We have taught our children that self-defense is not only moral, but can be a moral imperative in certain instances. I think that it is good that they should meet some of the consequences of self-defense in the literature they are exposed to. Probably, hopefully, it will never come to that for them, but if not, then I want them to have a framework for coping with it, and literature like this can help to build it.

Immediately after the attack, the next scene is much more tranquil: that evening, just before bed, one of the men pulls out his harmonica (recently introduced from Germany, and all the rage), and plays Amazing Grace. Again, I love the way that this is handled: they credit their survival to God, and are grateful for His protection. They tell of the composer of the hymn, John Newton, who apparently was a slave ship captain prior to his conversion, and became a priest after. There's so much to love there: the way that the story shows God's care for Frank and his companions, the example of turning to God for protection and in gratitude, the story of a "wretch" -a slaver- rescued by Christ.

"You can't earn Grace, Frank. It's a gift."

Grace is a major theme of the story, and you see it all over the place: Captain Bayley learning from the experience with his daughter, and finding redemption from his early errors with her, to Frank learning to respect himself, and finding peace with God. That was a particularly interesting story thread, as Frank was innocent of the charges against him, but I think that underscores the healing power of Christ all the better.

As with In the Reign of Terror, there is an extensive study guide (38 pages), giving background information on G.A. Henty, helping with tricky vocabulary, and encouraging students to dig a little deeper into the book. There are sections for each chapter on "Listening Well", "Defining Words", and "Thinking Further". Additionally, there are "Expand Your Learning sections that give historical context to the story.

In some sections of "Thinking Further", I see terminology that makes me aware that these are probably written from a Protestant understanding of Christianity, but I don't think that it would be a problem at all to use this study guide to further teaching the Mormon (or other non-Protestant) understanding of Christian theology; they are great at asking questions without telling the student the "right answer" (something I always approve of), and at sticking to just suggesting verses in the Bible that are relevant, and letting the student work it out, rather than holding them by the hand and pulling them to the intended answers. These qualities make it more useful as a support to meaningful learning because they expect the student to act in their own learning, rather than anticipating that the teacher will be acting upon the students in giving them their wisdom. This also makes it extremely successful at being non-denominational, and thus useful to many different types of Christians.

We very much enjoyed Captain Bayley's Heir, and I can happily recommend it to my friends and readers. This was an excellent production.

If you want to read more reviews of Captain Bayley's Heir Audio Drama click the banner below.

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23 September 2017

LDSconf: The Women's Session

Put yourself in a place where you can feel God's love for you.
-Sharon Eubank

We need to continually deepen our knowledge of and obedience to our Heavenly Father.
-Neill F. Marriott

The Savior repairs the breach, or distance, between us and our Heavenly Father.
-Neill F. Marriott
"...the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound."
-Isaiah 30:26

"Thinking small about yourself does not serve us well; instead, it holds us back."
-Joy D. Jones
If you look at the scriptural uses of the word "meek" there is *never* any any justification for thinking small about ourselves: thinking ourselves small is NOT meekness. Meekness is turning to God, leaning on God, bringing Him our troubles, and realizing that our gifts and successes are from and through Him.

"God is your Father. He loves you!"
-Joy D. Jones
The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
-Romans 8:16

The path of discipleship in the gospel of Jesus Christ is the path of joy. It is the path of safety and peace.
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

18 September 2017

Imagine... The Great Flood {Crew Review}

IMAGINE... The Great Flood

Books in the mail again; what fun! This time we were given Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich to review, which is published by Barbour Publishing. It's a short Biblical fiction book: 100 pages of largish type; I sat down and read it in an hour, and then gave it to Dragon(7) as a free read: he's required to read at least one chapter, but allowed to read as much more than that as he would like.

It's a cute story, about Corey, a modern boy. His family is moving to Florida, and he's very unhappy about it. His mom tries to teach him that God will care for their family, but it isn't really sinking in. Then Corey finds himself transported to the time immediately before the Flood, where he meets Shem, Ham, Japeth, Noah, and a whole bunch of animals -- and he meets Noah's family's enemies. Although it was such a short, easy book, I learned something new: in the story, the "Nephilim" are Noah's enemies. "Nephilim" is the Hebrew word for giants (see Strong's Concordance for Genesis 6:4, for example). They certainly made for formidable enemies in the story! Corey is captured by them at one point. In addition to a cute story, I liked that the author doesn't beat you over the head with moralizing about the application of the Bible story and principles to Corey's life. He trusts his story to be strong enough to teach without needing to beat you about the head and shoulders with his point -- and he's right to do so. The ending is satisfying and the point is strongly present without being preachy.

Dragon liked the book enough that at one point he fell asleep with it still in his bed, and I had to fish it out when it fell down by the wall the next time he needed to read it. It was never very hard to get him to work on reading it some more, and at one point he even told me that he was pacing himself so that the book didn't end too soon!

Dragon said: "I like all of the stuff even.  It's full of adventures, but at the same time, he's getting captured alot! He just got trapped in a cave, and he keeps on slipping and just falling down. I have a positive review."

If you want to read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew and their families of Imagine... The Great Flood by Matt Koceich, click the banner below.


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16 September 2017

Shakespeare: A Winter's Tale

We've read the Lamb's version of A Winter's Tale. Now, we're ready to have a go at watching the show. This is going to have to be a video, since I don't know of any Shakespeare is playing reasonably locally, much less this particular one.

Hurray for YouTube.

As has been the case in the past, listening to the real text is considerably harder than getting through the Lamb's version. But I got a very timely email from Mistie at Simply Convivial about how she does Shakespeare, and I decided to put off Plutarch for a little bit longer (we alternate from Shakespeare to Plutarch and back again), and to try some of the things she suggests. The first is that we learn some lines from the play. And Good Reads has a nice list. I am particularly fond of the queen's lines at her arrest. We haven't updated our memory work in a while, so that works out nicely.

“There's some ill planet reigns:
I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favourable. Good my lords,
I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are; the want of which vain dew
Perchance shall dry your pities: but I have
That honourable grief lodged here which burns
Worse than tears drown: beseech you all, my lords,
With thoughts so qualified as your charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
The king's will be perform'd!”

Then, I think that we'll change things up: when we did Comedy of Errors, we made peg people dolls for the important characters, and put on a mini version of the play after we'd watched it. In this case, I think we'll try making them up before we watch the show, and then the kids can move them around as the players come on and off the screen if they want to. We can do the same thing with the Librivox version, which will give the kids the chance to see different interpretations of the same play, which we haven't done before. This one has a lot more characters than Comedy of Errors, so we'll use some of the old dolls and make a bunch of new ones next week. That will be a fun project for everybody.

And, thanks to Mistie's suggestions, I'm also looking around the local area to see what plays might be playing in the next while. If I can find some, I'll probably choose our next play based partly on what we can go and see live. That would be fun.

12 September 2017

Carole P. Roman Books {Crew Review}

Carole P Roman Blog

Books in the mail is always some of the best kind of mail! This time, I received several picture books to review this time, all written by Carole P. Roman:

If You Were Me and Lived in... the Ancient Mali Empire

This was a fun book. There are many areas in Africa that we have not hit very much thus far in our educational journey, and it was fun to learn a little bit about one of them. Ancient Mail was new and interesting for us to read about. The book is 68 pages, plus a glossary, and it covers quite a bit of ground, including touching on clothing, housing, customs, and some history. The pictures aren't fancy, and often suggest, rather than spell out, which leaves plenty of space for the child's imagination to fill in the details.

If You Were Me and Lived in... Ancient China

This is also an interesting book. I gave it to Dragon(7) to read, and while I thought that he would find it interesting, it wasn't his favorite. However, I think that has more to do with where he was at (not in the mood for a book that I picked for him) than with the book itself. It's a really nice book, filled with all kinds of interesting information about China. It's full of interesting bits about housing, clothing, religion and culture, silk production, major professions, and a number of other things, all presented in the story of a young boy from ancient China. I enjoyed reading it. Like the book about Ancient Mali, it's a substantial one, with more than 60 pages.

If You Were Me and Lived in... Elizabethan England

Hero(10) started reading this in the car, but when he realized how long it is, he stopped and just read it himself. Like the rest of these "If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient _____" books we received, it's more than 60 pages, and I think that he didn't want to wait around long enough to read it out loud. The pages do have quite a bit of text on them; it's a lot to read out loud in a single sitting. He easily finished it before we finished our trip to Grandpa's House.

Hero(10)'s review: It was cool because it was interesting. I learned that you would be an apprentice at a far younger age than today, and I learned that there was actually a rule: they said no meat on certain days because it allowed the fishing industry to recover from the week. It was a time of no war, not to mention a new class of people had emerged: merchants.

If you want to read more reviews of Carole P. Roman's books - there are lots of titles the Crew is looking at- click the banner below.


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03 September 2017

Commonplace Book: August

A sample from my commonplace book, and brief instructions for how to keep one.

A commonplace is a traditional self-education tool: as you read, grab a notebook. Write down things that embody Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Write down notable quotes, with or without your own thoughts about them. Write down the questions you have as a result of the text you are reading. You will find the book becomes a record of your own growth, and it becomes a touchstone for memory of things you have studied in the past. These are a selection of the passages that I've included in my commonplace book this month:

But a nobler animal was wanted, and Man was made. It is not known whether the creator made him of divine materials, or whether in the the earth, so lately separated from heaven, there lurked still some heavenly seeds. Prometheus took some of this earth, and kneading it up with water, made men in the image of the gods. He gave him an upright stature, so that while all the other animals turn their faces downward, and look to the earth, he raises his to heaven, and gazes on the stars.
-Bulfinch, Age of Fable, 10

No gain I experience must remain unshared.
-Charlotte Mason 6:9

Put forth your ability to learn as fast as you can, and gather all the strength of mind and principle of faith you possibly can, and then distribute your knowledge to the people. Give them virtue, knowledge, principle, truth, godliness.
-Brigham Young JD 8:144

Education is the highest of the arts in the sense that it imposes forms (ideas and ideals) not on matter, as do other arts (for instance carpentry or sculpture) but on mind. These forms are received by the student not passively but through active cooperation. In true liberal education, as Newman explained, the essential activity of the student is to relate the facts learned into a unified, organic whole, to assimilate them as the body assimilates food or as a rose assimilates food from the soil and increases in size, vitality, and beauty. A learner must use mental hooks and eyes to join the facts together to form a significant whole. This makes learning easier, more interesting, and much more valuable. The accumulation of facts is mere information and is not worthy to be called education since it burdens the mind and stultifies it instead of developing, enlightening, and perfecting it. Even if one forgets many of the facts once learned and related, the mind retains the vigor and perfection gained by its exercise upon them. It can do this, however, only by grappling with facts and ideas. Moreover, it si much easier to remember related ideas than unrelated ideas.
-Sister Miriam Joseph, The Trivium, 7

But, when we compare the mind with the body, we perceive that three "square" meals a day are generally necessary to health, and that a casual diet of ideas is poor and meager.
-Charlotte Mason 6:25


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