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27 February 2018

Drive Thru History: Bible History {Crew Review}

When we had the opportunity to review Drive Thru History Adventures, my first questions were about theological compatibility, as these are, I believe, Protestant-made materials. I was pleased to find that the Bible History Adventures materials draw on the shared Christian tradition, and that the theological variances between Protestants and Mormons are not an issue in any of the lessons we have done thus far. We have really enjoyed learning about the life of Christ, and the history and geography that relates to His ministry in the Holy Land.  Drive Thru History Adventures also has an Ancient History and an American History course (other Crew members are checking those out). But we've been quite enjoying the Bible History course.

26 February 2018

Starfall Education Foundation {Crew Review}

We received a one-year subscription to the The Starfall Home Membership  from the Starfall Education Foundation for this review. The kids have loved the free portions of Starfall for years -- in fact, both the boys learned their letter sounds primarily from Starfall, and everyone has been curious about what's in the members-only sections of the site, so the kids were quite excited to find out that we'd be on this review, even the big kids. To make things even better, we got our log-in information just in time for Miss Kitty's 5th birthday!

20 February 2018

UltraKey Online: Typing Instruction {Crew Review}

We had the opportunity to review UltraKey Online Family Subscription, which is published by Bytes of Learning. Using their Family Edition, we can have up to 7 family members to take typing lessons on a single subscription.

Setup of the account was a piece of cake. They sent a link with an activation code, and then you just follow the steps through several screens until you're finished. Once you've registered the main account, then you can set up dependent accounts for each of your students. The process is simple. You can create simple user names and easy passwords that maximize the independence of younger students, which I really appreciate.

19 February 2018

Ezekiel 13: Peace-- But There is No Peace!

I have long loved Patrick Henry's address to the Virginia Convention: the "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech. Someday, I want to use Benjamin Franklin's method of studying, and this speech is the first thing that I want to dive into (probably followed by George Washington's Farewell Address). But tonight, in reading to Hero from the Bible, I discovered an allusion that Henry made that makes that final, powerful paragraph even more powerful.

Here's the end of the speech:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Tonight, as we read in Ezekiel 13, I noticed this:

Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar:
-Ezekiel 13:10  (emphasis added)

Heirloom Audio: Wulf the Saxon {Crew Review}

We were excited when we got the opportunity to review Wulf the Saxon, and audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions. We've had the chance to review In the Reign of Terror and Captain Bayley's Heir from them before, and found both of them to be excellent, so it was exciting to have a go at another of their titles.

I was particularly interested in hearing the Heirloom Audio version of Wulf the Saxon, because this is a story that we discovered about six months ago when Dragon(7) was learning about the Battle of Hastings, and we have listened to the Librivox version several times since then: it's become a favorite. I suspected that Heirloom Audio would bring something special to the story, and I was not disappointed. Although this version is much shorter - right about 2.5 hours, compared to just over 12 on Librivox - but the abridgement is done masterfully, and I found that all my favorite parts are included.

16 February 2018

Intensive Language Learning Day

I was listening to some of the materials produced by the Say Something in Welsh people, about how to break a language plateau. One of the suggestions they made was to have an intensive Welsh learning day, modeled after the things they do in their 5 day intensive courses. Which got me thinking: I wonder what that would do if we did it in school with Japanese?

Really, truly, I would love to spend 7 to 9 hours just studying Japanese and doing nothing else with my day. Oh my goodness, the progress I could make! But this is not a season where I can do that kind of thing, not really. But I can do something smaller: an intensive Japanese day with the kids. So I made up a plan and I put it on my whiteboard. I gathered up all our Japanese activities, and figured we'd do them all, all day long.

12 February 2018

On Classical Education: Repetition and the Habit of Attention

Comparing the Classical Education maxim "repetitio mater memoriae" and the Charlotte Mason method's Habit of Attention.

This post is part of a series:
Character is the True Aim
Cultivation of Godly Character
What is a Student? 
Make Haste Slowly
Much Not Many
Ordered Affections
Repetition is the Mother of Memory
Repetition and the Habit of Attention (this post)
Embodied Learning (part 1)
Embodied Learning (part 2)Songs Chants and Jingles
Wonder and Curiosity
Educational Virtues
By Teaching We Learn
Classical Education is Like a Table

At first glance, there seems to be some tension between the Classical dictum "Repeptito mater memoriae," -repetition is the mother of memory- and Charlotte Mason's principles concerning the Habit of Attention, in particular the practice she recommends of requiring the student to narrate after only a single reading. She's teaching the habit of attention with this and other activities that she recommends. But I don't think that the principles are in conflict at all. In reality, Miss Mason uses repetition extensively in its place, though once again, she tends to frame things in slightly different terms than what I find classical educators are familiar with. However, an examination of the principles at work in both systems reinforces my belief that a classical education and a Charlotte Mason education are, in essence, the same thing. The issues seem to be more a question of what to call things, rather than an actual conflict of principle.

08 February 2018

This Week: Phenology Wheels

Last week's excitement about English history continues, and the kids dug up a game that we played the very first time they studied the Battle of Hastings, which was several years ago. They're also still listening to the stories of the Saxons nearly every day. Just as I was thinking that I would suggest a documentary, the kids found one on YouTube by themselves. All this interest in Hastings and King Harold has displaced a little bit of our regularly scheduled lessons, but I'm ok with that, as it's a great foray into genuine self-education, and I'm excited to see that. I can adjust my plans a little in order to encourage this kind of interest!

The biggest project this week has been making a collection of phenology wheels and recording some nature observations. The first day, building the wheels was our math for the day, working with compass and protractor. This was challenging for the younger kids, but we all got it done. It was fun to take a break from our regular math and have a special project; we haven't done that for a while.

02 February 2018

This Week: Meeting a Luthier

A peek into what we did this week in our classical LDS homeschool.

A peek into a week of our Classical / Charlotte Mason homeschool, where we did some of our regular math and other work, but also met a luthier, and did some work with STEM.For her birthday, Miss Kitty received a visit from her grandparents, and they brought a cute little loom. Which she loves. She got her Grandpa to help set it up, and to teach her what to do. After that, when I presumed too much (didn't take much!) then she would remind me: "Grandpa already taught me this." She turned out her first woven item... and we promptly lost the tool that she's supposed to use to make the weaving happen. Bummer. But she has created her first object, a six-inch long "scarf" for Pinkus, which she is extremely proud of! And the tool did turn back up, and was promptly put into service working on a second project, which she also finished this week.

A peek into a week of our Classical / Charlotte Mason homeschool, where we did some of our regular math and other work, but also met a luthier, and did some work with STEM.I finished reading The Gospel at 30,000 Feet, and I'm getting back into the swing of pre-reading. Which is good because I'm behind... again. Oops. I wish that I'd thought to start this last year. Pre-reading Hero's hardest books (and narrating them, because my brain needs training too, and that also gives me a record to jog my memory with Dragon comes through in a few years) has consistently been challenging. But I feel like even an imperfect attempt is helping me to grow, and making me a better teacher --even when I'm trailing behind him, rather than going before. We're playing leapfrog through this book. I think that I'm going to try to get all the way through one book at a time, rather than trying to keep up with all his books close to his schedule. I suspect that I will have more success this way, even though I will give up some of the benefits of slow reading. Doing a written narration on each chapter is challenging: the kids have grown into doing narrations of gradually longer passages with a single reading... but I have not. I'm getting better at it though!

01 February 2018

Commonplace Book: January

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. This is what Mother Culture is all about: self-directed, conscious self-education. 

 I've set a goal to read 118 books in 2018. This is this month's list: 

1. The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Before Achilles, -Padric Colum (Librivox)
2. しんごきの色、ーなぜ?どうして?
3. 北海道ほっかいどう荻田おぎた泰永やすながさんが1人ひとりあるいて南極点なんきょくてんまで
4. ヤコブ5
5. The Tale of Two Bad Mice, -Beatrix Potter
6. The Tale of Mrs. Piggy-Winky, -Beatrix Potter
7. The Raven and the Dragon, -GA Henty (Librivox)
8. ヤコブ6
9. ヤコブ7
10. あたらしいロケット「イプシロン」をげる
11. The Gospel at 30,000 Feet, -Dieter F. Uchtdorf 
12. All That Was Promised, -Blaine M. Yorganson

These are a selection of the passages that I've included in my commonplace book this month:

In Tyndale’s day, scriptural ignorance abounded because people lacked access to the Bible, especially in a language they could understand. Today the Bible and other scripture are readily at hand, yet there is a growing scriptural illiteracy because people will not open the books. Consequently they have forgotten things their grandparents knew.
-D. Todd Christofferson, The Blessing of Scripture


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