In Common – October 19th Edition

In Common is my Commonplace roundup – notable quotes from the week, and current reading list

My October reading stack is pretty hefty, with several longer term reads going on, but several titles that I have started this month and plan to finish this month as well (crazy!). I am trying hard to clear my TBR pile before 2019 – I have a few titles that have been in my TBR stack for a year or two, so I am determined!

I managed to locate my copy of The Lifegiving Parent which had gone missing over the summer, and even though I had gotten through almost half the book when it disappeared, I restarted it last week and expect to finish it up this week. I have worked through several Clarkson titles over the past two years and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. This is a great guide for Christian parents going through the process of child rearing, discussing topics such as nurturing your child’s spirit, strengthening your child’s faith, and cultivating your child’s character.

“You cannot impress on your children’s hearts what is not already on your own.” (The Lifegiving Parent p. 52)

“We cannot really become lifegiving parents without taking seriously the call to model the life of Christ to our children.” (The Lifegiving Parent p. 54)

“It is ultimately about your showing them the abundant life of God through your own faith life and showing that you are diligent to grow in all the godly virtues that come out of your faith.” (The Lifegiving Parent p. 111)

“The more your children see the life of God in you through your faith, the stronger their faith will become.” (The Lifegiving Parent p. 117)

“Our words should be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit and be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled (see Galatians 5:22-23). Strictness, harshness, anger, guilt and legalism will not change our children’s hearts or shape their wills for the good, and in fact can close their hearts to us.” (The Lifegiving Parent p. 137)

I’ve also started reading John Holt’s Learning All the Time. This is a great book so far. It focuses on early learning in small children, and as I have come to expect from John Holt, he makes great points on how to approach early learning. In an earlier chapter addressing how little children learn to read, Holt makes the case for less intervention rather than more.

“Learning to read is easy, and most children will do it more quickly and better and with more pleasure if they can do it themselves, untaught, untested, and helped only when and if they ask for help.” (Learning All the Time, p. 8)

“People learn to read well, and get big vocabularies, from books, not workbooks and dictionaries.” (Learning All the Time p. 19)

“.. Young people want, need, and like to read books that have meaning for them, and that when such books are put within easy reach they will sooner or later figure out, without being ‘taught’ and with only minimal outside help, how to read them.” (Learning All the Time p. 28)

This week I’m finishing up Ed Stetzer’s Christians in the Age of Outrage. I’m hoping to dedicate a post to this book so I’ll hold off including notable quotes until then, but it has been an excellent read, one that I certainly recommend.

Current (Personal) Reads:

Current Read Alouds:

In Common – September 14th Edition

In Common is my (mostly) weekly Commonplace roundup – notable quotes from the week, and current reading list.

I took a long break from my reading updates, but I am elbow-deep in so many books,  I thought it was time to get back to it!

This week I am wrapping up some books, and making room for some new September reads. I wanted to share some notable quotes before I put these books away and and new titles to the list.

Bruce Handy’s Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, was a delight. He spent six years putting this book together and the effort was worth it. He read books from his childhood, as well as children’s books he passed over as a youth. His analysis of books, compared to how he remembers them as a child, or as most children remember them, is quite interesting. Each chapter has its anchor book, but he weaves in references to similar titles, along with fascinating background details of the authors. He writes with a humorous voice that adds to the book’s enjoyment. He gave his honest opinion on books as well – something I appreciated because I understand that some people don’t like certain books, regardless of their status as classics or cult favorite. I appreciated his honesty.

In the Introduction, Handy recounts reading The House at Pooh Corner to his children. In the scene where Christopher Robin has to tell Pooh that he is going away and cannot do “nothing” anymore, Handy describes it as a “wrenching scene” and a little while later,

As I read this aloud, I couldn’t help but weeping. It’s a story, of course, about leaving childhood behind, which for poor baffled Pooh, the one being left – the one who exists only in Christopher Robin’s imagination – is a kind of death. … All this was swirling through my head as I read, tears spilling down my face, and my heartless kids couldn’t have cared less. (p. xx)

Having gotten the raised eyebrows from my kids as I cry my way through The Velveteen Rabbit (every time!), I found his tongue in cheek description of his children hilarious.

In his chapter entitled Runaways, he tackles books with characters that deal with family drama, bad parents, and yes, even runaways (most notable being The Runaway Bunny). In another example of his humor, he writes about “bad” parents:

There are a few characters I might accuse of sloppy parenting, such as the Man in the Yellow Hat, who is so laissez-faire that he never realizes that merely admonishing Curious George to be a good monkey, and then abandoning him for hours on end, will never not prove a recipe for disaster. And as we will see, the mother in The Cat in the Hat is so loopy she leaves her children in the care of a fish; hers will be the house where all the kids go to smoke weed in high school. (p. 28)

In his chapter on Beatrix Potter, he writes,

A key aspect of Potter’s genius is that she keeps one foot firmly planted in each world, human and beast; her stories are familiar yet strange, cozy yet haunted by Darwinian menace. In her view, anthropomorphism had well-defined limits, as she noted by way of criticizing her contemporary Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows: “A frog may wear galoshes; but I don’t hold with toads having beards and wigs.” (p. 98)

Later, he writes about Beverly Cleary and the Ramona books.

Reading Ramona the Pest makes me feel five again – not a 100 percent pleasant sensation, but a powerful one. Ramona’s vividness on the page and her headstrong joie de vivre are big reason’s why. So too is Cleary’s recognition of the way seemingly minor details can loom so large for a young child trying to make sense of the world. (p. 149)

Handy includes an appendix, where he suggests book pairs, as well as a fairly extensive bibiography. This book was a fun and informative read, and is a great resource for considering books to read to your own family, or on your own.

Current (Personal) Reads:

Current Read Alouds:

It’s a New Year! Curriculum for 2018/2019

It’s that time of year! Even though we school over the summer, we do start our new year in September.

I’ve got four school years I am planning for this year – Year 6, Year 2 and Kindergarten  and Pre-K (Pre-K is mostly follow-along with Kindergarten).

We are heavily literature-based, so our curriculum is A LOT of good, quality books. Much of our reading is done as group read-alouds with an expectation of discussion and narration. A significant portion of our school day is spent reading together, rotating through reading selections for the three age groups. I look at Ambleside Online, Build Your Library, Beautiful Feet for reading selection and scheduling ideas.

We spend approximately an hour and a half per person (for Year 6 and Year 2) working on individual subjects – Math, Language Arts, Latin and some Science. This is a mixture of guided lessons and independent work that is done.

Year 6 (6th Grade, age 11/12)

Math

Singapore – we use the student textbook, workbook, intensive practice, as well as t he Home Instructor’s Guide (I definitely recommend this!)

Level 5B, Level 6A and Level 6B

Language Arts

Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind – Book 1 – I teach from the Core Instructor Text and Student Guide Key and student works from the Student (Purple) Workbook

Evan Moor – Reading Comprehension Fundamentals Grade 6

Evan Moor Building Spelling Skills Grade 6+

Vocabulary From Classical Roots – Level B

Science

* Chemistry is our focus this year. While our Year 2 will be participating in read alouds and demos, subject matter level is aimed at our Year 6 student.

DK The Way Science Works (spine text)

The Wonder Book of Chemistry  by Henri Fabri

The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin D. Wiker

Usborne’s Dictionary of Chemistry

Evan Moor Daily Science Grade 5 for supplemental reading and practice

History

* Renaissance/Early Modern and US (mid-1400s to early 1800s)

*We will be spreading the reading of our spine texts over the entire year. In addition, we have an extensive historical fiction read-aloud list that will be included

The Age of Empires

The Age of Voyages

The Age of Science and Revolutions

The World of Christopher Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster

The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster

Abraham Lincoln’s World by Genvieve Foster

Historical Fiction read-alouds:

The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood

Pippo the Fool by Tracey E. Fern

Midnight Magic by Avi

The Ghost of the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

The Ravenmaster’s Secret: Escape from the Tower of London

The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds

Poor Richard by James Daugherty

A Courage Undaunted by James Daugherty

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Statham

The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Out of Many Waters by Jacqueline Greene

Stowaway by Karen Hesse

Calico Bush by Rachel Field

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Indian Captive: The Mary Jamison Story by Lois Lenski

Literature

Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable – started this past year, will be completing this year

Plutarch’s Lives – using the Ambleside Online Study Guides

Demosthenes

Cicero

Demetrius

Shakespeare -I use Folger Library editions. Books with annotations (links below) with printable versions for student (no annotations) through the Folger Library (tons of resources here so check it out!).

Julius Caesar

Richard III

Henry VIII

Geography

Carpenter’s North America Reader

DK Geography: A Visual Dictionary – select physical geography topics

Latin

Latin for Children Primer B

Bible/Theology

AWANA – continuing with AWANA program

The Shorter Westminster Catechism – typically we work to memorize one Question/Answer every week or so, and review what we have covered

Parables from Nature – we enjoy short faith based stories during our morning read aloud time.

Scriptures – following the Ambleside Online reading schedule, we will cover Genesis and Matthew over the course of the year

Nature Study

Experiencing Nature with Children – loosely following for seasonal suggestions

Handbook of Nature Study – an excellent parent/teacher resource

Cornell Lab of Ornithology – we will participate in Project Feederwatch again this year and use resources throughout the year, such as Bird Academy and eBird.

Critical Thinking

Building Critical Thinking Skills Level 2 – a great resource for verbal and figural critical thinking skills

Year 2 (2nd Grade, Age 7)

Math

Singapore – we use the student textbook, workbook, intensive practice, as well as the Home Instructor’s Guide

Level 1B, Level 2A, Level 2B

Language Arts

First Language Lessons Level 1

Evan Moor Building Spelling Skills Daily Practice Grade 2

Evan Moor Reading Comprehension Fundamentals Grade 2

Evan Moor Basic Phonics Skills Level C

History

Story of the World – Book 2 The Middle Ages – book and activity guide (for map work and suggested supplemental reading)

Science

Burgess Animal Book by Thorton Burgess

Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature

Childcraft Annual (1995) – Our Amazing Bodies

Evan Moor Daily Science Grade 2

Geography

Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling

Seabird by Holling C. Holling

DK Geography: A Visual Dictionary – select physical geography topics

Latin

Song School Latin 1

Literature

Aesop’s Fables – completing this fall

Tales from Shakespeare (Lamb)

The Wind in the Willows (Graham)

Bible/Theology

AWANA – continuing with AWANA program

The Shorter Westminster Catechism – typically we work to memorize one Question/Answer every week or so, and review what we have covered

Parables from Nature – we enjoy short faith based stories during our morning read aloud time.

Scriptures – following the Ambleside Online reading schedule, we will cover Genesis and Matthew over the course of the year

Nature Study

Experiencing Nature with Children – loosely following for seasonal suggestions

Handbook of Nature Study – an excellent parent/teacher resource

Cornell Lab of Ornithology – we will participate in Project Feederwatch again this year and use resources throughout the year, such as Bird Academy and eBird.

Kindergarten (Year 0) – Age 5/6

Math

Family Math – games and hands-on activities

Spectrum Math Kindergarten

Starfall – online as well as printables

Language Arts

Evan Moor Phonics Level A

Spectrum Phonics Kindergarten

Starfall – online and printables

Literature

Five in a Row (FIAR) Volume 1 and 2 – literature selections and discussion prompts

Bible/Theology

AWANA – continuing with AWANA program

The Shorter Westminster Catechism – reading and review during morning reading time but no memorization expected at this age

Parables from Nature – we enjoy short faith based stories during our morning read aloud time.

Scriptures – following the Ambleside Online reading schedule, we will cover Genesis and Matthew over the course of the year

Critical Thinking

Building Critical Thinking Skills Beginnning Level – a great resource for verbal and figural critical thinking skills *I will say that this Beginner level has some content that is “too easy” for my Kindergartner. But I decided to start him at this level because the next level up has a lot of writing, and he is no where near ready for that yet.

*** Science and Nature Study are “tag -along” at this level

Pre-Kindergarten – Age 4

Math

Family Math – games and hands-on activities

Starfall – online as well as printables

Language Arts

Evan Moor Phonics Level A

Starfall – online and printables

Literature

Five in a Row (FIAR) Volume 1 and 2 – literature selections and discussion prompts

Bible/Theology

AWANA – continuing with AWANA program

The Shorter Westminster Catechism – reading and review during morning reading time but no memorization expected at this age

Parables from Nature – we enjoy short faith based stories during our morning read aloud time.

Scriptures – following the Ambleside Online reading schedule, we will cover Genesis and Matthew over the course of the year

*** Science and Nature Study are “tag-along” at this point

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It seems like a lot once it’s all on paper, but it really is mostly a ton of good books! My oldest LOVES workbooks, so I tend to load her up at her request, and I use multiple resources spread across the week for them all – it helps break up tasks too – I can do “table” work with some while others are doing independent reading. It works for us.

Note – I’ve loved Evan Moor workbooks for years, and usually bought the teacher’s guide and photocopied them as needed. This year I have started buying the e-books directly from Evan Moor and it is a life saver! Printing from my computer instead of photocoping is definitely the way to go!

 

In Common – March 16th Edition

I love when I get to start a new stack of books at the beginning of the month. I still have a couple of longer-term reads I’m finishing up this month – Don Quixote and The Genius of Birds. But I’ve got several new titles on my Current Reads shelf.

I tend to get bogged down in heavier reads – I struggled with this at the end of last year, and my reading goals suffered as a result. Last year my reading list was heavy on educational philosophy, and currently I have found myself in a season of reading about parenting, with an emphasis on special needs and issues. I want to make sure I leave enough room in my schedule for lighter reads – I’ve actually been spending more time of science fiction and fantasy, and it’s only in the last week or so that I only have a single title – Starship Troopers (I’m listening on Audible) – as a current sci-fi read.

This month I am FINALLY going to finish Don Quixote! I think the sheer volume is intimidating – I’d read and read and then with so much further to go, I would need to set it down for a time and read something else. But I have really enjoyed it -it is such a fun read!

Some of my newer titles this month:

Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren: The author relates the ordinary events of a typical day to church liturgy and to overall aspects of the Christian faith. As an Anglican priest, the Anglican church liturgy is her point of reference, but the message she brings is non-denominational. Each day I have read a chapter (I’m finishing this week and will put together a more thorough review) and while I have been tempted to tackle more than one chapter at a time, I have resisted the urged so I have time to really “chew” on the content throughout the day.

A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder by Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, and James McPartland: This book is an excellent guide for parents who suspect they may be dealing with a child with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, parents who have recently received a diagnosis, and for families who have been living with autism for a while. It starts out with a detailed explanation of what high functioning ASD is, how it is defined according to the DSM (the newest edition as well as the more familiar previous edition), the diagnosis process, and challenges that children and young adults may face. This book is very detailed but without being unreadable to the average parent. I’m finishing this up this week and will put together a more detailed review.

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister: Listed in The New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for 2016, this book tackles the history of unmarried women in this country, examining various aspects of singlehood such as the political and social power of women in history, independence in an urban setting, single women and friendships, as well having children.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve also completed reading Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. It was really good, and I am ready to binge watch the Netflix series and continue reading the next book (of three) in the Takeshi Kovacs series.

Current Personal Reads

Current Family Read-Alouds

In Common: February 2nd 2018

In Common is my (mostly) weekly Commonplace roundup – notable quotes from the week, and current reading list.

I have not kept up with my commonplace over the winter months, but I am trying to get back into good habits. I’ve managed to keep up with my reading schedule since the new year, and so I am pretty motivated to start my weekly summaries as well.

One of my longer term reads I started in January is the Introduction to The Gateway to the Great Books. This short offering is similar to the Introduction to The Great Books of the Western World (which is awesome, by the way), introducing readers to the value of reading good books. One thing that is mentioned is the different kinds of reading matter, and how different books call for different styles of reading. Not everything needs to be read actively, but in the same vein not all books are worth reading at all.

“We need to remind ourselves of this bygone situation in which a book was a lifelong treasure, to be read again and again. Deluged as we are with a welter of printed words, we tend to devaluate all writing, to look at every book on the shelf as the counterpart of every other, and to weigh volumes instead of words. The proliferation of printing, on the one hand a blessing, has had, on the other, a tendency to debase (or, in any case, homogenize) our attitude toward reading.” (GTTGB, Introduction p.19)

As for the importance of actively reading a book (and Mortimer Adler was all about actively reading, pencil in hand to mark up the book):

“Buying a book is only a prelude to owning it. To own a book involves more than paying for it and putting it on the shelf in one’s home. Full ownership comes only to those who have made the books they have bought part of themselves – by absorbing and digesting them. The well-marked pages of a much handled volume constitutes one of the surest indications that this has taken place. Too many persons make the mistake of substituting economic possession or physical proprietorship for intellectual ownership.” (GTTGB, Introduction p. 29)

I’ve got so many good books going on right now, including our read alouds (for school as well as bedtime)! I’ll share some more excerpts next week.

Current (Personal) Reads:

Current Read Alouds:

In Common – September 20th Edition

In Common is my (mostly) weekly Commonplace roundup – notable quotes from the previous week, and current reading list.

My current read pile has grown a little stagnant. I’ve been busy getting ready for the new school year, and have not made nearly as much progress as I would have liked.

I’ve got a stack of books to preread for my Year 5 student as well, so I am pretty sure many of the remaining titles on my 2017 list will be pushed to 2018. But I have managed to wrap a couple books up.

I recently finished In Defense of Sanity. This is an extensive collection of essays written by G.K. Chesterton and I believe it is a wonderful introduction to Chesterton’s writings.I’m already giving thought to what is next for me, as far as Chesterton goes. I’ve got the complete Father Brown Mysteries, which I just have never found the time to start, but maybe something a little deeper, like The Everlasting Man. One of my favorite quotes from In Defense of Sanity is taken from “If I Only Had One Sermon to Preach.”

“Pride is a poison so very poisonous that it not only poisons the virtues; it even poisons the other vices.”  In Defense of Sanity

I took a break from my current stack and read A Man Called Ove this past week. This was such a wonderful book, and it provided a much-needed break from all the non-fiction I’ve been working on. Ove is such a man of principle, and while he is a surly man of few words, and seemingly averse to forming friendships, somehow he manages to touch the lives of so many people. Even as a young man, he lived by a simple code, passed down from his father.

“‘Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say’, said Ove.” A Man Called Ove

This week I am trying to finally finish Locke’s Second Treatise. I have enjoyed reading it, though I have been at odds with some of Locke’s arguments (mostly his argument that labor puts the greatest part of value on land, a view that can be seen in the justification of wholesale Native American land grabbing) but overall his writing on the rights of man, man’s role in society and the limit of authority and government is fascinating.

I did take a break from my regular reading schedule to binge read a couple books from C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series. I am a couple of trilogies behind schedule and trying to get caught up.

And as is my habit, I did start another book this weekend – Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible. This is an excellent overview of inductive bible study methods. I am a little familiar with the method because of my time spent doing Good Morning Girls bible study, which uses an inductive approach (somewhat), and also because my daughter has worked through Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible For Kids. I expect it to be a quick but impactive read.

 

Current Reads:

Review: Out Of School And Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story

One book that is a staple in many homeschoolers’ personal libraries is Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.

Comstock’s Handbook deserves its own review but today I wanted to share a picture book we have thoroughly enjoyed here.

Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan, is a wonderfully put together introduction to the life of Anna Comstock.

It shares the story of Anna’s childhood love of exploring nature, and how this love matured along with her, into a life’s passion for studying nature.

Anna did not marry right away, but went to college (in a time when this was not the norm) to learn more about plants and insects.

“Such thousands of insects I never saw before.” Anna Comstock

She spent time developing her art skills, drawing insects. Her drawings were even used by a professor in his lectures, as well as by farmers identifying insects that were destroying their crops.

Some of the lovely illustrations in the book.

She also used engraved wood prints to produce very detailed images. One thing that I love in this book is the recreation of these wood prints – some can be found in her Handbook of Nature Study.

Side-by-side view of the illustrator’s rendering of Comstock’s wood stamp drawings, and the images from The Handbook of Nature Study.

Anna Comstock wasn’t just a scientist and artist though – one of her passions was getting children out into nature. She worked hard to convince teachers to include nature study – real study with children getting OUT into nature and not just reading about it at their desks – in schools.

“Nature study cultivates in the child a love of the beautiful.” Anna Comstock

I think The Handbook of Nature Study is an essential addition to any homeschool library, and we so enjoyed learning about this remarkable woman who made this work possible.

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This book gave an abbreviated introduction to Comstock’s life – but you can read more at Britannica,  and wikipedia includes references and external links to check out.

Two resources worth mentioning that use The Handbook of Nature Study:

The Handbook of Nature Study: The Outdoor Hour

Exploring Nature With Children

 

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In Common – May 31st Edition

In Common is my weekly Commonplace roundup – notable quotes from the previous week, and current reading list.

This past week I snuck a reread into my stack – The Awakening of Miss Prim. This is such a delightful read, and full of goodness and inspiration for simple living and spiritual growth. I absolutely love the pace and quality of living in the village of San Ireno de Arnois.

“Nowadays, to live quietly and simply you have to take refuge in a small community, a village or hamlet where the din and aggression of the overgrown cities can’t reach; a remote corner like this, where you know nevertheless that about a couple of hundred of miles away, just in case, ” – he smiled – “a vigorous, vibrant metropolis exists.” The Awakening of Miss Prim

The children in the village learn the basics in the village school (the three Rs) but then continue their education at home and with others in the village, in an intimate setting.

“They’re being brought up with good books so that later they can absorb great books.” The Awakening of Miss Prim

I’ve continued with my slow reads, including Educating the Whole-hearted Child. This week’s focus was on discipleship study methods. One point that really stood out was the importance of keeping the Bible as the primary source of Bible study.

“The incessant fragmentation of Bible content into booklets, condensations, Bible stories, Bible products, software, websites, greeting cards, Biblezines, ad infinitum unfortuntately trivializes and devalues Scripture rather than making it more valuable. “ Educating the Whole-hearted Child

I am slowly working through The Fourth Turning – it is so full of minute details I can’t imagine going at any faster of a pace. The premise, that human events in history are cyclical, is just fascinating.

“What happens to each generation separately is only part of the picture. Of more importance to history is what happens to generations together. They age in place in a manner that Francois Mentre described as ’tiles on a roof’ – overlapping in time, corrective in purpose, complementary in effect.” The Fourth Turning

My slow reads continue. I’ve also taken on two more books this week, reading along with fellow book clubbers. Don Quixote (I am reading the newer Grossman translation), as well as Locke’s Second Essay. I’m just getting starting on these two so look for commentary starting next week.

Current Reads: