Review: A Handbook to Morning Time

I have struggled over the years to establish a morning routine in our homeschool that I am happy with.

What I envision – the children and I enjoying time spent together with good books, doesn’t always happen. While we have had periods where we would start our day with a basket of good books, life happens and our routines fizzle out.

Our morning time stack.

I need not just a routine, but a PLAN. And Cindy Rollins’ A Handbook to Morning Time came at just the right time for me.

“Morning Time sets the tone for the day by helping us focus on those things that we ought to love.”

Rollins, with years of homeschool experience behind her, lays out her morning time plan. She details each area that she strives to cover. But, she also acknowledges that sometimes, morning time doesn’t happen, and that’s okay!

Rollins uses morning time not just for reading to her children, but also working on spiritual growth as well as memory work. As I read through this book, I felt truly inspired. While I made sure to have quality reading picked out for us (often choosing titles from Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature or Five in a Row), I think there was still a lack of direction to our morning time. To be honest, there were subjects I was trying to hit later in the day (like artist or music appreciation) that Rollins covers as part of morning time, and her approach seems more comfortable and natural.

“Morning Time is a liturgy ordering our affections towards those things which are true, good, and beautiful – it is a liturgy of love.”

Since I finished this quick read, I have already worked to implement some changes to our morning routine, and plan to incorporate more of her plans as the year progresses.

The older children have been memorizing various poems from Robert Louis Stevenson – one of our favorite poets!

In the beginning of her book, Rollins lays out the elements of her morning time. These include:

Morning Meeting

Family Worship including prayer and hymns

Composer/Artist discussion

Bible and Theology reading

Bible Memory

Shakespeare/Plutarch rotation

Folk Song

Poetry reading and memory work

Miscellaneous memory work

Grammar

Read Aloud

She then expands a bit on each area. I won’t go into detail on each section, but several stood out to me and are worth mentioning here.

The morning meeting is just what it sounds like, a meeting before the day starts. This is a time to mention any plans for the day, upcoming items of interest, just to make sure everyone is on the same page.


In addition to our longer reads that we are slowly working through, we also have shorter books that are included during our Read Aloud time.

During worship time, there are prayer requests and singing. Rollins discussed singing and learning new hymns. This was something that grabbed my attention immediately. After finishing the book, I printed out the sheet music to one of my favorite hymns, Just As I Am, and we have been singing it joyfully all week. I love the idea of making a family hymn book, with printed copies of those hymns we have learned.

For Composer and Artist studies, Rollins suggests using the schedule provided by Ambleside Online. We have previously studied composers and artists when Kyri was younger, using Harmony Fine Arts. We have not done anything formally in a few years though, and I do like the schedule that Rollins uses. We may adopt the Ambleside Online schedule for composer and artist study in the new year.

We have, over the course of two years, been working on Bible Road Trip, but I think Kyri wants Bible time to be more reading and discussing and less notebooking-type work. So I like the idea of having a routine of reading some scripture, followed by a chapter or segment from some Christian text. Nothing elaborate, just a page or two depending on the depth of the reading.

Bible memory is something we love around here. The children are active in AWANA, and so they are already used to learning and reciting scripture. We could incorporate verses from their AWANA books as morning time memory work, or follow some of the suggested verses that Rollins includes.

We’ve started memorizing scripture together and learning hymns as well.

Rollins’ suggestion of alternating between Shakespeare and Plutarch really intriqued me. Earlier this year I was able to participate in a members’-only author event with Read Aloud Revival, featuring Ken Ludwig, author of How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, and this event really ignited an interest in reading through works of Shakespeare with my children. But we just haven’t gotten started yet. According to Rollins, it’s as simple as one scene, another scene, an act, and finally the entire play. One step at a time. Why should I even bother with Shakespeare? According to Charlotte Mason, it is “good for the instruction of the conscience and the molding of our judgements.”

While I have read a little Plutarch, I hadn’t really given it much thought as a component of morning time. But Rollins explains, “Plutarch can provide us with a way out of the red state/blue state divide and into the clear air of individual responsibility and the consequences of ideas.” So reading Plutarch can be used for teaching citizenship as well as training a child’s judgement. She suggests reading three lives a year. She does suggest that this be reserved for older children but than younger children could benefit from sitting in while it is being read.

One component that I am really excited to incorporate into our morning time is Memory Work.  Rollins suggests well known speeches and historical documents, among other things. I’ve already got a small list of documents that I’d like to start with, including the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

I also recently finished up Mere Motherhood, Rollins’ earlier offering, and it was such a lovely compliment to A Handbook to Morning Time. While Mere Motherhood was published first, I am glad I read Handbook first. Having a firm grasp on Rollins’ morning time routine was really helpful as I was reading through her memoir, where she mentions her morning routines regularly but not in a super detailed fashion.

You can also keep up with Cindy Rollins in her podcast, The Mason Jar, at the Circe Network.

Cindy Rollins books are available through Circe Institute.

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Reading lists, planning and accountability

I spent my New Year’s Day with my personal scholar planner, my 2017 book list, paper and pencils.

My monthly spread in my personal scholar journal helps me keep track of Good Morning Girls daily bible chapter readings, as well as any live author events through Read Aloud Revival or with a book club.

I finished my 2017 book list, but needed to sit down and work out the nuts and bolts. How am I going to get all those books read in a year?!

 

 

 

 

I first prepared a divided a unlined sheet of paper into 12 blocks – one block for each month.

I decided to plan a quarter at a time since it’s possible I won’t make all my goals and this allows me to retool my plans before each quarter.

My books generally fall into one of two categories – long-term (over the course of the year, or several months at least) and monthly reads.

At the top of each block, I listed all my long-term books. Below these I then listed books I expect to be able to read in a month.

In my previous post, I mentioned several areas I am focusing on this year. When planning my monthly goals, I tried to include one book from Educational Philosophy, Parenting and Christian Study. I also selected two or three fiction titles and one from another area.

On paper, then I might have fifteen books listed. This sounds daunting to me, but eight are long-term reads, so I am reading just a little at a time. For example, each month I will read the corresponding chapter in The Life-giving Home, and in In Defense of Sanity, I am reading one essay a week.

My weekly bullet journal spread. I plan out daily reading portions for my current reads. I purposely leave the weekend light since I know I won’t get much reading done. I also plan the upcoming week on the weekend.

On my weekly planning pages, I list out all the books I plan to read each day, and make not of chapters or pages to work through. I only do this on a weekly basis, in case I haven’t met any of my weekly goals. Having a checklist helps me feel accomplished as I work through my daily reading goals.

 

For those books I am planning to finish in the month, I have planned for more intensive reading periods.

So… why even do this? I am not a formal student anymore. I don’t have quizzes or exams, I’m not paying for courses or risking a poor grade if I don’t get my reading done. So why the planning, why the schedule, why the extra effort?

Last year, I planned out my 2016 book list, and when I fell behind in my reading schedule, I stressed.

But I persisted and even though I fell short of my reading goal, I still read A LOT more books than I would have if I had not bothered to research and put together a reading plan, plan a reading schedule and commit to regular personal study time.

I list out my goals for the month, including books I want to complete, and how much progress I’d like to make in others. I also prepare a tracker page with day columns. Each book gets a row, and I fill in a block for each day that I read from that book.

I am active in an online book community and there is an awesome comradery and environment of encouragement and even a mild sense accountability.

 

 

 

Though honestly, there still isn’t a consequence for falling short of the goal like there would be in school.

So again, why I am doing all this?

December’s Reading Tracker page. Each day I read a particular book, I fill in a block. Lines indicate that a book was completed.

I love the term ‘personal scholarship.’ It really sums up what I am striving for, and what is the driving force for everything I do.

There are so many things I want to read about and learn and experience through books, and no one is going to hold me accountable except for me, because it is a personal goal.

By planning and scheduling, I am making a commitment, a contract with myself to work toward a goal. I want to hold myself accountable to this commitment.

If I fall short, well I reevaluate my reading goal and adjust my plans and schedules – maybe it is not realistic in light of family commitments. I reevaluate and adjust, I do not abandon. I keep the contract as a tangible “thing” that I am making myself accountable to.

 

Ready for the New Year! 2017 Book List

It’s that time of year again. Planning time!

I fell behind early in the year, and did not get to all the books on my 2016 list. However, I am a firm believer that it is better to plan and fall short than to not plan and go through the year unchallenged.

I’ve spent December working hard to wrap up several books, and while I still have a couple books to complete, I am so excited to hit the new year!

This year I decided to organize my reading list by areas of interest rather than just planning out month to month.

Personal scholarship areas of interest:

Educational Philosophy – I’m still focusing on Classical and Charlotte Mason this year, as well as the power of good literature in a child’s upbringing

Christian Topics – This year is about delving deeper into relationship with God, and having a more impactive Bible study time.

Parenting – this year I continue to work on being a better mom to my kids, a better wife to my husband, and making my house a home.

Science – my earliest passion was science, and even though I am not currently working in research, I do love to read about new discoveries and different areas of research.

Literature Study – Why limit yourself to reading literature when you can read  books about literature?

Current Topics – It is easy for me to get wrapped up in my focus areas, so I have made it a point to select some titles on current topics to explore this year.

Great Books/Classics – I am wanting to work through some classic works this year, including more Syntopical Reading in the Great Books (which I don’t list here), as well as exploring some Shakespeare.

Homesteading and Self-sufficiency – A project of mine, and something we as a family would like to work toward.

History – I decided to follow up on 2016’s study of Abigail Adams with some additional reading.

Fiction – This is my catch-all area for fiction works, though most would certainly be considered classics.

Literary Mentors

Two of my main goals for 2017 are to improve in my role as a mother and wife, and to have a deeper and more fulfilling walk with God.

I’ve selected Charlotte Mason and C.S.Lewis as literary mentors to walk alongside me as I work toward these goals.

2017 Reading Goals

Completing 2016 Books

  •  A Philosophy of Education (Volume 6) by Charlotte Mason
  •  Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville
  •  In Defense of Sanity by G.K. Chesterton

2017 Book list

Educational Philosophy

  •  Learning All The Time by John Holt
  •  Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
  •  Keeping a Nature Journal by  Charles E. Roth and Clare Walker Leslie
  •  Consider This by Karen Glass
  •  The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
  •  For the Love of Learning: Giving Your Children a Lolipop Education by Amy Edwards
  •  Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons
  •  The Paideia Program by Mortimer Alder
  •  How to Speak, How to Listen by Mortimer Alder
  •  Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson (survey)
  •  Home Education by Charlotte Mason
  •  Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson

Christian Topics

  •  How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur
  •  Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby
  •  Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  •  The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
  •  The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonheifer
  •  The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
  •  Desiring God by John Piper
  •  Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie
  •  Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph

Parenting and Homemaking

  •  10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker
  •  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
  •  Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
  •  Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
  •  A Life-giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson (reread with RAR)
  •  Untangled:Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour
  •  Laying Down The Rails by Sonya Shafer
  •  The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schafer

Science

  •  The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

Literature Study

  •  A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
  •  Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlante

Current Events

  •  Feardom by Connor Boyack
  •  The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe
  •  Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

Great Books/Classics

  •  The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  •  Plutarch’s Lives
  •  Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
  •  Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Homesteadinng and Self Sufficiency

  •  Survival Mom by Lisa Bedford
  •  Mini-farming: Self-sufficiency on 1/4 Acre  by Brett Markham
  •  Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

History

  •  John Adams by David McCullough
  •  My Dearest Friend: Letters of John and Abigail Adams

Fiction

  •  The Man in the High Castle by Phillip Dick
  •  Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter
  •  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  •  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  •  Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter
  •  Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
  •  The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  •  Native Son by Richard Wright
  •  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  •  Father Brown by GK Chesterton
  •  1984 by George Orwell7
  •  Jo’s Boys by L.M Alcott
  •  Eight Cousins by L.M. Alcott
  •  Rose in Bloom by L.M. Alcott
  •  Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

As with my 2016 list, I may find myself deviating from my list, and that’s okay. As long as I have a plan to start the year off right, I’m happy!

 

 

 

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Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve

One of the benefits of currently living on the Forgotten Coast here in Florida is enjoying all the natural beauty around us.

This weekend we took a family field trip to nearby Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. Located near East Point, FL just before you drive over the Apalachicola Bay to St. George Island, this Reserve has an incredible Nature Walk, an Overlook for observing the Bay, and a wonderful Nature Center with lots of specimens, exhibits as well as aquariums.

ANERR
Welcome to the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR)!
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The littles exploring the Nature Trail.
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Purple Martin houses near the Bay Overlook.
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The kids loved looking across the Apalachicola Bay at St. George Island.
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After thoroughly exploring the Nature Walk and the Bay Overlook, we headed up to the Nature Center.
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The boys were amazed at the size of this whale backbone that was found.
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This wonderful interactive map showed the various boundaries for nearby parks and reserves and sensitive areas.
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Aquarium residents Horseshoe Crab and Atlantic Stingray. We loved watching them interact!
diamondback terrapin
Aquarium resident Diamondback Terrapin.
water collection
ANERR collects rain water and it’s quite the show! There are two pipes for observing water moving from the roof to cisterns below the building, where it is used for flushing toilets and other non-potable uses.
activity guide
My book worm already working on the Activity Guide she got from the gift shop.

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Curriculum 2016/2017 – Fifth Grade and Kindergarten

We have officially started our new school year around here – lots of new books on the shelves, and new binders are set up and ready to go! Kyri is now working on Fifth grade, and Ender is Kindergarten.

We have started using a few new programs, so look for some detailed reviews on those soon. But this is a good overview of our resources for the year.

Fifth Grade

Math

Singapore Math 3B/4A/4B – We decided to change direction in Math and work on Mastery of concepts rather than the Spiral approach used by Saxon. Kyri has responded well to the change in pace and approach and we will continue with Singapore through the remainder of summer and into the new school year.

Additional Resources:

Usborne Dictionary of Math (3 book series) – not a curriculum but a great resource. Colorful and engaging, these are fun to read and glean knowledge. Click here to check them out.

Family Math (series) – this is a wonderful resource, with games and activities that teach and reinforce math concepts. the series is being used over a range of ages, down to preschool.

Mathmania – this is a subscription magazine through Highlights. Two issues each month arrive, full of math-based puzzles and activities.

Language Arts

Vocabulary from Classical Roots – Grade 4 and Grade 5 This series presents new words that are grouped according to Greek or Latin roots. Covers root words, spelling, meaning and usage.

Writing and Rhetoric: Book 1 Fables and Writing and Rhetoric: Book 2: Narration 1 We are working on writing skills through reading good examples and modeling.

Well-Ordered Language 1A and  Well-ordered language 1B This is an depth study of grammar skills. Each chapter focuses on one part of speech and has extensive practice. Sentence analysis, a precursor to sentence diagramming, is introduced.

Junior Great Books Series 5 – We will be reading short stories and working through the Interactive Activity book for reading comprehension and in-depth analysis.

History

Beautiful Feet – Ancient History this is a literature based curriculum, with Streams of Civilization as the spine, and including a large selection of books, through the Ancient Roman Empire. Each lesson includes several reading selections and discussions.

Beautiful Feet History of the Horse – This study goes through the physical characteristics of horses, specifics of the various breeds, as well as cultural significance of the horse.

Science

Beautiful Feet History of Science – this is a lesson guide that goes through major scientific discoveries and inventions, starting from ancient times up through modern times. This is literature based, with in depth reading on the discoveries as well as the people involved. The two spines (along with various living books) are:

The Picture History of Great Inventors

DK’s The Way Science Works

Experiments are included in the lesson plans and will be extended as interests, time and resources allow.

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding  – This isn’t our spine this year, but Volume I  and Volume II are excellent resources for planning lessons as well as having a flow chart of topics in an intuitive order to be studied. I will be using this as a reference and support.

Additional Resources:

Carson-Dellosa Just the Facts: These provide excellent supplemental exercises to enhance and expand lessons.

Earth and Space Science (4-6 grades)

Life Science (4-6 grade)

Physical Science (4-6 grade)

This is a great series that provides in-depth activities and puzzles. I will be pulling from all three volumes to go along with our BFSU lessons.

Real Science 4 Kids – We are using the Elementary level books (Biology, Earth Science, and Chemistry) as supplemental reading this year. These are written for children to be able to read independently, so they serve as a gentle introduction for many of the topics we are covering this year.

Nature Study

Handbook of Nature Study – an extensive resource for implementing nature study time. Incorporates nature notebooking and various nature guides, including as a main resource:

Nature of Handbook Study by Anna Botsford Comstock . This is a must have for a personal library. It is packed full of information about the nuts and bolts of nature study, details on pretty much anything you could want to find during nature study, as well as lessons to carry out during nature study.

Geography

Beautiful Feet – Teaching Geography Through Literature This is a literature based lesson plan. Four spines are read, and detailed discussion and mapwork are used to develop key geography concepts throughout the year.

Bible

AWANA – Kyri is going into her second year of TnT (Truth in Training) this Fall, and is very excited!

Bible Road Trip – This has been a great study this past year. We typically do the daily reading and discussion in the morning during our Kidschool. This year I would like to put a little more emphasis on Notebooking for each week’s reading.

Additional Resources:

How to Study Your Bible – For Kids by Kay Arthur

What the Bible is All About: Bible Handbook for Kids

Reproducible Maps, Charts, Timelines and Illustrations

Health and Wellness

The Care and Keeping of You 2: For Older Girls (book and journal) an excellent resource for learning about body issues, changing bodies, peer pressure, emotions, etc. We have used The Care and Keeping of You 1 extensively and love the series.

Vintage Remedies for Tweens (continuing) – covers a variety of topics from food, natural health

Raising Vegetarian Children  more of a guide for me, but we will be pulling recipes and discussing healthy habits.

Hebrew

For writing practice and mastering the Alef Bet we are using a couple of different resources:

Sarah and David (Read Hebrew Now)

Hebrew for Christians

Torah Tots

For reading and speaking we are using:

Mango Biblical Hebrew

Latin

Song School Latin – this is a wonderful resource aimed at a younger audience. It teaches vocabular and simple sentences. It also teaches about the many words that are Latin derivatives. We are using the workbook, DVD, CD and flash cards.

Character Development

This may go along with Health and Wellness, but I will list separately for organization.

Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature – this includes a wonderful reading list appropriate for both Primary and Intermediate Readers, as well as Study Guide lessons geared toward Primary and Intermediate Reading Selections.

Laying Down The Rails – this is a compilation of Charlotte Mason’s writings, organized to cover wellness topics (such as Cleanliness) as well as Character topics such as courtesy. There is a book for parents/educators along with a student book that includes discussion topics.

4-H Kyri has participated in our county 4H program since the beginning of 2016. She is active in the Horsemasters Club as well as the Green Thumbs Gardening Club. This year she will continue. In addition, she is working independently on 4H projects, including Cooking 101 and Entomology.

Kindergarten

While more formal education is taking place, a lot of focus this year is still on free play, exploring, read alouds, interactive games.

Math

Singapore Early Bird Kindergarten. A gentle and colorful approach to early math concepts. Counting, sorting, weigh and capacity, etc. are covered.

Starfall – we are a Starfall family. we have subscribed for years. Starfall has continued to add activities to their online lineup, and their Teacher’s Lounge has also expanded. Starfall Math reinforces counting, place value, geometry, addition and subtraction, weight and capacity.

Language Arts

In general, lots and lots of reading together is our focus for the year. But we are tackling some specifics.

Starfall – For language arts we are using Starfall to reinforce letter recognition, phonics and CVC words. There are also rhymes and songs, and talking books to enjoy. From the Teacher’s lounge, I am printing handwriting pages that cover upper- and lower-case letters as well as simple words.

Science

We are not using a formal curriculum for Science. We are pulling activities from a variety of sources, including:

More Mudpies to Magnets – simple experiments for preschool and kindergarten ages to explore basic science concepts

Evan Moor Learning About Animals – reproducibles for teaching about animals.

Handbook of Nature Study – while Ender won’t be expected to keep formal notebooking pages, he will participate in nature outings and will be encouraged to record observations in his own binder.

Bible

AWANA – Ender is officially a Spark this year! He will be working on memoring key biblical concepts and verses throughout the year.

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Mondays With Frost: A Girl’s Garden

Today I wanted to share one of Frost’s poems from his 1916 Mountain Interval.

A Girl’s Garden

A neighbor of mine in the village
      Likes to tell how one spring
When she was a girl on the farm, she did
      A childlike thing.

One day she asked her father
      To give her a garden plot
To plant and tend and reap herself,
       And he said, “Why not?”

In casting about for a corner
      He thought of an idle bit
Of walled-off ground where a shop had stood,
      And he said, “Just it.”

And he said, “That ought to make you
      An ideal one-girl farm,
And give you a chance to put some strength
      On your slim-jim arm.”

It was not enough of a garden,
      Her father said, to plow;
So she had to work it all by hand,
      But she don’t mind now.

She wheeled the dung in the wheelbarrow
      Along a stretch of road;
But she always ran away and left
      Her not-nice load,

And hid from anyone passing.
      And then she begged the seed.
She says she thinks she planted one
      Of all things but weed.

A hill each of potatoes,
      Radishes, lettuce, peas,
Tomatoes, beets,beans, pumpkins, corn,
      And even fruit trees.

And yes, she has long mistrusted
      That a cider-apple tree
In bearing there today is hers,
      Or at least may be.

Her crop was a miscellany
      When all was said and done,
A little bit of everything,
      A great deal of none.

Now when she sees in the village
      How village things go,
Just when it seems to come in right,
      She says, “I know!”

“It’s as when I was a farmer…”
      Oh, never by way of advice!
And she never sins by telling the tale
      To the same person twice.

We’ve got a bit of a patchwork garden going here, and the images that are evoked when reading this poem are just priceless.

I have children of my own – one of whom has also in seasons past asked for her very own garden bed. Her best crop ended up being the bird seed she planted…

There are so many images conjured up with this poem – a child wanting to try something new, willing to do the grittiest of tasks but embarrassed if she is seen doing them, and somehow with the confidence of youth, feeling as though one try at something has made her an expert. I can certainly see myself in her!

One link to share this week. Robert Frost spent years at his Derry Farm home, and it is a Historical Site now. The website has wonderful information, about his life and his works. It is worth exploring. One link I wanted to include was the Teacher’s Resources, which includes lesson plans and ideas to incorporate Frost poems into various subjects.

Robert Frost’s Derry Farm – Teachers’ Resources

One resource listed, of interest to me, is using Frost in a more unconventional manner, to teach global warming, astronomy, botany, among other subjects. The link listed in the Teachers’ Resources is broken so here is the live link.

Robert Frost In The Petri Dish

Mondays With Frost: Hyla Brook

Here we are in the middle of June, so I though this poem would be fitting…

Hyla Brook

By June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh bells in a ghost of snow) –
Or flourished and come up in jewelweed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent,
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat –
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.

I love this… the image it evokes. Here in Florida, we aren’t even in summer officially yet and we are almost hitting 100 degrees F in the afternoon. We live close to a bog, and when I step outside in the evenings, I hear the noise of insects, crickets, and of course the frogs! I don’t know what kind of frogs we have in this area, maybe they are also the Hyla breed mentioned in the poem.

Last week, I shared a link to a fascinating article regarding a character attack on Frost. I had no idea some people felt so harshly about him. I’ve done some more reading, and I found a more detailed biography which speaks about Frost’s dark tone, and suggests the dark tone found in his later writing could be attributed to a decade-long series of personal tragedies.

Here is another story, this time in the Washington Post, about the Oates short story that took aim at Frost.

And here is the short story itself, published in the November 2013 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. I will say, it is tough reading a work of fiction about a real person. As you read, you are left wondering, where the truthful depiction ends and the fiction picks up. Taken with the various criticisms of Oates’s short story, it would appear that this picture of Frost is grossly exaggerated. But it is worth the read.

The Commons: Surprised By Joy

My 2016 reading plan has gone off the rails, thanks  to  my return to work. Even with working part-time, I am struggling to keep up with my self-imposed pace.

But that’s okay. My reading list should work for me, and not the other way around. I have been reevaluating my list, and have been deciding which titles are must-haves for the year, and which ones can be postponed.

My current Read pile includes a couple of titles I’ve been working on slowly since January, as well as a few new ones that I’ve just added.

During this season of life, I am finding myself drawn to books that focus on educational philosophy, parenting, and Christian faith.

One book that I am wrapping up this week (finally!) is C.S. Lewis Surprised By  Joy.

While I have been exploring the writings of C.S. Lewis, it has been incredible to read about his childhood and early life experiences. So often, we have a one-dimensional view of authors; we only know them through their writings.

C.S. Lewis is of course known for his writings on Christian apologetics, but to read about his transformation into an atheist and eventual discovery of true Christian faith is quite moving.

Lewis shared about his time living with and being tutored by a family friend Mr. Kirkpatrick, or Old Knock as he was sometimes called. He wrote of his time reading and studying Homer in Greek.

In our homeschool, we are just getting started with Latin, which I am quite excited about since I studied Latin all through high school.  We have also learned the Hebrew alphabet and are still in the early stages of learning vocabulary and basic grammar.

This passage, from Lewis’ time with Old Knock, really struck me as we work on learning new languages.

The great gain was that I very soon became able to understand a great deal without (even mentally) translating it; I was beginning to think in Greek. That is the great Rubicon to cross in learning any language. Those in whom the Greek word lives only while they are hunting for it in the lexicon, and who then substitute the English word for it, are not reading the Greek at all; they are only solving a puzzle. The very formula, “Naus means a ship,” is wrong. Naus and ship both mean a thing, they do not mean one another. Behind Naus, as behind navis or naca, we want to have a picture of a dark, slender mass with sail or oars, climbing the ridges, with no officious English word intruding.

As I find myself getting stressed out because I have less time available for personal scholarship right now, I am reminded of another passage, again from Lewis’ time with Old Knock. Reflecting on the ideal day of study and reflection, what he terms “settled, calm, Epicurean life.” This ideal schedule, defined by set study times and minimal interactions and distractions, sound wonderful to someone seeking a scholarly life. But as Lewis points out:

It is no doubt for my own good that I have been so generally prevented from leading it, for it is a life almost entirely selfish. Selfish, not self-centered: for in such a life my mind would be directed toward a thousand things, not one of which is myself.

These words will serve as a comfort as I try to find that perfect balance between family, faith, work and personal scholarship.