Friday, September 13, 2013

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Morning Time

We've been pretty consistent with Morning Time this year, and we're all really enjoying it and learning a lot!  We spend a few hours each day reading from several different books, parsing and diagramming a sentence, working a little on French, practicing reading aloud, scanning poetry, memorizing Scripture and poetry, and talking about everything!

Here's the list of what we're doing:

Scripture: We try to read the text of next Sunday's message; right now our pastor is slowly teaching through the Beatitudes, so we read and are memorizing them.

Grammar: We parse (according to Shurley Grammar and K.I.S.S. Grammar) and diagram one sentence each day.  We finished working through the Beatitudes yesterday, so this morning, I pulled a sentence out of Cranford, which the older kids are reading for humanities.

Psalm: We listen to one Psalm each day from the ESV Bible website (they have high quality recordings of every verse in the Bible), then we read the same psalm from The Sidney Psalter.  Finally, we sing it from our metrical psalter or from our plainchant psalter.

R. reads aloud.

Poetry memorization: We finished 'Charge of the Light Brigade' today and will start 'Five Kernals of Corn' tomorrow in honor of Thanksgiving.  In December, we hope to learn Isaac Watts' 'A Cradle Hymn' and the classic ''Twas the Night Before Christmas'.  I set up a project in the Index Card app in my iPad so that we continue to review what we've already memorized.  It's set up according to Charlotte Mason's method of organizing memory work.

J. reads aloud.

Literature: We're currently reading Sir Walter Scott's The Antiquary.  We stop a couple times each day, and someone narrates so I can be sure that the younger ones are following the story.  The next book won't have so much Scottish brogue - it's a killer!

Poetry: Using some of the tips and techniques in the 1952 book, Practice: A Pool of Teaching Tips, we do something to learn about poetry each day.  This week, we've been scanning 'Charge of the Light Brigade' and learning about dactyls and spondées.  Cool stuff!

Poetry: We read one poem each day by a poet in our time period; this year, it's Modernity.  We started with Sir Walter Raleigh and are currently working on William Cowper.  We'll move onto the Romantics when we've read some Cowper.  I wanted to start before the Romantics so the kids could have something for contrast.

Science: Benjamin reads aloud from Jack's Insects.  We often look up the insects discussed.

French: We're working through Ernest et Célestine, a French children's book about a bear and his adopted mouse daughter.  We look at, translate, and discuss one sentence per day.  I wasn't sure if this would be enough (and I'm still not sure, but time is at a premium), but today the kids read the sentence all by themselves, understanding that is was a second person formal inperative and recognizing most of the vocabulary.  There were able to understand it without much help from me.  Score!

Historical Christianity: We finished memorizing the Apostles' Creed today.  Tomorrow we'll start on either the Nicene Creed or the one I remember reciting each week in church as I grew up (I can't remember the name).

Faërie: We started by reading George McDonald's The Light Princess and now are reading through Solomon Kane.  I'm not sure where we're going after this, but I'm considering the Grimm Brothers, Pereault, Hans Christian Anderson, or Andrew Lang.  Suggestions?

Theology: Grace: God's Unmerited Favor by Charles Spurgeon

Memory work: This is when I pull out Index Card and we review whatever is on tap for that day, depending on the date and the day of the week.

Economics and Gov't: How an Economy Grows, and Why it Fails by Peter Schiff

Rhetoric: We work through a small section of Writing with Clarity and Style.  So far, we've learned parallelism, antimetabole, asyndeton and polysyndeton, how to emphasize parts of a sentence, and a few other schemes.  Because we take so long to work through each trope and scheme, we have lots of time to find examples in daily conversation, other reading, and even in some movies that we watch.

History: Empire by Niall Ferguson

At this point (except on Thursdays, see below), the older kids are dismissed and I continue on with the two younger girls.

Etiquette: Everyday Graces, edited by Karen Santorum (I skip her glosses and just read the literary exerpts and poetry).  On Thursdays, I read a short chapter from Tolkien's Ordinary Graces (the older kids stick around for this).

M. reads aloud.

Grammar: I keep a list of incorrect sentences from the kids' writing.  We put one on the whiteboard each day and discuss why it's wrong and how to make it right.

E. reads aloud.

For fun: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This may seem like a lot (and it is!), but we try to keep each thing short and keep things moving.  The kids are great at asking if they don't understand something, and it's been great to see how the different threads in the various works relate together and give us much to talk about.  It's becoming my favorite time of the school day!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Charge of the Light Brigade

We've been memorizing 'Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Since the older kids have a poetic lament project coming up next semester, we've been using some of the tips from Practice: A Pool of Teaching Tips to learn a little about poetry each day during Morning Time.

Today, we scanned the first stanza of 'Charge of the Light Brigade' and learned about dactyls-appropriate for the poem as they sound like galloping horses!
All I did was Google 'stressed unstressed unstressed' and there was a complete list of the kinds of metrical feet used in poetry. Very cool!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Melody's and Eliza's Poems

A day late, but not a dollar short!

by Melody

Sun-bleached, sandy seashores,
With seashells in the sand.

The lazy, quiet rivers,
That run through the land.

The mossy, quiet forests,
With trees all around.

The snow-capped, majestic mountains,
Rising from the ground.

The green, perfect plains,
With the May, spring air.

People, who are loving and kind,
And at night would say their prayer.

by Eliza

The sparkling, white seashores
That glitter in the sunlight.

The broad, rushing rivers
That splash day and night.

The quiet, mossy forests
Of the majestic mountains.

The perfect, golden plains,
With the beautiful smell of jasmine.

The smooth and delightful melody
That hangs in the air.

The people who care for their families
With a loving heart.

They sputtered out a bit at the end because they were working on a deadline, but overall, I think they did a great job!

The next lesson also is poetic. Rebekah and Joel are working on them now. I'm dividing up the two poems for the little girls, so they're working on the first now and will write the second next week.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

English Assignments: poetry

School is getting off to a good start!

We began the Tuesday after Labor Day (even though schools here start in early August, I'll never think that's a good idea; fortunately, homeschoolers have the flexibility to do it our own way!)

Rebekah, Melody, Eliza, and Joel are working through IEW's U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons this year. The two olders will work through Volume 1 and Volume 2, while the two little work through Volume 1.

The first lesson was about strong adjectives and used a poem as the model, sort of. I must say I wasn't really impressed with this assignment and the kids thought the model was lame (not their word). It purported to be a poem, but had no instructions about rhythm or rhyme (since the lesson wasn't about that, I understand, but I think choosing a real poem as a model would have been a better idea). I know poetry without rhyme and rhythm is considered acceptable, but I've always had a hard time seeing blank verse as real poetry. However, I thought that, since it's only one assignment and things should improve as we go through the book, I wouldn't make a big deal about it.

The two older kids' assignment was due today. Rebekah had the same idea that I did - simply get through it, but Joel added in rhythm and rhyme. Here are their creations:

by Rebekah
Land of sunny, shell-strewn seashores,
Dark, mossy forests of evergreens,
Majestic, snow-capped mountain ranges;
Broad, rushing, and lazy rivers travelling
Among rolling, golden plains.
America, a land populated by thriving,
Independent men and women whose
Lives are paving the way for generations.

By Joel
Sparkling and sunny seashores,
Sandy and with shells galore.

Forests leafy, mossy, dark,
Mountains majestic and stark.

Rivers rushing, rocky, broad,
Plains great, created by God.

Men who fought for freedom old
Men, courageous, free, and bold.

I'll post the little girls' poems tomorrow. They've been playing with rhyme and rhythm, too! I can't wait to see what they've come up with!

Monday, November 8, 2010


I've struggled for years in trying to teach the kids how to write. I've let the perfect become the enemy of the good enough.

This year, I enrolled my two oldest in Camille Golston's Lost Tools of Writing class through Memoria Press. My goals were two-fold. First, I wanted them to get the instruction that I just can't seem to give them. LTW is being worked on continually, by I didn't think I'd have time to figure it out for my two oldest. My second goal was to learn how to teach the program. I sit in each week (either with Judith or Benjamin) and take notes on both the content and Camille's teaching. I think this is going to be a huge help to me. I'd love to enroll in Andrew's apprenticeship program, but it's just not doable right now.

For the younger kids, I bit the bullet and bought a couple of Middle Ages themed writing programs. I'm tweaking them, but I must admit that I'm enjoying having things laid out for me. The kids are doing more writing and I can adjust the checklists and the 'rules' as we go; for example, instead of simply banning certain words, we discuss propriety in using them (I can't ban said - too many great writers use it too often to simply ban it and I've read too many modern novels that avoid it and they're just ridiculous).

Here's an example of nine-year old Eliza's latest efforts:

A certain fox requested a stork come and dine with him. The stork came and the fox, who was planning to play a practical joke on the stork, gave his guest soup, which was in a wide and shallow bowl. The fox enjoyed his meal, but the stork, who had an extended beak, left for home starved.

In return, the stork kindly invited the fox to dinner. The stork gave his visitor minced-meat, which he served in a tall jar with a narrow mouth. The stork had a pleasant meal and filled his stomach. But the fox, because of his short and big snout, could not fit his mouth into the jar. And the poor fox left for home on an empty stomach. As he drove home in his car, he confessed that he was given what he deserved.

Moral: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


French Update

We've slowed down in working through Barbier from the plans I posted last time, but lots of learning is going on.

Little girls: We're parsing and construing our way through their homework assignments, one sentence at a time. This is slow going, but I really think it's going to give them the best foundation for continued learning. We work on only about five sentences each day, so each exercise takes about four days, but this gives us time to continue with French Phonics, Madeleine, and their paradigms.

Older girls: We've slowed down here, too, but as we work through each sentence, the girls' understanding is growing by leaps and bounds.

I type up each homework sentence in Pages on my iPad (one at a time, so I don't have to work ahead). Then we go through and discuss each word, its part of speech, its job in the sentence, the various elements of each word (person, number, tense, mood, and voice for verbs; person, number, and gender for nouns; number and gender for adjectives and articles). We also color-code each word as to its job in the sentence and adjectives match the color of the noun they modify, but in italics.

We haven't really done any English grammar in quite awhile, but they're learning so much that I think we'll be okay. Even though we're not really discussing English grammar as a separate discipline, we do discuss it lots in their composition assignments.

An additional help: I let the girls change the colors of the words in the iPad - they think that's pretty cool! The touch screen is still pretty new for them.