As long as I’ve been pondering curriculum, I’ve been looking at another set of lessons, (this time unit studies), from another new company, one that I’ve heard of but never actually looked at before–Beautiful Feet (BF).
In the interest of full disclosure, because of their particular viewpoints in regards to history, (especially American history), I wouldn’t use them for our history core for a full year. They appear to teach history from a Providential viewpoint (which is something I had never even heard of before this month), and I definitely don’t want to teach that.
That being said, when researching classical music studies, their name kept coming up, and so I checked out their “History of Music” pack. It looks awesome! We’ll be getting almost all of the CDs it uses from MFW over the course of a few years, anyway, and I already have one of the books, so it won’t even be that big of an investment to pick up the study guide and additional books. My children have a natural love of classical music (which I definitely did *not* have at their age), and an ear for composers, and I really want to encourage that. This program looks like it will be great for us in a few years, to really delve into classical music, composers, and musical instruments.
While browsing the BF website, I also found a unit study on the “History of the Horse.” I know it sounds really random, and it definitely wasn’t something I was looking for, but I also think this would be another really cool elective. There are many classic books included in the pack that I’ve either read or heard of (most of them written by Marguerite Henry, of course!), and a few of them are books I was hoping to read with the children soon. There is also a great deal of science in this program (learning the biology of the horse, for example), as well as art, (learning to draw horses). If we use it as an electives program on Fridays, it will last us a good three years, which is a great return on a rather small investment.
Both of these programs are heavy on notebooking, which I think will be great practice for Turkey and Bunny, and also makes for a nice portfolio at the end of the year, or years, as the case may be. I was hoping to find something more structured than even MFW for classical music, and BF definitely fits the bill, and has gotten great reviews on top of it. I never would have gone looking for a study on horses, but I do love finding unique things to study, and Bunny is always asking to learn about animals, anyway (too bad there’s no bunny unit!), so I think this will be a great addition to our school!
Last night, Ryan and I were sharing a bottle of grape soda, (we’ve been watching through M*A*S*H–Radar’s grape nehi and all…), and as soon as I had my first sip, I was instantly five years old at my Grandma’s house again.
Grandma passed on when I was seven, so I don’t have a lot of memories of her. I remember her house really well, though, and experiences I had there. One of my fondest (and strongest) memories is of the soda she had. Maybe it’s just because I was a child, and soda was such a novelty, but in my memory, she had a never-ending supply of soda in the basement. And the flavors! Cola, grape, orange, lemon-lime, cream soda, black cherry, root beer, 50/50…she had it all! To this day, when I drink certain flavors of soda, I can’t help but think of her (I feel the same way when I see the Brach’s pick-a-mix candy display, thanks to the drawer full of it she always had!).
It’s funny the things that trigger memories you would otherwise assume are long forgotten!
So, I’ve been pondering the possibility of changing curriculum for third grade, from Sonlight to My Father’s World (MFW). I think my decision is pretty much made, and in making it, I’ve discovered specific reasons I’m leaning toward MFW.
- MFW is Charlotte Mason meets unit studies meets classical education. Now, the Charlotte Mason philosophy itself is not that important to me, but the unit studies and classical style are. I’ve discovered through the special units I’ve put together on my own, that the unit studies are our favorite part of the school year. The children and I both enjoy that approach so much, and it didn’t occur to me until recently that I could look for something that would let us have that kind of experience all year-long. I’m also happy that it will be closer to traditional classical education (although still not all the way there), because that was one of the reasons we wanted to start homeschooling in the first place.
- MFW has a lot of hands-on activities. This is kind of related to the post above, because one of the things that makes the unit studies I’ve put together so great is that I’ve found lots of hands-on activities and craft projects to go with whatever we’re studying. I will confess, however, that it’s a struggle for me to put that together on my own, so I don’t think I could add hands-on to a different curriculum successfully long-term. MFW has taken care of all that for me, and I’m really excited about being able to add that to our regular school routine.
- I love that MFW implements a book basket. We certainly have no shortage of books to read around here, between the books I would have bought anyway, and our curriculum, but with MFW, there’s a list for each level of the curriculum of books that go along with what is being learned. Now, these aren’t mandatory reading, but suggestions for independent reading time. This will give us a lot more ideas of books we can get from the library, give the children some choices in which ones they choose to read, and free up my time a little more (and save my voice some!).
- I’m also impressed with MFW language arts. Now, it’s not their own program–they’ve simply compiled resources that they recommend. But they’re resources I probably wouldn’t have looked at on my own, which is a shame, because having looked at them, I think they’re just what I’m looking for. This is the one area where I feel we’re struggling–not the spelling or vocabulary so much, but grammar itself, and I think the spine used by MFW will really be helpful to Turkey and Bunny in building their skills in that area.
- MFW is also designed for ease of use with multiple grade levels. This has been on my mind lately, as Ladybug will be joining us in the schoolroom either this fall or next. I’ve been worrying over how I could teach two grade levels, and frankly, couldn’t really see how it would work. But MFW is designed to be used by a span of grade levels (eventually), which will really work for our family. The previously mentioned book basket will also help with that, as I will have time to focus on Ladybug while the other two work on some extra independent reading.
- I also feel like MFW is more individualized. Again, this really goes back to the book basket. From what I understand, the teacher’s manual has a list of somewhere around 300 books for every year. Of course we won’t read them all, but I like that I’ll be in control of what to choose, and that from what I choose, Turkey and Bunny will have some choice of which of those books they each want to read. I know, I could do something similar with our current curriculum, but I’m something of a box-checker, so if I don’t do everything the way it’s laid I out, I start to feel guilty.
- I also like the MFW Bible curriculum better. There are still things I’ll have to tweak to fit our Lutheran perspective, but not nearly as much–I was planning on just coming up with *all* our Bible lessons from here on out. It’s nice to have one less thing on my plate, though.
- I’m also very impressed with the electives MFW offers. Next year, we’ll have a whole art curriculum. Not just art appreciation (which they also cover), but actual practice at drawing and painting. Like the rest of the curriculum, the electives just seem so much more hands-on (for example, in a lower grade, a color book of the different musical instruments to accompany learning what they each sound like), and I think that the children, as well as myself, will benefit from that approach.
- The timing for a change is good for us right now, too. If we like MFW, we’ll be on the perfect schedule to go through their whole cycle by eighth grade (and we’ll go through the standard four-year history cycle completely). If it doesn’t work for us, we can go back to Sonlight with little problem–we’ll probably have to skip Core 5 in the future, but we’ll still finish the history cycle there, too. Either way, this is a great time for us to take a chance on something new, before we’re really immersed in the upper elementary level and the four-year history cycle.
That all being said, of course there are some things I’m going to have to change a bit to make MFW work for our family. I’ve come to realize, however that that’s going to be true of any curriculum I use. And now that I’ve been homeschooling a while (has it really been three years?!?), I’m much more confident in my ability to tweak as necessary, and to make the decision to change what we’re doing to fit our needs better!
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long. I think that’s probably the first real tragedy I have a memory of. It it was one of those “defining moments” for people of my generation, where you remember where you were and what you were doing when it happened. Many of us were watching live at school, and I think everyone has seen footage of the shuttle breaking apart. It’s just one of those things you never forget.
Those seven men and women did not die in vain, however. Their passion for learning and space and exploration led their families to set up “The Challenger Center for Space Science education,” which serves both as a memorial to the astronauts aboard the Challenger, and a way to educate and inspire children. That is truly an example of turning tragedy into triumph!
On January 28, 1986, our nation lost seven heroes as the Challenger Space Shuttle was destroyed shortly after launch. It was a tragic day, etched in the minds of us all and in the history books of our nation.
And yet tragedy let to triumph, as the families of the astronauts created an educational program to honor the astronauts and inspire the next generation. They formed the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, with a mission to “inspire, explore and learn”. Now with a national network of 47 Challenger Learning Centers, the program takes students on simulated missions to space, reaching 400,000 students every year and over 4,000,000 during our 25 year history.
Join us for a year-long series of events, as we honor the legacy of the Challenger 7 heroes and celebrate the accomplishments of the Challenger Learning Center network.
It can be easy to overlook the sacrifices the brave men and women in our space program have made, since there have been so few space disasters, relatively speaking. But January 27 is set aside as NASA’s Day of Remembrance, to honor the crews of Apollo 1, and the space shuttles Challenger, and Columbia, who were lost in different tragedies, the first of which (Apollo 1) took place on January 27, 1967.
- 1 pound dry Great Northern beans
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 ham bone
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chopped ham
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Rinse the beans, sorting out any broken or discolored ones. Place in pot with eight cups water, cover, and soak overnight.
Drain and rinse beans. Put fresh eight cups water in pot. Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and the beans and remove from heat. Cover. Let beans sit in the hot water for at least 60 minutes.
After the 60 minutes of soaking, return the pot to high heat and place the ham bone, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mustard and bay leaves in the pot. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 60 more minutes.
Remove ham bone and bay leaves and discard. Stir in the chopped ham, lemon juice, and parsley and simmer for 30 more minutes. Season with ground pepper to taste.
In Sunday School this week, the pre-school class was talking about vocation. The teacher started by asking what the children want to be when they grow up, and then what their parents do. As I stay in the class with Moose, I got the pleasure of listening to the children’s responses, particularly Ladybug’s.
She started by saying she wants to be a mommy when she grows up–no surprise there. What was really funny, though, was when she started detailing what I do in a given day.
“She makes things.
She folds things.
She stays up.
She sleeps and snuggles us.”
To be honest, that about sums up an average day for me. She left out the whole teaching thing, but she covered meals and baking (making things), laundry (folding things), housework after they go to bed (staying up), and being awakened (sleeping is done) by a certain little girl at five in the morning every day (snuggles).
I love getting insight into what my children think I do around here!
I think this is an excellent rationale for why everyone (outside of residents of Pennsylvania) should support the Green Bay Packers in the Superbowl:
I realize that people who live or have lived in Pittsburgh and in Pennsylvania generally will support the Steelers.
I urge everyone else to support the Packers. Liberals should like them because they aren’t owned by some rich capitalist; rather, they are publicly owned. Conservatives should like them because they represent small town America. Let’s make this a campaign for national unity (except for Pittsburgh).
As today is the third anniversary of my first blog entry, I thought it would be fun to share why I started (and keep) blogging in the first place!
I started blogging because Ryan asked me to. He’s been blogging for a *long* time, and he thought it was something I should start up. I had no idea what I’d write about, or who would care to read anything I could come up with, but since it was important to him, I figured I’d give it a try. Those first few months had very few new posts, but I tried to come up with something once in a while, just to remind myself that I actually had a blog.
As time went on, though, I found more things to write about. Something I’d read in the news, something amusing one of the children did, something I was considering…I realized that all those things gave me stuff to write about. Yes, most of the time I’m really just talking to myself in a more technologically advanced way, but I enjoy being able to write out my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I guess pretty much like when I was seven and had my first diary, only my blog is hardly full of private thoughts, and I have a lot more thoughts than I did when I was seven!
I’ve also come to appreciate blogging as a kind of digital scrapbook. I can go back and look at pictures of the children, remind myself of things we’ve done in school, remember fun things we’ve done as a family. I also find myself reading back over old entries, just to see if I’m interesting. The jury is still out on that one, but when I look back over some of the things we’ve done, I have to say, that at least *I* find our adventures interesting!
As time went on, I realized that other people were actually reading my blog. That’s a pretty good feeling, I have to admit. It’s my hope that I’ve given people something to think about, or helped someone in some way, or just made somebody smile. I’ve had some evidence that on a few rare occasions, those things have happened, and while I would keep blogging without it, it does help me feel that my blog has a bigger purpose than just being something I do for myself.
So I started blogging out of a confused sense of obligation, but I keep doing it because I enjoy it, and because other people seem to appreciate that I keep writing, too!
Waterbrook provided me with a copy of Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul. It’s a story about two people, Cora Crowder and Simon Derrick, who happen to work for the same company, but don’t really know each other. They become acquainted at a mysterious bookstore, and suddenly, their paths begin crossing, and their lives become linked. Somehow, this all seems to go back to the bookstore, and the eccentric family that runs it, as well as the strange neighborhood the in which the store is located. As a matter of fact, it almost seems that Cora and Simon’s new association has been planned! Thanks to the bookstore, both Cora and Simon have tickets to the Wizards’ Christmas Ball, but will they make it there together?
I thought this book was just OK. Although it’s labeled as contemporary fiction, I really think it falls more into the fantasy genre, which is not my cup of tea. It was also a bit formulaic–from the first chapter, you have a pretty good idea of how the book is going to end, it’s just a matter of seeing how you get there. The character of Sandy, Simon’s younger sister (who has Down’s Syndrome), was my favorite part of the book. She was very well written, and brought innocence and fun to the story. As for all of the magical elements of the story–well, I could have done without that part. It was a little Cinderella-ish, but in a kind of strange way, and that didn’t help me enjoy the book more.