Sunday, January 27, 2008

Our Bible Reading Plans for Children

***Readers searching for Bible Reading Plans for Children
will find the most helpful information here***

A little while ago a reader asked about the Bible reading plans I have listed here on my blog. Although we read the entire Bible as a family and discuss difficult portions in age appropriate ways during devotional times, we do have a somewhat "edited" approach to the children's personal Bible reading. This is not because we wish to leave sections of Scripture out as much as it is because we wish to focus the children's reading on portions of Scripture that we feel would be of particular benefit to them at their young ages. Entire books of the minor prophets, for instance, could be a baffling read for a seven year old; whereas, the narrative stories of Daniel would be well-chosen readings for this age group.

As you know, the Bible is a long book. When faced with the challenge of choosing Bible passages for our children to read independently, My Sam and I were at a loss as to where to begin. Eventually, we decided to use our favorite Bible storybook as a guide. Catherine M. Vos' The Child's Story Bible has scripture references at the beginning of each of the stories. Using these references, we developed a reading plan that would cover the passages of Scripture also covered in the story Bible. This is no wishy-washy list of readings! As you will see from our compilations, there is enough to keep a child reader busy for months :) As each of the children finishes a page (no more than one reading per day), My Sam chooses another sheet for them to begin. Some of the pages have quite a few readings and take well over a month to complete. For this reason, different children may be reading different pages at a time. In this way, My Sam can individualize the reading plans for each child.

It is our hope that, by including our reading plans here, some of your families may also be blessed. We pray for our children daily, that the light of Christ might shine in their hearts and illuminate the Word of God for their true heart understanding.

Blessings :)

P.S. You can find the complete list of Bible reading plans for children here. For future reference, you may wish to simply click on "Bible" in my tag cloud to access these same pages. You are welcome to copy these lists and paste them into your word processing program for more attractive results. Although I have not quoted any of Ms. Vos' text, I would recommend siting her book if you wish to give these printouts out to friends. Thanks :)

***Another note - some of these Bible stories are told in more than one book of the Bible. The Bible reading lists reflect a "harmony" approach to Bible reading in which one story is read from several different Bible passages. That is why the lists sometimes seem to "jump" back and forth between books. The children are reading about one story told in several books of the Bible.***

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Cabin Fever Edition

Welcome to The Ninth Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival -

Cabin Fever Edition!

Is it happening to you, too? Cabin fever? Are you staring out your windows at a deceptively sunny day (deceptive because the windchill is in the single digits???). Have your kiddos been congested and feverish like mine, too? Completely unable to play outdoors? As a result, have you been stuck inside for almost three weeks straight? Aaaaaaah! Someone please skip ahead to April!

I guess sitting around moping isn't doing any of us any good, though. We have to find a way (or several ways) around this Cabin Fever! Some of our blogging pals have some great ideas to help us do just that :) As long as you're stuck indoors anyway, you might as well use the time well! From watercolors to handicrafts, there's always something of interest to be found in a Charlotte Mason education. I hope these posts add a little warmth and encouragement to your day!


Continuing nature study throughout the cold spells can help your four walls feel a little wider. With so much winter nature to explore, you may actually come to enjoy these frosty days! Barb presents The Heart of Harmony - Learning from Plants Year Round posted at The Heart of Harmony.

To help you out with approaching that study, Barb also presents Handbook of Nature Study: Friend or Foe? posted at Handbook of Nature Study.

When it's not quite so very cold, you may even be brave enough to face the elements on a regular basis. Did you know that Charlotte Mason encouraged mothers to take their children outdoors for nature walks even in the winter? Amanda offers us all a little encouragement with Nature Walks in Bad Weather & Charlotte Mason posted at Hearts and Trees.

Outdoor treks in January will necessitate some cozy clothing! Do you have a plan for keeping all of those sweet little fingers warm? Leila Cook presents Fleece mitten how-to posted at We Love Handicrafts!.

Sometimes, though, we are simply no match for the elements. On the coldest days, families with smaller children may just need to hunker down inside (see my sidebar for links to winter safety with little ones). But, we can always use any sub-zero days to snuggle up and read a little extra together. A cozy afternoon on the couch with a pile of blankies and a good book is always time well spent.

Swylv presents Bible as part of our Home Education posted at Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.

Christie presents A simple recipe for success posted at Such a Time, saying, "Just because something is simple in its form doesn't mean its without depth of meaning. My reading aloud is a simple activity, but I believe it does mean a great deal to my kids ... in relationship and in education. Oh ... and there is a recipe for Snow Ice Cream!"

If you are suddenly struck with a creativity bug, you might even want to use this time to brush up (ha!) on your watercolor skills. Angi at Peakmore Academy presents this incredible post - Completed Watercolor Paintings! Wow :)

And, of course, you could also just do lessons ;) I think I get the vote for the blandest entry! My entry, One Tiny, But Powerful Detail (Copywork Part Six), is posted here at The Educational Life.

With a few less entries this week, this is the optimal time to go back through past editions of the carnivals and read any posts you may have missed! Yet another way to combat Cabin Fever!!! You can find past editions at the bottom of my left sidebar.

Happy Carnival Reading! And, may you have a warm-ish day sometime soon and plenty of time to savor it!

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the charlotte mason blog carnival
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's Spring In My Kitchen (Forcing Bulbs)

Two years ago, my sister-in-law gave this shallow glass bowl filled with paperwhite bulbs to me as a Christmas gift. It was one of the best gifts I've ever received! :) Every gardener begins pining for something green and growing in the wintertime!

We have started our own bulbs in the same glass bowl and decorative pebbles each winter since, and have loved the little bit of early "spring". There is no soil - just rocks and water! The bulbs contain all they need to grow except for light, warmth, and water. We provide those :) Can you see the roots toward the bottom of the bowl? Isn't that fascinating? I tell the children that those are like little straws drawing water up into the thirsty plants.

This year, we had paperwhites that bloomed from just after Christmas until they faded a few days ago (the photo above is from when they were in bud). They were so lovely and cheerful, we decided to "plant" some other bulbs in their place. I have a little bag of Muscari (grape hyacinth) that I set aside last fall just for this purpose. I'm hoping to plant those with Punkin as a special one-on-one project tomorrow. Home improvement stores may still have their bulbs for sale, by the way. Hint, hint. It's worth giving them a call to find out :)

If you're interested in trying this with your children (it's really easy!), here's a great link with some more detailed instructions. It's nice to have a magnifying glass around, too, so the children can get a really good look :) What a fantastic indoor nature study lesson for those way-too-cold-outside days (or sick days). SweetP even drew the bulbs in her nature journal before we put them in the bowl, and she recorded their progress in a small journal as they grew. You can see how there could be several weeks of easy nature study in this simple project. And, as I mentioned before, they're so pretty :) Hope you get to try this!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One Tiny But Powerful Detail (Copywork: Part Seven)

Well, I can't sleep. So, here's part 7 :)

This whole series of posts on copywork really began all because of two little sentences in Home Education. I had been re-reading the section on language arts, trying to make sure I was on target, when I came across something I had never taken note of before. On page 238 Miss Mason writes the following:

"Transcription should be an introduction to spelling. Children should be encouraged to look at the word, see a picture of it with their eyes shut, and then write from memory." (emphasis mine)

Transcription, as you probably already know, is just another name for copywork. Here, Charlotte Mason is giving us a tiny little detail that, I think, can make a world of difference for the student. As the children copy their work, they are to write each word as a whole. They are to look at the word they are to copy, take a mental picture of it, and then write that word on their paper solely from that mental image! To illustrate, let me explain how SweetP had been copying her work with incorrect methods. She would look at the word, spell out the first two or three letters aloud to herself, write those letters in her neatest print, look back at the word, spell the last few letters out aloud, and finally finish carefully writing the word with those letters. As a practice in handwriting, copywork done in this way was perfectly fine. However, as an introduction to spelling, it was inferior to what Miss Mason had in mind (no pun intended). I believe that her distinction is an important one. Visualizing the whole word, and writing that word from memory instead of sight is a much more powerful spelling exercise than the bits-and-pieces approach of letter by letter.

Isn't that interesting? All of that in just two little sentences. Sometimes I wonder how many times I'll need to read through Volume One before I finally drain it dry. I've read this particular passage nearly a dozen times, I'd guess. Yet, I had never, before last term, picked up on the importance of copying each word in its entirety. It makes sense, really. Especially considering Miss Mason's stress on mental pictures when dictation is introduced later on. The mental visualization that is so key in her dictation methods is the same discipline she refers to here. It only makes sense that copywork done word for word instead of letter for letter sets the stage for solid spelling. Understanding this more completely has been an "a-ha" moment for Mama :) I love it.

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Our Booklist for Second Term

I've been wanting to explain why we haven't used the Ambleside Online book choices for Year One. Since the topic came up in a comment this week, I figured now is as good a time as any. If you're hoping for some thought-provoking, philosophical reason behind my choices, well, sorry. Mostly, we've chosen different books because we had already read the AO Year One books or just because we wanted to ;) As I've said before, AO's booklist is topnotch and I owe the AO Advisory more than I could ever repay. Who knows? I may use other AO years just as they are written. By the way, I'm more aware now of *not* reading AO books before their scheduled year. (That's a tip for any moms who haven't actually started homeschooling yet.) *grin*

This could easily become a very, very long post. I would prefer to keep it from becoming so. In an effort to keep things short and sweet, I think it would be easiest to just go down the line of subjects. I'll type the AO books in bold face for quick reference. Here we go...

We read straight from the ESV or from Catherine Vos' story Bible. Hubby is still considering reading at least the Psalms in KJV.

We decided to skip Trial and Triumph. Okay, this one might be a deeper reason than those I mentioned above. I'd rather not get into it tonight, though. Some children may be completely fine with Blandina getting torn apart by lions; I'm not so sure about mine at this point. I don't want to shield the children from martyrdom by any means, but I also don't want to encourage fear by giving them more than I feel they can handle now. We chose to replace Church History with Missionary Biographies because it was still highly important to us to set Christian heroes before the children (beyond those in the Bible). We also wanted to bring missions to mind early and often.

We use Our Island Story. This may be the only history book we use for Year One in the future. In looking through CM's programmes (you can read them at AO), Year One often only listed Our Island Story for history. At times there was a hero-type book as well.

We used Fifty Famous Stories for the first term. Hubby is the history man :) He felt like the stories in 50 Famous were (perhaps) a little too truncated. The book does accomplish the purpose of educating in cultural literacy (as the Advisory intended), but we wondered if the little bits-and-pieces stories were too random. At any rate, we're fairly confident that the girls would love to read these independently when they are a little older. For this term, we'll go in depth with William Tell by reading The Apple and the Arrow, instead.

Not sure yet about Viking Tales. Again, I'm thinking that Our Island Story is enough for history based on Miss Mason's programmes. Might be good to keep in mind for free reading, though.

We will not count American History biographies (the D'Aulaire books) as school reading the next time we do Year One. SweetP and Shug both like to check biographies out of the library for free reading, so no worries there. The D'Aulaire books are wonderful, but I won't officially schedule them the next time.

I really like Paddle-to-the-Sea and the other Holling books. We fully intend to buy them for our home library. For school purposes, though, they don't cover the geography "ideas" that I'd hope to get across at this young age. Miss Mason wrote about the children reading little books about children from other lands and reading travel books. We like to check out large coffee table travel books from the library. As for the stories of children from other lands, I've had a hard time finding something well-written, engaging, and yet fairly short. Li Lun is the best I could do for this term after ditching Paddle to the free reading list (my girls read a lot, so even the free reading stuff gets read). I also printed out Miss Mason's Elementary Geography book to use for Years 1 and 2. The little book "What Makes Day and Night" is to supplement one of the EG lessons.

We own many of the Burgess titles, and the girls have already read The Burgess Bird Book, so we chose one of the Clara Pierson books from Yesterday's Classics instead. We also love James Herriot, but we've read through those stories so many times that they really wouldn't be useful for us as school books. We use Comstock as a reference, but not as a text to go through cover to cover (you may want to read the intro to the book if this confuses you).

Again, we have already read Stevenson and Milne many, many times over. I chose Favorite Poems Old and New for the first term just because I liked it so much :) For the second term, we skipped ahead to one of the AO Year 2 poets and chose Walter de la Mare. It's a beautiful book :) We'll likely stick to these two choices for the remainder of the year.

I cut out several of the AO books after spending some time reading the PNEU programmes for Form 1b. Miss Mason seems to have consistently used Aesop's Fables and fairy tales as the only literature for Year One. AO has a lot of literature books listed.

Parables From Nature was used as a Sunday Reading book in CM's programmes. It is the same in our home.

Just So Stories was moved to free reading, and it does get read - just not aloud and not during school time ;) I had a hard time deciding about this one. It's one of the more challenging books for this year, and I considered keeping it because of it's strong vocabulary. Kipling's not a bad writer, you know ;) In the end, though, I chose to keep the school load as close to the PNEU programmes as possible, and Just So Stories was one book too many for our schedule. It's nice to have the children in the habit of reading challenging books for fun.

We use the Milo Winter version of Aesop for Children, but only 3 fables per term. That's what the PUS programmes scheduled. Again, I'm counting on the girls reading the rest on their own later.

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare is not my favorite choice - too sparse. I much prefer the Lamb version, but plan to save Lamb for a little later on. For a very first introduction to Shakepeare, I really like the Coville books (check out my sidebar). But, again, I can't find anywhere that Miss Mason included Shakespeare in Form 1b, so I feel perfectly fine with only doing one play this year. I chose The Winter's Tale. It's about 40 pages long and it will take about 10 weeks to finish.

And that brings me to The Blue Fairy Book. Here, I admit, I think I made a mistake by replacing this book. I wanted to try to use books we already had. I soooo love the illustrations in the Treasury of Children's Literature (TCL) and the stories are told well, but they really don't come close to Lang's versions. As preparation for Year Two's harder books (Pilgrim's Progress, Robin Hood), I really think Lang would be hard to beat. SweetP is reading Rumplestiltskin independently from TCL right now, but I think the next fairy tale will have to be Lang. She may not be able to read it independently, but I really want her to have the more challenging vocabulary. So, we're running back to AO for fairy tales.

So far this year, SweetP has read Charlotte's Web and The King of the Golden River (which she voluntarily narrated - often), Pocahontas, and The Velveteen Rabbit from the list. We have read St. George and the Dragon and The Little House in the Big Woods before this year. I'm hoping to get The Red Fairy Book for her birthday next month :) Also, I plan on reading Pinocchio and Peter Pan aloud to the children after we finish The Magician's Nephew and The Long Winter (maybe later this spring). So, I'm following the recommended free reading list quite closely ;)

Hope that clears some things up.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why I Love Ambleside Online


I knew that we had changed the original, official Ambleside Online Year One booklist quite a bit to suit our family this year. I had not realized until this week, though, how very much we have changed it. Really, I can't even say my children use the curriculum right now. However, I can most definitely say that I use the curriculum... a lot!

Have you ever taken the time to just read the AO website? I mean really dig in and read it? Just tonight, I re-read the section that comes up when you click "About AO" at the top of the returning users page. There is a link to Leslie Noelani's account of how Ambleside Online began and how it has become the incredible resource that it is today. If you haven't read the story behind Ambleside Online, really - stop reading this post and go read those pages. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the AO Advisory, and I really don't think I'll ever be able to fully understand how deeply their contributions have impacted my little family. These women have blessed me, a complete stranger, beyond measure with this labor of love called Ambleside Online.

If you're still reading this post, I'll assume you've already read those pages at AO ;) Reading them more than once doesn't hurt, either. You can always come back and read me blabbing away later on.

What do I mean when I say that I use Ambleside Online, even though my children currently do not? I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I have literally studied Ambleside Online. I printed out every single one of the AO articles and put them in a 3-ring binder! I have studied their book choices, studied their comments, studied their explanations. As a result, Ambleside Online has an extremely personal feel for me. When I log on to that website, even though I have never met any one of the dear souls that put it together, I feel like I'm walking in to the most rockin' Charlotte Mason support group I could possibly find. One of the most incredible things about AO is that it was completely developed by CM moms- to use with their own children! How could a curriculum get any more personal than that?! As I have read Miss Mason's series (which I first read online at AO, by the way), read books about CM, emailed back and forth in CM email groups, and blogged, the women at Ambleside Online have held my hand all the way. When I have a question, I go to Ambleside Online. What does Wendi say about this? What does Karen say about that? It is my curriculum :)

I know, so you're wondering why I went and changed the books. Sometimes I wonder the same thing. Part of it (a big part) is personality, part of it is practicality. I may wind up using AO Year 2 exactly as it's written. I may look back on this year and wonder what in the world I was thinking using these books. I may kick myself for not sticking to AO as is. Who knows? One thing is for certain, though. I will definitely read the Ambleside Online pages again, and again, and again. And I'll take comfort in knowing that these moms put all of this together knowing that some of the "users" would change and rearrange it beyond all recognition. That does not mean that I don't value the work they have done. It does not mean that I do not make use of the work they have done. I just use it in a different way - to help me make my own educated decisions. Not everyone likes that kind of autonomy, but I do. For now, anyway :)

So, beyond Miss Mason herself, the women on the Ambleside Online Advisory stand as some of the most influential women in my homeschooling days. What a tremendous blessing they are to me. I can't say it enough. If, by any very slight chance, any of you ladies are reading this post, with tears in my eyes I thank you, thank you, thank you.

God has blessed the work of your hands.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Copywork: Part Six)

There are so many wonderful articles and blog posts about copywork in the Charlotte Mason method that I really had to wonder if there was much of a point in adding to the collection. There has been some good discussion on these copywork posts, though, and I've enjoyed the mini-study. I hope you all have as well :)

Just when you thought I couldn't possibly squeeze another post out of those few transcription pages in Home Education, here I am with Copywork Part V. I think, though, that it might possibly be helpful to someone if I share how we have successfully used the small, lined dry erase boards like the one in the photo above. Especially when first introducing letters (printed or cursive), we've used these little boards a lot! I bought my first one at Office Depot, but recently I bought another just like it at Wal-Mart for less than $3! They have been one of our most frequently used homeschooling items :)

So, how do we use them for CM? Charlotte Mason suggested using blackboards and chalk liberally when first introducing new letters for a child to copy. Her reasoning was that poorly formed letters must be quickly erased so the child could try and try again for that "perfect" letter. Like a misspelled word, a poorly formed letter is a visual insult to the child's eye. To prevent the image of the incorrect letter from making an impression upon the child's mind, faulty letters must be quickly "rubbed out". Now, erasing again and again with a normal pencil eraser is tiring to say the least and makes a complete mess of your paper. Even if the child does manage to finally arrive at that elusive perfect letter at the end of ten minutes, there might be holes in the paper from all of his previous efforts! ;) With the dry erase board, it just wipes away :)

When we are really first beginning to learn letters, we use the unlined side of the dry erase board. Without lines to worry about, the children are able to focus on the strokes. Once the strokes are learned fairly well, we switch to the lined side of the board. By the way, I have several colors of low odor dry-erase markers, and my girls love to choose which color they'll use for writing. Not sure if every child would get such a thrill from doing their handwriting in blue, purple, or red, but it works in our house! :)

There is only one drawback that I can think of to using the dry-erase board. You have nothing to keep! If one of my little students has been doing well and I'd like a copy to keep, we do a few beginning lessons on paper as well. It really hasn't taken us long to move to paper altogether, though, and then the "keepsakes" really start piling up :) With SweetP's cursive, we only use the dry erase board here and there as we introduce new letters or especially tricky ones. She has used paper far more than the dry erase board for cursive, but it has still been handy when introducing strokes.

There you have it :) It's worked well for us, and I hope helps someone else.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Preposition Song

* = rest

Preposition Song
(Sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”)

Aboard, about, above, across

Against, along, around

Amid, among,* after, at

Except, for, during, down

Behind, below, beneath, beside

Between, before, beyond

By, in, from, off, on, over, of

Until, unto, upon

Under, underneath,* since, up

Like, near, past, throughout, through

With, within,* without, instead

Toward, inside, into, to

song link credit

The Pronoun Song

The Pronoun Song
(Sung to the “When the Saints Go Marching In”)

I, me, my, mine
You, your, and yours
She, he, it, him, her, his, its, hers
Are the singular personal pronouns,
Which take the place of regular nouns.

We, us, our, ours
You, your, and yours
They, them, their, and theirs are plural.
They are the plural personal pronouns,
Which take the place of regular nouns!

link credit here