Monday, January 22, 2007

Favorite Books for the Littlest Ones

Marguerite De Angeli's Mother Goose (or Sylvia Long's)

Poems to Read to the Very Young

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Chicka Chicka ABC

The Big Red Barn

Pat the Bunny

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Curious George

Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys (prequel to Curious George)


Blueberries for Sal

Katy No Pocket

What Do People Do All Day?

Cars, Trucks, and Things That Go

Goodnight Moon

Harold & the Purple Crayon

If You Give a Pig a Pancake

Owl Moon

Hush Little Baby

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Pooh's 123

My First Little House series

Tomie's Baa Baa Black Sheep

Tomie's Three Bears

The Napping House

Winnie the Pooh's A to Z

The Big Hungry Bear


The Mitten

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Helping Verbs Song

The Helping Verbs Song
(Sung to the tune of "This Old Man")

have - has - had
do - does - did
be - am - is - are - was - were - been
can - could - shall - should - will - would - may
might - must - being
are helping verbs!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Favorite Books for Four Year Olds

The Original Winnie the Pooh series

The Complete Beatrix Potter series

A Child's Garden of Verses (illustrated by Tasha Tudor)

Marguerite De Angeli's Mother Goose (also Sylvia Long's)

James Herriot's Treasury for Children

A Treasury of Children's Literature (the following selections)

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The Three Little Pigs

The Princess & the Pea

The Frog Prince

The Emperor's New Clothes


Paul Bunyan

John Henry (read aloud only - omit taking the Lord's name in vain)

Johnny Appleseed

The Fox & the Crow (Aesop)

The Ant & the Grasshopper (Aesop)

The Fox & the Grapes (Aesop)

The Tortoise & the Hare (Aesop)

The Children's Book of Virtues (the following selections)

The Little Red Hen

The Little Hero of Holland

The King and His Hawk

St. George & the Dragon

The Lion & the Mouse (Aesop)

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Aesop)

The Honest Woodman

Little House in the Big Woods

Farmer Boy

The Boxcar Children

Ginger Pye

Mr. Popper's Penguins


Henny Penny

Peter Churchmouse

Billy & Blaze

The Good Horse Christie

The Gingerbread Man

Johnny Appleseed (Lindbergh)

When I Was Young in the Mountains

The Gingerbread Doll

Mr. Putter & Tabby books

The Oxcart Man

Make Way for Ducklings

Stone Soup

Come On Rain

A New Coat for Anna

Miss Rumphius

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

How Many Pages In One Lesson?

Happy New Year, everyone! I wrote this before break. I'll be back to blogging in real time this weekend! We start our second term on Monday :)

We have now finished up our first term, and I've been reading and re-reading some of Miss Mason's writings to evaluate my methods. One area that I have been way off on, has been how many pages we have been reading in one sitting. I know, I know, if I had just followed the Ambleside Online booklist and schedule, I wouldn't have made this mistake. But, I didn't. I have some inexplicable desire to get my hands dirty when it comes to choosing curriculum. It's the same way in cooking; I can never follow a recipe exactly as it's written. I add a little here and take out a little there to make it taste just the way I want. I'm sure I could write an entire post analyzing this personality quirk, but I'll pass by the temptation to do so tonight.

So, I've been reading too much in one sitting. I realized this as I was preparing my exam questions for the end of the term. In the appendix to Volume 3, Miss Mason writes that the children in the lowest grade (Form 1a.) have "thirteen subjects of study, for which about sixteen books are used". She specifies that roughly 40 to 50 pages from each of these books are covered in a term. When you divide 40 or 50 pages up over the course of the term's 12 weeks, that leaves only 3 to 4 pages a week! That is far, far less than what we have been reading for most subjects. My worst offense has been in our missionary biographies. I had intended to study two missionaries this year, switching to the second in the middle of the year. The trouble is that each of the two biographies I had chosen was over 200 pages long! Even reading only one of those books all school year would still be more pages than Miss Mason recommends. Woops. I guess this is why we keep reading... so we can keep learning, right?

I'll be honest, only 40 to 50 pages seems like next to nothing to me. My husband thinks it sounds like hogwash to only read three pages a week in a book, but we are both willing to try it out. We've been continually impressed with Charlotte Mason's methods so far. What reason do we have to doubt her on this point? Our only objection is based on how very different such a schedule is from our own school experiences. That's not really much of a sound argument ;)

This little epiphany, of course, completely derails my plans for the second and third terms. I need to reconsider how quickly we are going through our books. I have to laugh as I write that, because it has taken us the entire first term to get through two thirds of our David Livingstone book! But, apparently, that's too fast. We still have 84 pages left to read. Originally, we were going to finish this book around Week 6 of the second term, but now (with my husband's agreement) we are going to try to finish the book on a truly CM pace. That means we will take the rest of Year One to finish those 84 pages. Doesn't that sound crazy? Two whole terms to read just 84 pages? I'll be doing the same thing with several of our other books.

It is interesting to note that, when you realize how few books you will have in one school year, you begin to feel very choosey about which books you'll use. We're not terribly excited about using the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series for missionary tales if we're only going to read one book a year. It's a decent book, but we might be compelled to find something better if we're going to spend 36 weeks on it, ya know ;) I'm not sure where we're going with the missionary biographies. We had chosen them to replace Trial and Triumph, but the switch to (truly) short readings has us rethinking more than a few things about our booklist and schedule.

I admit, I'm just trusting Charlotte on this one.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Of Heroes and Spiritual Mothers

Elisabeth Elliot Gren

"Well, what is a hero anyway? 'Any man admired for his courage, his nobility,

or exploits, the central figure in any important event, honored for

outstanding qualities.' Wasn't Jim a hero? We badly need heroes. How else

shall we grasp the meaning of courage or strength or holiness? We need to see

such truth made visible in the lives of human beings...Heroes are paradigms.

They show us what strength or purity or courage actually looks like".

- The Mark of A Man

I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of Christian heroes. Not just how they will fit into our 'curriculum', but how they will impact the lives of our children... and ourselves. I did not grow up with the heroes of the Bible or of the early church. I have shamefully little knowledge of the brothers and sisters in my heritage who have given all for Christ throughout the centuries. But, I want to know them more. I want to learn from them.

As I was considering this whole idea of 'heroes' I got to chatting with the girls the other day about the concept. I'm sorry to say we haven't used the word around the house much. After we talked a bit about what a hero was, I asked Shug if she had any heroes, yet. She thought for a moment and said, yes, she had.

David. He was awfully brave to fight Goliath.

I was encouraged.

I am still carrying around with me, though, this deep sense that it is of the utmost importance that Sam and I take great care to keep godly heroes before our children. We are not nearly purposeful enough. They must be prepared for great battles. How are we preparing them? All of the things Tracy Lee Simmons wrote in Climbing Parnassus about the significance of hero training in the young Greeks and Romans really struck a cord with me. How much more so should godly heroes be held up within Christian families, for the next generation?

Later that afternoon I was looking for the quote above. I sat on the couch, skimming through the book, when Punkin (whose middle name is Elisabeth) came running up to my side. She pointed at the picture of Elisabeth Elliot on the cover. "Who's dat?" she wanted to know.

I looked at my bright-eyed two year old, and then I looked at one of my most beloved 'heroes', and tears welled up in my eyes. "That is Elisabeth Elliot, honey. You are named for her".

By God's grace, may my daughters learn to hold her and many such spiritual mothers close to their hearts.

"Moral choices face all of us, every day. How we choose reveals

the stuff we're made of. It is, in the final analysis, the willingness

to take the consequences of our decisions that makes

heroes to say, like Luther,

"Here I stand. I can do no other."