Monday, May 8, 2017

Meaningful Minutes: Geography, Part 2

The morning after I posted last week I thought of at least 4 more great resources for geography.  So here is part 2.

Barefoot Ragamuffin has a full curriculum but she has pulled out all of her geography readings and put them into the Geography Literature freebie (scroll down on the left hand side).   I found great books and authors I hadn't heard of before in her lists.   She also has a reprint of Charlotte Mason's Geographical Readers for free (you have to sign into Lulu though).  These are VERY basic but great for small tidbits of information.

If you want to focus on American geography you might want to check out "8 for each state".  A mom has put together 8 interesting sites to help you learn about each state.  There are some neat things on there.

Atlases and maps.  Of course!  My hubby found a HUGE atlas for $2 at the Half Price Book sale.  I always love a good historical atlas around.  Of course you can't really go wrong with a National Geographic Atlas. As you read, look up where things are.  You can also use wall maps (I got mine from Costco at one point).  I have used a shower curtain map in my class (really good for younger kids) and I have had fabric panels of the world and the United States which are also good for groups.  To be honest, we still don't own a globe.  Maybe that's what we should get this fall (they show up at Costco come August).

The Draw the . . . series teaches you how to draw places and continents all over the world.  If you want a place to start without investing - try blob maps (and here is a video series for younger kids to try it out.)

Right now my son is enjoying The Lost Art of Nature Signs.  It ties together geography, science, social studies and much more to help you understand how people used to read the stars, the land and more.  He is constantly stopping to tell me what he just learned - it is fascinating.

Peeps at Many Lands . . . this is an older series of books that gives you a sense of the land and history of different places around the world.  As with all older books you might want to read first and edit or discuss as needed.

Have fun with geography this summer.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday with Words: Nouwen and Staying Home

A while back I re-read Parker J. Palmer's book I only picked it up because on the back was a recommendation by Henri Nouwen.  I have thought about how Nouwen's experience - going from being a professor and well regarded theologian to working with the mentally disabled - is similar to many stay at home mom's experience.  Nouwen was well respected in his field and honored but he constantly writes about how working with those in an institution is all about being in that moment, being kind and gracious - they don't care what your degree or background is.  Honestly, that is what makes being a mom humbling and difficult.  I can handle a professional situation, make a great presentation, be an "adult" but my kids don't really care about that.  They care about spending time, enjoying each other, being in the moment - that's a bit tougher for me.  This clashes against where many of us have placed our value for so long.  I think this is one reason I appreciate his work is because of his deep humility.

A few weeks ago I was rummaging through the local library's books for sale.  I am pretty sure a pastor had recently dropped off his library because of the type of books that were available.  What caught my eye was a book of the hours using sections of Henri Nouwen's writing.  Fascinating.  It has about 6 short readings that are spread throughout the day.  The idea is that you can read words to remind you about who you are, who God is and what you should be about on a regular basis.  I just started with the new month.  WOW - it is going to be good.  I don't always read it "on the hour" but am trying to at least read it each day.

Yesterday's Vesper passage was what I needed to hear.  I have been called the "least stay - at - home" mom by close friends.  However, after 10 years I am realizing that I might have missed the boat in my ridiculous running around. :

Yes, God sees the hidden work and it is fruitful.  I need to remember this.

ETA: I got mine for a buck - who knew it would be worth $10+.  If you plan to use it faithfully it is probably worth it.  It isn't dated just Sunday through Saturday for four weeks.

See what others are reading a Ladydusk.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Meaningful Minutes: Geography

You might not think of geography as something worth pursuing - you can always just look it up. However, it isn't just trivia - it speaks into history, science and much more.

Here are some fun ways to add it to your life:

Geo Puzzles - Get these for the summer and enjoy.  There is also one that helps you learn US history as well.

Holling C. Holling books - Often we think of geography as just knowing where things are on a map but there is much more to it and these books bring that to light.  Follow down the Mississippi, across the Great Lakes, on the Trails of the West.

10 Days in the _______ -  This is a series of board games that are fun and easy to play and teach geography at the same time.

Ticket to Ride - This is a bit more complicated than 10 days but is also fun.  My boys are constantly making up their own versions.   There are some that are other parts of the world and others depict maps during different eras.

Scrambled States -  This is game to help you learn the United States.  I think it is based on the book Scrambled States of America.

Halliburton books - I just recently learned of this incredible author.  He was an adventurer in the 1910s and 1920s - flying bi planes through Africa.  Some of his books are fictional and some of them are his own adventure stories.  I haven't read them all so there is a chance that parts aren't PG and they are for upper elementary and older students.  

Flag Frenzy or Flags of the World - I haven't played these - but if your kids are flag fans this might be a fun way to tie it to geography.

Montessori also has a World Map and Flag that could be a great combination.

You could also spend time considering the explorers and follow their exploits around the world.  Here is one book to get you started.   If you enjoy eating - you can try a fun take like Eat Your Way Around the World. A few weeks ago I mentioned Give Your Child the World which has stories from around the world.  

If you are a AAA member you can get free maps from your local office.  Consider getting out a map if you are going on a trip and having your kids follow along - instead of just listening to Siri tell you to turn right and left.  Try the old fashioned way!

I won't mention Risk - I don't want to bring that game into your home (ha ha).  I am positive there are other great resources out there.  I hope that this summer you will find ways to make geography fun.  I haven't really even touched on all of the physical geography and exciting exploits like Mount Everest.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Meaningful Minutes: Audio Books

We went on a LONG car trip this weekend.  Unfortunately, the audio book we listened to was not really approved for all listeners (however, the concerning ones slept through the questionable parts). It was a fun and fairly spontaneous trip.  It did remind me how great it is to have lots of listening options on hand.  Here are some free or cheaper resources for audio books (many are in the public domain, some have volunteer readers which can be hit or miss).

Librivox - This is my go to location.  Most readers are pretty good - just listen for a minute before you download.  Your kids will memorize the little intro that goes with all of these recordings - but FREE.  If you looked at the Ambleside list last week and wondered what was available on audio - here is your connection.

Sparkle Stories - This is a free app that has stories for younger children (4 to 8).  They focus on stories that have cooperation and teamwork and stay away from scarier themes for children.  I haven't really listened (my kids like the scary stuff) but many friends recommend it.  If you are interested use the trial and see if your kids like the stories.

Lit2Go - This website also features primarily older books but most of them have some acknowledged literary value.  Ambleside records MANY things - this is a more curated (I can't believe I just used that word) listing of stories.  They also have it available in PDF and easy to read on screen as you listen - this might be good for kids who are just learning to read.

Of course, we all know about the wonders of your local library and remember that if your library has Overdrive you can use it to check out audio books without leaving your house!  Audible is the most well known pay service.  I have yet to use it but here are some tips for getting the most out of it (here, here and here).

I am sure that there are more services (and some that we used to use that I can't seem to find anymore - bummer).  I imagine there is a whole world of podcasts that deals with this subject too - but I haven't delved into it.  If you have places you like to go for free or cheap audio books for kids - let us know!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday with Words: Becoming a Man

Last week I met a veteran homeschool mom of nine!  She was a wealth of information.  I didn't even know the right questions to ask her - but she pulled out all kinds of stories that spoke directly to issues I have been pondering (not all things I wanted to hear).  As we were talking, she mentioned J.C. Ryle's book Thoughts for Young Men (it's an older book so download it for free).   I had heard of the author before because his Duties of Parents is free on Compass Classrooms website (where Visual Latin is sold).  I should probably re-read that one as well.

Well, he doesn't pull any punches or sugarcoat his thoughts.  He is serious.  He addresses the laxity of young men in attending church and addressing issues of the soul in the mid 1800's.  I guess some things never change!

His points are brief but well spoken. He touches subjects like sin, pride, habits, working and more.  I particularly like this image - I have been thinking about habits often lately.

I am also listening to The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle which discusses the factors that develop talent.  Deep practice over 10,000ish hours and cues in the environment that inspire to a long term desirable goal with frequent, well timed, reinforcements can help turn anyone into a super star.  Coyle provides the research and current scientific understanding of why this is true.  Every time we perform an action we are making that connection stronger - you might think of muscle memory - and that's what it is, except, now scientists think it is myelin or the coating that goes around the nerves.  So thoughtful habit development through short focused lessons on the edge of ability and a sense of community coupled with a clear vision of a desirable future life can go a long way.  Wow! Sounds pretty familiar to people who follow Charlotte Mason's ways.   Providing hope and a future.  The examples he provides are memorable although some of the information gets a bit repetitive.  My kids have been fascinated and my oldest has started practicing differently.  These are do-able things.

I am still working through Ryle's short book.  I think once my oldest is closer to 12 or 13 it is probably a good read for a father (or mentor) and son to do together - section by section.  That's how the mom I met recommended doing it.

Hope you are getting to read somewhere in the sunshine.  See what others are reading at Ladydusk.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Meaningful Minutes: Booklists!

Wow!!  I wasn't sure Easter would ever come.  Was that really only 40 days??  It is late this year so now everything seems like a downhill slide into the end of school.  I figure some of you planners out there might be thinking about what to do with your summer.

If you are looking for book suggestions here are some of my favorite resources:

Read Aloud Handbook - This is a classic.  I used it in middle school to find books to check out at the library and was gifted a new edition when I had my first little one.  Worth your time.

Read Aloud Revival - Here is her primary bookslist and thoughts about reading aloud (surprise) on this site.  If you haven't ever tried her podcasts - you really should.  She talks with authors, professors, moms and librarians about incorporating books into their lives.

Give Your Child the World - This book just came out last summer (and teamed with Read Aloud Revival for a summer reading challenge).  It looks at all of the continents and provides reviews of books that give you glimpses into life in that place.  The reviews are well done and offer age suggestions as well.   Totally worth having on your shelves.

Free online lists:

Ambleside Online - This curriculum is based on reading quality literature - and the whole thing is available for free, for your perusal.  You most likely won't follow the weekly outlines but to see the overview of the books they read each year click on a year on the left side bar and then click on the "YEAR ____ Curriculum, Basic Version" link.  You can scroll down and see the poetry, litearature and free reads they recommend.  If you look at the key of symbols after the suggestion you will see that MANY of them are available as free audio downloads from librivox or elsewhere.  Now you have books to listen to as you travel in the car.  Personally, I have found that many of these books might be a little tough for the age they are listed at - so it is worthwhile to look at the list of the grade your child is leaving - as well as the one they are entering.

Classical Reader  - This searchable database by grade, genre, level and author provides a great list of books.  They combine new and older books.

Sonlight Curriculum - A popular homeschool choice, it lays out all of its readers for each grade level on a variety of subjects.  After finding the "browse by grade" section, pick your grade and then hit the tab "What's Included".  Scroll past the teacher guides and just look at the books recommended and start picking what might work for you.

Beautiful Feet Books - They provide primarily history based reading lists (however they include horses, science and California history?).  I have linked to the page that has their book packages. Once you find a pack you like, click on it - then click on the picture shown so that you can get the list of books. I just look for ideas and then use the library or Half Price Books. You don't need the teacher's guide (they use a very particular interpretation of history) to find some great reads.

Wayfarers - You can see all her reading lists for the 4 different time periods and SCIENCE for FREE by clicking on the links.  She does a great job of using older books (like Ambleside) but also includes newer ones as well.  You don't need the day by day so the booklist at the beginning of the program will give you some great leads.   Once you download the PDF scroll past the first 20 pages or so (unless you want to read more about how to implement the curriculum she uses) and you will run into the bookslists - she has geography books (world and state) and history (by time period) and science (by subject area).  Your library is your friend!

We use her English Lessons Through Literature (which is excellent) program. You can check out her booklist for each grade level (just scroll down).  She does not have as many options as other lists but they are great (although not everyone is a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz series).

Memoria Press - Here are a few books for each grade level.  If you want books to help you teach the book - they provide them.  They offer only a few per grade but they are wonderful selections.

If you are looking for something more secular and school like you might want to check out the FREE Core Knowledge Sequence.  It is a long document but it outlines the whole scope and sequence and the table of contents is easy to use.  If you look in the Language Arts for each grade level you will see the poetry and literature chosen for that grade.  It includes the history areas studied in each grade but they have created their own "textbooks" to cover the topic (I did find one at goodwill once).  You can also get the "What your ____ Should Know?" series by E.D. Hirsch (I got all of these at Goodwill- people don't know what they have!).   He also wrote Books to Grow On.

I am sure that there are other great places and resources.  Share if you know some.  I hope that your days, weeks and summer are filled with great stories.  I spent all my time with Babysitter Club books and would have benefited from a bit more challenge!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday with Words: Prayer and Oswald Chambers

I am continuing my obsession with Oswald Chambers.  I have now read three of his books (they are short - well the ones I read).  He cuts to the heart of the matter and doesn't back down.  I finished If Ye Shall Ask . . . about prayer this weekend.  He talks about Jesus in the Garden praying - appropriate for this week.  He focuses on the great cost it is to Jesus for us to come before the King and Jesus' words to the disciples to "watch and pray".  His thoughts are timely:

 Man, I wish I understood this more when I was younger.  I still believed that I needed to do the work and prayer was secondary.  Chamber's emphasizes the point that prayer IS the work.  What if I had spent all that time watching and praying for my kids instead of running from event to event?  What if I had understood that this was a "watch and pray" season instead of a 'Go' and 'Do'.  Chamber's is not arguing that he never says 'Go' but rather that we often do the active without doing the prayerful.

Waiting, patience, standing under.  All of these things sound difficult.  That is why we need God to do them.  We need persevere and not faint (he jokes that fainting is easy for the person who does it - everyone else is all upset and concerned).  

Tell us what you really think?!   YIKES!!  In the end it is often true that worry is because it is going a way I don't want or don't understand instead of trusting that God is in control of EVERYTHING and he says that things will work to the good.  Do I live like I believe that?

There it is is.  Pride and personal ambition.  I truly don't want God's answer or even really His help.  I can do it, thank you very much.  I am certainly at the place now where it is pretty evident I cannot do it.  I need to stop being "too busy" and intercede in the areas he has given me insight into.  I tried to "Do" first and to little avail - lots of hard knocks and missteps.

If your child are little I encourage you to "watch and pray" and not feel the need to "go" and "do" all the time.  Man, I feel into that trap and am reaping some of the not so beautiful rewards of that.  The season will come but if prayer is the work that is something you can do wherever you are.

I pray you have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.