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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ancient History Study

We did a couple of studies of ancient history with my children when they were younger. By ancient history, of course, I mostly mean what most of us in the West mean- Egypt, Greece and Rome, perhaps a smattering of the Phoenicians. It's interesting that when we speak of ancient history, we are not usually thinking of the incredible advances happening in China and other parts of Asia or the rest of Africa beyond Egypt in ancient times.

That said, the Miller and Synge books below are Western, but also do include more information about the eastern part of the world.   The whole history of Asia is well worth reading as well,  but I can only share what I know, not what I aspire to know.

 We used a lot of different books because I am a reforming book gobbler and too often I stuffed the children’s days with dozens of books and subjected them to death by reading over-load; like drinking from a fire hydrant. Don’t do that. I may have made you laugh, and that is what I meant to do, but I am not kidding.

 Of the books we used, these are the ones that stand out to me as being worth repeating if I were to do ancient history with middle school or below again- not that we’d repeat all of these, because remember what I said about subjecting your kids to an avalanche of books and how, DON’T? I meant it. So, I’d choose from some of these- but I would try to gauge the number of books I chose based on what we and/or independent readers could read and narrate from in just under three hours a day.

  This reading from the books mentioned below isn’t all we’d do- we’d still have math, music, foreign language, poetry (In addition to Home and Virgil, we'd read On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer; Ozymandias), copywork and dictation (dictation for year 4 and up), Bible, picture study, geography, etc, and etc. That’s why the reading plan you create from these books would have to be limited in number and spread out such a way that they could complete it in 3 hours or less in a given day. So much will depend on your family dynamics and the reading levels of your kids.

 History spine, choose from: Greenleaf Press– I really love their guides to famous men of Greek and Rome, their Old Testament study guide, and their Egypt study guide. I think most of the supplemental reads are better suited for fun free reads, not as living books for school, but the main study guide and primary text for each one is outstanding.

 Boys’ and Girls’ Herodotus : Being Parts of the History of Herodotus by John S. White- this is very readable, probably for about year 4 and up.

 Olive Beaupre Miller’s history series. These books are fantastic, but you have to be careful with your searches. Many booksellers are careless and will send you the wrong volume. They’ve also been published in a couple of different formats- a 9 volume set, a four volume set that combines volumes under the title Picturesque Tale of Progress and also as Story of Mankind. I prefer the red hardbacks of the shorter set- I personally like the cleaner look, the pages are better quality material so they don’t yellow and tan, and the pictures are more interesting to me, even though they are largely black and white outlines (they do have some nudity, just so you know but you can colour over it). T
Whether you choose the 4 or 9 vol set is a personal preference- I have a good friend whose opinions I respect a lot and she prefers the 9 volume, older Picturesque Tale of Progress.

IF you get the version republished by Dawn Chorus, you want these volumes: Beginnings I starts with ‘Early Man’, including wonderful illustrations of early cave art, followed by excellent coverage of the rise and fall of Egypt. Beginnings II covers Babylonia, the Assyrian empire, and an extensive overview of biblical history from Abraham to the Fall of Jerusalem. Conquests I follows the history of Crete and then Greece, from their rise as political states through to the conquests of Alexander the Great. Conquests II teaches the history of Rome, and includes extensive coverage of early Christianity, including the missionary journeys of Paul and the peaceful conquest of Rome by Christianity. New Nations I covers the Fall of the Roman Empire, and then turns to the Byzantine Empire, the Medieval Church, the Vikings, and the Feudal Age.

 These books are very readable, and full of illustrations and maps, so don’t let their size intimidate you. The text is engaging as well. And you wouldn’t do the entire series- just those volumes that cover ancient history.

 Synge is every bit as engaging as Miller, so you might prefer: On the Shores of the Great Sea (Illustrated) (The Story of the World Book 1)  It's also free online.  Many CM homeschoolers in the Philippines use this one because it has more world history rather than western history and geography only.

 Some people really like Guerber’s: The Story of the Greeks and the companion Story of the Romans 

For Egypt, The Book of Pharoahs

 And some might like Alfred Church’s Carthage, or the Empire of Africa - he has a lot of books you could use for a study of ancient history and he's an engaging writer with meaty ideas and excellent prose. Here's a whole page of his work at Amazon.

 I know choosing is hard, but you must. It’s important not to bury your students in an avalanche of reading (my progeny all are rolling their eyes and saying ‘Now she figures it out!’) . I mainly mention these various possibilities because if you have any of the above, that should be your choice- as I often tell people, the best book you could choose is often the one on your bookshelves already.


History supplement:
The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone 

 A biography or two: (two only if the second one is not by Jacob Abbott, he’s fantastic, but too long to do two of his in a year): Cyrus the Great Makers of History' Darius the Great Makers of History Alexander the Great Makers of History;   History of Julius Caesar...   I really like Jacob Abbott’s biographies. They are long, however, and very deep. So just pick one.

All Times, All Peoples, A World History of Slavery by Milton Meltzer- highly recommended

 Science:Famous Experiments and How to Repeat Them .  I love this book. You MUST do the experiments. And also write Brent Filson a note and beg him to consider republishing this one. Suitable for about 9-12, with some over/under with extra parental help for younger, with more external reading and writing assigned for older.

 This is also a good time to read a good book on the science of archeology, as well as the thought-provoking Motel of the Mysteries by David MaCaulay - but don't do this book with students younger than about sixth grade or 12 or so.  Remember, we do not not want to make cynics of children too young. It does not increase their discernment, it makes them unbecomingly opinioned, arrogant, and judgey far too young.

 Continue nature study as usual in whatever fashion is suitable for your students' ages.

 Literature: Alfred Church’s renditions of: Stories from Virgil, The Iliad for Boys and GirlsThe Aeneid for Boys and GirlsThe Odyssey for Boys and Girls,  Stories from Ancient Rome, Carthage, and others by this author

 Padraic Colum’s retellings are also fantastic. You could mix and match: The Odyssey, or The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy or  The Golden Fleece  (hardback: The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles), or use this multi-volume set.

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths

 Government/statesmanship: Also continue Plutarch, naturally. I am very pleased with the series by my dear friend Anne White, of course.  Here's the first: The Plutarch Project, Volume One: Marcus Cato the Censor, Philopoemen, and Titus Flamininus (Volume 1)
 By the way, do not let anybody try to tell you the ancient Greeks were all about head knowledge and didn’t care about character.  This is so untrue that it baffles me as to where the notion comes from, and I cannot trust any related information from those who espouse this view.

 Hymn study:Learn about what may be the oldest known Greek Christian notated hymn

 Shakespeare: Julius Caesar (preferred) or  Antony and Cleopatra

 You might also find some choices for biography or statesmanship or supplemental history reading in John Lord’s Beacon Lights of History, free online at Gutenberg.

 For parents: Why Read Plutarch 
 Mortimer Adler: Why read the Great Books? 
Why REad Challenging Older Books?
 Read this summary of an excellent address by the late Daniel Boorstin,  historian par excellence, as well the 12th Librarian of Congress.  He said that trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers. We’re gathering a lot of cut flowers and trying to plant them.

~ …The Greeks said that character is destiny, and the more I read and understand of history, the more convinced I am that they were right.

 Gods, Graves & Scholars: The Story of Archaeology 

 Most of the above are affiliate links. However, you can find many of them free online as well.

How to schedule:
How many weeks long do you plan your study to last?
Add up the number of pages total in the books you choose, divide it by the number of weeks.  That's how much reading your student will have to do each week (plus their other work in other subjects).  Cut back books until you have a fairly well rounded list and a couple hours worth of reading to do in Ancient history studies each day.
It's really much simpler than it sounds.  Let the books do the teaching. Let the narrating do the processing.  Don't overdo it.    God bless!







Made by Wendi!  I put together a couple of ezines, a collection of recipes and some other goodies that I think you'll enjoy.  Take a look below!
 https://gumroad.com/wendiwanders



$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.



 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.


  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00

Monday, April 29, 2019

Two Poets, Two Poems

On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer John Keats.—1795-1821.
 Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

 Wikipedia: On First Looking into Chapman's Homer is a sonnet written by the English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) in October 1816. It tells of the author's astonishment while reading the works of the ancient Greek poet Homer as freely translated by the Elizabethan playwright George Chapman."

 Astonishment? I would say so. He was astonished, amazed, ravished and enraptured by the beauty of the vision before him. He was inspired, taken between wind and water, blown away. He was also only 21 years old when he wrote this poem, which quite takes my own breath away. He would be dead, probably of tuberculosis, just four years later. If you have not already you will come across this poem in the Arthur Ransome poem Swallows and Amazons. Poetry gives us the vocabulary to describe wonderful new discoveries to ourselves. It is another way of seeing.

 John Keats (1795-1821) was of humble birth, being the son of a London stablekeeper. He lived at the time of Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Leigh Hunt, from all of whom he gathered inspiration. His years were few, and his fame did not come while he was living. He had a passion for beauty, which found expression in all his poetry. On account of failing health he went to Rome in 1820, where he died the year following. (Junior High School Literature, Elson and Keck)

 Ozymandias by Percy Bysse Shelley

 I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . .
Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

 Shelley and Keats were friends, and Shelley grieved Keats untimely demise greatly.

 There may or may not have been a real statue just as Shelley described, but probably not. Attempts to identify it tend to fizzle out. It doesn't matter. See if somebody reads these aloud on youtube to give you a sense of how they should sound. Savour the sound, the rhythm, the way they feel in your mouth, the weight and impact of the words in your ears. Hold them in your heart and mind. Feel them. Picture in your mind the images the words convey.



$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.



 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.


  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Imagination, from AO Camp 2019

From Imagination talk. Pics on right from our Philippine mission
I was asked a few times to share the notes of my talk. This was not as easy as you might think. Some of my notes are something like this:
Poll. Strawberry Story. Aesop's frogs.
Then I have a couple paragraphs of actual notes, and then something vague again.
 Also, I crossed things out and rearranged them as I went along in my talk, and one of the things people especially liked was something I kind of said off the cuff on the spot- it's not in my notes at all. I won't even be sure exactly what I said until the recordings are finished and available for purchase.
People also wanted to know about the parts I cut to make up for the time I ate up by giving those off the cuff remarks, but I've been asked to speak at L'Harmas in Canada this October, and I plan to share some of that 'director's cut' part of the talk there, and I want it to be fresh.=)  (pro-tip- if you are American and not interested in traveling outside of the continent, a passport card is about half the price of a regular passport and you can use for driving into Canada).

Nonetheless, I wanted to share something about it for all the people who asked, so here's what I settled on doing:
 First, I have an awesome summary to share. It's awesome because I did not write it and summarizing is simply not my gift. I am indebted to my longtime internet friend Linz(at)Home (I finally got to meet her at AO Camp!) for the following summary of my plenary. Her Instagram acct is here.

Here are her notes, shared with permission (Thanks, Linz!!)
 "The reading of stories to children can empower imagination and empathy, “putting oneself in another’s shoes.”
Active sympathy is an act of imagination.
Children need fairy tales not for their own amusement but because they build the mind and squeeze out self-preoccupation.
“The weak diet of school texts produce people with little moral imagination.” (CM)
 Imagination is a seed that grows from what it gets.
Living books fill the imagination and POINT IT OUTWARDS.
(Moralizing) twaddle doesn’t help you put yourself in another’s shoes, it makes you judgey and priggish. 😬
With Littles, be generous with the positive stories and save the heavy truths for later.
Accurate observation builds imagination. Picture to yourself the story. It builds a web of knowledge (not linear, stacked facts),
self-knowledge, not self-absorption.
 Find a connection to what you’re reading -“oh, grandpa was from this country..” Emotions are engaged and reading widely can show us truths about ourselves.
Stories are also conversations through the ages. We meet people in other times and places.
Use stories that don’t have a perfect, tidy end. There is value in the questions “then what? Was that the right thing?” Let them wonder. It opens connections in the brain."

 I think Linz did a fabulous job.
For those interested in the more in depth stuff from my notes, including multiple quotes, and much of the material I had to cut, plus excerpts from the articles I used in my research (except the material that will be part of my talk at L'Harmas),  I have gathered all that and more together, tidied them up, organized them, and included them along with several new Parents' Review articles (new as in they are transcribed online in readable form for the first time as far as I know), and some other goodies in the newest, hot off the press, just finished, e-zine of Education for All! You can purchase that here: https://gum.co/TOSfc

And here is my rough bibliography if you want to do your own research:


Bibleography:

Also, all six of Charlotte Mason's volumes on homeschooling, with a special emphasis on volumes 4 and 5, available online at AmblesideOnline.org, and the following books:

A Landscape with Dragons
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
Tending the Heart of Virtue
Beauty for Truth's Sake
Books that Build Character

I'm not a podcast person so I haven't listened to any, but I have no doubt that A Literary Life is excellent because I have never felt like Cindy Rollins has steered me wrong, and she and Angelina Stanford are doing this new podcast that looks so yummy I might have to try a podcast after all. (I did, it was!)

Regarding the material in my bibliography, the books I have read over the last few years. The articles I read or reread in the three months before my talk.  I still have, literally, 25 tabs open to PR volumes I wanted to peruse before getting down to business and writing that talk, but... I finally had to slap my hands and tell myself enough was enough, I could read those volumes later when working on a sequel- or a book!  Anyway, I'm a bit giddy about finishing up the second volume of Education for All.  You don't have to read All the Things.  That's just my personality.  Research is one of my passions.  But I share them here for those who want to read all the things, or for those who just like to wander here and there amidst the links, dabbling as you go.

Happy Wandering!! (see what I did there?  It's a bit of an inside joke for those who were able to come to AOCMCamp!)


$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.



 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.


  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Divine Guidance

Asiatic Dayflower, photo by Wendi Capehart

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.



 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.


  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00

Friday, April 5, 2019

Math the Play Way


If you've already done Laundry Preschooland are ready to move on to something just a little more formal, here are some ideas for you.

I believe children need plenty of time working with real things before moving to symbols like written numbers.  We want them to feel comfortable with numbers in real life before they get to workbooks. I think this takes a lot of working with real things, manipulatives, and games, and it's important to get this down before we ever start worksheet drills.

The ideas below are suitable to begin with a child from about three to six, although individual children will differ. They are not in any particular order, so ideas at the end of the post may well be a better place to start than the ideas at the beginning of this post.

Patterns- Learn to look for patterns everywhere, in nature, in the fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator (cut an apple in half sideways and observe the star), on your jewelry, clothing, and in picture books. Tiles on the floor make a pattern, as do designs on wallpaper. Have fun putting together your own patterns using blocks, beads, buttons from Grandma's Button Jar, and coloring supplies.

Dominoes- We get out the dominoes and match the ends. We don't worry about score keeping or anything else- just match a number in your pile to a number at the end of the domino row on the table. This helps them learn number patterns. Later, we play a kind of slap jack game. When I think they recognize the patterns well, I will lay the dominoes face down, turn one over, and the first one to call out the total number of dots and slap his/her hand down over it will get to keep the domino.  You could also do this for younger children using regular playing cards (remove the face cards) from any old incomplete deck.

Cup of Twenty- I do not know why, but my two littlest thought this was a really fun game. I give them each a cup with twenty small counters in it. It can be beads, dried beans, dry macaroni, poker chips, those glass things for planters (they look like flattened marbles) whatever. I would give them a regular set of dice from a game, one with the number dots for 1-6. They each got their own. They took turns rolling, telling me what they rolled (this, again, helps with the recognition of dot patterns from 1-6), and then they removed that many counters from their cup. The first one to zero won. As they play, you can sometimes ask questions about who has the most, who has the least, how many counters they have left, how many counters they have removed all together, etc. Once all the counters are out of the cup, they roll to return counters to the cup- same thing- an occasional question about who has more, who can win with just one roll, how many all together from the last roll and this one. Again,
they just adored this 'game.'


our son and godsons playing with rods
What's in my hand? We used cuisenaire rods. You could do this with any set of manipulatives that have some sort of graduated numeric value.  To begin with, I had them make the stair steps (one through ten in a row), close their eyes, and then I removed a rod, closed the stairs, and they had to guess what I was holding. If you don't have any rod manipulatives, you might try it with a deck of cards, one through ten, or the dominoes.
Next I took our Cuisenaire box which has slots for each separate color, and I wrote the numbers above the right color. My kids could refer to that for help. Then I took a fist full of rods and put them in a bag. I would pull out one rod, keeping it out of their sight, and give them a clue, and they would have to guess what I had in my hand. If I had a six, I might use one of the following clues:
The rod in my hand is bigger than five, smaller than seven.
The rod in my hand is in between five and seven.
The rod in my hand is more than five, less than seven.
The rod in my hand is longer than five, shorter than seven.
I used these different sentences throughout the game because I discovered that one of the children had not ever picked up what 'in between' meant in relation to numbers. And, after all, being comfortable with a variety of ways to state the same number is important for later math concepts.
Once the kids got comfortable (and quick) at answering these questions, I started to give clues like:
The rod in my hand is half of an eight.
The rod in my hand is one more than seven.
The rod in my hand is one less than four.
The rod in my hand plus a one makes a nine.
After we worked our way through the ones facts so that the kids knew them easily (although they did not realize what they'd done), we moved on to more complicated clues. The next step up in clues worked like this:
The rod in my hand is two more than six.
The rod in my hand plus a three equals a seven.
If I had two of these rods, it would make a four.
The rod in my hand is two less than seven.
The rod in my hand is as big as a seven and three put together.
For all of these questions, they are allowed to refer to the box, to get out the rods and work out the answers. When they don't need time to work out the answers to the clues, we move to the next step.

I asked them to show me all the ways they can add two rods to get to a ten, all the ways they can add two rods to get to a seven, and so forth.

How Many Ways- this is another 'game' we play to vary our math times. We used a Lauri number puzzle 1-10 (Number Play, LR-2414, but it seems Kaplan makes it now). There are actually ten small puzzle boards, one for each number. One of the puzzle pieces in each board is the number, and then for the number one, there is one apple, for the number two, there are two pears, for the number 7, we have seven small trees (or whatever, you get the idea).

I like using the pieces to this puzzle because they are small, they do not roll around, and because more than one child can work with it at a time. While one child is using one part of the puzzle, another child can be working with a different part of the puzzle. However, anything you have could be used in a similar way- felt pieces, beans again, grapes, raisins, or buttons. Just make sure these small counters are not available to a younger child who is going to put something in his mouth and choke on it.

We take a whiteboard and I draw a blank form for a math equation. I use a circle, a plus sign, another circle, and then an equals sign. It looks kind of like this:
( ) + ( ) =

I put the number we are working with in the place where the sum belongs, then gave my kids that amount of small manipulatives. Their job was to move them around in the circles to show different ways of making six.   They would write down each of the math problems they figured out. So a child might put two manipulatives in one circle, the remaining four in the second, and then write down 2 + 4 = 6. I started playing like this with my eldest, lo these many years ago (1988), only we sat at the table and used paper plates for our circles and poker chips for manipulatives.  Use what you have, don't get wrapped up around finding the perfect thing first.

Math games to play with a regular deck of cards
Take out a set for numbers one through ten. Have the kids put them
in order smallest to largest, and then largest to smallest.
Give them a set of beans and have them put one bean, plastic disc, penny, button, acorn, seashell, pebble, or whatever you have  over each spot (this is helpful for learning one to one correspondence).
Play War- a great way to learn less than/more than (Divide the deck between two players. Holding their cards face down, the players turn their top cards over simultaneously. The player with the highest card wins, taking both cards)
Play Go Fish- At first this helps with identification, later only ask for pairs of cards that add up to ten, or six, or whatever. Give her a set of small counters to work out the combinations she needs in concrete objects first.
Board games 
Sorry- the older Sorry which involved rolling the dice. Games like this help them learn counting carefully (one to one correspondence), number patterns (on the dice), adding two dice together, and strategy.
RAcko is another great math game, and they don't even know they are doing 'math.'
Money- count the coins in your purse, sort them by size and color, learn their denominations, count nickels by fives, dimes by tens.
Counting real things- eggs in the egg carton get counted by twos, so do matched socks, eyes in the room, shoes. At the store, count onions into a bag, asking how many more and how many less you will have if you add three, take three out, and so forth. Count out cans of soup. Ask your child to put ten apples in a bag, or five cans of pineapple in the shopping cart. Let your child guess how much a bag of fruit or vegetables will weigh, and then let the child weigh the bag.
Books- Occasionally when you are reading aloud together and a number is mentioned (Ma gave Laura two pancakes, for instance), ask questions like, "How many would Laura have if Ma gave her two more? How many will Laura have left when she eats one? Watch for opportunities to think about numbers in all your read alouds- ask questions like "is that a lot or just a few? Can you show me that many fingers?
Once activities like this have become natural and your child's replies easy and fairly quickly, then add some number sentences- as you are playing 'What's in my hand,' take a moment to show her on a whiteboard that you could write out the answers in two ways. You could write, "The green rod and a red rod make a train as long as a six rod." Or you could simply write
it with numbers: 4+2=6

First get the concrete stuff down, the hands on things with real objects, then take the abstract ideas, written numbers and number sentences and apply them to the concrete stuff she already knows and feels comfortable with. Once they've gotten good at games like 'what's in my hand,' most kids can quickly see that the sense in having the symbols for 'and this many more' (+); is the same as (=).

The Computer- There are also some fun math games on the computer, although we don't use these much. If we were using these, I would also leave out counters for her to use. I would also permit manipulatives to be used with worksheets when those are first introduced.
A wise hsing mom once told me that if you start with manipulatives, they tend to resort to those external manipulatives more than their fingers. This is good, because it takes more time to count things out with external manipulatives, so that it is naturally a self- reducing activity. Kids will only use the manipulatives as long as they have to have them, and because it is tedious to count out five beans, and then four beans, and then count them all together, eventually they will remember their math facts and stop needing the extra assistance.

One easy game to play to figure out ways to make ten: You need four pictures of a train or a truck for each player. Trace the ten rod on the bed of the train or truck. Draw a pie chart with five sections. Color each of those sections to match your rods, 1-5. Make a spinner- you can do this with a brad and a paperclip. Take turns spinning, put the corresponding color rod on one of your trains. You can't move any rods after you've put them down, can't go over ten, and must have exact numbers to complete trains. Winner loads all four trucks or trains first. Later add numbers 6-10 to this.  (more ideas here)

Learning place value is the next step, I think, and a program such as Math U See is terrific, although there are others, too. It's also helpful to learn to count to 20 in a language such as Japanese, where the numbers passed ten are literally "Ten and 1; Ten and two; Ten and three; Ten and four..." Counting pennies, dimes, and dollars is also helpful for learning place value.

Throughout the day look for opportunities to estimate numbers and test your answers. The more you do this, the better the child will get at picturing numbers in his head- although that's not encouragement to fill a kindergarten aged child's days with constant oral math quizzes.  Do something like this when it is unforced, not interrupting a child who is busy at productive play, once a day over a long period of time.

Include your children in the real life math problems you are doing. I need to put up a fence, how much fencing do I need? What kind of math problem is that? I need to paint the wall, how much paint do I need? I need to buy carpeting, how much carpeting do I need? We need to set the table and we're having five guests for dinner. How many places shall we set? I'm doubling this recipe and since it calls for 2 cups of flour, how many will I need?  Or just explain that you are using math and what you are using it for- figuring out the gas mileage, the grocery budget, a tithe, fabric for a project, look for all the ways you use math in real life and point them out as you go through life together.

Keep your math lessons and games shorter than your child's attention span, and always quit while they are still having fun and well before frustration kicks in.


You can find more fun math games in the books Family MathFamily Math for Young Children, and one of the many books that have been written to go along with a set of cuisenaire rods (we liked Super Source, and Super Source for K-2)
You can incorporate math discussions into almost any book you read, but here are some of our favorites.
The Hello, Math series- this series is by no stretch of the imagination great literature, but they are fun math lessons. Some of our favorites have been:
MOnster Math Picnic
One Hungry Cat
More or Less a Mess

Here are two of our favorite 'math' picture books:
Over in the Meadow
Counting Creatures

Counting songs:
I have a short playlist of our favourite counting songs

My children are grown now and four of them have children of their own.  The above resources are things I used with them when they were small.  I am sure there are shinier, newer things out that are just as good.  You don't need to spend a lot of money or make sure everything is perfect.  Use what you have or can easily get.  I had my grandmother's real button box  and used it all the time (Kondo notwithstanding).  You may prefer the beads from a necklace that broke, dried beans, acorns picked up in the woods, or something else.   Adjust these ideas to your children and your family.  Think about the goal first and be flexible in how to reach it.  Make it a natural part of your daily lives- and be sure the littles still have plenty of free play time, and especially out-of-doors play.

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Tools to help you implement Charlotte Mason methods:  



$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.

 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.

  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00


Webpage with great ideas for exploring early math concepts, especially for visually impaired children, adaptable for many situations: https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/56-tactile-math-ideas-ideas-and-suggestions-development-basic-concepts-early-maths-skills

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Laundry Preschool

When my 6th child was three a relative came to visit and expressed consternation because our three year old didn't know her colors yet, and somebody else's younger grandchild did. This would have upset and worried me with my firstborn, but by my sixth child I'd learned a thing or two, so I wasn't worried about it. I told my relation that when this child was ready, she'd know her colors, and she would not be 'behind' when she did.

I had learned that little children really are sponges for knowledge, and they are gathering information and knowledge all the time. After all, it's not like we all walk around our homes in isolation, never speaking. We mention these things as part of daily life (I like the blue shirt better, those red flowers are pretty, orange starbursts are my favorites,this toast is burnt black as midnight, has anybody seen the other green/red/blue/purple/yellow/white/black/white/brown/pink/orange/chartreuse
sock?).

Sure enough, about six months later, my little girl knew all her colors without any particular effort on my part- and she knew lots of other things, too, because while that other mother was expending a lot of time and focused attention getting her much younger child to learn that one thing ahead of everyone else, my child was picking up all kinds of knowledge as naturally as a bird pecks up crumbs. By the time the children were five years old, if you had to guess, you would not guess that it was _my_ child who learnt her colors last.  This wasn't about which mother loved her kids more or which kid was smarter.

This isn't about being smug.  I had been that other mother with my first.  I had just learned that I could work really, really hard and diligently and teach a one year one her colours, or I could just wait and it would happen naturally, with far less focused attention on my part, and that freed me up to do other things with my child.

We have had the same experience with counting (my children learn to count from playing hide 'n seek with their siblings), the alphabet (reading aloud alphabet books, and taking our time), and sizes- big, biggest, small, smallest, middle sized- these concepts we generally learn from the Story of the Three Bears or from choosing which piece of cake we want.

With our smallest children we had become, in other words, big fans of natural learning.

 Years ago we were preparing to adopt two children, the elder of the two was nearly six years old. I wasn't sure if we should home school the eldest or not, since she had so many special needs. Chief among them is a severe developmental disability. I visited her classroom. I looked at catalogs for special needs materials. I read books on teaching kids with developmental delays and disabilities. I noticed that over and over, the materials used were expensive representations of things found at home. For teaching matching skills there would be flash cards with photographs of socks, shoes, utensils, and clothing. I could see why this would streamline things in a classroom setting, but I wondered if I couldn't just use real socks and shoes. For teaching counting there were impossibly colored little plastic bears, and while there's nothing wrong with that,  I thought we could do the same thing with naturally colored seashells, buttons, acorns, or raisins. Since so many of the materials for the disabled were imitations of things found in a home, I wondered if maybe her new  home just might be the best place for our soon-to-be-new-daughter to be, so that's what we did.  Then I realized the same principles apply to other younglings.  They could learn all those preschool skills at home, naturally.

Laundry is a great time for working on the skills of sorting by color, size, or style and of matching up pairs of like things. Do you know how many pairs of socks a family of nine goes through in a week? We had six little girls who liked socks in colours like blue, yellow, orange, pink, purple.  They liked patterns, too, so we had stripes and polka-dots, hearts, flowers, stars, and occasionally, fruits and  diamonds, a veritable Lucky Charms of socks.  Boy, did we have multiple opportunities to do some matching!

Laundry is also a good opportunity to hone some early connections and thinking skills. As you fold or sort, you can be asking your young child questions such as "who wears this?
Do we wear this when it's hot or cold? Does this go on your hand or your
foot?  Is this a good thing to wear hiking in the woods?  Would this fit Daddy? Why not?  Would this fit the baby? Why not?  What would happen if a porcupine tried to wear this?"

When you want to teach shapes you can use the laundry again if you use cloth napkins, washclothes, and towels. Fold them into squares, rectangles and triangles.  Or look for shapes on the clothes, in their patterns and in the buttons.

 Lunches and snacks are also good places to learn shapes- slice bananas into circles, cut an apple sideways to look at the star, eat a spherical cherry tomato. You can also learn shapes from neighborhood street signs.

Lunch and laundry folding are great opportunities to learn basic fractions (fold it in half, fold it in half again, cut it into thirds, divide that sandwich in fourths) and cooperation. You can also count socks, sing "this is the way we wash the clothes...", sing "One little, two little, three little undies" to the tune of Ten Little Indians, and develop habits of order all just by doing laundry together.

When it is time to clean up a game or playthings, you can work on colours by asking a small tot to pick up all the red toys, or all the round things. You can play 'I spy' and look for round or square things on a page in a book or in the living room, or at the grocery store.  You can look for red things at the grocery store, or count the produce as you put it in a bag.

If you need to work on scissors skills, you can have a child help cut out coupons, or use the grocery fliers and cut out pictures of food for a pictorial shopping list, or a birthday list, or to make cards for relatives or people from your church.

When you want to teach your child your phone number and address, set it to music (a simple tune you already know) and sing while doing dishes, wiping the table, or dusting together.  Small tots can dust the legs of chairs or tables, or spray and wipe door knobs and light switches. They can be given a small metal creamer and told to water plants by filling that creamer with water *one* time to water each plant, or six times to fill the dog's water bowl.

They learn one to one correspondence (an early math skill) by setting the table- one plate for each family member, one fork for each plate, one napkin for each fork, and so on.

All chores are _great_ opportunities for bonding. I've always found that working together on a project is a wonderful way to foster a spirit of cooperation and togetherness.
Make the chores and daily routines part of your rhythm as a family. Don't isolate the children from real life by creating institutionalized preschools at home. God put them in a family, use the life and routine of your family.

For instance, we have to eat. But we don't have to eat the same way every day. Sometimes we have picnics outside (to a small child a sandwich on a tablecloth in the grass is a grand picnic.. We've even had picnics in the living room on the floor (popcorn, cheese and fruit is a
great nutritious, easy, living room picnic). Sometimes we have had candle-light dinners,
with a fancy table setting and our macaroni and cheese or black bean sloppy
joes, or a fancier meal of chicken and artichoke crepes.

Finish up doing the dishes with some water play in the sink. Give your child a
ride on the vacuum cleaner while you vacuum. Play marching games while picking
up the toys. Talk about things you care about while doing the dishes, cutting up the vegetables for a salad, or making the beds. Weed the garden together, and talk while you're doing it.

 I am much more impressed by a small child who can match socks and fold pillowcases than by a small child who can quote his numbers by rote- the first child knows what
she's doing. It has meaning for her. She's proudly making a contribution to her family. She's building brain connections that matter. I'm not worried about counting, she'll pick it up with out trouble.
The second child has a skill that he understands little, and it's useful for
impressing others, but for all the meaning it has to him in his real life, he
might just as well memorize license plates or commercials. They'd be equally
useless to him *at that age,* and there's no reason they won't be able to pick up the rote memory streams of facts like numbers of alphabet letters later.

Years ago I tried teaching my small people some rote facts that did not have much meaning for them. I did this because I had read about it in a description of one educational approach. According to what I read, children find rote memorization so easy that this is a good time to feed them lots of lists to memorize and they can figure out what it's all about much later. We didn't have a lot of success with this method, although we did have a lot of frustration. One of the things we tried to help the girls memorize was a little song about bacteria from Lyrical Life Science. They almost learned it well enough sing along with the tape, but they could never sing without the tape, and it was always a source of frustration for them. Years later those girls took a biology course, and after their biology class they happened to hear that song again. "Ohhhh," said one of them, "that song makes a lot more sense now. It would be easier to learn now that I know what they are talking about, too." For my children, having some understanding of the ideas behind a concept is vital before they can memorize the facts and details.

So my smaller children may not have learnt the alphabet until they were six, while their neighbors half their age might be reciting the names of the Presidents and the alphabets of three languages.  I believe small children ought to be spending those preschool years helping out around the house, listening to stories, singing nursery songs, reciting Mother Goose, hearing Bible stories,  climbing trees, splashing in puddles, digging in the mud, playing hopscotch, sliding down hills, rolling, jumping, skipping, and having teaparties and making mud pies, daydreaming, and generally " wasting their time "in other seemingly frivolous play while others are inside working over flashcards and workbooks.

There is plenty of research indicating that any early apparent gains made by learning the alphabet at 2 disappear quickly.   By the time kids are 8-10 years old, one would be hardpressed to accurately guess which child learned the alphabet last.

 It doesn't always have to be an either/or situation, of course, but it often is, because parents, being busy people, sometimes focus on academics to the exclusion of other things, and for young children, pretty much everything else *but* academics is more useful and important to their development.

For those interested in learning more, I strongly recommend reading Jane Healy's _Your Child's Growing Mind,_ anything by Ruth Beechick or John Holt, and volume one of Charlotte Mason's six volume series.

And don't forget to play.



$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.  
   
 $5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal,   Feed Your Mind!  This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.

 $3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.

  $3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One!  Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation.   Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.

Picture Study!  Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00

Common Kitchen:  What's for lunch?  Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families?  What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing?  How can I accomplish all those things at once?  We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income.  I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world.  These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids.  Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions.  I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00