Sunday, September 30, 2012

What We're Doing - Week Four Links

History/Geography     Seven Wonders coloring sheets

                                - Colosseum Paper Model

                                - Pyramid Paper Model

                         - Interactive Map of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
                                        - Seven Wonders Flashcards

Science                      - Plant Cell Diagram Game

                                         Animal/Plant Song

For the remaining subjects, we're employing some of our standard memory techniques like copy work and map sketching.  And, of course, we'll be using recitation and music for all of our grammar.

Well, we're four weeks in now, what's working for you? 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Climbing Parnassus - An Unqualified Reivew

Were you classically educated? Me neither! I have so much to learn! and I've been doing it through my readings about classical education.  I finished reading Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons today. Yay! This book was handed out at my local Classical Conversations practicum.  Was it at yours too? Have you started reading it?  

I'll start by telling you two things - 1) I am absolutely not qualified to write a meaningful book review and 2) I really enjoyed and was challenged by this book!  So, in spite of thing 1, I want to share with you some of my thoughts and I hope, in the comments, you'll share your thoughts as well. 

Without a doubt, Simmons makes the case for classical education and its relevance to this or any time period. He also builds a strong case for learning Greek and/or Latin languages as necessary training instruments of a sound mind. If you were considering classically educating your children without a strong emphasis on the languages, this might change your mind or, at the least, cause you to rethink your reasons. 

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book -- 

"It may be telling that we do not find many instances in the ancient world of pupils set to writing their own poems: their task was not to express themselves, but to bow humbly at the feet of others.  They were apprentices.  They were to know, not to be known." (p.80) 

"When aims are pitched high, even a partial failure may lead to ultimate success.  The climb itself builds muscles, even if we don't reach the top. Out of this disposition of mind classical education arose." (p.81)

"Underlying its method is, first, certain belief that learning is a hard, intractable affair...and second,...its fruits ought to serve more than the individual - while never doing less." (p.81)

"The literatures of Greece and Rome comprise the longest and fullest continuous record available to us of what the human mind has been busy about in practically every department of spiritual and social activity...Hence the mind that has attentively canvassed this record is not only a disciplined mind but an experienced mind; a mind that instinctively views any contemporary phenomenon from the vantage-point of an immensely long perspective attained through this profound and weighty experience of the human spirit's operations." (Albert Jay Nock on p.156)

"Erasmus once wrote that there exist two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of 'words' and knowledge of 'truths.' While knowledge of truths may come first in the pecking order, one cannot get at those truths without the knowledge of words.  Classical education sought to provide a training in words so as to grant an entree to those truths. And the training began with Grammar, Usage, and Composition. Notice we say 'training' here, not 'education.' For education, rightly understood, is launched with training and drill. The educated mind must first know how to do, how to form and build, something.  Education is the result; training is the method." (p.161-162)

"Latin composition encourages us to structure the things that we have to say before we say them. ...helps to eradicate loose thinking and feeling. ...tightens expression. ...strive toward economy and flair with our words." (p.170)

"We strain through an intellectual exercise; we're sweatier for wear, but stronger." (p.176) 

"A classical training, thoroughly conducted along humanistic lines, changes the shape of the mind for the better. It stays with us." (p.184)

"Schools of the best kind have always aimed high while keeping feet to the ground. They didn't try to do too much; they tried to do the most important things. Those who ran them know that we educate ourselves with the tools imparted by good teachers. All else was up to us.  The old schoolmasters didn't profess to teach everything worth knowing.  Indeed they professed the opposite.  They shaped their curricula narrowly and wisely.  Information alone is not knowledge, as they knew.  Still less it is wisdom.  Schools can accomplish much more when they recognize squarely how little they can do.  Yet how much more can be done when our gaze remains steady, our head sober, our aims high.  No results are guaranteed.  But the effort pays off.  Formed minds and tempered souls are no small gifts fo the world." (p.186)

"Classics pulled citizens our of the innate parochialism to which all are born, helping those blinded by their own times - and this is most of us - to see those times without blinders, affording a broad view of history and of their place within it....we are not alone, men and women have faced like predicaments before. Classical literature showed that the thirst for the New for the sake of New is often a mark of both personal and social immaturity.  We are not to be, in one real sense, children of our time: we are to be children of all time, men for all seasons." (p.211)

"The best education, the highest and most bracing education, does not scorn the ground; without the ground we cannot spot the horizon. Yet it doesn't disdain the stars. It bids us, as Pope once inscribed, 'to trace the Muses upward to their spring.'" (p.247)

Okay, that looks like a lot of quotes, but really I'm sharing far less than half of what I underlined while reading the book.  I did not agree with everything Simmons said and for our purposes, as believers, I wanted to take the goals of classical education a few steps beyond humanistic goals.  Climbing Parnassus, as well as some previous readings, helped me to formulate my thoughts on why our family is classically educating our children.  

In no certain order, they are as follows:

- to know our own language from the inside out

- to view ourselves, our world, and our God in larger scope of time/experience/civilization 

- to experience the best God has created

- to form our minds through training for their best and fullest potential

- to steer us towards and expose us to the best man can offer which points us, as image bearers, to the Creator and His greatness, and in light of which our innate depravity and our great need for a savior is revealed

- to honor Jesus as followers by bringing Him glory through our lives

- for the cultivation of wisdom through the work of the Holy Spirit

That's to say nothing of specific goals on grammar and composition, fine arts and literature, etc.  Our overarching goal is to "know Him and make Him known" and I believe these expectations fit nicely into that larger goal as a subset. 

What about you? Why have you decided to classically educate your child(ren)? Have you read or are you reading Climbing Parnassus? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this book, other books (even books from the opposing perspective) and your goals for classically educating at home. Do share!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Field Trip - Crystal Cave

I and another mom coordinate four optional field trips a year for our CC community.  We try to find ones that will in some way match up with topics we're learning in our designated cycle and can appeal to a wide range of ages. Today we took our first trip of the year - to Crystal Cave in Kutztown, PA. 

There was a 15 minute video on the history of Crystal Cave before we entered the cave for an approximately 45 minute tour.  We learned so much and saw some really cool things.  I'm always in awe of what explorers are able to find and make accessible for the rest of us (who would never have entered an unknown pitch black cave filled with at least 6" of mud and only a candle!). Because of their work, we learned so much! 

The ride home gave us time to discuss some of the presented science that we disagree with us as believers of the Bible.  We also searched for answers from the Bible that are compatible with the effects we observed in the cave today.  It's always a great training exercise for them to compare presented "facts" to the truth of the Bible. and really, it's great for me too! Keeps my mind fresh and my thinking a good way!  And of course, observing nature in this way, always give us a chance to praise the Creator!  Can I get an amen??

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tweaking Our Daily Schedule

As we enter our 3rd week of CC at home, we're tweaking our daily schedule a bit to smooth out some rough spots.  Our original schedule is below with changes in bold. 

7:00 AM I wake up, work out/shower, coffee/read Bible & pray

8:00 AM littles wake up/straighten/brush teeth/get dressed

8:30 AM eat breakfast & clean up kitchen

9:00 AM read BIBLE snuggled together 
                draw about Bible reading & listen to classical music
Bible verse review for AWANA

10:00 AM LANGUAGE ARTS - group phonics & poetry
                seat work & individual reading lessons
                tot bag activity with Oliver

11:00 AM -MATH lessons
                outside/inside play; NATURE walks

12:00 PM - eat lunch & clean up kitchen

1:00 PM  -  CC GRAMMAR review & reinforcement
                 TIMELINE review
                 READ aloud/together time

2:00 PM  -  notebooking
                 naps for younger two

3:00 PM  -  quiet time for older two
                 independent reading for oldest

4:00 PM  -  leftover work & free time
5:00 PM  -  dinner prep

If we finish our work early in any time slot, it's bonus time to spend freely!

Having math in the afternoon made it seem like somewhat less of a priority and if our day was delayed at all, it could get squished into a very small time slot. Also, since summer has ended my youngest has returned to taking two naps a day on some days making the morning a great time to focus my attention on teaching the older ones.  And completing all our curriculum based subjects in the morning and our CC based grammar in the afternoon just seems to make more sense to me. 

I felt out our "first draft" daily schedule for two weeks, jotted down notes of things to change as we went, and made those little changes this week. Now, we'll give these little changes a try for a few weeks and see how it goes from there. I don't like to make big changes much, so I'm hoping these will stick!

How about you? How's your schedule working for you? 

Are you able to fit it all in? 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The View From Here - PJ Day

I'm more of a Martha then a Mary myself, so it's all too easy for me to get lost in the lists or to-dos of the day. I've been inspired over the last few months to pause and take in "the view from here." and not just take it in, but enjoy it too.  Allow myself and my family to be blessed by God's presence. Often, I capture these regular moments with my camera.

It's not always an easy or a pretty moment, but it's always worthwhile. So, join with me, pause a moment in your day and take in the view from wherever you are. I guarantee it will give you some perspective and most likely inspire some gratitude and contentment.

P.S. - The view from here is my littles (mostly) all still in pjs & if I turned the camera on myself, you'd see I still am too! We normally like to head into our school days "dressed for the day," but today we're taking a lazier approach to clothing.  and still getting lots accomplished! Just don't surprise me with a knock on the door today - eek! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What We're Doing - Week Three Links

As you probably noticed last week, I will add in other activities and ideas as time allows and inspiration strikes, but here is the basic list of links we're planning to use in conjunction with our new grammar for week 3.

And if inspiration strikes, I'll be sure to share ideas with you!

History - Greek gods information & coloring sheets (for our notebooks!)

          - Ancient Gods Arcade Game

               -  7 Wonders Mini-Book 

Science - Animal and Plant Cells coloring sheet (for our notebooks!)

           - Animal and Plant Cells model recipes

              - Magic School Bus Goes Cellular Video

Math     - Skip Counting Game 

I haven't watched the entire Magic School Bus Goes Cellular video, so please use your judgement when showing it to your family. 

How about you? 

Have you found any online resources you plan to use this week?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Week Two - Living Thing Eating

Okay, so weird title, I agree.  But, our dinner tonight included (at least) one thing from 4 out of the 5 kingdoms of living things.  Did you guess what we made?

PIZZA! Thanks to our Creation Science for Kids: Biology Study Unit, we learned that pizza contains ingredients that are from 4 out of the 5 kingdoms of living things. 

The yeast in the dough is FUNGI!

Tomato sauce, spice, and in our case, spinach, is PLANTAE!

The bacon is ANIMALIA!

The mozzarella and ricotta cheese contain MONERA!

I mean, really, what a yummy way to learn about science! 

Try your own living thing eating this weekend! 

(& pretty please - tell us all about it in the comments!)

p.s. - Here's another way we've learned using pizza!

Week Two - Mummy Making

Mummy making happened today! As previously mentioned, I have 3 boys and 1 baby girl so there are no barbies to speak of yet in our home.  So, we used some random plastic figures we had around the house. The boys picked ones they wouldn't mind saying goodbye to, in case they don't clean up well after the mummification process.  

In regard to them being smaller in size: con - they were a little harder to work with and pro - they were quick to complete which was good for my younger one's attention span. So, first, we cleaned them with red wine. 

Next, we rubbed them with spices. The smell factor was great for my guys! It helped them really think through and ask questions about what it would have been like to embalm a body during ancient times.

Then, we wrapped them in newspaper strips which we had dunked in a flour/water paste to make them stick.  The longer the strips, the easier the wrapping worked.  

And, finally, we laid them to set out in the sun.  Hopefully, after nap and rest time, they will be hardened.  They are excited to show them to daddy tonight!

During our work, I was impressed by how much detail the boys remembered from our readings about the mummification process.  And I think engaging their senses in the learning process is so cool and really helps broaden their learning experience. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cycle One - Week Two - 7 Wonders & Pyramid Building

I liked this video for giving my littles visuals for the size, scale, and some of the mechanics for the seven wonders of the ancient world.  We only watched about the first 7 minutes.  Let me know if you go further and like what it shares!

We played this pyramid builder game yesterday, which they really loved! You make choices throughout the game in order to build your pyramid.  Making the wrong choices can have seriously bad consequences! I let my littles make our choices, but also guided them by asking questions, reading the helpful information which is part of the game, and reminding them of things we've read on our own.  Even still, I left the choices up to them.  Our pyramid building took a few attempts (mom's barge driving is partially to blame!). My littles are asking to play it again today and I'm sure it reinforced the things we've been learning, so perhaps we will!

p.s. - there is also a mummy maker game on the same site, but i'm not sure we're ready for all the gruesome details of mummy making in this house! 

Creation Science for Kids Giveaway - Winner Announced!

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for the Creation Science for Kids:Biology Study Unit by Homeschool Curriculum Resources! I hope you all have checked out the free sample pages found on their site! If you haven't yet, I think you would appreciate what you'll see there.  It's Biblically based, well-written, easy to use, and priced well - $4.99 - for 12 lessons with full color images and discussion questions. 

Without further ado, Melody Stroud, you are the winner! I will be in touch with Mia of Homeschool Curriculum Resources to get your e-book delivered to your e-mail asap! Then you can start enjoying it, like we are! Congratulations! 

Again, thank you to all who entered!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Week Two - Playing with Hieroglyphics

Today we used this jpg file of hieroglyphics to write in our notebooks.  After writing his name, my oldest wanted to continue on with his brother's name.  He was really impressed with his work and enjoyed it too!  Later, he brought his notebook around to Daddy, Mom Mom, and Pop Pop to guess what the hieroglyphics spelled.  It was fun for all of them!

My second oldest, who is really beginning his writing work this year, preferred to do mommy's version of simplified hieroglyphics.  For the simplified hieroglyphics, I drew a sketch on our chalkboard to represent a word and he copied it onto lined paper. We made a basic sentence around his interests. 

Did you try any hieroglyphics at home? Next on our history/geography agenda, mummifying a barbie

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What We're Doing - Week Two Links

Here are links to some ideas I've found online and plan to use for our week 2 grammar time at home.  

History - Ten Commandment Hand Commands

                 Ten Commandments Movie

Geography/History - Mummifying a Barbie-type doll

English - Teaching Prepositions - DIY poster

Science - Animal Classification Video

Fine Art - Spring Symmetry Printable

I have not watched the entire Ten Commandments movie yet, so please make sure it's okay for your family!  Because of its length, we will probably watch this as a treat in the afternoon or evening one day this week.

For teaching prepositions, I like the poster & will likely make something similar but will probably also add an active element to it.  After all, I do have 3 boys! I'll keep you posted as we do that at home this week. 

And...we don't have any barbies, so we'll be using some type of random plastic or wooden doll.  What about you? Any interesting ideas planned for reinforcing the new grammar at home? Do share!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Homeschool Science Curriculum Review & Giveaway!

Mia of Homeschool Curriculum Resources contacted me to share the homeschool science curriculum she has written, because she knew one of her books - Creation Science For Kids: Biology Study Unit - would match up nicely with Classical Conversations Cycle One Science. & it does! 

The book contains 12 weeks of Biology lessons, about 50 pages long with full color graphics and discussion questions.  Click here to see the 12 lesson titles it contains & also for free sample unit pages.

It's Biblically based, well written, and easy to use! One of the main reasons we homeschool is to give our children a Biblical worldview, so learning about a curriculum that is intentional about integrating Science and Bible is a big deal around here!  I have some serious gaps in my own science education and having guidance when teaching my littles in this area is a big help.  This book gives just enough for my liking.

Not to mention, it's affordable - $4.99 for the e-book which is full color & printable -  and written by a homeschooling mom, like us! When possible, it's always a joy to support another homeschooling mom.

We used the first lesson at home this week and my littles were fully engaged.  I did not print it out, but simply pulled it up on my computer screen to read & share with them.  At the end of the lesson we completed the discussion questions as a group.  These questions could easily be done as independent study or notebooking style for older students. 

Anyway, check out the youtube video above, the lesson titles, and free sample pages.  Mia has graciously offered a free copy of Creation Science for Kids: Biology Study Unit for one lucky reader.  The giveaway will end at 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, September 19, 2012. The winner will be announced on this blog on September 20, 2012.

There are 3 ways you can enter: 1) leave a comment below, 2) sign-up to follow my blog by RSS feed, and/or 3) "like" Classical Conversations at Home on Facebook.  If you do all 3, you will receive 3 entries.  Thanks for entering!

I hope you all enjoy this curriculum as much as we are already enjoying it!

Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for my review and sharing my review with all of you.  But, the opinion shared is my own & was not influenced by any outside sources. You can't buy my love ;) 

Week One - English Grammar Review

To review our english grammar memory work, we made a sentence chain.  Since prepositions link words in a sentence together, I thought this would be a simple way to review, "What is a preposition?," while connecting the concept to something concrete and literal.    

I cut strips of paper from card stock and wrote one word on each strip.

I then asked the boys to place them in the correct order. As a group, they did this easily, which was exciting because it means they remember the sentence!

& Finally, I stapled each paper into a circle, ran the next strip through the circle and stapled it into a circle, until all the strips formed a chain.  They loved seeing the chain come together & quickly decided they should play with it when we were done.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CC Connected - FREE till 9/16!

Did you see the announcement on my FB page? CC Connected is free until September 16th! Visit the Classical Conversations page and watch the streaming announcements at the top of the page until you see the one announcing the free use until 9/16; log in DIRECTLY from that announcement in order for it to work for you. 

If all the options are a little overwhelming at first, check out this list of files found on CC Connected for use on your tri-fold board or in other ways for CCing at home! 

This is my first year using CC Connected and I'm excited to see all the ways it can help us at home.  How about you? Are you signed up for CC Connected? What are some ways you use it at home? Any certain users whose work you're especially drawn to again & again?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

History + Timeline + Bible

Today after reviewing our timeline, we read the reverse of the first card.  We plan to read the back of 1-2 cards a day.  We also spontaneously decided to locate the ancient civilizations on our modern day map.  That was great fun for all of us! and really helped give us context before we read in The Story of the World.  

I love how the timeline cards and The Story of the World books integrate world history with the history found in the Bible.  It's such a natural way to include the truth of the Bible in our studies.  My original plan for Bible was to read and draw our way through the Gospels, but I love the idea found here and am now changing to that.  So, we'll read and draw through the Bible with these matched up passages (scroll about halfway down the post).   

In case you're curious, that simply means I'll read the Bible passage first and then my littles will draw something they remember from the reading in an art book for about 15 minutes or so.  They love this and usually want to come back to it later when we have more time!

Monday, September 10, 2012

What We're Doing - Week One Links

Many of our week one plans come from ideas I've found online.  

Here are the links by subject to those ideas --

History --       10 Commandments Hand Commands

Science --       Animal Classification Info

Geography --  Fertile Crescent Lesson Plans, Video & Recipe
                     Brick Making

Fine Arts --     Owl Drawing

I think these ideas will work great for my family.  

What are you planning for week one? Do share!

CC Community - First Day!

Okay, so the youngest two are not in CC classes, but boy would they like to be! & I certainly couldn't keep them from getting their "first day" pictures taken. 

We had a wonderful first day! How about you? Have you started? 

Hope it went (or will go!) well!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Travel: Kentucky

After visiting The Creation Museum this week, we can add Kentucky to the list of states we've visited before they graduate. (Oh & maybe Ohio too, if stopping for lunch there counts!)

To help them remember their time at each new place, my littles pick a postcard.  We bring the postcards home, write their favorite aspect of the trip on the back of the card with their name, & add the card to their travel notebook.  Each child has their own 3 ring notebook with a laminated 2 sided map with 3 ring hole punches. One side has the US and the other side has the world. Also, lots of sheet protectors with pockets perfectly sized for postcards.  We keep these notebooks in our schoolroom & they really like flipping through these books to remember our various trips! They also like finding the places we've visited on the maps.  Simple & affordable!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stick in the Sand

I read Leigh Bortins' The Core over the summer along with The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.  Both books had such a grounding effect on my thoughts for teaching my children and really connected the dots for me about classical education.  So, in the midst of all the planning, and as we prepare to start at our CC community this coming Monday, I am reminded, if all I had was a "stick in the sand," could I teach my children these ideas?  For me that means, if I take away all the fun ideas and technology tools, do I have a solid grasp on the material I'm looking to impart? Am I keeping it simple so the joy of the truth shines through? Can my enthusiasm for learning be caught by my children in the simplest of presentations? 

I hope keeping "stick in the sand" in your mind will also ground you as you embark on this teaching cycle and find some moments overwhelming (we all will!).  

p.s. - The above picture is of my oldest son, who spontaneously started writing pilgrims in the sand with a stick when we were visiting Plymouth.  Cool, right?