Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Learning Centers

I'm getting kind of excited about setting up learning centers around the house. This is my plan right now:

Religion Center - dining room on using credenza right next to the Bible stand. Top of the credenza will be used for seasonal nature and liturgical year displays. One or two of the cubbies in the credenza can store saints books, Faith and Life books, Religion project books, etc.

Math/Science Center - I am going to bring the black rolling cart that is currently down in the basement up to the living room. I'll put it on the right side of the french doors. It will kind of balance out the aquarium on the other side. I'll bring the winged chair further into the room so the math/science center will be behind it. On it I'll put math texts, math lit books, math manipulatives, science books, science kits, etc.

Writing Center - I'm going to empty out one of the big baskets under the family room coffee table and use it. This is good because we watch Latin on the dvd and the dvd player is right there. I'll put Latin books, copywork books, English books, penmanship books, pencils, etc. in the big basket.

Reading Center - I'm going to take a small bookcase from the basement that right now is just full of old curricula and bring it up to the top floor hall. I can stick it in the corner by the master bedroom. This is the wall I want to paint with chalkboard paint. I'll also put an Ancients Timeline on that wall as well. I'm going to put all the assigned reading books in that bookcase. Most of the kids read in their rooms anyway, so it makes sense that this would be upstairs by the bedrooms!

Fine Arts/Music/hobbies - This will be in the basement in the little kitchen/classroom area. Most of the music stuff is downstairs already, except the piano in the living room. But the old kitchen table that is down there is perfect for art projects. It is also perfect for science experiments, but we'll just take that stuff downstairs when we need to.

Oops! Now I'm late picking Sean and Josh up from computer camp!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Atmosphere, Part II

Well, I've been doing all this reading about a couple of things in the homeschooling internet world. These two things are 1) workboxes and 2)Reggio Emilia project-oriented learning. I've been going to these blogs to learn about them (I've just been lurking at them). Camp Creek, Amongst Lovely Things, and Our Hearts' Haven. I've learned about them all via Willa's blog which is my very favorite blog ever!!!

Anyway, I don't quite get workboxes. I do see the advantage of making everything visual to remind us all (me and the kids) to do things we need to do. However, the system strikes me as very cumbersome! To have all those boxes for all those different subjects? Where do you store the stuff you put into the boxes on various days? Doesn't it take a lot to load up those boxes for several children? Don't they junk up your house? Won't the little kids get into them and rearrange everything? My kids would never, ever want to do them in the order that they are presented. I would have a major problem just with that concept. We'd lose the little velcro numbers, first day for sure!

But I do like the idea of having something visual there to remind you of what to do. We often lose our planners under stacks of books or papers. And that throws us off. And often some of the work will get done and then the planner will get put aside and we won't remember to finish stuff unless of course it is something that needs doing by the next by some outside authority, like Latin homework for Latin class, or math for the math tutor or piano practice for the piano lesson. We need external motivation around here very often to get us moving and focusing on something.

I saw this work strip idea for somebody whose 12 yo (she thought) would think the workboxes were too babyish. Now I have these long pantry cabinet doors that would be a perfect place to have such a work strip as that. In fact I have 4 cabinet doors that would be perfect and I happen to be educating 4 students (after Hannah leaves for college.) So I did like that idea of listing the different areas of study and then having colored index cards and after completing work in an area of study moving the card to a 'done' slot. I think that would especially help Will because he has a tendency (to put it mildly!!!) to procrastinate and he likes to keep everything in his head about what he needs to do, but the truth is he often forgets one or more vital things. He relies way too much on me or Hannah reminding him to do things. He really needs to mature in this respect. I think having something stuck to a door in a well-traveled area of the house (he has to walk by it to get to the fridge or open it to get a snack! LOL!) would serve as a really helpful reminder and keep him on track and help him become master of his own day!

The more I looked at the workboxes, the more they reminded me of when I was trying to set up our study as a Montessori classroom and how I just couldn't maintain it no matter how I tried. It was way beyond me. And that made me think about work or learning centers. So then I thought, why don't I try learning centers again? Becky is going to be 8 soon. She is so busy, always getting into things and investigating things. I think learning centers would work for her. She'd like setting them up and I think she'd like the freedom to roam from one to the other. Also, I think she'd be enjoy me rotating things through the centers. It would kind of be like the workboxes where the kids are excited to see what mom has planned for them. Only I wouldn't worry so much about the sequence of how we did things. This all reminds of Mary Hood's method of unschooling. Only I would combine the learning centers with the workstrips. I know I want to cover the 4 R's almost every day, if we can; that is, Religion, 'Rithmatic, Reading and 'Riting. So I'd be a bit more structured about it than Mary Hood. We'd have a set time every morning to work on studies.

Here's how we could cover these things:

Religion - read alouds, projects (CHC is chock full of them) and planning and decorating our family altar according to the liturgical year.

'Rithmatic - I've decided to learn math along with Sean so that I can get over my math phobia. He wants to get a dvd like those DIVE ones and use Saxon (which is the text his older siblings use) and study it that way. I figure we can take our time moving through the book at our own speed and intertwine it with lots of Science; namely The Universe in our Hands, Monster Storms, etc. Lots of science uses math, so I think we'll focus on that. For Becky I am going to do my usual thing, do the mental math from the MCP 3rd grade TM, math Lit. books, fun worksheets, playing with manipulatives, etc. And she can listen in on Sean's learning too, if she wants.

Reading - this will be done two ways - 1)read alouds which will center on history, science, literature and poetry. 2) independent reading which means free or assigned reading for Sean, Josh and Will and short reading lessons for Becky. 3) Vision Therapy - this is something we MUST do first thing after breakfast and we need in order to become fluent readers around here!

Writing - I'm cheating here because I'm including Latin in this. I figure that Latin teaches grammar and also vocabulary so it is part of Language Arts. This also means penmanship, copywork and actual composition and narration of the sort that goes into our history notebooks.

Fine Arts/Hobbies - I'd like to have one card slot to remind us of things like drawing, art and music appreciation, music practice, hobbies (Josh is interested in learning woodworking), Pilgrims of the Holy Family stuff, etc.

Taking care - this card would remind us to take care of ourselves by eating healthfully, good hygiene, exercise, getting outdoors as well as taking care of our environment by tidying and cleaning to keep the house in order.

What I envision doing is setting up these learning centers and then letting the kids choose the different activities they want to do. I get to play the role of director to ensure that we touch on basic skills fairly frequently. But if Becky wants to focus on copywork for a few days or weeks, that's fine. If she wants to do something different every day that's fine too. As long as we are addressing the 4 R's in some way, shape or form.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Atmosphere of our home

I am always struggling with creating a cozy atmosphere because I am a dysfunctionally disorganized person and so our home looks like a cluttered mess with towering piles of paper on every horizontal service and junk everywhere.

Summer is usually the time I try to deep clean and get things pretty organized (never as much as I'd like) so that in September things are sort of in shape. I always go through clothes for the Thanksgiving clothing drive. I usually do some sort of cleaning/organizing in preperation for Christmas. Usually before Passover/Easter some sort of cleaning is done (maybe carpets) The garage usually gets its annual cleaning in late spring or summer. Haven't done that yet this year.

I have been inspired to focus more on creating a happy, peaceful, cozy and tidy atmosphere in our home. I was very inspired to do this when I went through my Waldorf phase. It is happening again now that I've been reading blogs that talk about Reggio. I have been especially inspired by this particular blog. Look at this classroom!!! I can't believe how clean it looks! My house has never, ever, ever looked that tidy and shiny clean. It astonishes me!

This got me thinking. There are things I did in the past that I have fallen away from that I want to start doing again:
  • Have a family altar. This used to be down in the basement and I'd try to school down there. However, I simply don't do well in basements. I need lots of sunshine to make me happy and the basement, even though it is painted a cheery yellow and we even put window murals on the wall, is still a basement. There is something in me that resists going downstairs. So I just have to admit my weakness here. So the most obvious place for an altar is upstairs in the dining room. We already have our Bible stand and gorgeous Bible that Rick gave me in there. So I think some kind of altar area should go there.
  • I could combine the altar with a nature table and use them both to reflect changes in the seasons as well as happenings in the liturgical year. I could use the credenza in the dining room for this. I did this for a bit a couple years ago.
  • I could also use the marble-top (as we call it, it is really a dresser with a brown marble top that I got from my grandmother) in the front hall. The surface of that tends to get covered with mail, stuff that needs to go upstairs, stuff that people don't bother to put away, stuff that got left out in the front yard, etc.
  • We just need to learn to put things away properly!
  • The other thing I'd like to do again is systematically keep/display things the kids have made. I used to do this regularly. I had folders for each of the kids for any paper stuff they'd done, like stories, poem, drawings, etc. Then any crafts or collections were on the credenza. I fell away from this for some reason. Why do I drift away from these sorts of organizational habits? Actually, they never do seem to become habits for me. They always take effort to remember and this makes it hard and at some point I lose focus and drift away from it. I really think this is my ADD.
  • Another thing I'd like to start is a monthly calendar displayed in the kitchen (on the side of the fridge, perhaps) which is big and notes things like saints feastdays, things happening in the liturgical year (both Jewish and Catholic), important days to remember, etc. I got this idea from Leonie. This is one of her unschooling, strewing methods.
  • We are going to repaint the kids' rooms this summer. One thing I'd like to do is to make the big wall in the upstairs hall (bedroom level) a huge bulletin board to display things, like a liturgical calendar, timeline and the like. I'm thinking we could use chalkboard paint and make a chalkboard up there too! I think it would be good for writing up inspirational quotes and encouraging the kids to write more. It would be so different, it would make it fun!

Okay, my time's up. Gotta go work out at Curves, give Sean and Josh some more CAT testing which I plumb forgot to do this past week. They are at computer camp all week next week, then we are at the beach for a week and then Sean is at music camp for 3 weeks. So they've got to finish the testing this weekend! Then we've got to run out and get birthday presents. Becky is going to a party this afternoon, Josh is going to a party tomorrow evening and then Will's and Hannah's best friend birthday are both on the 29th. We are having a barbeque here on Sunday evening as well (Josh will just have to miss it).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Routines and Pegs, Part II

Okay, I've been thinking about what the fall will be like. This is all still tentative but I'm thinking that Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will follow similiar routines, with Tuesdays and Fridays being different.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays:
  • Mom's morning routine of either Mass or Curves
  • Breakfast - I'm going to try to say a decade of the rosary through the day, so maybe two decades at breakfast, two at lunch and one at dinner. Also, religion read alouds at breakfast, Bible History(every day), Catholic Stories for Bigger Folks from CHC or those Caryll Householder Tales for boys and girls (M), F&L for 3rd and 5th grade(T, W), Little Apostle on Crutches or The King of the Golden City (Th, F) These readings can be shortened to accomodate reading aloud info on particular saint's days. These readings are all geared to Becky and Sean
  • After breakfast, teens go do independent work. Josh in 9th grade will probably do math, science and writing in the mornings, not sure what Will's schedule will be.
  • Also after breakfast will be Sean and Becky's 'table time' First thing we absolutely have to focus on is doing our Vision Therapy homework. I have been soooo bad at doing this at home and it is hurting the kids! I can't believe we pay so much for this therapy yet I seem to have developed a mental block about making time to do this at home. So it will be first up, right after faith formation. The rest of table time with be devoted to Latin and math/science. Latin is pretty standard, just working our way through Latin for Children. I'd like to finish Primer A this year! But for math and science I am going to be relaxed. I have the MCP for 3rd grade and I've got Saxon 7/6. I'm thinking Sean and I work together through 7/6 slowly and maybe take two years to do it. Also I love the science unit CHC has, The Universe in My Hands which can incorporate math.
  • After tabletime, B and S can run around and play. I'll check on the teens and move laundry, tidy up a bit.
  • Lunch + Read alouds in different areas: Ancient history, American history, Nature, Poetry
  • After lunch with Becky and Sean, we'll do copywork and any other language arts stuff that catches our fancy
  • After lunch with the teens, I'll check up on morning work and also on Mondays do Latin homework with them.
  • Quiet reading time
  • Afternoon free for playing, errands, music practice, music lessons, chores, etc.

Tuesdays are going to be different:

  • Latin class from 10:30 to 12 noon (we have to leave the house at 10:00)
  • Becky and Sean have to come with me because Hannah will be away at college (boo hoo) and no one is here to watch them. There are a bit too young to be left alone all morning. So I'm making Tuesday mornings:
  • Workbook mornings! I am going to assign a certain number of worksheets for B and S to do from the CHC curriculum. S can help B with the reading, if she stumbles. Also they can bring books to read, paper and pencils for drawing, playing cards, etc. If they do their worksheets and play quietly I'm going to reward them with a junkfood lunch. Probably Chick fil a. Then we can meet up with other homeschoolers who hang out at the Burger King with a big play area (Sean abhors BK food so we won't be eating there).
  • After lunch and play, Tuesday will be our library day. Josh and Will can do their Ancient Studies reading there.
  • Not sure what will happen next, but B and S will be attending the homeschool gymnastics class which I think is at 3:30. This is next to the bike path so a lot of the moms get some exercise walking. I hope to do that too. Not sure what J and W will be doing.. . ..


I want everyone to attend mass in the a.m., get some academic stuff done in the a.m. We have tennis lessons on Friday afternoons in the spring and fall and will probably have a homeschool art lessons group in the winter.

So that's the general idea. There are a lot of details that haven't been dealt with. Evenings are for reading, cooking, tidying, putting laundry away, dinner, cleaning the kitchen, reading bedtime stories, prayers.

Outside lessons: Sean's piano lessons, probably M at 2:45 again. Will's lessons????? I want him to take music theory at the CC. Don't know if he'll keep up with the same guitar lessons at SOR. Becky wants to take drum lessons (!!!!). There are some for kids her age late Friday afternoons so that may work. J and W had CLC on Wednesdays. I think I'm going to teach CCD, but I don't know when. Becky, Sean and maybe Josh will have choir practice at 10:00 on Sat. mornings and sing at the 8:15 am. mass on Sundays.

Am I missing anything? All this thinking and planning is making my head swim!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Routine and Pegs

I've been morphing into a new routine lately which I am liking pretty much. I'd like to refine it a bit in the fall. For now though it is good it is general as each week or even day is different. Here are some new pegs:

  • Wake up between 6:30 and 7:00. Put on a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, quick cup of tea, quick check of e-mail, dress
  • I've been trying to go to Mass at 8:00 a.m. M, W and F. This has been absolutely lovely. Right now my teens have wanted to come with me once a week, usually on Fridays. When fall comes around I think I'll require everyone to come with me at least once a week. I can leave them at home usually because Rick doesn't usually leave for work until about 9.
  • On T, TH and S, in theory, I am going to Curves and working out for 30 minutes. So far though I haven't made it on a Saturday.
  • Come home and take a quick shower. If the kids get up while I'm gone they can get on the computer, but they have to shower beforehand. After my quick shower, I gather everything for a quick breakfast. We've been eating breakfast on the screen porch. I've been trying for simple and healthy breakfasts, bagels and cream cheese, cold cereal and juice, instant oatmeal and fruit, cheese, rolls or crackers and fruit, toast waffles and fruit, English muffins and Ovaltine. Okay they aren't all healthy but they are simple!
  • For now any studies we do are not pegged to anything. I just find a block of time at some point during the day and plug in read alouds and Greek. RAs have been: Bible History everyday with narration questions after each story. American history read aloud on M, Science RA on Tuesday, Ancient History RA and notebook on W, American history again on TH and poetry on Friday.
  • Also floating and not pegged, some organizational, deep cleaning task.
  • Another floater, some kind of outdoors or physical activity.
  • Another floater, some time spent looking through school books and planning or reading to educate myself.
  • I've been better at planning balanced dinners too. We've been eating well the last couple of weeks because I've been trying harder.
  • Another floater, having the kids have an independent reading time.

All these floaters are rather unsatisfactory but because it is summer we don't have a set schedule so I have to be flexible about all this stuff. And if it doesn't happen, no big whoop! LOL!

We've been doing our regular literature read alouds to Becky and Sean. I finished Little House on the Prairie and we just stared On the Banks of Plum Creek. Rick finished The Hobbit for Sean and is now reading the Moomintroll books, I think Comet in Moominland is the first book they are reading.

I should title this Routines and Pegs Part I. Next time I'll think about how to refine this for the fall.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Year of the Priest Rolling Unit Study

I'm just compiling resources here so that over this year of the Priest we can focus on praying for and learning about the Catholic Priesthood and the men who serve the Bride of Christ as her priests.

Priests are really an exotic concept in the modern world. Imagine giving up sex for God? I think most people nowadays find this unfathomable. It really is as strange and aesthetic as Buddhists monks or something, only since we've grown up with the idea we can't grasp it in all its strangeness. In this day and era, a good priest is a hero, living heroically every day. A parish priest especially does not even have the comfort of a monastery that will reinforce his commitment to a religious life by its daily rhythm and the isolation of its community. A parish priest must run a multimillion dollar enterprise in the world. He must deal with all the irritants of unhappy, unlikable, meddling parishioners (as well as the supportive and likeable ones). He has to deal with people getting up and walking out of Mass if he happens to mention that abortion is evil. He has to deal with people who complain that he doesn't talk about the evils of abortion enough. He has to small talk after Masses and at parish events. He has to be up for the 6:15 a.m. Mass as well as the Midnight Mass for Christmas and Easter. He has to hear confessions! He is on call for spiritual or health emergencies. People need Anointing of the Sick at all hours of the day. He has to bury the dead of the parish and comfort the survivors in their grief. He has to deal with people wondering if he is gay or a pedofile. He has to bear the brunt of the hatred of those who see the Catholic church as some evil archaic institution that refuses to modernize.

I am so grateful to these heroic priests. Without them there is no Eucharist. Without them there is no actual, historical link to Jesus and his apostles.

So I think we'll do a rolling unit study on priests and the priesthood. A rolling unit study is one that unfolds at its own pace over the course of time.

To begin with I found this neat article on Movie Priests. http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/06/17/movie-priests/ In that blog post there is another link to the top ten movie priests. I think we should try to watch as many of these as we can over the course of the year. Recently I have watched Monsieur Vincent which is an excellent French movie about St. Vincent de Paul. I also recently watched The Keys to the Kingdom. Gregory Peck does a great priest! He is also excellent in The Scarlet and the Black.

One movie that I think is missing from either list is Alec Guiness playing Father Brown. I'll have to look that up.

Other priests on the screen: right now I am watching a wonderful lecture series from The Teaching Co entitled Natural Law by Father Koterski. He's a priest! Up there in his collar, teaching this profound subject with such a pleasing humility and eloquence.

Also, there is that concert given entitled The Priests of the three Irish priests who are friends and wonderful singers. That is a very enjoyable concert. I have seen it a couple of times now.

There was, a few years back, a TLC (The Learning Channel, at least I think that's who did it) production that followed 4 young men as they tried to discern whether they were called to the priesthood. I can't remember what it was called, but it was excellent. My oldest two teens watched it but maybe it is time to see it again.

St John Vianney is now proclaimed the patron saint of all priests. My father liked this particular saint very much but I have yet to learn much about him. I think a children's biography of him will be in order here. I note here that poor St. John never could learn his Latin and they thought he was too dumb to become a priest but he struggled and eventually did. I am noting this because I've been having an on line discussion about the value of classical education and how some Catholic homeschooling educators seem to confuse a Classical education with being a good Catholic. And I am not comfortable conflating those two things! Not all Catholics are cut out for rigorous Latin and Greek but all Catholics hope for heaven.

I'm wondering about books on or by priests. One of my favorite books ever is The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. Last year I read Priestblock which was the true story of a priest held in a concentration camp during WWII.

One book that I read ages ago by Richard Bausch was called Real Presence and it reminded me very much of The Power and the Glory only it was set in rural Virginia!!!

Well, this is just the beginning of my brainstorming on the subject of resources and priests. I'll jot down more as I think of it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catch Up Journal 6/17/09

Gosh, we've been so busy and I've been spending on line time at facebook or having interesting conversations on yahoolists or reading interesting blogs. So I haven't devoted much time to this blog, or, that is, even less time than I have been spending. It is dwindling, dwindling!

Stuff I've been doing instead:

  • I've started a regime where I go to 8:00 a.m. Mass on M, W, F
  • I've been going to workout at Curves on T, TH, S usually at 8:00 as well
  • I've just finished reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I'm going to post my review of it on goodreads. That's another place I've been going on the internet! It was a 600+ page Victorian novel so it took a lot of time to read!
  • We've now wrapped the outside elements of our homeschool school year. Josh and Will both had their last math lesson of the year yesterday, Wed. So no more Latin or Math until August.
  • Will did not get the accommodation approval for taking the SAT until after the final SAT testing soooo, he's waiting until Oct to take it. That means that we'll probably do some intensive prep in Sept. They only granted one of our two requests. We'd requested that he be able to fill in the answers in the test booklet itself instead of the bubble answer sheet. This is due to his tracking/convergence issues. They granted that accommodation but they didn't grant time and a half. I didn't even think he needed the time and a half because he concentrates better in shorter chunks of time. If he knows he's got extra time he'll take it but it will not help him concentrate. However, both the math tutor and vision therapist thought it was best to ask for it. I think he'll do fine with just answering in the test booklet. It is the act of having to switch focus from the test book to the bubble sheet that causes trouble. Those bubbles really slow him down. It is fatiguing to have make sure he's on the right bubble! His eyes just won't shift quickly.
  • I went to the IHM Conference (for a bit) and saw Joseph Pearce speak and got him to sign my copy of his C. S. Lewis and the Catholic Church book. I also bought Small is Still Beautiful and his book on Shakespeare. Have to put them on my 'to read' list on goodreads! I also saw Dale Ahlquist speak and got him to sign my copy of Commonsense 101.
  • Right now we are trying to do the CAT for the end of the year testing. Sean is doing well as is Josh. But Becky, dear Becky, is just not reading well enough for it. She starts with the VT on 7/1. That means all five of my kids will have been in VT to get them reading. Sigh! Though I do thank God that I live in a time when VT is so available. In the past they would have just struggled so much in academics because of it. Thank you Lord that we can homeschool and go to a VT. My life is so blessed! Thank you, thank you, Lord!
  • Last night, the Catholic Life Community at St. Mark had its Passing Mass for the Youth Apostles. Will became a full member and Josh made his formal commitment. I am so grateful once again that St. Mark has this for young men. It is such an excellent program. And the really uncanny thing is that there are Youth Apostles up in Boston! Will wants so much to go to Berklee for college and I am really worried about the casual (im)morality and worldview that college must be rife with! But he can still be connected with the Youth Apostles up there. Apparently Bishop O'Malley is really encouraging the group! So again I thank the Lord! Of course I don't know if Will will actually get into Berklee, so we'll see about that. But I felt like the Holy Spirit is really looking out for us because the YA are not a big group and the fact that they are located here in the Arlington Diocese and now being promoted by the Archbishop of Boston is a very good sign I think.
  • We are going to start our regime of summer camps. Hannah and Will are headed out to workcamp in Elmira NY on Sunday. Also next week Becky is going to a little homeschool art camp at a nearby church. Sean and Josh are going to a computer camp the week after that. Then we are off to the beach for a week. After that Sean and Becky have a 3 week music camp. Then the third week in July I, Will, Josh, Sean and Becky are all going to Boston for a week. Will is attending Berklee's guitar session camp while the rest of us will sightsee in Boston and environs. Rick is staying home to work but Hannah will be flying out to San Diego with Phil's parents to see Phil graduation boot camp. Rick is thinking of driving to TX with Hannah and all her stuff for college and then flying back. She has to be there the following Thursday. Our plans for getting her to Dallas are not set though. Sometimes Rick is driving and sometimes I'm flying out with her. Though I am dreading getting on a plane and leaving Becky. I feel she needs me too much!!! I'm afraid the plane will crash and she'll be motherless! Of course I worry about the other kids too, but I think they'll get on well without me. But Becky really needs me!!!! I am such a silly mother!
  • Josh has been taking the online class via Homeschool Connections on Beowulf which we have been greatly enjoying. Hannah is going to take the college writing one but is missing the first class due to workcamp.
  • Becky is in her little Narnia book club. It started out such a big group but now it is down to only 3 families.
  • Another thing is Rick got all 60 of the Avatar shows on Apple TV and he and Will, Josh, Sean and Becky are on a quest to watch all 60. It is driving me nuts! The show has some interesting elements to it, but it also has really stupid elements and I must say that privately I think the stupid outweighs the interesting! (Well, I don't know how private I'm being but no one is going read all this anyway!!!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Journal 6/9/09

  • Got up and worked out at Curves.
  • Studied a bit for the Latin quiz and then Will, Josh and I went off to class
  • Botched the quiz! Had our final class with pizza party
  • Sean read 3 more chapters in his book on St John Fisher.
  • Hannah and her friend K. went to mass at 9 and her friend came over for breakfast
  • H got B and S to write Phil for their writing practice today
  • B played with Klutz books and crafty stuff while S did another animation on the computer
  • H watch the 1st lecture on the Iliad
  • Brought lunch home for B and S.
  • Forced them to do a little math. Neither was into it at all. Is practicing ones math facts for 3 minutes really that excruciating????
  • H went to work
  • J's friend came over and they've all been playing on the computer. Not sure what.
  • I started reading The Woman in White last night, read a lot while Will was at voice lessons.
  • Oh. . .W went to voice lessons
  • B just came into the room and started doing sit ups with her legs up on the couch. I asked her why and she said she was trying to get stronger so she could bend this little metal thing she found. LOL!
  • J and friend are playing runescape. W, J and B are now playing Supersmash bro.
  • I am going to finish cleaning the dining room rug.
  • Oops. I forgot S had swim lessons. We went hoping the approaching thunderstorm would blow over, but it didn't they were closing the pool just as we got there. Came home through the rain and forked lightning. I think I'll finish the rug after the storm passes.
  • Read some more Little House on the Prairie to Becky
  • Nice parenting moment or rather, nice moment being a parent. Went out to the garage to get something out of the freezer and Will was sitting in the garage with the rain pouring outside playing Where You There? on the harmonica.
  • B is watching Phineas and Ferb.
  • Never did finish the rug. Josh's friend got picked up by his dad. I realized how late it was and made scrambled eggs, turkey bacon and biscuits for dinner.
  • Read some more of Tales of Ancient Egypt to B and S. J and W are working on math homework. Also read some more Bible History.
  • B and S and I watched the first half of Yankee Doodle Dandy with Jimmy Cagney. We had tivo'd it a couple days ago. Love that movie. John Lithgow introduced. I really like John Lithgow!
  • H went to a swing dance party somewhere in McLean.
  • Read more Little House to B. Rick is almost done reading The Hobbit to S.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Will and Josh's High School Ancient Humanities Studies

This is the lesson plan for our Ancient Humanities studies. I've been revising it for a while but I'm pretty pleased with it now.

Week 1

Week 2
Ch. 1 - 4 HAW
Epic of Gilgamesh
HCM Intro to Epic

Week 3
Ch. 5 - 8 HAW
Book of Job
HCM Theogony

Week 4
Ch. 9-12 HAW
Iliad Books 1-5
HCM pp.85-114

Week 5
Ch. 13-16 HAW
Iliad Bks. 6-10
HCM pp. 114-125

Week 6
Ch. 17-20 HAW
Iliad Bks. 11-15
HCM catch up

Week 7
Ch. 21-24 HAW
Iliad Bks. 16-20
HCM pp. 126-145

Week 8
Ch. 25-28 HAW
Iliad Bks. 21-24
HCM pp. 147-169

Week 9
Ch. 29-32 HAW
Odyssey Books 1-4
HCM pp. 169-179

Week 10
Ch. 33-36 HAW
Odyssey Bks. 5-8
HCM pp. 179-191

Week 11
Ch. 37-40 HAW
Odyssey Bks. 9-12
HCM pp. 191-200

Week 12
Ch. 41-44 HAW
Odyssey Bks. 13-18
HCM pp. 200-211

Week 13
Ch. 45-48 HAW
Odyssey Bks. 19-24
SW pp. 1-20

Week 14
Ch. 49-52 HAW
SW pp. 21-40

Week 15
Ch. 53-56 HAW
SW pp. 41-71

Christmas Break

Week 16
Ch. 57-59 HAW
HCM pp. 275-304

Week 17
Ch. 60-63 HAW
The Eumenides
HCM pp. 305-334

Week 18
Ch. 64-67 HAW
Oedipus Rex
HCM pp. 365-389

Week 19
Ch. 68-71 HAW
The Clouds
SW pp. 72-93

Week 20
Ch. 72-75 HAW
The Republic
SW pp. 94-120

Week 21
Ch. 76-78 HAW
The Republic
SW pp. 121-139

Week 22
The Republic
SW Read up to p. 164 by end of year

Week 23

Week 24
HCM pp. 213-228

Week 25
Ch. 79-81 HAW
HCM pp. 228-240

Week 26
Ch. 82-85 HAW
Aeneid Bks. 1-4
HCM pp. 240-252

Week 27
Aeneid Bks. 5-6
HCM pp. 252-263

Week 28
Aeneid Bks. 7-9
HCM pp. 263-272

Week 29
Aeneid Bks. 10-12

Week 30
Final meeting

Key to abbreviations
The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer (HAW)
Heroes of the City of Man by Peter Leithart (HCM)
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaardner (SW)

Main Study Guides:
Greek Classics by Fran Rutherford
Ancient Rome by Fran Rutherford

Epic of Gilgamesh:
On line study guide
From utexas.edu

Book of Job
On line article
New Advent Cath.

Homework: you’ll need to read a certain chunk of history and literature six evenings a week, unless you want to double up one or two nights to keep yourself free on the weekends. The formula for figuring out how many pages you need to read each night in a particular book is simple: just take the total number of pages of a particular assignment, for ex. Iliad Bks. 1 – 5 is 93 pages. Divide that by 6 and you get roughly 15.5 pages a night. You can do that with each of your reading assignments at the beginning of each week. You could also calculate things the same way with History of the Ancient World and Heroes of the City of Man. OR you could read HCM first (because that will give you context and insight into the Iliad) on Monday and then read HAW Tues. – Fri. However you decide to do it, I want to know and I want you to mark what you are reading each day in your weekly planner. If you do not focus on the reading on a nearly daily basis, it will soon become overwhelming and you will fall behind. SO IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU HAVE A SET TIME AND A SET AMOUNT OF READING TO DO 5-6 DAYS A WEEK.

As you read, you’ll need a notebook with you and your study guide. Except for the Epic of Gilgamesh and The Book of Job, all these readings are listed in the Fran Rutherford guides. You need to read the study questions (and vocabulary) for each reading before you begin, and then as you read, answer the questions in your notebook. These don’t need to be elaborate answers but they do need to be complete and accurate. You will be graded on this notebook.

After the long list of questions that walks you through the narrative, there are other questions entitled “Questions for Further Thought.” Pick one of these questions and write a short essay to answer it. These should be posted to our blog. I will require you to correct any spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, as well as point out any instances where I think you might be mistaken, unclear or weak in analysis. You will be graded on these short essays.

For the history portion of this course, I will orally quiz you periodically on the contents of HAW whenever that book has a timeline. These timelines list events that have just been presented in the text and you should be able to tell a little bit about each event.

We’ll also meet once a week throughout the year to discuss The Heroes of the City of Man and Sophie’s World. You will also have to write a paper but we won’t think about that until after Easter!

So your grade for this two credit Humanities course depends on 4 factors:
1) A complete, accurate and up to date study question notebook (20%)
2) Well written short essays answering the Questions for Further Thought (20%)
3) Orally demonstrating knowledge and understanding of The History of the Ancient World, The Heroes of the City of Man and Sophie’s World (20%)4) A final paper (20%)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Meme

I got this meme from Alicia's blog. Thanks Alicia! I haven't done one of these in forever either!

1. What author do you own the most books by? I"m not sure. It might be Jane Austen (I have at least two editions of each of her novels or C.S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton or it might be (and now that I think of it, probably is!) Georgette Heyer!

2. What book do you own the most copies of? Does this include my kids' Bibles? I think I have 3 and then the three oldest each have their own, plus we have several children's versions.

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions? I didn't even notice!

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with? Fitzwilliam Darcy! Not really so secretly!

5. What book have you read the most times in your life? Pride and Prejudice as an adult, but the Little House books as a child. I also read Mrs. Mike many, many times as well as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird many times.

6. Favorite book as a ten year old? Probably the Little House books.

7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year? I haven't read any bad books this year!

8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? The Great Gatsby

9. If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be? To Kill a Mockingbird. That book is life-changing!

10. What book would you most like to see made into a movie? I'd like a Georgette Heyer novel to be made into a decent movie. I think Faro's Daughter would be my choice. I'd like Clive Owen to play Max Ravenscar and I could play Deb Grantham so I could hear him say "I love you! I tell you, I love you!" Whew! Wouldn't that be fun!

11. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read? I am ashamed to admit it, but I usually don't finish reading books that I find too difficult. The question would be better put, What is the most difficult book you've attempted recently? I think it might be Climbing Parnassus. I just couldn't get through it.

12. What is your favorite book? Usually I answer Pride and Prejudice for this. I guess I'll do so again!

13. What is your favorite play? I'm going to limit this question by answering from the plays I've read this year, which would include Merchant of Venice, Raisin in the Sun and The Crucible. I'll have to go with the Crucible which I found terribly disturbing and moving.

14. Poem? The Lake Isle at Innisfree by W.B. Yeats (I edited this; I mistakenly put T.S. Eliot at first!).

15. Essay? Probably something by Chesterton. Perhaps the one with the comment about poets being strangely silent on the subject of cheese. Did that come from an essay?

16. Who is the most overrated writer alive today? Dan Brown. But I also agree with whoever it was who said Gregory MaGuire. Both dreadful!

17. What is your desert island book? Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

18. And . . . what are you reading right now? Right now I'm reading The Heroes of the City of Man by Peter Leithart, Heroes by Charles Kingsley as my own reading. I've kind of slowed down my reading pace lately so I've been working on these two for a while now. To the kids I'm reading Tales of the Ancient Egyptians by Roger L. Green, Bible History by Shuster, Little House on the Prairie by Wilder.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Journal 6/1

  • Good day. Woke up early and made it to 8 o'clock mass. Set such a good mood for the day.
  • Josh started his first online class on Beowulf. He really enjoyed it.
  • Will got up and, I think, did some math.
  • Hannah stayed in her room until about 11:00. Her summer has officially started today. She did have to go get the Solara inspected and then went to work. She's got a heavy work schedule this week. She works nearly every day.
  • Becky and Sean did a little more work in their new history binders. They copied over the 10 plagues. We got into a interesting discussion about what exactly the 10 plagues were. The Haggadahs and the movie Prince of Egypt has the 3rd plague as wild beasts but in the Catholic Bible history I'm reading to the kids and in the Catholic bible, the 3rd plague is flies. I looked it up in Rick's Torah and it said 'swarms of insects' but then mysteriously there is a note at the bottom of the page that says 'wild beasts.' To me there is a big difference between wild beasts and flies. Makes you wonder about all the vagaries of translating one language into another.
  • We finished the story of Osiris and Isis in Ancient Tales of Eygpt.
  • Before all this I had mentioned to Becky that is was the feast of St. Justin Martyr. This made her think of the story of Androcles and the Lion which she proceeded to tell me in a long and very detailed retelling which Sean found agonizingly slow.
  • Becky is really interested in Bible geography. She kept looking at maps and asking about sites mentioned in the Bible and whether they still existed. Makes me think about that wonderful geography program I saw, a Child's Geography of the Bible (or something like that). It looks so interesting and well done. And it has a lot of hands on stuff in it. I'm tempted to get it. I'd really enjoy doing it myself!
  • Sean did a little math facts practice on the math shark.
  • Did some Latin homework with Josh and Will before I took Sean to his piano lessons.
  • Becky came with me and we took a walk and got ice cream at a little ice cream store.
  • Sean had a good piano lesson. He can't wait to learn flash. He is already dreaming up a movie to go with his new piece. He also said he wanted to do a silent movie depicting one of the Devotional Stories we read this year from CHC. Becky and Sean certainly loved those stories!
  • Came home and listened to some of the Beowulf lecture. Very cool. The teacher, Dr. Russell seemed great. Very calm and clear and pleasant. No wonder Josh liked it.
  • Did more Latin homework with Will and Josh
  • The weather was beautiful today; spent a lot of time outside on the screen porch; the kids were out in the yard a lot.
  • I listened to my bird song cd off and on in the car as we drove. I'm such a nerd that I want to know the difference between the call of the American Robin and the Scarlet Tanager!!
  • Got Greek carry out. Got a gyro. Hadn't had one in ages and I was craving one suddenly. It was delicious.
  • Took Will and Sean to music theory. Read a lot of Karen Edmisten's book on the rosary. Took a walk to walk off the gyro!
  • Came home and Becky was just dozing off on the couch watching Phineas and Ferb episodes for the 5oth time. She can't get enough of those cartoons!
  • Said prayers. Read Becky Little House on the Prairie. Last night she surprised me by asking me to read it to her. I had asked her a couple days ago if she was interested but she said no, most emphatically. I had tried reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to her but the language seemed to difficult and it wasn't holding her interest. Anyway, tonight she was so cute, she got an old piece of cloth that Hannah many years ago had tried to make into a skirt (practicing on our neglected sewing machine) and she got a needle and asked me to thread it for her. Then she sat there practicing her stitching while I read to her.
  • Sean continues his interest in animation. He was working on creating three dimenisonal objects that rolled on Sketch Star. He likes Sketch Star more than Pivot currently because he can save it on his mini clip account.
  • Rick read The Hobbit to Sean.