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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Use a McGuffey's--Part 3

Here are some more specifics about using the McGuffey's Readers. Buy it in PDF Format

First, let me say that there are as many ways to use the McGuffey readers as there are ways to use hamburger! We can take this versatile meat and make it into patties, or loaves or chop it up and add it to noodles or chips or even put it with gravy over potatoes!

Some folks use the McGuffey's as a read-aloud for inculcating solid moral values, including poetry that reinforces Biblical living. A mother could simply read a lesson aloud and then ask questions of her children, or help them memorize the poetry which is  meant to aid in living Biblical principles in everyday life.

Others use them as only a portion of a language arts program, assigning each child to read a lesson, then perhaps a quick oral narration to make sure the task has actually been carried out.

I have chosen to take full advantage of the readers. As I have read through the lessons, I have found them so rich that I didn't want to rush through them. There is so much to take advantage of in each--the vocabulary, spelling, grammar, besides the practical Biblical morality make them comprehensive for me.

These readers are not graded--that is, the number of the reader does not correspond to our current grade levels. This is one reason I so appreciate them. I can put my children wherever they need to be, at their different levels of competency. Each reader was meant to span more than one year, meaning that it is not strange that a child could begin in the middle of a book instead of at the beginning.

These materials were created for the one-room schoolhouse, for frontier and farming children who may not have entered into formal schooling until the ages of 12, or even 19 years of age! It is therefore very possible to use these for the "late bloomers" with great success.

I have assigned a different reader for each child (and made library-like book jackets for them from sheet protectors which I cut open and then folded and taped to fit). They keep these in their "learning satchels," which are actually bits and pieces of small luggage and huge purses that I have collected over the years, many with small pockets for stationery items, etc. With my number of children--seven currently in full learning mode, having two sets has been necessary. The readers are also sold separately, so duplicate copies could be obtained to use with children at the same level, or a single copy could be shared. my own children vary enough for me to be able to use just the two sets.

I take each reader and use the planner page I have created to write out the assignments for the specific lessons. I have created a menu of different options and ideas to choose from to simplify things, which you can find as a PDF and print out here.

As far as the Biblical connection goes, many times the verse will present itself to my mind, then I simply use my concordance and Bible cross-references to find it! But there are actually sites on the Net which locate verses on different topics, such as this topical Bible site.

There are times when a further connection will present itself, such as in the 2nd reader (original) which deals with lions. I felt it important to have my son, who is an artist and nature-lover, to draw a lion for me in his sketchbook. My oldest daughter (at home) is often presented with lessons which are not easily put into narration format, so I have been obliged to teach her a simple essay outline so that she can re-formulate the philosophical ideas presented as an original composition.

I have created a sample picture of what a "sticky note" assignment looks like. I have the children fasten these to their readers to use as a consumable check-list. Since I have a copy of the assignments in my home-school planner, none can claim they couldn't complete their assignments because their notes were lost--I can always write out new ones!

Of course, this method is only for those who are reading competently. The Primer and First Reader lessons are done differently. These require much more participation on my part. At the primer level, especially, a single lesson could take a few weeks, and of course there is little or no narration, and at first even the copy work is nill to none.

The blessing in all of this is that, except for a little bit of planning and follow-up (and the planning part gets easier as you get more used to it), the work is pretty much independent--making it easier for a mom of many to keep track of children that are on so many different levels. This keeps some challenged, others comfortable. My children really enjoy doing their lessons this way--they are independent and have a bit of freedom, but also have the accountability and direction they need. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How to use a McGuffey's, Part 2

McGuffey's Pictorial Eclectic Primer

Some interesting questions have recently come up.

First, I would like to explain the differences between the two sets of McGuffey's reprints that are now available.

The first is the "original" readers published by Mott Media. Can I say that I love these? They are printed with a sturdy binding, and the pages are thick for longevity and practical everyday use.

I believe it is their simplicity that make these books so endearing. The Primer begins with fairly crude pictures to accompany some basic words that are familiar to young readers. I was put off at first because things were not arranged according to phonics rules, but rather go from the simple to the complex. After using them for a while, I see the genius in McGuffey's thinking. My daughter absolutely loved the lessons, since they didn't seem "dumb" to her. We went very slowly, repeating each portion multiple times over several weeks. The results were quite remarkable--as I now have an encouraged, excited reader/writer on my hands!

The other books are amazing to read as well. My eldest daughter went from barely reading to fluency using the first reader. Subjects covered vary--but they are never trivial or boring. The Professor chose primarily to wisely deal with matters of the heart and morality--even including a story with an orphaned babe being taken in by an old gentleman bachelor! There are lessons with warnings dealing with laziness and the dangers of strong drink as well.

The vocabulary words presented in the first two readers are helpful. Again, there is no particular rhyme or reason to their inclusion, on the surface, but if they are used in oral reading and spelling, along with some basic copy work and dictation, their usefulness soon becomes apparent. It is almost magical to witness how these materials communicate with young fertile minds. I found that the hard work of learning was actually being accomplished by my children, and I only had to present the lessons and enjoy the process as I witnessed the wonderful transformations.

The advanced readers are very challenging reading. All of the readers are extremely Evangelical in nature; confession of sin, salvation through Jesus Christ, etc. are marvelously emphasized. This is continued in the 3rd and 4th books of the series, with apologetics for the Holy Bible also included. My daughter is working diligently through these and finds them replete with nourishment for the mind and soul!

The guide written by Ruth Beechick was very helpful to me, although I found that I had to adjust many of her thoughts and ideas to fit my children and our particular educational circumstances. If I had followed her suggestions verbatim, I would have become quite frustrated.

The originals are the only ones that can actually be attributed to McGuffey directly. The later versions, and there were many, were revised by different people, even his brother had a hand in some revisions.

Which brings us to the second set of McGuffey readers in publication today. These are commonly called the "revised" set, originally edited in 1879-1881 (there were revisions as late as the early 20th Century, which are hardly recognizable as McGuffey's, but these are not currently in print, that I am aware of). I own two sets of these; one antique (actually printed in 1920), the other a more recent, and less refined, facsimile which I purchased new.

My antique set is so beautiful--the leather bindings are deeply engraved and detailed; the colors of the covers are darker and brighter. The text is slightly raised and one can see the fine lines of the illustrations, as opposed to the muddied ones in the facsimile. Needless to say, the children do not have access to these at all, although I keep them in a slipcover on my desk and refer to them when writing up my lessons.

The 1879 revised edition that was recently printed is the set that my children use. I love these also. It is true that these are the least directly Evangelistic, but they still contain references to God and have many passages from the Bible. The lessons are moral and very engaging--a refreshing change from the meager offerings of these modern times.

The Primer not only uses simplicity, but also helps present the principles of phonics. For instance, the first lessons deal with short "a" words, the next lessons introduce short "o", and so on. This may be somewhat easier for the 21st Century mind to deal with.

The illustrations throughout are delightful. I enjoy viewing them myself--so I know that my children take pleasure in them.

There are not any modern guides to these available, and I personally felt quite lost until I discovered The Eclectic Manual of Methods--this book explains not only how the revised readers were meant to be used, but the arithmetics, grammars, etc. You can download this from the link above, and it can even be printed up and comb-bound. The Ray's and McGuffey's helps I sell on my blog contain a few suggestions that I fashioned after the ideas found in this manual.

Excerpt of a McGuffey Illustration
Since I am working on the plans for my own young learners, I am currently compiling a general guide to using the McGuffey's series together in an eBook format. I have a few images and some helps in place--but I will include some scripture passage suggestions for the lessons--I hope you will pray for me so that I will be able to find the time to put these resources together for you all! I also have another blog that I am developing which I hope to gradually fill with anything and everything we find interesting that was published during or about the "McGuffey" era of our history, both, The Guide to McGuffey and the blog will be about education and life--McGuffey's World.

I am not sure which set of readers is the best--they both have their merits. I am glad I have both! As of this writing, one could secure the original set, with speller and the Beechick guide, for between $70 - $109 (per set), before taxes and shipping.

The 1879 revised set can be purchased for about $69.

Dollar Homeschool has done a great job compiling all of the McGuffey's Eclectic Series and putting them on CD. The cost, compared to purchasing the actual books, many of which can no longer be obtained or found, is economical (the readers, with speller and extra books, $39). But if one wants to print and bind their own books from the CD, the price becomes the same or much more.

I often find myself lost in these little booksI am so glad I get to do the lessons, too!

I would like to leave you with a quote spoken originally by Dr. David Swing of Chicago and published originally in the book, A History of the McGuffey Readers by Henry Hobart Vail.
Much as you may have studied the languages or the sciences, that which most affected you was the moral lessons in the series of McGuffey. And yet the reading class was filed out only once a day to read for a few moments, and then we were all sent to our seats to spend two hours in learning how to bound New Hampshire or Connecticut, or how long it would take a greyhound to overtake a fox or a hare if the spring of each was so and so, and the poor fugitive had such and such a start. That was perhaps well, but we have forgotten how to bound Connecticut, and how to solve the equation of the field and thicket; but up out of the far-off years come all the blessed lessons in virtue and righteousness which those reading books taught; and when we now remember, how even these moral memories have faded, I cannot but wish the teachers had made us bound the States less, and solve fewer puzzles in 'position' and the 'cube root' and made us commit to memory the whole series of the McGuffey Eclectic Readers. The memory that comes from these far-away pages is full of the best wisdom of time or the timeless land. In these books we were indeed led by a schoolmaster, from beautiful maxims for children up to the best thoughts of a long line of sages, and poets, and naturalists. There we all first learned the awful weakness of the duel that took away a Hamilton; there we saw the grandeur of the Blind Preacher of William Wirt; there we saw the emptiness of the ambition of Alexander, and there we heard even the infidel say, "Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ like a God."

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How to use a McGuffey's, Part 1

Illustration from 5th McGuffey's
Here is a question that I received recently from a reader regarding the use of McGuffey readers:

I wanted to know if you could give me some tips on how you use your McGuffey readers. I have a set of them but do not know how to use them with the kids. It seems like a silly question but I have read through them a bit and I am confused about what to do with them. I guess I need an instruction manual. I appreciate any help you can give. I hate to see them just sit on my shelf. I would like to use them with the kids this fall.

First, let me say that I totally understand how this reader feels. I can remember thinking these books were really nifty, but I had no idea as to how to use them. They were written in a time when the methods of learning were universal and understood. We have lost these principles as educational philosophies have changed over the years (and not for the better).

It is sort of like the 25-pound sack of flour sitting in my baking cupboard. It takes the application of a recipe and other ingredients to produce the desired outcome.

The ingredients required for a batch of first-rate language arts is as follows:
  • Reading with narration (primarily oral, then written)
  • Copy work
  • Dictation
  • Sentence creation
  • Recitation
  • Original composition
This is how I tackle each lesson:

1. I read it for myself.  This is my favorite part. I love the lessons--I learn new things and become encouraged and blessed--I can't wait to share with my children! In this way I am familiar with the content of each lesson so that I can bring out the finer points that may be missed, etc., such as the moral of the story, or even some historical facts that may be needed to gain a better understanding of what is being read. It also helps me when I am either hearing or reading the narrations I require. If time is short, and the child is not competent enough to write out the narration, it can be "cartooned" by splitting a page in equal portions and have the child draw out the events in the lesson in sequence, to be labeled later.

2. I choose a section for copy work. For the younger set, it may only include the vocabulary words and a short section--perhaps a sentence to begin with, then a paragraph. I write these out as an example so that they have something to follow. Poems are copied in their entirety. Older children may be required to copy much more. This is the method used continually--the immersion and familiarity gained through this practice helps imprint language on the minds of children. 

I also like to assign a portion of God's Word which applies to each lesson, lots of times scripture will come to my mind as I am reading, but I also use the concordance to look up appropriate passages. 

3. I choose sections for dictation, sometimes from the speller. This is how proper spelling, punctuation and grammar are reinforced. 

4. Often the poems or portions of the lesson are read aloud to all as a practice for public reading and speaking, and I am requiring that many parts, or all, of the poems be memorized. 

5. I have the child either read and spell the vocabulary words (using Charlotte Mason's suggestion of "imprinting" the words in the child's mind), or assign them to be used in original sentences.  

6. There are times when an original composition will be suggested by the lesson, especially in the more advanced readers (3rd and 4th in the original series--1849 Mott Media, 5th and 6th in the revised--1855 and above). 

The Manual of Methods is the place to go to understand more closely some of the intent of the authors. Here is also a link to my other blog, McGuffey's World, which contains quotes from 19th century sources speaking as to the importance of copy work.

This is an amazingly simple way to teach language arts, and is also so inexpensive!  All that is required is a few good copy books and pencils. 

1836 copy book
Of course, you could create copy work pages by using a school font and a word processor, to encourage better handwriting. 

Here is just a little example of what treasures there are to be found (from the revised, 1879, 2nd reader):

Beautiful faces are they that wear 
The light of a pleasant spirit there; 
Beautiful hands are they that do 
Deeds that are noble good and true; 
Beautiful feet are they that go 
Swiftly to lighten another's woe.

Brushing up on basic grammar helps me--I keep a secretary's guide or two around the house as an aid when I am stumped. We also spent some time together this last year in the Harvey's Grammars, which helped everyone quite a lot. 

It also helps to teach the children how to set up a page--noting the number of the lesson and the date across the top of the page, then skipping a line to begin the work. Also, to have rules about the writing assignments, such as to respect the margin lines, and to keep things neat--no stray marks or doodling, and complete erasure of all mistakes. 

As a mother of many children, these books have helped me to simplify instruction without compromising on content. 

Here is a link to the Manual of Methods, which helped explain a lot for me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Teen Guide to Homemaking

A number of years ago I picked up a stack of books at a thrift store for about $.25 a piece. Among them, and much to my amazement, was a textbook which was entitled, Teen Guide to Homemaking, a book originally published in 1961 (more than 52 years ago) and written for home economics classes in schools. Without giving it any further thought, I placed it on the bookshelf along with numerous other titles.

Before long, it began popping up all over the house; I found it under beds, on the coffee table, under the pillows on the couch. Even today, this is one of the most popular books in our home library.

The titles of the chapters and the information covered are simply fascinating to my children; making friends, choosing clothing and hair styles, personal grooming and general health (such as bathing and nutrition), cooking, decorating, sewing, entertaining and family relationships. Basically, it is about growing up, and, just like most children who are not being brain-washed into thinking that life exists in a cubicle, they are engrossed with the subject!

Of course, this book was not written from a Christian perspective, and I am now very conscious of the "social engineering" that was going on between the lines. Still, there was enough Christian influence still in existence so that there was even a photo included of a young lady holding a Bible.

As a homeschooling mother, I have so often felt apologetic about taking as much time to teach our children about practical living as we do about the essential school subjects. Transcripts don't have slots to record all of the best learning that really goes on in a young person's life.

But there is so much more required of us than just gaining a degree or forming a career path. The total of our lives is much richer than what we do; it is who we are and what we offer to others that counts the most. 

Homemaking is the best place to put all that we learn into beneficial practice. By thinking of our homes as a microcosm or miniature community in the scheme of a much larger design, we can use every discipline to create a wholesome atmosphere in which human beings can thrive, and, more importantly, where seeds can be planted and nurtured until there is fruit for God's Kingdom and glory!

That wonderful little book gave me quite a lot to think about indeed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Old-fashioned Spelling

I have read that other countries, whose languages are "phonemic" never need spelling lessons.

But good, old English is just too hard to nail down; there are almost as many exceptions as there are rules!

I have tried to teach my children to spell more ways than I can count. I have used a textbook, corrected the words in their own spelling (natural), used a group of words in a list which were related, etc.

I have also read about how Charlotte Mason taught children to spell (I believe she and Professor McGuffey would have gotten along--although his students were from a much different background than hers--doing lessons on the backs of shovels, etc., although she would have really appreciated that they all lived in the out of doors...but I digress) by having them look at a word, and then close their eyes and "visualize" it, then open their eyes and write it. In this way they are reinforcing their visual memory of each word.

Funny, but most of us do this very thing--we rely on how a word looks to us. This can become very difficult after correcting some of my children's writing--I get mixed up myself after seeing things spelled so very "interestingly" so often.

We sometimes play a little game with our McGuffey spellers--the ones I printed from Google books a while back and had spiral-bound. I hand out small slips of paper and split my children into two teams. Then I put the two teams on either side of my huge dining room table, each across from a child at his/her approximate spelling level. I then assign each group of two's an appropriate spelling list to draw from in the Speller, such as lesson 27 for one, 77 for another, and so on. Then one person selects ten words from that list to proctor to the other person across the table, and so on down the line (we have enough readers for three on each side). At the end all of the lists are corrected and the team with the most correct wins!

This only takes a few minutes to do, and I don't have to be directly involved, yet it gives them all extra practice and a little fun besides.

I don't know if it actually has helped them spell any better, however! It just makes me feel better (I love these old books and relish any way I can use them).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Creating answer key booklets for the Ray's Arithmetic series

I am very thankful for this "electronic age," which I believe God is using as a great blessing around the world. But I still tend to be very much the "analogue" in many ways!

It is still hard for me to do any serious reading and studying from a screen, so I prefer 3-D books that I can hold. This is why I spend the time to print out and bind books from the past. 

As our children have been using the Ray's Arithmetic Series for their math, we have found it quite inconvenient to have the text printed, but the answers still in their digital form.
This is why I chose to print the answers out separately, create covers, and then staple them into booklets. The Dollar Homeschool discs have made this all so simple because the answers are separated into separate files. 

Here is how I create the covers for these booklets:

I first select the title page of the book and copy it. Then I paste it onto a Microsoft Publisher (there are similar programs that are open-source and therefore free, such as scribus) page, with a landscape orientation, making sure that the cover material will fit neatly on the right half of the page. I like to put a text box with the words "Key to" somewhere above the title page. 

I also like to use a border from Clipart Etc. (you can find these under the "design" section). Here are some links to ones I have used:

I arrange the two pages so that the title page fits neatly inside the border, then I print my composition out onto card stock. 

I print the answers out two-pages-per-sheet, and two-sided, then I stack these pages on top of the cover I created and staple them all in the middle with my long-arm stapler (this tool was worth every penny I paid!).

I keep the booklets in my special "teacher's drawer" for easy access for both the children and myself. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Homeschool-lite: no-fuss learning

My little girl makes a basket!
It's summertime--the weather is warm, and the birds and bugs are all around us. There is so much to do--we play basketball together almost every-other day now, and there are all sorts of other things we want to experience. 

So what is a good homeschooling mother to do? 

Instead of fighting with nature, I capitulate and help them along! Here are some of the ideas I have come up with for taking advantage of these months. I have decided to concentrate on thinking and math skills in anticipation for our next round of "formal" academics.

1. Wake up time is instruction time.  We are using that half-hour that it takes to completely recover one's consciousness for good. Besides reading through a creation science devotion, I also continue to read through the Good Morals and Gentle Manners book which was created for the Eclectic Education Series. Then I also read a testimony about praising and thanking God continually in Merlin Carother's Power in Praise. Within this time, we will be learning the Hebrew Aleph Bet, and then pursuing that language more as time goes on.

2. Brain-training. I was recently handed a book from Learning Rx entitled Releasing the Einstein Inside. A lot of what I read made sense to me, so I have begun to use a few of their suggestions with my children, getting them to exercise their higher mental functions, etc. There are all sorts of free resources on this site. 

3. Math games. These are so fun for my gang, but so very simple and cheap! Here are a few favorites:

Buzz. The idea of this one was taken from a vintage book of diversions for young ladies. Everyone sits in a circle, and one person begins by saying the number "1", then next person says the next number, and so on around the circle. When any multiple of 5 or the number 5 is reached, the person must remember to say "Buzz" or pay a forfeit (when the number "55" is reached, then the person must say "Buzz, buzz" and so on). The forfeit is paid by having the offender turn his back to the room, while the gestures of a kiss, a pinch, and a hit are made, in any order (switching up the order each time makes it more fun) by the appointed leader. The offender then says either 1, 2 or 3, and then receives whichever gesture corresponds with the number he has chosen (for instance, if he chose the letter "1", and the first gesture made was a kiss, then he would receive a kiss, and so on). 

The multiples can be changed, such as multiples of 6, 7, 8, etc. My children love this so much that they play it whenever they are needing to pass the time, such as in the car during errands, etc. 

Toss. This one requires only a small stuffed toy or ball. A number of children sit in a circle and pass the object back and forth while saying their addition, subtraction, multiplication or division tables. If the object or ball is dropped, they have to start all over again. 

Measuring scavenger hunt. My children really get into this one. You will need a kitchen scale and measuring stick, if you have a number of children, you may need multiples!  

You simply make a list of things that need to be found--something that weighs exactly 8 oz., or  you could say 1/2 or .5 lb., something that weighs 13 oz., etc. Also, have them find things that measure exactly 3 and 1/4 inches, or 18 cm., etc. The fun of discovering just how to estimate the weight or length of something really grabs their attention. 

Find the distance. Give them an atlas and a measuring stick and have them calculate the distances "as-the-crow-flies" from one international city to another. 

Candy fun. Take a huge bag of either M & M's candies or Skittles and have the children estimate the total candies in the bag, separate and count the various colors, tell the average number of each color, use division to evenly distribute the candy among family members, etc. 

After helping the children eat count their candy, then it's out to play some more basketball, I certainly don't want to find my hips on that list of things to measure...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

McGuffey and the Christian age of America

There are reasons that we find the McGuffey readers so refreshingly moral. They were written in an age of incredible spiritual awakening in America. Here is an excerpt from the site Religion and the Founding of the American Republic:

The religion of the new American republic was evangelicalism, which, between 1800 and the Civil War, was the "grand absorbing theme" of American religious life. During some years in the first half of the nineteenth century, revivals (through which evangelicalism found expression) occurred so often that religious publications that specialized in tracking them lost count. In 1827, for example, one journal exulted that "revivals, we rejoice to say, are becoming too numerous in our country to admit of being generally mentioned in our Record." During the years between the inaugurations of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, historians see "evangelicalism emerging as a kind of national church or national religion." The leaders and ordinary members of the "evangelical empire" of the nineteenth century were American patriots who subscribed to the views of the Founders that religion was a "necessary spring" for republican government; they believed, as a preacher in 1826 asserted, that there was "an association between Religion and Patriotism." Converting their fellow citizens to Christianity was, for them, an act that simultaneously saved souls and saved the republic. The American Home Missionary Society assured its supporters in 1826 that "we are doing the work of patriotism no less than Christianity." With the disappearance of efforts by government to create morality in the body politic (symbolized by the termination in 1833 of Massachusetts' tax support for churches) evangelical, benevolent societies assumed that role, bringing about what today might be called the privatization of the responsibility for forming a virtuous citizenry.

When researching the McGuffey's on line, I came across a lot of negative opinions, accusing them of being "bigoted" and misogynistic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the morality of all of the different versions points towards kindness and fairness, without exception for gender, race, or creed. All of these virtues were being sought after in the climate of revivals during the 19th century. These books were not written to impress university elitists and educational demagogues; they were meant to appeal to pastors and parents who wanted to pass their faith on to the next generation. Unlike education today, curriculum decisions were left at the local, even the home, level. I wonder how curricula would be chosen today if the same were true!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

One-Room School

We have a lot of trouble with the library--I have called checking out books my one acceptable "vice" for many years.

When the children were younger we would check out maybe sixty books at a shot, then something would happen and I would let those books be a few days overdue and...well you can imagine the fines!

One day my dear husband went to the library to check something out, only to be shocked that he owed $43 in fines--I'm not kidding! Of course, he didn't rack up those bucks, I did!

Now I am on a strict diet--no more of this biblio-gluttony. The last time we checked out 20 or so books, one went missing, for three weeks. It was finally discovered underneath the bathroom sink--not sure how to look at that one.

Since we did find the book, we went to the library once again, this time allowing ourselves only one book per person. This made us all very particular, and very careful as to our choices.

For my book, I chose One Room School, by Raymond Bial. I loved all of the photos in this one--especially the vintage ones of a class of students standing in front of the schoolhouse.

These children were often dressed in a rugged, pioneer way, holes in the knees of their britches, etc. Some were only sod houses, one was just a bunch of tree branches bunched together in the form of a makeshift canopy.

Children sat on puncheon benches where there was an abundance of wood, back when Professor McGuffey would have been formulating his readers.

We like to think that we are so advanced these days--but we have lost the will to persevere and overcome. Lincoln, the man who wrote one of the most famous speeches in our history on the back of an envelope, started in a log hut--and we haven't seen the likes of him in quite a while.

Consider this from McGuffey's Fourth Reader (original) with the notation Beecher:

We must educate! We must educate or we must perish by our own prosperity. If we do not, short will be our race from the cradle to the grave. If in our haste to be rich and mighty, we outrun our literary and religious institutions, they will never overtake us, or only come up after the battle of liberty is fought and lost, as spoil to grace the victory, and as resources of inexorable despotism for the perpetuity of our bondage. 

But what will become of the West, if her prosperity rushes up to such a majesty of power, while those great institutions linger which are necessary to form the mind, and the conscience, and the heart of that vast world? It must not be permitted.

Awfully prophetic, wasn't it?

Monday, April 29, 2013

See the Light DVD Review/Giveaway!

Art is in our blood. We have artistic/creative-types on both sides of our family, and some have been quite successful. Five out of six of our grown children are in some way involved in Graphic Design, two of them make a good living at it. All of our children began to sketch at an early age; the humorous thing is that, if we have to correct them, we just take away their drawing privileges for a day! 

So the other day, when we were all working on a design project, the most perfect thing for us to keep the younger ones happy was to put in a DVD from See the Light. This particular one was entitled, God's Runaway, which covers the story of Jonah. The girls sat in the family room with some supplies and followed along with the DVD.


When I later asked the girls what they liked about the See the Light video, the oldest of the three, who is nine-years-old, said she loved how they made things glow, and that she learned about curves, how to hold her pencils better, and about shadowing. This meant so much to her, since she draws probably about three hours a day!

My children have learned how to draw and create intuitively, which has helped them to be creative problem-solvers, but I think it is important that they also have some time for actual instruction in methods and technique from those who are more skilled. I know that the few tips that they have learn on these wonderful art instruction DVDs has helped tremendously! I highly recommend them to you. If you would like a chance to win this wonderful learning tool for your own family, just click on the link below:

See the Light Giveaway! Just click here to enter...

* The FTC requires that I tell you that see the Light is a paid advertiser on my blog and I received a free DVD in order to review it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lilla Rose Mother's Day idea!

This would make a great gift for Mom (hint, hint)!


* The FTC requires that I disclose that I am paid to advertise Lilla Rose products on my blog

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Older Children and Home Learning

Sometimes I think we get it too much of a hurry for our kids to grow up. We prod and push them to smile, to crawl, to walk, to ride a bike.

But some children just will not cooperate with our schedules. Children who grew up to be radio broadcasters or famous speakers sometimes did not speak until they were toddlers. I once had an athletic friend who did not walk until she was three-years-old.

There are some thoughtful leaders, the types that have made famous speeches and been vastly influential for good, who have never enjoyed talking, at least not shallow chit-chatting.

There was a time when being thoughtful and quiet was an appreciated character trait. Young people were encouraged to take time to think before speaking, not to jump into a conversation too quickly, not to be flighty or too social.

I used to fret about how I needed to drum up "opportunities" for my youngsters to have "social experiences," partly believing the lie that home-schooled children aren't outgoing enough, but I have since repented.

I have learned to relax and trust; trust that God knows His times, trust that my children are maturing at their own rate. 

Without the outside pressure to perform in public, they have learned to listen to God, and have learned to tune in to find out who they are.

One child spent hours upon hours studying the history of "costume" and how to make patterns from scratch and sew beautiful clothing. She grabbed Harvey's and Pinneo's grammars and plunged herself deeply into language arts, writing page after page of poetry. She went on long walks to the library and bought classics to read such as Cervante's Don Quixote. She played with her younger siblings and created all sorts of pastry treats in the kitchen. She studied chemistry and anatomy so that she could learn everything available to aid her in her artistic pursuits. And she drew and drew, fantastic scenes and lovely ladies.

Another child has spent time building up his body; he regularly does calisthenics, goes on long morning runs, and works in the yard without being told. The rest of his time he spends reading theology books and thinking deep thoughts about God. He will spend hours on his face praying, and then, when the time is right, he will share his love of the Master in his booming voice with the enthusiasm of an 18th century evangelist. Funny, but we never assigned any of these books to him, and we never required him to do exercises or run, he just decided that these activities would be worthy of his time.

According to Dr. Raymond Moore, the Smithsonian Institute studied the common life influencing factors of twenty world-class geniuses and found them to be:

1) Warm, loving educationally responsive parents and other adults.
2) Scant association outside the family.
3) A great deal of creative freedom under parental guidance to explore their ideas, drilling as necessary.

Instead of being concerned for my children and their social life, I am relieved, thankful, hopeful, overjoyed!

When our oldest daughter at home did eventually take some college courses, she was a little bit intimidated at first, but it did not take very long until she realized just how blessed she was to have had all of that time to explore on her own. There are some things that she is learning that have helped her, but she is advanced in most of her classes, because she took advantage of her time and didn't just explore, but honed her skills until they were finely tuned. 

Besides, she really has no trouble being friendly, but in a very grounded, self-assured way. Unlike most young people, she knows who she is, she has a close walk with God, and this has stabilized her. Certainly, she is still discovering new things about herself in her relation to life, but not with the uncertainty of most people her age.

She has learned the lessons of being by herself and enjoying it, something that many adults have never had the time to do. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Irregular Learning

A walk around the pond
I am really enjoying what we are doing for school. The children are learning so much, and I can see their progress.

The ones who are just beginning are already showing areas that are their strengths, and others that are their current weaknesses, but I am not concerned. I have learned that, just because I child is struggling in the area of reading or math at the age of six, doesn't mean that he/she will be struggling forever! I am a firm believer that many "learning disabilities" disappear as children mature.

Of course, some of us simply are weak in certain areas, and this can take some acceptance. The idea is to strike a balance between what we should expect and challenge our children to do, and what they are actually capable of doing.

The middle girls are both growing greatly. They are doing well in their McGuffey's, and they are moving steadily forward with their Ray's Arithmetics, both in different places in the Elementary book. The story problems can sometimes be a little difficult, but that is when we get out the chalkboard and make pictures.

Questions about math
Besides their regular work, these girls read voraciously, and one has decided to do a number of lessons in Long's Language each week, and she loves memorizing the little poetry as she is directed, etc. The other has been working through a writing curriculum from 7 Sisters which I won as a prize through the Homeschooling Blog Awards. She already gobbled her way through the poetry section, totally on her own, and now is zipping through the short story portion--and loving every minute! She definitely has the writing bug.

The older children have a great time with the McGuffey's and Ray's, the daughter of the two really, really loves McGuffey--she would do four lessons a day if we had the time. She not only likes to do the lessons, but she likes to share what she is discovering through them with all of us. She is very quick, and she loves to decorate the pages as she does her work in her copybook. Ray's is her favorite, though, and she would probably do that all day--she is always asking for more time to do it! She also excels in domestic skills, is learning to create a pattern on her own and sew her own clothes, has been doing little stitchery works, and will be baby-sitting her niece once-a-week. She is hoping to learn DSLR photography and put her photos on her blog.

Long's Language work
The son of the two is so full of artistic creativity--and yet he can also be technical. I hate to hamper him in any way, but I have to help him by goading him a bit now-and-again and making him do his lessons (well). He is sweet about it, though, and sees the wisdom of it himself. He can sometimes feel as though his creativity makes his mind wander from one wonderful thought to another in rapid succession, so I am trying to help him to learn how to discipline his gifts (the spirit of the Prophet is subject to the prophet).  He is working on learning to use the Adobe creative suite, and his handiwork is fantastic! Perhaps someday he will be selling them through our website, one that he is currently working on with much fervor so that we can launch it soon. Probably then this blog will end up there...

Meanwhile, both are also  reading, the Creative is often found with his nose in something from J.R.R. Tolkien (he wrote more than just the ring trilogy and The Hobbit) and the Dear Young Lady is searching for something to follow up after reading all of the popular classics.

Together we have finished a concentrated study of the etymology of the English language, fascinating and one which has enabled the children to have a better grasp of vocabulary, grammar, even spelling, with a greater appreciation as to how our Bible came to us. Of course, we studied all of this because I found it so fascinating, and the children caught my enthusiasm!

Sarah sewing
Our current studies together include an overview of all punctuation (I repeat this study periodically, using different methods, etc. to reinforce their own studies) and have daily short dictation exercises.
I have also begun to cover all sorts of very practical areas of living in greater detail, such as our current study of microbiology and keeping our homes and our lives healthy. I am planning on covering all sorts of growing-up skills, such as caring for clothing, nutrition and cooking, etc. I am taking these subjects on because I have often assumed that they just "know" because I have learned about these different areas and become skilled in homemaking slowly over many years, and I forget that this is a new group that needs to be taught and led more specifically.

Of course, I am enjoying each subject, even each part of each subject. Whenever I get feeling pressured, my loved ones will suggest that I put our little learning sessions aside for a time. What they don't realize is that I would gladly give up a lot of other things, but our learning times are the best parts of my day! My oldest daughter, who also home-schools her children, feels very much the same! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lilla Rose Mother's Day Specials brought to you by Heather Mason

Mother's Day will be here soon! Lilla Rose is offering a lovely, feminine gift idea for your special mother! An "extra small" flexi clip ($13) adorns a light-weight scarf beautifully! A medium size ($15) is perfect for a bun. Or you may wish to choose one of our unique bobby pins ($9) that are sturdy and beautiful. 

If you find that you have ordered the wrong size clip, Lilla Rose will conveniently exchange it for free! Styling and sizing videos are available on Heather's website!
hair style silver bun
If you are new to Lilla Rose, choose a free item with purchase of any three! Heather Mason will contact you regarding the free item. Do not put it in your "shopping cart."