Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Habit of Gratefulness

We have been working on "habits training" for over a year now. Those of you that are familiar with Charlotte Mason's methods of education will, I'm sure, be well-acquainted with the concept. For those of you that are new to the CM method, habits training involves deliberately cultivating qualities that make us a better reflection of our Lord. Not to mention that they make life more pleasant for ourselves and everyone around us. We participate as a family in building these habits. We strive to have an atmosphere of "come along side and work together with me" rather than, "do as I say and not as I do". It can be very humbling and motivating when your children make greater strides in building proper habits than you do.

The habit we are currently working on is an attitude of gratefulness. Frankly, I decided to work on this one because I was tired of hearing my children grumbling and complaining about this or that. I figured they really needed this training! As is so often the case, God made it abundantly clear that I needed this training at least as much, if not more so, than they do. Instead of dragging my feet when it comes time to make a meal, I should be praising God that I have food to cook. I should be giving thanks that I have such a wonderful home to clean and am blessed with three amazing young boys.

I often wish that we were farther along in our mastery of these habits. I have in my head this wonderful picture of where I'd like us to be, but unfortunately, we fall quite short most of the time. But I am truly grateful for the progress we've made, by God's grace. And I know that He who has begun a good work in me will carry it on to completion.

"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I was experimenting this morning with the video feature on my digital camera. Let's see if I can post it here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Do I Have To?

Do you ever hear this from your children? Come on, I can't be the only one that occasionally gets this reaction when the kids are called for school. It seems like I've heard it more and more as the weather has been warmer and sunnier. I understand their reluctance. I've had a bit of Spring Fever lately myself. But there is still work to be done before we take our summer break and so we need to keep plugging away. I sat down with the boys the other day and tried to get them to think about why we do school. I had them imagine what kind of people they would be if they never learned anything. Would they be the type of person that they would want to have as a friend? Would they be able to support a wife and children someday? And then I explained that "doing school" teaches us more than just necessary subjects. It teaches us about the very nature of our God. For example, our God is a God of order. This is reflected in math that we do each day. There are hard and fast, unchanging rules that govern the use of math. It is unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever, just like our Father.

We study Language Arts so that we can read the love letter that our Lord has given us. How can we know God well if we cannot read His Word? Language Arts also helps us to fulfill the Great Commission. We become much better communicators of God's Word and of His grace when we learn how to write and to speak in front of others.

Geography helps us to understand our place in God's creation and brings an appreciation of the diversity in that creation. The Bible tells us that God has chosen people from every nation, tribe and tongue to be His own. Our brothers and sisters will come from every walk of life, every culture in the world. What a joy to learn about their countries and their culture.

Studying the fine arts gives us an appreciation for the creativity and beauty of our God. We know that every good and perfect gift comes from Him and that sometimes He even gives amazing talent to those that don't believe in Him, for the praise of His glory.

Science reflects both His perfect order and His boundless complexity and creativity. Anyone who has spent any time out of doors really looking at His creation cannot help but be amazed at all that He has given us.

When we look at education in this light, we realize that learning is an act of worship. It is sitting at the Master's feet and drinking in all that He is and all that He has given us. We then do our best, by His grace, to take what we've learned and reflect it to the world around us so that they too might have the boundless pleasure of knowing Him as we do.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekly Report

It's been a pretty laid-back week around here. The public school kids were on Spring Break this week and the weather was gorgeous, so we took a couple days off and the boys were able to spend their days outside with the neighbor kids.

Here's what we did accomplish:

Bible: Greenleaf Guide lesson 15, Tell Me the Truth Chapter 1, God's Devotional Book for Boys, daily

Math: Math-U-See lesson 17 (not finished yet)

Science: Nature Study at park 2x, Burgess Bird Book-3 chapters, Wildlife in Woods and Fields-6 chapters

History: Read 3 articles in Learning Through History-Medieval Japan. Alek wrote and illustrated haiku.

Grammar: English for the Thoughtful Child Lessons 26-27, Explode the Code pages 28-29

Spelling: Spell to Write and Read-Started A list, started numbers page, made spelling word flashcards, continued to review 31 phonograms learned thus far.

Other Read Aloud: The King Without a Shadow by R.C. Sproul, Who Lives Here by Dot & Sy Barlowe

Outings: Park day with the Chi Alpha homeschool group

I think that's about it. Doing this weekly report has really made me realize how far I have to go in my organizational skills. While the kids were out playing this week, I used the time to start organizing for next year. I'm pretty confident that next year will be much smoother and easier.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nature Pictures

Nature Walk

We had another wonderful hour out of doors today. The weather is so beautiful we couldn't resist taking a walk up to our new park. On the way, we stopped to talk to Preacher and visit with the animals. We noticed the turkey hen was missing and that the tom had no feathers on his chest. It turns out that the hen was laying so many eggs that Preacher had to separate the two of them. Evidently the tom is so distraught that he plucked his chest feathers out. The poor, unhappy couple!

At the park, we threw some rocks in the creek (which is mandatory when you have three boys) and picked up some "nature finds" to take home and study. Alek picked up a rock with some interesting red markings on one side and a bud of some kind (covered with pollen, of course). I found some Star of Bethlehem in the grass. Noah picked a Dandelion and a Dogwood blossom and gave them to me. Alek and I both did some sketching and journalling when we got home. I love our new field journals. The size is perfect and for the back I used the cardboard from the back of a sketch pad, so it is very strong and easy to write on.

I am so thankful for all of the wonderful things that God has created for us to enjoy!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Weekly Report

I found this wonderful idea on my new favorite blog, Trivium Academy. She does a weekly report of what they have accomplished each week. Sort of like a virtual open house. Since we have so many family members spread out over the U.S., I thought it might be nice to do this each week so you all can keep up with what's going on here.

We're wrapping up the school year so things have been a bit lighter than normal. Here's what we've been working on:

Bible: We sing a song or hymn each morning. This week it's been "This is the Day". Daddy started singing it the other day and the boys love it. We will usually recite the Nicene Creed two or three times a week, pray, read the Scripture that goes with our Greenleaf Guide to Old Testament History, then the boys will narrate. If they miss anything, I'll ask the questions from the Guide and we'll discuss. Then we usually look at the corresponding page in Victor Journey Through the Bible. Then we pray again and move on to...

Spelling: We are using Spell to Write and Read. We usually do about 5 minutes of phonogram review each day. The rest of the week we will learn new words (usually 10 at a time), do spelling enrichments, create sentences, quiz, etc. This week we started our Multi-letter Phonogram page and began spelling list A. Noah is doing much better with his reading and is starting to read some of the Bob books on his own.

History: We've finished up Famous Men of the Middle Ages and I have been using The Mystery of History Volume II to fill in the gaps. I like Famous Men but it only covers Europe during the Middle Ages. MOH covers other areas of the world. We are currently studying Japan and the samurai. This week we did the MOH lesson and have been reading through Learning Through History Magazine: Medieval Japan. Alek did a very nice notebook page with a written narration and a picture from the magazine which he colored. We also discussed the difference between Bushido and Christianity.

Math: Alek usually works on his math during quiet time. He's currently working through lesson 16 in Math-U-See Gamma.

Grammar: We are working through English for the Thoughtful Child. This week we did lessons 23-26

Read-Aloud: We finished up Little Pilgrim's Progress and should be starting King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table next week.

Alek's Reading: Alek finished up book 7 in the Redwall series: The Bellmaker. He also read War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, The Adventures of Buster Bear by Thornton W. Burgess, Sounder by William H. Armstrong

Poetry: Nathan brought me Poems and Prayer for the Very Young and he and Noah listened to me read several poems. I would call out something to find and Nathan would point to it in the picture. Then Noah brought me A Child's Garden of Verses and we read a few from there.

That about sums it up. I love homeschooling!

Whoo Hoo!

Next year's curriculum plans are really coming together. I feel very organized and I'm so excited about what we're going to be doing. This weekend I've been working on putting together poetry notebooks (Thanks Jessica at Trivium Academy!) and field journals for each of the boys. I even made a field journal for myself! We have 3-ring binders that we use for our nature notebooks but they are difficult to take on a nature walk. We needed something a bit smaller. So I figured I'd make some. I took good quality drawing paper (you could use watercolor paper if you prefer) and cut it to 8.5" by 5.5". Then I created a file with about 60 half-sheets of lined paper and then added a different nature picture to each page with clipart from Clipart ETC. I printed them and cut them to the proper size and then alternated drawing paper with the lined sheets. The back cover will be heavyweight display board (from Office Max) and the front will be cardstock covered with clear contact paper. I will then punch and bind everything with my new Proclick binding system. (I love that thing!) If you are interested in doing something similar, the link to the field journal pages is on the top right side bar. I'll try to post some pictures in the next few days. Happy nature journaling!

Check out my Slide Show!

I've been meaning to post these pictures for a while but because they are so random they don't really fit with one particular post. I saw this slideshow on someone else's blog and figured I'd try it here. What do you think?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spring Fever

I'm sure I'm not the only one that gets spring fever this time of year. By this time each year I am getting tired of school and looking forward to getting new curriculum and taking a break. The weather has been so amazing and I just want to be outside having fun. I think that next week we will plan some extra nature study and perhaps even pack up our books and try doing school at the new park up the street. There are some beautiful pavillions built out over the water. Maybe we'll even get a chance to see a Belted Kingfisher or a Great Blue Heron up close and personal. Stay tuned, and perhaps I'll have some new pictures to share.

Does anyone have any stories they would like to share about how they deal with spring fever? Please leave me a comment and share your suggestions. I need all the encouragement I can get!