"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shakespeare - The Tempest

We began the Tempest this past Monday, in preparation for a taped production of the Stratford Play. We talked about who Shakespeare was using a Lap book Gates had made when she had taken a couple of classes on Shakespeare: the man, his life, his time, his plays - a general overview. I'm using Tales from Shakespeare (Lamb), to work through the play with them. They are enjoying the story so much. The first day I had them do some sketching about the characters, we were initially introduced to. I was secretly laughing at them because when they were trying to figure out what Caliban looked like there was some lengthy discussion about it followed up by demonstrations on how exactly he would have walked as he was described as "a strange misshapen thing, far less human in form than an ape". *grin* Even Grace got in on it, drawing a picture of Caliban, proudly informing us whom she had drawn a picture of!

We've been taking it in little bits so they understand the story and not just hear it. Today we formed the characters out of play dough and they dramatised the storm at sea that brought Ferdinand to the island. They enjoy doing that sort of thing as they are all fairly dramatic children (they get that from their Dad! lol I confess I was reluctant to introduce Shakespearean play to the kids but I decided to forge ahead with it! The opportunity to see a play (although not a live production) has helped me to move ahead with it. The kids excitement about it is quite contagious. I find I am enjoying just as much.

The study of this play won't be done the way I would have liked for it to be done but it's a good start and we can also revisit it in more depth later on in their school years. They will understand it enough so that when they watch the taped production they can watch it with an understanding of the characters and the plot. I think it's really neat that they are anticipating the production to see if the characters match what they have in their minds eye. And of course as a friend reminded me - it is a play and is meant to be watched! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Home School Progress

Well, our schedule is well established and we are forming so good healthy habits! The favorite part of the day is when they each get 1 on 1 time with Mommy. They get a half hour each with me to do whatever they would like. At first I found this a bit difficult, just settling down to play whatever they wanted me to. I'm used to moving around and getting things done. But this has turned out to be a lovely time with each of the kids. Just chatting about what they want or playing what they want. I'm enjoying it - very much. We started ABEKA Grade 4 with Gates but I am finding it to be too much for her during the day. It's taking too long. So we are scaling back and taking a Charlotte Mason approach to Language Arts for the next few weeks. She'll be doing copywork, some dictation and more narration. She is my little book worm. I can barely keep her stocked for books. She eats them up (I think she gets it from me :). She's doing well with her piano too. We switched teachers and I am finding that Gates is doing much better, I think this is a better fit for her. She's been practicing daily, even when she is done her weekly songs she has been playing for enjoyment. I love listening to her practice her songs.

Grey is doing so well with some new approaches to math we have taken. He is adding 1 and 10 to a double digit number now with no difficulty! We're just going to stick with that for a while now. No rushing, working right at his pace and knowing that he WILL get it. He's doing awesome with his reading and writing. Such nice, neat printing he has. I'm hoping he'll like reading on his own too when he gets to that point. Grey just started piano lessons and he's doing so well with it. I think it's been good for his self esteem and I even think it's been good for his right/left sequencing and spatial movements. He's been listening to a fair bit of classical/instrumental music lately, he enjoys trying to figure out which instruments are playing and he is often right!

Now for the books for SL's Core 3+4 - both the kids are LOVING them. They are a great group of books. Reading time ranks right up there with 1 on 1 time during the day. They like to colour while reading and then enjoy a lively discussion about what we've read. I really feel like they're getting the meat out of what we read about - be it history, geography or science.

All in all the past few weeks have been relaxing and enjoyable. I love home schooling. I attended a great Charlotte Mason meeting and it feels good to hear from women who have gone before me, who have older children and I love listening to their ideas. It's good to have support for the type of life we have chosen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spiritual Insights this past week

I meet every other Tuesday with a group of women to study the Bible.  Right now we are working through a book by Beth Moore called Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender.  We are about 5 chapters in and it is proving to be an incredible study.  As I work through it's pages I am continually reminded of the verses in Hebrews 12: 1-3 that say:  "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, let you become weary and discouraged in your soul."  God wants us to look for Him day in and day out, to have HIM be our focus so that when the weight of life presses in we are not moved or shaken.  This requires much discipline and prayer.  I've found it difficult after a baby to get back to the discipline of rising earlier then my family to spend concentrated prayer and study in God's word but when I did I felt like the tone of my day was set.  I find I'm missing that time, we study God's word together in the morning with the kids but it does not fulfill that one on one time, that relationship I am meant to have with the Lord which I get when it is just Him and me in the early morning hours.  During that time He takes the time to teach me, convict me and renew me.  There is nothing like it.  And I have missed the regular routine of it.  A few things also spoke to me this week, a quote I saw on a friends FB page moved me to really think about how important it is to be in His word.  "Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right." ~ Charles H. Spurgeon  How true this is, sometimes it is easy to blur that line but it isn't as easy when my efforts are concentrated in His word by reading, studying and memorizing.  The line becomes much clearer and more defined.  And when I quiet my soul to hear His voice, asking for His wisdom, He will be more then faithful to provide it.  Another friend posted a beautiful song by the singer Heather William, her story behind the song was powerful (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVVn1Yh0sEY) and of course the song itself was amazing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX2uM0L3Y1A).  What stood out for me  was when Heather Williams said "I choose to keep and open dialog with God.... like David (King David)."   This stood out to me because King David did indeed do that, he kept an open dialog with God throughout the seasons of his life, even the hardest times; when King Saul was trying to kill him, or he experienced the consequences of his sin.  I think that makes all the difference in my walk when I do that, particularly in times of distress or times of intense refinement.  Sometimes, I don't feel like doing that but when I have chosen to, despite the way I'm feeling, I can feel my heart soften and the peace of God that passes all understanding settle in my spirit.  This week I am reminded of the race, of keeping my eyes on Jesus - the author and perfecter of my faith and I am also reminded that there are strong women who run beside me.  And I know that I am SO BLESSED.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tried my Hand at Quilting this past weekend.

On Saturday I met a couple of friends at one of their homes to get my very first quilting lesson. I've always been interested in quilting so jumped at the opportunity when my friend offered to teach me. I have a sewing machine my MIL bought me a number of years ago, so I pulled it out along with all my sewing supplies, some extra material my MIL gave me and headed out for an afternoon of fun, fellowship and learning. :) It turned out that I loved it (I thought I would). I completed my first quilting project this weekend - a place mat. I am looking forward to quilting all sorts of things. But the very first thing I would like to make is a quilt for Gates' bed. I got out some graph paper and drew up a design. It has some embroidery in it as well, which I am looking forward to doing because I have done that in ages as well. So hopefully in a few months time I'll have a picture to post of a quilt I made with my very own hands!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our new home school schedule has been going wonderfully these past three weeks.  School is getting done and not only getting done, but FUN! :)  We're having a good time being together as a family. :)   Our challenge these past few weeks has been with Grey.  He's been having some problems with place value and inverting numbers in math.  I've had the sense for a little while that something hasn't been right with math as we've introduced some new concepts.  Upon doing research I've realised that he most likely has dyscalculia (similar to dyslexia but having to do specifically with mathematical abilities and the way in which a person views math).  The more I delved into it the more convinced I became.  We've been taking math very slow and are going back over some concepts until they will be firmly entrenched.  I received my book in the mail that deals with dyscalculia yesterday and have already read through quite a bit of it.  As I read through it the problems my son is having are right there - on every single page.  I am relieved that the things we have noticed with him are finally making sense - even outside our regular 'math' time.  I also feel like I can help him now with the teaching aids I am being given.  The book is primarily for teachers in a classroom setting.  I have a huge advantage in the sense that my time is clearly ear marked toward my son during math time.  Add to that the advantage of being able to weave this approach throughout the day with him makes for a more complete and whole teaching approach.  Grey has had his struggles with diet and sight (he is celiac and has very poor eyesight) so we'll just take it as we have - in stride, knowing that God is in control and working everything out. What has consistently amazed me is how God answers prayer for him and that the answers haven't been long coming.  I know my little guy is covered and that he has a Heavenly Father who loves him so much.  And I feel beyond blessed that the Lord gives me wisdom and strength to fulfill the call He has given me - to home school my children, care for their needs and build them up.  My initial response was "My little man just can't catch a break, there's always something."  But as I concentrate on giving it to the Lord I am filled with the hope and peace that only comes from Him.  He will give me all that I need to help our son; in whatever form that requires.  Ultimately, I know God is in control and in the midst of challenge there is great blessing to be had by leaning on HIS strength.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The School Year Schedule Kick Off!

On Monday we started with a brand new core - Core 3+4 from Sonlight Curriculum.  I have used SL for 5 years now and we are thrilled with the delightful literature their program has to offer.  I can not say enough good things about their approach to Homeschooling. :)  We are doing American History this year which will be followed up by at least one year of Canadian History and Geography.  

Week one went very well.  I have revamped the way we do things.  Grace and Grey are one year older, all this considered I wanted to do something more concrete in terms of a routine!  We had always had a routine but I found it was becoming difficult to get everything we needed to do, in a day.  So I went to a structured day.  Each of us has a schedule in half hour to hour increments. The schedule is up on the wall for all to see and coloured coded in the favorite colours!  I've included all our subjects, play time, 1:1 time with Mommy, snacks, chores etc.  The first couple of days were difficult as we all adjusted to doing things this way but by the end of the week we were all happy with everything.  I feel so much less stressed about how our day unfolds as we know exactly what we're doing and when.  The food has already been decided for the day as well.  I actually feel like I have MORE time in the day then I ever did!  :)  The kids seem happier and focused.   I also like that they are forming good habits whether that be chores, work or leisure.  So we are on to week two of the new schedule!  Happy Homeschooling awaits!

Our Vacation

We got back a week ago from a lovely holiday up north in a cottage located right on a beautiful sandy beach.  It was three weeks of good solid family time, rest and relaxing.  It was cooler then last year but none of us minded.  We still got our beach days in.  One of the advantages Homeschool affords us the opportunity of taking holidays at our convenience.  We decided we would go in September as the weather is still pretty good and the crowds are gone.  Our children can wander and play about the beach and surrounding foliage without getting lost in the crowds!  We went on a hike in the area to see a water fall and forest.  It was a great hike and we saw many interesting geological features.   We flew kites, watched the para surfers navigate the waves, swam in the water and took in many a sunset in the evening!   As always, I am beyond thankful for our time as a family.  It's a time to concentrate completely on our family without all the hubbub of activity that the school year brings along with the summer activities we engage in - summer camps, VBS, park dates etc.  So when we come back we feel rested and able to tackle all that the next year will bring!   

BTW:  It's three months to Christmas! :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reflection on my Weekly Personal Scripture Reading

I am currently going through the book of James with a friend of mine. We're taking it section by section weekly. This week's reading was James 1:21-27. I've always liked the book of James. I find the verses straight forward and very real in terms of walking out my faith in every day life. The challenge to lay aside all filthiness and over flow of wickedness does not mince words. Reading in earlier verses about not being drawn away by our own desires thereby allowing them to give birth to sin, has me thinking about how important our thought life truly is. The verse "Bring every thought captive into the obedience of Christ" came to mind immediately. I believe that to be literal because if we examined each thought as it came into our minds to see if it lined up with the word of God we would be able to identify lies and exchange them for the truth of God. This is hard to do, I've been struggling with it all week long. As I did the rest of the verse struck me "....and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls." It is humbling to see how much I need God when I examine each thought. I need His presence as much as I need to breath. I need His truth because it sets me free and allows me to think properly. I think this is what it means to be meek, to realise that my thoughts are not pure on their own but made pure by the word of God. Of course to combat the natural inclination of my thought life I must know the word, read it daily and hide it in my heart. Disciplines that are essential to a walk with my Savior. I've been working hard on memory work this week for myself and also playing Praise and Worship music because I find that if I'm playing it in the 'in between moments' of life my thoughts are dwelling on His word and my lips are busy singing praises to Him thereby not allowing to much time for idle thought. It really makes a difference. I'm enjoying this trek through James and looking forward to next weeks passage.

Monday, August 30, 2010


This past weekend we all went camping! It was a family camp ground with both trailer and tent camping. There was a splash pad, pool and water slide! The playground equipment was well kept and the kids could move from the park to the water activities easily. Also the washroom and shower facilities were so clean and in fantastic shape. Always an added bonus. :) The camp site we had the first night wasn't as good as the one we moved to the following night. We moved to help us find a lost set of keys (that's a whole other story!) and also to be next to some friends who were camping. The site the second night was right beside an inlet with a road behind us; there weren't many camping so it felt secluded there. The view was lovely. The fire pit had been set up so we could look over the water as we sat by the fire. The kids had a fantastic time with all the activities and the two other families we were visiting with who were camping there. This was our first time camping with the kids so it was exciting for them, although tiring for us. :) The weekend was truly amazing though, lots of memories for us all to treasure. My husband and I were talking yesterday and we think we would like to take the kids to a forested park for some camping next summer. There was a really nice park we went camping at when we were first married. The trails are beautiful and there is canoeing, biking (there were several different trails and our family loves to bike, both the kids and us), hiking and beach available. We're going to look around for camping gear on sale this coming month and add what we will need so we can take the kids to a nice forested park area on our next camping experience. The kids love to bike and they've been wanting to canoe for a while as well. Now that our little one is getting older, it will be easier to do this sort of thing!

This weekend got us thinking about different options for family holiday and things to do as a family, new experience for the kids to learn and grow from. Incentive for my husband and I to shed some weight over the winter months and get into shape. And it was a lot of fun to spend time with a couple of families we'd been meaning to for a while now. I'm always mindful that on these occasions we are building memories for our children to cherish (well each day are as well:). Love this quote, I can not remember where I saw it. "We remember moments, not days." ~Uknown

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our School Year Kick Off!

Our official school year kick off is in October. We start a month later because September is a holiday month for us. We HS throughout the summer and I am pleased to report that we had a great school year. I have almost all my materials for the next year with the exception of a few consumable workbooks. I've created a mish mash of curricula that works well for each child and our family situation. It's always fun for me to research and pour through curriculum catalogs to come up with next year's goodies. And the kids love to open their box of books from Sonlight to discover what literature they'll be reading next. :)

Gates - 9 years old!

Bible - A reading from Jesus' life/or a parable along with The Jesus Encyclopedia, Memory Work

History, Geography, Read Alouds - Sonlight Core 3/4 (American History)

Science - Sonlight 4

Language Arts - Spelling Wisdom, Abeka Grade 4, copy work, Creative Writing (Sonlight), readers

Math - Finish up Right Start Level C (3/4 way through) and then onto Level D, Zillio Math Mountain

Handwriting: Hand Writing Without Tears - Cursive

French - L'Art de Dire

Electives - piano, Art

Extra Curricular Activities - Girls Club, Skating, Swimming

Shakespeare - We will be studying Twelfth Night - the play, No Fear Shakespeare, Stories from Shakespeare etc and take in the play at the Stradford Theatre

Grey - 7 years old and in grade 2

Bible - A reading from Jesus' life/or a parable along with The Jesus Encyclopedia, Memory Work

History, Geography, Read Alouds - Sonlight Core 3/4 (American History)

Science - Sonlight 4

Language Arts - Explode the Code, Readers, Abeka Grade 1

Math - Finish up Right Start Level B and then onto Level C, Zillio Math Mountain

Handwriting: Hand Writing Without Tears - Cursive

French: L'Art de Dire

Electives - Art, Music Appreciation

Extra Curricular - Boys Club, Skating, Swimming

Shakespeare - We will be studying Twelfth Night - the play, No Fear Shakespeare, Stories from Shakespeare etc and take in the play at the Stradford Theatre

Grace : 3 years old - just little no grade! :)

Bible - She sits in with us but I'll give her a Bible Story Book to look at and she'll have some memory work.

Books, Books and BOOKS - Sonlight's P3/4 - just literature, some puzzles, mighty mind

Preschool Activity Bags - I have about 40 of them now.

Math - she likes playing with her junior abacus and number cards, the Right Start counting sticks.

Other - Crafts, Music Appreciation, Swimming Lessons

I have my first two in the same Core, it makes it considerably easier for all of us. They have separate seat work though. I'll take books from the core Grey is suppose to be in and read them now and again. But honestly, the kid has a fantastic memory and he loves to discuss the books.

They will each have a schedule, color coded and I have even included Grace in the schedule but I won't enforce it, when she comes and asks me for her school or needs something to do I'll just refer to it to see what she'd be doing during that time slot and set her up with it. She likes to copy whatever her brother and sister are doing so I let her have at it. But I'm not insistent she have a program, it's mostly to make her happy and feel like she's schooling. Also I've scheduled in some time for Gates to read with her. Grace loves to be read to by her older sister, and Gates loves doing it, plus it's good for Gates to practice. I love listening to her read to Grace because she has the voice inflections going on. It's good for her to learn to read an engaging story as well as her reading skills.

I have to tweek my Blog

I created this Blog a year or so ago. I love blogs but I'm not all that computer savy so I'm not sure how to add pics and make it look prettier. The idea of a blog fascinates me. So I am wondering for those of you who blog, do you update it a couple of times a week? Is it more like a journal?? And how do you make it look so pretty??? :) I'd love to hear ideas.