"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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Story Boards for History

We've been working our way through some workbooks on American History. The chapters aren't bad in terms of the reading, short but alive with description and interesting information. At the end of the chapter there are a lot of questions and my children have been bored to death trying to get through them. They just weren't absorbing the information. So I got an idea to come at it in a different way. I got some bristol board from the Dollar Store and divided it up into 24 squares. When we are done reading the chapter the kids take one square and sketch the details of the chapter. It has been amazing to watch them pull out of the chapter what to sketch. They have actually been dividing their squares into quarters and putting various scenes in them. Then they sit around and chat about what they did. It has been a fantastic way to get the information to 'stick' for them. Much better then the questions at the back or any test I could give them. When I say to them "Get your story boards!" , they go running for them they are so excited about it. They'll often put themselves in the shoes of the characters and write in bubbles about their heads what they're thinking. I see them connecting with the history we are reading about, it's coming alive for them, and I am so happy to have the tool of narration for history, science and geography. I'll post some pictures of their first story board once they are finished the first work book.

I should also mention that after they were done with their story boards and they were put away, the kids made up a play with two acts about Christopher Columbus and Americus. It was great! :)

Moments of Beauty in the Ordinary

I have been taking the challenge of writing out a thousand gifts seriously this week. Once I set my mind to something I just do it. I think God has been preparing my heart for this. I've been challenged over the past little while to 'live in the moment', accepting that God's mercies are new every day, His grace is sufficient - always, and not to worry about tomorrow. And I've been more content lately - but this continual thanksgiving is something entirely different. I feel like I've entered into a different sphere of prayer and praise. I find myself searching for the blessings the day brings, expecting it and finding it. I've been reaching for my journal often, sometimes it's difficult and I struggle to find the gratitude but when I find it, I am so pleased that I took the time to grasp it. My kids have been watching me curiously as I do it. The last couple of days, when they see me writing in it, they gather around me to ask what I'm thankful for. I've been reading some of it to them, not all because some of it is just between me and the Lord. I have found as I read it I will sometimes feel tears pricking the backs of my eyes, not normal for me to be given to tears. I'm truly thankful. My kids have also been writing out their thankful lists - 7 per day, it's starting to move beyond the typical Mom, Dad, the dog etc. to their lists being more specific. I am working my way to 1000, and I really have discovered already that it is impossible to feel joy and negative feelings at the same time. I've discovering that when I am searching for the blessings and gifts in my life, I really can't miss them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Thousand Gifts

As I mentioned in my last post, Ann Voskamp's challenge to us about giving thanks every day has affected me deeply. I feel changed. The Lord had been speaking to me about being thankful for a while now, so when I heard Ann's message I knew the Holy Spirit was using her message as a confirmation that He wants me to give thanks each and every day. I had purchased a journal a few weeks ago, it's beautiful and I wasn't sure what I wanted to put in it. As I read A Thousand Gifts I decided to use the journal to write out my thousand gifts. Over the past few days I've written down the things I am thankful for and I feel my heart swelling as I talk to my Saviour about all the blessings in my life. I've never been an overly negative person but what I didn't realise was how much I was missing out on the small moments of praise with my Lord. I'm learning to talk to Him in a different way and a few times have been overcome with joy as I seek out that which holds wonder and gratitude throughout my day.

I also realise that you can experience a 'high' after a weekend such as the one I just had and it's easy to feel motivated but what I love is that by doing the Thousand Gifts - keeping my list each day, I'm allowing the Lord to work through what He has spoken to me about. I hope to teach my children by example and love how to give thanks in their life for the gifts the Lord gives us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A beautiful Weekend

For the first time, since having my firstborn ten years ago I was able to steal away by myself for an overnight with some lovely women to attend the annual Kitchener Waterloo Homeschool Conference. I've been away on day trips but never for an over night. I confess I was conflicted, sad to leave but feeling joyful to have some fellowship and to have myself 'fed' in this journey our family is on. While there, I had an amazing dinner out filled with laughter and a sense of togetherness with the women I am so blessed to know and walk beside. We later giggled in our hotel room chatting about anything from parenting, childhood, marriage, to our relationships with Christ. This time was golden. The conference itself was incredible. I hadn't planned to spend more then $60, and I didn't! I had fun looking through the venders to get ideas of what I'd like to do for Canadian History. The seminars I attended were nothing short of an example of how the Lord moves when He sends a clear message you need to pay attention to. Today, I am amazed. The first one was called Charlotte Mason in Real Life. I am, for all intents and purposes, a CM educator. I believe God has called me to home school our children and in doing so, provide them with strong spiritual guidance that will prayerfully order their steps. The most significant gem I took from that particular seminar is that CM in not about the curriculum, rather it is a philosophy, a way of living that ignites a child's love of learning in an atmosphere of security and growth. Our children are capable of great thought and deep understanding, even at an early age. What I desperately want is to impart the passion that learning should never be confined within four walls but that it should be something one does each day of their life to the fullest. The second seminar I sat through was Ann Voskamp's. It was a late start as the power point wasn't working at first and she answered questions at the beginning. As she answered the questions I could feel the Holy Spirit moving, preparing hearts for the message Ann would eventually give. This is difficult to describe, if you were not there. But as she spoke, she talked about all the endless deeds we as mothers do, the sweat and tears, the moments of doubt, fear and failure as you seek to rear your children in an environment that for all intents and purposes runs contrary to the secular paradigm of education. As she eloquently spoke the list in short sequences she ended with "I know - I do too." A reality that connected her audience to her and her audience to one another. How do we then find joy in the journey of Homeschooling? Her answer was startling simplistic but the truth of it, was like an arrow piercing to the deepest part of my soul. Many of us cried and felt the touch of our Saviour as Ann's message reached our hearts. The answer: gratitude - found in each of the moments of our life, in the midst of the chaos. The ability, the discipline to find gratitude in all the feelings that consume us in the moment, to teach our children that in those moments we can choose God's grace over the feelings that draw us away from Him. Ann said it so well: "It's impossible to feel gratitude and negative feelings at the same time." As I learn this discipline of gratitude, not only do I embrace this for myself but it is the gift I offer my children. They see that my relationship with the Lord, my creator, is real, as He works on me to the inner most parts of my soul. It is that gift I give them, my legacy of love, hope and grace that will remain when I pass from this world. So today I begin the journey of gratitude, as I embrace it for myself, I pray that in the most complex moments of life, in the dark times where failure looms and I feel the walls closing in - I will choose gratitude and thanksgiving. As one of my children challenge me, with a bad attitude or fight, I will say: "Thank you Lord, for this child(ren) - your gift to me, to teach and love, instantly I am gentled, reminded of His love and grace for me, one of His children. And finally the verses Ann reminded us of at her seminar Philippians 4:8 "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy -- meditate on these things."