"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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Beloved Poetry Tea Time

This is a post about how absolutely amazing Poetry Tea Time is!

I was introduced to the concept by a friend's blog (Life on a Canadian Island - excellent blog) and found myself intrigued with the idea. We were struggling to do poetry.  My older two don't care for the genre but I thought it was important to include this time honoured art in order to round out our education.  Poetry Tea Time is rooted in the Brave Writer Program, she explains it here.  It is quite simply one of the most brilliant ways of doing poetry.  It's a cosy way of reading together out loud, creating a truly enjoyable environment against the back drop of baked goods, lovely plates, tea/hot chocolate/apple cider, while indulging in lovely prose!  This time has become a scared passage in an otherwise busy week.  The children look forward to it with great anticipation.  They talk about what baked good we'll cook up in the kitchen, the drink they will have and how they will dress the table. They participate in the preparation of Tea Time.  Not only are we reading but they are learning life skills such as baking, setting a table and serving.  My youngest daughter even made a candle out of beeswax to light while we read a loud.

I read a book a few weeks ago called More Charlotte Education in which she addresses how to approach poetry.  "Poetry can grow on you - if at first you don't care for it keep trying."  Catherine Levison says.  To be perfectly honest; it wasn't my favourite genre either.  It didn't help that at school we tore it apart line by line analysing it to death, rather then simply reading it for pure enjoyment.  So I set about making poetry fun for me as well!  Poetry is meant to be read a loud, it's meant to illicit thought, laughs, and it's even meant to be recited (think of Anne when she recited the Highway Man in Anne of Green Gables), all bringing the reader or listener to a place of reflection.

Levison made a couple more suggestions which I have found helpful.  One being, to read the poem but not the title.  After the poem is read, the kids try to guess the title.  They LOVE this exercise.  She also suggested that children bring their own poetry to the table.  You would be surprised how many read a louds contain a prose, limerick, hymn or song written in poetry style.  She also suggests for the children to practice reciting a short poem back.  This approach has also been good, as the children giggle and try to recall the lines. We have even gone around the table and each of us make up one line of poetry to make a whole poem.  I have also found it a worthwhile exercise to build on what type of poetry they like to hear.  My children love limericks, so we read a lot of those to get them going.  It's also good, Levison suggests, to expose them to poetry at a young age, just read it out loud to the very young child and you will see their eyes come alive with wonder.  There are tons of great books from Poems and Prayers for the Very Young, to The Real Mother Goose to The Llama who had No Pajama - all delightful books with wonderful illustrations.  Several others we have enjoyed: Favorite Poems of Childhood, A Child's Garden of Verses, Favorite Poems of Old and New, and EverydayGraces (contains lots of lovely poetry particularly as it applies to manners and living).  I've got my eye on these one: Poems to Learn by Heart  and Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost.

Levison suggests not to prepare all the readings before hand but to just pick out what strikes you. I love this loser format, I have found it incredibly refreshing.  We read from a variety of poetry books.  A lot of my poetry books have come from Sonlight Curriculum, which have been purchased with all the cores I have bought.  They are outstanding books.

My two older children will likely say they still don't care for poetry but in some ways they have been endeared to it without realising it.  They will often recite a line from a poem throughout the week. I don't draw attention to these moments but quietly smile to myself during them.  This is what poetry is meant to build - connection to the world around us.  It's what all good literature does.

I will also say that my connection to poetry and love for it has grown leaps and bounds as we have done Poetry Tea Time for the last two years.  I find myself drawn to it.  I recently received an old copy of Robert Brownings poems and have put Caroline Kennedy's She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems on my Christmas list  I enjoy reading them on my own and writing the ones that hold meaning for me in my Common Place Notebook.  I am so pleased with Poetry Tea Time, it has enriched our lives in so many ways!

I used some linen a beloved family member gave me.

The little candle in the middle my daughter made.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

For the Love of Nature

Richard Louv wrote in his book Last Child in the Woods:  ".....,nature does not steal time, it amplifies it."  I couldn't agree more.  There is something intrinsically complex about our response to nature. It settles the spirit while at the same time cultivates the mind.  Our eyes feast on the delight of colour and form, our ears attune to the sounds all around us, the feel of the weather rests well over the skin; wrapping us up in sensations of warmth, cold, dampness, and the like.  The nose is able to scent the changes of the seasons while becoming familiar with the smells of winter, summer, fall and spring.  It engages us. 

As the day emerges colour comes alive in its vibrant display of glory.  The sun chases the moon from the sky as the still of night gives way to the stirrings of dawn.  Even the spider web glistens with the dew of a new day.  Mist shrouds the green of foliage in mystery until it lifts revealing that which was hidden. As evening falls, the stars appear in the sky, the moon giving us the light of night.  There is much for us to see in the beauty of nature.  It invites us to pay attention.

As I take it all in, I am reminded of the glory of the one who called it all into being.  Perhaps this is why I love nature so much.  It brings me back to the Creator, reminds me how incredible and majestic He is.  His breath of life surrounds me from the blade of grass to the sparkling stars.  And I'm apart of that!  I am so blessed.  

We spent three days hiking Algonquin Park, taking in the wonder of nature so raw and fresh.  We rose early to welcome the dawn in the park.  We spent hours hiking, just taking it all in.  For this particular trip we were there to take in the Fall colours.

Each season brings with it, its own personal narrative.  I must say Autumn reveals its glory in that setting in a way I have never seen before.   It literally took my breath away.  As we walked higher up the trail, we saw the red, gold and orange of the trees mingled together, reflected in the stillness of the water beneath it. I stood there taking in each shade and image.  I snapped some shots but not a whole lot, I wanted to be present in the moment.  I loved the hiking, the anticipation of coming through a clearing to see more colour, more beauty.  The cliffs were high on one trail; 420 feet up.  I confess being that high alarmed me but it was well worth the climb.  I am ever so glad I had the opportunity to see it from that vantage point.  It's something I will never forget. 

We went for a canoe ride along a lovely winding river just off a lake.  This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  We came around a bend at one point and I was stunned by the scene before me.  The colour of the trees, the red of a little cottage and boat house - all perfectly reflected in the still water beneath it.  We put up our paddles and sat there taking it all in.  It was made perfect by the sound of the wind through the trees (how I love that sound), and the light chatter of the birds who were calling out to us as we sat there in silence.  I could feel the wind on the skin and hear the rustle of it moving the leaves.  I enjoyed that moment to its fullest. 

It was a perfect weekend to go.  The weather couldn't have been nicer for this experience and we hit the peak of Fall colours.   I have thought of it often since our return.  Our leaves are just beginning their own transformation and we'll trudge through our own fall.  It will be lovely too but how blessed I was to live so close to be able to visit such an amazing place as Algonquin. We really felt like we were able to experience Autumn from the height of a cliff to the meandering of a river canoe!
We turned into the evening with the sunset and the crackle of a fire made complete by the vast canopy of stars above.  The stars were brilliant up there. 

It was impossible to get a bad picture of our adventure.   Anywhere you pointed a camera was photo worthy!  I am happy to have some lovely shots.  They are the back drops of my phone, my commuter and even our TV.  

I hope you enjoy them too. :)

Beautiful Sunris

The mist of a river lifting from the beach.

The sun illuminates the reds and oranges of the Booth Trail

So beautiful from the trees to the reflection of them in the water.

Close up of the leaves

The kids sat in the rocks for a while taking it all in!

I love this picture.

This one reminds me of some of the paintings of Tom Thomson.

This pic doesn't do it justice but the dew was sparkling on this spider web.

Sunset as seen by the river

Winding down from an day of hiking with an evening campfire

Some star gazing. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I Choose Trust

The old becomes new, time is redeemed, minds transformed by the power of a Holy God, and living waters flow over into the dry places.  These are the things I am choosing to embrace today, this week, it is my mantra wrapped up in the prayers that come from my mouth to God's ear.

These past few months have been difficult for our whole family but now that life is taking on its usual pace I am trying to play catch up.  I knew I  had missed some things and have been concentrating on making a running list today, so I can check it all off as it gets done.  It feels overwhelming and crazy at the moment.  As I talked to God about it, this particular set of verses came to me:

1 Peter 5:6-8  "Humble yourselves, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self controlled and alert.  Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour."

It really is God who works in me to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). I was feeling anxious about everything I had missed and had yet to do for this entire month. As I added things to the calendar and the list I felt more and more overwhelmed.  I was feeling keyed up and out of sorts.  But my Father is faithful and gave me His words when I needed them, as the verses came, I realised that God will give me the strength to complete what He has given me to do.  I need to keep surrendering myself to Him.  As I humble myself; He'll lift me up!  As I thought about the last half of the verses I realised that I need not feel anxious about these things.  But rather give thanks that He is strengthening me for what lies ahead.  The moment I embrace the anxiety about what the month holds is the moment I surrender my joy and exchange it for a self deprecating attitude.  This is what the devil wants because it means I am less effective.

The month holds lots of activity but the greatest beauty of it all is that Jesus holds me through it.  And every moment, every activity, simply means meeting Him in it and allowing Him to work in me and through me in whatever I am doing.  When I look back through the past few months and the strength He gave me to do all I needed too, I know I can continue to trust in Him for the days ahead.