Tuesday, June 29, 2010


"For more than a thousand years, the Bible, collectively taken, has gone hand in hand with civlization, science, law-- in short, with the moral and intellectual cultivation of the species, always supporting and often leading the way." Samuel Taylor Coleridge

One of Charlotte Mason's ideas about reading your kids the Bible is to not ask too many questions.  She suggests that you just read it to them and let them absorb it.  This is very freeing because you don't have to worry as much whether they are "getting it."  And you don't empose some artificial "lesson" out of each passage.  At this point we just read a Bible story every morning and pray.  I think the habit of it is important..starting the day that way.  Then the kids know that you, the parent, thinks this is a priority.  If I skip any lessons or have to take a short cut, I try not to skip our Bible time.

This year we used Egermeier's Bible Story Book.  My dad read this to me as a kid. It is very thorough and just right for elementary age.

Even though Egermeier's was our primary source, we took lots of breaks to do some other really good series that I want to use every year to reinforce certain ideas. One of these is "Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers."  I highly recommend it. Each has a different idea like The Trinity, The Gospel, Missions etc.  It has little kids explaining to eachother what these ideas are.

At holidays we may stop and do a series of books about Easter or Christmas.  I really like the Brian Wildsmith illustrations. He has Joseph, Easter, Exodus, Jesus and Mary.  Maybe more.

And there is really fantastic, kid-friendly docterine in the Paul Maier books.  He has The Very First Christmas, The Very First Easter, The Very First Christians (Pentacost), The Real Story of the Exodus, Creation, Flood and maybe some other I don't know about.

Sammy and the Shepherd is a study of the 23rd Psalm.

We also read through The Jesus Storybook Bible once a year.  We have probably read it 3-4 times since PK1 was little. It goes a lot faster than Egermeirs and is very different.  It gives such a great overview of God's plan for his people. I have started giving this book as birthday and baby gifts.  I recommend it to anyone who will listen.

Monday, June 28, 2010


History is not history unless it is the truth-  Abraham Lincoln

Our history studies are really the jumping off point for the whole rest of our curriculum.  We use a four book series called The Story of the World and we are just now half way through.  The great thing about it is that it is chronological.  I really think that is the only way to really understand history.  If the first thing a kid learns about in history is "The Pilgrims," he has no religious, geographical or historical context to put that in.  We also study God's work in the world as part of history.  Abraham and Moses are historical figures like King Tut and Napoleon.  We start with Creation, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, The Roman Empire, Vikings, Knights and so on. Last year we studied the Ancients.  This year was The Middle Ages. As you go you study the art, science, literature, religion, famous people and geography of that time period.  See how it covers everything?

We usually read a chapter and then PK1 tells the lesson back to me orally.  I type it up and she colors a picture under it.  Next year, she will probably be ready to write it herself. Here is the page she made after we learned about Vikings:

The book is not American or Euro-centric either..so when they discuss knights, they also taught about Samurai knights from the east.  PK1 wrote a pretty good little compare and contrast between the two.  Here is what she wrote:

Samurai were knights from Japan.  They were a little bit different from the English Knights.  They also used the Feudal System and the Samurai had to fight for the King in exchange for land.  But when Samurai weren’t fighting they liked to write poems, do dances and build gardens.  One of the Samurai generals did a certain dance before he led his troops out to war.

And this is what she drew:

There is also a map for every lesson.  So when they learn about Marco Polo and the Silk Road they have this map:

Then we would also read other books that went along with whatever we were studying.  Biographies of interesting people like Martin Luther:

 Joan of Arc:

 We studied Saint Nicholas, Saint Benedict and Saint Patrick  Saint Patrick was AWESOME!

We also read books like A Medieval Feast which told about all the food and preparation that went into a big feast during Medieval Times:

Here are a few more of PK1's drawings.  They are pretty funny!

The Globe Theater:

Martin Luther nailing up the 95 Theses (that is a hammer, not a hair dryer):

The first 3 of Henry VIII's wives..she ran out of room and interest for the last 3!

And my absolute favorite from this year...The Council of Trent.  Do you not love the arguing archbishops?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Doing School at Home 2009-2010

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." Charlotte Mason

 I decided to try to document some of the learning that we have accomplished in our home this year. Starting tomorrow I am going to address one area of study a day.  Most of my curriculum recomendations come from the book The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer.  She was homeschooled herself back when you could practically get arrested for it.  Now she is an author, professor and homeschool mom.  If her book hadn't made it sound so great..I never would have done it.

I also like the ideas of Charlotte Mason, an education philosopher from the 19th century who thinks that children should read high quality books, be outside every day, be observant in nature and memorize poetry.

I really wouldn't have made it the last two years if it wasn't for my best friend and her darling children.  It isn't just that we do all kinds of fun and educational stuff with these guys..although that is great.  I am serious when I say that the only way I am able to get through the day with a little bit of dignity and grace is because she is such a strong support and example for me.

Another nod goes to my sister, because she keeps me laughing. She also inspires me because she does such fun, creative, earthy stuff with her kids.  I would never think to do that on my own, but I have to keep up with my little sister!

And my husband who gets us started with a hearty breakfast each morning.

I can't write a big paragraph about "why we do school at home" or "why doing school at home is great" because I am not super fanatical about it. But the fact that we do school at home is proof that God does exist.  (how is that for extreme?)  I think God led me into it by placing the right people and books in my path and I continue to do it on faith while it works for our family.  I am very thankful for the last two years.  They have been a real blessing and time of growth.  Plus, in what other educational setting can you put together a puzzle of the provinces of Canada, wearing a cowgirl costume?

* Reminder..check back each day this week for a new post on our schooling.

Friday, June 25, 2010


The PKs went to VBS this week.  It was such a great program and they loved it.  I have to say, I loved it too.  I hope I didn't love it too much.  It was the first time since I had PK1, seven years ago that I had the morning to myself every day for a week.  By Wednesday I was feeling really relaxed.  The funny thing is, I only ran errands, exercised and cleaned the basement, but it was really different without any interruptions.  I love being with the girls and building our relationship and speaking into their lives and I know this is what God has for me right now..but it was very interesting to see how the other half lives.  Or the other 99%.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

We had the most wonderful relaxing summer night at our house with the grandparents for Father's Day.  We missed our sisters, cousins, brothers-in-law and my dad and mom, but it was a nice quiet little evening.  PD wanted me to make a pecan pie, which is not a summer food, but I made it and served it with ice cream to compensate.  I also made grilled salmon, asparagus, rice, salad and rolls. I am listing them all because it has been a long time since I made that many items at once.

 The girls helped with the pie:

And setting the table "fancy"

We just relaxed:

And played tournaments with this beanbag game:

We are so blessed to have so many great Fathers in our lives. I do prefer Mother's Day though..it is 10:18 and I just finished cleaning the kitchen!

Luella Faye

My beautiful sister had a beautiful baby girl last week.  For the full story and lots of beautiful pictures visit her blog here: Baby

Saturday, June 12, 2010

First Hair Cut

I usually cut my kids' hair myself, but after PD's hair lady rescued my hair a couple weeks ago, I decided to have her try cutting PK2 as well.  Above is the "before."

She loved that you get to watch TV during the haircut and the lady was so much faster than I am.  It turned out so much more...what is the word?...even.  It was very cute, so fast and painless. I think I might start sending her with PD on Saturdays to get their hair cut together.  Wouldn't that be a great tradition?

I tried to get PK1 to cut her hair too, but she wants it long.  Oh well...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Puppy Love

Our best friends got a new puppy last week.  Although I am not a huge fan of animals, even I can't resist a baby puppy.  We had to run right over there the second day they had her for a visit.
She did not disappoint. So sweet.  They named her Piper..yes my friend is also a huge John Piper fan.
Even I pet it her a bit. But I didn't pick her up.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This is how my kids like to play:

I am not sure that it is ok that I let them get all muddy like this, but they love it so.  Sometime I am totally cool and laugh as I carry them to the tub.  Sometime I swear a bit.