Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Foreign Language / Latin Flashcards

My 8th grade student is taking a Latin class. She picked up a great tip there that my 12th grade student borrowed for his Spanish class.

Here's what you do. First, pick up some colored index cards from the office supply store. You'll need blue for masculine nouns, pink for feminine nouns, yellow for neuter nouns, and white for verbs.

On the front you write the word in English. On the back, you write the word in Latin and the declinations.

My son and daughter both say it's a pretty helpful exercise.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thrifty Homeschooler in the Blogosphere

One more post to share from Margaret Mary. She wrote a very nice review of the Thrifty Homeschooler Yahoo Group as well as said a nice thing or two about this blog. Thank you MM!
Here is the ultimate support and resource for homeschooling…or for just living a frugal lifestyle. Maureen Wittmann started the Thrifty Homeschooler Yahoo group over four years ago.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Creditors and Collection Tactics

Margaret Mary has an interesting post at her blog: Debtors Beware. She tells of how a creditor put a freeze on an acquaintance's bank account -- without prior notification. All over a simple oversight.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Math the Charlotte Mason Way

Charlotte Mason emphasized the importance of children understanding math concepts before ever doing any kind of workbook-type exercises. She liked to use manipulatives in order to help the children think through the why and how of solving word problems. She wanted them to see how math applies to real life.

Miss Mason wrote, "Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas ... which should quicken imagination."

She felt it important to teach the concrete before the abstract, no matter the child's grade level.

We've already discussed Miss Mason's desire to teach habits, well, that applies to math too. She felt that through daily mental effort, one step at a time, a child would learn the habit of concentration. She even tied in narration to math studies.

Many of the Charlotte Mason homeschoolers I know use Math-U-See as the program uses manipulatives and it is more gentle in its approach than something like Saxon.

I strongly recommend using Miss Mason's philosophy of Real Books when teaching math. Here are two excellent websites to get you strated:
MacBeth's Opinion
Living Math

Also see my book For the Love of Literature: Teaching Core Subjects with Literature.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Go for a Walk!

Carlotte Mason advocated daily walks, even in bad weather. One walk a week was a nature walk, where the children would collect leaves or other specimens, and draw in their nature journals. The rest of the walks were for just for fun. They'd enjoy the exercise and fresh air.

So get out today and go for a walk with the kids! It's fun, it's educational, and it's free!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Adoremus Books Discount

If you're a Catholic homeschooler, you'll be interested to know that Adoremus Books is offering 15% off of your total purchase until November 26, 2007. Just key in this coupon code: AOB117. And shipping is free for orders over $25! Feel free to pass this information onto others.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Speaking of Nature Studies

My October column, Nature Science, is up over at Catholic Mom and fits in nicely with this CM series of posts.
As this conversation between my six-year-old son and my 66-year-old father continued to unfold, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “This is homeschooling at its best.” My son’s enthusiasm for birds did not come from a science textbook, it came from the study of nature science in a relaxed home setting. Due to the birth of their new baby brother, Joe and his siblings had just spent eight weeks immersing themselves in the study of nature.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


I planned on spending a week on this Charlotte Mason primer, but it looks like I'll be going into a third week. There are so many topics to discuss.

Charlotte Mason believed that geography, like many other subjects, is best taught through living books. She would supplement with short map drills (remember: short lessons).

One way to tie geography into living books is to have your child pinpoint on a map the location of the book's plot. This is really fun with books that take place in many locations, such as Around the World in Eighty Days. You could spend a week or so drawing and studying geographical features. Perhaps get down and dirty to build relief maps. Like the Book of Centuries, there's nothing like a multi-sensory exercises to get a lesson to stick in a child's brain.

Geography is easily tied into history studies. Just as surrounding events affect people's actions, so does geography. For example, think Waterloo. Napoleon lost at Waterloo because of geography -- his French army could not withstand the harsh Russian landscape and weather.

Map work can also be tied into science. It's not just enough to know where the Alps are located, but how were they formed, what are they made of, what is the weather like?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bible Study

Charlotte Mason encouraged reading the Bible daily. She assigned large portions to be memorized and recited each school year.

This is easily imitated in our homeschools for little to no money. We have friends who have done this in an interesting way. Every family member, Mom and Dad included, memorizes their birthday chapter in Proverbs. The entire chapter! (If you were born on the 4th, Chapter 4 would be your birthday chapter -- there are 31 chapters.) It's really fun to watch our friends recite their chapters at homeschool gatherings. They don't do boring, monotone recitations, but get quite animated. Plus, they've found themselves memorizing the other Proverbs chapters almost by ismosis, because they hear their parents and siblings practicing throughout the house.

Of course, Scripture needs to be put into context and not simply memorized. This can be done as children grow older. Just as primary school children memorize their ABC's before actually reading.

An interesting aside -- St. Thomas Aquinas memorized the entire Bible while he was locked away in a castle tower for a couple of years by his parents!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Short Lessons

Charlotte Mason advocated short lessons for a young child. Lessons would then become progressively longer as the child matures. Elementary-age children's lessons would be no longer than fifteen or twenty minutes on one particular subject before moving on to the next thing.

With my ADD children, lessons were sometimes even shorter. Ten minutes when they're little and then gradually longer as they get older. Sometimes, a few minutes on the swingset or building LEGO's were inserted in between lessons. (I'd have to use a timer, lest I forget to call them back in to work!)

The idea is to gently encourage the habit of full attention over time, while exposing them to a variety of subjects and activities.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Training of Habits

Charlotte Mason believed children could be taught to govern themselves. She encouraged the training of habits beginning in babyhood saying, "Habit is ten natures."

A mother should pick a bad habit that "vexes" her and then concentrate on replacing it with a good habit. Miss Mason recommended working on a specific habit over the course of 4 to 6 weeks, working on only one habit at a time.

Mason believed habits such as paying attention, perfect execution, obedience, honesty, even temperment, neatness, kindness, respect, recall, punctuality, gentleness, and cleanliness can be trained into a child.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Combining Living Books and Book of Centuries

As Alicia pointed out in the comments, you can also add graphics of book covers to your timeline or Book of Centuries. Alicia, in fact, does this in her homeschool and I've seen the results up close and personal. It's a terrific idea that combines the beauty of living books and a visual history lesson.

You can scan book covers, go to the publisher's website, or visit a search engine such as Google and click on the image search. Then print out the graphic and paste it to the timeline. Very cool!