Monday, September 03, 2007

Fine Young Man's Sophomore Year Plans '07 to '08- Final Draft

The Fine Young Man's plans are coming together nicely. He begins classes at the high school tomorrow, and only has about a week's work left to complete his ninth grade year (talk about cramming!). Most of his textbooks/spines and about half of his literature books are in the mail on the way to us, so should be here by the time he is ready to start. I still have a couple of things to put together, but we are close!

The FYM's schedule is different every day, so will take some getting used to. We wrote just this week's public school schedule in his agenda today, and he filled in the times when he wouldn't be there with his Green Dragon work. It is a full schedule, but he can do it- he showed himself that by completing most of his ninth grade work in one six-week term this summer!

Green Dragon Academy Classes:
History: Medieval (plus a little more) history, 400 A.D. to 1700 A.D. Text will be Spielvogel's Western Civilization. He will also use The Teaching Company's Renaissance, Reformation, and Rise of Nations Audio Course, and The Teaching Company's World History Video Course, The Fertile Crescent to The American Revolution. He will use the Brimwood Press Scroll timeline.

We will also be doing a small unit on American Govt./Civics. I am still working this up at this time.

Literature: See list in previous post.

English: Grammar: possibly Hake Grammar 8 (I own this one, but can I give him credit for this?Will there be enough grammar in Latin Book One or do we need this?? He still struggles with grammar-sigh.). He will be using A First Book of Sentence Diagramming. ; Bravewriter Intermediate online course, beginning in Late Sept..

Foriegn Language: Latin Book One

Science: Textbook-Holt Biology- Either Principles and Explorations, or Modern Biology, both of which have online editions, to make it more fun. Labs will be added (??). Thinking Connections, bk B-1 will be used as supplement, as well as Joy Hakim's The Story of Science, vols. 1 and 2. (I may have him do this subject second semester, as he has a larger load 1st semester.)

Fine Arts: We are looking for a new french horn teacher, and he will continue to take voice lessons monthly when his schedule allows.

Local High School Classes:
Math: Algebra 1

Occupational Education:Computer Graphics

Elective #1 (Fine Arts):Symphonic/Marching Band

Elective #2 (English?):Speech and Debate (as club, not formal class, though I will give him credit for it.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Literature Planning- rough copy

Literature Planning for the FYM, Sophomore year, Sept 08 to June 09. I have a few more to add- this is a very rough list so far.

Recommendations are from the Well-Trained Mind booklist, using translations recommended in The Well-Educated Mind. He will be using WEM for Socratic dialog and lessons related to types of reading as well.

Spines and books used for all four years of high school are in green. Books that have been read are in red. They are in approximate chronological/ reading order.

Western Civilization by Jackson Spielvogel
World's Greatest Speeches by
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney 9-07
The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, translated by Robert Pinsky
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, and Pearl verse translations by Marie Boroff
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, prose translation by Nevill Coghill
Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
Mac Beth by William Shakespeare
One or more other Shakespeare plays of student's choice
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, edited and translated by Walter Starkie
King James Bible, Psalms, New Testament

Thursday, August 16, 2007

TTAP Bike-a-Thon

The Kids are participating in a unique community service project this summer. Usually our communtiy service is very local, but this one is a world-wide neighborhood project!

The kids formed a group called TTAP: Teens and Tweens Against Poverty. They arranged and rode in a bike-a-thon to raise money to purchase goats through Heifer Project. A family in an impoverished village in (most likely) Africa is chosen to be the goat owners. They learn how to care for the goat, and when the goat has a baby, it goes to another family in the village who has been trained for the job. Buying a goat for one family helps an entire village. I am probably not explaining this well as I am in a hury, but you can read more about it at the link provided above.

The kids' goal was to ride a total of 20 miles each. All six of them did just that, and so far, they have raised $600. That is enough to buy 5 goats!

Our good friend Mr. B. supervised the kids on the ride, bought them ice cream at the half-way point, and hauled all their bicycles in his trailer. He is a real sweetie, don'tcha think?

Here are some pictures as they are coming home. Click on any of them to enlarge- I know you are going to want to try to read their shirt logos! Here they are unloading the trailer. That is Mr. B. in the trailer.

Here they are, all posing in their TTAP t-shirts. The logo says: TTAP- Teens and Tweens Against Poverty. In case you don't recongnise them, mine are the two on the right, in front of Mr. B. Notice the TTAP dawg in front. His name is Gandalph, and he is a sweetie.
Showing off the back of their tshirts. There is an image of Uncle Sam, and the caption says, "Even you can make a difference." Yes, the kids came up with the slogan and made the shirts themselves. Pretty amazing kids, aren't they? It just goes to show that anyone can do something to change the world.
That is all for now.
Mistress LB

Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer school begins

Here is the Fine Young Scholar at work. Summer school officially starts this week. Last day of classes at the High School is tomorrow. Here is our scholar, working on his Classical Writing model of the week.

Notice the timer and the water bottle.
Here you see some of his stack of books for the week:

That's it for now. I will be posting more of the Fine Young Man's scholarly pursuits soon.

Mistress LB

Reading List of and for the Fine Young Man

This was the Fine Young Scholar's booklist for the school year of 2006-2007. This school year formally ends August 31st. The books are broken down into subject areas. He is compiling a list of all the books he read this year, and we will add them soon.
(Red means have read.)
(Green means currently reading, or a spine, to be read as assigned throughout high school years.)

Main Reference Spines:
The New History of the World by J.M. Roberts: He uses it for maps reference only- It was dry and boring so he ditched it for SWB's Story of the Ancient World, in combination with Spielvogel's Western Civilization
The World’s Greatest Speeches edited by Copeland, Lamm & McKenna

The Epic of Gilgamesh translated by N.K. Sandars-
The Iliad by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles
The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fagels The Boys’ and Girls’ Herodotus by John S. While, LL.D. The Life of Alexander the Great by Plutarch, translated by Robin Waterfield (He still wants to read the John Dryden translation- for fun!)
The Fall of Athens, A Story of the Peloponnesian War by Alfred J. Church The Last Days of Socrates by Plato, translated by Tredennick & Tarrant

Other Books:
How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren (he read over half of the book, then switched to the Well-Educated Mind by SWB- 1st five chapters)
“How to Read How to Read a Book” by Maryalice B. Newborn (half of the workbook)
A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston (currently reading and completing assignments)
Classical Ingenuity by Charles F. Baker & Rosalie F. Baker
The Classical Companion by Charles F. Baker III & Rosalie F. Baker

General Literature, all genres:
Dragons in our Midst series, bks 1 to 4 (fiction/fantasy)
Well World Series (scifi)
the Shadow Thieves (fantasy)
Here, There be Dragons (fantasy)
The Names Upon the Harp (myths)
Half Moon Investigations (fiction)
Artemis (collection)
the Witches of Karres (scifi)
the Code of the Life Maker (scifi)
the Accidental Time Machine (scifi)
Flyte (fantasy)
So You Want to be a Wizard (fiction)

Deep Magic (fiction)

the Gondwane Epic (fantasy)

And the Devil Will Drag You Under (fantasy)

the Gates Of Sleep (fantasy)

Peter and the Starcatchers (fantasy)

Conrad's Fate (fantasy)

Eulalia! (fiction)

The Fire Within (fiction)

Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves (fiction)

The Traveler (scifi/fiction)

the Divide (fantasy)

The Blue Fairy Book (myths)

The Purple Fairy Book (myths)

the Orange Fairy Book (myths)

the Changeling (fiction)

Cold Shoulder Road (fantasy)

the Illyrian Adventure (fantsy)

the Black Cauldron (fantasy)

the Pearls of Lutra (fiction)

Marlfox (fiction)

The Chronicles of The Deryni (fantasy)

the Revenge of the Shadow King (fiction/fantasy)

Unexpected Magic (fantasy/fiction)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Links for Dy

Dy suggested we post some of our unused but very cool links. So, for your educational viewing pleasure, I present to you, some links:

Dy, here is that study guide to Wheelock's latin I told you about many moons ago.
Here is another study guide, this one for Oxford Latin.

That's all for now, more later.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Life lessons are more important than trophies

If you had been a fly on the wall of my Boy's room at 11:00 pm last night, you would have been witness to this very cool conversation:

Boy: Mama, I learned somthing today.

Mama:Oh? What was that?

Boy: I learned that it is important to practice, and you have to work at something to be good at it, and that, and helping your friends is much more important than winning a trophy.

Mama: Wow. I am so very proud of you. I love you.

That's all I have time to write this morning- we are off to support the Girl, who is playing the call to worship at the Godparents' church.

Mistress LB

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quiz- Learning style

You Are a Visual Learner

You tend to remember what you see, and you have a good eye for aesthetics.
You excel at art, design, and computer programming.
You would be an excellent film director - or the next Bill Gates!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What's up?

Hey all,
I s'pose most of you have given up checking this blog, it has been so long since I have posted here! But just in case there are a couple of you still out there, occasionally checking to see if I am alive, I will post a bit of an update for you.

First, some news about the Girl. Since I have written here, she has had 2 group recitals, one for her piano teacher, and one for the Seattle Music Teacher's Association (SMTA), which was held at Soundbridge. Both went smashingly well, and the Godparents even made it to one of them, which was fabulous for the Girl.

She is currently working on her registration paperwork for Interlochen Summer Camp, which we hope to have turned in by the first of December. She has already completed the audition tape, so we are almost ready. She is so excited by the thought of this camp, I am already praying and hoping she makes it in again, and that this time, she gets the scholarship.

And about the Boy. In October, he competed at his first speech and debate tounament, participating in the novice devision, doing an HI (Humorous interpretation). It was a small tournament, and I went too, providing rides, sandwiches, pancakes, and support for the kids. IT was a lot of fun, for both of us, and (insert trumpets) THE BOY TOOK FIRST PLACE IN HI! He got a great trophy, and was lifted off the ground by his fellow teammates, and was just estatic. It was so very cool to see him do so very well at something, and to feel so good about himself. It can sometimes get hard for him- his sister has always been good at piano, and he has really struggled with finding something he excels at. We are very proud.

Anyhow, back to my Boy brag- His coaches pulled me aside before we left the tournament, to tell me how well Boy really did- that it was very unusual for a novice to get a first place in their first ever tournament, and that they were bumping him up to Varsity level. So, less than a month later, Boy competed at his next tournament, and in HI, he took THIRD! Can you believe it!? The whole family went to support him this time- it was a much larger tournament, and the Girl and the Papa Dude had to hide out, the noise level was too much for them. He also competed in the congress event, but didn't place there. I didn't watch that one, so don't know how it works. Next time.

Another thing happening with the Boy, is that he is helping out his band teacher. His Band teacher, has been having seizures, which they now think are do to a medication he was taking. I have been picking Boy and Mr. BandMan up after school and taking them to BandMan's home. Boy keeps BandMan company till his wife comes home, and Boy gets some math and horn tutoring in exchange. It is good in lots of ways. Community service, one on one bonding and tutoring with a great teacher, etc. The thing is, the Boy is missing out on Speech and Debate class in order to be with Mr. BandMan. Isn't he an amazing young man? I really like the person he is becoming more and more each day. We are very proud of him.

The last thing I can tell you about the Boy, is that we have decided that at the end of this semester (end of January), he will be going to the high school full time. This decision has been a long time coming, and was really hard for me (us) to make, but now that we have had some time to adjust to the idea, we are all feeling pretty optimistic about it. The Boy has some time now to catch up and to finish some subjects I can give him credit for before he starts, and he has time to get used to the idea. Wish him (us) luck and success in this new venture of his.

I could write more, but need to get in bed. Just wanted to let you in on the important, good stuff happening here!
Mistress LB

Thursday, September 07, 2006

current reading assignments

Hey all who are dong the reading challenge,
My list was rather long, and there is no way I will get all that reading done in the next three months, so I have broken it down a bit into easier to bite off chunks.
For read-a-louds:
We just started our Autumn read-a-louds today.

Breakfast reads:
We are over half-way through Calendar Quest by Jennifer Johnson Garrity. We just read this morning about Julius and Augustus Caesar, and their contributions to the calendar (with absolutely NO tipovers! Yay!). I am aiming for at least 3 chapters a week in this book, as it was supposed to be done weeks ago as an overview before we started our ancients cycle again.

We will be reading The Victor Journey Through the Bible by V. Gilbert Beers and The Children's Illustrated Old Testament by Victoria Parker, as well as the KJV Bible concurrently. The kids have had no prior Christian/Bible studies in the past, thus the 3-way reading study. It fits in well with our Ancients study and is already bringing back to me my 10 years of Bible History from my school days!

Lunch read:
Tomorrow, I will start reading to the from The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way by Joy Hakim. I read ahead today, and it starts with Creation, so is perfectly in tune with our other readings right now.

I am not sure where to fit inthe rading time for The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn, but we need to get this in as well. Maybe on Mondays.

I have decided to read The Epic of Gilgamesh translated by N.K. Sandars not out loud to both, but with just the Boy. This will probably wait till October, as first, we are reading How To Read a Book by Mortimer Adler, concurrently with the study guide, aptly titled How to Read How to Read a Book. I will be doing this during our afternoon study time.
My personal reads:
I will re-open The Journey tonight.

The Girl is finishing Little Women, and then will start Green's Stories of Ancient Egyptt as soon as I go pick it up from the bookstore. As stated above, the Boy will start Adler's How to Read a Book today. In his off time, I believe he is deep in the Amber series by Zelazny.

Mistress LB

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Autumn Reading Challenge

Seasonal Soundings is promoting the Autumn Reading Challenge. I wanted to take part in the Summer Challenge, but didn't get around to posting about it. I did ready many books this summer, but have to admit that they were for the most part, mind candy (some very well-written candy, but candy all the same), and were not the books I intended to read this summer. So my Fall list is a great deal longer than it could have been had I been a little bit more integrity in my reading habits.

Since December, we have been buying lots of books, and there are many on the shelf I haven't read yet. This is probably way more than I can get through this fall, but I will list them all, and just do my best. They will not be in a particular order, at least not yet, this is just how I pulled them off the shelf to list them tonight.

As for the Illiad and Odyssey, I reserve the right to read different translations than are listed here- I have 3 or 4 versions of each title, and am not sure which translation I will end up reading, as the Boy and I will most likely be reading these at the same time.

I am also listing read-a-louds, because I need this list to keep me in integrity. I have a very hard time reading aloud without ending up sleep-reading, and having a tip-over (as my dear friend Mom-Bob calls it when she succumbs.) Last week, I read 4 pages in my sleep before the children woke me up laughing at me, sigh. This read-a loud list will most likely take me all school year to get through!

Theras and His Town by Caroline Dale Snedeker

Caesar’s Gallic War by Olivia Coolidge

The Epic of Gilgamesh translated by N.K. Sandars

The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way by Joy Hakim

The Victor Journey Through the Bible by V. Gilbert Beers

The Children's Illustrated Old Testament by Victoria Parker

The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn

The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn

Calendar Quest by Jennifer Johnson Garrity

Augustus Caesar's World by Genevieve Foster

For my personal studies:
The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems translated by R.B. Parkinson

The Iliad by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles

The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fagels

The Last Days of Socrates by Plato, translated by Tredennick & Tarrant

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

“How to Read How to Read a Book” by Maryalice B. Newborn (more of a study guide than book, but still listing it.)

A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston

The Journey: Our quest for Faith and Meaning by Os Guinness

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

The Fat Flush Plan by Ann Louise Gittleman

I may also add Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, but I don't own it, so count it as a maybe.

Misc./ Fun/Because they are on the shelf begging to be read:
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Onion Girl by Charles de Lindt

Windershins by Charles de Lindt

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cool! A curriculum meme!

Got this one from Drew over at Running River Academy.


I enjoyed The Latin Centered Curriculum this summer. I know there are others.

Favorite Poems Old and New


All of the many math programs I tried before I found Math-U-See. This works so well for both my kids and me, I wish I had found it when we first started, oh so many years ago.


Latin For Children I cannot believe how much the children love this curriculum, and how much easier it is to let Dr. Perrin teach them than if I had to! I also liked Poems That Build Character. (You can find it at Rainbow)


Elementary Greek I. A quote from Drew: "Fabulous language, fabulous program!"


The snazzy new Famous Men of Rome from Memoria Press (the Boy wants it for the pictures alone), Rosetta Stone (several languages), Tons of Teaching Company tapes. Oh, you said one resource. Silly you. :P


A logic program that was either secular, or at least didn't count the Bible as an absolute truth. Flame if you must, but I would love this!


Rainbow Resource Center. From cover to cover. I know, I know, but it is a classic, has a myriad of good reviews, and the prices are good.


The Well-Trained Mind Curriculum and High School Boards


I was going to say Laney, but I see she has just posted this. How about Miz Booshay, Amy @ the Foil Hat, Mindy, Crissy, and anyone else who hasn't done it yet and wants to!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Snail poem

I couldn't resist posting this cute poem. I found it at the Snail Facts site. See link below in the Boy's snail post.
Mistress LB

It hasn't any windows
It hasn't any doors
Although it has a ceiling
It hasn't any floors
'Twas built without a builder
A hammer or a nail
Because you see this funny house
Belongs to Mr Snail.

Author unknown

A shout-out to Auntie P!

Hey P,
You are most welcome to borrow my copy of Pocketful of Pinecones. It is a delightful read. I am really surprised the library doesn't have this one!
Mistress LB


Today while we were delivering food for the Food Bank, we saw some common garden snails. They were crawling all over the walls in the garden, and sliming down the pathway. They were eating the grass in the planters, too. They are light brown on top, and their shells are mottled brown, black, and yellow. They have tannish undersides, and four tentacles, two of which (the longer, top ones) have eyes. These eyes however, cannot see actual images, just changes in lightness and darkness. They are all sensitive to touch. Humidity is important to snails. If they get too dry, they start to aestivate.(For the young ones, humidity means temperature(hot and cold), and water in the air. To aestivate means the snail draws itself into the shell, in order to withstand unfavorable conditions. If you still don't understand, ask your parent.)

Anyway, back to the original subject, now an answer to that age old question: Can snails come out of their shells? The answer is yes. If you plan on keeping snails (as I'm sure you will by the end of this blog), you will notice that after you wash the snails( you must do this weekly), they will sometimes come out of their shells and slime around. This will surely be an interesting time to observe them. Snails move by coating their foot (a muscle-like appendage on their belly) with mucus(snot). The snails need to live in a humid environment, however, if the environment is too humid, then mold will grow and kill the snails. They also need calcium of some sort, and a piece of shell from the beach will suffice their needs. Calcium is essential to shell growth. Keep them in a gallon jar (we are using an old pickle jar) with some cheesecloth over the top(secure with rubber bands) .Layer some wet paper towels over the bottom of the jar. The snails will eat this, so you don't need to give them anything more, although if you want, you can give them a treat such as lettuce, carrots, and occasionally apples as long as you clean the jar afterwards. Most land and water snails have a structure in their mouths called a radula. The radula works like lots of little teeth to scrape away little bits of the food. There now you have something to do with the "common garden pest" the snail. Hope you enjoyed this.

The Taxonomy of the common garden snail:
Phylum: Mollusca(soft-bodied marine animals)
Class: Gastropod(snails, slugs, and limpets)
Subclass: Pulmonata(slugs and most land snails. Mantle cavity has become a lung.Hermaphroditic)
Order: Stylomattophora(two pairs of tentacles, with eyes on top of the second pair)
info for this post is from The Big Book of Nature Projects, by: The Children's School of Science

Some snail links:
Snail facts lots of fun stuff here for little kids
brown garden snail this site describes how the snail got to America and all over the world, and is now considered a pest in California.
garden safari This site has cool pics of snail eggs.
eye to eye with garden snails experiments and teacher notes
BBC snails basic info, good pics
and last but not least, eating your garden snails!

The Boy

Thursday, July 06, 2006

We're getting closer!

Yesterday, day 1 of our summerschool term, it took the kids 9 hours to get 4 hours of work done. Today, it took 6. I am really hoping tomorrow we can actually get it down to 4! I am ever hopeful!
Mistress LB

Intensive summer school term

Due to illness and life last year, we didn't finish several textbooks, so are doing an intensive summer term. We won't do our yearly assessment testing until the end of August. We just started yesterday, and I am hoping today and tomorrow go smoother. Here are the goals for summer.

For the Boy: When asked what grade he is in, I am telling folks "Eighth and a half". He is not ready for high school work yet, in several areas, and will be taking co-op classes in the fall; my goal is to strengthen his writing, latin, and math skills, and to develop some strong study skills . He will be doing his best to move through almost a whole year's text in math, doing a chapter a day sometimes.

For the Girl, we are strengthening her math and Latin, to prepare for co-op classes in those areas. She will be doing pre-algebra in the co-op class, so we are focusing on building up her 4 math functions, and she needs some work in division.

So, for the Girl, the days look something like this:
Math, Latin, and Grammar (just building it up a bit this summer- we will replace it with writing in the fall), an hour a day.
Same for the Boy, but we are focusing on the writing lessons as much as grammar.

For both kids, but mostly for the benefit of the Boy, we are doing weekly contracts- we both intital that this is the work he is expected to complete for the week, and he acknowledges that if it isn't done, nothing fun happens, and he gets an "F" on it. I know it sounds drastic, but if you had been trying to teach this student for the last 3 years, you weould feel this desperate, too!

To keep track of our work, support the contracts, etc. we are using the agendas by Franklin Covey. This is the Girl's, this one is the Boy's, and this is the one I am using, although it bums me out that mine doesn't start till August, even though the student agenda starts in July. Bleah! I will be using mine to plan and keep trackc of the kids' work/schedules, but I will mostly be using it to keep track of the work I assign myself (reading of ancient lit,latin, etc. This is the second year we have used these planners, but the first year that I will used the column for teacher comments and will actually mark their grades in them (remember, I gotta keep transcripts this year!).

Both kids do their instrument practice (horn for Boy, Piano for Girl) daily as well.
1/2 hour of literature reading a day (Little Women for both of them), about a half hour of me reading Calendar Quest (scroll down and click on it to read more) to them, and that is it for the daily stuff. We bought all the ingredients for the Physics experiments, and will be doing that about 2 times a week. I will add other subjects in this fall, but for now, I still want them to have a few hours of free time- it is summer, after all. So if they are integrity, they can be done with their school day by 2 pm and still have the afternoon for fun stuff.
We shall see.

I am still working with next year's schedule/plans. After reading The Latin Centered Curriculum, I am trying to figure out how to simplify and still get in all I want to. I will post more thoughts on LCC soon. There were some really good thoughts on literature that really hit home with me.
Mistress LB

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nature Study revisited

I originally posted this in January, 2006 on my other blog. Here it is again.

Nature Study
This one is for Laney, who asked me to describe how I teach Nature Study. I hope it isn't too disjointed to follow.

There are lots of things in our homeschool that I don't think go very smoothly sometimes, but this isn't one of them. I really do this ala Charlotte Mason. My inspriation to start this was A Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola. I would also read The Charlotte Mason Companion for more nature study ideas.And lastly before I start, here is a great link Jane posted on the WTM boards just this morning that has tons of great ideas for Nature Study in winter.

The important thing for us in this group is not how well we draw, but doing it on a regular basis, learning as we go, and having lots of fun in nature. Before I had the group to keep me in integrity, I averaged one drawing about every 2 months in a 3 yr time period. Now I average 2 to 4 a month, sometimes more. Two of us moms are learning to draw for the first time, and the one that just joined our group is very good. I like having lots of different levels/styles to round us all out.The goals I have set specifically for the kids are to use quiet voices in nature (especially when we are birding) so that we actually have a chance to see some of it; to get them comfortable with drawing in nature and not to feel self-conscious about it; and to learn to appreciate and take care of our natural world.

We started out with just 2 moms and 3 kids, and now, in our second year, we have 3 moms and 5 kids, ranging in ages from 4 to 13. Keeping it small is a good idea, especially with the wide age range. We meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays from approximately 1 to 3, although we have been quite flexible on our times, sometimes meeting earlier in the day if we are doing more of a field trip. We have met at our various homes, mostly keeping it in the backyards, at Kubota Gardens (a fave of all of us, and where we all adopted trees to watch over the upcoming year), at the zoo (where the kids surprised us once by drawing for literally an hour and then not being ready to leave), Camp Long (a great place to go when studying ponds, and where the kids want to do an overnight field trip), the afformentioned Burke Museum, or the Arboretum.

Just some of the topics we have covered are trees/leaves, birds (this is a fave topic which gets revisited often), shells (I have a big box of these, and they are surprisingly challenging to draw!), insects (Papa has a great insect collection which is fun to draw from on a rainy day, as does the Science Center.), and owls. We have had one lesson on contour drawing, and will focus on more drawing lessons when I get my tushy in gear and start learning ahead of them like I am supposed to be doing. Sometimes we just go out and draw whatever we find. That is fun, too.I usually don't have too much of a plan as to what we will be studying ahead of time. I prefer to keep it fluid, and go with what interests the kids. I will sometimes email the kids the week prior and give them a choice of two topics (Do you want to collect and draw leaves in my backyard, or do you want to go visit and draw our trees?).

Once I know what we will be studying, I go to the science shelves in my schoolroom (unfinished basement), and grab every book I can on the subject, including any and all field guides on the subject. I sometimes also will go to the library and just pull out whatever is currently on their shelves, too. Put it all in a tub, and have it all set up with our other regular supplies/resources, and either load them into the back of Whitey the minivan, or set it on the table on the back porch. The other moms bring resources also, and we all have different ones, so we usually have a wide variety to use/choose from.

In addition to these, I always grab The Handbook of Nature Study and Sketching in Nature. These are the main tools I am using to teach myself and the kids about our subjects and how best to draw them. I also refer to Artistic Pursuits, often, for simple drawing tips.My standard supplies include drawing pencils, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, CrayolaTwistables, our nature journals, plain sketch pads, etc.

**A note on the art supplies-I don't use all of these for every lesson, just pick and choose what will work best or what has been motivating the kids lately. The watercolor pencils are new- we are just getting started learning how to use these out in the wild.

Nature Journals: We have tried out many different ones, from the first one at Tanglewood (which looked okay, but was too flimsy, and had a bad binding that always came off), to a more scripted version. One of my students has a great waterproof 3 ring notebook her mom made of cardboard, taped over to avoid the rain. It has held up well, and provides a nice hard surface on which to draw. What we use most now are a 5 by 7 blank sketchbook, and this one from Rainbow Resource. The next time I order from them, I plan on buying several of these- I want all kids in my group to have this one, because on days when I have been too lazy to plan, it is easy enough to teach right out of this book. Two of us moms also have this NJ, based on the book Keeping a Nature Journal (I have checked this out time and time again and really want to own this- a very good book!) by Claire Leslie Walker.

If I know I am going to the zoo or going to be doing contour drawing or something really sketchy, I use the sketchbook, otherwise I take the pretty, hardcover one.Once we are all together and ready to go, I will teach a very simple short lesson. If we are studying ants, say, I would read pertinent tidbits from HONS, and maybe a poem if I found one. We might go over the 3 body parts of insects, and in general talk about observations we have made in the past of ants. I would show the kids the books to choose from, in case they want to do any research while we are working. Then we would probably all take a jar and head out to find some. We would probably draw one in our journal, either from real life, or one of the field guides. One of the moms takes lots of pics, and uses them in her journal.

I always make sure we use Latin names whenever possible to label drawings, and encourage the kids in their drawing skills.When we first started, I praised every drawing and commented only a little. Now after a year, I will encourage them to draw only the lines they see, add more detail, write a paragraph about where we were when we saw it, a poem, etc. I am trying to stretch them a bit now. Of course with the littles (4 and 6), it is still praise, praise, praise. I have been having my two olders pair with the littles on things like owl pellet disection, etc. and I think there will be great value in this. My kids are realizing how much they know by tutoring the littles.

After they have worked hard for at least an hour (this time has increased greatly since we first started, and is much shorter for the current littles- I try to bring something fun but nature oriented for them to do while the olders are still working), hopefully a bit longer, I let them play. They either play in our treehouse or engage in imaginary play in the backyard, or run free at whatever park/place we are at.Once we figure out how to use the Boy's digital camera, I will try to post some of the things we have done.I probably haven't covered everything, but that's it in a nutshell. Let me know if you have specific questions.
addendum: Here are a few links from one of the other moms in our group. I haven't visited these sites yet, but will today. Cool! New things to explore!
Charlotte Mason Nature Study ideas.
backyard naturebug guide
bird guide
more bugs

Friday, June 23, 2006

A new blog

Okay, I have been thinking about this for a long time, and then I just decided to do it tonight. This blog will be where I (hopefully) post samples of the kids' work, and talk specifically about their homeschooling adventures. I am hoping they will post a bit here too. Probably won't be much here for a while, but I will post updates on my other blog when I post here.