Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Catholic Alternatives for Trial and Triumph

One of the more interesting texts that Ambleside Online uses in its Primary school years, is the Religious biography book Trial and Triumph, and the book Saints and Heroes (in two volumes) as an alternative in later years.

The books are not particularly Catholic friendly, not just because of their choice of heroes in the Post reformation years, but also because of their handling of doctrinal issues.
This doesn't necessarily make the books bad as such, just not really in line with Catholic teachings!

Enter the alternative.  Actually, there are a few options for Catholics out there, but they are not exactly like the books they will be replacing, so it is worth remembering that.

Throughout years 1-6, Trial and Triumph is used to provide historically pertinent biographical sketches of figures in Church history.  This makes the choice of books a little tricky, but Michele at Mater Amabilis has given it a great shot and has come up with some lovely choices!
Quickly distilled down, each of the early years uses an option for New testament, Catechism, Saint's Biographies and one for each of the main Church 'special' periods (Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter).
You can read about those for each of the levels on the page in question.  We're concerned with the New Testament options, so those are the only ones I am going to mention.

Year 1: (Mater Amabilis Level 1B) has the child reading a picture Bible.  Familiarity with Biblical stories is always good :)

Years 2 and 3: (Mater Amabilis Level 1A) has The Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt.

Years 4 and 5: (Mater Amabilis Level 2) uses The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children by Marigold Hunt for year one and Pearls of Peace - A Rosary Journey through the Holy Land by Christine Haapala for year 2.

Years 6 and 7: (Mater Amabilis Level 3) Has the children reading through the Gospels and a Bible History, and reading chapter book biographies of the saints.  The same goes for year 8 (Mater Amabilis Level 4).

The two Marigold Hunt books for years 2-5 are the ones that I find quite thrilling.  Primarily because they are very good alternatives for Trial and Triumph.  If you also use A History of the Church: From the day of Pentecost Until the Council of Chalcedon A.D. 29 - A.D. 451 by John Mason Neale (not Catholic, but compatible) you have a very nice coverage of the Early Church.  The only downside, is that none of the books are particularly long, nor do they cover much time between Christ and His Apostles.  However, paired with the saint biographies (age appropriate) for each year, you get a fairly good coverage.  From year 6, the biographies are chapter books, which does allow for reading the eras you are covering in history especially those later, post reformation years.

What about older children?  An alternative to George Hodges' Saints and Heroes?
I noticed several that might be worth looking into (some were suggested by Andrew Campbell in the Latin Centered Curriculum)
The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers by Michael J. Aquilina Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine by Pope Benedict XVI
Holy Men and Women Of the Middle Ages and Beyond by Pope Benedict XVI  
There are in fact, a number of books by Pope Benedict XVI that are worthwhile taking a look at!
In addition to each of these, there are of course, the works that the Church Fathers wrote themselves so definitely allow them to read those!

So, what should we use to replace Trial and Triumph?  For the earlier years, our own saint biographies and histories are quite good, but the later years chapter books and Primary texts are best.
There is no ONE alternative for Trial and Triumph, but instead a set of books.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Young Folk's Treasury

Some years ago, I discovered a book called The Mother's Book, and blogged about it and the books that it recommended.

Coming across something which reminded me of it, I realised that I had come across the books online and thought that it was high time I linked them all :)  You can find my later collection titles at the original post linked above, and you can also find the same books listed as the "After school Library".

The Mother's Book

The Young Folk's Treasury
Volume 1 - Childhood's Favorites and Fairy Stories
Volume 2 - Myths and Legendary Heroes
Volume 3 - Classic Tales and Old Fashioned Stories
Volume 4 - Modern Tales and Animal Stories (can't find this one, if you do, let me know!)
Volume 5 - The Animal World
Volume 6 - Famous Travels and Adventures
Volume 7 - Heroes and Patriots (although I cannot find this, you might try this link, also by Hamilton Wright Mabie)
Volume 8 - Wonders of Science and Invention
Volume 9 - Men and Women of Achievement, Self Help
Volume 10 - Ideal Home Life
Volume 11 - Golden Hours With The Poets
Volume 12 - Music and Fine Arts

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School- Some Resources

So it is about that time of year, where everyone who homeschools is ready to start back at their work.
This usually coincides with the arrival of the new school supplies, and the mother's eagerness to start increases exponentially with the number of new books she has to try out!

Well, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but if you have been there, I am sure you know the feeling!
That being said, I have a few things I want to share.  Partly for me, and partly for everyone else ;).

If you want to teach vocabulary to your kids, as a subject rather than as an incidentally taught thing, you might like these resources.

Free Rice (of course)
vocabulary/10997 (apparently also has an iPad app)

Wordly Wise (you can apparently do a lot online)

SAT vocab tests

and lots on Quizlet- which is a fabulous flashcard site.  You can see other people's sets, make your own and join groups.  There are several iPad apps that work with it too.

If you are a little leery of the rather expensive grammar programs out there, maybe you would like to have one of these vintage grammar books?

Emma Serl's Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons have long been popular amongst homeschoolers.  I also discovered this site with some workbooks for the former on it.
Sheldon has a bunch of grammar books for free online.  His Primary Language Lessons can be found here.

William Henry Maxwell has a whole series of grammar books.  These actually go through a composition course too.

1.  First Book in English
2.  Introductory Lessons in English Grammar.
3.  Advance Lessons in English Grammar.
4.  School Composition
5.  Writing in English.

In fact there are also speech books and other grammars too... it is well worth trawling through his works on Google books or Google play :) (Google Play also has an iPad app).
Mary Frances Hyde has a number of them too.
Practical Lessons in the Use of English (Part I)
Practical Lessons in the Use of English (Part 2)

So, if you are interested in other grammars or vintage books available, you can check out these two threads from The Well Trained Mind Forums.  Vintage GrammarsVintage Books.

Other favourites of ours are the McGuffey Readers and the McGuffey Speller.
Eclectic Primer
First Eclectic Reader
Second Eclectic Reader
Third Eclectic Reader  (This one is a Google Play book, so I hope the link works for you :))
Fourth Eclectic Reader
Fifth Eclectic Reader
Sixth Eclectic Reader
Eclectic Spelling Book
(here is an outline of how one mother uses the McGuffey spelling book).

Between these resources, you can find yourself with a pretty amazing course of language arts!

(all the images on this page come from the books mentioned here).
I have mentioned several iPad apps, because I have first hand knowledge of them.  There are probably Android apps too, and maybe a Nook or Kindle app or two, I just don't know anything about them :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Peter Rabbit Study

I decided once again to do a Beatrix Potter/Peter Rabbit Study.  I have had a little help- from these three sites, and I have adapted them for a slightly different crowd.
Homeschool Share Unit Study:
This is a nice, fairly comprehensive study using the Potter books.  I would venture that you would work from topic to topic, using the recommended books, and each topic (i.e. rabbits/mice) would take approximately a week to do.  The age range is diverse, about 2nd grade and up.
Elizabeth Foss' Unit Study:
This study is aimed at a much younger audience, with a few things thrown in for the older students.  I would say the age range is Pre-K through about 3rd or 4th grade.
Nevertheless, it is a lovely study, well scripted.  It needs a few adjustments as it is not in a final format and you will have to adapt the reading suggestions to your own family.
Mary's Potter Study Links:
Mary has not really made a study you can follow here, but she has shared a wealth of links that are truly very useful.  Worth the browse :)

So, now my adaptation.

Week 1:  Peter.

My Dear Noel - The Story of a Letter From Beatrix Potter by Jane Johnson
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Mr. Tod by Beatrix Potter
The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Read Aloud: The Fairy Caravan by Beatrix Potter

Biography: The Country Artist by David R. Collins and Nothing is Impossible by Dorothy Aldis

Mama Craft: making Tams like Benjamin Bunny's tam stolen from Mr. McGregor's garden.

Teatime: Currant buns.  Try this hot cross bun recipe, just leave off the cross :)

History: mark the main events of Beatrix's life on a timeline.  Add in the publishing dates of each book as you read it.

Art: Read one of the biographies for Artist study.  And then for picture study, choose a favourite picture from Peter Rabbit and work with it.
Play with watercolours for an art project.

Language Arts: the homeschool share unit has a few language arts suggestions, either use these or Primary Language Lessons which can be found in Google Books.
Have your child read from your selected reader each day, or alternatively, alternate readings from one of the Beatrix Potter books with your child.
Elizabeth Foss suggests William Blake's the Lamb as this week's poetry selection.  Walter de la Mare and Christina Rossetti are also contemporary poet's of Beatrix Potter's that you might enjoy reading instead.

Science: the homeschool share unit has a few science things relating to rabbits.  Try to meet some in person- either at a pet shop or with a friend who owns them if you don't have any of your own.

Nature Study:  Beatrix is well known for taking walks around the countryside near her home- and she painted it often.  Why not do the same for your garden or local area you walk in.

Gardening: it is not too late to plant some salad vegetables.  The homeschool share unit has some good vegetable related activities.

Geography: Working with maps, mark the areas in which Beatrix lived or stayed.  Look at the book Beatrix Potter's Lakeland for lovely visuals.  Google maps the area in which she lived.

Extras: watch the video versions of the Beatrix Potter books- your local library will probably have them.
Take a look through this site which is well worth looking at :)

More later!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In Praise of the Old

So, having worked our way through half of 'The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading' (OPG), my 8 year old was getting bored.   She hated the stories, and reading was becoming very much the chore.
The problem with that, is that I am trying desperately to teach her that she should LOVE to read.  How can I teach that if the very book I am teaching her to read with doesn't help?

For a little while I had tried "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" (100 EZ).  She liked it better, but I found that she was developing some bad habits reading wise (she is, I believe, very slightly dyslexic) and I switched back.
And then I found the McGuffey readers were all online now- for free.  I downloaded a copy onto my new Christmas iPad, and started working through it with her.
What a refreshing change!  Suddenly she is EAGER to read the stories.  The old fashioned pictures capture her imagination and can be used to actually entice her to read.  Vocabulary is built into it, and it even teaches her to read script!

The cute fuzzy animals that frequently appear in the pictures help too ;)

Now, I should state that I find that both the other books I mentioned are fabulous reading books.  They have definitely helped us learn the letters, and different letter blends too.  In fact, I would think you could easily use OPG as a way to learn some of the letter blends as they appear in the McGuffey readers.  It is just that, for a child who finds reading a little difficult, or is a lot harder to motivate and make them WANT to read, a book like this is a gem.
Once we have her cursive writing lessons finished, she will end up copying the script sections in the readers too.

This is the picture that convinced her to read today. 
You can see the script here.

There is also a High School reader.  I think I shall work with my son through the readers too.  He has a few bad reading habits that need to be broken!

Speaking of my 12 year old, I have a few words in praise of the old for him too.  I have found that he positively loves the classics.  He has been reading through Anne of Green Gables, and before that worked through Tom Sawyer.  I cannot say he is the fast reader I am.  In fact he is an easily distracted reader (unless it is a book that is totally unrelated to school, in which case he is FAST and cannot be distracted from reading).  But he has discovered a love for the classics.  The giggles and chuckles heard from his corner when reading the Hobbit (although I really wish he had not learned some of the sayings in there- we have had an outbreak of 'Shut yer gob' ever since!) or Oliver Twist are a balm to a mother's heart.  I have all kinds of other stories lined up for him.  If he would just READ faster!

If you are interested in reading with classics or Old Fashioned books, you might enjoy these links.  I am not affiliated with any of them, neither do I control what you will find there- so be warned ;)

For a complete set of the McGuffey Books, hardbound and with a teacher's guide by Ruth Beechick, you can go to Mott Media and get them.

An Old Fashioned Education has some really good resources.  You can pretty much homeschool for free there :)

The Baldwin Online Children'sLiterature Project is a huge selection of wonderful old books that have been transcribed and put online for free.  You can also buy them from the site in real book and ebook format :)

Project Gutenberg is the best free ebook site online- you can get all the classics and public domain texts you want here.

Sacred Texts have some good free ebooks.  They also have a nice selection of Fairy Tales.

The Internet Archive has a huge selection of books to choose from.

Ambleside, of course, has a library of books and links to their choices online.

There are lots of free scanned books at Google Books online too.

Now, when it comes down to it, you can do several things with the books.  I prefer to download the Pdf format and read it on my iPad with my daughter- so she can see the pictures.
Otherwise I download the kindle or epub formats.  The former I can read on my iPad, the latter I can read on the iPad or the Nook (so it is my preferred format because I use it with my son).
If you like, you can also print out and bind it separately.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some Charlotte Mason Resources

I thought that I might do a couple of blog posts where I share some of my favourite resources.  This one is all about Charlotte Mason related things.

Ambleside Online
This is a comprehensive (and wonderful) set of links- the CM books, a whole curriculum and lots of resources written by CM fans!
Mater Amabilis
A Catholic CM course.
Handbook of Nature Study
A Nature study blog- fantastic resource and well worth following.
Simply Charlotte Mason
A site with lots of CM related resources AND a curriculum and planner.  Worth looking at.
Reading Your Way Through History
A CM style living history curriculum
Secular CM
a secular Cm site.
MacBeth's Opinion
Lots of book suggestions for living books.
Charlotte Mason Help
Lots of useful links.
Charlotte Mason Education
Catherine Levison's site
Penny Gardner
Penny Gardner's Site.

The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
When Children Love to Learn edited by Elaine Cooper
A Charlotte Mason Study Guide by Penny Gardner

There are SO many blogs out there that I will surely forget some.  Instead I shall link you to a thoughtful mother's Squidoo about CM blogs.
And of course you should check out my sidebar links- one day I might make a CM section too ;)
And some others you might enjoy:
Ambling with Charlotte
Distinctly Different
Golden Acorn Homeschool
The Science of Relations
Charlotte Mason and Home Education

Ambleside Online
There are MANY subsidiary groups for AO, but if you like Ambleside, you should join this group and any others that apply to you :)
Living Math
Catholic CM

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nose back to the Grindstone

After spending so little time on school since our October visit to England, we are back to the grindstone.  Only with changes.
As each new year arrives, I consider it time to evaluate what we are doing as a homeschool, and make any necessary changes.   I know I am not alone!

Today, however, marked some biggies.
First off, I made a strict schedule for Rebel.  This covers his entire waking life, from getting up to going to bed.  I have a feeling it is necessary, because he is one that thrives off of such routines.  M'Lady doesn't have such a schedule (yet) because she is not so needful of it, although I would venture to say she likes it just as well as he does.

I also ditched the creative writing curriculum we were using.  Although I love Classical Writing and think it is a great curriculum, this is one of those instances where the child in question just did not do well with it at all.  I am pretty sure most of his issues are sheer laziness.  But be that as it may, it doesn't mean that it is the right one for us.  Instead, I will eventually start him on something else.  I am hoping to use the Institute for Excellence in Writing's Teaching Writing: Structure and Style.  I think it will be an interesting change.

I am thinking of putting a time limit on how long each lesson takes.  Yes, this comes after a 4 hour mathematics lesson....

Rebel is not the only one who had some changes made.  M'Lady had her reading book switched around.  Many years ago I bought Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for Rebel.  It bombed big time with him and I set it back on the shelf and used The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading instead.  This time I started with Ordinary Parent's Guide... M'Lady was forever complaining that it was too boring/too hard or something else...  Today I decided to switch to 100 Easy Lessons.  And it worked.  She definitely preferred the structure of that lesson to the OPG.  Apparently the kids are polar opposites.

The biggest change though, would be something fun.   You can see it here in the picture I took just in case there was a yarn along last week (there was not).

See that there?  The thing on top of the book?  THAT is a Nook Color.  My Christmas present and new e-reader.  Oh how I love that thing. 
I discovered, quite luckily, how to put Project Gutenberg e-books on it.  There are two ways- you can download to your Nook, or you can download to your hard drive and import it into your Nook Library.
So why did it make it into this post?  BECAUSE it is the perfect homeschool tool.  Not only can you quietly browse the web/email etc. while schooling, but you can also use it for the numerous e-texts you might use say, in the Ambleside Online curriculum.
We actually use several e-texts, and I am grateful to have a readable screen and less to print... plus it is a pretty good motivator for reading :)  In fact Rebel, read the entire history chapter I set for him today- so well, that he picked up on something the author left out of the story (namely WHAT Cardinal Wolsey had predicted).  I am satisfied that he read the text today ;)