Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family Dinner - A Time to Discuss

I checked to see if anyone had written about mealtime before I added my two cents, since in two hours it'll be time for a new topic! Alas, there are weeks that require time away from the computer - this was one of mine.

I wanted to share how much I love mealtimes where we are all present and we have fun/meaningful discussions. I add the fun in there because there is no discussion that my husband is involved in that isn't fun! He just has that knack.

We once had a friend come over to dinner (a single, male friend, mind you). We like to invite friends over because they bring to the "table" new and fresh ideas. Before we even started with the prayer, the kids had already had three light discussions and one serious one with him. I sat down to eat, and David says to me, "The energy in this room is electrifying. They're all highly intelligent."

Wasn't that a sweet thing for him to say? I know he was being earnest with me too, because I've been told the same thing by others. I not only allow my children to discuss topics at dinner, but encourage it. I want them to grow up being not only able to articulate themselves, but comfortable in doing so. What better way to learn this than in a loving environment, with the comfort of good food setting the mood?

Just today at lunch my oldest (14) and I were discussing what "running in different circles" means. She had mentioned that she never sees the son of a friend of ours at church because he's older, and they don't hang out with the same people. So I said, "Oh - you run in different circles, huh?" She stated that not only did she not know what that meant, but half the time she had a hard time understanding my vocabulary. With my 11 & 7 yr olds listening and chiming in here and there, we discussed how reading classics could increase one's vocabulary, and how maybe Clive Cussler, great author though he is, might not cut the mustard for one's education.

I admit, it was lost on the boys, but the twins are still learning the core lesson of not conducting a food fight, so I'm okay with that. :)

Family dinner - great time for family/group discussions. A good source for discussion starters (if you're lacking some ideas), is The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by ED Hirsch. Good stuff.

What we're reading THIS week (with notes about last week's reading):

Dad - The Road to Serfdom (to be completed by Thurs for colloquia)
BOM (I forgot to add our core books on the list the last few posts!)

Mom - The Road to Serfdom (yep - done by Thurs)
Making of America
The Constitution of the United States
(Jane Austen got put on the back burner)

Scholar - Brisingr
Intelligro Math
BOM (In English AND Italian)

Practice Scholar - Caddie Woodlawn
(note - last week she read the entire book of The Red Scarf Girl! She has never read a whole book in a week - she surprised herself and I'm so very proud of her! Talk about material for great discussions!)
She's picked up a core book of American Nursery Rhymes and is educating herself of some of the rhymes and songs that it contains that she somehow missed earlier.
BOM (In English AND Italian)

Love of Learner - We just finished tonight Pheobe the Spy!
Great Expectations (almost done!)
Has BOM read to her.

Core - They LOVE those "Values" books. The ones that are biographies about different famous people, but they throw in an imaginary friend so the story is explained without it being too dry for little ears. My LOL loves these too. We have several and sometimes I'll pick up others from the library that we don't have. My 5 yr old has picked these up again, so we're reading these along with Mother Goose Rhymes. I also read the BOM to them.

Family - New Testament, King James Bible
So You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? (we took a break last week)

Group Discussion

This week was a little off so one night we sat down to finish up school for the day after supper. The topic turned to death and age, and I have really been wanting to have a talk about how they are a chosen generation and what that meant. Isaac had mentioned a few times that he was scared to die and this was another moment we took to discuss why we shouldn't be scared of death. Isaac made the familiar "It's so hard to..." excuse.
Oh, how we all complain at some point or another about how hard something is. Life, tests, school, car problems, whatever. Name it and we've probably complained at some point about how hard life is.
We talked about Joseph Smith and his trials. We talked about the pioneers. We talked about the apostles and life after Jesus died. We talked about my struggles, our families hardships, the colonists (Jamestown and Mayflower) hardships and the list went on. Eventually we weren't even talking about what we were "supposed" to be talking about or on track with our school work. I don't know if it helped quell Isaac's fears, but I had their attention for about an hour. By the time they had to go bed no one really wanted to as we had enjoyed that time together, the talk, and the questions that were brought up.
As was stated on here before, I also bought the Noble Birthright Curious Beings Epic Adventure. I have learned so much in the three short weeks we've been studying it. The points that are presented, especially scriptural, have opened up some huge discussions on the topics. I don't think Curtis and I have had as many discussions about something in a really long, long time. It is drawing us closer. It is opening up many more facets for us to follow. It has been wonderful.

Group Discussion

I am running a little late with my posting this week.

For us, it seems our whole life is a group discussion. There are many opportunities to discuss with my children, who are mostly in core stage, a principle of truth or right and wrong. It is as if they are compelled to ask the why of things, well Cassie does and Andrew is wondering about things. They are close in some ways, but the two seem different, questions and wondering, that is.

Cassie is in the "Why" stage or as she is more likely to phrase it, "How do you know?" I find it challenging not to get frustrated by the constant questions. I should more wisely remind myself of the opportunity for discussion and learning, but sometimes a little silence is nice. I suppose if it was just her it wouldn't feel so noisy, but with the addition of three other voices wanting to be heard and acknowledge, it would be more easier to recognize. But in writing this it gives me a chance to ponder the opportunities I have with her and those times with her often brings in the boys too.

Andrew, while only 15 months older than her, is in that "7-year old wonder" stage. I need to pull that book off the shelf again...note to self. His statements are simple, "I wonder why....? Followed by, "Mom, can we go to the Library so I can get a book on..." Or can we go to Unfortunately the Library is often only a once a week trip, and so the wonder can often be lost by not seizing it right then. I suppose when Jeremy's rigid speech therapy schedule slows down, we will be able to do that more. And perhaps, if I wasn't driving the car, I could write it down to remind him when we get to the library next. Perhaps a digital recorder would work, so I could replay them to myself. I am a in the moment kind of person. If it isn't written, recorded or repeatedly brought to my attention, its gone. While our home is filled with books for just in case they are interested, for when they are older and for when I get to the time, there is just no way to be prepared for everything.

Jeremy and Seth both young are in a discovery stage. They live what they do and experience things fully. Like pudding last night. Little Seth was so was filthy by the time it was finished and my dh made a great statement about his eating pudding. He said, "Mommy (speaking for Seth) I experience my pudding!" And that is what those two boys do. They point, they ooh and aah. They "stop and smell the roses," or other flowers, weeds, insects. Anything that comes along their path. I try and make time to go at there pace. Especially on Fridays, when the older two kids are at the Options school (a one day a week school for homeschoolers with mostly electives at their ages). Fridays are at least partially devoted to what the little boys want to do.

While it may seem that I went off on a tangent, those stages they are in are prime opportunities for discussion in our home. The trick is to seize upon them or be mindful of them and go back to them. Or best opportunity for group discussion has been family scripture study with our central book and also during family home evening, a once a weekly spiritual family night. I hope to implement an opportunity every morning to have a little spiritual devotional time, but with our schedule, I am going to have to be more diligent. Though we do have scripture study it would be nice to go back to what we had been doing before Jeremy's therapy and preschool schedule started up this fall. One of the moms in the colloquium I attend shared with us what she did and that was to go through a little of the Gospel Principles Manual (those who are LDS would know what I was talking about) daily with her kids. I wonder if they have that available on CD?

So there it is, in a mostly core phase perspective. There are many opportunities all day to discuss with my family what I am doing and why, what I am reading, though they mostly look at my wide eye as if to say, "that's nice mom." But I find that more often than not, discussions come frome their curiosity at whatever level they are at, both spoken and unspoken. They have become wonderful opportunities to discuss life and the world to them and then patiently watch for signs that they want things more in detail. For Andrew it is often a time to go online or to the library and really find out more than just a basic answers as he often wants more information. Or there is Cassie, who really does just wants a strait forward answer, Then finally Jeremy and Seth, who love to learn the names of things in there world and basic descriptions of color and motion of things.


Our Reading

Sarah's Quilt- Nancy Turner (For Women's Colloquim)
The Last Lecture- Randy Pausch

Andrew Core/emerging LoL
Vacation Under the Volcano- Mary Pope Osborne
The Lost Wreck of the Isis- Robert D. Ballard

Family Reading With Jeremy, Cassie, and Seth (Core)

The Call of the Wild
Little House on the Prarie-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baker Reads

Shiloah (me)-
Reading Sense and Sensibility
Starting Jane Eyre

Cailynn- LOL/Scholar
Finishing Farmer Boy- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mysterious Island- Jules Vern

Group Discussion

An important element in the teaching environment for us in our home is Group discussion. There are so many of us that it is the most efficient way of teaching in our home.

Our group discussions consist of many topics and happen at varying times. Here are some examples of group discussions we hold:

  • Scripture reading and discussion
  • Family book reading and discussion
  • Corrective training and ensuing discussions
  • Family Counsel ends up in discussions of various topics
  • School subject group discussions
My children really seem to enjoy group discussions, especially when they have a voice and are respected for it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Renting

Dawn shared this website with me and I thought I'd pass it on!
Rent books like you do netflix in the mail!

Check it out:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Baker Reads

Shiloah (me)-

Finished Robinson Crusoe
Reading Sense and Sensibility

Cailynn- LOL/Scholar
Mystery of the 99 Steps - Nancy Drew
Missing Chums -Hardy Boys
Farmer Boy- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mysterious Island- Jules Vern

Chrisy- LOL
Matchlock Gun
Benjamin Franklin, Young Printer
Various cookbooks

Benjamin- LOL

The Stories of Dr. Doolittle

Introduction: The Butikofer Family

I've known for some time that I would homeschool my family (3 kids- 6yob, 4yob, 3 yog).  It took Jessie a while to be supportive of this decision.  We put our oldest in a half day pre-k, but pulled him out the next year.  School was changing him, and not in  a positive way.
I didn't know what direction I was to go in.  I knew was what I didn't want-- School at Home.  I knew that I wanted to teach from real books--not textbooks.  Shiloah lent me her copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education some time last year.  I finished it in no time.  I knew this was type of education I wanted my children to get-- it's the education I wanted.  I loved the emphasis on me getting a good education and learning from the classics.  

Maxwell hasn't been too keen on learning anything from me.  I remember starting out homeschooling last year, and every day it was a fight to get him to DO anything.  Yesterday I received Math-U-See's Primer set in the mail.  I wanted to get a feel for what the kids would learn, so I popped in the DVD and watched it with the kids.  After we stopped, Maxwell pulled down the white board and wrote out his numbers 0-9 and mimicked  what he saw on the DVD.  He absolutely hates to write, so I was shocked to say the least.  He and Blake spent about 45 minutes playing Math.  This morning I took out the student books and thought I'd see if there was interest.  Both boys took the bait and stayed busy for about 30 minutes.  We cleaned up, and did some other activities.  Later this afternoon, Maxwell pulls out the student book AGAIN!  I couldn't believe it.  He told me just two days ago that he didn't want to learn math or reading because it's too hard, and here he is voluntarily working.  My heart was full of joy-- almost to tears.  I have seen-- especially in that child-- the importance of waiting until the child is ready to learn.  I'm not quite sure if it's Inspire, Not Require of You, Not Them.  Perhaps a little of both.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Children: Entrepreneurs in Training

My children see their mother earning a living online with the things that I'm passionate about: homemaking and motherhood. They inspire me now with their efforts.

It is said that teaching your children to be entrepreneurs is one of the important things you can teach your children as it involves: planning, discipline, math, organizational skills, money, people skills, etc. I took this to heart and bought my children the book "Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Starting Small to make it Big". It is written to teach and inspire children to earn money on their own. It is filled with creative ideas, stories and testimonials from other children. My kids cart this book around everywhere, and especially when they are setting up their next "selling booth".

Several years ago, my kids set up a lemonade stand on our street corner on a hot, sunny Texas afternoon. They had a table, chairs, ice cold lemonade, paper cups and a big colorful sign. They had people literally lined up to buy lemonade. As it neared supper time I had to drag them and the stand back inside. They didn't want to stop earning money! We counted up their till. They earned over $40 and each glass of lemonade was only 25 cents!

Every time we have a garage sale, my kids make up brownies and cookies to sell at the garage sale. They never seem to price the items above 25 cents and they sell like hotcakes. All the kids are there with their money and the adults love homemade baked goods!

Last month, the girls decided they wanted to sell baked goods again. I told them the best time was in the late afternoon when all the kids were out. They made two varieties of cookies with a sample plate. The cookies were brown sugar shortbread cookies and coconut macaroons. They set up their table in front of the house and make a bright colorful sign. They borrowed my red and white checkered tablecloth to make it more homey since they were selling fresh baked goods. Immediately the sales rolled in. No one even cared about the samples. At 25 cents a cookie no kids could resist and most kids have that much change lying around. The adults were buying too. When a car would drive in or out of our court, they would stop and buy a cookie or two. Just when I had come outside to tell them to wrap it up, a woman pulled up in her jeep and said she wanted all the cookies left. She bought them all for her and her kids to snack on while they traveled home. The girls were super excited by that last sale! They made over $20 on cookies!

My two eldest daughters, Cailynn and Chrisy, have a mentor teaching them how to crochet. They are both excellent at the chains and I'm trying to be patient with the long chains all over the house. They finally came up with a use for this talent too. They are making belts, bracelets, toe rings, and anklet "chains". They reasonably priced them at, you guessed it, 25 cents! They had so many kids lined up tonight when I called them in, that they promised to finish the "orders" tomorrow.

"It goes to show you that every business venture- no matter how small- is worthwhile. And every entrepreneur, no matter how young, can become a big success!" - Bill Rancic, Beyond the Lemonade Stand

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Fish Traps

I was so interested in the Curious Beings Epic Adventure, I bought the Noble Birthright curriculum. So far I'm loving it! I'm learning more than the kids probably are, but it is fitting in nicely with our school and I think the kids are getting something out of it, at least occasionally.

Like the Indian Fish Trap project we decided to do this week.

I looked up how to make these simple traps. I wasn't going to get real technical about it since we are not "outdoorsmen". A bottle, some string, a box cutter and duct tape is all we needed. Cut the top of the bottle off, invert it back into the bottle, punch some holes around the rim, tie it together, add your string, and tape it for good measure. We were ready. Off we march to the pond/swamp/lake.

Jesse with the trap. (Anyone notice how short the string is?)

The choice location

Baiting the trap with bread

The Launch

Simeon getting grossed out by the algae as we pull the trap in

SNAPP!!! The string broke and the trap is floating freely in the pond.

Now to try and get it out, with branches at least 10 feet too short.

Branches didn't work and we had nothing else to try to get it out with, so we decide to pack up and return later with intentions of fishing out the trap (no pun intended, hahahhahhhaaa).

We return with Curtis and three more traps. All of which snap, get loose or get thrown out too far and we loose all of them. Curtis, not wanting to get in trouble for polluting local lakes/ponds or endangering wildlife, wades into the pond to retrieve all the traps. I don't think he was enjoying himself to the fullest.

Notice the big knot in the line. He was also grossed out by the algae. I don't suppose it's because he had to step into it and now his shoes are full of it?

But, here's the ray of hope!!! We caught a fish!! He was in the first trap we put out. We released him right after his picture was taken.

All in all the only casualty was a pair of Curtis' shoes. A friend of his from work happened to stop by too and helped us get the other traps we lost in by use of his fishing pole. I think if we do this ever again, it would work better in a stream or river. The fish were biting around 1:00 pm because after we lost the first trap we saw fish jumping around it and saw some of them in the bottle. I do know these traps work, so if its ever a need that we have to catch our own fish, this will work if no other means are available (like the grocery store, or even your own fishing pole).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Salisbury Reading and Other Comments

Out here in Nebraska, we don't have a colloquium. I would love to have one, but as such so far, I'm one of a handful of spread out families that homeschool here. I'll just have to include myself in your colloquiums from a distance. *wink, wink* Curtis and I have read some books and discussed them. When I can pry him away from the computer we usually have some really good discussions.

I wanted to list some of the books that I have found to be really good and interesting.

The Secret Life of Bees (This is one of my favorites and just read it this spring).
Anne of Green Gables and other books by L.M. Montgomery
Bleed, Blister, And Purge: A History Of Medicine On The American Frontier
No Time on My Hands (Pinnacle Joe's wife's memoirs; she revitalized quilting)
A Midwife Story (Midwife that delivered for the Amish)

This week we are reading:
Dawn: Robinson Crusoe
Erma Bombeck: When you look like your passport photo, it's time to go home.
Native Americans in Nebraska

Isaac and Jesse (LOL): Flower Fables
The Tempest (Shakesphere)

Hannah: (Core) Still working on Fancy Nancy

Simeon: (Core)Thomas Train books (He spelled TRAIN this week from memory)!

Getting to Know You

Do you remember that song, Getting to know you? Was it the sound of music? Hopefully I won't be busted by posting off topic here, but let me just say that in checking out all the links and blogs from this blog and reading some and "getting to know you." has been a blast. Welcome to my tribe ladies!
What a privilege and inspiration to get to know you. That and now my blog has a new makeover, since y'all (that is what little is left of having been born in Texas) are such crafty bloggers, I just had to "LLLovingLLLy LLLift the whole download some background pages for your blog. Must go to bed...spent too much time playing on my blog.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Colloquim Perspective

I have had the privilege over the last year to participate in a women's colloquium with a small group of dynamic mothers. Women who are a strength and a vital force in my life. While we haven't been able to participate in the children's groups it has for a while due to our family's schedule, I fight very hard for my one night a month with them. Let me just be perfectly honest and say the books are not my favorite part our group. I love the potluck dinners we share together. Imagine a group of mothers bonding around a meal, sharing our excitements, sorrows, and concerns. The food is a vast array of our uniqueness that at times inspires a recipe exchange. And the funny times where we all brought dessert and then had to order Chinese. But mostly it is the encouragement and sisterhood that is gained from it. It is in part a small village and their influence at these meetings impacts my role as a woman, mother and wife. When too much time passes in between our gatherings, I miss these women. I would have to say that they are my De facto Indian tribe. Sometimes I want to just build a tepee for myself and my family so so we can go live with Rhonda, Robin, Britta, Syndi, Rachel, Marie and their families. Instead I live in a city where we have to drive at least twenty minutes to see any of those people. When I read the words about Kindred Spirits in The Anne of Green Gables books these women are that to me.

Well now I guess I should speak on the books that bring my "tribe" together. This month we are reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And let me just say that I could totally use some "highly effective habits," who couldn't? This particular book, as is many of the books we chose, is on the list for the 5 Pillars Certification from George Wythe University, a TJed resource. This one in particular gave me a sense of where DeMille gets the "you, not them" philosophy. I am only 2 chapters into it, and now I wonder why I procrastinated in reading it. I will say that next month I am going to request that we read something for fun. I need a break from this genre. I may just suggest Robinson Crusoe since some of you are enjoying it so much! I haven't read that yet.

What is my family reading?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Jane Eyre

Andrew (Core..with occasional bursts of LOL)
Buffaloes Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House Series)
Newly into reading recipes and cooking. His new self-appointed job
Children's Illustrated version of Treasure Island

Cassandra (Core- not yet reading, so I read to her)
Island of the Blue Dolphins

Jeremy and Seth (core)
Thomas Trains books
And we are always in search of the Letter F this week and we search for it in every book we read.

Family Reading time books
Little House in the Big Woods
The Blue Fairy Book
Skillet Bread, Sourdough and Vinegar Pie
The Scriptures
A Child's History Of America


We are beginning our first colloquium this month and are reading Robinson Crusoe. Wow, is this an amazing book! I can hardly put it down. I should finish it tonight or tomorrow. I'm trying my hardest to keep my mouth quiet about it around my friends who are reading. It is hard since books become such a part of me and open my eyes to the world in a new way.

Classic books change the way I view life and inspires me to be a better person, or reminds me of things I shouldn't do or try. I would much rather see an example of how a choice changed another person's life for better or worse and apply it to my memory rather than go through the trial or struggles myself.

In a colloquium, we can share and be inspired by what others drew from the book. Whatever things stood out to others can be an addition source of inspiration and consideration when we review the book in our minds.

I recently read Anna Karenina. It was so powerful and literally changed my life. I wished I could have discussed it with someone else who had read the book. I hate the fact that as I discuss it I may spoil a part of the book when talking about how it affected me. With colloquium we can do just that! No more feeling alone in this amazing journey through a new book!

In applying this to homeschooling as well our children can learn in the same way. My older girls love to discuss their books with me. It has a better result when I have read the book too, and thankfully I have for most of them.

When I was homeschooled around the age of twelve, I had a best friend who inspired me to read Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series. I fell in love with these books- and Anne- immediately. What made it more fun was the opportunity to discuss each book with my friend. I tried to tell my mom about them, but she hadn't read them and so we couldn't have the same deep discussion or share the same hope for Anne marrying Gilbert.

In writing this post it reminded me that the YOU not THEM is important in this as we are the mentors/ examples. It also reminded me that I need to get the ball rolling in having my girls become involved in a small colloquium too.

Environment #2 - Colloquium

I'm going to post on colloquium from a "You not them" standpoint.

My scholar's personality is such that she really doesn't like colloquium - she endures it. Although she has asked me to read the same scriptures with her in order to have colloquium with her over the readings because her seminary home study manual states she has to write what she's getting out of it. She says other than writing down the scriptures, she has no idea what to say. This from a girl who has already gone through two years of LEMI Commonwealth with teachers excited about her papers. So she sees a NEED for it, even if it's not her favorite thing.

I LOVE colloquium - I miss it when I don't get to go. I hope Tracy gets on here and talks about hosting one - I go to hers. Colloquium, in an environment that allows you to speak freely (Tracy does this well) is an excellent source. You get varying opinions to open your mind - to see how other people think, as well has having new perspectives that you would never get just reading it by yourself.

Just because a book resounds with you doesn't mean it will with another. For instance, we recently read Man of the Family. I didn't get to go to that colloquium, but I talked to Tracy and another member about it recently. They all thought it was a fabulous book - I hated it. It is not a classic for me and will never be on my shelf! If I had been at the group, I still would have voiced my thoughts because Tracy allows everyone to have their own experience. I can see where if it is not a safe environment voices would be stifled, and learning would not progress.

I think that's important to remember as we offer colloquium for our children.

I've also recently made an interesting observation. Cultural differences! I'm LDS, living in an LDS environment, but because my family are recent converts and we come from Texas, the way Russ and I express ourselves is completely different than the way most of the people in our group do. Russ told them recently that he hated the book 1984 so much he went outside and chopped it into pieces. Shocked me a little, since it was my book! The difference was I thought it was funny - Texans are passionate people! The people in our group thought he was nuts. It bothered me a little until I thought about the cultural difference. They have been brought up in a much more reserved atmosphere, where we were brought up to embrace passions and act upon them. I don't think either are wrong - they're just different. That is something to consider when you're in a group - not everyone has been brought up the same.

I look forward to reading what everyone else has to say. :)

What we're reading this week:

Dad - I have no idea.

Me - Mansfield Park - I've never read a Jane Austen book!

My scholar - this has been interesting. Last week she was reading a Clive Cussler book and she started telling me how she was disenchanted with his writing style. I told her maybe she needs to take a break, and her dad told her how she needed to realize that writers are people who use the power of the pen to get across their own ideas to the people. They talked about how Clive Cussler had written a book where he wrote the whole story in metric because he felt the US should go to metric since the rest of the world had. They had a colloquia right then and there over the books she had read - it was interesting to watch! She is waiting for my Amazon order to come in today to start on one of the books from LEMI that starts this Friday.

My practice scholar - she's pouring over drawing books. She has started her own blog to showcase her work as she practices.

My love of learning girl - We're slowly getting through that Charles Dickens book, and the name of the book she reads for her liberty girls is Pheobe the Spy by Jean Fritz.

My Core boys - I decided to do nursery rhymes with them. I did this with my love of learner a yr or two ago and we had such fun - I thought the boys might like to do spider cakes and fluffy marshmallow lambs, so we're doing that. I like the checkerboard book - a lady at colloquium does not. Another example of YOURS, not MINE. :)

As a family: We're still getting through You Want Women To Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Environment #1: Lecture

Well, here goes. I go off on tangents and then when I take a breath, notice my childrens' glazed over eyes, or that they aren't even in the room anymore, I rethink my plan of lecturing.

Before I had kids, I taught at a public school and had the fortune of attending a conference in which I got to choose a class on story telling. How to do it "interestingly". The first rule is to NOT HAVE THE BOOK IN FRONT OF YOU. What? You mean I can't READ the book to the children? I have to TELL them the story? Have any of you read those books about the African spider, Anansi? They are kinda like the Aesop Fables, only with African touches to them. In one of the books, the story is about a rock. The instructor told us to go find a rock and then proceeded to show us how to just lay the rock on the floor and tell the kids the story, all centered on that rock. I tried it the next week with the class. I'm so painfully shy sometimes, but I sucked it up and tried it out. It was awesome! The kids were attentive and quiet. I was out of my seat and talking with my hands, but that rock was the main focus of the story and it was really a wonderful lesson to me and how to teach children. Who doesn't love an object lesson?

I know this isn't supposed to be about story telling, but rather about lecturing. I have one kid with ADHD who is super smart but just can't sit still long enough to get the whole lesson in. I have another one that would rather read all day. I have two others that if it doesn't involve trains or something that fits into a specific agenda (say, tea party, wearing the color pink, or asking why she wasn't the first born child), I'm not getting anywhere. I've discovered that if I can come up with object lessons or something that involves movement, I get some great results.

This year I started out with a curriculum based on the classics. I got copies of the McGuffey readers, spelling lists, and grammar lessons from the 1800's. They are so cool, but I gotta tell you, boy some of that stuff is dry and puts me to sleep while I'm trying to teach it to the kids. Snooze fest! (Sorry, should I not say that too loudly?) We all better start wearing football helmets our heads bob around so much. I decided to do more oral stuff with the kids and shorten the lessons. This is helping; they see us making progress and feel like they got somewhere and at the end of the week we do a bit of review and move on if they got the concepts. I know they need more writing experience, so I'm not abandoning the lessons completely, but I found I get more back when we all get to participate instead of just me droning on.

I think I'm going to try that storytelling out a bit more than I have.

Salisbury Family Reading

Mom: I picked up Robinson Crusoe today. The original wasn't in, so I got the illustrated version. I also really wanted to check out a book on the Lost Colony of Roanoke, after researching some stuff online. Never found anything at the library about it. Bummer.

Isaac (Love of Learning): I think reading is still a bit hard for him. His eyes don't work together so it makes tracking difficult, but I find him reading more and more the less I prod. He's into the Weird School books. I hear they are really funny. Ugh..and Captain Underpants. Dribble. (but who doesn't enjoy some of that now and then?)

Jesse (Love of Learning): He's reading BeastQuest. He is Curtis' #1 fan for computer games, so he loves this fantasy sci-fi stuff. But, he's also read Moby Dick, Black Beauty and a few other classics.

Hannah (Core): Fancy Nancy. She's doing pretty good on reading the site words. Curious George and Dora books are not far behind.

Simeon (Core): anything with trains: Thomas the Tank Engine specifically. He clears out the whole shelf. He's not really interested in any other books...wait, take that back. Recipe books. I have to fight with him for them. He sleeps with them, eats with them, they go to the bathroom, church, stores, appointments and for rides with him.

As a family:
Aesop Fables
Flower Fables (Louisa May Alcott)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Baker Reads

Cailynn (12) Practice Scholar

Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott
Hardy boys #4 Missing Chums by Franklin W. Dixon
Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Charisa (11) LOL
Matchlock Gun
Benjamin Franklin, A Young Printer

Benjamin (9) LOL

Pirate's In the Afternoon (Magic Treehouse) by Mary Pope Osborn

Shiloah (Me)

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

The Lecture Environment

Lecture: n.

1. An exposition of a given subject delivered before an audience or a class, as for the purpose of instruction.
2. An earnest admonition or reproof; a reprimand.

I feel that every healthy learning environment automatically has an element of lecturing going on. An example in our home happened recently after scripture study. We are reading in 3rd Nephi about the parable of the lost sheep. What a perfect time it was to turn the parable into a positive and influential lecture time. It was a topic that was weighing heavily on my mind because of how much I love my friends who are having difficult times right now. I used the analogy that President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of so often in his home, "No empty seats in Heaven." I asked them to look at each other and asked how they would feel if one of us did not make it to the Celestial Kingdom, but the rest of us did. Wouldn't we miss that person terribly? Every child was sober and listening intently. They nodded their heads sadly. I then spoke of our helping those we know outside of our family. Benjamin went so far as to name several of his friends that he would miss terribly. I then turned the lecture into an open forum/discussion and asked what we can do to help those we love and befriend to stay on the straight and narrow path. After the influential and sober lecture, it naturally turned into a lively and positive discussion.

Lectures are a necessary part of learning. When we go to college we listen to lectures. We internalize and take it the aspects that can change us or that affect us. When we go to church, we have lessons many times in the lecture format. Lectures can be powerful learning tools.

I have many positive memories of lectures from my parents that are still with me today. To lecture someone or a group of people takes time, energy, and effort. It is a labor of love because more often that not we are doing it for their good and because we love them.

Lecturing in the homeschooling environment can come in various subjects and for various reasons. The reason could be anywhere from the importance of making our beds to why math is important and how everyone will use it in some form another in life.

Recently, several of my children became "pyromaniacs" and were caught a couple of times lighting small things on fire (i.e. sticks, leaves, paper, and later my pillow and part of my bed!) With the help of my friend Dawn on here, I turned their inappropriate behavior into a learning lecture complete with pictures of burn victims to fire safety. It became a varied learning lecture and I feel that not only did they learn a lot from it, but they became more aware of life, natural consequences, and very grateful to God for not getting burned or killed. Between this intense lecture and the fear of them almost burning the house down we've not had another incident since.

I am very much an advocate of a lecture in the learning environment. I agree with Aine that it should not be done too often as the effectiveness with wear off and eyes will glaze over and ears will shut off. Kids need variation in learning. Lecturing is a great one to teach important lessons. Hats off to the old fashioned "lecture"!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Environment #1 - Lecture

Providing the lecture environment to my kids is something I like to do creatively. I don't do any "formal" lectures in my day to day schooling. Occasionally while we're reading someone will ask a question and I'll provide the answer and it turns out to be a lecture (usually with eyes at the end a little glazed over - something I have to keep in check, lol), but that's about it.

Instead, I like to invite guests over to provide this environment. For instance, this year our theme is Timeline: A Meeting With Prophetic Minds, in which we're studying what living during the time of the LDS prophets would have been like. I've scheduled different people from around my community to come and "teach" my children about certain topics or time periods. Of course, this will be done in a lecture environment, since it is, for the most part, all they know.

Another way I like to provide my children with this environment is Mom Schools and Commonwealth. Last year I gave a poetry lecture to love of learners in our local mom school. I learned three things happened from that experience - 1) I have something to contribute to others besides my own children, 2) some of the children came away with a love and excitement of writing, and 3) the power of Mom Schools. I'm still amazed at the results of that lecture - I had been squemish lecturing about poetry, afraid that it might be boring, but the feedback from the other mom's really helped.

The LEMI Commonwealth I send my scholar phase daughter to provides all 5 of the learning environments. To supplement, I also send her around the community to different lectures she might find of interest. We've sent her to two lectures provided by the community on the constitution, a gun saftey class, and lectures on our faith to name a few. I think sometimes Moms think we have to do it all - providing the experience from other people, in my opinion, is just as effective. Sometimes, even more.

Shiloah also wants to know what we're reading in our homes this week. Sooo, here goes (deep breath):

Dad - Alice Cooper's Golf Monster (Don't laugh - Alice Cooper has proven to be an AMAZING person of faith that we have gleened lots of wonderful tidbits of wisdom from - maybe not on the classics list, but Russ always comes up with something new and interesting!)

Mom - Night Probe by Clive Cussler - Alright - not a classic in my eyes either, but I have a reason for reading this. I'm working on improving my fiction writing skills, and asked my scholar phase daughter to critique me. She said my story was great, but I needed to improve my skills in the action department. She suggested I read Clive Cussler (she and my husband are fans - this is the first book of his I've ever read). So Redbeard picked this one out for me. So far, it's definitely action packed! The side note is when my daughter came around the corner and saw me reading it she did a double take. I asked her, "What?" she answered, "You're really reading it? I can't believe it!" I told her, "I told you I wanted your honest opinion and you gave it to me - so yeah, I'm reading it because your review was very helpful." Since then, her respect of ME has been amazing. Isn't that interesting? She's 14.

Scholar Phase Daughter - I admit, I'm not sure WHAT she's reading, but it's probably by Clive Cussler. I do know she's reading - she does lots of it. I have placed all sorts of "classics" in front of her, and nothing. I take heart in the stories from other moms who have reported their children being obessed with Star Trek and figure there is something about Clive Cussler that will meet her needs later on. It DOES give her a bond with her dad, which I am VERY okay with. Commonwealth starts this week, so she'll be picking up some other things soon.

Practice Scholar - She's not much for reading. Right now she's reading Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink for the mom school she's in. I don't think she's reading anything for "fun".

Love of Learner - She and I are going through a picture book of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It has all the original text by Charles Dickens, but seriously condensed for children. She loves them, but we only get through about 2-3 pages a night before she's tired, so it takes awhile to get through.

As a family in our homeschool - You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? by Jean Fritz

BTW - I know it sounds a little weird that I *don't know* what my daughter is reading. I don't patrol them - I have confidence in their abilities to pick up a good book and put down a lousy one. My daughter (the 14 yr old) came to me just two weeks ago and said, "You know, I saw the Princess Diaries in the library and since the movies were cute I picked it up. Mom, the swearing was HORRIBLE and I couldn't stand it." I don't worry about anything I don't approve of coming into my home. I just don't. They've had a great CORE - so I just take mental notes when I see them curled up on a chair.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the other Moms have to say on this topic. I looked at the email this morning and thought, "What in the world am I going to say on that?" LOL - I guess alot!

The Day that Didn't Happen

Sunday night I sat down to "plan out" the week. Ladies, bear with me, I'm still trying to get off the conveyor belt. I feel like I've combined 3-4 kinds of homeschooling styles: classical, Charlotte Mason, epic adventure and some workbook stuff. I liked the romanticism of the classical education (they get to work out of the books from the 1800's!). I liked the quickness of Charlotte Mason (10 minute lessons, boring subjects followed by exciting subjects). I love the excitement of epic adventures. I like workbooks because "I" think they are fun (ok, I'm kinda nerdy like that).

So, my plan for the week was all written out. It had scriptures in there, it had science, health, social studies/history, math, reading, grammer, spelling, etc. We were going to have a great start!!

I woke up Monday with a fever of 102. I have Strep Throat. Two of the kids were just recovering, the babies look a little off kilter and Hannah lost a tooth. Not to be deterred by mere illness, we sat down and did school in the afternoon after I could sit up without falling over from dizziness. I had originally started school the first week in August, but then we had to move and we only really got that one good week in, so I was determined we were not going to waste any more time and we had to get back to work. The kids cried. Hannah yelled how she didn't want to learn to read because it was too hard, Jesse cried because he had to carry the one on math problems. Isaac cried because he I blurted out a word he didn't know and was struggling with it. I tried to keep my cool and we pressed on. Eventually we got everything done on Monday I had planned for.

Tuesday. I'm feeling better. We clean up the house, which the kids did very well with their assigned duties, went to an appointment and bought some new toothbrushes. Great, we can get home and get to school work. It's 11:30. Ok, lets eat, and then do school (the babies will take a nap then). We eat, get interrupted several times with phone calls, mail deliveries, Joshua has diarrhea, Ammon won't sleep longer than 15 minutes, Isaac tried to spray paint Hannah, Hannah got poked with a fork, then kicked in the head over a fight about her bed (with Isaac),then the babies would not lay down for naps. Then my friend calls and she'll be stopping by. We haven't seen each other for over a year. We sit down to do school work and the door bell rings: it's my friend. I visit with her and the kids go outside to play. Joshua finally goes to sleep, and so does Hannah. Isaac is grounded for the spray paint incident. Joshua still has yucky diapers. Ammon is still screaming, sleeping for 15 minutes, playing, then eats, and the cycle repeats. And then, just to make me feel like parent of the month, Hannah comes in to announce that the girls next door (9 and 10)called the police on Jesse (the wonder child) because he smeared hotdogs (that were in a cat bowl on their front step) all over their front door. And then Jesse lied about it. And then I made him take some cleaner and paper towels over to clean up the door, apologize, and then sweep up all the catfood thrown in the street by the girls. Just FYI, no police were actually called, but it made for great effect to hear the sirens as I came marching out to find out what was going on. It's now 6:20. No dinner is ready, the kids are crying, Joshua is pooping, Simeon is addicted to Curious George, Hannah is insisting on talking with a lisp because she lost her front tooth and Isaac and her are STILL fighting, and Jesse is kicking something because of some injustice perceived in the cat food hotdog incident. What is going on?!?!

By the time dinner was served (standby spaghetti)and baths were done, it was 8:45. Ammon was screaming everytime we laid him down, so I'm suspecting earaches. I gave him some homeopathic remedies and loaded him up in the car and drove around loving Ogallala for 30 minutes until he finally fell asleep.

Did anyone see than any school got done? Did my precious scheduled plan ever get done? NO!

I remember when I took on homeschooling I read a book that was journal entries of homeschool mothers. They all had to pick a day and journal exactly what happened THAT day. The first day I read about sounded like a scene out of the Sound of Music. No way could anyone compete with that. Her kids were doing some kind of schooling from the time they woke up to an hour just before bedtime. I read a few more and then, there was this beauty: Her kids roller skated on the porch for PE, they fought with each other, she had appointments and tried to get them to do car-schooling, lunch was eaten out, and then she was home again, in which she sent them back out to do more roller skating. It was not a normal day, and I'm sure there were many days she was on track, but that day just wasn't it.

I've had to learn to let some things slide. This has been very difficult for me, my being somewhat of a perfectionist and control freak. Days like today I have learned to evaluate and think about what teaching opportunities there were for the kids.

Today's focus was on social skills.

Maybe tomorrow will be a different story, but don't we all have some day like this? Maybe, hopefully, not as circus-y as this? Haven't we all gotten to the end of our rope and wondered why did we ever decide to homeschool? I'm not even going to try and count how many wrenches got thrown in my day today. What's important is that we pick ourselves up and move on. If something doesn't get done, move on. I don't know if this post is even close to TJ Ed, but I thought it might help comfort those of you that have had an off kilter day. The best laid plans sometimes just do not work.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Secure, Not Stressed

Shiloah, I just sent you an email saying I lost the topics.. sorry! Please resend! :)

I wanted to write about an experience I had two wks ago. I was at a meeting in Idaho Falls where parents are working out the kinks to start a commonwealth locally. There is already a commonwealth in Pocatello that my children attend, so I mostly went to watch and listen, to see who was involved, etc.

My husband and I arrived a little late due to work schedules, so we sat in the back. Introductions were going on. Not only were parents to introduce themselves, but they were to ask a question that was burning on their mind. As we listened to the other introductions, I mulled my question over. Finally the woman conducting the mtg asked me for mine, and I confessed I didn't have one. Other parents had asked either commonwealth type questions or pretty basic questions (ie: does TJed really work). I made the statement that I was in that secure, not stressed state, and since we were already attending a commonwealth, I didn't have any questions pertaining to that either.

What really bothers me about this moment was there was a gasp that erupted around the room. I heard some say "Wow" and other words of the like, and I felt that some of these parents looked at me like I either had it perfectly down or I was lying. Neither were true. I am SECURE in the process. I know it works - I've seen miracles happen in my own home as I've put it into practice. Commonwealth has been FABULOUS. We used to drive over 2 hours to get my oldest to Pocatello - this year my husband is teaching Italian at the school. I'm not STRESSED at all about the future - it's going to be great, esp. as I keep working on my own CORE.

I write that down because I heard Dr. DeMille once say that we're always working on CORE - isn't that in a book too? Sorry, I've read too many of them to remember references anymore - I need to do some revisiting to freshen my mind. Anyway, it bothers me a little when people say they are stuck in CORE. Do you read the Bible once and then never pick it up again? No! We read it over and over... why? Because we're always working on CORE! (Assuming you read the Bible, of course, if you don't choose a core book of your own and insert word.)

So, the big confession is, I don't have it all together - but I am not stressed about it. I just expressed frustration to two mothers last week how I was 37 yrs old and I hadn't figured out a part of me yet! It doesn't mean I'm not secure. I know eventually it will all come together for our good, as long as I keep moving forward. Which, I do. I think secure not stressed is that inner peace you feel when you know you're on the right path. That's where I'm at - and it's weird, but the more secure I feel, the less questions I have. Maybe because I know I'm the one with the answers - I no longer look for answers without - they're all coming from within (as in answers to prayer). Which, if you think about it, as the expert of my home, makes perfect sense.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Idea for Core Phase

Ok, I will gladly admit that I totally missed the core phase as a child and the love of learning, and the scholar and now I am supposed to have this mission? Obviously I am a mother and a homeschooler and that is definitely part of it. So I figured that we had better get back to basics and get that core stage. So how do you get a 30-something year old to learn to love work and bring her kids along with her? Well I am re-inviting the FlyLady back for the 100th time (or so it feels like). But more so, I was really also thinking on how do I share what is mine....What is Heather's? While I have managed to get my kids to do more writing through my scrapbooking hobby, I had to buy some cheap stuff for them so they would leave mine alone. But I was thinking as a child I loved Little House on the Prairie, I read them over and over again, except for Farmer Boy, I just recently read that for the first time, talk about a treat to save for adult hood. I guess I was just boycotting boys at the time. But what is more core, besides the conveyor belt education, than prairie life. How could I get my kids to love to work and value it as pioneer children do in the suburbs of Denver. While we do have cats, fish and a small garden, it isn't quite the same. So I was thinking that we needed to find a way to make Little House in the Suburbs. Which led me to one of those Epic Adventure Ideas. So on the TJed Muse list, there was great excitement about the Courageous Beings Epic Adventures, while I am not ready to pay the money for a ready made one yet and I am in great need of this core phase, so we are going on our own Epic Adventure. Amongst all the great things we'll learn I hope we can get a good base of learning to value and love work. So any ideas you have to expand upon that would be great.
In addition to the Little House books, I was thinking about Little Britches. I am sure I could come up with plenty more. But it is a start. I was also thinking about getting or making some prairie clothes, chores might be more fun in those, and there would be fun cooking and exploring places with a 1700's-1800's theme. Here in CO, there is the Littleton Historical Museum and another in Golden with actual reenacted working farms. Then we aren't terribly far off from pulling handcarts in WY or visiting the Little House on the Prairie Museum in North or South Dakota (budget permitting). Oh and I thought we would do a pioneer Christmas where we make our gifts, rather than buying the finished product. I think the list could be endless. So obviously I am just at the beginning of my thought process on this, but I thought I would share to those who might care! =) It sounds like fun to me.
Well back to the what is mine issue. I like to knit, crochet and spin yarn. Definitely will go well with our Epic Adventure theme. I like to read and I also spend time with breastfeeding counseling and Scouts. It is rather interesting how much my kids know about breastfeeding. Boy are my future daughters-in-laws in for a surprise. I am also in process of becoming a DONA Certified Birth Doula.
I try and share with them what I am reading, but sometimes I am so engrossed in it I forget to stop and share what is so exciting. So by next summer my kids may be knitting and eying sheep for wool! That would be exciting in the Waldorf education community. Another one of my eclectic adaptations to our homeschool, on a good day at least.

Ok, so I just puked out the ideas out of my head at the end of the day. Thanks for letting me ramble on.